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Megaman TCG NetNavi Profile – GutsMan

So it turns out that going to China for 3 weeks and then buying a new games console is a good way to neglect a blog you’ve just started. So in the interest of getting back on track here is a post looking at a control type strategy for the Megaman TCG, which obviously revolves around the brute force type character, GutsMan!

GutsMan. Control type?Now, looking at his Navi card it’s clear that he is intended to hit the opponent hard every turn with a solid 3 Strength, getting an occasional blast in with his 3 Blast. What’s not so obvious is how well he suits a control game, keeping the opponent unable to really do much of anything while he slowly pounds away their energy.

1C67Now the control cards that Gutsman will see are going to be the yellow ones. These consist of cards that destroy your opponents resources or reduce the opponents power. A good example of a resource that does this is Smack Down, which can come across as relatively expensive but the impact it can have on your opponent is huge. A Destiny of 4 is a nice bonus and being yellow sets things up well for a particular Battlechip.

Lightning1I’m talking about Lightning1. There are already a good number of yellow cards that can help keep the opponents power gauge low, but with Gutsman this Battlechip can seal them off completely. When they take damage, they lose cards from their power gauge first. With Gutsman getting +1 power from having played a Battlechip anyway, if you can couple this with a blast on the same turn then you’ll likely knock you opponent way back down to 0 power along with chipping away at their enegy at the same time. Not bad.

With a good solid base in Yellow, you can take Gutsman into either Red or Green with good success. Red allows you to pump up your blasts, maximising on Lightning1 or taking the chance to hit your enemy hard. Green keeps your hand fuelled with cards and gives you the fuel you need to ensure you can get the most out of the yellow control cards.

Now if you remember the Intense Power event card from my Elecman post, this lets you remove 4 cards from the opponents deck if you meet the conditions to play it. That’s pretty great by itself, but more importantly for this Gutsman deck, it lets you see every single card your opponent has and remember the power/resource requirements of their best options. From here you can selectively destroy whichever resources you know they are going to need and throttle their power at just the right level to make sure they can never pull any big shots off.

Admittedly this isn’t a super strong deck and Gutsman does pretty well in his natural Red/Yellow combination just going for sheer power, but when it works and eveyrhing comes together it’s definitely mighty satisfying.

Feel the ThumpAs a footnote. I thought it might be worth highlighting the UR card for Gutsman, Feel the Thump. It absolutely typifies the control style of Yellow by completely wiping out the opponents board presence. You’d need to play Red/Yellow to ensure you get enough Gutsman emblems on the board to play it, so you’d lose the extra card supply from Green. Still likely worth it though! It definitely suggests that the designers had control style in mind when they designed this NetNavi after all and its not just my stubborn refusal to follow the obvious approach…

Next time, more stubborn refusal to follow the obvious approach!

Megaman TCG NetNavi profile – Elecman

Now this is more like it. None of that fancy “control” or “defence” business. Elecman is an all out, do-or-die, Fire Everything!! kind of NetNavi. Well, he is when I play him…

Blast!To start off, let’s look at the NetNavi card itself. With a pitiful 1 strength and no defence whatsoever, he’s certainly got to have one heck of an upside to compensate. In fact he has 2 upsides. The first is that his blast value is 1, meaning he can blast every single turn of the game (and as we’ll see, he can even blast multiple times per turn). The second upside is his powerful Navi ability where he can power up twice every time he plays a BattleChip. So at the end of turn 1 it wouldn’t be a surprise to have 3 power, at the end of turn 2 he’ll be maxed out at 5 ready to drop the biggest attacks in the game on turn 3! Against a deck with limitted control options this alone can be devestating. Only problem is, all those 5 power BattleChips? They’re super-rare and ultra-rare; you’re unlikely to have one of each of these in your entire collection, let alone enough for a full playset in a deck.

Blast some more!So let’s go ahead and assume that you don’t have 4 each of a number of SR/UR BattleChips available. What can you do to make Elecman viable? Well, similar to Roll, you can take advantage of a couple of cards to really knock it out of the park. First up, you’re going to want to blast, a lot. Now there are a good range of yellow cards that can let you take full advantage of Elecman’s 1 Blast in blasting multiple times per turn. The best of these is undoubtedly Double Zap, Elecman’s navi specific common yellow resource, but the others (each with a different additional requirement) are easily worth including too. These are all common cards so it’s unlikely to be a problem to run 4 each of as many different blast resources as you want. With these and a good selection of BattleChips you’ll be playing chips, powering up, and blasting for strong attacks on most turns of the game. Even better, all of these have a high destiny value, so every blast you perform will lead to a pretty solid 3-5 boost to your attack.

That's a BIG hammer!“So what?” you might think “This doesn’t sound all that strong”. You’d be right to think that, but there is one card we can throw in the mix to really up the ante. I’m talking about BigHammer3. Look at that beast! +4 damage for every time you blast in a turn, if you blast 3 times (which isn’t unreasonable at all for Elecman) after playing this chip that’s +12 damage in a single turn! A power cost of 3 is nothing for Elecman and with a nice hefty 5 destiny you’d also be happy to see this card flip up in your power gauge when blasting. The only downside? It needs a red resource in order to play. Elecman is typically meant to be played as yellow/green but this card alone gives a strong reason to consider changing things up and playing yellow/red instead. A number of red cards give extra ways to further boost your blast destiny in a turn, though they do tend to come with lower destiny values themselves. Still, it’s absolutely worth it to try and pull off some truly devestating attacks with BigHammer3.

Intense!Now this is pretty weak agaisnt a control type deck (which I’ll look at and write about in the future) where BattleChips get cancelled, blasts get neutralised, and attack power is reduced. However with a high average destiny Elecman deck, there is a reliable strong counter available in yellow, Intense Power. With a solid 5 destiny and a relatively cheap resource cost (especially for Elecman) this is an event that can safeguard you against the biggest threats your opponent can play. Have a look at it. That’s right, you simply reveal the cards in your power gauge and if the total is 12 or higher you can search your opponent’s deck (which alone is great to see what they have) and cherry pick any 4 cards from it to be removed. Now an Elecman deck is going to really favour the higher destiyn cards anyway and it wouldn’t be unusual to have an average destiny of greater than 3. This means that if you have 4 cards in your power gauge, this card is guaranteed to work every time! So those big heavy hits they are building up to? Gone! The big counters to your all-out blast strategy? Gone! Now this card is rare, so it’s going to be harder to get a full set of 4 of these in a deck, but it is absolutely worth including as many as you can regardless.

Hopefully this gives a good idea of an alternative Elecman strategy. Maybe I’ll talk about how he is designed to be played in the future, but next time I think I’ll go into more detail on a control strategy.

Roll with it

Megaman TCG NetNavi profile – Roll

You know what this blog needs? More articles on a TCG that no-one plays and that died way back in 2005! Thus I’m going to write about one of the NetNavis that I used to play for the Megaman Trading Card Game and a possible deck strategy. Today it’s everyone’s favourite pink navi, the often times damsel in distress and occasional badass, Roll.

For those unfamiliar of the game, I’ll give a brief overview here and cover more as I go along. Check out my previous Megaman TCG post for a bit more info and follow this link for the official rules.

Roll with itPlayers of the Megaman TCG each have a deck of 60 cards, 1 of which is a NetNavi (basically a character card) with the other 59 being Resources, Events, and BattleChips that are used to attack the opponent. Each NetNavi has 3 base statistics which are shown on left of the card. In order from top to bottom these are Strength (S), Defence (S) and Blast (B); so Roll there has Strength 1, Defence 2, and Blast 2. Some NetNavi’s also have special abilities highlighted in a small text box at the base of the card; with Roll gaining +2 Defence whenever she uses a BattleChip.

Players take turns playing various cards against each other to increase their Strength and Defence in order to attempt to deal damage. If an attacking players Strength is higher than a defending players Defence then the defender will take damage equal to the difference in Strength and Defence (so Strength 5 attacking Defence 3 would result in 2 damage dealt). Damage is dealt by forcing a player to discard cards from the top of their deck; referred to in the game as losing energy. When a player’s deck is empty, they are out of energy and lose the game.

Just looking at her NetNavi card, it looks like Roll is built for all-out defence; as if players are meant to weather the storm and outlast their opponent. Indeed, many of Roll’s Navi specific cards are focused around manipulating her power gauge in order to time and maximise your blasts. Upping defence to keep Roll going and waiting for the opportunity to make some big hits. The deck strategy I went with however shows a way you can turn the tables and make Roll into a stomping powerhouse of pain.

Now don’t get me wrong, you still want to be pushing up Roll’s Defence, so it is well worth having a good pile of BattleChips that focus on increasing her Defence stat. Chips such as TimeBomb and RockCube are a good place to start or even Roll’s Navi specific BattleChip, Bubbler. These chips add 5, 2, and 4 to Roll’s Defence respectively with RockCubs also allowing you to play another chip in the same turn; with Roll’s Navi ability these are pumped to a healthy 7, 4, and 6.

Time to turn up the heatSo what have we got so far? A ton of BattleChips that increase Roll’s Defence in a moderately controlling deck. Is this good? Well it is when we add the resource Fiery NetNavi to the mix. This card is the star of the show for this deck. Just give it a read and you will see what’s going on.

Read it? Yep. That’s right, this resource can be used to add Roll’s super-pumped Defence stat directly to her Strength stat. This can be absolutely devastating for the opponent. Even though Roll’s main trick is meant to be sitting back and biding her time, occasionally getting some moderate hits in, this card changes that entirely. Now you can use Defence boosting chips in moderation, stocking up the bigger ones for the turn where you really want to lay on the pain.

Bring on the pain trainThe only downside is that players can see this move coming; Fiery NetNavi is a resource card, so it has to already be sitting in play before you can use (spend) it. There are a few options in the game that allow players to either mess around with or flat out destroy their opponents resources and these can really block off this strategy. On the plus side there is a second card that effectively allows us to pump Roll’s Strength with her Defence, Shrimpy2. This card allows us to add Roll’s Defence value to her Blast Destiny which is effectively the same as adding it to her Strength with a small additional requirement (that also enhances her Strength further!). Better still, Shrimpy2 is a Virus type resource which means that as soon as it is played, we can search our deck for as many copies of it as we like and put those into play too. So all of a sudden we can add Roll’s Defence to her Strength multiple times in a single turn!

Overall I found this deck style to be pretty fun to play, it has some good options that allow a player to sit back and play a defensive controlling style game that suddenly swings in for massive damage and punishes the opponent for exposing any weakness. Roll’s Navi specific cards are all blue or yellow coloured, but personally I would trade out all of her yellow cards and run blue/red Roll every time. Lots of blue cards offer powerful control abilities, giving extra flexibility in your defence, whilst red cards give a lot of ways to further enhance damage when you she gets aggressive. Definitely a good fit here.

Finally, the best part of this deck? The 2 “killer” cards it relies on.. they’re both common cards. As a result it’s possible to make a very competitive Roll deck with even a small collection of cards.

Still this wasn’t my favourite deck style or NetNavi, I was always determined to make an ElecMan deck that could win a game…

Armchair Game Design – Colour mixing resource system

Undoubtedly like many other table top gamers out there, I am often struck with ideas for games, themes, and mechanics. Many of these fizzle out and go nowhere, but some of them seem to just sit there in my mind, refusing to go away until I pay some attention and think about them for a while.

“Maybe,” my brain thinks at me “this new blog endeavour we’ve started is a good place to write these ideas down.” Not one to rebel against my brain when it has what it thinks is a good idea, here is a random game design mechanic that pops into my head every now and then.

What if a card game used colour mixing as a resource system?

Original image uploaded by Sakurambo, at Wikipedia.

Original image uploaded by Sakurambo, at Wikipedia.

You know how in primary/grade/infant school, you would get the yellow paint and the blue paint, mix them both together, and make green paint? Yea, that kind of colour mixing. The best way to describe the mechanic is probably to put it in terms of a game design document, so let’s have a go at that.

Overview – This is a competitive 2 player card game, where each player is an artist trapped on a canvas battlefield, painting portraits (creatures) and landscapes (terrain) into existence to try and defeat their adversary.

Setting the stage – The gameplay area is comprised of the canvas (a 5×8 grid of empty card spaces), and a colour pallette (a 12-space resource stockpile area) for each player. Each player will have a deck of X cards, representing the ideas and thoughts they draw inspiration from throughout the game.

AGD_1_1

Starting the game – At the start of the game, players decide who will take the first turn through a method of their chooisng (toss a coin, a quick round of rock-paper-scissors, whoever last did something artistic. Then in turn order, each players draws 5 cards from their deck and places a token marking the position of his painter onto any of their 5 starting spaces on the canvas.

Taking turns – In each turn, a player may take any 2 of the following actions, they can take the same action twice:

  • Move their artist 1 space,
  • Paint a landscape or creature in an adjacent space,
  • Draw inspiration (draw a card),
  • Activate (move and/or attack with) a painted creature, or
  • Load paint onto their pallette.

[Finally, I mention loading paint on to the pallette which is supposedly the whole point of this article]

To load paint onto their pallette, a player may either:

  • Place a primary colour card (red, yellow, or blue) into any of the primary row of their pallette. They can replace an existing colour with a new one, or
  • Spread a colour from an existing pallette space to a neighbouring space. If a colour is already present in the neighbouring space the player chooses if they want to replace the existing colour or merge with it. If they merge, then the space is filled with the colour that is a combination of the existing colour and the spreading colour.

Note that the lowest level of the pallette (with 5 spaces) can hold only primary colours, the second level (with 4 spaces) can hold primary and secondary colours, and the final level can hold primary, secondary, and tertiary colours.

AGD_1_2For example, this picture shows a player pallette at the start of turn 3 (yes they did nothing but load up on paint in turns 1 and 2). They decide they would like to spread their blue paint, to do this they could either spread it over the top of the horizontally adjacent yellow or red paint, replacing them. They wouldn’t be able to merge with these colours as they are on the first (primat) pallette level. On the other hand, they could spread the blue paint into the secondary level, into spaces A or B. If they spread the blue paint into space B, then B would also become a blue paint space. If they spread into space A, they could choose to either replace the red paint with blue or mix the red and blue together to fill sapce A with purple.

Winning/Losing – A player loses when their artist takes X (to be found through playtesting) damage.

There is quite a lot of flexibility here and it allows a player to adapt their resources to compensate for what would otherwise be a poor hand of cards. It gives a nice visual representation of resources a player has available and ties in well with the overall art/painting based theme I was thinking of at the time. It’s quite simple to understand adn get going with but allows a bit of depth in planning. A player will have a good idea of what future secondary and tertiary paint options are likely to be coming and can start to adapt their strategy in advance.

I could be biased (and almost certainly am), but this resource system feels unique to me. It’s entirely possible that something similar has been used by someone somewhere before, so if you’re reading this and thinking that what I described is just like the resource system in that game you’ve played, then let me know! I’d love to see something like this actually implemented in the wild with a real ruleset and proper playtesting.

I had a few other ideas around player interaction with the pallette, perhaps enemy attacks could white-out spaces of the pallette of force colour changes. Maybe there could be weaker “sketch” type cards that don’t require particular colours of paint in order to be played onto the canvas. Perhaps it would be worth fleshing this out and writing a second post about it that goes into more detail on other aspects…

I’m starting to think my brain is tricking me, writing my ideas down is going to encourage spending even more time thinking about them than before!

Dead TCG – Megaman NT Warrior

Today, I’m going to write about the Megaman NT Warrior trading card game. This is one game that I keep coming back to again and again; for some reason it really clicked with me. This makes it a bit of a pity that it’s been out of print since 2005, card rarity decisions make it unlikely I’ll ever have a complete collection, and it’s impossible to find other players…

The main man, the blue bomber, it's MegaMan.The game itself simulates a back-and-forth battle between two opposing NetNavis (effectively AIs) in “cyberspace”. Players alternate taking turns as attacker and defender, playing resources, which fuel events and battlechips in order to try to fully deplete their opponents energy. Sounds similar to that other TCG you’ve played? Well there are a few big differences that make the Megaman TCG stand alone.

First and foremost, energy for a player is their deck. Once their deck runs dry (for any reason!), they lose. This means you are constantly on the clock, watching your energy deplete as your opponent attacks, as you draw cards, as you power up. A constant drip, drip, drip of energy depletion keeps you thinking “Can I afford to do this action? Can I take this risk?”.

Second up are the resources. These are coloured cards (red, blue, green, or yellow) that are put into play and are required in order to play other cards. For example a Laserblast BattleChip requires a player to have 2 red resources in play in order to play it. Now these Resource cards aren’t just your MtG basic land equivalents. Each of them will have a unique ability that it can be spent to achieve. So a player can decide to take one of their resources, activate the effect written on it, and then discard it. Resources can only be spent after having been played, so the opponent will be able to see it coming. So more choice, more strategy, more risk. “I can see he has 2 red resources, that would let him play a powerful attack next turn. Should I prepare to defend it? Can I force him to spend a resource this turn instead? Does he even have that attack card?”.

Third, the “power gauge”. Resource cards are not the only requirement needed to play other cards, there is also a players power gauge. This gauge starts off empty for each player and is powered up at the start of each of their turns. To power up a player takes the top card of their deck and places it face down in their power gauge. So turn-by-turn your power is building up and you are becoming able to use your more powerful cards. But! Many cards also have a cost in power that you need to spend in order to activate them, your opponent could play cards to burn your power, or you may want to…

Blast! Once per turn a player can perform a blast. To do this they reveal a numebr of cards in their power gauge equal to their blast value and pick the destiny value from one of them to add to their strength for this turn only. “Do I burn power now to go all out on an attack? Maybe I should hold back and hope to draw that big card.”

Even while writing all that, there is a lot I haven’t touched on in detail (Blast values, destiny, BattleChips, turn order, etc. etc.). There is a surprising amount going on in this game and it should definitely appeal to TCG veterans who want to try something a little different. Yet despite that, the game is very intuitive and remarkably easy to just pick up and play! If it wasn’t completely dead, I’d recommend it to everyone.

Hello code yellow!

This is indeed my very first post. I have clicked the Edit button and am merrilly modifying it, no need to start a new post! As you suggest, I should probably use this post to tell readers why I started this blog and what I’m going to do with it… Here goes!

Basically I just thought to have a place to collect my random thoughts and musings. There’s quite good odds that these thoughts are going to relate to Games, Gaming, and General Geekery (the 4 G’s?) though I’m also quite likely to ramble on about any old thing really. 2 and a half decades of gaming in various forms (table top, PC, console) certainly push it to the top of the list at the very least.

For my first actual content, i’m going to be attending the UK Games Expo in a couple of weeks and will be writing up tales of the weekend. Though that is still a bit of time away… maybe I’ll resurrect my thoughts on a dead (out of print, out of mind) card game or two in the meantime.

So if that sounds interesting at all then feel free to stick around and leave feedback on my crummy writing style and shabby content.

Oh, and welcome to my blog!