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Gabe / on Tue, Sep 25 2012 at 11:45 am

Thornwatch

Last night I ran another Thornwatch play test. This time we worked on how deck advancement will function as well as testing out some new mechanics for skill test resolution.

Yes I know my cards are full of typos but cut me some slack. I’m making hundreds of these cards and this is still an alpha.

So Each character starts out with a 30 card deck. The idea is that as you adventure you can modify your deck by adding cards to it or replacing the ones you have.The max size of a deck is 60 cards but you don’t have to build it out that much if you don’t want to.  In my game enemies deal wound cards that get shuffled into your deck. As you draw into them they go into your hand and since you can’t discard them they begin to build up. Each character has a number of wound cards they can have in their hand before they die. So adding cards to your deck has the advantage of making you less susceptible to wounds. The downside obviously is that with more cards in your deck you might not always draw into exactly what you want.

The idea is that someone like a warrior might choose to add cards to his deck giving him a wide selection of attacks and powers while also essentially increasing his “HP”. On the other hand a wizard might choose to keep his deck around 30 or 40 cards and simply focus on the spells he likes. He will be more likely to draw what he wants but also more vulnerable to wounds.

Last night was the first time we tried modifying the base decks and it seemed to work really well. There was a lot of discussion at the table about how and when exactly cards should be added and at the end of the night I think we came up with some pretty good ideas. I love the play tests because I get to work on the game in real time. When I see a power that’s not working like I wanted it to or a player tells me how they think an attack should work, we just change it up right there and try it. It feels great to look at a mechanic that’s not quite clicking, debate (or argue) it at the table, try it a new way and have it work perfectly.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I’m prototyping the game. Specifically they want to know how I’m making the cards. It’s actually really simple. Between Pokemon,MTG and the WOW TCG I have roughly one kabillion cards laying around my house. What I do is make my cards in Photoshop, print them out on normal copy paper, slice them up on the paper cutter and then fit them into a card sleeve with a real card behind them. This gives them the weight and support of a real card and you can play and shuffle them just like you normally would.

This process has worked really well and allows me to get cards out on the table quick. I spend a lot of time working on this game and tweaking it but the biggest improvements come from the play tests. If you’re trying to do something similar I can’t stress how important it is to get your game in front of people and just play it.

The other question I’m getting a lot is just how far along I am. It’s hard for me to say exactly but I can tell you that the core mechanics of the game are solid. It’s fun to play and it works. I still need to build out the card library to give players more options for customizing their deck but the foundation of that system is in place. There are still a few things that are just notes in my sketchbook and have yet to be implemented at the table. The big ones would be character creation and gear. I have a vague idea of how I want these systems to work but they are still very raw.


Again I want to stress that I’m not looking for ideas or suggestions. I’m just sharing my progress with you guys. At some point I’d like to try doing some public beta testing and then I’ll be hitting you guys up for feedback. Thanks for all the emails and tweets of support I think this is actually something I can do and might even be good at. It’s incredibly exciting.

-Gabe out


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