Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rex Does Kongai: Rock Stars Four – Items Update

I was hoping to get the backstories and card art out tonight but I got wrapped up in other things and I'm fading fast. I'm really trying to get the Rock Stars out of the way so we can move on to another group, since I want done with this by the end of the month.

So, instead, we'll settle for a quickie as I update the Rock Star items.

They're starting to firm up and I've got some new ideas to share. They're still in a rough, completely imbalanced stage but by the time the Rocker bars are firmed up they should also be rounding into form.

Here's what I'm thinking at the moment:

  1. Microphone. Adds 1 turn of duration to buffs when Guitar attacks are used. Adds 2 when you critically hit.
  2. Amplifiers. Adds 25% to duration of buffs (rounded up), adds 50% to duration of Ballads.
  3. Drum Set. Intercepting costs 40 energy. OR Deals 25 dmg to attacker on successful intercept.
  4. Groupies. When you switch out, you gain 10HP and your teammate who switches in gains 15HP.
  5. The Golden Guitar. +2/+2/+2res. On crit, adds +3/+3/+3 and +5 energy regeneration for the next 5.

The Microphone is basically an itemized Skill #1 Strum off of Rocker #6. Extending buffs is a cool effect for a team so buff happy. This also increases the importance of those staple attacks on each Rockers bar, using their attack to pound away will now result in their costly buffs sticking around longer. That's potentially good enough by itself but, just in case, I've added a conditional proc as well. When you score a crit with this item, you'd gain an additional turn of duration. I've noticed, going over these cards that there's a distinct theme of critical hits emerging so I want to play into it a bit with their items. But since a lot of the characters go nuts with their crits, I'm not going to be passing out anything like a CritStone. Instead, what I want to do is include more effect that amplify the affects of any crits by handing out even bigger rewards than the massive damage. This is one of the ways that I'm going to be playing with, it might be out of place here but I'll find a place for it eventually.

Speaking of Amplifiers, that's our next item and it's another item that increases the effectiveness of buffs. Like having a lot of switching items, having two such effects is probably one too many. The difference here is that the Microphone is an active item that rewards aggressive play by kicking out a bonus while the Amplifiers are just a flat out enhancement to an already existing ability. One is geared for players who want to play their Rockers as attacking characters and will hopefully prod them into exploring their buffing abilities. The other, though, is tailored towards players who want to use their Rockers as nothing more than deck-boosting buff-bots. If these two both made the cut, what I'd be doing is putting them both out there to see which style players preferred. If both saw about the same amount of play then, great, it'd be roughly equal. If not, one would be junked and replaced with something that players were clamoring for. I suspect that means the Amplifiers would go but I just don't know. If I come up with a killer idea then I'd drop Item #1 or #2 but until I have one, I think they're ever so slightly different enough to both stick around for a little while.

The Drum Set is my big switch item. I'm torn on the effect, though. Making intercepting cost actual cash energy is a deceptively nasty debuff. Normally, intercepting nets energy while, with this item, taking a flyer on landing a crunch means losing energy. It not only keeps low energy foes from intercepting completely – allowing for free switching – but it influences behavior. By making intercepts more costly, it's probably going to lower the chances that they're used. I've made a character who does something similar with switching out and I think it works beautifully. Of course, having this item would pretty much announce that you were keeping one foot in your deck and your opponent might be get extremely aggressive. Then again, you could be counting on that and be trying to make them waste energy and time while you got aggressive. It puts different wrinkles on the usual mind games. I love items like that.

The other effect for Drum Kits would be just nasty. Maybe too nasty at the level I've got it at the moment but the general idea would be that when a character was intercepted their opponent would also take some damage. Turning a character with the Drums into a big, bristly porcupine with a big red arrow pointing to a sign saying “Intercept at your own risk”. Again, it's less about the actual effect than influencing behavior. With this item, not only is missing an intercept costly but so, too, would actually making one. Better to just not bother, unless you're really really sure. Because it sets up less of an incentive to intercept, it reduces the likelihood that you will be intercepted. Not completely, though, since your opponent should always be doing more damage as well as controlling the flow of the battle.

Groupies is an item name that wouldn't be getting past the censors. Fortunately, I don't have to worry about any of that so you're free to speculate as to just what those groupies are doing that has such a restorative effect. Anyhow, the idea here is simple. The Drums are going to increase the chances of a successful switch by trying to influence opponent behavior, somehow. They're going to penalize an opponent who guesses wrong. But the Groupies are going to increase the importance of guessing right by rewarding a successful switch. It gives the character on the field a weaker version of MLM's innate but it also plays into the Rock Stars teamwork vibe by giving a friendly slap on the back to the card coming into play (And, whooo boy, let me tell you, there are some Necros that are really, really going to like having this item in their decks.). That makes it more of a mid-game item since it's not a benefit if the card you're switching to hasn't been hurt. And it's obviously not going to help you if you don't have any cards to switch to. But that little burst of health could make a lot of difference, so I think it should work. I think the character switching in should get more health – 15 is just a guess at this point – since the one switching out will have the chance to rest and regain more, it makes the item stronger by making that switch more useful, turning a weakened card into one ready to fight.

That's a cool effect. The concern is that by having this and the Drums in the same item line, we're including too many switching items. Like with the Mic and the Amps, the danger is that players will favor one over the other, since they're both working towards similar things. The hope, though, is that those things are niches far enough apart that each has its place.

Finally, we have an item that pretty much has to appear for flavor reasons. I'm planning to build the Rock Star storyline around a magical guitar that's like the Autobot Matrix of Leadership so, well, they've got to have that magical guitar to play with. The question here is how to make sure it's not an item that sucks. I've decided that it needs to be a buff item, making any character who wears it better by pumping them up. And what I'm going for here is a combo route, a hybrid offensive/defensive item. And one with a minor passive benefit along with a conditional proc. Now, the passive benefit here that I sniff off as minor is +2 to all resistance, so that should pretty much tell you what I think of the Reinforced Breastplate as an item. And, again playing into that crit theme, the conditional effect is to dump a ton more resistance as well (pushing the bonus up to a non-trivial +5All) as some extra per turn energy when its wearer makes a critical hit. That makes it better for cards like Rockers #1&3 who can easily proc a crit which is a problem I'll have to work on. But that extra energy is what makes this an offensive card – the dirty little secret of items that give characters more energy is that they're offensive enhancers, dealing more damage by allowing their wearers to attack more.

That's where the Rocker items are at the moment. I need to do a bit more work, obviously, and maybe trim some of the fat while brainstorming a few more ideas. But I think, at minimum, we'll want one buff-enhancing item, one switch-enabling item, and one uber-buff item that's the Golden Guitar. I do have some theories about how we can fill out any remaining items but since I'm not just fading here, I'm becoming transparent, we'll have to leave it for another time.

Special Bonus Content: Rex Rates the Rockers

  1. Rocker #5: Izzy
  2. Rocker #1: Bopper
  3. Rocker #3: Votan
  4. Rocker #6: Juke Box
  5. Rocker #2: Glammer
  6. Rocker #4: Grungy
That's right, we're contemplating who to kick off the reservation and, at the moment, our Grungy Rocker pal isn't making enough rain.

Next time: Something!

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