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Arena tournament gruesome autopsy!
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Key



Joined: 08 Feb 2004
Posts: 2622
Location: The Royal Palace

Posted: Fri Dec 28, 2007 10:08 pm    Post subject: Arena tournament gruesome autopsy!  

OK, here's where we can talk about what changes to make to the Arena rules and to the format of the next tournament to improve it. I'll get us started; if you've been playing Arena, either in or out of the tournament, feel free to jump in...

Timing - one thing that was pretty frustrating was how slow the tournament moved. It took people awhile to meet up for matches, when it happened at all. Once we get this game going for real, we'll have more players, so this won't be as big a problem. But in the meantime for our playtesting, I'm not sure how to solve this. Would it be better to try to set a particular time when everybody has to show up? Or to let people choose their own opponents, instead of assigning them? Suggestions would be much appreciated here.
Cards - there were some complaints about the random structure of the cards. Possible alternatives for next tournament include:
everybody picks whatever cards they want
people can pick whatever cards they want, plus create one or more of their own
there's still a limited set, but you get your opponents' cards when you beat them
instead of random cards, there are themed sets of cards (e.g. an orc deck, an elf deck, etc.)
any other possibilities?
Game structure - in general, I'm pretty happy with how the game plays. But there's one aspect that I don't like - since each player moves all of their forces every turn, the game can lead to a lot of waiting for the player who isn't moving, which can get a little boring, especially in complicated combats when the other player's taking a long time to figure things out. I've been working on a rules change where players alternate moving their creatures instead of doing it all at once - makes for shorter times between your moves. I'd like to try it out for at least a few practice games, but I'd also like to hear how other people felt about the waiting, whether you also found that a drawback to the game.
Board size - there have been requests for a larger board, so I've created one here. Take a look, try it out if you like, and let me know if you think we should use this one in the next tournament. Also, the new board has a rule called "extra mana", in which you can spend some of your army creation points to get extra hexes of control, usable one-time only. I'm thinking this will give some additional options for strategy, as you could play a weak army with high terrain control against a traditional stronger one.
New development - what would you like next in terms of enhancements to the prototype? Spells are one option; another is the ability to save decks, or better functionality for creating your own creatures, or the ability to create your own terrain types. (All of these will be in the real game, but the question is what would be the most fun to playtest next.)
Tweaks to card cost - there are lots of minor changes to the algorithm or parameters for card costs. Here are a few I've noticed, let me know if you have others:
Clearly low power, move 2 creatures are too cheap, per the fact that units mounted on riding horses and warhorses dominated. However, high power, high move creatures may be too expensive, or at least not too cheap. The Hell horse at 17 and Great Wolf at 16 seem overpriced. We need to make some adjustments there.
The poison rules are 1 point off. Currently adding 1 point of poison to a creature allows it to kill something 2 points higher than it would have, which is not right (e.g. an archer with ranged power 1 can only kill a creature with 0 power, but an archer with ranged power 1 and poison 1 can kill a creature with 2 power). Poison should only affect a creature when the poison value is greater than the difference in power, not greater or equal to. This is an easy fix which will have the benefit of making poisonous creatures more balanced with non-poisonous ones.
Water creatures should cost a little more. A Power 4 creature like the sea serpent costing 8, is a bit too much of a bargain.
Enclosed vehicles - We need rules to cover vehicles like the tank. A creature riding inside should not be able to be targeted, or at least not as easily as someone riding a horse.
Move 0 vehicles should cost less. We need to make them viable, and currently they're not worth using.

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions, pet peeves, or things you especially like about the game?

:-)
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D-Lotus



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
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Location: Hollywood, USA

Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 1:27 am    Post subject:  

I think its a good idea to get your oponents cards when you beat them. And yes, I think we should keep the card. This way, the tournament is more fair and creative; players must use their imagination to build new armies, rather than repeatedly use the same prefabricated formations.

Timing for me was a problem. A "quick" Arena game is usually half-an hour long, or maybe more. I'm not sure whether this a problem of the game, or rather because we are still relatively new at playing it, and we take a long time. In any case, trying out the new system of play wouldn't hurt.

As for the new developments, we should experiment and see what works best. The new board looks good; everything is worth trying.

I also agree with your other comments about cost, enclosed vehicles, etc. Another thing: Pegasus costs too much. I don't understand why it's so costly; it's very valuable, but more than 30 points? That's preposterous!
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
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Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 4:10 am    Post subject:  

Ah, I recognize that big board! :D

I think the key to this kind of playtesting tourney is to make it as easy as possible.

Hence my suggestions would be to let everyone make their own armies (which should help get start to gather some special 'decks') and to let people play any other opponent.

What I may also suggest is that instead of a knockout, we have a league, with a points system. Of course, we'd have to make it so that if a player played a lot, they don't win just because of that, but it may add to the flexibility whilst we have limited players.

Easy is the way to go!
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LordoftheNight



Joined: 11 Aug 2005
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Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 5:03 am    Post subject:  

Quote: Clearly low power, move 2 creatures are too cheap, per the fact that units mounted on riding horses and warhorses dominated.

Are you talking about my army? 'Cause that was mostly slow moving. Honest :P.

Orginally, I thought just designing your own decks would have worked better, but I came around to the randomally assigned ones. If we could create out own decks freely, then some decks would be simply unplayable against others - for instance, my Skyflier army will generally win, unless you take protection against fliers. It's not hard to do, but you should have thought about it beforehand.

The random decks on the other hand, generally give you a bit of everything, plus you can chop and change with others. If you steal your opponents cards when in a tournement, that'd make it even better.

About sending army points on hexes - what sort of ratio are we talking about? For the most part, I still don't think terrain is very useful without the elevation aspects. There's a lot of stuff which ignores it.
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Key



Joined: 08 Feb 2004
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Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 4:19 pm    Post subject:  

D-Lotus wrote: Timing for me was a problem. A "quick" Arena game is usually half-an hour long, or maybe more. I'm not sure whether this a problem of the game, or rather because we are still relatively new at playing it, and we take a long time.
My goal when designing this is that you could play a game in a half hour. Do you think that's too long? I think we take a little longer than that now, both because people are new and also because the software isn't primitive.

D-Lotus wrote: Pegasus costs too much. I don't understand why it's so costly; it's very valuable, but more than 30 points? That's preposterous!
Yes, that's a side effect of how the algorithm works - there's a multiplier to the cost for moving 2 and another one for having a fly speed of 2. Since the pegasus is fast both in the air and on the ground, those get multiplied together and the end cost is really more than it should be. I'll experiment with ways to change the algorithm to make it work better in this case, but it's a bit challenging since it's not as simple as changing the parameters.

lordy wrote: About sending army points on hexes - what sort of ratio are we talking about? For the most part, I still don't think terrain is very useful without the elevation aspects. There's a lot of stuff which ignores it.
For now, the ratio is one to one: each army building point gives you 1 hex of control to be spent during any terrain change phase in the game. That may seem like it's not buying you much, but you end up using those points only when you're just short of what you need to change a hex, so they go farther than you would think.

Chinaren wrote: What I may also suggest is that instead of a knockout, we have a league, with a points system. Of course, we'd have to make it so that if a player played a lot, they don't win just because of that, but it may add to the flexibility whilst we have limited players.
Yes, we could do that. A lot of similar games have "ladders" that always show the top players. What do people think? Would that be better?
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Key



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Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 6:17 pm    Post subject:  

OK, I made some changes to the algorithm for creature cost. Take a look and let me know what you think.
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D-Lotus



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
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Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 12:30 am    Post subject:  

I noticed that the Living Tree costs 21 now. I did notice that its power went up to 5, but I still think it's overpriced. I'd rather that it be less power and cheaper, because I have this strategy where I attach Wings of Flying to the Living Tree and haul it from hex to hex, therefore changing the entire landscape into wood.

Anyway, I'm trying to say that I preferred the Living Tree as it was before.

Besides, the only real difference between the Living Tree and the Wall of Stone is that the Living Tree turns hexes to Forest, but if you consider that it can't move very far on its own, then it only converts its deployment hex to Forest. Is the 10 point difference in price between the Wall of Stone and the Living Tree worth one Forest hex?
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LordoftheNight



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Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:53 am    Post subject:  

Er...D? Wall of Stone is Blunt. That's a huge difference.

Blunt creatures can't actually kill anything, remember?

And I'm pretty sure it's neutral as well, meaning it has to be crewed to even count it's 5B.
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Key



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Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:57 am    Post subject:  

Yes, that was the one case that I noticed too - 0 move high power creatures are overpriced. I think living trees should be more like 15 to 18. I kept tweaking things to get it to come out right, but I wasn't able to find an algorithm that worked for that case and also for the others.

We can add a bonus to the Living Tree to make it come out how we want, but I'd rather find an algorithm that gets the right answer. So I'll keep working on it.

D-Lotus wrote: Besides, the only real difference between the Living Tree and the Wall of Stone is that the Living Tree turns hexes to Forest, but if you consider that it can't move very far on its own, then it only converts its deployment hex to Forest. Is the 10 point difference in price between the Wall of Stone and the Living Tree worth one Forest hex?
No, that's only part of it. The other big difference is that Wall of Stone does only blunt damage, while the Living Tree does standard. That's a pretty significant difference - it means you can't kill anything with a Wall of stone.
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Key



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Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 9:37 pm    Post subject:  

Here's some more feedback I got via PM:

Quote: Timing

Each player has 24 hours from the announced time of the battle to begin it. If that player does not begin the battle within that time period, he will lose an amount of Fables equal to the entry fee and will be considered to have forfeited.

Card Choice

Each player could be allowed to choose a set of cards with total point value of 175 (or the point value chosen) and be permitted to build an army out of that set with a total point value equalling 45 (or the point value chosen) for each battle of the tournament.

Card Costs

Water Creatures- I agree. Things like the Gunship, for example, have become the mainstay of a couple of expert players' armies in freelance games and need to be made a little more expensive.

Cheap Speed 2 creatures- I've checked and they cost around 4-5 Points less than they should. A Power 3, Speed 2 creature costs 20, but a Riding Horse and Ogre costs 15. There needs to be some kind of adjustment made.

Movement 0 Creatures- should have a greater base cost, especially if they're also Power 0 Creatures, because of below. If you want them to be an important part of gameplay, simply give them powerful yet cheaper abilities...

Crown of Agency and Robot Brain- Both of them accomplish the same thing, but the Crown of Agency costs significantly more than the Robot Brain. Either their prices should be fixed or one of them should be removed...

Vehicles- Vehicles should have an 'Enclosed' attribute. If a Vehicle is an 'Enclosed' Vehicle creatures inside of it can't be targeted by spells, abilities or attacks. An example of an 'Enclosed' vehicle is a tank, as you said, and an example of an unenclosed Vehicle is a Riding Horse.

More Ideas

I'd like it if we put out Arena Design Competitions, for creatures, items, spells and so forth. There could be rewards for the best design in each catagory- and an entry fee, of course... Things like that could promote greater interest in Arena, if we publicised them enough in the City.

Every now and again you could hire Arena Designers, who would create spells, items and creatures for Arena that you could purchase for Fables, either individually or in random 'sets', which would vary in size. Individually they would cost more but in sets they would cost less, although there is the problem that you only have a very broad idea of what you're getting.

The main problem I'm seeing is that people like Chinaren and Lordofthenight could buy up a dozen enormous sets and get every card in the game, thus putting them at an enormous advantage in casual games, but in tournament games all players would have a choice of any card that has been released in recent sets that fit within the Point Limit, so that's OK.

Not only that, but since there will be certain unique cards being released as tournament prizes that you won't be able to get in the ordinary sets...
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LordoftheNight



Joined: 11 Aug 2005
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Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 4:55 am    Post subject:  

The point about timing is ridiculous. Not everyone checks the site daily, the next round battles could be announced at any time, depending on when other people play their battles ect.

It'd be impossible to expect people to check IF, contact their opponent, arrange a time that suits them both and play the game all within 24 hours. Some people actually have work/jobs/school ect, and aren't online 24/7.
Quote: Cheap Speed 2 creatures- I've checked and they cost around 4-5 Points less than they should. A Power 3, Speed 2 creature costs 20, but a Riding Horse and Ogre costs 15. There needs to be some kind of adjustment made.

Riding Horse and Ogre has never costed 15. It used to cost 16, and now costs 18.
A Centuar - Move 2, Power 1 - costs ten. An orc on a riding horse has the same stats, but costs 11 points. It is also potentially weaker, as various snipers/items can pick their targets, knocking the orc off the top, and stealing the horse for themselves. Neutral creatures should be cheaper than active ones.

Quote: Water Creatures- I agree. Things like the Gunship, for example, have become the mainstay of a couple of expert players' armies in freelance games and need to be made a little more expensive.

Not sure about this one. Yes, Water creatures are fairly cheap, but I've always seem them as having too many disadvantages to be useful. If anything I'd suggest lowering the price - currently they're dead easy to manuvere around.

Quote: Movement 0 Creatures- should have a greater base cost, especially if they're also Power 0 Creatures, because of below. If you want them to be an important part of gameplay, simply give them powerful yet cheaper abilities...

Crown of Agency and Robot Brain- Both of them accomplish the same thing, but the Crown of Agency costs significantly more than the Robot Brain. Either their prices should be fixed or one of them should be removed...

That's not really possible. Robot brains can't be increased in price, as overwise they'd equal kobolds in points cost. Kobolds are obviously superior, as they can actually move.

The bonus given by the Crown is that your neutal creature can no longer be used by your opponent. As far as I see it, that cancels one of the main disadvantages suffered by neutral creatures. A couple of days ago - just before my glorious victory over C'ren for the Championship - D-Lotus gave Mr. Second Place a game. D used a gunship, managed to get it captured as the robot brain was destroyed. This gave C'ren the game, as his keen-blade zombie could now mount the gunship, and speed into the kingzone, regardless of D's defensive tactics.
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Chinaren



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Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 7:13 am    Post subject:  

Quote: . As far as I see it, that cancels one of the main disadvantages suffered by neutral creatures. A couple of days ago - just before my glorious victory over C'ren for the Championship - D-Lotus gave Mr. Second Place a game. D used a gunship, managed to get it captured as the robot brain was destroyed. This gave C'ren the game, as his keen-blade zombie could now mount the gunship, and speed into the kingzone, regardless of D's defensive tactics

Im fairly drunk now, so osrryy about teh bad typing. Anyway, I think the gunship's about right. It's powerflue but you can't use it much.

I didn't use the captured gunship in my glorios victory againt D. Of course, the vicotrory aganstn tme was pure lukc,

~Falls over!'
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LordoftheNight



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Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 8:53 am    Post subject:  

No, you didn't use it - he gave up that turn. Without the captured goodies, he had a chance of winning still.
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D-Lotus



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
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Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 1:48 pm    Post subject:  

I think I've played 4 games with a gunship, and I've only won one game. I still like the gunship, for some reason, but so far it hasn't proved that it should be more expensive than 13. After all, a simple terrain change will halt its advance.

Quote: I'd like it if we put out Arena Design Competitions, for creatures, items, spells and so forth. There could be rewards for the best design in each catagory- and an entry fee, of course... Things like that could promote greater interest in Arena, if we publicised them enough in the City.

This is interesting. I recently designed an army of Pixies, maybe this is the sort of thing you are talking about, O mysterious contributor.

Quote: The main problem I'm seeing is that people like Chinaren and Lordofthenight could buy up a dozen enormous sets and get every card in the game, thus putting them at an enormous advantage in casual games,

Do you mean to say that we would need cards for casual games? In my opinion, that's going too far; it ruins the purpose of a 'casual' games. You should be able to do whatever you please in a casual game.
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Key



Joined: 08 Feb 2004
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Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 7:26 pm    Post subject:  

D-Lotus wrote: I think I've played 4 games with a gunship, and I've only won one game. I still like the gunship, for some reason, but so far it hasn't proved that it should be more expensive than 13. After all, a simple terrain change will halt its advance.
In the changes I made, the Gunship ended up coming out the same even though the cost of other water creatures was higher. The sea serpent I think was too cheap at 8, now it's 10, but the gunship is still 13.

D-Lotus wrote: Quote: I'd like it if we put out Arena Design Competitions, for creatures, items, spells and so forth. There could be rewards for the best design in each catagory- and an entry fee, of course... Things like that could promote greater interest in Arena, if we publicised them enough in the City.
This is interesting. I recently designed an army of Pixies, maybe this is the sort of thing you are talking about, O mysterious contributor.
Yes, that's really the thing that will make Arena unique - the ability to create your own cards. Unfortunately, we don't have enough of that working yet. For example, the special abilities that your pixies have aren't covered by the rules, so we can't really calculate their costs (yet anyway).

D-Lotus wrote: Quote: The main problem I'm seeing is that people like Chinaren and Lordofthenight could buy up a dozen enormous sets and get every card in the game, thus putting them at an enormous advantage in casual games,
Do you mean to say that we would need cards for casual games? In my opinion, that's going too far; it ruins the purpose of a 'casual' games. You should be able to do whatever you please in a casual game.
Eventually I think we will probably limit what can be done in casual games, if only because the number of possible cards is going to be too many to even consider. So we'll probably have sets, or certain cards with "official" status. But all that is a long ways away.

lordofthenight wrote: A Centuar - Move 2, Power 1 - costs ten. An orc on a riding horse has the same stats, but costs 11 points. It is also potentially weaker, as various snipers/items can pick their targets, knocking the orc off the top, and stealing the horse for themselves. Neutral creatures should be cheaper than active ones.
Quote: Crown of Agency and Robot Brain- Both of them accomplish the same thing, but the Crown of Agency costs significantly more than the Robot Brain. Either their prices should be fixed or one of them should be removed...
The bonus given by the Crown is that your neutal creature can no longer be used by your opponent. As far as I see it, that cancels one of the main disadvantages suffered by neutral creatures.
One aspect of the game which I like is that there are multiple ways of doing the same thing. So you can buy big normal creatures, or you can buy big neutral creatures and stick tiny pilots on top of them, or you can buy big neutral creatures and give them crowns of agency. Each strategy has its pluses and minuses. Neutral creatures can be turned against you if their pilots get killed, which is why a neutral creature is always cheaper than the equivalent non-neutral creature. But a neutral/pilot combo can work for you, too - for example if you lose a combat, your horse could take the bullet instead of you. And the Crown of Agency would be good in certain ways, but not others - it couldn't be targeted or killed, but it could be destroyed by special abilities that destroy items, or cancelled by anti-magic spells, etc.

The balancing act is to make it so that there's no one winning solution - every strategy has a shot if you're smart about how you use it. Currently, I think the Crown is too expensive and you get a much better bang for the buck with Robot Brains or other low-power pilots. But once we get magic going hopefully we'll have some spells that can target individual creatures, and then things will be more balanced.
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LordoftheNight



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Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:52 pm    Post subject:  

Key - is there any way for you to delete creatures? It just seems loads of people have started making them, giving them outlandish powers. It's not as if the dozens of new ones that appear are needed, and only serve to complicate things.

I think new creatures should be approved by someone before becoming publically availible. Lots of the abilities become better or worse depending on the size of the game/map. The 'Hobbles' item for instance - on the big map, playing a large game that's invaluble. On the smaller one not so much, yet the points cost is the same, meaning it's either too cheap or too expensive.

You took out the elevation rules because they made the game too complicated, yet now everyone and their little dog too are adding further and further critters to the list. I saw at least ten new creatures since I last checked the list, and about five items as well.
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Key



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Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 11:17 pm    Post subject:  

I don't want to stifle creativity, but I agree we shouldn't let things get overwhelming. What we need is card status - "official" or not, plus a way to screen out unofficial cards. I'll see if I can get that in this weekend.
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D-Lotus



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
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Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 5:11 pm    Post subject:  

Whoops... I made the Hobbles. But I didn't know we could play on the big map yet... Anyway, I was probably on a sugar rush. I tried to make things fair, but on hindsight, they might be too powerful. I wish I could edit and make them costlier or less powerful, but unfortunately I don't have that power. Well, I won't make any more from now on.

I agree that creatures and items should be submitted for review, but I don't think that it should be forbidden to create new creatures.
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Crossfire



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Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 10:01 pm    Post subject:  

Key, what I suggest is that you simply put in a password which prevents casual players from creating stupidly overpowered creatures... Most IFians are fairly sensible, but there should still be a way of locking out the non-sensible ones and tracking the creators of various items and creatures.

I liked the Design Competition idea, and maybe one of the rewards could be becoming an Arena Designer, one of the few people who can make and edit cards!
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Key



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Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 3:02 pm    Post subject:  

D-Lotus wrote: Whoops... I made the Hobbles. But I didn't know we could play on the big map yet... Anyway, I was probably on a sugar rush. I tried to make things fair, but on hindsight, they might be too powerful. I wish I could edit and make them costlier or less powerful, but unfortunately I don't have that power. Well, I won't make any more from now on.

The goal of the card creation page (which I obviously haven't achieved yet) is that people wouldn't need to decide on the cost, that it would be calculated automatically based on how powerful the item was (and Lordy's right, the cost would have to be based on a certain board size, but I think it's ok if certain cards are less useful on smaller or larger boards). The card "bonus" is just a hack to get the cost right if the algorithm doesn't come up with the right value, but I'm hoping it will be rarely used.

D-Lotus wrote: I agree that creatures and items should be submitted for review, but I don't think that it should be forbidden to create new creatures.

quote="Crossfire"]Key, what I suggest is that you simply put in a password which prevents casual players from creating stupidly overpowered creatures... Most IFians are fairly sensible, but there should still be a way of locking out the non-sensible ones and tracking the creators of various items and creatures.

I liked the Design Competition idea, and maybe one of the rewards could be becoming an Arena Designer, one of the few people who can make and edit cards![/quote]

Long term, the plan is that everybody has a login, and can create, edit, and delete as many as they want of their own cards, but can't touch other people's. Short term, I can make certain cards "official" and non-editable, and allow people to create and edit others.

I like the idea of design competitions too. The winning card(s) in a competition could get "official" status.

:-)
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Key



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Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 5:19 pm    Post subject:  

OK, I've added an "unofficial" status tag for all new creatures and items you create. You can edit and delete unofficial cards.

I noticed that a lot of the new creations affect the entire gameboard, or all pieces in play of a certain type. That's not currently supported in the current creation page, because it tends to become overpowerful on big boards with lots of creatures. You can set the range of effect to up to 3 hexes, so please try that out first. If we really need to, we can put in an option for affecting the whole board, but I think it will make for more interesting games if your creatures or items have to be within a certain distance to make their effects.

:-)
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Crossfire



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Location: Somewhere between here and not-here, now and not-now... in the half-light, the borderlands, between.

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 6:20 pm    Post subject:  

Perhaps we should have a list of Attributes for when people create Creatures. It gets a little confusing at times as to what you should put in that field.

I'll put a short list below, but there's probably more I haven't thought of.


Attributes

- Good.

- Evil.

- Undead.

- Machine.

- Soldier.

- Spirit.

- Has hands.

- Horse.

- Wolf.

- Swordmaster.

Also, each Attribute should change things other than what Items affect a Creature, making them a little more important. But that's just what I think. :o
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Key



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Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 6:35 pm    Post subject:  

BTW, just for clarification: I haven't deleted any creatures or items, but in order to see the Unofficial ones, now you have to set the frequency drop down to "any". By default you only see official cards.
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