When working on Adventure Time: Edge of Anarchy, I really wanted to talk about some of the things that didn’t make it into the Curse of the Crimson Throne box. Every set, we design more cards than end up making it out into the wild. Some cards just get lost to that voracious devourer of cards called Card Count, which only lets some preordained multiple of 110 survive. Some characters never made it into a Class Deck because we liked how the deck (including its selection of cards) looked with the other characters more. This series of blogs plans to shed some light on some of these lost elements. Enjoy at your own risk!
A big mechanic that we tested at some tables throughout the Core and Curse playtesting process was the “Market”. At the end of each scenario, you were given the option to trade for a readily available boon (one that was either level 0, or at least 2 levels lower than you).
When rebuilding, each character may banish 1 boon; any that do may search the vault for a boon with a maximum level of the most recently played scenario’s # minus 2 (minimum 0).
It was cut for a few reasons:
- It would add complexity and time to the end of scenarios, as traders did in Mummy’s Mask.
- There was concern around removing some of the loot chase, both in terms of reduced difficulty and also reduced excitement.
- We just didn’t have space in the storybook for more mechanics.
We considered trying to sneak it in as a simpler mechanic that would piggyback off rebuilding to have a similar effect:
When rebuilding, each character may banish any number of boons.
When rebuilding, each character may banish 1 boon.
As long as you were able to banish enough boons that you had to refill your deck to make it legal, you could replace them with cards that were a maximum level of the most recently played scenario’s # minus 2 (minimum 0). Unfortunately, it was less flavorful and still had the same complexity and timing flaws. It was also less obvious how you use it (especially to newer players). This is a good example of the sort of things that cause us to cut material even after it has been developed and tested. While the mechanic was dearly beloved by several of our (very experienced) playtesters, it added an extra layer of confusion for the newer players. It’s always a balancing act to keep the game interesting and challenging, but not overwhelming.
Now that we’ve talked about why we didn’t include it in the box, let’s talk about why you might want to play around with it at home.
The main goal of the market concept was to empower characters to take and, especially, feel comfortable using consumables like Elixir of Healing by providing a reasonable way to replace them. It’s extremely common for characters in the RPG to carry around a supply of healing potions and scrolls, so we like the idea of a character hanging onto an Elixir of Healing or a scroll of Soothing Word, secure in the knowledge they can get it back.
A secondary goal of the market was a way to address a rare conundrum that can occur. If, for whatever reason, your character had to banish a boon you liked, you have to rebuild your deck with whatever card you happen to have on hand. Only if there are no spare cards of that type can you go searching the box for a reasonable replacement. I’ve seen a few different complaints about this, and I’ve also suffered it myself. I was soloing Rise of the Runelords with Merisiel when I had to banish my Thieves Tools, probably to close a location. Merisiel really liked those Thieves Tools, so I was eager to get them back, but I drew a random item from the box (for either closing a location or defeating a Cache barrier) and got a Token of Remembrance. It turns out that since Merisiel has no spells, that particular item doesn’t help her except as a hit point. “No big deal,” I thought, “I’m sure I’ll quickly either banish it or find another item I want more.” Sadly, I was stuck with it for 3 whole scenarios. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a big deal since I just kept using it to feed my backstab power, but it felt wrong!
A tertiary goal, and one that led to the greatest mechanical argument against including the market concept, is that sometimes you just fail to find a boon you really want. Perhaps you really want a particular level 1 weapon or blessing, but you’re level 3 and you’ve never had a chance to acquire it (perhaps because Lini or Quinn keeps finding it and failing to get it for you). It’d be nice to be able to just banish a boon you like less and replace it with the one you’ve been hunting for multiple levels. That said, one of the most exciting things for many players is the loot chase: seeing that dream boon that perfectly complements your character, waiting to luck into it, throwing the kitchen sink at acquiring it, and victoriously adding it to your deck. If you can too easily just get lower level boons, that takes away a fair chunk of the ‘thrill of the chase’ for some people.
An extra benefit for the market appeared later: you can give up boons until you think you’re likely to need them. Know that you’re heading into a few scenarios full of undead? Go buy a Deathbane weapon. See that there’s an upcoming scenario full of arrows and fire? A Covering Shield might be just what you need. This is particularly nice now that Loot boons are in the vault. The Loot weapon Wyrmsmite from The Dragon’s Demand is great against dragons, which might be great to use against a couple of vicious dragons late in Curse of the Crimson Throne.
I encourage you to try it out and see if it’s good for your group. If you think “at the end of a scenario” is too often, you could make going to the market require winning the scenario, or only occur at the end of an adventure. Another interesting option would be to make a trip to the market a reward for having spent a hero point on something other than a feat during a scenario, or for being rewarded a hero point and not immediately spending it on a feat.
Another option for Curse specifically is to make the market a special feature available at the end of any scenario that included the Base. If that sounds too frequent for your group, you could require that characters “put in an order” by only allowing characters that explored the Base during the scenario to go the market. Just be careful of this option if your group has someone who hogs the Base and demolishes it before anyone else can even think of going to it.
If you want to go a bit crazy, you could even give access to the market as a reward for closing certain locations. Just have people keep locations they close handy, then at the end you might let whoever closed the Shop trade for anything, Academy a spell, Arsenal a weapon, Cathedral a blessing, Tavern an ally, etc. This is more complex than we’re likely to publish outside of a blog, but it could add an exciting benefit for some groups.
If you get a chance to play around with the Market, let us know. We love feedback. Maybe it will appear in some future product.
We’d also love to know if this kind of blog content is of interest. It’ll take time and effort to put lost boons into a usable form, and a lot of work to develop and test the lost characters from class decks, but it may be worth it if enough people would like to see them.
Adventure Card Game Designer
The PACG Cutting Room Floor: The Market
Friday, October 4, 2019