Like many comic book fans, we've always been fascinated by a particular part of of comic book lore - the 'Origin Story.' This story is not only an account of how a character got his or her superpowers, but also WHY they became a Hero or Villain. Peter Parker, for example, acquired Spider-like powers when he was bitten by a spider...but he didn't become Spider-Man until his Uncle Ben was shot. Bruce Wayne has access to amazing gadgets and superior training because he is rich, but he didn't start to become the Batman until his parents we're killed on a fateful night (and he also had a traumatic experience in cave full of bats!)
This multi-tiered aspect of the superhuman 'Origin Story' made game design complicated. We often asked ourselves: How do we give players superpowers without also telling them WHY they are fighting?
Let me elaborate...We wanted to create a superpower card game where you, as the player, had the superpowers of your choice. However, we also wanted to allow you (the player) to role-play as a hero or villain of your own imagination. We didn't want to force you into a particular costume or persona, or just offer you a character to play with... We just wanted to give you awesome powers!
To do so, we focused on the source of a superpower itself, as opposed to a story. ORIGINZ comes with 12 different sets of cards, thematically based on iconic superpower types. They are represented by a unique and symbol and color, and offered as 'pre-constructed' decks. Each of the 13 unique powers from each Origin is directly linked thematically to that type of power. For example, Super Strength has assaults like 'Throw a Car' and 'Swat.' Conversely, Vigilante Justice has tactics like 'Rooftop Patrol' and 'Cloaking Device.'
This may sounds simple, but it gets complicated as there can be thematic cross-over. For example, most comic fans would agree that a Power-Armor character has superior strength. To capture that feeling, Power-Armor does have a card named 'Demolish.' But we didn't feel like increased strength was by any means the core feature of a power armored character. Therefore; Power-Armor has a variety of robotic minions like 'Spy Drone' or 'Prototype A.I.', assaults based on advanced technology like 'Missile Barrage' and 'Gamma Rays', and versatile tactics like 'Flight Mode', 'Micro-Bot Repair', and 'Shields Up.'
This thematic differentiation between sets allows for really fun combinations, which offers players the opportunity to be the character they envision. If a player really wanted to create an incredibly strong Power Armored character, they could combine cards from both the Super Strength and Power Armor set. If they don't like the 'feel' of a 'Missiles Barrage', they can replace that card with a Super Strength card like 'Seismic Smash.'
While it makes sense for all Originz to have assaults and tactics; they don't all have minions. For example, Vigilante Justice could call upon a 'Trusty Sidekick' for help, and Weather Control can summon a 'Rime Giant.' But it just didn't make sense to us to include minions as part of the Super Strength or Super Speed set. Instead, they got more tactics and assaults. This is in no way unbalancing, because minions have advantages and vulnerabilities.
Origin sets also have specific mechanics and play-styles that match their theme. Dark Magic is all about discard and recursion from the stockpile. Fire control damages itself to fuel the flames. Plant Mastery has restorative powers. There is cross-over in these mechanics as well, so players can create their favorite deck...which not only matches theme they want....but also the Playstyle they enjoy.
Customization and thematic experience is also furthered with our Double-Sided Hero or Villain Ability cards. By choosing a side of the ability at the beginning of the game, players commit to their existential persona. The Heroic Ocean Mastery player creates massive maelstroms to control the combat area, while the Villainous side of the same Origin creates undertows that suffocates enemies based on the number of card-types they have in combat.
Obviously, the art had to match these ideas. Matt Ryan did a wonderful job offering us character designs that generically symbolize the power itself, instead of any particular backstory. Our Vigilante Justice character doesn't look like a Bat - he just looks like a paramilitary character with guns and gadgets. And each card focuses on the character performing an action that corresponds to that power (like a comic book panel), instead of somehow telling a portion of a particular story.
Although it was challenging, we (the collective we - playtesters included!) believe we achieved what we set out to do.
In Originz, the powers are yours to choose...and the story is yours to tell.