Custom Card Game Design
I’ve compilated all files for playing Conquest of Orion on Magic Workstation. You can find those files here.
The Races of Orion
Today I will talk about the races in Conquest of Orion. The races are more than just a theme – when you build your deck, you must choose one race and stick to it. You can’t play cards from other races, though you can play neutral cards. The race affiliation of a card is printed at the right end of the type line and is shown as a crest of the respective race.
Humans have no race-specific mechanics, but excel in many areas where other races have shortcomings. They are a technology-based race and that shows mechanically in their strong support of achievements and attachments and their ability to ascend Tiers by alternate means. They have the best targeted unit removal, they can reduce the cost or even the Tier requirement of achievements, get bonuses from playing achievements and can create or reattach attachments instantly. If you want to take out an alien-infested planet, why send an entire armada and suffer high casualties? Instead attack just with a small stealthed spaceship that’s equipped with a nuclear missile.
Humans have three subthemes. The first theme are biological units. These represent scientists, soldiers, mercenaries… whatever you can think of. They are designed for an aggressive strategy or as your early plays in a slower deck to survive the first turns. They will mostly be limited to Tier 1 and 2 cards. The second theme are mechanical units. These represent mostly walkers or stationary cannons and are best suited for a very control-based strategy. One of the most powerful decks we played in our games was the “Supreme Science” deck that played Science Lab and several walkers. It was very resilient and had one of the most powerful late-games possible. The third theme are Spacecrafts. Spacecrafts represent the late-game power of the humans. Though there are Tier 1 and 2 Spacecrafts, those are only small fighters or science vessels. Tier 3 and 4 is where you get the good stuff – powerful battleships able to bombard planets or unleash an armada of interceptors.
Humans are the only race that will be in every set as the story evolves around their journey through the galaxy. To keep it interesting, in each set the appearance of the race will drastically change. This also shows that the humans are a race that has great potential and is very adaptive.
The aliens are the second most common race next to the humans. Though everything but humans are by definition aliens, the term is applied only to the three non-sentient or semi-sentient species able to travel through space. These are the Insectoids, the Iamurans and the Fungus. Racial synergies exist for each of these species, but you can also mix them together to find inter-synergies – they all have the same crest and can therefore be played in a deck together. The aliens will appear in the first three sets. Let’s take a closer look at the three species:
The Insectoids originate from the planet Paiura, a large planet covered completely by an alien jungle. This species’ strength is to generate large amounts of units and just overrun the opponent with shear mass. Many of their cards can create Insectoid unit tokens. These are treated as 1|1 units. There will also be cards that allow for an exponential growth of units. Support cards of Insectoids are focused on protecting their swarm of small creatures from area of effect damage, such as the Prometheus shown above. Aliens also get access to armor reduction abilities (a unit with reduced armor takes additional damage from an attack). This allows the Insectoids to take down even massive battleships with ease.
The Iamurans are the dominant species in the oceans of the terrestrial planet Iamur. They are completely opposite to the Insectoids, as they focus on playing huge mosters that can win the game on their own. Many of their units cost many resources and even require you to sacrifice other units to play them. Tier 1 Iamurans aren’t suited for aggressive strategies and are merely enablers for the big fish at Tier 3 and Tier 4. Iamurans get a bonus for only controlling one unit on each planet.
The third and last species are the Fungus. These mushrooms and other fungaly creatures all are part of a giant fungal network that has befallen the planets of the Tarkarius system in the outer realm. The Fungus species focuses on stationary units and resource generation. A fungus player sits back and lets his mushrooms grow and build up a superior economy. The Fungus get effects that turn planets into swamps and bonuses if their units are on such a swamp planet.
The inter-synergies are apparent – the Fungus bring the resources and the Insectoids the sacrifices for the Iamurans. Aliens as a whole get access to superior achievement destruction and abilities that force your opponent to discard cards.
The Torians are a sentient species from the planet Toria Nair in the distant realm. They will appear in the fourth set. Though there exist only a few of them, the Torians are most powerful beings, their blue-skinned body merely a vessel for a nearly omnipotent mind. Their mechanical focus in on abilities and activated abilities. They will get a keyword ability that allows you to teach an ability to a Torian instead of playing it. If you do, that Torian can activate the ability for as long as its in the galaxy, but may only choose a nearby target if targets for the ability are chosen. The first attempt to format this ability utterly failed.
The fourth set ‘Eye of Infinity’ still only exists very roughly in my mind and the Torians are not very elaborate yet. They will not get any powerhouse units, but rather compensate their lack of physical strength with absorption shields and powerful offensive abilities. However, a great percentage of the time, the game is about raw power, so balancing these abilities will be very difficult.
Another difficulty is finding artwork – the Torians have no use for technology and most artwork either depict technology, swords or other fantasy-based objects or are otherwise inappropriate.
Torians have no gender, though their appearances are female to the human eye.
The Godrakah appear in the fifth set ‘Invasion’ and are an apocalyptic evil from another galaxy. Their mechanical focus will be direct damage to planets. Godrakah units get a bonus as long as they are on a damaged planet. Their leaders are the four Ancient Ones, which will appear as giant, nightmarish monsters in the set. Godrakah will also have cards that are references to cards from earlier sets, but twisted and with slightly different abilities. Hybrid crests are a possibility here, so that a corrupted Torian for example can be played in a Godrakah and a Torian deck.
Stay tuned for updates on the MWS files and if you have suggestions on the Torian or Godrakah races, let me hear them – there is still much room for ideas.
A mechanic a day keeps the judge away
The Iamuran card “Ethersea Horror” seen above showcases a very key mechanic in Conquest of Orion: Executor. The reminder text is “This unit may attack fleeing units”. The purpose is very clear: There is no escape from this unit! Here is how it works: Executor only has an effect while a unit is threatening an opponent’s planet. After you decide which planets your units threaten, your opponent (the defending player) can then move his units to defend his planets – but he may also be interested in protecting his units by moving them away from the threatened planet. If he does, a unit with executor may still attack that unit during the following combat although it’s no longer on the same planet.
The large body, the executor and the fact that Ethersea Horror even forces units to flee from it makes it an extremely dangerous threat and very worth the aliens required to sacrifice for it.