Wow! Really nice. Imho still lack a bit of arabian "taste" (different font? curved swords? i dunno; right now is a very good "general fantasy" card) but i'm nitpicking. I like them, and the artist you hired is very good and thematic.
-edit- I know some ppl likes to round the corners of the cards (a lot of players even print the cards at artcows). I'd take care that anything will be lost in a, says, 5mm rounded corner.
Here's a peek at one of the Location cards for Hired Swords. I think I'll include two versions of this card, each with its own mix of freelancers.
There are a few changes coming in the next playtest version, and I'm gathering up enough excess material that I'm already planning a little expansion.
One of the big changes is how the "sources" deck is handled. Instead of having to keep track of different contract types to put into your sources deck, now there's just one big deck (called the career deck) that includes all of the contracts, final contract and encounter cards. Each of these is marked with a keyword like Rustic, Criminal and Trader -- but now there are a couple of new types.
As usual, you can only accept contracts or encounters for which you are eligible. Completed contracts and encounters go to a discard pile, but if you reject a card from your career deck (or if you're not eligible to run it) it just goes to the bottom of the stack. You reshuffle the career deck any time move to a location card, or after you have been given the chance to search through the deck.
If you pick up any Final Contract cards while progressing your career, you can hold onto them until you have your 4 mercenaries in your stable. Then you can run any one of the Final Contract cards you've accumulated to finish your career. Some of these Final Contract cards have special conditions that make it easier to complete your career successfully.
There are now quite a lot of encounter cards, and a few new types of encounters that I thought would be fun.
I'm working on a final mix of cards for the initial release. The rulebook still needs polishing, but prepping the cards is a time-consuming and boring process, so I'll be happy that this is out of the way.
That is looking very impressive. I am blown away by your design skills my friend. I think the artist(s) you hired did a very fine job indeed. The style fits extremely well with the look of the rest of your cards. Kudos. I will wait for the final published version so I can purchase this awesome looking game.
I eliminated the Trader, Criminal and Rustic contract types. The special rules for these contracts have been written right onto the cards instead.
The encounter and contract keywords are now: Any, Village, Town, City, Revenge, and Outland (which counts as both a Village and Town card). I think this is a much simpler system.
During a melee attack, if the defender's Melee ranking is higher than the attacker, the attacker takes 2 damage. This rule should have been there all along, but I seem to have removed it at some point. Anyway, it's back, and it makes blocks more useful.
Those are the big changes.
There are lots of little changes all throughout the career deck, and I'm still writing new cards for it. There are some cool story arcs running through several cards, so you'll see the same names and situations coming up in different way.
There are now 5 "Pit Fight" style contracts -- one for each location (Village, Town and City), plus the Pit Fight (which is an Any contract), and a final contract. Most of these contracts can be repeated, so being a gladiator can be a way of life.
I'm really getting into the roleplay-like aspects, and feeling like this is a lot like a Fighting Fantasy or Choose Your Own Adventure book in a customizable and expandable form.
at first this project didn't convince me a little bit, but I must admit you're kind of getting me hooked to it...
mainly it's the solitary aspect of the game, to be run when you don't have anyone else to play with: it's a niche situation, but one that at the moment doesn't have any good solution, so Hired Sword could be the only competitor for the spot...
anyway, not having followed playtesting and such, there will be the possibility to download the rulebook so to have an idea of the gameplay?
also, do you plan to release cards as front only or with backs too?
this is probably something extra, but for people wanting a luxury edition of the game it'd be really cool to have custom card backs; thinking about it, such an option would probably need to have specific sheets to print though... (trust me, the alternative of printing a card fronts sheet and trying to glue it matching a separate card backs sheet is next to impossible... it's a whole lot better to just have adjacent front/backs, to be folded and glued)
dunno, what'd you think?
also, why not include the designs to be able to print and build a deck holder?
something along the line of this crude one I made time ago to keep my Magic: The Gathering decks
if the game comes with multiple decks you could either have a big one, or multiple smaller ones; the only problem could be having to work using card sleeves dimensions rather than cards dimensions (cause your game WILL need sleeves right? I can't fathom shuffling a deck of printed cards unsleeved ), but all of them have standard sizes so it shouldn't be a big problem...
just throwing stuff to the wind anyway, what do you think..?
also, do you plan to release cards as front only or with backs too?
For the initial print-and-play PDF version, card backs would have no function other than to use up your ink. Most of the cards are always face-up, and the two decks that are placed face-down are different sizes. If and when I have the resources to print this as a physical card game, the cards will get backs. Probably not until then.
]your game WILL need sleeves right?I can't fathom shuffling a deck of printed cards unsleeved ), but all of them have standard sizes so it shouldn't be a big problem...
I haven't used sleeves at all while testing the game, and I'm assuming my playtesters haven't either. I know of two ways to shuffle cards that don't require riffling. But even riffling is possible with unsleeved, printed-at-home cards. I've been doing it for months now!
The cards aren't set up to standard sizes. They're set up to make the best use of the available space. This print-and-play version is designed to be easily and affordably printed at home, with the least amount of waste or preparation or additional materials. It's part of my "cheap, fun and easy" attitude regarding all of my products so far.
I'm looking at this PnP version as a stepping stone to a physical version. If and when I get a chance to produce a physical version of the game, I don't want the PnP version to compete with it by being in a too-similar printing format. Does that make sense?
No immediate plans to get back to this. It really needs to be redesigned from the ground up, keeping the few ideas that were working well and simplifying everything else. I don't know when I'm going to find time to work on that.
Someone asked me about Hired Swords the other day and I decided to dig out my files for it.
I printed off the cards and sat down to play. And you know what? It's a pretty decent game! Challenging, varied, tactical, with an uncommon kind of fantasy setting... Yeah, this is kind of cool. It's been so long since I wrote it, it's like stumbling across someone else's game.
The rulebook is a disorganized mess, but the rules seem pretty solid. This is a good place to start again.
The cards will need to be reformatted for standard poker sizes and the smaller standard card sizes you see in a lot of FFG games, although I'm not sure if Artscow or other POD card services prints those little ones.
This could be Kickstarter-able, since I have a working prototype already. It'd be nice to be able to put this together as a physical product with full-color art on the cards, a sheet of punchboard tokens, and a couple of colored dice (D2, D3 and D6). Everything you need to play in one little box. I've never put anything like that together, so I'll really need to research it before I start begging strangers for money to help me do that.
So, uh, watch this space for developments. I'll try to post a new playtest version soon.
I think I'm going to try out Superior POD to print up a prototype.
Right now I'm aiming for a "base set" of 72 poker-sized cards and 36 mini cards, since those are some standard printing quantities for the POD service.
I'll need to sort out the rulebook, punchboard (or chipboard) counters and packaging, but it looks like Superior POD can print up all of that stuff. The counters might be a problem, since I don't need a sheet of 88 of them for a single game. 20 is probably way more than you'll ever need.
But they don't offer D6 marked as D2 or D3, which would be nice to include with the complete game. I'll have to research that.
Anyway, for about $10 (plus shipping) I can get myself a copy of my own game. That's my production cost, so the actual sticker price will be around twice that.
If I go with 72 poker + 36 mini cards for the base set, that leaves me with a lot of additional already-designed cards for an expansion.
I don't really like the expansion marketing model, but I can see why it works. I could put everything I've designed for the game in one complete set, so you never need to buy anything else. But that's probably going to cost about US$40 total. That's a lot of money to spend on a game you're not sure you're going to like.
So a base set of around $15-$20 (probably more like $20...) is not as big an investment. People will be more willing to "try" a new game if it only costs as much as a trip to the cinema. For that reason alone, I think it makes sense.
Expansions have other obvious advantages, like giving the base set a bump in advertising. They also allow the game to be released in stages that offer increasing complexity, novel themes and playstyles. Maybe something like:
Trade Wars (clashes between guilds, with the nobility sticking its nose in) Schism (religious wars in the land of Sohria) Outland (exploring the desert wilderness and beyond) Rivalries (2 player expansion)
I expect to run into problems, and the game needs a lot of playtesting for balance and stuff like that. But I don't see any major issues with the v1.8 rules, in spite of what I wrote about a year and a half ago -- it doesn't need a full rewrite. It just needs to be polished and tightened up.
And it needs to be playtested! I'm counting on you all to help me out with that.
I'm aiming to release the v2.0 playtest pack this weekend, maybe sooner.
The mercenaries are stronger this time, and hiring costs are a little lower. Tactics are more varied and affordable.
The opposition is stronger, too, with some nasty new surprises.
I'm finding that the missions are more fun when I randomize the number of opponent cards that are revealed each turn, so I'm going to introduce a "DM" die code, which means "roll a die with the same number of sides as the mercenaries deployed on this contract."
Since you will deploy 2, 3 or 4 mercenaries per contract, "DM" will mean D2, D3 or D4.
(I use "M" to stand for "the number of mercenaries deployed on his contract" as a standard feature of the game. This just expands on that use.)
Pictures coming soon! I realize there's nothing to see here, at the moment.