Algomancy Development Log 8 — Historic Updates!

Hello! Today I have a fairly substantial update for the base rules of Algomancy, in particular the role that the historic deck plays.

Previously we had the historic deck, which was where you “drew” cards from, with the ability to swap any historic card from your had with a card in the draft as a way to allow you to trade these extra picks for real cards in the draft.

There are a few issues with this system that have come up during testing. Before we come to a solution, it can be helpful to fully list out the problems we are trying to solve.

Problems With The Historic Deck

  • Always starting with cards from a smaller card pool can make openings feel similar. Even if I make the historic deck have 100 cards in it, by design they were supposed to be all removal (in the gold historic deck) or generic over costed cards (in the blue historic deck). Even though the purpose is for these cards to be swapped out, seeing the same cards over and over can make the games feel more redundant than they are.
  • The historic deck is a clunky mechanic. Having two or three separate card pools that don’t overlap is a lot to setup and place on the table. Plus, the way we were starting games required players to take specific numbers of cards from each of these three decks. Additionally, during the game players constantly needed to make sure that discarded cards from draft packs and play are sorted before putting them away.
    • Each of these factors on their own might not seem like much, but I would estimate that the existence of the historic deck would make games take a few minutes longer, most of that being in the setup stage. Long setup times deter people from playing games.
  • The historic cards are inherently unfun and over costed. By design these cards need to be worse and less exciting options than the main draft cards, otherwise games would essentially be played with the historic deck while the main draft cards are ignored (since players always have access to the historic cards, if the cards were too strong they could just always take them).
  • Historic cards could fill up the packs.
    • If a player somehow found themselves taking 8-10 historic cards in one turn, they could take the entire pack during the drafting portion the following turn, leaving the next player with a pack full of unexciting plays. To a lesser extent, even just removing a few picks from a pack for historics can make the other players feel “cheated”.
  • When we were using the gold historic deck exclusively, unlimited access to removal was causing games to go on for hours as players were just sitting back and killing everything.
  • The blue historic deck makes it very difficult for me to create diverse art to cover a wide range of effects while still keeping that same, distinct visual style.

The Solution

What I’m trying out now is to remove the historic deck and give every card besides resources the historic ability where you can swap them with cards in the pack. So now, instead of beginning the game with a hand full of historic cards, you just start with a hand full of random draft cards. Then you can swap those cards with cards in the pack at any time.

Effects that say “take a historic card”, now effectively say “draw a draft card”, where you take the top card of the draft pile. This removes the limitations I previously needed to have to try and limit the number of historic cards a player could draw to prevent them from flooding the draft pool.

These new rules make setting up the game incredibly easy, since you only need to shuffle and deal from one pile instead of three.

It completely removes the problems where a pack could be filled with historic cards, since every swap is replacing a draft card with another draft card.

It makes the game openings a lot more diverse and interesting. The opening packs are now effectively 2-4 cards larger, which should reduce the chances of a bad pack and increase player agency.

Other New Possibilities

Aside from the impact this rules change will have on the game setup, it also fundamentally changes the way drafts work. Now, players can speculate on situational cards for the turn and if they don’t use them, can swap them right back into the pack for another pick the following turn. I hope this will allow for more interactive gameplay, since the cost of holding up tricks is even lower than it was previously.

It also allows for some interesting draft mechanics. Take the Test Plant Buddies above. When you draft it, you gain the card and an additional wood resource. Previously, the upside of this card was mostly that you got a 2/2 body for free. In the new rules, you can take this card, get the resource and then swap the card back into a pack the following turn for another additional card! (And you could even pass it to an opponent who can do the same!).

While this change might make this card too strong now (they were already essentially an auto-pick before the rules change), it opens up the possibility for entirely new types of card designs based around the drafting portion. For example this test card below.

As a playable spell, Spark is very lackluster. But you can take it to gain a free fireball 1 without ever needing to spend resources or a card to do so. Then, the following turn you can put it back into the pack and trade it for a different card. Essentially trading tempo for a little bit of card advantage. I am only just beginning to scratch the surface of the possible design space here, but I’m excited for the potential these new rules unlock

Black Historic Deck

Now, the question remains… What do we do with the black historic deck?

The purpose of that deck was to make sure players always had access to removal or interaction if they wanted it, and changing this up completely throws that out the window.

I’m looking at a few possibilities as for what to do about the black historic deck.

  • My favorite option is to include 2-3 black historic cards in each pack but remove the ability to draw from the deck. This guarantees players will have access to removal at all times and removes the variance that came with drawing random cards from the top of the pile.
  • Another option is to make the historic deck much smaller and have many copies of each. Then have the cards face up and always be draftable, like how resources are selected.
  • I can simply shuffle the historic deck into the main draft pool, so the cards show up randomly in the draft.
  • I can remove it entirely and add more removal into the base game to compensate. (I can repurpose the art in an Algomancy expansion perhaps).

I still haven’t completely decided what to do about the above problem, but I think this rule change will be a net positive for the game. Let me know how you feel about this in the comments!

Try it Out!

Playtesting is free and open to anyone! The best place to get started is in my discord, where you can find others to play with as well as keep up to date with card changes and the current rules. We have tournaments and multiplayer events regularly as well!

There is also this post, with more information about digital playtesting.

If you want to get email updates about Algomancy like this, and be notified when the game becomes available, you can sign up to the email list through this link.

1 thought on “Algomancy Development Log 8 — Historic Updates!

  1. Hade you considered to have a few common draftable face up cards in historic deck, kind of like twilight imperium or res arcana, with generic abilities such as removal, counter spell, card draw, ramp etc they get refilled each turn to draft instead from the deck?

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