Trumps, sheep, and old dice

P.D. Magnus' ruminations on gaming, along with shrill promotion of his own designs.

Archive for P.D. Magnus

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [9]

Recommend
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Obsolescence of outsider Spirits, the middle chapter

P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: SpielbanyMicrobadge: Moof!Microbadge: Decktet challenge!Microbadge: Spirit Island: Branch & Claw fanMicrobadge: My pronouns are he/him
(This post mentions and links to some of my custom content. Eric, I agree to the terms for creating Spirit Island game elements set forth in the FAQ.)

This is a follow-up to my earlier post about how my custom spirits for Spirit Island fare in the face of new official content. Spirit boards for all the new spirits in Spirit Island: Nature Incarnate were revealed in the crowdfunding campaign, so I can dig in on some of the more complex spirits.

Dank Weed Breeds Sloth
LORE: Generations ago, the Dahan discovered a spirit of vegetal rest deep in the jungle. Weed moved out of the trees and now barely remembers the fierce ways of the jungle. As some Dahan adopted its ways, it grew more connected to theirs.
Now Dank Weed is trying to relate to the Invaders the way it relates to the Dahan. This isn't obviously the most effective thing to do.
Some of the other spirits worry that Dank Weed will be no help against the current threat. But that's just their opinion, man.

GAMEPLAY: Weed is primarily about defense, with three different ways to stop Invaders from doing damage. Despite that, it's not great at setting up counterattacks.

OBSOLECENCE: I proposed this spirit years ago, after only having played Spirit Island for a few months. It began with the name, a joke on the format and cadence of official spirit names.
I think it's safe to say there will never be an official spirit with this theme, but the powers are echoed in the much more complicated spirit Downpour Drenches the World. Weed has one innate power that defends lands while reducing Dahan counterattack, and a second innate power that provides energy and removes blight. So does Downpour.
However, that's just part of Downpour's much more complicated kit which centers around playing one card and repeating it many times. So it ends up being High complexity, in contrast with Weed's low end of Moderate complexity.
Because of that, Weed plays differently that Downpour. It poses different challenges. The distinction is big enough that we keep Weed in the stack of spirits that we randomly select from when setting up games. If someone decided not to print their own copy because it was too much like Downpour, though, I would understand.

Shimmering Traces of Madness
LORE: When the Dahan first came to the island, some stumbled sideways onto paths that led to Shimmering Traces of Madness and were consumed. The other spirits warned the Dahan away from the doors which open onto its realm so, for centuries, it has been quiescent. Now, the newcomers do not know what to avoid and where not to go.
Madness waits in its dark dimension, a realm utterly unlike the island. The gap between dimensions is wide, but its influence on the island is slowly growing. As invaders catch small glimpses of its alien world, it draws closer still. The other spirits aren't sure what will become of Madness once the invaders are driven off the island, but desparate times demand strange allies.

GAMEPLAY: Uses two different mechanisms to represent madness. First: Strife, which is used for madness in published powers. Its special rule The Mad Fear Nothing allows it to add Strife instead of doing Fear. Second: The Madness Deck, which is constructed from cards that weren't used in making the Fear Deck. Driving the Invaders mad produces effects from Fear cards, independently of the regular Fear rules. It's potentially powerful, but largely unpredictable.
Some people hate the Madness Deck. Others like it. It's the core distinguishing feature of this spirit, in any case.

OBSOLECENCE: This spirit was originally named Shimmering Path of Lost Ways, and it combined madness (represented by the Madness Deck) with spatial distortion effects that moved Invaders around the island (because it existed in a dark dimension with strange geometry). When the spirit Finder of Paths Unseen was previewed several years ago, this spirit both needed a name change and a thematic overhaul. That led to the development of the current version.
Nature Incarnate has a madness spirit, Wandering Voice Keens Delirium. Although both spread around lots of Strife, Voice has several features that distinguish it from Shimmering Traces: It has an Incarna, the new mechanism that represents the one place on the board where the spirit is located. It also shuts down Dahan counterattacks when its Incarna is nearby.
I suspect that the high variance of the Madness Deck means that the official designers won't end up making something similar. At the very least, Shimmering Traces of Madness is safe for now.
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Thu Dec 15, 2022 7:02 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

What is the Decktet to a robot?

P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: SpielbanyMicrobadge: Moof!Microbadge: Decktet challenge!Microbadge: Spirit Island: Branch & Claw fanMicrobadge: My pronouns are he/him
I've been playing around with Open AI's ChatGPT, a generative algorithm that answers questions. I asked "What is the Decktet?" and it replied—
Quote:
The Decktet is a deck of cards created by P.D. Magnus in 2009. It is a unique deck that consists of 36 cards, each of which has a different symbol or suit. The Decktet is designed to be used for a wide range of card games, and it has gained a dedicated following among card game enthusiasts. The Decktet is notable for its unusual design and its versatility, as it can be used to play many different types of card games, including traditional games like poker and bridge, as well as more obscure games that have been created specifically for the Decktet.
My first reaction was that this was uncannily good. My second reaction, though, was how many details it got wrong. As the BGG entry will tell you, the official release of the Decktet was 2008. It was actually created a few years before that. And you can't use it to play poker or bridge, at least not in the usual sense.

EDIT the next day, to add some additional results:

Regarding the extended Decktet, ChatGPT is again almost but not quite right. It says—
Quote:
The Decktet extended deck is an expansion to the original deck that adds additional cards to the deck, increasing the number of cards to 52. The extended deck includes new suits, new ranks, and new cards that can be used to add variety and complexity to the games that can be played with the Decktet. The extended deck is not required to play the games that are included with the original deck, but it can be used to add more variety and challenge to the games.
Regarding the illustrations in the Decktet, it seems to just be free associating to something else entirely—
Quote:
The Decktet deck is illustrated with a distinctive and evocative style that is inspired by the art and design of playing cards from different cultures and time periods. The illustrations in the Decktet deck are primarily abstract and symbolic in nature, and they are designed to evoke a sense of mystery and wonder. The deck includes a variety of different illustrations, including geometric shapes, patterns, symbols, and other images that are designed to enhance the gameplay experience and to add to the overall aesthetic appeal of the deck. The illustrations in the Decktet deck are an important part of its unique identity and appeal, and they have been well-received by players and critics alike.
Twitter Facebook
5 Comments
Sat Dec 3, 2022 2:11 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
12 
 Thumb up
0.26
 tip
 Hide

Posted with brief comments

P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: SpielbanyMicrobadge: Moof!Microbadge: Decktet challenge!Microbadge: Spirit Island: Branch & Claw fanMicrobadge: My pronouns are he/him
As some commenters on the previous posts surmised, I've been playing with Midjourney. Having used up my free trial, I used this exploration as an excuse to get a basic subscription. That was a little over a month ago, and I've now used up my first month's allotment of processor time.

Other commenters offer the opinion that my original Decktet is better than a deck made using Midjourney would be: The original embodies my personal point of view, and these do not.

Let's not pretend, though, that I am not at least a contributor to these experimental things. Output from Midjourney is shaped by prompts, selection, and guided iteration. And none of these would-be cards are direct outputs from Midjourney in any case. All of them involve modifications and redesign in Photoshop, and the card outside the image is all my handiwork.

If there were eventually a whole deck in this style, what should I call it? The current working title is Electric Decktet, but I don't really need a title until I decide whether this is really something I'm doing.

From gallery of pmagnus
Twitter Facebook
10 Comments
Sun Oct 9, 2022 10:27 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
11 
 Thumb up
0.30
 tip
 Hide

Posted without comment

P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: SpielbanyMicrobadge: Moof!Microbadge: Decktet challenge!Microbadge: Spirit Island: Branch & Claw fanMicrobadge: My pronouns are he/him
From gallery of pmagnus
Twitter Facebook
5 Comments
Sat Sep 17, 2022 3:11 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
12 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide

Posted without comment

P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: SpielbanyMicrobadge: Moof!Microbadge: Decktet challenge!Microbadge: Spirit Island: Branch & Claw fanMicrobadge: My pronouns are he/him
From gallery of pmagnus
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Tue Sep 13, 2022 8:36 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
14 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

Obsolescence of outsider Spirits

P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: SpielbanyMicrobadge: Moof!Microbadge: Decktet challenge!Microbadge: Spirit Island: Branch & Claw fanMicrobadge: My pronouns are he/him
(This post mentions and links to some of my custom content. Eric, I agree to the terms for creating Spirit Island game elements set forth in the FAQ.)

I've been making custom spirit island content for about four years now. I've made six spirits and three adversaries. I got my hands on a copy of Horizons last week, and I've tried out all the new spirits. It's got me thinking about the way that expansions and new official content can render fan-made content obsolete.

For example, lots of fans have tried their hand at making a desert spirit. Rising Heat of Stone and Sand, one of the new spirits in Horizons, fills that niche at least as well as the fan-made attempts I've seen. Its special rule elegantly captures the danger of the desert. Its Growth options cleverly give it a preference for Mountains and Sands without requiring another special rule. And its lore includes the fabulous line: "Even after centuries, the Spirit remains a bit unclear on why living things get so unhappy about fatal desiccation, but the Dahan make such pleasant patterns across its sands that it's happy to forbear."

How have my spirits fared? And how are they likely to fare with the addition of another twelve eight official spirits in the upcoming Nature Incarnate expansion?

Let's look at the two low complexity spirits I've made.

Simplicity Deals With Things Directly
LORE: When a spirit's sacred sites are disrupted and its presence mostly destroyed, it can no longer be what it was. Bereft of its domain and its aspect, it forgets the distinctiveness that made it subtle and complex.
Simplicity thinks that it is from a possible future when the Dahan have sovereign rights over the island. It dreams of aluminum cabinet fronts with soft-close hinges and programmed skylights which open just before dawn, but somehow it is here in a time of fire and war.
It observes the other spirits and notices that they move things, destroy things, and defend. So that's what it is going to do.

GAMEPLAY: Although it began as a joke, Simplicity settled on being the kind of spirit I wanted to play when I first started. The spirits from the base set were a bit frustrating because they were pretty much locked into a specific playstyle. I understood the rules, didn't understand the strategy yet, and wanted the opportunity to noodle around on my own. Simplicity is a sandbox and a generalist.

OBSOLESCENCE: The published spirit closest to Simplicity thematically is Starlight Seeks Its Form (which was released later in Jagged Earth). But Starlight starts with almost no specific direction, forcing the player to build all the infrastructure to play the game. The result is super-high complexity. By contrast, Simplicity starts with the ability to effect the island directly: to move things, destroy things, defend things.
Although I think that makes Simplicity safe from complete obsolescence, the new low-complexity spirits in Horizons are importantly different than the ones in the base set. They all have a smattering of difference abilities and more diverse playstyles. For example: Whereas the only low-complexity spirit with defend powers in the base set was Earth (the Defend specialist), four out of the five new low-complexity spirits have defend powers (including Teeth, whose jam is devouring and destroying).

Fade to Dust and Whispers
LORE: A spirit of endings: of lives, of families, of trees, of rocks, and perhaps ultimately of the Island itself. It nests in a thriving settlement and, slowly, frustrations begin. Food spoils in storage. Hunting paths fade. A roof collapses. Tools rust and break. The happy mood of the villagers grows dark, and they look to every small change as an omen of disaster. Some leave. Some die in their sleep. Eventually, all that is left is a ghost town.

GAMEPLAY: Dust generates fear. It can stop invaders from participating in Ravage and prune them a bit (destroying explorers, and downgrading towns and cities) but that's all just about stalling as fear accumulates.

OBSOLESCENCE: Dust is intended to be a low-complexity fear spirit, occupying a niche poorly filled by Shadows Flicker Like Flame in the base set. There isn't a fear spirit in Horizons, and none of the spirits in Nature Incarnate are going to be low complexity. So Dust seems safe.
The only warning sign is that "Downgrade" has been introduced as a keyword in the Horizons rulebook, for effects like "Replace a Town with an Explorer." Maybe there will be Downgrade focussed spirit in the next expansion. If it were medium complexity, it might make Dust obsolete. (In any case, I should update Dust's powers to say Downgrade.)
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Tue Sep 6, 2022 6:35 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Decktet rankings mid-2022

P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: SpielbanyMicrobadge: Moof!Microbadge: Decktet challenge!Microbadge: Spirit Island: Branch & Claw fanMicrobadge: My pronouns are he/him
It's been a couple of years since I posted current prestige ratings for Decktet games. Despite a few more ratings, there's not much change. Myrmex has stepped up a spot.

* * * begin output * * *
game raw rtgs prtg
0 Decktet 7.4 514 46.3
1 Magnate 7.2 210 38.8
2 Emu Ranchers 6.4 103 29.8
3 Jacynth 6.5 81 28.9
4 Adaman 6.0 109 28.4
5 Goblin Market 6.7 45 25.6
6 Quincunx 6.8 39 25.1
7 Bharg 6.0 62 24.9
8 Myrmex 7.7 21 23.4
9 Thricewise 6.5 30 22.1
10 Gongor Whist 6.2 32 21.6
11 Bisque 7.2 17 20.4
12 Quäsenbö 6.1 26 20.1
13 Dectana 7.4 14 19.6
14 Biscuit 6.5 18 18.7
15 Oh Quay 6.4 17 18.2
16 Ace Trump 6.6 14 17.5
17 Frogger 6.8 12 17.0
18 Hermit 6.4 14 16.9
19 Colour Bazaar 6.6 13 16.9
20 Double Knot 7.0 11 16.8
* * * end output * * *


The number of logged plays has crept up, but the order is mostly the same. The solitaire games, including Myrmex, have gained some ground. Unsurprisingly, the last couple of years have been prime time for solitaire.

* * * begin output * * *
game plays
1 Decktet 2109
2 Adaman 2023
3 Magnate 1872
4 Myrmex 739
5 Emu Ranchers 630
6 Bharg 595
7 Jacynth 571
8 Quäsenbö 384
9 Quincunx 250
10 Gongor Whist 249
11 Oh Quay 188
12 Thricewise 173
13 Goblin Market 142
14 Window 133
15 Biscuit 130
16 Hermit 88
17 Second Story 86
18 Head Solitaire 85
19 Aucteraden 72
20 Fifth Challenge 70
* * * end output * * *
Twitter Facebook
5 Comments
Tue Jun 28, 2022 7:33 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Game plays in 2021

P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: SpielbanyMicrobadge: Moof!Microbadge: Decktet challenge!Microbadge: Spirit Island: Branch & Claw fanMicrobadge: My pronouns are he/him
It is my tradition to round up the old year with a run down of games played, but 2021 was weird.

Cristyn and I played 135 games of Spirit Island, mostly while doing laundry.

The only other game to rise to the level of at least five plays was The Crew. After vaccination was a thing, a few of us from the Zombie Planet Friday night crowd started getting together to play board games. We've fallen into the habit of starting with a few missions of The Crew before an old favorite— but there are enough old favorites that we've only done most of them once.
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Wed Jan 19, 2022 1:53 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
14 
 Thumb up
5.00
 tip
 Hide

Game plays in 2020

P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: SpielbanyMicrobadge: Moof!Microbadge: Decktet challenge!Microbadge: Spirit Island: Branch & Claw fanMicrobadge: My pronouns are he/him
My tradition is to post a tally of my most-played games from the previous year. Not going to game night has seriously cut into that.

Moreover, illness and the general background stress of the year have meant that Cristyn and I haven't picked up a lot of different games. We've gamed mostly on laundry day, and we quickly go to what's comfortable. Spirit Island lost its grip on us briefly over the summer, but then the expansion arrived.

So here's the list of games that I played five or more times in 2020:

Spirit Island x135
Unpublished Prototype x12
Perudo x6
SWAT! x6
Sentinels of the Multiverse x6

As usual, Unpublished Prototype is the catch-all for new designs mostly by other people.

All told, I played 34 different games last year for a total of 223 plays. Not too bad, I guess?
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Wed Jan 6, 2021 9:31 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
21 
 Thumb up
5.05
 tip
 Hide

Changing of the guard

P.D. Magnus
United States
Albany
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: SpielbanyMicrobadge: Moof!Microbadge: Decktet challenge!Microbadge: Spirit Island: Branch & Claw fanMicrobadge: My pronouns are he/him
Cristyn and I have had several games that we played a lot: games that became our default game to play, that we'd play several times in a session.

The first of these was Dominion, shortly after it came out. We bought Intrigue, but didn't pick up expansions after that.

At some point, we got Race for the Galaxy and stopped playing Dominion. Race had the advantage that there wasn't as much setup for each game, so we could easily play three hands at a sitting.

Later, it was Sentinels of the Multiverse. We started using it as a laundry day game. One game of Sentinels took about as long as a load of laundry, so it filled the dead time in between sorting and served as a kind of timer.

Then we got Spirit Island, which has been our laundry day game pretty much ever since.

Evidence for this progression is my list of most-played games. Spirit Island has nearly caught up to Race for the Galaxy, but it has half as many plays as Sentinels.

Here's the current stats...

Sentinels of the Multiverse: 694 plays
Race for the Galaxy: 352 plays
Spirit Island: 348 plays
Dominion: 259 plays

Other games which we played a ton for a while include Escape: The Curse of the Temple and Altiplano, although we didn't play those to the same extent.
Twitter Facebook
10 Comments
Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:17 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [9]

Subscribe

Contributors