So, updates have been more sparse over the past few months, and that's with good reason. Brad and I both have our noses down trying to get the finishing touches put on set 1 so that we can go live to the Kickstarter. I cannot tell you guys how extremely excited I am about opening Siege to the public market of opinion to see what everyone thinks of the project. Thusfar, we've got about 60% of the Kickstarter materials down - All we have left are the promotional videos, art, and some other small loose ends that are easily tidied.
Also, Summer is slow. I tend to work more and do more outdoors-y stuff during the summers, but Brad and I have actually been analyzing the Metagame a bit more, and we've figured out that we've just gotten costing *all* wrong. The bottom line is this - I've played Magic: the Gathering for the better part of twenty years. Costing things, keywords, the way I word abilities - It all comes out in Magic lingo. All of my keywords are Magic-based. Everything I know, everything I've created over the past twenty years has been so heavily Magic-influenced, that it's really hard to break out of that mold. And Brad is very much the same way, in terms of viewpoint.
When we costed Siege armies and structures, in our brain, the most logical place for us to start was with the cheapest army, costing one resource. And then the next step up from that costed 2 resources, and the one after that costed 3. And in my mind, a one-resource army should be a 1/1/1. And a two-resource army should be around 2/1/2 or 2/2/1. And a three-resource army should be around 2/2/2 or 3/2/2 or something like that. Maybe throw some abilities in there as well, and recost them accordingly. The problem came when we hit stuff like Equites and Legionnaires.
By the way, we have a card database up. It's almost functional. We'll get there.
Anyway, Legionnaires initially cost something like MM1. For a 3/2/3 that got +1 Attack while Morale was 7 or higher. So, when we went through about seven months ago and re-costed everything, we saw an issue there. Because you could potentially drop a Legionnaires on second turn. This was far too fast. And then you could also drop one every single turn thereafter. This was also a problem. So we upped the cost to MMMMM. Which seemed okay at the time, but we were still thinking in Magic terms. To us, that was "5 Resource," and therefore, 5th turn, and in turn, midgame. A midgame drop. Little did we realize that you could still technically drop that on second or third turn. So, we've made yet another pass, and we've made costing exponential, which it should be. Legionnaires now costs MMMMMMMM. This is a much more accurate depiction of their ability and their impact on the game.
When we think of costs in terms of turns, it throws the entire process of. Siege isn't a turn-based game; We don't print land-search cards for acceleration. And part of the reason why is because we've 'fixed' Mulliganing. In every single CCG, there's a chance to get 'resource-screwed', and I think we've just done away with that - With something called 'Replan.' And it's something that only works with the Siege engine. Something like this wouldn't work in a system like Magic, because we have Morale, and we have a much different set of win conditions and concepts working with Siege. You can't just lay a card down and win the game, you still have to fight and scratch. And I want to keep it that way. There's a certain amount of strategy involved in making the concept of cards necessarily less mobile and less versatile. Think of Chess. There's no spot removal in Chess. There's no combo in Chess. Each piece plays a role, and has a specific set of things that it can and cannot do. I liken Siege a bit to Chess, in this regard. There's a lot of restriction on what a piece can and cannot do in terms of gameplay. There's no army that can immediately and irreparably nuke another army on the field. That army has to get in the trenches and fight it out.
In either case, though, I think that Replan and Re-costing our cards has given a huge positive impact on the game, and will give us a lot more room for designing new cards and also help players have a more decent early game, a better mid-game, and a much higher-level late game. Prior to Replan and the Re-costing, small armies had no room to compete in the environment we were working in, and large armies were almost impossible to play due to a lack of resources. This meant that all of the mid-sized armies were the only ones that could compete, due to their efficiency vs. their cost. 2- and 3- armor armies with 2 or 3 wounds were kings of the hill, and those days are finally over. And with good reason, and for the betterment of the game as a whole.
Brad will be writing on the actual re-costing process here shortly, as well as on Replan; It was actually a really intense process in re-costing the entire set. And what it all comes down to is that we've got to step outside of the concept of costing things as one would cost Magic cards. It's been such a long road, and we've had a lot of fantastic steps in the process, but I think this is the greatest and last. Siege finally feels like its own game - to me, at least. It's one of those things that we've finally gotten into the mindset of Siege being its own entity, and that feels fantastic.
I will also be writing more frequently over the next couple weeks on this topic as well as others - and start to get into deckbuilding, development for the player, and Resource Identities. Until then, Siege on!
Apologies on not updating - the missus and I just moved into a new place, and we had some internet issues. Just got it set up tonight, so I'll be back on schedule this upcoming week. Thanks!
Today, I'm going to be talking about a couple abstract concepts. First and foremost, I'll be making some Magic: the Gathering references, as it's quite simply the quintessential CCG. No other CCG has ever come close to what M:tG has done. And a lot of the thought-processing that has gone on this week has been in M:tG terms, so forgive me if you are not a player. This week, I've been working on Siege set 2 a lot - The factions and contents of which we'll reveal in due time (Read: soon), and I've had a bit of a revelation. I don't have revelations all that often, but when I do, they're quite powerful and altering - and this particular revelation... Well, it's kind of a crazy one, so buckle your bootstraps; Siege has near-unlimited design space.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, design space is the sum of all of the possible ideas that can exist within a given system. For instance, you can have a 1/1/1 Army, a 1/1/2 Army, a 1/1/3 Army, a 2/1/1 Army, and so on. You can give them abilities, you can give them salary, give them different costs, different Logistics and Command ratings, name them different things, and so on. As I've been working, I've figured that there's really nothing that we can't represent via the Siege platform that would break the system. Which, in a grand sense, means that we really can't make anything 'Broken'. And I suppose I don't mean that in the sense that you're probably taking it. I'm certain that there are cards that we can make with an impact so deep that it changes the face of the game. For instance, we could potentially make an army that's 7/4/5, which is a ridiculously large card, but there are two main things preventing something like that from being broken - First and foremost, that single card can only attack a single army. It can't split its damage amongst multiple sources. Which seems like an enormous hindrance, and in some ways, it is. However, the big thing that makes that card not broken is that you can't pump it that much. Even if you can, attack isn't a timer for your opponent's life total. In Magic: the Gathering, a 20-attack creature gives your opponent one turn to live. You can then do a number of things with that creature to end the game immediately. Fling it at your opponent. Make the critter unblockable. Kill all of your opponent's creatures. Drop a 7/4/5 in Siege, and it might be six or seven turns before it has an impact, if it has an impact at all. A horde of 1-strength weenies could hold that thing off pretty much indefinitely. But in either case, that's a really strong army, and would have an enormous, irreparable impact upon the game - And that's where flavor enters the mechanics game. If Cretan Archers are a 2/1/2, what does 7/4/5 represent? Larger humans? Humans with rocket sleds? There's just not that much room in history for that much variation. Of course, stone-age barbarians with rocks are no match for Teutonic Knights on horseback, so there will be room for things like that. But what I'm mostly referring to in terms of us not making anything 'broken' are bans and restrictions. I made a vow a few years ago to never ban or restrict a card. This may or may not hold up, but as it stands, I can never see a card bad enough to warrant restricting or banning. Mostly because of the engine and the platform that Siege runs off of.
As a result, there is an exponential amount of more player-based interactions on the levels that matter, and much, much less on the levels that don't. For instance, playing a structure is a single-player action. You may want to glance over and see what it is that your opponent is playing, but beyond that, you're not going to be too overly concerned with it. Armies marching towards you, however, are gigantic, glaring problems that you need to pay attention to. Never in Siege will you see an opponent "Combo Out" and go off on you without a single piece of your interaction. I can think of 120 decks extant in Mt:G that herald little to no opponent interaction. Not only that, but most of those combos are set up so that your opponent just scoops their cards at the onset, knowing what's coming. But more than that, there's a huge, huge spike of things like that in M:tG. I remember Astral Slide decks back in the day. You'd drop a morphed Exalted Angel on turn three, flip it turn four, and every turn thereafter, if someone wanted to kill it, you'd have instant-speed, uncounterable ways to tell your opponent to suck it, because there was nothing they could do. More recently, Jund decks made use of the Cascade keyword (A bone which I will pick shortly), at which you could massacre everything in play with relative impunity, swing for huge numbers quite early, and there wasn't much an opposing deck could do about it. Which I disliked. I've always run 'rogue' decks at M:tG tournaments, and I've always been disappointed. Mostly because the 'competitive' field only catered to two or three very narrow deck archetypes at a time. These are the best decks in the current field, period. And that's it. If you don't run X card or Y card, you just straight-up lose.
And the conclusion I drew from that was "this is wrong". I came to this conclusion after designing the newest two factions - I wanted a simple, executable keyword that could work on multiple levels for multiple factions. Ones that wouldn't wreck the game or imbalance the extant power levels beyond a certain parameter (Or set thereof). Twelve ideas later, I realized that I had seven or eight more readily available for other factions, and my brain's gears started turning counter-clockwise, thinking of different cards that could be made, different modes that could be played, and so on. And this is my normal modus operandi for Siege - I've got more ideas in my back pocket than in my front, so to speak.
I've been down this road before, it's a familiar place, and I love it. I love getting elbow-deep into these unexplored reaches of game design - I've done it all my life, and it's where I'm at my most stimulated as a human. I've had visions as to where I want to take the game in the future, and I've had moments where the entirety of gameplay just opens like a flower in spring - I'll come up with three or four hundred ideas in one sitting, and then I won't touch the sets again for a few weeks, my brain completely spent for a bit. But something special happened the other night, and I don't think I quite grasp the ramifications of it yet. We know we have a fantastic game here, and we know that there's demand out there for it.
Everyone who has played the game has been drawn in, and there have been shockingly few complaints - Of course, those who played a while ago may want to get back into it, because as I alluded to last week, there have been a ton of changes since last we did a closed beta. And as we went through what we were planning on releasing for set 2, I realize how horrendously outdated everything was - We've changed costs, we've updated abilities, fleshed out rarities more, gotten power levels fixed, made changes to the number of armies, tactics, structures, and the like... Pretty much everything has changed since the early days of beta-testing. And of course, nothing will be perfect - We are humans, and we will make mistakes, but I think we've gotten the Siege platform to a point where there's a ton of wiggle room, and most of that wiggle room is fun, flavorful, and easy to monitor.
But in either case, as I was working on Set 2, I started digging into scholarly texts and contacting scholars who know far more about the era than I do, and everything that I found sparked an idea in my head. And it hit me - the types of keywords that we can have, the things that they represent, and the ways that they can interact with other cards is absolutely obscene. This is perhaps my proudest "innovation" with Siege - the expansiveness keeps the game fresh. And freshness, to me, is key. I purposefully did not attend the Gatecrash prerelease this past weekend, and there are some very specific reasons why. After nearly two decades of playing the game (And trust me, I loved the game for much of that time), I looked at what decks I was making in my spare time from my casual collection - And the entirety of them were my old decks - Turbo-Stasis, Channelball, Prosbloom, AlkaSeltzer, Goblins, Domain... I could go on, but I won't. But seemingly, all of my decks have stagnated into the same 100 decks or so. Yes, 100 (I have a bit of a CCG problem). But in the course of recent deckbuilding, I realized something - I haven't really made a deck using new cards in nearly ten years.
Now, I'll stop there and clarify - some of that is because I don't have as much access to new cards as those that I already have, of course. I've made decks with new cards, yes. And, of course, I've put new cards into old decks. Hell, Frozen Aether went straight into Turbo-Stasis, and the deck turned mono-blue from that point forward. I've made Type II decks (Which are now just called Standard or Modern or whatever the Hell), I've made decks for pre-releases (I went to Return to Ravnica, and hated it), but my point is this - I haven't actually used any of the new keywords. I don't care about any of the new mechanics. I don't have fun making decks with new cards. I haven't made any decks with new concepts. I've tried - Good God, I've tried. I loved the Original Ravnica block. Hated this one. Multi-Colored blocks like Invasion and Ravnica are amazing to me. I'm amazing at drafting them and playing them, and they (used to) make me happy. But not anymore.
So what changed? Magic just got old to me. I still play from time to time, mostly because my old decks are so old that new players (Which most of them are) don't recognize them at all. Which is thoroughly enjoyable. But beyond that, if people ask me, I respond with an "I don't play anymore". So, to tie this in, I realized why I don't play Magic anymore, and why all of my decks are "Old School" decks (Legacy or Type I or whatever they're calling it now). Beyond the whinging and complaining about Planeswalkers being overpowered and overcosted (Of which I am a partial subscriber to both camps), I came to this revelation that I've been blathering on about this whole time. And the revelation is about CCG design in general - I realized that there's nothing *interesting* about the game anymore. I took a look at the cards, and I was able to compare every single one to a card that already existed. Sure, there are new cards, and there are new keywords, and there are new abilities and costs and all that. And I'll admit that each card is technically different, but if you really get into the bread-and-butter of it, nothing is *new*. Nothing is wow-worthy. The new card frames weren't bad, but they weren't wow-worthy. They were a gimmick. When I saw Platinum Angel, I didn't say "Wow." I thought immediately, "Iridescent Angel." When I saw Darksteel Colossus, I didn't say "Wow," I thought about Polar Kraken. When I saw the card "Rakdos Shred-Freak," I slapped my forehead. It's just been this awful progression of less and less innovation with each set. And sure, some of the newer cards are pretty okay, but as time has gone on, the game has just gotten less fun. Nothing makes me say "Wow". Perhaps it's me and my seen-it-all, curmudgeony nature, but it's a problem. They've lost their entire customer base a few times over because the game can't stay fresh. Perhaps this is the doom of CCGs.
This isn't an M:tG hate-party, but everything about it these days is lacking. The names are awful, the lore is wanting, the mechanics and keywords are miserable and stretched beyond compare, and all they're doing is a formulaic rehashing of what's come before, recycling it, and throwing it back up for the baby birds who haven't gotten a chance to experience. Which is cool - They need to stay in business, and the new kids haven't gotten what we got. Their marketing is trying to keep them above water. And I respect that. This is their livelihood. And I would likely do the same in their position. But what we had was special, way back when. And I wanted very much to recreate that with Siege. So much so, that I've purposefully held tricks back from the launch just so that they can be debuted later and keep the game fresh. And as a result of this, I have learned. I have become a better developer because of M:tG's mistakes, if you can call them that.
But that doesn't answer why I kept making the same decks, but the answer is quite simple - Because since I'm no longer competitive, I no longer have a reason to make anything but "my" decks. And my decks are complete. They don't need innovation. They operate the way they operate, and there's not much that they could release that could replace cards in these decks. I don't want to build a deck around "Battalion" or Gates or "Evolve" or "Cipher" or any of that. There's nothing fun in those keywords. There's nothing fun about the mechanics or the concepts. The creatures aren't fun, they're not interesting, they're not unique. All of the keywords, there's nothing like Cumulative Upkeep anymore - They're all power keywords. There's nothing that shakes the game up in a fun way anymore. There's nothing for the casual player. And that's a loss for them. A huge one. I didn't bail when all of the other players did - I stuck it out. "It'll get better," I said. And it never did. There were moments, of course, just like everything, but as time went on, all my mind screamed was "Gimmick!" and "Cop-Out!"
But what does all this M:tG banter have to do with Siege? Well, quite a bit. I don't want Siege to be that game. I specifically don't want Siege to be that game. We've made it so that Siege is necessarily not that game. Pretty much every mechanic and system that we've designed, the first question we've asked ourselves is, "Can this survive the long-haul? Can we make something fun and flavorful and not obsolete ourselves after five sets?" And the answer is both yes and no. The 'Yes' part of that answer is that in some ways, Siege can go on forever. In another way, of course, people will get sick of it eventually. That's kinda the nature of the beast with CCGs. But it's my job to make sure that it can go on for as long as humanly possible, affect as many people as possible, and really - make life fun for some people. At the end of the day, isn't that what it's about? Fun? Getting away? And I'll tell you, just like I've said before, Brad and I have more fun playing the game than testing and building. And while that's bad for the game in some ways, it also assures me that what we're doing is going to be fun and interesting for you guys.
So, at the end of the day, I can see why M:tG is where it's at right now. And it's unfair of me to expect them to be where they were at twenty years ago, to an extent. But it's currently the benchmark by which every CCG is judged, and as the creator of a CCG myself, I have to make mine better. I have to rise above and view the silly stuff that they do and fix it. That's what I do for a living - I fix things. And I can only hope that I do a good enough job with Siege to inspire someone to do better than I did - to show everyone that it is possible to have a dream, pursue it, and succeed at it. Because I'm the proof. Next week, I may just go into that - Give you guys a bit of backstory behind me. Until then, keep your eyes open for updates!
I promised a write-up on The Stockpile this week, but what I really want to be doing is developing. It's strange, blogging. Writing is kind of my second love (Or first love, depending upon how you look at it), and oftentimes, I enjoy doing this more than I enjoy developing. But at the moment, I am elbows-deep in the new Set 2, and it is going smashingly. If anything, there's far, far too much information for me to sift through. History has this really weird habit of having conflicting information, outdated information, and information in languages that simply don't exist anymore. Which leaves a really awkward amount of empty space where we know that stuff happened, we just have no definitive proof of what that stuff actually was. We have rumor and hearsay, but how much of that is actually truth? They do say that the victors write history, and there exist things like the Voynich Manuscript that to this day remain undeciphered. And then you add in things like the destruction of the Library of Alexandria and the Grand Library of Baghdad, wherein we (Humanity) lost countless historical documents. How do we know for certain that everything that's written is true, and that everything that's written gives the whole picture? We really can't, and don't. But even so, there's so much information to go through and so much creative control over how to represent factions, and I'm having a blast doing the research to find out more about the parts of history that I haven't yet (I stumbled across stuff about the Mauryan Empire last night, and lemme tell ya - Bad. Asses).
But that's not what I'm talking about this week. As cool as theme and flavor and history are, and despite how vital they are to the game, it's the mechanics that make Siege what it is. And one of the coolest mechanics that we've introduced with Siege is The Stockpile. In the stockpile, you keep track of your resources - Morale, Food, Metal, Wood, Stone, and Gold. And if you want, you can keep a running tally of your Logistics and Command Ratings there also. The Stockpile operates on a simple base-10 system, where no value can be more than 10 at the *end* of any Season. This means that during the turn, you can accumulate more than 10 of any single resource, but by the end of the Season, your stores just can't hold more than that. And any resources you accumulate within those parameters follow you from Season to Season. So, while you may only have a single Lumberyard on the field, you're not entirely out of luck. You also get to build up resources for huge structures, immense armies, and so on.
There are a couple nuances about the Stockpile, though. First, food spoils at the end of each Season. So if you make it, eat it. It will not keep. This is kind of a control mechanism as well as a flavor mechanism. For those of you just joining the game, you primarily produce Food equal to the number of territories you control uncontested (Referred to in the game as 'Friendly Territories'), and each army eats a food. This is a great balancing factor, and a really good reason to go grab territory early and often. It also encourages not sitting back, because you'll be at an inherent disadvantage food-wise if you do. Secondly, Command and Logistics are not "Spent" in the same way as other resources. They're just static ratings that tell you when you can play certain tactics, or when certain things become available to your Empire. For instance, if you have a Logistics rating of 6, you may play any number of tactics that equal 6 Logistics in the same season. But the cool thing, is that your Logistics doesn't deplete when you do this - You don't lose Logistics or Command when you play stuff. You only lose the values when the card that provides it stops existing. As a result, if you play 6 Logistics worth of tactics, and have a card that triggers off 5 Logistics, then you still get the bonus from having 5 Logistics.
Now, aside from the concept of the Stockpile as a new CCG concept, there are some really key interactions with how the Stockpile works inside a CCG. First and foremost, you're not 'Tapping' resources, they're there regardless of whether or not you have structures to produce them. To borrow from Magic: the Gathering, were 'Armageddon' a card in Siege, it would do very little comparatively. Sure, you're not going to produce any *more* resources if all structures were destroyed, but the one-sided nature of a card like 'Armageddon' is lessened, the cheapness factor nearly entirely nullified, so much so that I think a card like 'Armageddon' could work rather well in Siege. Will one ever exist? Probably not, but I never say never, because I've actually had crazier ideas for cards in the past. But beyond the obscure ramifications of cards that probably won't exist in Siege, this brings up an entirely different dynamic on how you play the game - One that I don't think I've even fully grasped yet. For instance:
Let's say that you have five cards in your hand, five structures on the board. Your structures are 2x Lumberyard, 2x Mine, and 1x Market. In your hand, your cards cost MW, MMWW2, WWWW1, MMMMMM, and MMMMW1, respectively. In your stockpile is 5 Metal, 2 Wood, and 3 Gold. What the Hell do you play first? What's your best combination? What do you play first, second, third? This is what makes the Stockpile such a great addition to the game. This part, along with Territories and Simultaneous Turns, makes Siege a true 'Strategic Card Game'. And there's no 'right' play for the above. All of that depends upon what you're facing, what your opponent's setup is, what your Morale is at, and so on.
Stockpile Management is something that I'll go into more detail about in the future, but for now, I'll just be introducing concepts to you guys. In the future, we'll be doing open calls for testing if anyone is so interested. I'm going to sign off for now and put some more elbow-grease into Set 2. Next week, I'll be talking a bit about the process of development, and perhaps starting to rewrite my Treatise on Research and Game Development! Stay tuned!
We are currently looking for artists for Siege! If you or anyone you know feel like you can do professional-level artwork for a Strategic Card Game, please send a portfolio to email@example.com attached with some of your artwork. We are in need of artists who can do very detailed, high-resolution color prints for use on the cards themselves. This is one of the last steps for us to finalize before launch! If you have any questions, feel more than free to send us questions, comments, and if you see any potential artists that you think would be a good fit for the game, please let us know!
Remember, guys, this is your game! We make this for you, so help us help you!
So as I stated in the first entry, the first idea I really had oh so long ago for this game hinged on the idea of territories as a core mechanic for a card game. Territories that weren't so rules heavy they overloaded players, but still complex enough to really allow for a new style of game play.
This was difficult and I wrestled with many (many many) slightly different iterations of it before setting on what Siege has now. But surprisingly, the basics were always the same, which is one of the few mechanics in the game that was never really completely overhauled. Hopefully this is a testament to it's solidity and not my stupidity, but time will tell.
The core is simple. Instead of playing cards to zones on the table that are of arbitrary distance and relation to each other as in most ccgs, territories in Siege are all connected one to the other in a row stretching between one player to the other. After some trial and error we settled on 7 territories, all laid out linearly (so the physical space is in this regard 1 dimensional). We toyed with the idea of having rows and columns so that they territories were essentially on a grid. The issue with any of these proposals was it was too rules heavy. It burdened players with card management, was difficult to keep track of when using actual cards, and in general was just more trouble than it was worth (even if some depth of tactics was lost). This was part of the process of finding the sweet spot between "completely tactical sim" and "game I actually want to play," and it took a lot of work to fine tune, and I'm sure we'll never really be done. Plus, by having a 1D layout of cards, it allowed for much easier sorting for players since they only have to worry about a cards relation to others in one direction to determine which territory it is in, very helpful.
But the 7 territories. What's great about this is that you can start defining things in the game by their spacial relation to each other. So for example in Magic, you can really on define things by what type of card it is (it's color, it's types, subtypes, etc). Basically you can only define a card by what is actually printed on the card. By entering a physical space you can begin to define cards by where they are. In this regard two completely identical cards could be different based solely off of where they are positioned. This was meat and potatoes stuff for me, something I really wanted the game to highlight over and over.
It allows me as a card designer to design simple, elegant cards and still allow for diversity of game play. I don't necessarily have to design complex cards in order to achieve complex and deep game play situations. This is crucial to the theme as well, since we wanted to stick to a more realistic card designs that were ground in reality. Reality doesn't really beget super complex card design like you see in other fantasy or sci-fi games.
But the 7 territories. Early on I decided the win condition on the game would be simple: Control all 7 Territories. This started a whole snow ball in my brain that lead to what is now the idea of who controls territories. Each territory is defined in two ways. First is it's position in relation to each player, and second by which player owns cards in it. So the first territory closest to you is your "Home" territory and the next is your "Support". The same is true for your opponent's first 2 territories. The middle 3 territories are all "Expanse." So using these simple labels for territories allows us to start creating rules for who controls what territories just based on where they are.
Now the idea of what is in each territory is different. Basically we use the territory's space from you to determine what you can and can't do there. You can only build armies and structures in your home and support. This creates a great way to slow down the pacing of the game. Each army in the game may move 1 territory a turn so essentially any army you recruit has to wait 3 turns before it can reach the opponent's "base." By using this sort of forced "summoning sickness" it allows for a great catch up mechanic. The closer you are to winning, the longer it takes to deploy forces to the front lines, it also means everything you build when you're on the defense is that much closer to having an impact (It's great when mechanics lead to balance in your game, even when they aren't designed to do so directly.).
So with the idea of territories firmly in place, and their definitions defined, the way this impacts the card design is also of note. As previously mentioned you can really only define cards in games like Magic by what type of card it is. It's printed identity. Sure you can do things with the graveyard and while it's in your hand, but that is by far the exception to the rule that in general the only place a creature card matters is in play. Take that idea to the next level and start asking, "where in play is this creature?" or better yet, "where in play is this creature in relation to other cards in play?" and you begin to see how fun this idea can get.
Take for instance the first keyword-ed mechanic I created for this game: Phalanx. Phalanx reads, "+1 Armor while there is another friendly local phalanx force." A little insight into the terms, "Local" means in the same territory and "force" is any army or structure. This simple idea, the idea that it matters not just if you have two phalanx armies, but where they are in relation to each other, opened the door for I would say 60% of the card design to follow. So as a player you now need to not only worry about when to play phalanx armies, and when to attack and when to sit back, but you are now managing the battle on a much higher level, you have to make sure that when you are advancing two phalanx armies that they arrive at the fight at the same time, because otherwise they are more vulnerable to attack. As an opposing player you are trying to keep them seperated, make sure they don't get there. A very simple mechanic leading to very tactical gameplay.
So the idea doesn't simply end with cards that benefit themselves. You can begin to define global effects in more interesting ways. No longer do "enchantment" like effects (to steal from Magic terminology again) have to effect everything or nothing. Now you can begin to say "Cards adjacent to this card get +1 Attack" or "Local armies have some effect." These sort of effects are described under a blanket term called "Sphere of Influence" (I take no credit for the term). Basically each effect isn't global, it's always only impacting the cards within it's sphere of influence. So since structures, which can't move about the field, are always in your first two territories it allows some really neat "castle building" where players will stack certain effects in that area to grant their armies close to home extra bonuses. Or possibly leaders (which are effect grant cards that attach to other cards) have effects that impact armies near them, so you could create an empowered front row of fighters, all with one effect. But from a balance standpoint, this effect doesn't effect everyone, creating a great way as a card designer to design complex and powerful abilities, but limit their impact to the game in a tactical way.
I'll wrap up here for today. The idea of simple to understand territories has done more to set to course for the rest of the game design than any other single idea. Nearly every mechanic in one way or another builds of the idea of physical space. Every card has clearly defined roles that relate to where it's at, or where it's at in relation to other cards. This one set of rules, this one mechanic, creates the foundation for the tactical elements in Siege that I strove for from the games inception. Next we'll probably go over some specifics to simultaneous turns because that's interesting from a game design standpoint because of the hurdles we had to overcome to make it work.
Thanks for reading