Custom Card Game Design
Glory of the Colonies – Part I
September 1, 2012Posted by on
‘Glory of the Colonies’ is the second set of the game. It continues the story of the human colonists in the Orion sector and also adds many new mechanics to the game. I will split my article about ‘Glory of the Colonies’ into several parts. In this part, I want to give you an overview over the new mechanics and the setting of the set.
Clustering and declustering
A normal Conquest of Orion game begins with each player playing small units and conquering a planet with them. Pressure can’t be applied to your opponent at this stage of the game and you don’t want to fall behind in income. Then, the players go to Tier 2 and the first action starts. As the game progresses, units become more and more powerful and the game is about to come to its conclusion. At this point, retaining control of your planets becomes a secondary concern, as the amount of resources they will produce over the rest of the game becomes ever smaller. Taking out or locking down your opponent’s powerful units and protecting your own becomes your major concern instead. Units begin to outvalue planets. This leads to what I call ‘clustering’. Players will deploy all their units on a single planet to retaliate an attack on his or her most valuable units with as much firepower as possible.
Now, a few things can happen:
- The fortified planet can’t be attacked advantageously by the opponent. In this case, it becomes a race on the remaining planets; each player attacking undefended planets one after the other. The game then becomes a war of attrition and can be dragged out very long as both players have a crippled income.
- The fortified planet can be attacked advantageously and a huge battle occurs where most units are traded away.
There are mechanics that emphasize clustering and there are those that deemphasize clustering. Mechanics that emphasize it include:
- Units that strengthen other nearby units (“auras”).
- Units with more health than damage.
- Immobile cards such as stationary units or planet attachments that protect units or must themselves be protected.
Mechanics that deemphasize it include:
- “Area of effect” damage.
- Units that weaken other nearby enemy units.
- Units with more damage than health (“sweepers”).
- Superluminal (If a unit with superluminal would move onto a planet, instead it is teleported onto that planet without being exhausted.)
In general, there is nothing wrong with cards encouraging clustering. However, it is important that there are enough cards that emphasize declustering or punish clustering so that it doesn’t become the only viable strategy. It would take away something that is essential to the game – the positioning of units and the complex decisions involved.
New keyword: Traveler
But from time to time, building up a giant fortified planet can be fun, right? ‘Glory of the Colonies’ will therefore focus on such gameplay, while the third set, ‘Decadence’, will focus on the opposite. In Glory of the Colonies you will fortify your planets with powerful cannons (respectively mushrooms if you play Aliens) and render those planets truly impregnable. You will then be able to even attack with those planetary fortresses using the ‘Traveler’ mechanic. A traveler is a (pseudo) planet that can threaten enemy planets and by doing so transports all units on it into the combat zone as well, even stationary units which could otherwise not attack.
New keyword: Equip
Humans will also get an own mechanic to use with stationary units called ‘Equip’. You can install stationary units such as the devastating ‘Ion Cannon’ to battleships and further increase their firepower. The equipped unit will follow the equipping unit onto each planet and will no longer be able to be attacked. However, if the carrier gets destroyed, so are all units equipped to it.
New game mechanic: Virtual units
A unit that’s not actually a unit…? Many people have difficulties with understanding this mechanic. If you’re playing Magic, you can compare a virtual unit with a Ball Lightning. It is a source of damage in the form of a unit. Virtual units represent for example interplanetary missiles or deadly spores. The example card ‘Fission Bomb’ is a powerful weapon that has to be launched by a spacecraft you control. It can sweep through most of your opponent’s defenses:
New mechanic: Swamp planets
As mentioned in my ‘Races of Orion’ article, Swamp planets are the major mechanical focus of the Fungus species. It will be the Alien-only mechanic in this set. Some cards turn your planets into Swamps, others gain a bonus from being on a Swamp planet:
Watermarks: The Five Colonies
Maybe you’ve already noticed the watermarks on some of the cards I showcased. In Glory of the Colonies, all human cards will have a watermark that affiliates them with one of the five colonies. The watermarks and their affiliated planets are:
- Leaf: Luwynar, the jungle planet.
- Loop: Azure Infinity, the gas giant.
- Handshake: Oharal, the ice planet.
- Fist: Charveus, the lava planet.
- Hourglass: Kalintura, the desert planet.
The different colonies won’t have seperated mechanics and synergies, but their flavor will set them slightly apart. This card is from Kalintura:
New unique planets: The Outer Realm
Glory of the Colonies adds five new planets to the game and ups the count to 15. These planets are located in the outer realm, a loose star cluster containing inhabited planets. It’s about 300 lightyears more distant from earth than the inner realm, where the ten planets of the first set are located.
As with all our sets, you can view the current card list of Glory of the Colonies here, though some of the cards might be outdated. Have fun!
To be continued.