The Librarians: Adventure Card Game Design Journal

A blog where the designer gets to dive into the details of The Librarians: Adventure Card Game.

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Hero Preview - Jenkins: Ornery Caretaker

Mauziz
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Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level I - One small step for geek... One giant leap for geek-kind!Microbadge: 10 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: Vampire: The Eternal Struggle fanMicrobadge: The Librarians: Cassandra Cillian "Santa knows my name!”Microbadge: The Librarians: Jacob Stone "You people... DON'T APPRECIATE ART!"
From gallery of brettscho

Welcome back to the Design Journal for The Librarians: Adventure Card Game! For my American readers - I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving holiday, and that the day itself was filled with friends and family! It has been a long while since I was able to write one of these articles, but in the intervening time, many exciting pictures have been posted of pre-production copies of the game at various fall conventions such as GenCon, Origins, and BGGcon. It is so exciting to see the game like this (it looks so much better than the prototype cards we used for testing!). I've included one of these images below for those who missed them. We're one step closer to having the game in our hands and living rooms. I can't wait for you all experience the game for the first time and I want to know all about your experiences!

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Today is a very special day for me, as I get to discuss the final playable character currently in the game. Jenkins is included as his own mini-expansion complete with a suggested starting deck of all new cards ready to play out of the box. For those looking forward to building your own decks, the expansion has 3 new generic disciplines (groups of 7 cards) that can be included in any hero's deck, so it really opens up the deck building possibilities for all your heroes!

Before I continue, let me note that the article below contains mild spoilers for all 4 seasons of The Librarians and major spoilers for season 1.

Every parent knows that there is no correct answer to the question "who is your favorite child?". And yet, sometimes a parent will feel a special affinity for a specific child, maybe the one they understand more deeply. The others are loved no less, but that shared understanding can develop into a special bond. This is similar to my relationship with the 7 playable heroes in the game. Each was designed, tested, and lavished with love. I adore playing each of them and relish seeing how they navigate the challenges of the mission. And yet... I have that special understanding with Jenkins. Both of us are researchers, lore hoarders, and can be a bit socially awkward. We are gracious hosts who prefer to play a supporting role but will occasionally step into the lead when required. To make a long story short, I feel that special affinity for Jenkins. So in an odd way, it feels like I get to introduce an old friend to you today:

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Jenkins - Ornery Caretaker
“Marvelous, isn't it? I told you, this is where I do my research. Judson always insists that we just lock the artifacts away. But I experiment on them, study them, improve them.”


Who is he?
In days now long forgotten, Jenkins was known as Galahad: one of the foremost Knights of the Round Table. Camelot taught him loyalty to his comrades, courage in the face of danger, and courtesy in all things. Immortality offered Jenkins the chance for lengthy study and introspection, giving him encyclopedic knowledge and an uncanny intuition over the course of human events. He eventually joined the Library as a caretaker and developed a fascination with the hidden workings of magic and magical artifacts. Content with the isolation of his research lab, Jenkins can appear reserved and reluctant to interact with other humans.

Design Inspiration:
Jenkins isn't the only character in The Librarians to use magic, but he is the only one I would consider a researcher of magic. Characters like Flynn or Judson appears content to wield magic effectively, while Jenkins needs to know HOW and WHY it works. This desire to know lies at the heart of Jenkins. He has learned many things secret and overt, and his mind has discovered hidden connections between seemingly disperate facts. But Jenkins isn't just a scholar. He is worldly, having traveled wide and experienced much during his long life. Oddly, his knowledge of present-day culture seems to be somewhat lacking as he is sometimes depicted as being in awe of certain modern convivences such as vending machines or soda. I have assumed that this is the result of Jenkins deciding to largely cloister himself in the Library's Annex for study and experimentation.

This isolation in the Annex clearly had an effect on Jenkins (much as isolation did on Flynn). At the start of The Librarians, he prefers his own company. He is willing to welcome guests and entertain, but like any introvert, he is also eager to see his guests leave. His dismay when Flynn announces that everybody is staying was so thick you could spread it on toast. Over time, we see how fiercely loyal and protective Jenkins is as he becomes oddly protective of his charges. So how did all of this influence the design of Jenkins in the game?

From gallery of brettscho
As always we'll start by looking at Jenkin's attributes, which are pretty unusual. He is the only hero with a 0 in an attribute (which doesn't sounds too good), and with 2 attributes at 3 (which is really strong). His 3 Insight and 3 Lore were actually the first attributes that were decided on. Jenkins has a millennium of life experience topped off by decades (or centuries?) of magical research. This allows him to neatly fit into an exposition role, where he explains the necessary background information to the rest of the team and the audience. This left Guile and Tactics. While Jenkins can be secretive, he isn't deceitful and he rarely engages in social manipulation. So he was given 0 Guile (which makes him partner particularly well with Ezekiel, which I find hilarious). On the other hand, Jenkins was a Knight of the Round Table and a renowned swordsman. Years might have dulled some of his skills, but he is still a supernatural force to be reckoned with. We also see him adroitly handling enemies in several episodes (I get chills whenever I see Jenkins with his sword). This resulted in 2 Tactics, putting him on the same level as characters like Jacob and Flynn.

Moving onto his special abilities, Jenkins' extreme familiarity with magical artifacts allows him to control up to 2 of them at once. This puts Jenkins into a very special position for deck building. Every other character can only have 1 artifact at a time, meaning that they can only consider how useful an artifact will be alone. But Jenkins can begin to look at pairs of artifacts that synergize and strengthen each other. On the other hand, Jenkins has worked in isolation for a long time and the arrival of the Librarians in Training (L.I.T.s) is not initially welcomed. While Jenkins will eventually form a deep friendship with the others, it feels like it was thrust upon Jenkins rather than something he sought out. As a result, Jenkins may not control a sidekick.

Finally, Jenkins always knows more than the other characters (with the possible exception of Flynn). This goes deeper than his encyclopedic knowledge of magic and the arcane. At the end of Season 1, it is strongly implied that Jenkins is connected to or aware of the flow of history and can predict certain events (he made sure that all of the necessary artifacts were collected in order to solve the crisis with the Loom of Fate). This is reflected in his last ability. Jenkins can look at the top card of his deck and you can play it as if it were in your hand. At its most basic level, this effectively increases your hand by one, and it can provide you with 1 energy per turn through the cost reduction. But it also allows you to know what card is on top of your deck. This will be a powerful driver for Jenkins' deck, as we will see in the next section. I should also note that like Nicole Noone, Jenkins has no Tree of Knowledge ability on his hero card, meaning that at the start of the game, those will effectively be blank results.

Playstyle:
The biggest difference between Jenkins and other heroes is his ability to control an extra artifact, but no sidekicks. While this may seem like an equivalent exchange, it is not. Artifacts tend to make your hero stronger, while sidekicks effectively double the actions you can take during a round while also soaking damage for you in a pinch. Jenkins needs to get maximum utility from his artifacts while compensating for the loss of a sidekick. This can be partially achieved by picking the right artifacts to put into your deck. One example is The Time Machine, which allows your hero to ready and take an additional action. But once you travel back in time, you have to return to the present (wait a turn) before using it again.

From gallery of brettscho

You can also extract more utility from Jenkins' artifacts through cards that interact with them. These cards either require you to discard an artifact from your hand, or exhaust an artifact that you control. Crucially, you get to choose whichever cost works better for you. Have extra artifacts in your hand? Discard some. Have artifacts in play that work whether they are exhausted or not? Just exhaust one. The benefit you get from doing this depends on which card you are using. For example, Artifact Mastery lets you turn a Tree of Knowledge into 2 successes, which really helps Jenkins make the most of his actions.

From gallery of brettscho

Jenkins also has access to a number of cards that care about what the top card of your deck is. While anybody can use these cards, they are uniquely powerful in Jenkins' hands as his ability lets you see what's on top of your deck. He even has access to abilities that let him switch the top card of your deck with a specific card in your hand, letting you set up some really impressive combos! What benefit do you get from this? Well, Benefits of Immortality will prevent damage (especially useful since you don't have a sidekick) AND gain energy equal to the cost of the top card of your deck. Jenkins has a number of 3+ cost cards in his deck, meaning that you can easily prevent 3 damage and gain 3 energy by playing this card. The highest cost card in the game (at present) is 6, and the joy of preventing 6 damage and gaining 6 energy for a single card is to die for!

From gallery of brettscho

Jenkins plays the game in a very different way because his solves problem using his mastery of magical artifacts. He can search his deck for the right artifact, use them to gain successes on an important check, or use tap into their power to take another action. Finally, if the situation becomes truly dire, he can unleash all the magical power of an artifact at once causing it to detonate. All of this makes Jenkins an incredibly fun character to play!

Thanks so much for joining me in this final hero deep dive article. What would you like to know about the game next? I have one more article planned, but I am happy to keep writing. Post your questions and article suggestions below!

Jenkins' Starting Decklist:
Jenkins
2x Arthurian Blade
1x Artifact Mastery
2x Benefits of Immortality
2x Centuries of Experience

Artificing
2x Ceremonial Focus
2x Munchausen’s Top
2x Tinkering
1x Unleashed Power

Gift of Foresight
2x Future Sight
1x Manifest Destiny
2x Past is Prologue
2x Prophecy Goggles

Ritual Magic
2x Abjure and Banish
2x Alchemical Concoction
2x Sprite Informant
1x The Time Machine

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Sun Nov 28, 2021 4:02 pm
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Thematic Spotlight - The Iron Kingdom

Mauziz
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Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level I - One small step for geek... One giant leap for geek-kind!Microbadge: 10 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: Vampire: The Eternal Struggle fanMicrobadge: The Librarians: Cassandra Cillian "Santa knows my name!”Microbadge: The Librarians: Jacob Stone "You people... DON'T APPRECIATE ART!"
From gallery of brettscho

Welcome back to another Design Journal for The Librarians: Adventure Card Game! Today's article is going to be a bit different than usual, rather than a deep dive into one of our playable heroes, I want to explore a tiny corner of the lore of The Librarians. If you've read any of my previous articles, you likely already know that I'm a "lore-guy" meaning that my favorite part of a fantasy series is the world-building. Good characters who experience situations that force them to grow in interesting ways makes me fall in love with a series, but once I'm already hooked, it the lore that I crave, that I dive into.

For The Librarians, this usually means carefully going over Jenkins' dialogue, as he often spouts expository information littered with bits of magical theory or history. But sometimes there is an episode so packed with world-building that you can't possibly absorb it after one viewing. An episode that demands you go through the script line by line. Where blinking will cause you to miss crucial details. One such episode is Season 1, Episode 5 "...And the Apple of Discord."

Now I have a love-hate relationship with this episode. I love it because it clearly shows that the Library and those who serve it represent a tiny fraction of the supernatural forces at work in the world. Sure, the movies showed us vampires, spirits, and the Serpent Brotherhood, but there was never really a sense of a supernatural community. That changes here. If you don't remember this episode (or haven't watched the TV series), it features a dispute between rival communities of dragons that culminates in the calling of a Conclave - which serves as a UN of sorts for the most powerful supernatural factions.

In short succession, we are introduced to Mr. Drake of the Fei Lung (aka the Eastern Dragons) who desires the tears of his enemies and has a love for Jasmine tea; Dobra of the City of Bronze, representative of the Jinn who pledges to drown the world in blood if his demands are not met; and Lady Sylalandria of the Fae Legions who clearly has a history with the Knights of the Round Table.

From gallery of brettscho
From gallery of brettscho
From gallery of brettscho

And these aren't even all the factions introduced to us! There is mention of a Guild of Fictional Entities and the World Crime League (who do... supernatural crime, I guess?). There are also several characters in the Conclave who have no speaking roles, and are either part of the two groups mentioned above or potentially other factions. (Side Note: The writers' commentary mentions that two additional factions were originally planned but didn't make it into the script - the Council of Dolphins and the Parliament of Babies... maybe it's for the best that they were left out....) Each of these factions and their representatives are interesting on their own merits, but none of them are who I want to talk about today. One final character and faction was introduced, and they are the subject of today's article.

Cuchlann of the Iron Kingdom
"When [his] foes came for the last time against him, his land was filled with smoke and flame,
the weapons fell from their racks, and the day of his death drew nigh."

From gallery of brettscho

In the episode, Cuchlann is a character with no spoken lines. When he arrives at the Conclave, he simply hands Ezekiel a business card with his name and title. And that's it. He shows up in the background of a few shots (looking fabulous I might add) and is never mentioned in the series again. He isn't even brought up in the the excellent tie-in novels by Greg Cox. So... given the tiny role Cuchlann plays in The Librarians universe, why devote an entire article (and several cards) to him? Why not investigate one of the above characters who got at least some characterization? The answer to both questions is that Cuchlann is almost certainly based on Cú Chulainn, one of the most influential mythological figures in all human history.

Haven't heard of Cú Chulainn? You're not alone. He is a demigod in ancient Irish mythology who shares many similarities with Achilles in Greek myth. Both are warrior heroes whose deeds on the battlefield and in single combat define them. Their stories are filled with bloodshed and as a result, they die young. Historical stories are fascinating for all kinds of reasons including the fact that most written material has not survived to the present. The stories of Achilles (such as Homer's Iliad) were preserved in libraries located in Athens, Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, and most importantly, Baghdad. We owe a great debt of gratitude to these Roman, Byzantium, and Islamic scholars for keeping these tales safe. Sadly, history did not treat the tales of Cú Chulainn with the same kindness.

Cú Chulainn belongs to the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology which is supposed to chronicle events around the 1st century AD. And the few texts we have of him detail a number of significant heroic events in his life. We certainly do not have time to go into all of his exploits here (and I am not versed enough in mythology to do so), but I do want to briefly highlight two notable things about Cú Chulainn: where he got his name and his defining ability, ríastrad.

How Cú Chulainn got his name:
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Cú Chulainn was born to a noble family as Sétanta - a young boy who showed exceptional skill at military and athletic endeavors. While he was still too young to formally begin training, the king (his uncle) was invited to a feast by Culann, a renowned smith. And the king invited Sétanta, who would arrive to the feast late because he was too busy beating much older boys in a sport he was too young to play. Meanwhile, at the feast, Culann asks if all of the guests have arrived since it is getting dark and he would like to release his ferocious guard dog (which is described as being pony-sized and has been trained since birth to kill any who come onto the property). The king has had a few too many to drink and forgets that Sétanta would be late. So the hound is unleashed. When Sétanta arrives, he is immediately set upon by the murderous pooch. Using only the sports equipment he had on hand, Sétanta defends himself and quickly dispatches the hound. Quite the feat when you remember that Sétanta is a lad of 7 or fewer years at this point. Culann is devastated by the loss, and Sétanta promises that he will take up the mantel of guard dog until a new hound can be found and raised. The king's druid gives Sétanta the new name "Hound of Culann" or Cú Chulainn. A more dramatic (and better told) version of this tale can be found at this youtube video.

From gallery of brettscho
Let's pause to examine how the game depicts Cú Chulainn... I mean Cuchlann. He is a sidekick, meaning that you can include Cuchlann in any hero's deck as long as you take the discipline he belongs to (apply named "The Iron Kingdom"), which can be found in Nicole Noone's preconstructed deck. Now what my eyes notice first about Cuchlann are his stats. He has 3 tactics. This means he is as skilled tactically as Eve Baird, and he is one of only a few sidekicks in the game who have a 3 in any attribute. He also has 4 life, meaning that he can soak up a LOT of damage for you if you need him to. Only 1 other sidekick in the game has that much life. Plus one of his abilities gives him a way to heal himself when he defeats an enemy! His stats put him in rarified air along with sidekicks who cost 4 or 5 energy. But Cuchlann comes in at a huge discount, costing only 2 energy!

So what's the catch? Well, mythology consistently shows us the difficulty in making these legendary figures do your bidding. If you want Cuchlann to do something for you (take an action), you'll have to convince him by discarding a card from your hand. This means that Cuchlann's real cost is 2 energy plus 1 card each time you want to take an action. That could become quite costly over the course of a game, so you have to think carefully about how long you want to keep Cuchlann. Remember that Nicole's deck wants you to keep a small hand size, so discarding a card for Cuchlann may actually help you.

The Might of Ríastrad
Cú Chulainn has a signature power that allowed him to defeat the guard dog and to single handedly defeat two teams of much older boys in sports. Like Achilles' semi-invulnerability, this power was able to elevate an exceptionally gifted warrior to near god-like powers. Cú Chulainn would sometimes enter a state called ríastrad. There is no good translation for the word, although scholars have translated it as a torque or (more provocatively) as a warp spasm. It is a transformation of sorts where Cú Chulainn would be physically twisted into a form with bestial characteristics, granting him unmatched strength, speed, and ferocity. It is the purest expression of rage. And once he entered this state, no foe was able to stand before him.

From gallery of brettscho

Once I decided to include Cuchlann in the game, I knew ríastrad would have to come next. Unfortunately the name was not approved, so it exists as Battle Frenzy, shown above. It is an event that allows you to use your Tactics in place of any attribute and it even allows you to roll 1 extra die. Cuchlann doesn't have a Guile, Insight, or Lore score so he normally isn't of much use when these attributes are needed. But Battle Frenzy lets him throw 4 dice at whatever you need gone. Does an important document need to be translated? Let Cuchlann do it! How about an important diplomatic situation with people in the Amazon rain forest? Let Cuchlann do it! The downside is that the card does 2 damage to the character, meaning that there is a limit to how often they can enter their frenzy. This card works practically well in Nicole's deck since it allows her to use her best attribute (Tactics of 4!) in place of her other very low attributes.

Fleshing out the Discipline
In the game, player cards usually come as part of a discipline - a group of 7 connected cards that are all included together in a deck. These disciplines usually have 4 different cards (with 2 copies of 3 of those cards). So I needed two more cards to finish off Cuchlann's Iron Kingdom discipline. I wanted cards that emphasized heroic and decisive combat and the willingness to go looking for danger.

From gallery of brettscho
From gallery of brettscho

The first of these cards is Hunt Them Down, which will usually guarantee you an enemy when you draw an adventure card. Given how good Cuchlann is at handling enemies, that might be exactly what you want. In Nicole's deck, it allows her to minimize the number of obstacles (which usually require Guile, Insight, or Lore to resolve) she has to deal with. The final card is Thrill of the Fight, which gives you a substantial reward when you defeat an undamaged enemy. If you line things up properly, you could easily defeat one enemy, assign a second to you, and then defeat it.

Well, I hope you enjoyed today's article - it was certainly a bit different than those I've written before. Next time, we'll get back on track and talk about Jenkins. Until then, tell me about your favorite side character from The Librarians in the comments below and what made you like them so much. Thanks again for joining me!


Interested in learning more about Cú Chulainn?
Miscellaneous Myths: Cú Chulainn
Cuchulainn & the Morrigan - Spurning a Goddess
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Sun Aug 15, 2021 9:49 pm
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Hero Preview - Nicole Noone: You Brain, Me Brawn

Mauziz
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Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level I - One small step for geek... One giant leap for geek-kind!Microbadge: 10 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: Vampire: The Eternal Struggle fanMicrobadge: The Librarians: Cassandra Cillian "Santa knows my name!”Microbadge: The Librarians: Jacob Stone "You people... DON'T APPRECIATE ART!"
From gallery of brettscho

Welcome back to this Design Journal for The Librarians: Adventure Card Game! Today, we continue looking at the playable heroes in The Librarians: Adventure Card Game Quest for the Spear expansion! As a reminder, this expansion focuses on the events of the first made-for-TV movie (of the same name). It contains 3 new adventures that collectively tell the story of the movie. You get to explore the Amazon jungle, hike the Himalaya mountains, and break into the Metropolitan Museum. Each adventure includes fun new mechanical twists on the rules found in the core set. These adventures end up being very fun to play and extremely thematic, but they are also a bit more complicated than those found in the core box. For that reason, we suggest playing them after you have familiarized yourself with the game.

The expansion also includes 2 playable heroes complete with suggested starting decks. These include Flynn Carsen - who I talked about last time - and Nicole Noone who I'll talk about today. As usual, I'll talk about who Nicole is, how her character was translated into the game, and her playstyle. And along the way, I'll preview some new cards and discuss them!

Two quick disclaimers. First, none of the cards shown here are finalized. They are subject to approval by Electric Entertainment and may receive last minute text and/or graphical changes. Second, if you currently know nothing about the game - welcome! This Design Journal might be a bit confusing to you, so let me suggest that you check out one of the excellent preview videos linked to below. They will give you a good sense of what the game is like.
One Stop Coop Shop
Man vs Meeple with Jeremy Howard
Rob's Tabletop World


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Nicole Noone - You Brain, Me Brawn
“Nicole, why are you smiling? I don't like it when you smile. That means you're about to do something dangerous.”
“Oh, you know me so well.”


Who is she?
Professionally distant, reckless, and deadly, Nicole is completely dedicated to her job as Guardian. To Nicole, the ends always justify the means: she is perfectly willing to place herself and her Librarian in danger to avoid larger calamity. Individualistic and specialized, she supports the team by playing her role flawlessly rather than contributing to a communal effort. Ultimately, Nicole’s aloofness is a mask adopted out of guilt after witnessing the apparent death of her first Librarian at the hands of the Serpent Brotherhood.

Design Inspiration:
Before we can really dig into Nicole, we have to address two quick points. First, as I mentioned last time, the expansion was originally going to cover the events of Season 2 of the TV show and was going to feature Flynn Carsen and Jenkins (and possibly some other familiar faces...) as playable characters. When the expansion was shifted to cover the events of the movie, we knew that we had to include Nicole as a playable hero. But this meant that Nicole's design happened quite late during the development of the rest of the game.

Second, Nicole make two appearances in The Librarians franchise. First, she is a main character in the Quest for the Spear movie where she is portrayed by Sonya Walger. She is also a reoccurring secondary character during Season 4 of the TV show where she is portrayed by Rachel Nichols. The design of Nicole in the game was entirely based on Sonya Walger's performance in the first movie, however you will notice that the cards feature art of Rachel Nichols. This was a decision made by the publisher (Everything Epic) and lisensor (Electric Entertainment) without input from me, so I can't really comment on that.

Ok, with all that out of the way, let's actually talk about Nicole! In the Quest for the Spear, Nicole is set up as a foil for Flynn. Where he is hesitant, she is decisive. Where he is naïve, she is world-wise. Where he perfects the mind, she perfects the body. She is fiercely loyal to the Library and the Librarian, and her role as Guardian has become an all-consuming part of her life. Nicole is always alert and attentive to danger, and her first instinct in any situation is to act and consider the consequences later. For example, to prevent Flynn from being captured by the Serpent Brotherhood, Nicole threw him out of an airplane without a parachute.

However, Nicole shows very little interest in matters outside her narrow wheelhouse. In her mind, Nicole's job is to buy time for the Librarian to solve whatever problem needs solving. While I initially took this as disinterest or perhaps inability, I came to see that Nicole has a deep understanding of her role in the group. She knows what she's good at, and knows how to leverage those skills for the good of her people. This does mean, however, that Nicole can really struggle when alone. Unless the situation requires violence, that is.

From gallery of brettscho
Looking at Nicole's stats, it is clear that she is one of the most specialized heroes in the game. Her Guile of 2 is quite serviceable, but her Insight and Lore of 1 won't get her very far. On the other hand, her Tactics of 4 is the highest in the game. Woe to any enemy who stands in Nicole's way! This stat line works well for Nicole for several reasons. It emphasizes her lethal effectiveness in combat while also leaning into the idea that Nicole works best in a team that can do some of the intellectual work for her. Finally, her specialization provides further contrast for Flynn who is really a generalist without a lot of significant weaknesses.

Thus far, each character we have looked at have had two special abilities - one "passive" ability that always works, and one "active" ability that requires you to roll a Tree of Knowledge symbol on the dice. Nicole is unique in that both of her special abilities are passive. This is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, your abilities don't rely on the luck of rolling dice. Nicole can use her abilities anytime she wants. On the other hand, Nicole has no native use for the Tree of Knowledge symbol, effectively turning those sides into blanks. Remember that she can use Attachments to gain ways to use the Tree of Knowledge, but she doesn't start with any. Both of Nicole's abilities closely tie into her playstyle, so I'll describe them in more detail in the next section.

Playstyle:
As described above, Nicole acts quickly and decisively. She exists in the moment, responding to each situation as it arises. Flynn plans, Nicole acts. In the game, Flynn's cards encourage him to keep 5+ cards in hand. This represents his knowledge and gives him the flexibility to play the right card at the right time. But you might chose to forgo playing a card so that you can keep 5+ in your hand even though that card might provide you with an immediate benefit. Nicole is the opposite. She is rewarded for keeping as few cards as possible in her hand (usually 2 or fewer cards). This means that she incentivizes you to play a card as soon as it becomes useful, rather than holding onto it for the "perfect" situation.

From gallery of brettscho

But you will rarely have enough energy to simply play all your cards. This is why Nicole gives you alternative uses for them. These are abilities that require you to discard cards for an immediate benefit. Nicole's hero card is a perfect example of this: Each round, she can discard a card to prevent 1 damage to herself, and if her hand is empty, she can draw a card. This pattern of a discard effect paired with a bonus for having few cards in hand is seen on many of Nicole's cards. Nicole's Motorcycle is a perfect example of this. You can discard cards to add progress tokens to Obstacles (this is particularly strong for Nicole since many Obstacles require Insight or Lore). And if you have 2 or fewer cards in hand, she gains a Tree of Knowledge ability of +1 success, making her actions hit that much harder.

From gallery of brettscho

This means that as Nicole, you are constantly looking at your hand and making strategic decisions about which cards to shed (by playing or discarding) and when to do so. Playing the game with an empty hand is a dangerous thing to do - cards give you flexibility and you might need to keep some in order to devote to attribute checks (remember that lets you flip a character die to a success). Both of these factors require you to carefully manage your hand. Honestly, hand management is much more important to Nicole than it is to Flynn. Flynn could just not use his "large hand" cards, or swap them out of his deck. Nicole's "small hand" cards are always part of her deck, and they are an essential part of her strategy.

From gallery of brettscho

Finally, it's worth mentioning that Nicole will struggle as a solo character. She does have tools, some of which are shown above, to compensate for her weaknesses. But she really comes into her own in a multiplayer game where she can focus on enemies management. Correspondingly, there are some adventures she will struggle with simply because there aren't enough enemies to fight. Turns out that fists can't solve all problems....

There is plenty more to say about Nicole's deck, but I want to save some of the discussion for a different article. One of the disciplines (those are the sets of 7 cards) in her deck has a story interesting enough to warrant its own short article. Plus, that will allow me to indulge in a bit of mythology. For those wanting a sneak peak, take a look at The Iron Kingdom below! In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into Nicole Noone! Post your questions and favorite Nicole moments from the movie or TV show below Thanks for joining me!

Nicole's Starting Decklist:
Nicole Noone
2x Act on Instinct
1x Having Some Fun
2x Nicole’s Motorcycle
2x Well Prepared

Command
2x A Little Help
1x Guerilla Tactics
2x Local Security
2x Trusted Guide

The Iron Kingdom
2x Battle Frenzy
1x Cuchlann
2x Hunt Them Down
2x Thrill of Battle

Well Prepared
2x Contingency Plan
2x First Aid Kit
1x Kevlar Vest
2x Poseidon’s Trident


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Mon Jun 28, 2021 3:24 am
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Hero Preview - Flynn Carsen: The Librarian

Mauziz
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From gallery of brettscho

Welcome back to this Design Journal for The Librarians: Adventure Card Game! It is finally time to pull back the curtain on The Librarians: Adventure Card Game - Quest for the Spear expansion! Where the core set is focused on the first season of the TV show, the expansion is focused on the first movie. It contains 3 new adventures that collectively tell the story of the movie. You get to explore the Amazon jungle, hike the Himalaya mountains, and break into the Metropolitan Museum. Each adventure includes fun new mechanical twists on the rules found in the core set. These adventures end up being very fun to play and extremely thematic, but they are also a bit more complicated than those found in the core box. For that reason, we suggest playing them after you have familiarized yourself with the game.

The expansion also includes 2 playable heroes complete with suggested starting decks. These include Nicole Noone - who we will talk about next time - and Flynn Carsen, the character who started the franchise. As always, I'll talk about who Flynn is, how his character was translated into the game, and his playstyle. And along the way, I'll preview some new cards and talk about them!

Two quick disclaimers. First, none of the cards shown here are finalized. They are subject to approval by Electric Entertainment and may receive last minute text and/or graphical changes. Second, if you currently know nothing about the game - welcome! This Design Journal might be a bit confusing to you, so let me suggest that you check out one of the excellent preview videos linked to below. They will give you a good sense of what the game is like.
One Stop Coop Shop
Man vs Meeple with Jeremy Howard
Rob's Tabletop World

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Flynn Carsen - The Librarian
“These aren't just books. This is Aristotle. Voltaire. Jung. These books are slices of the ultimate truth from the greatest thinkers of all time. And they speak to me.”


Who is he?
Flynn dreams of nothing so much as a life of learning. A perpetual student, he holds 22 academic degrees in diverse fields such as Egyptology, Comparative Religions, Cryptology, and 17th century Spanish Literature. He is a polymath - knowledgeable in the humanities, sciences, and mathematics. His long years of study have honed his powers of observation and deduction, and his keen mind sees connections between seemingly unrelated events. While he has much potential, his intellectual prowess is matched by social awkwardness. His lack of real world experience makes it difficult for Flynn to connect to people, and harder still for him to rely on them.

Design Inspiration:
Flynn is a really interesting character to wrap your head around because we get to see him at very different points during his life. Our introduction to Flynn reveals a young man who has never experienced the real world. He loves learning, but is hopelessly naive. Smart, but not world-wise. His professor has to graduate him early (with yet another degree in Egyptology) to force him out into the world. This allows Flynn to encounter the Library and to become it's Librarian.

The next time we see Flynn, he has gained enough experience with the job to lose some of his previous wide-eyed wonder (and confusion). But he hasn't been at the job all that long and still happily devotes all his time and energy to the work. I think this is a really recognizable stage for many people, who have felt this way about a job or hobby. But this sort of behavior eventually leads to burn out, which is where Flynn is in the last movie. He begins to ask whether he wants more from life than his job. He spends the movie reconnecting to his role, finding new love and passion for it, and making peace with that choice. Eventually, Flynn will offer this life to others, and will describe it thusly:

"I'm offering you a life of mystery and misery. Of loneliness and adventure. More than that, I'm offering you an opportunity to make a difference. And save the world every week. Twice before Friday."


Finally, we encounter Flynn in the TV show. Roughly a decade has passed since the events of the movies and those years have changed Flynn. He is confident, knowledgeable, decisive, and bold when he needs to be. His faith in the Library and its mission are absolute. Flynn is extremely proficient in translating his vast knowledge into tactical action. Flynn in the TV show strongly reminds me of Dr. Who - an appropriate comparison since so many Dr. Who writers joined the staff for The Librarians.

So when trying to translate Flynn into the game, the question is: which Flynn? Each of the four iterations discussed above could result in very different card designs. Given that Flynn is included in an expansion based on the Quest for the Spear movie, you might guess that the earliest version of his character was used as inspiration. For better or worse, that is not how things worked out. The expansion was originally going to be based on Season 2 of the TV show and was going to include Flynn and Jenkins as playable heroes. The theme of the expansion was changed at the request of the publisher, but the design for Flynn had already been completed and tested. So Flynn in the game draws it's inspiration primarily from the TV show, which depicts Flynn at the height of his abilities.

From gallery of brettscho
Looking at Flynn's hero card, what likely jumps out first is his unique stat line. All of his attributes are 2's. The TV show frequently makes reference to the idea that Flynn is the synthesis of the other characters. For example, in Episode 101, the three future Librarians - Cassandra, Ezekiel, and Jacob - are arguing with each other. Flynn quiets them saying "Okay, enough! Shh! It's like listening to the inside of my own head, except louder." Another example is in Episode 110, which features alternate history versions of the three future Librarians. Each is faced with a mystery they can't solve due to blind-spots or holes in their expertise. For instance, (alt)Jacob needs a better understanding of Biology to solve his mystery, while (alt)Ezekiel requires a more comprehensive of occult ideas from the 1800's. In both cases, Flynn's encyclopedic mind is able to spot the relevant details, synthesize it with his vast knowledge and formulate a plan. Given all this, I honestly couldn't envision a more perfect stat line than the average of the main four characters.

Moving on to Flynn's two special abilities, he has one of the most powerful abilities, and one of the most confusing. Starting with the first, every turn, Flynn is going to gain an extra energy or draw a card. Normally, you get 3 cards per round that you can gain as energy or draw, but Flynn effectively gets 4 cards per round. This gives you a lot of power to decide whether you want to keep your hand full of cards, or gather energy to play your most powerful and expensive cards. His second ability allows him to use a Tree of Knowledge symbol to automatically fail an attribute check. Failing isn't something you usually want to do in a game, so why this ability? To explain, we'll need to talk about Flynn's playstyle.

Playstyle:
In the movies and TV show, Flynn is often put into impossible situations where his knowledge, skill, luck, and the circumstances conspire to give him a positive outcome. In the game, Flynn uses failure to his advantage. He has access to a number of cards that provide a significant benefit, but only if you fail an attribute check. An example is Lowering Expectations, which PERMANENTLY lowers the difficulty of an enemy, obstacle, or mission (meaning that you roll 2 fewer black dice), but you can only play it on a card you made an attribute check against and failed. It's hard to overstate how useful this can be. And remember that a single failed attribute check will allow you to trigger all of your abilities that key off failure. This means that Flynn can make failure as valuable as success!

From gallery of brettscho

To sweeten the deal, Flynn has access to Live and Learn, which allows you to pay 1 energy when you fail an attribute check to ready. Remember that characters can continue to take actions as long as they are ready. So Flynn can initiate a difficult attribute check, gain a benefit for failing it, then start a second more achievable attribute check. Sometimes as Flynn, you are really hoping to fail a check, which is where his strange Tree of Knowledge ability comes in. As an added bonus, you may resolve Tree of Knowledge and Serpent (special bad) symbols in any order. So you could use his Tree of Knowledge ability to circumvent all those nasty Serpent symbols. Also, if you rolled several Tree of Knowledge symbols, you could spend all but 1 to activate other abilities, then use the last one to fail the check. The combos that Flynn can set up around failure are one of the real delights of his playstyle!

From gallery of brettscho

Flynn's defining characteristic is his love of learning. He is a polymath - knowledgeable in the arts, sciences, humanities, and the occult. His broad education and skills makes Flynn incredibly versatile. The game represents this with cards like Obscure Lore that grant you a variety of possible bonuses (whatever you need!) as long as you have 5 or more cards in your hand. As long as your head is full of knowledge (and your hand full of cards), you can think your way out of any situation. Flynn has the option of drawing an extra card each round (as discussed above), and has a few other ways to draw cards, so it shouldn't be too difficult to keep 5 or more cards in your hand. That said, you will often have to think hard before dropping down to 4 cards.

From gallery of brettscho

Finally, it just wouldn't be right of me to end an article about Flynn without talking about his best friend. Excalibur has been with Flynn since the very beginning, and the flying sword quickly became one of the iconic artifacts of the series. When you play as Flynn, you can bring Excalibur along with you. The card is unique for two reasons. First, it counts as either an artifact OR a sidekick. This is significant because each player may only control one of each. So Flynn could control Excalibur and a second artifact or a sidekick. Second, unlike other artifacts, Excalibur can actually take an action to attack any enemy. And that action is nothing to sneeze at! Excalibur rolls 3 dice and has a really great Tree of Knowledge ability.

From gallery of brettscho

Flynn is a versatile hero whose deck has a lot of potential for satisfying synergies. I recommend him for players who like to feel clever when they play and are thrilled that the game has walked into their cunningly laid trap. I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into Flynn Carsen! Join me next time when we go back in time to the original guardian - none other than Nicole Noone! Until then, post your questions and favorite Flynn moments below! Thanks for joining me!

Flynn's Starting Decklist:
Flynn Carsen
2x Convincing Hapless Loser
2x Distraction then Action
1x Excalibur
2x Lowering Expectations

Make Your Own Luck
1x Bennie Konopka
2x Do the Impossible
2x Live and Learn
2x Tied Shoelaces

Polymathy
1x Change of Plans
2x “I read it in a book once”
2x Obscure Lore
2x Principia Mathematica

The Librarian
2x Called to Serve
1x “I’m the Librarian”
2x Judson
2x "Save your receipts!"

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Tue Jun 8, 2021 2:26 am
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Hero Preview - Jacob Stone: Blue-collar Art Historian

Mauziz
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Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level I - One small step for geek... One giant leap for geek-kind!Microbadge: 10 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: Vampire: The Eternal Struggle fanMicrobadge: The Librarians: Cassandra Cillian "Santa knows my name!”Microbadge: The Librarians: Jacob Stone "You people... DON'T APPRECIATE ART!"
From gallery of brettscho

Hello, and welcome back to this Design Journal for The Librarians: Adventure Card Game! I'm sorry that this article is so, so late. As some of you know, I am a University professor and May is a busy time of year for us. Also, our editor and I have been devoting countless hours to going through the cards one-by-one (over and over again) to ensure that every little mistake is caught before the game goes to print. I tell you this not to excuse the lateness of this article, but to explain it.

Anyway, we are finally ready to look at our very last playable hero in the core box. Future articles will examine the never-before-seen heroes in the Quest for the Spear expansion, and our Kickstarter exclusive hero! As always, I'll introduce the character, how his character traits were translated into the game, and his playstyle. Along the way, I'll preview some new cards!

Two quick disclaimers. First, none of the cards shown here are finalized. They are subject to approval by Electric Entertainment and may receive last minute text and/or graphical changes. Second, if you currently know nothing about the game - welcome! This Design Journal might be a bit confusing to you, so let me suggest that you check out one of the excellent preview videos linked to below. They will give you a really good sense of what the game is like.
One Stop Coop Shop
Man vs Meeple with Jeremy Howard
Rob's Tabletop World


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Jacob Stone - Blue-collar Art Historian
"Jacob, a true warrior battles with wisdom of the soul.”
"In Oklahoma, all we’ve got is soul."


Who is he?
A bar brawling cowboy with genius level intellect, Jacob has extensive knowledge of art, architecture, history, language, and mythology. But his family never valued such intellectual pursuits, and Jacob was forced to hide his interest and abilities. His scholarly work was published using a variety of pseudonyms, each of whom would become recognized as an expert in a specific field. Since becoming a Librarian, Jacob has been able to live as his true self with people who value his skills and expertise, despite his occasional stubborn arrogance.

Design Inspiration:
Jacob is a character study in opposites. On one hand, he craves action. Heck, his most cherished holiday tradition was a Christmas eve bar brawl (which he gets in Season 1). On the other hand, he has an internal intellectual life of scouring art portfolios and composing treatises on architectural styles. The conflict between these two sides leads to Jacob's primary insecurity: that people will only accept one aspect of him or the other. This fear drives Jacob to hide parts of himself. He is the most guarded character in terms of his feelings and capabilities. Even his family sees Jacob as a simple oil rig worker and handyman. They know nothing about his rich intellectual life or pursuits. Jacob publishes acclaimed academic articles, but does so under a variety of pseudonyms.

When Jacob joined the Library, he felt that he had finally found people he could trust, people he could open up to. That was quickly challenged by Cassandra's betrayal in the pilot episode. While she certainly had what could be considered valid reasons, and makes up for it in the end, her actions shook Jacob and made him retreat emotionally from the other characters. Once burned, twice shy, as they say. It takes him a long while to reopen and start trusting the group again.

One of my major design challenges for Jacob was that as an academic myself, I deeply understood and sympathized with one of his aspect, while being somewhat baffled by the other. Jacob's early design really focused on his academic interests and leaned away from his "every man" qualities. In short, I (as the designer) was exactly the type of person that Jacob feared: somebody who would only accept one part of his being. It took several redesigns before I felt that the game had truly captured him. Let's take a look at Jacob's final design:

From gallery of brettscho
As always, we'll consider his attributes first. Although Jacob presents himself as an open and honest man, he has been lying to his family for years while actively maintaining multiple academic aliases. This is represented by his 2 Guile. Jacob has an extremely deep well of knowledge to draw on, but his scholarship is focused on the arts and humanities. The show frequently points out his lack of knowledge of the sciences and his aversion to magic. Math, science, and magic are all connected to Insight, so Jacob has a 1 in that attribute. But Jacob's mastery of art, mythology, and languages gives him a Lore of 3. Finally, while Jacob doesn't have formal military training like Eve, he does have a lot of experience with barroom brawls and he isn't afraid to bloody his knuckles if he has to. This gives him a Tactics score of 2, which makes him an extremely competent secondary fighter.

One of the things I really admire about Jacob is how perceptive he is. Jacob frequently spots small details like odd architectural styles, specific paint dyes, or mythological symbolism. These observations help the group, and ultimately serve as important clues to solving whatever mystery they are investigating. This is represented in game by his special abilities. When Jacob rolls a Tree of Knowledge, he gains a "Clue" token, which is only used by Jacob, much in the way that "Aid" tokens were only used by Eve. Once per roll, Jacob can spend a Clue token to reroll any die - meaning a character (good) or challenge (bad) die. Better yet, he can spend a Clue token to let anybody reroll a die, and the reroll happens before players decide to devote cards to the check. Remember that devoting a card means that you discard a card from your hand to flip a character die to a single success. This system allows Jacob to spot minor details that end up helping the group on future die rolls.

Playstyle:
Jacob is a remarkably flexible hero for a couple of reasons. First, his reroll ability discussed above makes everybody's actions slightly more effective. While Jacob is acting, you will often find yourself spending a Clue to reroll a die only to gain that Clue back because one of your dice had a Tree of Knowledge. Second, Jacob has cards that specifically help him deal with Obstacles and Enemies - the two major threats that come out of the Adventure deck.

From gallery of brettscho

Jacob has access to cards like Sarina Bhonsle that make clearing obstacles a lot easier. Sarina is a side character (dare I say, a Sidekick?) from Season 4 who forms a strong bond with Jacob. And the two of them make a really nice team in the game, partially because her 2 Insight covers Jacob's weakest attribute. But Sarina also generates gives you another way to spend your Clue tokens. As an action, she can spend X Clue tokens to add X progress tokens to an obstacle. Critically, this doesn't require you to roll any dice. The game features a number of obstacles that don't require many progress tokens, but have a very high difficulty, meaning that you have to roll a lot of challenge dice when you take an action against it. Sarina really excels at brushing these obstacles aside.

From gallery of brettscho

Jacob also has architecture-themed cards like Art We Live In that reward you for clearing obstacles. These are attachments you play on an obstacle, and they provide a bonus when that obstacles is defeated. These benefits vary from gaining energy, drawing cards, getting a bonus on future checks, or even adding progress to a Mission (which can win you the game!). Point is, Jacob is both incentivized to handle obstacles and has the tools needed to do so.

From gallery of brettscho

This focus on obstacles represents Jacob's academic expertise. But as I explained above, there is another side to the man. The rough-and-tumble barroom brawler who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. Especially at the beginning of the series, Jacob's fighting ability is a combination of raw talent and informal practice, but that doesn't mean it is ineffective. When Eve isn't around, Jacob steps into the role of group protector. In the game, he has tools like Wall Slam that allow him to pull enemies off other players, and to attack them more effectively. Jacob eventually receives physical and spiritual training in the martial arts from the Monkey King in season 3. This training is represented by Power of the Soul, which makes Jacob much more effective in combat and can be sacrificed for some healing if necessary.

From gallery of brettscho

If Jacob has a weakness, it is lack of card draw. Having answers to both enemies and obstacles in your deck won't do you any good if they aren't in your hand at the right time. Jacob instead relies on cards like Wisdom of Shangri-La that gain energy. This obviously gives you the ability to pay for expensive cards, but each turn you have the choice of drawing cards or gaining energy (up to 3 in any combination), and if you already have enough energy, you can prioritize drawing cards. Finally, Jacob has abilities that allow him to search his energy pile for a card and draw it. Abilities like this are sometimes called "card filtering" because they don't increase the number of cards in your hand, but they do allow you to look at many cards and pick the one you want.

From gallery of brettscho

Ultimately, Jacob is a really fun character to play and is a solid choice for anybody playing the game solo. I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into Jacob's character and deck. The next article moves into the expansion. We still have three heroes left, but almost nothing about them has been publicly discussed. I'm very excited to finally get the chance to introduce them to you! Until then, post your questions and favorite Jacob moments below! Thanks for joining me!

Jacob's Starting Decklist:
Jacob Stone
2x Power of the Soul
1x Sarina Bhonsle
2x Steeped in Mythology
2x “Too bad it’s a fake”

Architecture
2x A Message in Stone
2x Art We Live In
1x Mindy
2x Original Blueprints

Bar Brawl
2x Angry Bar Patron
1x Deflection
2x Improvised Weapon
2x Wall Slam

Myths & Legends
1x Hour of Need
2x Philosopher’s Stone
2x Protection of Ra
2x Wisdom of Shangri-La

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Sat May 22, 2021 2:48 am
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Hero Preview - Cassandra Cillian: Doomed by her Gift

Mauziz
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Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level I - One small step for geek... One giant leap for geek-kind!Microbadge: 10 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: Vampire: The Eternal Struggle fanMicrobadge: The Librarians: Cassandra Cillian "Santa knows my name!”Microbadge: The Librarians: Jacob Stone "You people... DON'T APPRECIATE ART!"
From gallery of brettscho

Welcome back to this Design Journal for The Librarians: Adventure Card Game! Last time, we took a little detour to look at how magic works in The Librarians universe, but I am now ready to dive back into talking about the 7 playable heroes in the game (4 in the Core box, 2 in the Quest for the Spear Expansion, and 1 Kickstarter Exclusive). As promised, this article will discuss Cassandra Cillian - who she is, how her character traits were translated into the game, and her playstyle. Along the way, I'll preview some new cards!

Two quick disclaimers. First, none of the cards shown here are finalized. They are subject to approval by Electric Entertainment and may receive last minute text and/or graphical changes. Second, if you currently know nothing about the game - welcome! This Design Journal might be a bit confusing to you, so let me suggest that you check out one of the excellent preview videos linked to below. They will give you a really good sense of what the game is like.
One Stop Coop Shop
Man vs Meeple with Jeremy Howard
Rob's Tabletop World

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External image

External image


Cassandra Cillian - Doomed by her Gift
“I like my math and logic. They help me sleep at night. They’re like a teddy bear... made of isosceles triangles and electrons.”

Who is she?
A mathematical prodigy, Cassandra’s life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. As a result, she suffers from projective synesthesia, a condition that both crosswires her senses and links them to memory retrieval: effectively giving Cassandra a photographic memory. She experiences numbers as colors, science as musical notes, and math as scents. As a Librarian, she has delved into the mysterious connections between mathematics and magic. An idealist, Cassandra only sees the potential in magic, and has repeatedly ignored the warning that magic always has consequences.

Design Inspiration:
Cassandra grows so much during the show. Probably more than any other character. When we first meet Cassandra, she is understandably overwhelmed by her projective synesthesia (the symbols and diagrams that she hallucinates). This clearly makes it difficult for her to keep a regular job or meaningful social connections. We're explicitly told that she had a major falling out with her parents once her condition started being a problem. But by the end of the series, Cassandra has turned her synesthesia into a powerful asset. More importantly, she found reasons to be proud of herself. And she found friends willing to offer the help and support she needed. Watching her self-confidence blossom is honestly one of the best parts of the show.

Even before all that, Cassandra demonstrated exceptional gifts for math and science. As a scientist myself, I know that the discipline is really a lens through which to view reality. It invites question and inquiry, and it prizes curiosity. Cassandra lives these traits and views the world with a sort of innocent wonder and a hunger to know. But that desire to understand can lead to folly, as we see with every mad scientist villain. Once she discovered that magic was real, Cassandra needed to know more about it. How it works, what natural laws govern it, and how it can be harnessed. The show never really answers whether her interest in magic is a good thing or not, but it is a major source of friction between Cassandra and other characters, notably Jenkins, Jacob, and Flynn.

From gallery of brettscho
So how are all these threads woven into the game? As always, we'll start by looking at Cassandra's hero card, starting with her attributes. Cassandra is an incredibly genuine person who sometimes comes off as being a bit naïve. It should come as no surprise that her Guile is a 1. Cassandra's real strength is in spotting and analyzing patterns. She deeply understands how math influences our every action and the natural world, and this is reflected in her Insight score of 3. Cassandra's knowledge of the natural sciences far exceeds most other characters, but her knowledge of the arts and humanities is more lacking, resulting in a Lore of 2. Finally, Cassandra doesn't often tango with enemies, but when she does, she is a force to be reckoned with. Her Tactics of 2 is the same as Jacob's, making her an efficient secondary combatant if the need arises.

Cassandra, like most other heroes, has two special abilities. The first is that she starts the game with a Power card. As a reminder from the last design journal, Power is one of two mini-cards that can be collected when you use magic. Once you have 1 Power and 1 Focus, you can spend an energy to flip them both over. On the back of each is a special magical Effect, you get to pick 1 and you discard the other. Cassandra is the most adept at manipulating magic, so she starts the game half way to her first Effect.

Her second special ability is connected to the dice. She may only activate it when she rolls the Tree of Knowledge symbol. It is a relatively simple ability to draw a card and then either discard a card or pay 1 energy, which represents her sudden flashes of insight. Abilities like this are sometimes called "card filtering" because they are designed to help you get the right cards into your hand at the right time, even though your total number of resources (cards + energy) aren't increasing. This is particularly useful for finding linchpin cards or finding a solution to a pressing problem.

Playstyle:
Especially in the first season, Cassandra struggles to control the power of her synesthesia. She is often shown to be in pain while purposefully using it, or will show signs of damage such as getting a nose bleed. I wanted to show this struggle in the game partially because I think it represents a central conflict for Cassandra: having access to vast powers that come with a cost. Careful readers will note that this is theme is used for magic in general. And while Cassandra's powers aren't exactly magical, they do follow a similar pattern of reward for risk.

From gallery of brettscho

Cassandra has cards that allow her to take damage to a beneficial effect. Mathemagics, as an example, allows you to add 1 progress to an Obstacle, or deal 1 damage to an Enemy. It is hard to overstate how useful this is. You often find yourself in a position where you can ALMOST but not quite finish a card, and now you have to waste an entire extra action to get rid of that card. In some cases that could mean that you have to spend 2 whole turns dealing with 1 card. But Cassandra can simply use her gifts to finish that Obstacle or Enemy and save you that second action. The cost is just a bit of her life. She starts with 7, but if she isn't careful she can burn through that in a hurry. When you are playing Cassandra, it helps to bring a bit of healing through cards such as Eureka!.

From gallery of brettscho

As we discussed last time, the magical cards in Cassandra's deck cause you to discard cards from your deck. And when it is empty, you have to draw another Adventure card. But Cassandra also has deep knowledge of the sciences and mathematics, which we are told are connected to Magic. To show the connection, both magic-themed and math-themed cards focus on 3. For magic, this is usually the cost, and for math, it is usually the benefit. Math-themed cards tend to be more expensive, but have no downside. Pattern Recognition is a good example as it shows the predictive power of math, and does so using the number 3.

From gallery of brettscho

Finally, Cassandra's Tree of Knowledge power discussed above lets her dig through her deck for specific cards. While Mathemagics is a great card to go looking for, I wanted to highlight one other card you might want to find. Not all of the artifacts in The Library are strictly magical. One shown prominently in the first movie is a staple of classic sci-fi: the Jetpack. It's expensive (4 energy!), but it is one of the only cards in the game that provides consistent readying over multiple rounds. While a character is ready, they may take an action, even if they are already taken an action this round. So Jetpack effectively doubles the number of actions Cassandra can take... so long as it has fuel. An extra action goes a long way in this game, and Jetpack can really mean the difference between defeat and victory. Plus victory with a Jetpack is so much sweeter than victory without a Jetpack!

From gallery of brettscho

I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into Cassandra's character. Next article will feature our final core set hero - none other than Jacob Stone: Art Historian, Brawler, and Cowboy! Until then, post your questions and favorite Cassandra moments below! Thanks for joining me!

Cassandra's Starting Decklist:
Cassandra Cillian
2x Glimpse the Beyond
1x Magic Anchor
2x Mathemagics
2x Photographic Memory

Mathematics
2x Brief Calculation
2x Lucy Lyons
1x Optimal Solution
2x Pattern Recognition

SCIENCE!
2x Eureka!
1x Jetpack
2x Pressure Points
2x Underprepared

Spellcraft
1x Lady of the Lake
2x Protective Wards
2x Ritual Circle
2x Sealed Fate

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Sat Apr 24, 2021 4:49 pm
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Mechanical Spotlight - Magic in The Librarians

Mauziz
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Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level I - One small step for geek... One giant leap for geek-kind!Microbadge: 10 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: Vampire: The Eternal Struggle fanMicrobadge: The Librarians: Cassandra Cillian "Santa knows my name!”Microbadge: The Librarians: Jacob Stone "You people... DON'T APPRECIATE ART!"
From gallery of brettscho

Welcome back to this Design Journal for The Librarians: Adventure Card Game! This article was supposed to continue my deep dive series into the playable heroes. But as I was writing the article for Cassandra Cillian, I found that I actually had a lot to say about how magic works in The Librarians and in the game. So much so, in fact, that it was consuming Cassandra's article! And while magic is clearly very important to Cassandra, there is far more to her character than just that. The solution I came up with was to separate Cassandra's article from this discussion of magic. So fear not - the deep dive into Cassandra's character is coming next time! I hope you enjoy this week's magical interlude.

Two quick disclaimers. First, if you currently know nothing about the game - welcome! This Design Journal might be a bit confusing to you, so let me suggest that you check out one of the excellent preview videos linked to below. They will give you a really good sense of what the game is like.
One Stop Coop Shop
Man vs Meeple with Jeremy Howard
Rob's Tabletop World

Second, none of the cards shown here are finalized. They are subject to approval by Electric Entertainment and may receive last minute text and/or graphical changes. Ok, let's begin!

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Mechanical Spotlight - Magic

"Magic has three parts: Power to change reality; Focus to direct that change; and an Effect - that change in the real world."

How does magic work in The Librarians?
Once the first movie (Quest for the Spear) shows us that magic is real, it tries to provide some context for what magic is and how it works. We are treated to one of my favorite quotes from the movie: "Some of the items in the Library violate the known laws of science. But that is only because our brains are so small we haven't come up with laws to explain them." This immediately tells us that magic has deep connections to the physical world and natural laws. That it follows rules and is at its core knowable, even though we don't understand it yet. Sadly, this lore nugget is really the only hint the movies offer us in terms of the laws of magic.

Fortunately, the TV show is given much more time to do comprehensive world-building, and it expands on the original idea from the movies. We are presented with Jenkins, a researcher of magic who approaches his scholarship in a very scientific manner. He experiments on magical artifacts, learning what would happen if you tweak this rune, or rotate that component. This provides Jenkins (and thus the audience) with a few charted islands on an otherwise blank map. We get the impression that there is far more to learn about magic than is currently known.

Ok, but what is known? Jenkins explains that all magic - regardless of the uncertain variables - possesses three aspects: Power is raw magical energy, often likened to electricity, suggesting that it is a fundamental force of nature. Focus is something that directs this energy and gives it purpose - it could be a human mind, a magical artifact, or another spell. And finally, Effect is the result of the magic. Thus we are presented with a relatively simple equation: Power + Focus = Effect. If you want to stop magic, you need to cut off the power or remove the focus.

Jenkins also warns us that magic always has a cost, which manifests as an unintended consequence. We are shown that this cost follows the Rule of Three, where ill-intentions are revisited upon you threefold. Although powerful wielders of magic appear to have some mechanism to shield themselves from these dangers, it is clearly difficult to predict the form that this threefold punishment will come in and thus difficult to protect yourself. This is why even practitioners like Jenkins use magic as a last resort.

How does magic work in the Adventure Game?
As discussed above, Power, Focus, and Effect are at the heart of magic in The Librarians, so these concepts had to be prominently featured in the game. After a lot of trial and error, I decided to represent them with mini-sized cards that are collected over the course of the game. Each card has Power or Focus on the front, and you can pay 1 energy to flip over 1 Power and 1 Focus. On the back, each card has a different magical Effect. You get to keep 1 of these Effects, and the other is shuffled back into the appropriate deck (Focus or Power).

From gallery of brettscho
From gallery of brettscho

In total, there are 6 unique Effects in the game. These offer a variety of abilities including healing, card draw, and using your Insight in place of another attribute. In each case, you get to hold onto the Effect until you want to use it. Sounds pretty neat, right? But how do you acquire Power and Focus in the first place? Well, they are gained as a result of playing cards from your hand. Whenever you "cast a spell" (play a card themed around magic) it will instruct you to gain Power or Focus. So as you practice magic (by playing cards), you learn to manifest it on your own (using your Effect).

From gallery of brettscho
From gallery of brettscho

But remember that magic always comes with a cost. In the game, magic discards cards from the top of your deck. And because of the Rule of Three, you usually discard 3 cards at a time. This is significant because whenever you shuffle your deck you must draw and resolve another Adventure card. Doing this will bring out an extra Enemy or Obstacle, or it may hit you with a nasty unexpected Complication. The use of magic will make you go through your deck more quickly and so will force you to draw these additional Adventure cards more frequently. In this way, magic is all about risk and reward. Is the benefit you gain worth the unwanted attention you will attract?

From gallery of brettscho

Let's look at an example card. Ritual Circle nicely illustrates the benefits and drawback of using magic. It can be used once per round up to three times, and each use gives you an energy and either a Power or a Focus. So over three rounds, you gain 3 energy (which is a whole round's worth of energy production!) and your choice of 3 Power / Focus. But the cost is discarding a lot of cards from your deck. You play the card itself, you discard the top 9 cards of your deck (3 each time you use it), and the 3 energy you gain are also cards taken from your deck. So in total, you've lost 13 cards, which is nearly half of your deck. Put another way, that is nearly half an extra Adventure card.

The power that magic offers can be seductive, but it also is a lightning rod for trouble. Using magic wisely will be a great benefit, while using it recklessly can overwhelm you.

I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into how magic works in The Librarian's universe and the game! Join me next time as we (finally!) dive into Cassandra's character, and see how the risk/reward mentality of magic runs into the precision and predictability of math and science!

Until then, post your questions and favorite Jenkins moment or quote below! Thanks for joining me!
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Thu Apr 8, 2021 3:55 pm
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Hero Preview - Ezekiel Jones: In it for the Challenge

Mauziz
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Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level I - One small step for geek... One giant leap for geek-kind!Microbadge: 10 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: Vampire: The Eternal Struggle fanMicrobadge: The Librarians: Cassandra Cillian "Santa knows my name!”Microbadge: The Librarians: Jacob Stone "You people... DON'T APPRECIATE ART!"
From gallery of brettscho

Welcome back to this Design Journal for The Librarians: Adventure Card Game! This article will continue my deep dive into each of the 7 playable heroes in the game (4 in the Core box, 2 in the Quest for the Spear Expansion, and 1 Kickstarter Exclusive). I'll introduce this article's hero, talk about the inspiration behind their implementation in the game, and discuss that hero's playstyle. Most excitingly, I get to preview some never-before-seen cards!

Two quick disclaimers. First, if you currently know nothing about the game - welcome! This Design Journal might be a bit confusing to you, so let me suggest that you check out one of the excellent preview videos linked to below. They will give you a really good sense of what the game is like.
One Stop Coop Shop
Man vs Meeple with Jeremy Howard
Rob's Tabletop World

Second, none of the cards shown here are finalized. They are subject to approval by Electric Entertainment and may receive last minute text and/or graphical changes. Ok, let's introduce our hero!

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Ezekiel Jones - In it for the Challenge
"These are the hands of a world-class thief. I don't do punchy."


Who is he?
Talented, easily bored, and a bit egotistical, Ezekiel Jones’ one desire in life is to be entertained through challenge. His drive led him to a life of escalating crime, with each heist more daring and more impossible than the last. He became a Librarian because stealing magical artifacts sounded like it might be fun. He certainly never thought that the experience would change him. But at the Library, he encountered a team of dedicated people who had to rely on each other to survive. Friendship and loyalty have come hard to Ezekiel, but in a very real way, he is experiencing his first taste of family.

Design Inspiration:
Ezekiel makes most things look easy, and he claims this to be a result of raw talent and a liberal dose of luck. While he certainly has both of those traits in spades, I don't think they are the only factors to his success. Ezekiel's triumphs are often the result of plans he set into motion long ago.

For example, he created a secret backdoor in some retina scanning software so that it always recognizes him (Episode 207). He usually hacks into a building's security system before entering it, allowing him to reposition guards by sending them false alerts (Episode 101). And he taps into military satellites to monitor weather patterns near mission sites, allowing him to identify usual phenomena before other characters are even aware there is something to look at (Episode 303).

From gallery of brettscho
My point is simply that Ezekiel takes great pains to appear spontaneous and impulsive, but his "off-the-cuff" solutions are often the result of careful planning. Admittedly, he mixes his preparations with luck and an impeccable sense of timing. I get the impression that Ezekiel plants a lot of seeds, unsure which will bear fruit. But each seed/plan is a potential tool in his problem-solving kit. And Ezekiel has a real talent for wielding these tools in unexpected ways to achieve spectacular results.

I wanted Ezekiel in the game to reflect both parts of his character - the meticulous planner and the impulsive lucky little brother. How well did I accomplish this? Well, I'll let you decide. Let's take a look at Ezekiel's hero card. As always, we'll start with his attribute scores from top to bottom. Ezekiel is king of Guile (the highest in the game, surprising nobody) and has average Insight and Lore. His real weakness is Tactics paired with his dangerously low Life value. Ezekiel rarely confronts enemies head on, preferring to avoid or distract them through trickery and deceit. When forced into a direct confrontation, Ezekiel rarely manages to hold his own:

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Playstyle:
If we keep moving down Ezekiel's hero card, we run into his two special abilities, both of which tie into his playstyle. His first requires a bit of explaining. Devices are cards in Ezekiel's deck that enter play with a certain number of tokens on them. At the end of each round you remove a token, and when it has no more tokens you may spend it for a powerful one-time benefit. Although any character could theoretically put these cards into their deck, Ezekiel is able to use them much more efficiently. His ability lets him remove an additional token from one Device he controls each round. So a card with 4 tokens would take another character 4 rounds to get ready, but Ezekiel could potentially do it in 2.

From gallery of brettscho

Ezekiel's second special ability is tied to the dice. You have to roll a "Tree of Knowledge" symbol in order to activate it, but it gives him a powerful way of delaying enemies (the crossed swords symbol) for a round. As long as an enemy is exhausted, it won't attack, meaning that Ezekiel could theoretically keep an enemy tied up for the entire game without taking damage! Of course, that assumes that you are able to roll a Tree of Knowledge result every round, which is far from certain.

From gallery of brettscho

When you play Ezekiel - especially if you are playing him as a solo hero - you have to have a plan to deal with enemies. His Tree of Knowledge ability discussed above is potent but not reliable enough to be a strategy by itself. Fortunately, Ezekiel comes armed with cards that allow him to attack enemies in non-traditional ways. Some of these like Remote Detonation are Devices that must be played several rounds before you intend to use them. But others like Cunning Ambush are events that can be played at any time. This card is particularly awesome (and expensive!) in that it allows you to attack up to three enemies using your Guile rather than your Tactics. I've seen Ezekiel clear the board of enemies in a single action, leaving characters like Eve to just stare in amazement. Make sure to use these cards wisely!

From gallery of brettscho

As we've seen, Ezekiel's spontaneous side is represented through events like Cunning Ambush and Little White Lie; and his planning side is represented by Devices. Since Devives need to be played in advance, it is important to get them into play as quickly as possible. You may want to mulligan your starting hand to find more of them to play. Finally, Ezekiel's raw natural talent and unshakable faith in himself is seen in cards like "I'm Ezekiel Jones!", which provide a substantial boost to the efficiency of his actions.

From gallery of brettscho

Ezekiel is a flexible hero who has solutions for nearly every problem. But you need to have the right solution at the right time. Here that means having the right card in hand or the right Device in play. Both require you to draw extra cards. Ezekiel has access to excellent card draw through Sleight of Hand and Always Another Way, and has some limited ability to search for a specific card and draw it.

I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into Ezekiel's character! I'm very excited to talk about the rest of our heroes. Stay tuned for Cassandra in two weeks and a discussion of how Magic works in The Librarians universe and in the game!

Until then, post your questions and favorite Ezekiel moments / quotes below! Thanks for joining me!

Ezekiel's Starting Decklist:
Ezekiel Jones
2x "I’m Ezekiel Jones!"
2x Little White Lie
2x Sleight of Hand
1x Stumpy

Gadgetry
2x Magic Spectrometer
2x Remote Detonation
1x Satellite Hookup
2x Schmidt, Tech Wizard

Improvisation
2x Always Another Way
2x Cunning Ambush
1x Hard Wired Access
2x Mimiko's Mirror

Trickery
2x Ace in the Hole
2x Electromagnet
1x Emergency Activation
2x Misdirection

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Tue Mar 23, 2021 5:34 pm
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Hero Preview - Eve Baird: Team Leader

Mauziz
United States
Nebraska
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Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level I - One small step for geek... One giant leap for geek-kind!Microbadge: 10 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: Vampire: The Eternal Struggle fanMicrobadge: The Librarians: Cassandra Cillian "Santa knows my name!”Microbadge: The Librarians: Jacob Stone "You people... DON'T APPRECIATE ART!"
From gallery of brettscho

Hello, and welcome to this first Design Journal for The Librarians: Adventure Card Game! The game's publisher - Everything Epic - has allowed me to pull back the curtain a little for you all while we wait on final approval and fulfillment of the game.

I plan to write a series of articles focusing on the seven playable heroes in the game (4 in the Core box, 2 in the Quest for the Spear Expansion, and 1 Kickstarter Exclusive). I'll talk a little about the characters themselves, the inspiration of their designs, and the playstyle they lend themselves to in the card game. Most excitingly, I get to preview some of the cards found in each hero's deck!

If you currently know nothing about the game - welcome! Let me suggest that you check out one of the excellent preview videos linked to below. They will give you a really good sense of what the game is like, and these Design Journals will make a lot more sense afterwards.
One Stop Coop Shop
Man vs Meeple with Jeremy Howard
Rob's Tabletop World

Finally, I need to mention that none of the cards shown here are finalized. They are subject to approval by Electric Entertainment and may receive last minute text and/or graphical changes. With that, let's introduce our first hero!

External image

External image

External image



Eve Baird - Team Leader

"I told you, magic's like a monkey with a loaded AK-47. Our job is to keep it in check, to keep it out of the hands of those who would misuse it.”

Who is she?
Before she was called to serve as a Guardian, Colonel Baird was an agent with NATO Counter Terrorism. Her team traced and recovered WMDs, a process that ended up having a lot more in common with finding and containing magical artifacts than she initially suspected. As a Guardian, Eve’s role is to keep the group together and bring the Librarians back alive - a task easier said than done given who she is protecting. Eve sometimes struggles to remember that her Librarians are neither soldiers to be ordered around, nor helpless assets to be locked away.

Design Inspiration:
Eve is the only character in the TV show with formal military training. She is well versed in tactics and weaponry, and she often plays the role of audience-surrogate in a room full of geniuses. This means that a lot of stuff gets explained to Eve and by extension, to us. Given all this, it would have been soooo easy to just design Eve as a combat monster, totally dedicated to taking out enemies. But this would have done her character a grave disservice.

As her title suggests, Eve isn't just a soldier, she is a leader. Some of her most potent skills involve coordinating the efforts of many people and directing them into the fulfillment of a specific objective. She is frequently shown either directly training her team, or seeking out mentors to provide instruction that she can't give. Finally, while Eve can be deadly in a fight, she has the ferocity of a mama bear, not Rambo. Her first thought is to shepherd her team out of danger, even if that means using herself as a distraction. So, how does her hero card reflect all this? Well, let's take a look:
From gallery of brettscho

Let's start off by examining Eve's attribute scores (on the right). She has average Guile (the Moon), which is used for stealth, fast-talking, and gaining the element of surprise. She also has average Insight (Connected rings), which is used for quickly sizing up a situation, making snap decisions, and recognizing patterns. She has poor Lore (the Book), which represents the deep wells of mundane and obscure knowledge a character can draw on. Finally, she has exceptional Tactics (the Gears) which is the default skill used to handle enemies and is useful in situations requiring strategic thinking.

But Eve's character really comes out in her special ability. Actions in the game usually involve rolling a pool of good ("Character") and bad ("Challenge") dice. These die results determine the success or failure of your action. Eve lets anybody spend an Aid token to roll +1 good die. Considering that you usually only roll 1-3 of these, +1 is a massive improvement! So how does one get one of these sweet, sweet Aid tokens? Well, these are tokens that only Eve and her cards give out. For example, as it says at the very bottom of her card, whenever Eve rolls a specific symbol (the Tree of Knowledge) on her good dice, she can take 1 damage to give somebody an Aid token. That damage can hurt, but with 9 life (the most in the game!) Eve can take a lot of punishment! This ability to distribute bonus dice really allows Eve to play the supporting and nurturing role that she does in the TV show while also kicking a lot of butt.

Playstyle:
Eve has two primary ways to support her team. The first was discussed above. Her ability to hand out Aid tokens can really boost the efficiency of important actions. It may be advantageous for Eve to take the first action during a round in the hopes that she rolls a Tree of Knowledge and gives an Aid token to a character who hasn't acted yet. Her support strategy comes in the form of enemy management. With 9 Life and 3 Tactics, Eve is by far the most adept at defeating and tanking enemies. And any foe she can't immediately deal with can be delayed or mitigated using cards like Guardian Instincts and Staged Distraction.

From gallery of brettscho

However, both of Eve's support strategies come at a cost, usually in the form of damage to Eve. This can really start to pile up if you aren't careful. Fortunately, Eve has cards like Soul of a Guardian that grant her a bonus when she takes damage, and First Aid Kit and Field Medic that offer her (or her teammates) some much-needed healing.

From gallery of brettscho

This game was specifically designed to work equally well in a "true solo" (one player controlling one hero) or a cooperative mutliplayer context. So you might be wondering whether a support hero like Eve can really shine when played alone. I am pleased to say that Eve is really satisfying to play as a solo hero. This is primarily for two reasons: First, many of Eve's support abilities can target herself. For example, she can give Aid tokens to ANY character, which includes Eve! And second, each player may control one Sidekick, who is effectively a mini-hero capable of taking their own actions. Eve has access to some really formidable Sidekicks like Sam Denning who can become truly great when supported by Eve. In the end, Eve will always have a team - whether composed of other players or Sidekicks from her deck - and every team needs a leader.

From gallery of brettscho

I hope you enjoyed this first deep dive into one of our seven heroes! I'm so excited to get a chance to talk about these characters and how they are represented in the game. I intend to post articles every two-ish weeks. Let me know in the comments below which hero you want to see next, or if you have any questions about how the game represents Eve. Or heck, just post your favorite Eve moment from the show!

Until next time, I will leave you with a complete list of Eve's suggested starting deck. Thanks for joining me!

Eve's Starting Decklist:
Eve Baird
2x “Get behind me!”
2x Guardian Instincts
1x Sam Denning
2x Soul of a Guardian

Command
2x A Little Help
1x Guerilla Tactics
2x Local Security
2x Trusted Guide

Teamwork
2x 9mm Pistol
2x Field Medic
2x Staged Distraction
1x Standard Asset Protection

Well Prepared
2x Contingency Plan
2x First Aid Kit
1x Kevlar Vest
2x Poseidon’s Trident

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Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:37 am
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