(Metagame Archive) Fan Card Crossover – Week 6: The Object of My Designer

By The Ben Seck

Welcome back to the Fan Card Crossover! Last week you were given two big choices on where our fan card is headed, and both races were quite interesting. The first choice was what resource cost you would like Nyssa Raatko to be, and here are the results:

What Cost?

  1. 6%
  2. 9%
  3. 29%
  4. 2%
  5. 8%
  6. 45%
  7. 0%
  8. 1%

 

These results show that the fans thought the League of Assassins would be best off with a 6-drop—something I cannot fault them for believing. The current 6-drops that are available are fairly underpowered in the modern Golden Age metagame, and none of them really sets up an impressive late game for the League. If I had made Nyssa for the set, she would have been a 6-cost character.
Current Card:

The other decision was a much more hard-fought race:

What League of Assassins Theme?

 

  • Keeping and counting stunned characters – 19%
  • KO’ing characters directly – 29%
  • Locations – 33%
  • Plague counters – 9%
  • Removing team affiliations – 10%

 

Location manipulation is one of the clearest themes from the early League decks, and its continued popularity is shown by its win over KO’ing characters directly. Many of the voters said that they were choosing a location-based theme because Nyssa is in possession of the last Lazarus Pit, so they wanted to have a mechanic that showed this. But with such a close vote, I have decided to open up our options. When we decide on the specific game text, it may include themes both for location affinity as well as KO’ing characters directly. A good example of how we could do this is with Merlyn, Deadly Archer. He represents both themes aptly while not belonging to any one in particular.

This idea brings us to this week’s tutorial: top-down and bottom-up design. When making a character card for Vs, there are two ideas that often conflict. First, you want to design a card that is accurate and flavorful to the character, and you want to use whatever themes and mechanics that are appropriate to achieve this goal. This is called “top-down” design. The counterpoint to this is that, in most cases, a character has to be part of a team, so in general, it needs to contribute to the team’s overall goal. This kind of design is called “bottom-up.”

How do we address these seemingly incompatible goals? When I decide on a character’s mechanical themes, I line up the most important members of that character’s team to see what themes are consistent among the majority of them. Then, I look at the specifics of the character and tailor that mechanic to fit its individual flavor. I’ll use a real-world example: Quicksilver, Mutant Avenger. It was decided that the Avengers, who as a team are greater than the sum of their parts, would have a team-attacking theme. But speedsters in the Vs. universe are known for their ability to ready, so the way that we represent both the team’s theme as well as the individual flavor of the character is to merge the two ideas.

In the interest of top-down design, we should look at what mechanics would be the best “thematic home runs” for Nyssa:

  • Loyalty – This is fairly apt for her. Even though she betrayed her father, her betrayal was connected to furthering the cause of the League of Assassins. Also, loyalty is a theme from the early League characters.
  • Evasion – Nyssa escaped the Holocaust, so there is some justification for this ability. As many readers have pointed out, evasion goes very well with the idea of counting stunned characters.
  • Concealed/Concealed—Optional – Both of these mechanics can speak to the fact that Nyssa was waiting in the wings before she struck.
  • Leader – This would be a reasonable mechanic to showcase Nyssa’s command over the League.
  • Boost – Boost is a fairly nondescript ability that Nyssa could have, since it doesn’t really speak to any superhero powers.

 

The following mechanics generally won’t apply to Nyssa:

  • Invulnerability – Invulnerability in Vs. generally speaks to some sort of imperviousness like you’d see on Superman.
  • Willpower – Not really applicable for Nyssa. Willpower is generally reserved for Green Lanterns and magic users.
  • Reservist – Nyssa isn’t really a reservist character, since she demands attention and has a more central role in the team.
  • Ally – Nyssa doesn’t really seek to help her friends.

 

Now, it’s up to you! We are going to give you the chance to send us your game text ideas for Nyssa. Vs. System R&D will choose the five best entries, and those will be voted on next week by you, the fans! Remember, this is going to be turned into a real card, so we will be looking for designs that show a certain amount of elegance as well as thematic integrity. Keep in mind that the winning theme was locations and location manipulation, so all entries should have some reference to that theme. But as I said before, you are also allowed to tie it to KO’ing characters directly, if you want—but your idea won’t be considered unless it is primarily connected to the location theme.

Things to look out for:

  • Simplicity is nearly always preferable to complexity when it comes to card design. Having subtle layers and interactions rather than “wacky” and outlandish ideas will get you far.
  • Nyssa is a 6-cost character, so make sure your game text is relevant on that turn.
  • Location, location, location—this is the most important part of the exercise. Your game text must be connected to the League’s location theme!
  • You can use existing mechanics, but don’t go overboard. Make sure the ability you give her justifies the art, mechanics, and theme. The guide I have given you above should assist your choices.
  • Don’t refer to other cards in particular. I know many of you want to refer to Lazarus Pit or Talia in your card, but it generally leads to poor design. Cards want to seek out their own interactions with other cards, not have them spelled-out in certain ways. There are more subtle ways to encourage the use of particular cards, so be creative!

 

To enter, send an email to fancardcrossover@gmail.com, using the header “Nyssa Game Text.” In the body of the message, write the game text you think she should have, as well as your name and UDE player number. We will pick the five best entries, and you guys will vote on which of the finalists will be made. There will even be a little prize (on top of the glory of having your card made) for the entrant who wins. Get those creative juices flowing!

I’ll see you next week, when we’ll look at design subtlety.

Until then, good gaming!

TBS

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