Plaid Hat Tech and Games

Updates and musings about what I'm working on at Plaid Hat Games.
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Familiar Tales launches! And more on SW balance

Joseph Arthur Ellis
United States
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Microbadge: Summoner Wars fanMicrobadge: Defcon StatusMicrobadge: RaxxonMicrobadge: Ra fanMicrobadge: Star Wars: Rebellion fan
Welcome back to the Plaid Hat Tech and Games blog! Still catching my breath from our big pre-order launch yesterday, and I have some updates for you on Summoner Wars Online.

Familiar Tales

Yesterday, we launched our pre-order for Familiar Tales! It's been going well so far, and we have a wealth of content coming, a stream from us, a how to play video, and a couple preview videos from some talented creators.

If you don't know much about Jerry Hawthorne, he's our in-house master designer, who created the mega-hits Mice and Mystics and Stuffed Fables. He's an incredible storyteller and I've never been more excited for one of his games. The fantasy world it is in is great, and the mechanics Jerry landed on for taking and resolving actions is just a blast.

I've gotten to work on the app for the game, which will work much like the app for our game Forgotten Waters - mostly delivering narrative moments with full, professional voiceover, with a couple other quality-of-life functions. But this time around, I'm adding Windows and Mac clients in addition to the web site, plus in-app tutorial/setup/rules, and we're doing some really cool stuff with music that's not out of the ordinary for big-budget video games but might be unheard of in board games.

If you traditionally dislike apps in board games, I implore you to try out Forgotten Waters and Familiar Tales. In my (not so?) humble opinion, we've created a model for how to enhance a game experience without intruding on the actual on-the-table experience. Frankly, the Forgotten Waters app couldn't be simpler - it's quite a small bit of code - yet it's regularly called out as the best app ever in a board game. It's not how much it does, it's how it affects the board game experience.

Please check out our pre-order site at and consider supporting the game, or at least signing up for our newsletter so you get notified of new preview content as it arrives!

Summoner Wars - Potential Near-Term Updates

As I wrap up work with Familiar Tales, I'll be at some point moving back to Summoner Wars Online. So excited to finish taht and release it on Steam, which will also infinitely improve the web version.

But, before diving into those larger tasks in SWO, there are a couple things I'm considering doing in the short-term to improve everyone's experience.

The first is simple - eliminating 1 or 2 options for game length. We don't have enough users as of now to fill out all these out, and the 45-minute timer is not great anyway until I have a better system for seeing if somone is online, or intruding on your device more to bug you about your turn. The question is, stick with 3-day and 14-day, or just go to 3-day only? Let me know your opinion below.

I read through all your opinions regarding post-release fixes and balancing the meta, and I appreciate all the thoughts. We may consider some of these more elaborate plans in the future, but for now, Colby came up with an idea that I'm eager to try out as an experiment, that is the simplest idea yet. Here's the pitch (this would only affect base deck games by the way):

Every matchup has a rating. Let's say that Vanguards vs Savanna Elves is rated Vanguards+3. This would mean that, at the end of each of the Vanguard player's first 3 turns, that player gains 1 magic. These ratings are updated every 2 or 3 weeks on a schedule automatically, based on the results of previous games played. A matchup that's even does not change. A matchup that is lopsided gains +1 for the faction on the short end of that stick. Besides being implemented automatically in Summoner Wars Online multiplayer games, there is a dedicated web page where these ratings are automatically kept up to date. So whether you are playing online or in person, it's easy to implement - not just for English but for all languages.*

The pros of this strategy are: Easy to implement, flexible, keeps the digital and analog versions of the game in-sync, and is pretty clean and easy to understand. The cons are, it doesn't affect custom deck games, it doesn't allow us to fix particular problematic cards, and it leaves (for now) some of the tantalizing possibilities of experimenting with cards and deckbuilding symbols on the table.

Anyway, would love to hear your thoughts below, but it is likely I'm going to try out some version of this system in the near future - it's not necessarily permanent but the idea has a lot of merit, and since it's super-easy to implement, some version of it will at least be tried out temporarily. So I'm open to hearing if you hate the idea, but what is more helpful if how you would implement this particular idea.

*A lot of people were wondering in the last post why I had said I'd like to keep changes to numbers only, not text. Foreign partner versions are a big reason why. Once you get into localization and translation, every change to text becomes a daunting task to pull off without error or without getting versions out of sync.

I think that's enough for today! I don't have a big game design thought for you, I'm deep in the coding! Thanks for reading!
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