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Subject: Designer Diary - Anatomy of a Card rss

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Cole Wehrle
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Yesterday I set out to describe how the cards work in the game. For better and worse, I didn’t actually do that. With a game like Root, I thought it was important to create a space for what I see as the core argument of the game. Because the game's world is populated by such charming creatures and because the game, as far as rules overhead goes, is a great deal more straightforward than my previous games, I thought it was important to take time to communicate about how my own thinking intersected with the design of the game. I'll be doing more of that soon, but today will be different. Today I just want to talk about how the cards function in the game. Let’s get to it.

There are 54 game cards in Root. This deck-size is important. On average, players will be drawing about two cards per turn. So, in a four player game that averages around nine rounds in length, players can expect to cycle through the deck about one and a half times. Players have a lot of control over deck velocity too—so in some games players will blow through the deck multiple times before a single player has won. Other games will move through the deck more languidly. It's up to the players to decide the pace of the game's card economy.

Because randomness makes me anxious, I kept the deck small so that savvy players could keep an eye on the growing discard pile and get a sense of the qualities of the remaining cards. I also decided to tilt the deck so that the suits wouldn’t be equivalent. For instance, there are about twice as many bird cards as mouse cards and the fox and bunny suit sit in-between those extremes. Because of this, players can have a good idea what to expect from the game starting from the very first draw.

Alright, now let’s get to the individual cards. As an example, I’ll use one of my favorite rabbit cards.



The dominate attribute of each card is its suit which is indicated both by the icon in the top left and by the color bar on the right. I was redundant about this because suit is important and because I wanted players to be able to splay their hand in either way. Our card in question belongs to the rabbit suit. There are 12 other cards in the suit. This last fact is especially important if you’re going to try to go traipsing around in the rabbit clearings, reciting them to your cause, buying their ware, or trying to get them to turn on their friends and family.

The second element of the card is its development, displayed vertically on the right. In order to make sense of this part of the card, I have to say a few words about how the crafting system works. Throughout the game, players build special “crafting buildings.” When you build one of these buildings, it will be associated with its location. So, a workshop in a rabbit clearing is a rabbit workshop.

During your turn, you are free to spend any number of cards to craft developments if you have unused crafting buildings of the type the card requires (listed in the top right). Crafting is easy, exhaust those buildings and then play the card and follow the instructions on the side of the card.

For this card, the development is called “Root Tea.” You need at least one crafting building in a rabbit clearing to craft it. If you do craft it, you’ll score a victory point add the Torch item to your store, and then discard the card. In general, items in your store don’t provide an immediate benefit, but they can entice the Vagabond player to come visit you and purchase the item, which can be a valuable income source.

The last part of the card is the conspiracy, denoted by the dark green color bar at the bottom of the card. The reason that the color bar is dark green is because the only player who can use this part of the card is the Woodland Alliance whose pieces will be green. On the left of the conspiracy, is the cost (in supporters) that the Woodland Alliance has to pay in order to use it. If the cost can be paid, the icons on the right side of the card are resolved. This particular card allows you to take two moves and then to score three victory points. Importantly, conspiracies aren’t discarded when used, and can be used in future turns. The Woodland Alliance derives a lot of its power from its conspiracies and picking which to conserve and which to burn for immediate resources. I’ll say more about that in a few days when I get to talking specifically about how they work.

And that’s it. Before I close today’s post though, I do want to mention one other thing. As soon as this project got picked up by Leder Games, I knew I wanted to try to capitalize on the strengths of the company, and one of its best strengths is Kyle Ferrin’s tremendous talent, work ethic, and eye for composition. When Kyle, Patrick and I first started talking about the look of the game, one of the things I insisted upon was having a single image for each card that tied the various uses of the card together seamlessly. Given what we’ve uploaded so far, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that Kyle was more than equal to the task.
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William Sobel
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
Love double use cards.

Are all the suits the same size (12 cards)?
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Cole Wehrle
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
_RedMask wrote:
Love double use cards.

Are all the suits the same size (12 cards)?


Nope. It's a tilted deck so the most populous suit (birds) is about twice as large as the mice. The foxes and rabbits are between those extremes.
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Ivor Bolakov
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
Ferrin's art is tremendous. Sell prints, someone.
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fin coe
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
How are the cards tilted towards factions in terms of Conspiracy? Or are Conspiracies only for the Woodland Alliance?
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Cole Wehrle
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
fcoe wrote:
How are the cards tilted towards factions in terms of Conspiracy? Or are Conspiracies only for the Woodland Alliance?


There's a conspiracy on every card and it's only used by the Woodland Alliance.
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
OhBollox wrote:
Ferrin's art is tremendous. Sell prints, someone.

For the KS? 1 stop shop? Yes pleasethumbsup
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Oliver
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
Could I get an exact date/time when the kickstarter will begin?
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Patrick Leder
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
Barring any issues October 24, 2017 at 10 AM Central Time.
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Patrick Leder
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
How about 20 loose prints in a portfolio?
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Jim Parkin
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
GreenM wrote:
How about 20 loose prints in a portfolio?

Yes.
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darksurtur
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
One minor suggestion: For victory points, use text or iconography consistently. The sidebar uses text but could be changed to the VP icon.
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Cole Wehrle
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
darksurtur wrote:
One minor suggestion: For victory points, use text or iconography consistently. The sidebar uses text but could be changed to the VP icon.


I'll be sure to. Right now all the cards are built using a datamerge which is great for playtesting but very bad at conditional formatting.
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Brian Train
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
GreenM wrote:
Barring any issues October 24, 2017 at 10 AM Central Time.


My Birthday!
Yes, I am in on this.

Brian
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Morten K
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
Looks great, Cole. I hope you're thinking about us colourblind players in the choice of player colours this time
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Patrick Leder
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
Every use of a color is paired with an icon. The game will have wood blocks which could be an issue. I will look into a solution.
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Ivor Bolakov
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
GreenM wrote:
How about 20 loose prints in a portfolio?


That will do nicely.

Quote:
The game will have wood blocks which could be an issue. I will look into a solution.


Faction symbol stickers? That way they're optional. Debossing is very expensive.
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Will Beckley
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
GreenM wrote:
Every use of a color is paired with an icon. The game will have wood blocks which could be an issue. I will look into a solution.


I would think that selecting colorblind-friendly colors would be solution enough. I'm sure there's a palette of colors out there that serves both the design and the colorblind.
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Cole Wehrle
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
Wiyum wrote:
GreenM wrote:
Every use of a color is paired with an icon. The game will have wood blocks which could be an issue. I will look into a solution.


I would think that selecting colorblind-friendly colors would be solution enough. I'm sure there's a palette of colors out there that serves both the design and the colorblind.


It's a little trickier because the game uses 8 colors (4 suits, 4 players) and that it was important aesthetically to tie they to the game's setting and its autumn palette.

For this reason we're looking into other ways to make the game colorblind friendly...and I think folks are going to like what we've come up with.
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Brian Train
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
In a couple of my recent game designs I have tried to use this palette for the counters:



Looks a bit pastel-y but it does give you a few choices.
I choose for deuteranopes (red-green colourblind) because that is the most common kind, up to 8% of males.
Protanopes and tritanopes are quite rare.
There are also Photoshop, Illustrator etc. gizmos that help the artist to see what a set of counters looks like to a colour-blind person.

As Cole points out, you can do a lot with logos and shapes too.

Brian
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
GreenM wrote:
Every use of a color is paired with an icon. The game will have wood blocks which could be an issue. I will look into a solution.


That is a perfect answer. Thank you, sir.
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Sant Arellano
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
What happens if you draw a card and you are neither a bunny or Woodland Alliance?
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Cole Wehrle
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
Every player can use the suits. There is no "bunny" player. Just folks who use them.
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
ltmurnau wrote:
In a couple of my recent game designs I have tried to use this palette for the counters:



Looks a bit pastel-y but it does give you a few choices.
I choose for deuteranopes (red-green colourblind) because that is the most common kind, up to 8% of males.
Protanopes and tritanopes are quite rare.
There are also Photoshop, Illustrator etc. gizmos that help the artist to see what a set of counters looks like to a colour-blind person.

As Cole points out, you can do a lot with logos and shapes too.

Brian


My work uses this
colour contrast analyzer
to check our documents for accessibility. It is free, fun, and if you check the colourblind option, it can show you what colours look like across different colourblind spectrums.
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Brian Train
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Re: Anatomy of a Card
Thank you!
That looks really useful!

Brian
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