Saturday, February 15, 2014

Rules complete

Just a quick update today.  It's been a busy couple weeks with regards to Clockwork Wars.  We're in the home-stretch, trying to be 100% ready for the KS campaign - as well as generate some pre-campaign buzz via Facebook, BGG, etc.

I'd say at this point we've got about 50% of the art finished, but our artists are completing 2-3 pieces per week.  With over 50 cards in the game, each one featuring unique art, we knew it was going to be a time-consuming task from the beginning.  But I love the artists we're working with right now, and their enthusiasm is invigorating.

Graphic design work on the game-board, card layouts, and tokens is coming along nicely.  I'd say we're about 60% done there.

The best news is that I've submitted the rules to Eagle for translation into French and German.  In other words, I'm 99% confident that the bulk of rules writing and editing is complete.  I, and several other people, have gone over these rules dozens of times, and I think they're well-organized, clear, and complete.  If anything, I've erred on the side of making them too long and detailed.  I'd rather the rules be precise, without any holes or contradictions, and with plenty of gameplay examples. In terms of rules complexity, I consider Clockwork Wars a light-medium weight game.   For most strategy gamers who regularly play modern board games, the rules will be easily manageable.  On par with Memoir '44 (or really any of the Command and Colors series) or Conquest of Nerath, if you're familiar with those titles.  However, if Risk is the only strategy game you've ever played, CW might be a little overwhelming at first glance.  But I guarantee you that after a turn or two, you'll get the rhythm and be seeing the possibilities unfold.

We've got some new prototypes in the works and will continue play-testing, ensuring that the card balance and race balance, in particular, are just right.  That stuff is always hard (asymmetry is fun, but a pain-in-the-ass from a design standpoint), but I can promise you it's at the top of my mind.

Cheers, all.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ritual of Blood

Today, I'd like to show off some art and also tell you a little more about how specific discoveries work in Clockwork Wars.  Here's the current art for the sorcery discovery, Ritual of Blood.

Pretty grim! Purebreed technowizards conducting nefarious experiments on some poor Mongrel captives.  I find a lot of steampunk art, especially in games, cartoonish or whimsical. We aimed for a slightly more mature style with Clockwork Wars and think we've achieved it. I love this piece and can't wait to show you more from the same artist. He's got a unique eye.

So how does Ritual of Blood work?  First of all, it's a sorcery discovery, which means that you need to collect sorcery influence points (IP) by controlling towers on the map.  Each turn, every tower that you control generates 1 sorcery IP.  Ritual of Blood costs 7 sorcery IP to purchase, which is relatively expensive.

In addition, Ritual of Blood is not available to research until the Late Age.  A game of Clockwork Wars lasts for 7 turns.  Turns 1-2 are the Early Age, turns 3-4 are the Middle Age, and turns 5-7 are the Late Age.  At the end of each age, there's a scoring phase where players earn victory points for any resources territories (Forests and Lakes) that they control.  The ages also determine what discoveries are available to purchase.

Let's say you planned things just right.  It's turn 5, you've got the first player token, and you have 7 sorcery IP tokens. When the research phase comes around, you can declare that you're "discovering" Ritual of Blood and take the card and its associated discovery token.  That token must be placed in either your capital or any tower that you control.  Discovery tokens represent the discovery itself - and they can be captured by your opponents.  If you place Ritual of Blood in a tower under your control, but then one of your opponents captures that tower on a subsequent turn, you will need to hand over Ritual of Blood to your enemy. Brutal!  However, a discovery placed in your capital can never be captured.  Unfortunately, any single territory, including your capital, can only ever hold one discovery.

So now you own Ritual of Blood.  What does it do for you?  Every research phase, you can activate it for the following effect:  for each Tower you control, you may kill up to 2 Soldiers in a single territory and gain 1 VP per Solider killed.

In effect, Ritual of Blood lets you attack your opponents anywhere on the map - AND get VP's for doing so. The more towers you control, the more powerful it is.  Imagine if you controlled 3 towers! You could kill 6 enemy soldiers per turn and get 6 VP every time you did so:  18 VP just from late age use of Ritual of Blood.  Almost certainly a winning strategy.  But if your opponents let you pull this off (by ceding control of so many towers), they deserve to lose the game.

From the beginning, I wanted discoveries to be real "game-changers."  They're not supposed to be subtle or slight.  They should change the landscape of the conflict in a significant fashion, create drama, and provide enormous advantage to those who research them.  As such, you ignore research and discoveries in Clockwork Wars at your peril.