【Chromancer】Q&A Email with developer

Here are full version of Q&A that I conducted about a week ago with Chromancer’s developer.  As far as I know, there may be several new information many may not have seen before.

General Questions

Q: How long have you guys been in development of this game?

I created Chromancer 7 years ago. I gathered the team one at a time gradually and incorporated our company last summer, and now we are 6 people, plus some other helpers and some artists.
Q: Who are the crews involved in making this unique game?
As I said, we are 6 people — game designer (me), technology officer, marketing/strategy officer, art director, art director’s assistant, fantasy writer. We have a few people who help us with social media and event planning, and we also have a small team of artists. We all have experience in our different industries and have had successful careers for at least 10 years (sometimes 20) on the team before joining this project.
We will probably update our website / Kickstarter in a few weeks to give more complete descriptions of the team.
Q: What do you mean by adaptive strategy TCG?
We call our strategy “adaptive” because when you play Chromancer, the game changes as you play, and you have to adapt. The best decks are the ones which can adjust when the opponent has different tactics, or more importantly, when one of your strongholds is destroyed and the game rules change. For example, undead creatures can enter play directly from the Graveyard (discard pile) but are very weak at first. One good deck strategy might be to include spells that turn most of your creatures undead, so that if your opponent destroys your Castle (draw pile) you can transform your creatures and have big bonuses in the end game. Many other examples exist where you have to change how you play because your Bank, Castle or Graveyard are destroyed or crippled during the game. If you rely on any of them too much, or can’t change strategy when one is lost, you will usually lose.

Game System Questions

Q: So it looks like the game uses card based resource system (CRS) with field being the primary source of the resource generator.  Do these cards count towards the 24 deck size?
Income is generated by fields, but also most structures which you can build, and by some creatures. All cards including fields count towards the 24-card deck size, so you have to be efficient deciding whether to include more fields or more other cards.
Q: On the Kickstarter you are mentioning about “Heroes” and their monetary value seems a quite high compared to other cards.  What are they?
Hero cards are a type of creature. The difference is you can have only 1 hero in your deck. They are usually pretty strong, but mostly they tend to give bonuses to other cards instead of being powerful by themselves.
Q: Is 24 a strict deck size limit?  If so, what’s the reasoning behind this decision compared to other TCG where usually have minimum deck limit but no true maximum deck size limitation.  Also 24 seems rather a small number even as a minimum deck size.  Is this intentional so cycling with graveyard become more important part of the game?
We have playtested Chromancer for years and 24 cards works well. Remember that the two card-based strongholds in Chromancer (Castle, Graveyard) can only be destroyed when they are empty, so the cards in them are “hit points.” We have very, very few rules with absolute limits (for example there is no card copy limit in deckbuilding, no colored resources, no restrictions on trading, etc) but the 24 cards is one. As a separate point, we do allow players to alter any of the rules they don’t like including the deck size requirement when they play in friendly matches.

Q: Does that mean one can potentially have a deck with 10 of same cards in a deck?

You are correct that there is no copy limit other than one hero per deck. You can have 10, or even 20, of the same cards in a deck if you like. But you will always lose that way. Chromancer is a game that depends on being able to adapt … and we have never been able to succeed in our playtests with such a one-dimensional deck.
Q:  Does it mean you have to own ten of the card to be able to make the deck?
It depends what kind of match you are playing whether you are required to own all the cards in your deck. Some types of ranked play will require it and other types will not.
Q: On the official forum, you have mentioned about potential of intercept/instant like play in Chromancer, do you like to elaborate on those?
This is a very big category and the best way to find out is to stay tuned for more twitch.tv livestreams where we will talk about it, and some updates on the forums and Kickstarter page. To put it simply though: Any time a player performs an action (creature attacks, creature casts a spell, creature builds a structure, etc) either player or both players can pause the game. When the game is paused, the current action does not resolve until both players unpause; and they can do many things while it is paused. Creatures can move, players can draw and discard, players can burn cards from their hands for instant chroma (currency), and creatures can use all kinds of counter spells and attack modifiers.
Q: My understanding is currently no AI i.e. single play mode is ready for launch, but it is planned for future, is this correct?
We do have an AI but it is very stupid right now. But it can be played. We will have PvE options both for grinding and for daily challenges in the future.
Q: What platform are you supporting?  At launch and in the future.
Our game is browser-based with no download. It can be played in any web browser on any OS and on any tablet or any phone. In the future we will also have a downloadable client so people can play offline.
Q:  My understanding is card continues to cycle from graveyard back to deck.  How about those card that you placed on the battle field?  Are they staying on the battle field until gets destroyed or goes back into graveyard upon its use like Solforge? To clarify, by this I mean if you cast let’s say a field, do you now have 23 cards floating around between your castle and graveyard OR still 24?
No, our game plays like a real TCG and not like Solforge, in the sense you are asking. You have 24 total cards. Some might be in play; others might be in your decks. There are of course many cards that can spawn new copies of themselves or otherwise add cards to your total amount, but by default a card does not send a copy of itself to the Graveyard when it is played.

Cost related Questions

Q: What’s the card distribution in a set (rare vs. common) and ratio of attaining higher rarity cards in a booster pack?
There are 4 levels of rarity in standard cards that you can get in Booster packs. Fields do not count and cannot be obtained in Booster packs. Instead, you can use as many as you want for free, and you can buy them cheaply in the company store or in Field packs (although Field packs also contain rare non-standard fields sometimes).
The rarity levels are:
Uncommon – 2.5 times more rare than Common
Rare – 2.5 times more rare than Uncommon
Hero – 20 times more rare than Rare
One Booster pack costs 200 chroma. You can purchase 200 chroma for $2 in the company store, or you can earn it by playing the game.
A Booster pack contains 7 randomly distributed cards. Probabilities are:
Common: about 4.5 per Booster
Uncommon: about 1.8 per Booster
Rare: about 2 in every 3 Boosters
Hero: about 1 in every 28 Boosters
Q: What’s your guess the price of completing a playset (3x each cards)?
We estimate the value of a playset (meaning one copy of each card) on our Kickstarter page as $272.83. This is based on the average price for each card by buying Boosters. We will sell these in our player store, for an equivalent discount in chroma. Our Booster packs are truly randomized outputs of a set digital print run, so the mathematics of obtaining a complete set without trading is rather difficult. But we have a completely open and easy-to-use trading system so any player trying to finish his collection should be able to efficiently.

Expansion related Questions

Q: How often?  How many cards?
We do not know the answers to these questions yet. We plan to release with a 300 card set. We will not release expansions except of cards which are well designed, balanced, and have been playtested extremely thoroughly.

Ending Questions

Q: What makes Chromancer unique compared to many other dTCG that are currently out there, or on the horizon?
So many things. Some big things:
1. We are not just another Magic clone. We have completely new mechanics where the target is your opponent’s deck, discard pile and resource pool. Our game strategy is adaptive and involves bluffing and understanding your opponent just as much as deckbuilding and playing to your own advantage.
2. Our game is positional and played from the game board rather than in the player’s hand. A chromancer is a puppet master and it is creatures that drive the play rather than the player himself, who would be casting spells directly in a game like Magic. For us, it is the creature that casts the spell, equips the item, or builds the structure.

3. We use persistent virtual goods. For example, all the Booster packs we are giving away to our Kickstarter backers and people we meet at conventions are part of a limited alpha print run with serial numbers just like real cards. There is a limited supply which will never be reproduced, and since we have a 100% free trading system those cards will become more and more valuable over time. Our marketplace itself, our market tools, and our system overall is an example of how future game economics will work. We are not interested in the silly, and impossible, task of trying to limit players from trading, and we are determined not to undermine the value of players’ investments in time and money either by laziness or greed.
4. We have no colored resources, and 12 colors which play differently but are balanced. Players will use only a few colors because of card synergy and not because of deckbuilding limits. Only a red creature can use a red sword, for example. Most creatures are dual-colored. Some creatures (humans) are colorless, which means they can use any color but as soon as they do they BECOME that color for the rest of the game. Deckbuilding is taken to a new level unlike any other card game in Chromancer. We have a system of “deck seals” which allows deck lists to be copied to a public archive all players have access to (we call this the Arcanum). From here, any player can browse all the most popular decks, vote on which decks he likes, see win percentages and rates of use, and publish his own decks for others’ consideration. Also, decks are in general represented everywhere on the whole site as little icons which can easily be managed by the player, so he can copy and paste a deck icon into a forum post, his signature, game chat, battle chat, the marketplace, etc, and anyone else can instantly copy that deck to his own deck list just by clicking it. Then, any player can also filter all offers on the marketplace to see at what (cheapest) price he can buy the cards he needs to complete the deck. These are just examples of what our system can do.
5. One of our team is a professional fantasy writer and he spends his time writing stories about the lore of our game. We will regularly be releasing (already this week the first one) stories about our game world for players to follow. It is a fully fleshed out, rich and interesting world, and players can also help shape it based on how they play the game later on.
6. We encourage and support emergent gameplay. Players can trade cards, unopened packs, virtual currency, tickets for lotteries and tournaments, and even player-made goods like tickets for a player-run tournament and more. We also intend to support player-made companies, trading groups, and even let players publish their own newsletters and analyses of the market on our website, in a dedicated section and sometimes on the front page in the proper circumstances. If a player is a brilliant merchant, he should be able to publish a newsletter that other players can receive every week for a fixed fee in virtual currency, and we will facilitate the transaction. These are the kinds of things we intend to do / support.

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