It looks the game will see some radical change.
Coming Next: New Game Mechanics
We’re starting with big changes first, because it’s important to get them into the system earliest so they can be tested, and, most importantly so that our players can tell us what they think. As you know, Chromancer is a project years in the making, and over that period the mechanics have continued to shift. What has never shifted has been some of the central principles of the game and what we are trying to accomplish, both with our open style of gameplay where you can do what you want how you want when you want (to whatever extent we can enable that within a reasonable rule set), and with our core concept of being able, directly, to assault your opponent’s 3 structures central to playing the game. But we have continued to adjust how you go about doing those things, so that we’ve gotten closer and closer to a tight and really interesting gaming experience. A couple of final-touch changes are in the making right now.
One of the changes we’re about to implement actually alters the primary win condition of the game, which for any game is a serious one. In our case, however, Chromancer plays similarly to how it always has — only we feel the strategy is now opened up, and you legitimately can play a more passive style if you want to. The fact that our game will play out this way correspondingly enables us to make colors and cards which are built for aggressive play all the more effective, because they now are balanced in a larger system where aggression is a choice rather than the standard.
The other major mechanics change goes a bit in the opposite direction: instead of adding complexity, it is removing it. We love Chromancer’s depth but we had been more and more convinced through our playtesting (and your invaluable feedback) that the game tends to drag on and sometimes is almost too involved instead of being simpler when executing your strategy. We think both changes, especially together, will radically improve Chromancer.
Crystallizing your Chroma
You can still win a game of Chromancer by destroying your opponent’s Castle, Graveyard and Bank. That’s unchanged. However the primary win condition of the game is now different. We’ve removed the ability to win by reaching 100 chroma in your Bank. And instead …
When you launch a new game, you will be able to choose the Crystal Goal for that match. This is simply a number (right now we are testing everything from 30 to 200). It will represent the total amount of crystallized chroma a player will need to win the game. As soon as one player reaches that amount, he will win instantly.
Crystallizing chroma is simple. You can do it as an instant whenever you want, at no cost to you. When you crystallize, you take 1 chroma out of your Bank and turn it into a Crystal, which then goes into your crystal pile and counts towards your total crystal count for the game. Once chroma is crystallized, it cannot be used to pay for cards or abilities anymore — but there are other effects it can trigger. For example there will be creatures and structures who have power bonuses if you control at least a certain amount of crystals at any time.
The decision of when and how much of your chroma to crystallize is entirely up to you, but it will be deeply strategic. It will certainly be possible just to keep all your chroma in your Bank, waiting until you’ve acquired enough just to click “crystallize” and win instantly — and that way in the meantime you can use that chroma for other purposes. But there will be plenty of reasons you’ll want to crystallize some of your chroma sooner, and those will be apparent with our card design moving forward. Don’t forget that if your Bank is lost, you won’t be able to save chroma from turn to turn — so it will be smartest just to crystallize it before it disappears forever!
One final note about this change. The fact that you can choose a very low crystal total to “race” to actually enables you to play a “speed” game of Chromancer if you wanted. If the win condition is just to hit 30, it may be possible to get there in just a few turns, if your opponent isn’t careful. Of course just going for the crystals win might imply leaving yourself open to attack, and letting your opponent camp creatures in front of your defenseless Bank … which is not an easy way to amass wealth and stop your opponent from outstripping you!
New Attacking and Blocking System
We’re also changing how attacking and blocking works. This was really too complicated. The idea will stay the same, but be much simplified.
When you want a creature to attack, you will tell him to. But no longer will you choose a target. Instead, the creature will just attack what’s directly in front of it. That could be an undefended structure or field, but it also could be the creature in the space across from it. This introduces a new concept, which is that in every space where you or your opponent has creatures, there will be one creature designated “in front” for the purposes of blocking. An opponent can still block your attacks intelligently by pausing the game after you declare an attack and selecting a different creature to move to the front of a group.
One nice side-effect of this new system is it makes blocking an attack on an undefended location much easier. You simply move a creature “in the way” by moving it to the attacked lane, and then unpause. Being the only creature in that spot, it will automatically be at the “front” and automtically soak the damage of the attack. This reduces the amount of clicking you have to do, but also simplifies the way you need to think about the game board and “where” everything is relative to each other. Plus it makes attacking itself extremely easy with a single click. We expect both of these things to speed up the game considerably, because they make things easier both on a physical level (number of clicks) and on a conceptual one (thinking about who is targeting what).
Q: When are the changes happening?
We’ve already got the crystallizing mechanic working in the game client and we’re in the midst of implementing the attacking/blocking changes. Those will take slightly longer because they’re more involved, but we should have some version of the new mechanics by this weekend already. (Good incentive to playtest maybe?!)
Q: Doesn’t not being able to choose a target make attacks a lot weaker?
No, actually it does almost nothing to change how attacks work, if you think about it. Since at present the opponent can always pause your attack and decide who blocks it, the fact that you’ve chosen to target one thing or another in your original attack means very little. That was a complexity that was really unnecessary because it didn’t affect the outcome of what actually happened 99% of the time. Now you will know what your target is because it will be obvious, but you won’t have to specify — and as usual the defending player will be able to change the blocker if s/he so chooses.
Q: When are we going to be in “Beta” officially?
The official change will happen in a couple of months when our UI itself changes to the graphically-rich isometric view we’ve been promising. The whole game will start to feel like a professional, polished product then. We can’t wait!
Q: Do we get to keep our loot or will there be a Beta wipe?
We will address these issues more completely a bit later once we start testing things like player-owned cards and so on, but the short answer is yes, all of the items in your “gift box” you can see when you hover your mouse near your username are permanent and will be usable and valid on your account when we launch the full game.
Please do ask us any questions not addressed here by adding a post to the thread!
My brief alpha game testing in the past, I had two major concerns about this game. One of which was the game’s “tempo”. The major change that Chromancer is bringing Crystalizing Chroma system, and simplifying attacking mechanics can potentially alleviate this issue.
The chromancer has several unique mechanics that separates it apart from many other dTCG (will be) out there. The potential on this game is huge, but the game will certainly need more refining and perhaps some radical change in the game design. However, this announcement is one proof that developers are aware such, and they are still at the stage, and willing to admit that. Let’s continue to see how this game will evolve.