The Masters’ Trials: Design Diary Introduction – How it all Began

After designing Dice City I knew that the “dice-crafting” mechanism it had could find many uses in other games as well. That’s why, even before Dice City was actually released, I began to explore other options and see where I could go with this “system” I had come up with.

At its core, the mechanism in Dice City is about “crafting” your dice. Each die is represented by 6 cards (one for each side) and by putting new cards on your board, on top of the existing ones, you are effectively changing the faces of your die. As a concept, this could theoretically apply to all kinds of games that use dice.

The idea that I initially wanted to explore was that of a dungeon-crawler. Going with that idea would also define the first characteristic of the game: This would be a cooperative game (as opposed to the competitve nature of Dice City). The players would not compete with each other but they would work together instead. In turn, this would allow the core mechanism to be tweaked a bit, to give players the option to interact more with each other. For example, you could spend one of your dice to move one of another player’s if needed.

Another key characteristic also came from the theme. Since the dice would correspond to various attributes of the characters (like speed, combat, magic etc) why have a single board for all of them and not separate ones? If one die for example was the race, another one the class, another the weapon etc, why not allow the possibility of mix-and-match? Not only would it increase replayability, it made perfect sense with the theme – each player would be able to create their own character (similarly to an RPG), a hero with the attributes they ‘d want.

I made a rough prototype and started testing the idea. I sketched some rooms with tiles, I came up with rules for their placement, I made a few quick enemies and some simple player abilities and started playing. Although, way too early in the process, the experience was fun and I knew this could lead to something good. To check if I was on the right track, I showed it to some people and explained the concept behind it. EVERYONE loved the idea behind the modular boards. It was really cool and seemed very promising. However, they weren’t thrilled with the dungeon board. As one friend put it: “There are actually 2 games on the table. One here (pointing to the player boards with the dice and the character abilities) and one there (pointing to the board with the mockup enemies)”. There was simply too much stuff going on for the game to be viable. Not only would it be insane production-wise (tons of boards, cards, miniatures etc – less than half of the game was more than all of Dice City) it would also ask a lot from the players, especially in their first games.

Thus, a decision was made to make the “dungeon-crawling” a bit simpler. Perhaps just cards that would be drawn or something along those lines, in order to keep the focus on the advancement of the character in front of you.

So, the goals of the game were more or less set:

  • Dungeon-Crawling Theme
  • Cooperative Game
  • Modular Player Boards (and as a consequence Variable Player Powers)
  • Relatively simple (card-based perhaps?) mechanism for the dungeon/enemies.
  • Multiple Paths to Victory

And that’s how this journey began… For more developments on this journey, check back next week!

Vangelis Bagiartakis

The Masters’ Trials: The Wrath of Magmaroth is a co-operative dice placement game for 1 to 4 players. On sale in November with Pre-release at Spiel Essen in October!

The Masters’ Trials: The Wrath of Magmaroth The Prophecies Are True

The legend used to say that in a time of grave danger, masters of the elemental orders would leave their ancestral retreats and join forces to restore peace to the world.

From the once-dormant Tekirin volcano that towers over the peaceful entrance valley, the vengeful Magmaroth has emerged. Born of earth and fire, its goal is to cleanse the world and mold it to its image : primal and ruthless. Left unchecked, there will soon be nothing left.

To deal with this great threat, four masters have arrived.

Traveling under cover of the night from the burning southern desert came an ageless man with a glowing staff at his hand. The villagers recognised him as a Loremaster from the introspective Order of the Blazing Winds. He slowly approached the volcano, closed his eyes, and an eerie glow appeared around him.

 

 

 

 

 

A woman then came from the endless northern steppes. From her clothing it was clear she was coming from the old monastery of the Order of the Glowing Embers. The fire in her eyes, on the other hand, made it obvious she had trained as an Avenger and had mastered the martial arts of old.

 

 

 

 

From the western peaks, a handsome young man rode the great river, pausing frequently to contemplate and embrace the elements around him, as Mystics from the Order of the Everlasting Waterfall have been trained to do.

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, an enigmatic girl emerged from the shores of the tumultuous eastern sea, sporting a dangerous chainball over her shoulder and manipulating the water as only Wardens are known to do. She could only be coming from the Order of the Celestial Tide, an Order many had thought existed no more.

 

 

 

 

 

The four heroes met at the foot of the volcano, and paused for a minute. They looked in silence at each other and then one by one, they entered Magmaroth’s lair, determined to face this trial.

Magmaroth would have to be defeated quickly or everyone would be doomed…

The Masters’ Trials: The Wrath of Magmaroth is a co-operative dice placement game for 1 to 4 players. On sale in November with Pre-release at Spiel Essen in October!

The Players Are Voting For New Smash Up Factions!

We are conducting our second player voting promotion to select new factions for a future set of Smash Up. The set, to be released in 2018 is entitled “Oops You Did It Again!”. Players began the process by submitting ideas for factions they’d like to see in the set. We selected the top suggestions (and similar ideas) and created a Round of 32 and asked players to vote for 16 factions. The Round of 16 further narrowed the contestants to 8 finalists – but there were four factions effectively tied so we promoted 10 factions to the Final Round which is ongoing now!

Anyone can vote – even if you did not vote in previous rounds.

Click here to vote for your favorite faction!

We’re providing this update to the voting to help players gauge where their favorite factions are in the race to get into Oops You Did It Again. Remember, one vote per person but we do encourage you to ask your friends to help support your favorites!

As of noon on Friday August 23rd the current standings are:

 

 

The battle for 4th and the last place in the set is nearly a dead heat! Only 112 votes separate Cowboys from Cartoons! All week Cartoons, Egypt, 80s Action Heroes and Cowboys have been trading places from 4th to 7th place as more votes are received!

Voting will remain open until the end of the day on September 1st.

To join the Smash Club and make sure you get all the Smash Up News, please visit The Smash Club Signup Page!

(Voting requires submission of a valid email address which will be added to our database for future communications.We reserve the right to modify this contest, alter Faction names, and add or remove Factions during the voting if we deem those actions necessary.)

Thunderstone Quest Kickstarter: Closing the Pledge Manager to Reward Changes

Backers, the pace of new users closing their Rewards on Backer Kit has ebbed, so we are going to be closing the Pledge Manager. This means that you will not be able to add Add-ons to your Reward, or change your Reward from Adventurer to Champion. The changes to the Pledge Manager will be effective sometime tomorrow (Saturday) so please make any last minute changes today.

You will be able to continue to update your ship-to address until just before we ship.

If you have funds left on account and you miss the closing of the Pledge Manager please email kickstarter@alderac.com and we will try to help you. We cannot guarantee the availability of Add-ons or other changes after today.

— The Thunderstone Quest Team

Lovecraft Letter The Art of Lovecraft Letter

The Art of Lovecraft Letter

“E pericoloso sporgersi”

Last year, my colleague Jade Yoo from Board M (who publishes Love Letter in South Korea) brought back a copy of Lovecraft Letter from Japan and showed it to me. A new variation on the game, still by Seiji Kanai, with more cards, a strong theme well displayed in the card effects and a new Sane/Insane mechanic adding push your luck elements to the game and making choices a little more risky for players.

Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) has the International rights to Love Letter and, after an initial contact, and due to common passions and interests, I ended up accepting to illustrate and graphic design Lovecraft Letter for its English edition, that I would qualify as “Deluxe”.

I have to say that creating artwork for Lovecraft Letter was a very interesting challenge.

First of all, it is quite the opportunity and honor to be able to work on Seiji Kani’s Love Letter, a micro game which due to its accessibility, originality and re-playability has reached a very large audience of gamers, be they family, expert or casual and has already had various licenses attached to it.

As a huge fan of the original fantastic fiction literary genre (my pillow book is The House on the Borderland from William Hope Hodgson– a novel that Lovecraft himself called a masterpiece!), it was sort of a “at long last” sigh of relief to me to be able to be the sole artist on a game that would involve the creatures and the odd world borne of H.P.L’s imagination. I had worked 10 years ago as an artist for Fantasy Flight Games on their “Call of Cthulhu” CCG but unfortunately not enough to let my imagination loose.

When you undertake a task of such magnitude, you have to slow the process down, find the right tone, hit the mark before you can grab your pencils and brushes; something that isn’t easy to do when you consider that you have to merge two very important pieces in Lovecraft and Love Letter. For some time now, akin to when Lord of the Rings released on the big screen, the fantastic genre (and especially horror) and everything that revolves around Cthulhu has become more and more mainstream across the board (in cinema, games, literature…) which invites further caution to make sure you stay true to the source material.

I have always approached my work in a very direct fashion. For this, I thought to myself that Love Letter is now a reference in gaming, a classic. Cthulhu and his cast of friends are a classic in the “monsters, horrors and fantastic creatures” genre. As for myself, my training is classic as well. By that I mean that the traditional technique that I use (pencils, brushes on paper, by hand) gives my artwork a very unique non-dated feel that tries to give life to the illustration itself over time.

So, without trying to reinvent the wheel, we elected to stick as close as possible to the source material. Alongside Nicolas Bongiu (who lead the project for AEG), we have researched descriptions and texts in the Cthulhu mythos to showcase in the most accessible manner his very particular universe, and therefore present it to the Love Letter audience of gamers and mythos aficionados alike. Of course, we didn’t shy away from giving our own take on the source material when we felt it was needed, which is often the case when you’re tying a theme to a game.

So, without trying to reinvent the wheel, we elected to stick as close as possible to the source material. Alongside Nicolas Bongiu (who lead the project for AEG), we have researched descriptions and texts in the Cthulhu mythos to showcase in the most accessible manner his very particular universe, and therefore present it to the Love Letter audience of gamers and mythos aficionados alike. Of course, we didn’t shy away from giving our own take on the source material when we felt it was needed, which is often the case when you’re tying a theme to a game.

Those artistic ideas taking form, AEG decided to bring the game to the size of previously released Love Letter Premium: large box with magnetic closure, tarot-sized cards, custom envelope-looking sleeves and double-sided poker chips for the victory points. This contributed in my opinion to a classy and supercharged edition, of which I’m personally elated.

Those artistic ideas taking form, AEG decided to bring the game to the size of previously released Love Letter Premium: large box with magnetic closure, tarot-sized cards, custom envelope-looking sleeves and double-sided poker chips for the victory points. This contributed in my opinion to a classy and supercharged edition, of which I’m personally elated.

Lovecraft Letter is my first collaboration with AEG and the result and process by which the game was made fully satisfied me (something tells me that you can expect more collaborations in the future!). it is not every day that you can delve into themes and formats that you love, with – as if it wasn’t enough – a good deal of control over the end result.

I hope that you enjoyed this sneak peek inside the process of making Lovecraft Letter … one that comes with a word of caution from Lovecraft himself:

“There are horrors beyond life’s edge that we do not suspect, and once in a while man’s evil prying calls them just within our range.” – H.P. Lovecraft, The Thing on the Doorstep

Vincent Dutrait

http://www.vincentdutrait.com
https://www.facebook.com/Vincent.Dutrait
Lovecraft Letter a mind-shattering journey into the world of HP Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos warped into the shape of a Love Letter experience will be on sale 19 July 2017!

Lovecraft Letter Designer Diary

The core of the Cthulhu Mythos is of course the stories about incomprehensible beings, and the concept of sanity. I felt that if I were to make a game for this world, it was absolutely necessary for me to include both the meeting with these creatures that went beyond human understanding, and the people being affected by them.

Lovecraft Letter AEG5123, on sale July 19th!

After considering the Mythos through that lens, it became apparent that there was a wonderful cast of actors waiting to be used.

On one hand we have the Great Old Ones, and all the items and servitors that surround them; Cthulhu itself, Nyarlathotep, the Mi-go, the Hounds of Tindalos, the dreaded Book of the Dead (Necronomicon), the Golden Mead that allows one to see the unseen etc.

On the other hand we have the heroes of the Role Playing Game, the Investigators and the allies they encounter: Professor Armitage from Miskatonic University, the Cats from Ulthar in the Dreamlands, Randolph Carter and his family heirloom etc…

First, I had to figure out which characters should be incorporated into the game. Of course, there was the option of simply replacing the eight cards in Love Letter with eight characters from the Cthulhu Mythos, but I felt I couldn’t limit myself to just eight of them. And, with a Cthulhu theme, I felt the game couldn’t do without having the players make some kind of “sanity check” – the most famous words from the roleplaying game, uttered from table to table since the release of the Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying game.

So, I divided up the characters into those who are on the human side, like the investigators or Professor Armitage, and those who are against the human side, like Cthulhu, the Deep Ones, and other items related to them.

The first set kept the same effects as the base game, and I just chose characters that would fit. The Elder Sign that would keep dangerous beings at bay was perfect for the Handmaiden effect for instance, and a card where you guessed another player’s card and could make them lose, felt to me very much like what an investigator could do.

The second set, I made into special cards that spread insanity. To use them meant to get in contact with forbidden knowledge, and get closer to madness. And I decided that they would have large advantages, and disadvantages above the regular cards (a high risk high reward type of effects) since I figured that a lot of players would walk this road to destruction.

The regular effect of the insanity cards would keep the same effect as their normal counterparts. However, if a player had at least one of them among their discard, it would mean that they had encountered these horrors, and therefore would slowly risk becoming insane, and would need to make a sanity check every turn to not get knocked out of the game.

On the other hand, the insanity cards would also have a power that fit the demerit – players who are close to madness would also be able to wield incredible power. The Hound of Tindalos can attack, Mi-go collect brains, and so on. These cards could not only make other people lose, but also let you win immediately! How could anyone resist this sweet temptation?

And this is how Lovecraft Letter  was born. The Love Letter  system, where anyone could be knocked out of the game at any moment, fits very well to the world of the Cthulhu Mythos, where danger is always looming.

My hope is that everyone will enjoy this new version of the game, where you can as easily capture the truth, as fuel your run to victory thanks to your command of the horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Oh, I can hear the doorbell ringing. That’s a little bit odd? Who may be coming to visit me at such a late hour? I guess I need to go check for myself …

Seiji Kanai

Mystic Vale Wins ORIGINS Award for Best Traditional Card Game

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MYSTIC VALE HAS WON THE ORIGINS AWARD FOR BEST TRADITIONAL CARD GAME

COLUMBUS, OH — 17 JUNE 2017 Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) is pleased to report that Mystic Vale has won the 2017 ORIGINS Award for Best Traditional Card Game and has been recognized as the Fan Favorite Card Game.

The ORIGINS Awards are presented annually by the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design, at a ceremony traditionally held during the ORIGINS Game Fair in Columbus, OH. The awards were announced this evening.

 

 

Mystic Vale is the first game to feature AEG’s card crafting system. Players in Mystic Vale take the role of druids working to heal a wilderness blighted by dark magic. Each turn the players acquire new Card Advancements from a shared pool, and add them to their existing deck, upgrading and changing their cards as they play. After a pre-determined number of victory points are scored, the player with the most total victory points from the shared pool, and from cards crafted in play is the winner. The game is designed by John D. Clair, and was released in 2016. Learn more at https://www.alderac.com/mystic_vale.

 

 

AEG5861 Mystic Vale

A tabletop board game for 2-4 players. MSRP $44.99.
ENDS

About Alderac Entertainment Group

Alderac Entertainment Group (“AEG”) has produced award-winning games and game worlds for over 20 years. Alderac publishes the popular games Smash Up, Love Letter, Mystic Vale, Istanbul, Automobiles, Valley of the Kings, Thunderstone Quest, and many more. Visit www.alderac.com for more information.

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