Robert Sparks

  -  Play   -  Faeria Open Game Design Competition

I recently had the pleasure of entering the Faeria Open Game Design Competition –
and got to work on my theories and improvements for the game, whilst putting all that tabletop and collectible card game knowledge to good use. The range of questions were impressive, and required deep and thorough thought into the intricacies of the game, which was a good mix of tough and engaging to delve into over this past week – check out the results below.

Discuss Keywords

Consider the following keywords: Ranged, Taunt, Dash, Flying, Deathtouch, Aquatic, Protection, Jump. From this list, which two keywords would you cut from the game if you had to? Explain why.

Deathtouch and Protection are common keywords found in a few CCGs, and they deserve their place in all of them, but Faeria can do, and has done, much better by introducing keywords which utilise the full potential of where the game is played, its differing lands (and oceans).

From an enthusiastic tabletop gamer’s point of view, where Faeria shines is in the ever evolving board state; taking an inspired view at lands from Magic The Gathering, and actually giving them physicality in the world these mythical creatures and gods inhabit.

Does Deathtouch and Protection have their place in this world – yes they do – but do they compliment the intricacies of both land and creature positioning like any other keyword on the above list – not in the same way. Movement abilities (or movement impeding abilities) feel incredibly strategic, encouraging foresight, and actually showcase that sweet tabletop 3rd dimension most other CCGs have been designed to avoid – so I wouldn’t do anything to water that diverse experience down.

It’s the advantages and restrictions (sometimes simultaneously – I’m looking at you Aquatic) imposed by all these other keywords that offer a unique depth afforded to the player through the Faeria game board. Though Deathtouch and Protection serve their purposes well, I feel their removal wouldn’t disrupt these very special core mechanics, and would keep Faeria just as competitive and strategic.

Propose a new keyword for Faeria.

Oath – Once this card breaks a condition, destroy it.

Examples of this in game can be seen below. I wanted to create a keyword which eloquently allowed the implementation of restrictions, to enhance the power of a card in other ways.
Making a very powerful and proud creature who can’t handle taking even one damage, or creating an anti aggro tool which can’t be used by the aggro players to attack a god directly. I feel this keyword’s flexibility, and thematic potential means it could easily be added into the game and feel like it’s belongs.

  • Oath – Don’t harvest Faeria.
  • Oath – Don’t take damage.
  • Oath – Don’t attack a god.
  • Oath – Don’t attack.
  • Oath – Don’t have over 4 attack.

General Card Design Considerations

All games have flaws. In the case of Faeria, which flaws should we be designing around when making new cards?

Though not inherently a flaw, and one that is not especially abused in Faeria – as with any CCG the use of rarity should always be kept in check. There’s a fine balance to strike when ensuring the player base has the right access to tools, so they can enjoy multiple unique and interesting avenues of gameplay experience. Too many times do you see games hide key, meta defining cards behind high rarities, and that’s when a community can become a mob. This is usually especially abused in the epic (or in Magic The Gathering’s case, both rare & mythic rarity) category, putting key nexus cards which turn average card A and average card B into combo forces to be reckoned with, behind arbitrary walls – however I do understand the intent for this.

When introducing new players to the game, you do not want to over complicate the learning process until they’re comfortable with their environment. However ensuring that at each rarity level, the player base is honoured with multiple depths and complexities of cards is key to ensuring both the new and veteran player experience, isn’t impeded by too many barriers to creativity, and the free to play experience is well catered for. If that’s done well, players will become fans, and fans see the value in investing in a game they love – which I genuinely believe is the current trend when new people are introduced to Faeria.

List 2 really well designed Faeria cards. Justify your choices.

To preface this first answer, I think all the land creating elementals are incredibly well designed, affording the player a cheap, common, ‘bread and butter’ card for each land type, that still fits the thematic of what that land type represents – they’ve clearly all been carefully developed, and it shows. Air Elemental however is the first card I’d like to highlight as really well designed – as out of all the elementals I feel this one champions it’s land type the most accurately, showing off what desert decks are about; high attack, low health – the classic glass cannon. Aggressive and swift, but can be taken down by almost any brave challenger or event, this card embodies the different experience you get playing desert to any other colour in a very straight forward way, and – like all the elementals – provides players with a quality card, in both theme and mechanics, which wouldn’t look out of place in any desert or multi-colour deck utilising the desert land type.

The second card I would like to put forth as designed incredibly well is Last Nightmare. As a seasoned Hearthstone player, when I picked up Faeria for the first time I noticed something – if you wanted to do something powerful and absolute, there was a heavy price to pay – be it Faeria, lands required, targeting restrictions, available spaces, sacrifices – the straightforward powers like indiscriminate direct damage and outright destruction of creatures were hard to pull off and costly, but made me feel almighty. In Hearthstone, if you want to outright kill something, no ifs or buts, it’s not actually that hard to do, and multiple classes can do it in multiple ways – but in Faeria only the true power of the desert has the real capability to drain the lifeforce from a creature unworthy to grace its lands, and Last Nightmare epitomises that notion I feel. Three simple words ‘Destroy a creature’ can have the most powerful of outcomes in a game so complicated and combo driven, and if you want to cast it – you must commit yourself to the way of the desert, and pay the proper price in Faeria, and that’s surprisingly refreshing.

List 2 badly designed Faeria cards. Justify your choices.

Risky to be reviewing a card I do not actually have in my collection, but I have seen much of Krog, the Ogre King through streams, videos, reddit posts, and sometimes in game. Krog is a bit of a punching bag amongst the player-base, but all that mob mentality aside, I objectively think Krog is has his theme set firmly in the ogre tribe, but holds up poorly in his mechanic implementation, as the numbers just don’t equate. Firstly, Krog has a fearfully powerful combat ability, which makes him a high priority kill on any battlefield, but it can be difficult to engage a combat with him, therefore he’s an investment, a nest egg. To protect this investment his life pool is third only to Ostregoth and Tarum – that’s one tough ogre, and so far we’re hitting our stride within the ogre theme.

These two parts of the card feel legendary, and would make anyone think this is a typical combat red card, brawling with the best of them. However, once you see 2 attack, you’re dreadfully underwhelmed, especially when you see comparative class cards like Tarum, which offers ½ health as attack (and though more expensive, surprisingly easier to get on the board, with immediate taunt value, and last words that make you fear removing him). So what is the price to grace you lands with this king ogre, who’s powerful effect will make you quiver if he manages to get it off? 12 faeria and 4 mountains…

This is the crux of the issue; these two numbers are far too expensive combined. Look through all other ogre type Faeria reduction card in the mountains, and you’ll see twin peaks (2 mountains), and that feels fair when paired with the card cost and stats, so the fact Krog requires double for a recurring version, whilst also costing 12 faeria feels misrepresentative. This card’s a legendary, and its high cost, low initial impact, and non-threatening attack all add up to a particularly underwhelming experience using it – one that has recently required the release of ‘Krogs Dinner’ to boldy bargain the players back to his ogre dances, and bloody songs – which sounds like fun, but still won’t get Krog on the battlefield for me.

Failed Experiment is the second badly designed card – but contrary to Krog – the card text and costing aren’t the culprit of its shortcomings. Where I have issue with failed experiment is in its place within the universe of Faeria, specifically amongst the rich and diverse narratives I can draw from viewing all the lake cards together. Faeria’s world is almost totally explained through its cards, and a great deal of care has evidently been taken to produce a narrative for the players to interpret when they play with these cards. When I look at Failed Experiment in relation to every other blue card, I do not know who to align it with – Aurora’s followers? The Triton? The fantastical elemental beasts?

The closest link I can draw is to the Gabrian, requiring a suspension of my interpretation of the Gabrian as an empire of wise enchanted warriors, bound by mythos and tradition – “Poseidon’s Centurions” – not mad scientists. I adore the tangled fates of contrasting tribes, civilisations, species, and entities within the colours, and though Failed Experiment is a great card mechanically, it’s a bit lost at sea in these multifarious waters.

Design Cards

Design a common card made for control decks.

Cutthroat Outpost

Design a common card made for rush or burn decks.

Fodders Artillery

Design an epic card that’s good at ending games.

Oculus into Pandora

Design a legendary card for the character Fugoro.

Fugoro, Master Collector

Design a World Boss Mission

Design a proposal for a World Boss mission. Describe the boss’s personality and playstyle. Include the key events of the mission (such as if they do something special on a certain turn, in response to being attacked, etc). You should also and write up the Boss’s dialogue (no more than 6). Keep your answer to 1 page or less (you may use images if you choose). The mission needs to be 1) Really flavorful, 2) Satisfying to win against.

This was incredibly fun to develop, and let me draw on all those sessions playing Descent, XCOM, Eclipse, and Robinson Crusoe board games for ideas regarding scenarios (I knew they would come in handy some day). You can find the result of this here: Kernel Crackthorn World Boss

Bolt Mini