Saturday, October 18, 2008

Rex Does Kongai: Second Stab at the Gangsters

Last time we set out the basics for the seven characters in the brand-new Gangster group. Now, we'll go a step further and refine those characters even more.

One thing you might notice I've done this time around is to put an emphasis on finding innates so, to help me come up with or narrow in on a concept, I've given each innate its own name. Just a little added kick of flavor that the original game lacks but that I think wouldn't hurt to retain. But, beyond that, we've got some major revisions and some minor tweaks to cover so let's head right on in.

We'll start with one of the more problematic cards, the overpowered Vamp.


Simply put, where we last left her was in an extremely overpowered state. The Vamp, our sultry seductress, cuts against the grain of the rest of the Gangster cards by not dealing a lot of damage and, instead, focusing on outright disruption. Her proposed bar contains a variety of ways to screw her opponent over, alternatively punishing and preventing their attacks. I thought at the time that it was a little much for any one character to contain, too much power concentrated in a single space, and some time mulling the idea over has only confirmed my instincts.

So, what I've done is first to play around with the ranges somewhat in an effort to tone her down somewhat. Fiddled with her attack to make it a bit weaker, too. And added an innate that might have just opened a brand new can of worms.

Version 2: I've pushed Skill #1, Slap, up to Close and shoved Skill #3, Kiss, back to Far. This turns her into a 2/3 character and ensures that she can't follow up an interrupt with her psuedo-reflect – not without changing range. And, since I'm going to raise Kiss's cost that should be hard to maintain. Formerly, I'd been treating it as the equal of an omni-reflect, a skill that can bounce anything back like Constantine's. But I've come to realize that it's more like a heal than a reflect and I've also come to understand that heals need to be more expensive. So, instead of having it in the 30s range, I'm going to bump it up to the 50~60 area where it'll be harder to range into. I'm keeping Slap down at 10, though, and that could lead to trouble – a Vamp that starts off at far could Kiss and then step into a Slap. So, we'll also tamp down the damage on Skill #1 so that Vamp doesn't gain that much. I'm less worried about the Kiss -> Slap combo than I am the Slap -> Kiss, though, since it's only after taking damage that the healing from Kiss followed by lock down becomes so problematic.

We've switched her gun attack, Skill #2 from a moderate single-hit to a multi-hit. To give it a bit of flair, I'm hoping to call it the Six Shooter although I've yet to work out a good range of damage with a multiple of 6 just yet. I'm thinking either a 5x6 that will really need to rely on its ability to occasionally ignore armor or a 7x4 that won't, as much, but also won't make as much conceptual sense. Either way, I think since she's so effective at shutdown this character needs to be kept from dealing decent damage so it's going to be hideously inefficient – not packing a lot of punch for the energy spent.

Finally, I've added in her missing innate. Now, when someone switches out against the Vamp, she'll gain a healing burst, sort of like a bizarro Le Morte. I'm not sure if it's especially well placed here but it should be an interesting idea. It does play into the healing she gets from Skill #3, making her a card that has a lot of ways of gaining health, but I'm not sure if she causes enough of a threat to pull frequent switches – the kind of card you want to run away from would be the one to benefit most from this sort of innate. My general sense is that she's going to be more of a grinding, frustrating card who innate is only going to serve to keep cards on the field where they'll have to rest around her disruption. Then again, she tags someone with Heartbreaker and they might just want to retreat. So it might work after all.

Name: Theressa Vampinsiaro, the Boss's Daughter
Innate: Welcome To My Parlor. Gains moderate health (20?) when opponent successfully switches in.
Bar (v2): #1 damage lowered. #3 changed to Far range. Tightened values. Added hit/proc.

  1. Slap. Low damage (8). Interrupts. Cannot use twice in a row. Low cost (10), high speed (7). Close. Phys. 80H/100p.
  2. Six Shooter. Moderate multi-hit damage (5x6/30 ~ 7x4/28). If target is stunned, ignores resistance. Moderate to high cost (40~45), low speed (2). Far. Phys. 100H/100p. <- Dealing enough damage to warrant 45en? It's going to be slightly inefficient, though. This is not a card that should be good at the killing work.
  3. Kiss. If hits first, attacker heals instead of harms. Cannot use twice in a row. High cost (60), moderate speed (6). Far. Dark. 100H/90p
  4. Heart Breaker. Low damage (12). Debuff. Target is stunned the next time they attack. Moderate cost (30), low speed (3). Both. Dark. 100h/90p.
I think the changes help a lot, making her less of a threat to keep an attacker constantly afraid to make a move, although she still retains that flavor. With her new innate she gets them going away and with her powerful disruption she gets them coming in to attack, too. But the range restrictions make it harder for her to keep someone constantly screwed over and open up rounds where she can be attacked. We'll probably be saddling her with ultra low health and weak resistance so her opponents can make the most of those opportunities. Still, that trio of skills is probably one too much – I'll have to work on alternatives for Skill #4 Heart Breaker for the next time. But the feeling that I can't shake is that this card needs to do more damage. Not while she's disrupting someone, of course, but, at the moment, wrapping her foe up and keeping them out of the fight is all she can do. She needs to have an alternative, a reason not to shoot everything down and that should be shooting everyone up. Giving her some more damage could create an interesting RPS dilemma when facing her between attacking, not attacking, and running away (If you attack when she's disrupting then she's ahead because she'll have zapped you somehow. But if you attack while she's attacking herself you'll likely come out ahead because her attacks should be weaker than most. And, of course, if you switch out you've just made her stronger for the next opponent.). Or, then again, it might not. I'll have to think about it for now but, for the moment, we're making steady improvements here by walking her back from her former strengths.

Moving on, we'll continue in reverse order and pick up the Gun Moll.


Unlike the Vamp, I think the Gun Moll is in pretty good shape. She was conceived as a high-damage character, the hardest hitting in the line, and I think we're heading there. With her, it's mostly a matter of filling in the blanks and smoothing out the kinks.

So, we're going to adjust a few things here and there, tightening up her bar.

Version 2: Our first issue is Skill #1, Derringer. It's never going to be a great skill – it's hard to get excited about an attack that only deals 12 damage, even if it is an ultra-efficient one. But the problem here is that, at the moment, it's a forgettable one. The idea with Derringer is to give her a little bitty skill to go along with her bigger blasts as a cheap way of pushing an opponent over the edge. But I feel it's being overshadowed by Skill #3, Grenade. If you can attack with a 20 damage hit that'll hit someone else on the opponent's side as well, why bother with Derringer? Outside of not having the energy, I can't think of a good reason. So, we're going to give Derringer a bit of a boost, and one aimed specifically when the range is set to Close. And how we'll do that is by turning it into a flip-ranged skill.

The flip-range modifier is one of those mechanics I've thought up and used before that's baseline to me but might take a bit of explaining to anyone who's never encountered it before. The basic idea is that it's a skill which can be activated at either range but who effect changes depending on where the range is set. It acts one way at Far and another at Close. This effectively extends a characters bar since you can cram two skills into a single spot. From there, you can do just about anything. You can adjust a skill's cost, its damage, raise or lower its crit rate, or even add on a procced effect all depending on the range that it's used. It's a bit of an imperfect tool since balancing them can be a nightmare – you frequently end up with a skill that's overpriced at one range and often underpriced at the other. But the flexibility it offers can help out a lot and seems perfectly well-suited to the Gangsters.

Here, with Derringer we're going to go for a minor flip effect. When the range is set to Close, where we want Derringer to be an alternative to another Grenade, we'll have its speed increased. Turning it from a slow hit into a fast one that can get the drop on a weakened foe. It won't be the strongest skill on her bar but that should give it a niche. Best of all, when the range is back at Far and Ginny-dear is more deadly, it won't be fast enough to do the same, leaving her still vulnerable to interrupts and traded blows. But it's still useful because of its low cost and its ability to serve as a vehicle for facilitating her procs.

Speaking of which, I've decided to shift gears on her innate a little bit. I had been thinking that she'd have a chance to pull out her pistol and put an extra slug into her opponent, maybe even a free hit with her Derringer, causing a little bit more physical damage and increasing her DPE. Effectively giving her a built-in damage enhancer like a General's with more of a randomized output. Now, though, I want to switch it up and do something a little different to see how it feels. Instead of giving her a set amount of bonus damage, I want to float that value depending on her foe. With her new innate she'll deal bonus damage equal to her opponent's resistance. If they've got 8 Phys then she'll have a chance to deal an extra 8 damage to them. If they've got 3, then she can get a +3. The resulting blast of damage will wipe out their resistance and let her skills deal their listed damage. Keeping with the Gangster's resistance ignoring theme while putting a new spin on it.

At least, it'll wipe out resistance on single-hits. Her big nuke, Skill #2, Tommy Gun, is a multi-hit. But that's okay since it means that Skill #4, Incendiaries, is still useful even while it's no longer quite as necessary. Now, it's a useful bonus that helps to push her damage up even further. It's just no longer going to be a complete requirement against certain opponents – those, I'd think, with good Physical resistance. I'm also going to go ahead and make it affect only Gun attacks, taking away the bonus from the potential nasty Skill #3. That's dealing a lot of damage and I think we pretty much need to make sure resistance hits it twice if we want to keep it at a reasonable price.

Name: Ginny McGee, the Gun Moll
Innate: Concealed Weapon. When Ginny attacks, she has a chance (High. 60~80%) to deal bonus damage equal to her opponent's physical resistance.

Bar (v2): #4 restricted to affecting only #1. Tightened up values. Hit/proc added.

  1. Derringer. Deals low damage (12). Has bonus speed (+7) if range is Close. Low cost (10), low speed (2). Both. Phys. 95H/100p.
  2. Tommy Gun. Deals high multi-hit damage (9x5/45). Moderate to high cost (40), moderate speed (5). Far. Phys. 90H/No p.
  3. Hand Grenade. Hits for moderate damage (24P). Hits random decked opponent for moderate damage (24P). Moderate cost (35), moderate to low speed (4). Both. Phys. 90H/90p.
  4. Incendiaries. Buff. (Gun) attacks cause Burning (Moderate. 4For3. 12DOT. 100Proc.) and ignore opponent's resistance (100p). Moderate cost (30), low speed (3). Both. Phys. 100H/100p.
So, minor changes are the order of the day. But, really, that's all Ginny needs at the moment. She's shaping up to be a solid entry. Maybe not the best, maybe she's still missing something (If only I knew what), but she's going to slam her opponents and chew through their health and that's exactly what we want.

Next, let's head back to the beginning and look at Ginny's beau, Gangster #1, Scareface (And, no, that's not a typo. He's a scary guy.).


Again, we're going in for minor tweaks here rather than a systemic overhaul (Just wait, those are coming up.). Like Gangster #6, Sammy is looking more or less fine. A few remaining issues to puzzle over but the general shape is there and we're just adjusting the dials.

Version 2: Since Gangster #3 picked up the anti-miss buff, that leaves Sammy with the second idea, a buff that increases multi-hit damage. That's fine since I was heading there anyway. So, the first change here is that Skill #4 has become Inner Rage. It works by adding to multipliers and adding a small boost to critical hits. The result should be a big increase in damage, moreso on multi-hits but, really, on any skills he cares to use.

To support it, I've transformed most of Scareface's attacks into multi-hits. Skill #2, his Gun, I'm thinking will now deals 8x4 or 32 damage raw. Buffed up that'll turn into 8x5 or 40, giving it a +8 boost. His Close-range Punch, Skill #1, now deals 14x2 or 28 damage. Skill #4's buff gives it a massive +14 boost, turning it into a 14x3, 42 damage beast. But it's not quite as bad as it seems since Skill #1 is affected by resistance while Skill #2 isn't. The buff means that Skill #1 will wipe out almost anyone's resistance, sicne there are few cards that can even get more than 10, but Skill #2 never has to clear that hurdle at all, those 8 points of extra damage are pure bonus, so although Switchblade pumps up more, it's likely a wash with Skill #2 and maybe even slightly in MGB's favor.

The skill that remains a single-hit has also been reworked, we've changed Skill #3 from a high damage Frag Grenade into a heavy Burning Molotov Cocktail. It won't gain much from Skill #4's boost but since it already takes off some 40 odd health, most of which cuts right through resistance, it probably doesn't matter. We're talking auto-proc here, this sucker lands and you take a chip shot and then Burn for a whole lot more. The chip shot is really just there so that it has a way of interacting with Skill #4 at all, this way it at least has a slight chance to crit for a bit more. It might even be set a bit low, given the costs involved but that might be alright thanks to the change in Scareface's innate.

In thinking about it, I'd come to the conclusion that his originally proposed innate was just a little too weak. Scars that would lower an opponent's maximum health after they were damaged seemed like an interesting idea but one that, ultimately, wouldn't matter much. Not that many cards can heal and Sammy's deal damage fast enough that he won't really worry about them anyway. So, to make it a little more relevant we're going to give it a secondary effect to make each Scar hurt an opponent a bit more. Now, Scars will not only lower maximum health, they'll also increase the duration of any DOT. I'm thinking this will go into effect on the round of application so, effectively, with skills like #3, we're giving Sammy a 3-turn DOT that has a chance to proc into a 4. And each time he attacks he has a chance to extend that duration a little more. That'll work nicely to make both Skills #1 and #3 more lethal while still keeping that damage spread out, the way we wanted.

Name: Sammy “Wyoming” Scarfacci, the Consigliere
Innate: Viciousness. Has a moderate (40~50%) chance to Scar opponents on attack. Scars lower max health by a set amount (10HP?) and increase duration of DOTs by 1. Last for long duration (10 turns?)
Bar (v2): #3 reworked. Lower damage with more coming from DOT. Tightened up values. Hit/proc added.
  1. Switchblade. Moderate multi-hit damage (14x2/28). Debuff. Bleeds moderate to low (4for2, 8DOT). Low to moderate cost (25), moderate speed (4). Close. Phys. 95H/25p.
  2. Machine Gun Burst. Moderate multi-hit damage (8x4/32). Ignores resistance. Moderate cost (30), high speed (7). Far. Phys. 90H/100p.
  3. Molotov Cocktail. Low damage (12). Debuff. Burns high (12for3/36). High cost (55), low speed (3). Both. Phys. 90H/100p.
  4. Inner Rage. Buff. +1 to multi-hit multipliers (ie 12x2 -> 12x3.) and low increase to crit (+12%?). Moderate to high cost (40), low speed (3). Phys. Both. 100H/100p.
I like it.

The power here still comes from his bar but the innate is now serving to make it better. Need to put some more thought into the overall damage level and maybe rework Skill #4 a bit but, otherwise, I'm thinking he's working well with an addition to his innate and some fine-tuning of his skills that've kicked him into high gear.

Next up, let's try for something similar with the Made Man


We've got a minor change here that might become something major. Mostly because it takes away from the concept of this card as the group's ranged specialist. Not that I'm sorry to give that up anyway since it seemed a bit forced.

Here, though, we're going to switch a few skills around and dump one that wasn't working.

Version 2: The big change here is that I've dumped the old idea for his flex-range nuke, leaving the Skill #3 slot temporarily bare. What I called Trick Shot wasn't really working. Fingers isn't really a marksman, so it wasn't a good fit. And it's not like I had a good idea of what it should do, either. So we're pushing it to the side.

What is a good fit for the Made Man is the idea that he's a thief. He's a charming, dashing guy but he's still a lowlife scum who'll take your wallet and shove you in front of a moving train if he thinks there's anything for it. So, rather than replacing his nuke with another one, what I'm going to do is take his Pick Pocket, what used to be his Punch skill and move it into the #3 slot. It's a stretch to call it a Bomb but what we'll do is make it a flex-ranged skill that lets Fingers steal energy at either range. It's going to be a powerful skill but I think that fits for what turns out to be a marque ability. The Made Man is a thief. He steals your energy. It works.

To fill out the #1 slot, then, we're going to add a skill that's essentially a copy of Skill #2. But we'll try and work the hit rates and such that even though it's not exactly the same, it'll wind up dealing about as much damage as his Gun overall – remember that with his innate, he's not caring about resistance on either. So, there's a big shift to his concept even if we haven't changed his bar around all that much.

Name: Vinnie “Fingers” Mazeratti, the Man Man / Vinnie “Slick” Ferraro
Innate: Inside Job. Ignores resistance when attacking.
Bar (v2): #1 replaced with Sucker Punch – mod dmg, high crit. #3 replaced with Pick Pocket – low dmg, steals en. #4 clarified, added immunity to reflection. Tightened up values. Hit/proc added.
  1. Knuckle Duster. Deals moderate damage (24). Moderate cost (35), high speed (7). Phys. Close. 95h.
  2. Hand Gun. Deals moderate damage (26). Moderate cost (35), high speed (8). Far. Phys. 90h.
  3. Pick Pocket. Deals low damage (10). Steals moderate to high energy (40) from target. Low cost (10), moderate speed (5). Both. Dark. 80H/75p.
  4. Shades. Buff. Hit rate set to 100%, cannot be lowered. Hits cannot be dodged or reflected. Duration is low (2~3 turns). Low cost (20), low speed (3). Both. Dark. 100H/100p.
Because of his innate his skills are slightly overpriced but they should work better than they actually look. Adding in the hit rates, though, should reveal why his Skill #4 buff is necessary (Because of the frequent reflects around in this set, I've decided that not only does it get to ignore dodging, it gets to ignore bouncing as well. With it up he will not miss. Period.). I've made sure that his new calling card, Skill #3 especially has the sort of weak hit rate that'll benefit from being buffed up. I'm not sure exactly how much energy it should be stealing but I know that it should be a risky move.

Overall, though, I think it's been a good round of changes for the Made Man. What we lose with those changes, though, is any pretense that he's a character tilted towards any one range. He'll now have one attack for each range, a pair that are about the same, and a weak hit with a powerful effect that he can use for either. So, he's become a flex-range scrapper in the model of Gangster #1 or #6 and no longer a far-range at all. That weakens him a bit since it means he's no longer got such a clearly defined role. And when we look to trim this group down, that could leave him vulnerable. But, I think, with a good innate and some interesting abilities, that he's distinct enough that he's not going to blur into, say, Scareface. If he can remain his own card and not feel like any other Gangster then I think it's alright if he plays like them.

Moving on, let's see, we're running out of the easy cards with the simple fixes and onto the cards that need something more drastic. So, let's head to the Ox and see what we can do with him.


When last we left the Bull-headed Ox, he was a Close-range character that could flip the script and turn into a Far-range character. An interesting ability that, I think, still has some merit. However, thinking about the ramifications I'm convinced it's an idea that needs a little more time in the shop. Specifically, I thought about what could be done against a character like that and came up with at least one nasty exploit – switching ranges. It's like this, Johnny starts off as a Close character so you push Far. He buffs up to switch his ranges for a few turns so you press back Close - where he can't attack again. Wait until his buff wears off and repeat. If he elects not to buff then you just maintain range. The energy might get a bit tight after a little while and he can always switch out but you should be able to frustrate him for a while. Too long for my liking and it has a terrifying potential to stall the game.

The simple fix would be to make his buff not just flip his range around but, instead, to transform his skills into dual-ranged. Make it not Close -> Far but Close -> Both. But that's an awful lot of power to be throwing around since it takes away the crucial maneuvering part of the game. So, as I said, I think we're going to shelve the idea and cast around for something else.

Fortunately, I have another idea that's been marinating for a little while that I've been trying to make work that just might be an excellent fit here: Bapho.

Version 2: Bapho was one of the Wraiths, a group of shifty, shady magic users with a penchant for buffing and, especially, debuffing. But Bapho was one of a pair of big heavy bruisers created back when the Wraiths were, in fact, the Werewolves (Kindof a natural counter-part to the existing Vampire group. The other bruiser was sort of an improved Constantine, by the way. The whole group was originally intended as a sort of “Vamps done right” which swiftly got away from me.). Which made him doubly redundant, especially after the Wraiths took at turn away from brawling and towards more fragile casting. So, he got dropped. But I though his gimmick was a good one. Basically, Bapho's innate was that when he was killed he wouldn't die until the end of the turn. That meant that if his opponent hit him first and took away the last of his health, Bapho would still be able to get his hit in. And I made sure that was likely to happen with a bunch of low priority skills. But what I also did was to give Bapho an out. He had a Mark, one of the Wraith's signature debuffs, which would allow him to survive because what it did was to give him a burst of healing if he managed to get a kill. In other words, Bapho might have been slow but he was powerful and as long as he was making sure his debuff was up, he'd have a chance to die, finish off an opponent with one of his big hits, heal, and then survive. Beautiful little loop, I thought.

And what we're going to do is adapt it to Johnny boy here. We'll have to change some things around. Some of Bapho's skills just don't fit a close-only physical brawler. And the concept of an undying mobster is a bit more of a headscratcher than the demon who just won't die but, you know, it's about the mechanics at this point. Maybe the concept will be that the Big Dumb Ox is just too dumb to know that he's killed. So, we're going to drop Bapho's Claw skill – most of the Wraiths had a way to scratch their opponents and cause them to bleed. That could fit here but it's already Scareface's shtick so we'll leave it along in favor of another low cost attack with benefits – since the Ox is going to be slow, we'll give him a way to slow his opponents down so he has a chance to hit first. Next, Bapho had a far-ranged attack called Void Hammer that I liked. We could whip up yet another Gun skill for the Ox to serve the same purpose but, really, I want him to be a purely Close range character. That's why we're changing him, after all. So, we'll slot in another Close range hit there. Finally, I don't think that the strength of Bapho's debuff really suits the Ox. The Gangsters aren't as good at debilitating as the Wraiths are (They were really, really good at it.). So, we're going to strip the “on kill” mechanic off of the debuff here. Instead, we'll make Skill #4 into a weaker/stronger version of Ancestral Curse and have it lower less resistance but for longer. That nicely plays into the Gangster's abilities to ignore resistances from another angle – taking them away. We'll shift that “on kill, you get healed” over to the Ox's power attack, Skill #2. That way, if he's using his money shot, he's got a chance to damage and heal through his opponent's efforts. It gives his signature move a powerful ability and I like that. But it does weaken the “on kill” mechanic a bit since that'll be the only way he can get into the Bapho loop.

So, to compliment it, I think we'll give him a “hits fleeing” for that third attack. We'll change Skill #3, Bull Rush around so that it has a chance to hit fleeing. That way, when someone's sitting there staring at a Gut Punch about to finish them off, the threat of a Bull Rush hitting them if they try to swap away from it can keep them on the field so that it actually works. Pairing a nuke like Gut Punch with a hits fleeing skill should turn the Ox into a powerful Close range attacker. So, I think we've got it.

Bapho's bar was pretty far along in development, so for now we can forget about the shadow bar and get something approaching finalized, just by switching around some names and abilities. Probably won't be what they'll end up as but it's at least a stronger start that lets the Ox skip ahead of the development curve a bit.

Name: Johnny “The Ox” Vaccinaro, the Thug
Innate: Dinosaur Brain. When killed, doesn't die until end of turn.
Bar (v2): Adapted Bapho the rejected Wraith's bar and innate.
  1. Knuckle Sandwich. 30En, 3spd, 24(P). 95h, 95p. Target loses 1 speed. Close. Phys.
  2. Gut Punch. 40En, 1spd, 50(P). 95h. If target killed, you gain 25HP. Close. Phys.
  3. Bull Rush. 35En, 4spd, 28(P). 90h, 50p. Chance to hit fleeing. Close. Phys.
  4. Leg Breaker. 20En, 3spd, 12(P). Target's resistances are lowered by 5 for the next 5 turns. Both. Phys.
Hmm. I'm going to have to think about it again. My initial impulse is that this is a good change and I'm happy that Bapho gets another turn to shine. But I'm worried. Something doesn't feel right here. And it's not just that we've only got a tenuous connection to the Gangsters' main mechanics now – there's not a lot of resistance ignoring here now. Can't quite put my finger on it at the moment, though. But, at the least, we've got a new trick and it seems like a good one. That idea of a character who can die and then heal back to life is an intriguing one but I think we'll have to work a bit more in order to make it work.

Moving on, let's go from the big heavy to the little wimp and deal with, sigh, the Stoolie.


I've got a few changes in mind but, honestly, the Stoolie is a card that's circling the drain. We simply have too many Gangsters and a few of them have to go. At the moment, #5 isn't feeling distinct or interesting enough to be alive much longer. I like the innate and the whole “they lose, you gain” mechanic but it's just not coming together.

I'm not quite ready to give up – if I was, Stoolie would be amongst the first to go, followed shortly by the Hit Man, but I think we might be able to salvage them yet.

Version 2: The first step is to drop the not working Blood Burn-light effect from Skill #1. We'll replace it with something I call an energy sap. Rather than stealing or draining energy, it'll just cause a target to lose some, symbolizing the ill-feeling's they'll have after getting knocked upside the head. I think we've already used this idea with Rocker #5 but, well, he's not long for this world, either, so I don't feel bad about reusing it. We might put this on a proc, we might not. The other idea was to make this a stun, like Spiked Boots or something but, really, I don't want to pass out too many stuns so we'll run with energy denial for now.

The next step is to shuffle around skills #3 and #4. Now, #4 is the cheap debuff that messes with energy costs. While #3 is the heavy hit with the pleasant side effect of messing with speed. Both cause the opponent to lose and the caster to gain but the difference now is that Skill #3 deals actual damage and can be used for that purpose. While the main point of #4 will be mainly to get that energy increase/reduction into play. To make Skill #3 a bit more nasty, it's also going to pick up a bit of Skill #1's old effect and hit resistance as well as speed.

The overall idea is a character who gains the power he needs from his opponent. He's weak at first, a simpering coward, but turn your back on him, give him a few turns, and he can buff himself into a powerhouse while debuffing you into a cripple.

Sound good? Yeah, I don't know either but let's see if we can't make it work anyway.

Name: Bobby “Shortstack” Randazzo, the Snitch
Innate: Petty Theft. When opponent buffs, chance (high) that he steals that buff.
Bar (v2): #1 change to deny energy. #3 and #4 switch places, new #3 deals more damage. Tightened up values. Hit/proc added.
  1. Pistol Whip. Moderate damage (18~20). Target loses energy (15~20). Moderate cost (35), moderate speed (4). Close. Phys. 95H/100~75p.
  2. Crack Shot. Moderate damage (28). Ignores resistance. Moderate to high cost (40), moderate to high speed (7). Far. Phys. 90H/100p.
  3. Mugging. Moderate to high damage (32). Target's speed and resistance are lowered by 2 and yours are raised by 2 for the next several turns. Duration high (5~6). Moderate to high cost (55), low speed (3). Both. Phys. 100H/90p.
  4. Kneecap. Low to moderate damage (12~15). Target's energy costs are raised by 10 and yours are lowered by 10 for the next several turns. Duration moderate (4). Moderate cost (30), moderate speed (5). Both. Dark. 100H/90p.
Better. But I'm not quite sold yet.

I'm going to have to put some more time into this one. So, let's move on to our final Gangster, another troubled card, the Hit Man.


You know, originally, I'd written something here about how I'd been struggling with Sully's bar, how it was a mess that I just couldn't figure out but, now, I'm feeling inspired by the new Ox. Hold on, I'm going to try something.

Here's Version #2 in case you're interested but don't get too attached, we're moving on to v.3.

Innate: Blood Churn. Foe's resistance, speed, and damage are lowered by 1 at end of turn.
Bar (v2):
  1. Club. Light to moderate damage (12~18). Debuff. Target takes +25% damage (from all sources) for next 3 turns. Modate cost (30~35), moderate speed (4). Close. Phys.
  2. Rifle Shot. Deals low damage (12). Buff. +20crit, +50% crit damage. Moderate cost (30), moderate speed (2). Far. Phys.
  3. Seeping Wound. Low damage (5). Chance to debuff (high 50+%). Target takes high damage (50) after next few turns (2). High cost (40~50), moderate to high speed (6~7). Close. Dark.
  4. Marked Man. Debuff. Gain +HP and +en on kill (moderate). Low cost (10), low speed (3). Both. Phys.

And here's the latest version, hot off the presses.

Name: Sully, the Button Man
Innate: Walking Wounded. When opponent switches out any delayed damage effects they have immediately discharge, dealing their remaining damage and then ending.
Bar (v2):
  1. Parting Shot. Hits fleeing. Long range Rising Dragon. Far. Phys.
  2. Rifle Shot. Deals low to moderate damage then deals moderate to high damage after 2. Far. Phys.
  3. Piano Wire / Knife Wound / Garotte. Debuffs. Deals low for long (2~3for10). Ends on hit, but hit sets the range to Far. Close.
  4. Contract Hit. Debuff. If target is killed, gain HP (and en?). Both. (Needs passive benefit?).
Bar (v2.1)
  1. Parting Shot. Deals moderate damage (24). Hits fleeing. Moderate cost (30), high speed (7). Far. Phys. 90H/100p.
  2. Rifle Shot. Deals moderate damage (20). Debuffs, deals high damage (40 D), after next 2 turns. High cost (50~60), high speed (8). Far. Phys. 100H/90p. // Maybe Bleed 20for2?
  3. Piano Wire. Debuff. Target takes damage over time (low to moderate – 2for10). Ends on hit. Sets range to Far on end. Close. Phys. 100H/95p.
  4. Contract Hit. Debuff. If target is killed, gain HP (high – 25). Attacks against this target ignore resistance. Moderate cost (35~40), low speed (3). Both. Dark. 100H/100p.

Well, that's something. Okay, let's talk about what I've done. Essentially, what we've got here is a far-ranged Bapho. A killer who can heal himself by finishing off his foe.

In Skill #4, he's got a variant of Bapho's old Mark of Inevitability. It lowers a target's resistance – in this case by making any attack ignore resistance, effectively setting any of their defenses to 0 – and will dump a bunch of health in Sully's red bar. It's a bit of an odd skill to put on a Gangster's bar, it practically is a Mark and that was really a Wraith thing but, you know, I think it can work and that's more important than any vague purity of design.

Sully lacks Bapho's innate, though, that made that “on kill, heal” mark so good. In its place he has a bit of a wild idea in the form of a DOT discharge. “Discharge” is a mechanic I've tried to work with before and the basic idea is that normally, DOT is ticked off slowly, over, well, time. But when the Discharge ability comes into play, they tick off all at once, dealing all of their damage before they disappear. So, say someone has a 4for3 Bleed. Normally they'd take those 12 points of damage over the next 3 turns. But if you hit them with something that causes a Discharge then it happens all at once. And hits that happen all at once are nastier than hits than happen over the next few turns. What Sully's innate will do is cause any DOT on his target to discharge if they happen to leave the field of play. They switch out, say, and any delayed damage they've been carrying around happens all at once and they, potentially, suffer a lot of damage before they go.

In so many words, I've been trying to make Sully an Overdrive character but, now, I think it's going to be better to turn him into a Trapper. The two aren't exactly distant concepts – but, now, rather than focusing on staying on the field himself in order to get the power to kill, Sully will be about forcing weakened opponents to remain on the field while he finishes them off. That innate is going to be one of the big ways he does so, by dissuading his foes from leaving before he gets finished with them. The idea is that rather than stalking his opponent, Sully will have cornered them.

It's not going to work, though, unless he has some DOT effects to go along with it, so we'll sprinkle some of those through his bar. We'll make Skill #2 his nuke, but backload a lot of that damage by packing it into a debuff. That way it can be relatively cheap since it won't kill anyone right away – not unless they try and leave.

We'll also give him a long-lasting, low damage DOT in Skill #3 that should also work nicely with his innate. By dealing out only a little bit of damage it won't be very threatening. But by having a long duration, it'll trigger a decent hit when anyone tries to leave. I'll also throw in a wild mechanic in there, something to go along with Gangster #7's Skill #4, a debuff that proc on the opponent's next attack. Rather than being a stun, though, we'll have it be a range-change. Sully's shaping up to be a Far-ranger, so that can be a big help to him. With this debuff up, not only will his opponent take damage over time but they'll also set themselves up for a big hit if they're not careful. Might have to put some restrictions on it because it sounds pretty powerful, though. I see it as working after a hit so it wouldn't be a soft-interrupt like, say, Ninja-port.

Finally, we'll give him a fleeing hit skill for his #1 Slot. A long-range Rising Dragon that will help him to punish foes who leave even more. Works nicely in tandem with Skill #3. Someone hits him, and pushes the range back, and then they're starring at a hit they can't avoid. Well, maybe not completely can't avoid since I think hits fleeing skills that can't miss are a pretty stupid idea.

But maybe we'll have a chance to talk about why the next time. For now, let's wrap this up.

  1. Sammy. Rounding into shape. A bit concerned with where his #4 buff is at – his damage levels might be too extreme for such a flexible card now. But I'm thinking the change to his innate really helped him to gel.
  2. Ox. We had to suck it up and take away his gimmick. We replaced it with Bapho's and that's one that I've always liked. But I'm not sure if it's working well enough here. And I'm not sure exactly why, either.
  3. Fingers. I think my problem here is that this character can steal a lot of energy but what is he stealing it for? He's a fairly efficient character that lacks a real big money skill. And because his two attacks are somewhat mirrored, he doesn't even need to change ranges all that much. #3 Pick Pocket ends up being a defensive move or what he can use to range away from his opponent's best stuff and I'm not really sure that suits him well. Also, the potential for disaster is troubling – Fingers can use #3 to get away from a single-range opponent and then use it to deny their ability to rest and get back to range, setting up a nasty loop if that's the only card left. One they're going to lose as Fingers chips them to death. The proc rate helps but, you know, that could be a real issue.
  4. Button Man. What a difference a revision makes. The Hit Man's now shaping up to be a very interesting card after being, frankly, blah. We've got a lot of work to do since we're at the good ideas stage and we need to get into the well-implemented point.
  5. Stoolie. Better. But still not feeling like a card worth saving. I suppose the problem is that he's not really distinguishing himself. The other Gangsters have established niches and occupy space that he'd be taking up. And, at the moment, there's no way I'm kicking out cards like the Made Man or the Montana Man in favor of him.
  6. Gun Moll. Getting there. I think we need to take a close look at expected damage and efficiency here. Liking the newly reworked innate, though.
  7. Vamp. Still feels dangerously powerful. Having that much shutdown on one character is just going to be problematic, I think. It might be better to take some of it off and replace it but the question's with what? An alternative is to restrict it and make it more conditional.

Overall, I think we're in good shape here. We made a few tweaks to the cards that were working well like Gangsters #1, 3, and 6. And we made a few adjustments that really pulled some cards back from the brink, like Gangsters #2, 4, and 7. Gangster #5 continues to be a weak spot but, hey, they can't all be winners.

That about does it for me. I need to take some time to think these characters over a bit. We'll pick it up next time around, when we'll try and take these cards another step further. Or maybe we'll do something completely different while I give myself time to ponder. We'll have to see. Until then.

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