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Subject: Custom Environment - CATCHWATER HARBOR 1929 (with card art) rss

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Matthew Bishop
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The ninth environment in our game group's custom expansion, and the first deck from season 4. For the first time in a while I have enough of a lull to do non-Kickstarter-related art, so here we go (almost 16 months since the last deck I posted).

We're not unaware of the fact that a lot of our early environments are a bit unforgiving, so we've been trying to make some "friendlier" ones that are still interesting. This one has a bunch of little effects that don't swing too hard in either direction (other than maybe Ominous Loop). Thematically, it's a bunch of heroes stuck in the past and running around (similar to Silver Gulch).

P.S. This is not the first 1929 environment set in Cauldron's Windmill City; check out fdinamite's take as well. No poaching, I promise. Although I would play an Arkham-Horror style spinoff game if it existed...


Environment: Catchwater Harbor 1929


Anomaly (Qty: 1)
-----------------------------
Ominous Loop (Qty: 1)
- The first time a One-shot card enters the trash each turn, move it beneath this card. Cards beneath this one are not considered in play.
At the start of the environment turn, destroy this card and put all cards beneath it into play in the order they were placed there.


Transport (Qty: 3)
-----------------------------
3:10 to Overbrook (Qty: 1)
- When this card enters play, search the environment deck and trash for All Aboard and put it into play. Shuffle the environment deck and play its top card.
Travel: play the top card of each other deck in turn order, starting with the villain deck.

SS Escape (Qty: 1)
- When this card enters play, search the environment deck and trash for All Aboard and put it into play. Shuffle the environment deck and each target regains 2HP.
Travel: each player draws a card. Each villain target regains 3HP.

Unmoored Zeppelin (Qty: 1)
- When this card enters play, search the environment deck and trash for All Aboard and put it into play. Shuffle the environment deck and this card deals each target 2 projectile damage.
Travel: increase all damage dealt by 1 until the start of the next environment turn.


Other (Qty: 7)
-----------------------------
All Aboard (Qty: 1)
- This card is indestructible.
At the end of the environment turn, the players may activate the Travel text of a Transport card. If they do, destroy that card at the start of the next environment turn.

Abandoned Factory (Qty: 1)
- Whenever an ongoing or equipment card enters a hero trash pile, the villain character target with the lowest HP regains 2HP.
When a Transport card would be destroyed, you may destroy this card instead.

Left Behind (Qty: 1)
- Play this card next to the hero with the second lowest HP.
If the last villain character target is reduced to 0HP by a target other than that hero, or if that hero is incapacitated, they are stuck in the past and the heroes lose. Game over.

The Cervantes Club (Qty: 1)
- At the end of the environment turn, 1 hero character regains X HP and discards the top X cards of their deck, where X is 1, 2, or 3.
If any One-shots were discarded this way, that player discards 2 cards, then draws a card.

Altering History (Qty: 1)
- Whenever this card or any other environment card is destroyed, this card deals the 2 non-environment targets with the lowest HP 2 psychic damage each.

Radio Plaza (Qty: 1)
- Play with the top card of each deck face-up. Damage dealt to hero targets is irreducible.
At the start of the environment turn, destroy this card.

This just in… (Qty: 1)
- When this card enters play, 1 player may discard 3 cards. If no cards are discarded this way, play the top card of the villain deck.
At the end of the environment turn, destroy this card.


Civilian (Qty: 1)
-----------------------------
Frightened Onlookers (Qty: 1, HP: 3)
- Whenever a target is dealt 4 or more damage from a single source, this card deals itself 1 projectile damage.
At the start of the environment turn, 1 player may play a card.


Gangster (Qty: 2)
-----------------------------
Harkin Parish Jr. (Qty: 1, HP: 8)
- When this card enters play, the hero with the highest HP must discard a card. Each other player must discard a card that shares a keyword with that card.
At the end of the environment turn, this card deals the hero target with the highest HP (H) melee damage.

Smooth Criminal (Qty: 1, HP: 4)
- Reduce damage dealt to Gangsters by 1.
At the end of the environment turn, this card deals each hero target X projectile damage, where X is 1 plus the number of Transports in play.


Structure (Qty: 1)
-----------------------------
Harbor Crane (Qty: 1, HP: 5)
- Whenever this card is dealt damage by a target, move it next to that target.
Increase damage dealt by the target next to this card by 1.
When this card is destroyed, it deals the target next to it 5 melee damage.



EDIT: transports now search for All Aboard, and traveling destroys transports.
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Matthew Bishop
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Some notes on how it's intended to play:
- Coming eventually.
 
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Tyler Montgomery
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I can't wait to try it!

I thought you were done making expansions, so I'm SUPER excited to see new material, and mention of a 4th season of releases. I can't wait to see what else you have in the works!
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Michael Hunter
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Harbor Crane looks very fun!
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Take Walker
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A new Cauldron environment? Oh my god!

tosx wrote:
We're not unaware of the fact that a lot of our early environments are a bit unforgiving, so we've been trying to make some "friendlier" ones that are still interesting.

With minor exception (Northspar and the Cybersphere), I am not a big fan of Cauldron's environments. When you have to divert all attention to combat the environment for rounds on end (a chemical trigger showing up in Halberd, pretty much anything happening in St. Simeon's), the game quickly spirals out of control against the heroes. Super-helpful environments like Freedom Tower should definitely be sparingly designed, but I'm of the mind that an environment should be ignorable for the most part until that one or two really nasty card -- your Char, your Immutus, your Lost in Time/Propulsion Systems/Self-Destruct Sequence -- shows up, and then you spend a round dealing with it, letting the villain get some build-up. So do keep that in mind as I comment on this deck.

That said, I am excited about this, not least because the 1929 setting has been a solid addition to Cauldron so far.

tosx wrote:
Ominous Loop (Qty: 1)
- The first time a One-shot card enters the trash each turn, move it beneath this card. Cards beneath this one are not considered in play.
At the start of the environment turn, destroy this card and put all cards beneath it into play in the order they were placed there.

Ripe for abuse (I'll play this card and get it again later!), but this is awesome. Considerably more interesting than your average Slamara-type round of card plays, too.

tosx wrote:
All Aboard (Qty: 1)
- This card is indestructible. When this card enters play, play the top card of the environment deck.
At the end of the environment turn, the players may activate the Travel text of a Transport card. If they do, they may destroy that card at the start of the next environment turn.

Remembering the card destruction might be a little tough. Why make it next turn instead of right then? The only one with an ongoing effect is the zeppelin, and that can be marked with tokens for a round.

tosx wrote:
Left Behind (Qty: 1)
- Play this card next to the hero with the second lowest HP.
If the last villain character target is reduced to 0HP by a target other than that hero, or if that hero is incapacitated, they are stuck in the past and the heroes lose. Game over.

An interesting take on Lost in the Past. Easy to get rid of with environment destruction, otherwise decently easy to play around, if my experiences unlocking achievements on the digital game are anything to go by.

tosx wrote:
The Cervantes Club (Qty: 1)
- At the end of the environment turn, 1 hero character regains X HP and discards the top X cards of their deck, where X is 1, 2, or 3.
If any One-shots were discarded this way, that player discards 2 cards, then draws a card.

Confusing at first, but I see the tradeoff. There's no way to give this a pass though, right? You're discarding at least 1 card this way.

tosx wrote:
Radio Plaza (Qty: 1)
- Play with the top card of each deck face-up. Damage dealt to hero targets is irreducible.
At the start of the environment turn, destroy this card.

Not the first deck I've seen this effect in, but I see how it's also beneficial, if only with the Cervantes Club.

tosx wrote:
Frightened Onlookers (Qty: 1, HP: 3)
- Whenever a target is dealt 4 or more damage from a single source, this card deals itself 1 projectile damage.
At the start of the environment turn, 1 player may play a card.

So they're shooting themselves in fright because the heroes are causing a ruckus? c.c

tosx wrote:
Smooth Criminal (Qty: 1, HP: 4)
- Reduce damage dealt to Gangsters by 1.
At the end of the environment turn, this card deals each hero target X projectile damage, where X is 1 plus the number of Transports in play.

This can get up to 4 damage to the heroes! D: They've got a way to potentially mitigate the damage, but that's worse even than the Hired Gun with the Contract out, and he's got DR. My suggestion would be to follow the example of Rook City's Ambitious Racketeer, either hitting a fixed number of you-select-'em targets, or maybe the (H) lowest?

tosx wrote:
Harbor Crane (Qty: 1, HP: 5)
- Whenever this card is dealt damage by a target, move it next to that target.
Increase damage dealt by the target next to this card by 1.
When this card is destroyed, it deals the target next to it 5 melee damage.

That's devious and I like it.
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Matthew Bishop
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Thanks for the feedback.

TakeWalker wrote:
I'm of the mind that an environment should be ignorable for the most part
I can understand this. Not quite our view; we want the environment to matter and cause plans to change, but we don't want it to decide the game or steal the spotlight.

TakeWalker wrote:
Ripe for abuse
That's been the concern, although it's been suprisingly hard to do anything too crazy with it in our experience. I'm (almost) more worried about it looping some horrendous villain one-shot, although if it did you'd still have a full round to prep for it.

TakeWalker wrote:
Remembering the card destruction might be a little tough.
So far in our tests traveling actually happens pretty rarely, and when it does it hasn't been too difficult because it's likely that you're traveling specifically to destroy something. Besides not wanting to use tokens for the zeppelin, thematically I like the "arriving at your destination" feeling.

TakeWalker wrote:
There's no way to give this a pass though, right? You're discarding at least 1 card this way.
Someone has to discard at least 1 from their deck.

TakeWalker wrote:
So they're shooting themselves in fright because the heroes are causing a ruckus?
The idea is they're being hit by debris if big explosions are going off or bits of Omnitron are going flying.

TakeWalker wrote:
This can get up to 4 damage to the heroes!
Yes, but it takes a lot of cards to happen, and you'll be able to see it (potentially) coming a ways off, and (unless you never see All Aboard and have no destruction) likely mitigate it.
 
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Joseph Robertson
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tosx wrote:
That's been the concern, although it's been suprisingly hard to do anything too crazy with it in our experience. I'm (almost) more worried about it looping some horrendous villain one-shot, although if it did you'd still have a full round to prep for it.

And unless it’s Vector or similar sneaking a play in you could always just destroy the loop before it goes off. It’s basically a single very selective villain play that’s broadcast ahead of time. My main thought for loop abuse is searchers and/or free plays, Wraith being the crowning example. Or using Combat Pragmatism to resolve one of Titan’s one-shot’s before the villain can resolve his. Overall I’d say it’s a card that heavily favors the Heroes, but in a fun manner. Also the sort of card you carefully work to the top of the deck and might even hold back plays if you know it’s upcoming.
tosx wrote:
TakeWalker wrote:
So they're shooting themselves in fright because the heroes are causing a ruckus?
The idea is they're being hit by debris if big explosions are going off or bits of Omnitron are going flying.

Maybe make it match damage type?
 
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Rob Brown
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Well, now it's possible to play a party of 1929 heroes against a 1929 villain in 1929. That's going to be fun.

I think my favorite part of the environment is Left Behind; really cool mechanic/thematic tie. (If you want to try adding a little teeth to the environment, you could consider making it indestructible).


Glad to have a new season; think you can finish before OblivAeon ships? whistle
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Matthew Bishop
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Probably not if the deck list keeps growing the way it has been whistle

I thought about making Left Behind indestructible, but
tosx wrote:
we've been trying to make some "friendlier" environments
decided not to. There's enough other non-target cards you would probably waste your destruction on, so I imagine it will often stick around long enough to influence things at least a smidge.

Joebobjoe wrote:
Maybe make it match damage type?

I made it projectile to convey the "flying debris" feeling, which to me feels appropriate. I am changing Harkin Parish's damage to melee though.
 
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Jonathan Richardson
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Love the HP symbol you used. And am I wrong or is that a man by name of Paul Parsons in the art and flavor text of Frightened Onlookers?

A little surprised that there aren't more cards dealing with Travel text.
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Matthew Bishop
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It is. I figured the timeline's about right for a younger Greatest Legacy, among others. Although I have alternate explanations in mind if the official timeline ever explicitly contradicts.

Over 25% of the deck does deal with travel text, but I didn't want to force it too much.
 
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Kevin Bishop
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Random question that I could ask Matthew in person, but then I'd never get excuses to post here: is the thematic issue with Onlookers that it feels weird when they damage themselves? And if so, could the damage just come from some other source (the environment deck, the thing that dealt 4, etc)?
 
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Rob Brown
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Could also use psychic damage for mental fear/scarring, if the goal is to represent "This is too much for me; I'm gettin' outta here"



Also kinda want a Paul Parsons: 1929 variant now. That's a good look for Legacy.
 
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Geoff B.
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Looking at the cards, there are several locations and several travel cards, that are cool but seem to have a lot going on for little impact.

I believe Factory and Smooth Criminal are the only reason to destroy travel cards, so that is a lot of text for interactions that might never occur.

Suggestions for potential changes:

1. Ditch the + card play on all aboard, have the transport cards search for it if it isn't in play.

2. Make locations destroyable by travelling, like the factory.

I think that gives a nice feel to the travelling around theme.
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Matthew Bishop
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I was consciously trying to avoid forcing All Aboard into play each game, which is why the transports all do something without it. That said, we've only had the option to travel maybe twice in our tests so far, which is a little sad.

I could see replacing All Aboard's play with a search-and-play on the transports (although it does turn All Aboard itself into a dead turn, whereas currently the deck avoids dead turns).

The only other location that sticks around and thus might be "travel destructable" would be the club, and in general I'd prefer to force players to deal with it than skip it. There's a couple villains who provide compelling reasons to keep down the environment count, and as mentioned Smooth Criminal provides that as well

I'll keep the search change in mind for our next test.
 
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Take Walker
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I tried it out, and pretty much all of my questions were answered in-game.



The only way Smooth Criminal is going to be a real problem is the rare occasion where you've got two Transports in play, the 3:10 comes out and it plays her. Then it's "oh crap, we got creamed that round, kill her now!"

I still think you could change All Aboard's destruction clause. It might tone the flavor down, but why not make it "At the start of the environment turn, you may destroy a Transport"? Or have the Transports destroy themselves when you activate the Travel text? Given that it's one very memorable card in the deck, it probably isn't that big a deal to leave it as-is.

Minor suggestions: The Onlookers could just be dealt 1 damage on the trigger, i.e., by the environment. I'm sure there's some weird interaction that could occur from them self-damaging. This could also be the same for Altering History, just have the damage unsourced, since that's a common wording for environment damage.

But as it is? I think this environment is great. Lots of fun, did not abuse Ominous Loop, did abuse the Crane.
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Roy W.
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I hate to nitpick but it's what I do. The flavor text for Smooth Criminal uses the name "Decker". Isn't Baccarat's name "Deckard"?

Also, is this some sort of Michael Jackson reference? Smooth Criminal was one of his songs and Harkin Parish is wearing an outfit very similar to the one Jackson wore in the music video. Also, the stance the lady has is similar to what Jackson did in the video. Maybe I'm just losing my mind.

That being said, looks awesome. Thanks for all the hard work.
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Matthew Bishop
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Roadkil100 wrote:
Isn't Baccarat's name "Deckard"?
I love proofreaders.

It wasn't an intentional MJ reference, but now I see it and chuckle.

All Aboard's destruction gives another reason to actually use the travel texts; making it passive would be against intent. And I don't want to lock out shenanigans by making each transport only one-time-use.

I'm not a huge fan of the completely unsourced damage, despite it being official, and I think we've avoided it so far. There are always possible shenanigans but the Onlookers don't punish you for them, so they don't worry me. The main point of concern with that card is just whether "remember to check all damage amounts against Onlookers' threshold" is a pain, but it's still nowhere near as bad as Kaargra.
 
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Michael Hunter
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For the onlookers, thematically it could be dealing themselves psychic damage (they get scared by all the carnage)?



Regarding to Travel cards, it does read oddly at first glance they have this whole effect that is not especially likely to come up, I can see several games going by where it never matters, it's just sitting there taunting us with this cool thing that it might do but never actually does.

As an idea, you could tag some of the "Other" cards as "Locations" (the ones that are places such as Radio Plaza or Abandoned Factory, not the abstract ones like Altering History or This Just In). Then the Transport cards could say "When a location card is played, trigger the whatever effect" - the idea being that you're taking the Zeppelin/boat/train to the new place. As it's just triggering off a keyword, you could put the wordiness on the Transport cards, rather than on each of the other cards that triggers it.
 
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Matthew Bishop
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The travel text was inspired by the LotR gcard game (which I played for the first time right before designing this); it works pretty much as intended, perhaps excepting frequency. But Phantaskippy's search suggestion would fix that, and would be the most likely change.

Having each transport do something when locations enter play is both a lot more generic, and would cause them all to trip (unless you limited transports in play).
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Michael Hunter
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Gave this a go.

It's fairly unobtrusive/not quite as homicidal as the other Cauldron environments, which I believe was the design, so well played there!

Cervantes club is a fun little push your luck game, although discard 2 draw 1 isn't THAT bad so it was a fairly steady source of HP for some. We had to play carefully around the Frightened Onlookers, which was thematic although eventually we just had to let them die. Harkin's card discard was interesting, there was a lot of tactics in us all agreeing on what card type to lose. Harbor Crane was pretty great. I was worried that against a villain who doesn't destroy environment cards it'd just be a free +1 damage, but it really makes you think about all those Severe Hailstorms and Demoralization's you usually take for granted.

Conversely the transport cards seemed a bit so-so. They all have okay entering play effects (3:10 to Rook City's is a bit dull, the other two are fine), but then they seem kind of incomplete... In two games we never got All Aboard so they were just taking up space, and in the game when we did... it gave us an option that we didn't really want to use - the Travel on SS Escape city wasn't very attractive, 3:10 to rook city is a tough one to calculate - we ended up doing it more because it seemed fun than smart. In fairness the Zeppelin's travel effect could be good if you time it right, but we never got it at the same time as All Aboard.

It's not unbalanced or bad gameplay or anything, it just feels somehow unsatisfying. The Train sits there for four turns doing nothing, and then finally, we get the 1/15 chance that lets it actually matter, and all that means is we get an option to do something we often don't want to do. Feels unexciting to us. Perhaps if the effect were stronger so we were happy we got All Aboard and the opportunity, or if the Travel effect were compulsory, so instead of "Do we want to do this thing? No. Lets continue doing whatever it was we were doing." it's "Oh no, this crazy thing is happening, whatever shall we do?".

Only had a few playtests, though, so grain of salt required.
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Matthew Bishop
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Adelphophage wrote:
Conversely the transport cards seemed a bit so-so. They all have okay entering play effects (3:10 to Rook City's is a bit dull, the other two are fine), but then they seem kind of incomplete...
Thanks for another data point. Seeing effects that you then don't do anything with does usually feel bad. While the idea was that even if the travel texts were removed, the environment would still be just fine, I am leaning heavily toward testing Phantaskippy's search suggestion, to up the interaction/"completeness".

Also, plan to test bobbertoriley322's suggestion of making Left Behind indestructible, because it really is pretty benign, and I doubt it would feel too in-the-way.

It may be a while before images are updated/uploaded, since other environments are currently at the top of the testing ladder.
 
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Rob Brown
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I'd love to see Left Behind as indestructible, but totally understand if it doesn't make the cut.

I tend to be a sucker for alternate lose conditions in environments, because it gives you something to work around that's a bit more interesting. Lost in the Past, Self Destruct Sequence, The giant Monolith that is Teryx.

The downside is if someone has a "Destroy an environment card", that alternate condition is mitigated without much effort.

Also, Left Behind is one of those conditions that isn't just "If you don't stop it in <X> turns, Game Over.", so it's an interesting twist.
 
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PathofChaos
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Wow the art for these cards is amazing! How'd you do it?
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Michael Hunter
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Phantaskippy's idea was to have All Aboard search for a random travel card rather than just the top card of the deck, right?
 
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