Custom Card Game Design
Over the last few days, I did some preliminary testing of Overworld. So, how did the individual mechanics turn out?
Quest hub is a very new addition to Overworld. I wanted a mana-sink mechanic that also reinforces the adventure theme of the set by capturing the flavor of questing in role-playing games. Originally, there was a cycle of invokers in the set, but I figured that they were not the ideal mana sinks. They are removed quite easily, and they’re very swingy, since they often win games by themselves.
Quest hubs on the other hand are much harder to remove, but can’t win a game single-handedly. You play them early with little opportunity cost and it gives you something to do later on. I decided very early that all quest hubs should cantrip. It may read at bit weird, but it increases their playability dramatically, and allows me to put much more expensive, and less game-breaking abilities on them.
The special frame can signal “quest abilities” without the need of additional text such as “This is a quest ability.” Through some convoluted combos, a quest hub could of course gain other activated abilities, and they wouldn’t fall under the quest ability rules.
I haven’t tested all of these yet, and I’m still trying to find the right numbers, but I like how they play overall. They will definitely stay in one form or another.
Dominion recently received a significant change. Previously, it was an ability word that cared about whether the creature had the greatest power among creatures on the battlefield. Now, it only compares its power with creatures your opponents control. I also upgraded it to a keyword, because, as it turns out, the previous version didn’t even work: Layers and stuff…
The former change was made to reduce the feel-bad moments, where one of your creatures turned off the dominion ability of another. But even with this change, the mechanic feels kinda mediocre. With its current implementation, it almost never comes up that both players fight with a flurry of spells to turn dominion on or off. It just is. Or isn’t. Maybe the cards surrounding this mechanic can be changed to better support it, but currently it’s a candidate for the trash can.
My main problem with combat in limited is that the defending player is always at a disadvantage because he or she can’t keep mana untapped as easily. Combat is not really interesting if only the defending player has to play around things, even less so when he or she can’t afford to do so.
Riposte allows you to leave mana open for tricks on your opponent’s turn. I really like how it increases the interactivity of combat. What I learned, though, is that the Riposte discount doesn’t justify taking away from a card’s offensive potency. Otherwise, aggressive decks won’t end up playing them and you’re back to square one.
What makes Overworld unique are its weird tribal themes. Turtles, pirates, and sea monsters? Who can argue with that? Overall, the tribal synergies felt really well-balanced, both in quantity and quality. However, situations arise very often where you look at a booster with the only playable card in your colors being a tribal card of a tribe you’re not drafting. You end up skipping many picks, and scrape for playables at the end.
Wanderlust filled the entire spectrum. Some decks just don’t care for the additional lands and flipping the top card becomes much less exciting. But for decks that need the mana, there is an interesting tension whether you should attack for the chance of generating additional resources or defend, especially when you’re behind. The former decks probably just shouldn’t include the Wanderlust cards, and it’s not the mechanic’s fault. The mechanic looks more powerful than it plays, though, and I underbudgeted the creatures as a result.
I also consider removing the “you may put it on the bottom of your library” part, as it didn’t come up very often that you wanted to do that.
Vessel is simply a generalized Battle Cry. Obviously, battle cry is a fine mechanic, but what abilities besides +1/+0 work well on it? Abilities only relevant in combat, such as first strike or deathtouch, are somewhat a waste because your opponent wants to be blocking the ship anyway. On the other hand, Vessel of Lost Souls plays very well.
Is the vessel ability word even needed when all and only ships possess these types of abilities? After all, ability words only group together a set of familiar abilities, but the “Ship” creature type already does that.
There is still a lot to be tuned, but except for dominion, all the themes and mechanics show potential. I am unsure whether Dominion is salvageable or should be discarded. My current inclination is to simply replace it with Monstrosity and save the trouble. Coffee?
Quest hub: 7/10