Tuesday, November 4, 2008

RDK: The Eponymous Set

The set RDK is a backronym. It stands for, as in the title of this post, “Rex Does Kongai”. But, thanks to a bit of plotting on my part, it also stands for “The Return of Dominus – Kongai” which would be the actual expansion title, were I to have my way. RDK, then, is just a working title I use so that I don't have to type that all out all the time. The other sets, too, have their working but actual names, too – 4W I'd call “The Void War”, while SO3 would be something like “The Boss is Missing” (Or, really, Kongai: The Void War, etc.).

As you might tell from the set's title, it's about the return of a character named Dominus Rex. Who's also, by the way, not named after me since I'm not quite that vain. Rex means “king” while dominus means “master” - really, “The Master of Kings” was the name that best fit. Because that's what Dominus is, someone who wants to rule the world. In the middle ages, he was a scholar and a mystic who figured out how to raise the dead and fashioned them into an army of conquest. It took a colossal war that ravaged most of Europe before he and his army of the unliving were defeated. In the game's story, then, afterwards he goes to ground and eventually becomes a lich, an undead sorcerer. Through the centuries he's been biding his time and marshaling his forces until, now, he's finally ready to try again. As he unleashes his undead hordes, led by his hand-picked generals, he's opposed by an order of religious fanatics who've been guided by prophecies dating back to the original conflicts with him in the distant past to, once more, stand in his way. To distract them and to sow chaos in general, he manages to release several mythological beasts from their prisons, freeing them to rampage across the world. Those beasts had been kept caged by some elemental spirits who are none to pleased and set out for revenge or just to revel in the destruction.

That's the storyline behind the card set. The bit of flavor text that few people will ever pay attention to and fewer still will care about. It just serves as a hook, after all, on which to hang the cards that are the real point of the game.

As with the original set there are 20 characters divided into 4 groups of 5 cards each. There are also 5 item cards for each group along with a general pool of an additional 6, for a total of 26 items overall. Together that's 46 cards which I'll be teasing out over the next several weeks. I'm not going to give them all away just yet, but, here, take a look at the roster of characters for a sense of what's to come:

  1. Alcinder
  2. Augustus Haussen
  3. Bridgette
  4. Caissa Donovan
  5. Cerulean
  6. Cloudberry
  7. Dominus Rex
  8. Douhks
  9. Elia Pucelle
  10. Ghilbert
  11. Gib Ergo
  12. Gorgo
  13. Greengaze
  14. Grimm
  15. Louis
  16. Mosai
  17. Ra Chem
  18. Raymond Gaines
  19. Redgore
  20. Thons Stilethnol
  21. Caspar
  22. Torque

If you can count, you can see that there are 22 characters here. That's because the last two, Caspar and Torque are rejects. I probably won't talk about them much, mostly because those cards were eventually folded into other groups, further down the line. Caspar was the Unfriendly Ghost, a card that created a lot of opportunities to miss and then punished an opponent for missing, a concept that I would latter reuse with the Warlocks. Brother Torque was the Zealot's Grand Inquisitor, a trapper card that tried to control getting on and off the field through several brutal skills. That, too, was a concept that one of the Warlocks eventually ran with. They were modified heavily but the starting point were those two rejected bars, so I might have a word or two more to say but, mostly, I'll deal with them when I get to their successors.

And if you're observant, you've probably already figured out at least a few of the groups. It's a diverse bunch including the Zealots, the Beasts, the Undead, and the Elementals, after all. Each group with their own cast and, I'd hope, a distinct flair all its own.

Here's a list of those groups, numbered 1 through 4:

  1. Zealots
  2. Beasts
  3. Undead
  4. Elementals

As a set, RDK is a bit raw, a bit unfocused. Which is hardly surprising since it was my first attempt and more than anything, a learning process. There's no one grand unifying theme beyond “make good cards” or the interwoven plotlines that hold the set together. Each group pretty much does its own thing.

The Zealots I set up as a group of white-hats. Priests and Templar, Paladins and Knights, who use their holy powers to heal and defend and their martial prowess to pound their enemies into dust. They tend to, one, be more defensively oriented than the other card, with plenty of buffs and healing and more than a little debuff hate. Two, to use Light skills. And, three, to be rather flexibly ranged.

The Beasts, on the other hand, are all about raw power. They're a bunch of heavy hitting cards that are relatively straight forward. “Push button, do massive damage” is about as complex as they like to get. Although most tend to include at least one deliberate combination of skills that, when used in conjunction, result in even more powerful attacks. As a group they tend to have, first, a lot of health. Second, those aforementioned combos. And, third, a tendency to deliver stuns.

The next group is the thematically central Undead. I've gone with the Shadowloo route and declared that the cards in this group are the leader of that Undead army and his most trusted generals. Just like M.Bison and Sagat and Vega were supposedly the masterminds of an international terrorist organization when they weren't pummeling their opponents, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense if you take too close a look but it gives me a reason to stick together the ghouls and ghosts that make up this group. They were intended as cards that were, more or less, deceptively powerful. While other cards have strengths that just leap right out at you, the Undead were supposed to be strong cards that needed some care and feeding to be played right. I'm not sure if they're quite the “pro set” I wanted but they are, at least, a pretty interesting group. They tend to have intricate mechanics, to use Dark, and to have some glaring weak points.

Finally, the Elementals are a group of what I like to call Burners. There's at least one exception but that card is insane in it's own right, it's just not the fast-acting, quick damage dealer with a glass jaw that I like to think of when I describe a Burner. If a Tank is the party's Warrior or other meatshield then a Burner is the Mage or some other squishy DPS character – not a lot of sustainability, even less survivability, but a card that can pump out pain better than anyone else. They tend to be low health cards with expensive, inefficient skills and that's exactly what the Elementals are. Each is based on a different element (I went for the Chinese elements here, adding Metals to the traditional Air, Earth, Fire, and Water.) and each is powerful in their own right, tending to have extremely powerful skills.

The first group I'll be posting will be the Zealots and, over the next few weeks, I'll continue to detail the remaining three.

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