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Omen: A Reign of War» Forums » General

Subject: Omen - A Developer Diary rss

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Travis R. Chance
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One of the very first questions I was asked by my partners at Kolossal Games was, “if you could get the rights to any games, which games would they be?” And without so much as a single moment of hesitation and/or contemplation, I replied, “Omen!” Not only were we able to obtain the rights to the Omen games, we were able to secure an ongoing working relationship with John Clowdus, who, in my humble opinion, is a legend at what he does.

My love for this game is no secret amongst my gaming friends. As a lifelong player of competitive card games like Magic: The Gathering and Android: Netrunner, Omen simply ticks all the right boxes. It manages to capture the spirit of these far more expensive and often lifestyle indulgent types of games with few components, a single purchase, and in a fraction of the time. For years I kept a copy in my glove box. When my time was scarce prior to the birth of my child, I would play two handed, drooling over the art. It’s simple really: the game is just awesome!

But what does that mean exactly: “awesome?” As a developer, there are certain words and terms that perk my ears when playing a game. For example, if the nicest thing someone can say about a game is that it is “interesting,” I take this as “it contains neat ideas, but is not necessarily fun.” For me, "awesome,” while being a culturally overused term (esp. here in the US), has an inkling of emotion. Emotion is what I seek most in games. Emotions mean the players care, they are invested, are present. I have thrown my hat across the room before, shouting, “NO” when considering a game. I also signed that very game--which John happened to design, too. Emotions are often an important component of memories. One of my goals in this line of work is to do just that: create meaningful moments, memories upon which people call when they hear the very name of a game they have played.

Omen does all this and then some. Firstly, the thematic stage is bold. We are the children of Zeus in a contest of wits, the very cities of Greece merely the playing board for our struggles. The gods themselves will bless us with their powers as a reward for razing cities. To do so we command soldiers, beasts, oracles, and heroes, each with unique powers. If you’re not at least curious, then read on!

The game, in itself, is quite simple. Players will draw cards and/or gain coins. Next, they will deploy units, laying waste to rival units, garnering gifts in the form of cards, information, coins, and lastly hoping to initiate a war they can win. There’s a conflict resolution step. There’s an interesting offering mechanic which allows players to navigate their needs for the aforementioned cards and coins. But none of this is what makes Omen special. It’s the decisions within those steps, the variety, the tension. It’s the emotions that translate the epic story unfolding as each city is slowly ravaged, each player becoming more godlike in the process. It’s the shifting priorities of feats, wars, and managing units from a single shared deck--that’s right ONE deck, not individual decks. It’s the fact that the game has a modicum of luck, like many of the competitive games that inspired its design, but that your cards do so so so much more in this game. They fight to the death, they have incredible powers, their types correlate to feats, they combo with one another in innumerable ways, they can be offered… The game is just awesome. There are no other words.

It’s no surprise that when working on a new edition of the content, we wanted to maintain all of these aspects while elevating it at the same time. Painstaking consideration went into every decision for how to approach any necessary changes. There are many fans of the game out there. We wanted to respect their support of the game while offering them something slightly more robust in presentation. After all, our goal is to help bring Omen to a larger audience. If there is a game that deserves such an opportunity, especially after 5 years of precedent and success. I won’t go into all the details here regarding components, but will happily touch upon two core amendments to game play.

Omen is an epic game, one of conquest and conflict. John captured this well with primarily cards, there is no doubt. Kolossal’s goal was to visually reinforce this feeling with components. The cities will now be on a single board. This helps direct play, allows for more incredible art, and is home for our first revision. What was once Reward cards are no Reward tiles. They add a bit of dimension the cities as each one is slowly diminished through war. Atop these tiles sits a status marker to denote whether a city is peaceful or war-torn. This creates a more clear and directed means to check for wars each round.



Now, there is a change to game play with Reward tiles, as they no longer will be cards in your hand. The notion was to simplify rules in tandem with improving presentation. Since Reward cards could not be discarded like other cards, but also counted against hand size, turning them to tiles was just a simpler solution. Their function and use is entirely the same. They even have a convenient victory point reminder on each side to help with end game scoring.

The next change we made was to clean up verbiage within the game. We created a number of keyword terms to simplify language and allow more room to show off artwork. The reference cards for each game sports these terms for a quick reminder. An example of this is the new keyword COLOSSAL, which means a unit that counts as two units instead of one--formerly known as beasts. Units are no longer played, they are deployed. Phases are listed in bold to make card abilities less lengthy. Cards that are worth points end of game when in hand, like heroes, have the keyword TREASURED. Overall, this changes little to nothing with how card effects work and ultimately is a page we have taken directly from the likes of popular competitive games like Magic.



Beyond this, Omen: A Reign of War, Omen: Edge of the Aegean, and the many small expansion materials and modules like Whims and Challenges remain untouched. In addition to these releases, we will be widely releasing Omen: A Reign of War – Tales of the Ancients, which was on Drive Thru Cards only for a brief period of time, and the all-new Omen: Fires in the East, a standalone expansion like Edge of the Aegean set in Persia--this is the first journey to cultures outside Greek for Omen, with many more exciting stops ahead: feudal Japan, Vikings, etc. We also will see some new artwork from original Omen artist Michael "Riiven" Ng!



Working with John has been equally as awesome. He’s a true artist at his craft and really has given me insight into his extremely elegant process of design. I feel strongly we have not only become a great designer/developer team, but also very good friends in the process. I could not have imagined a better outcome for all parties involved.

That’s it for this post. The Omen campaign launch is coming in April. We cannot wait to see fans new and old join us in our excitement to bring this awesome title to gamers worldwide.
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Justin Rizzo
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Looks and sounds great all around! Can't wait.

The only note I would offer, is the coloring of the Cost/Strength/Offering-Value is too bright and and "cartoony". It clashes with the serious tones of the cards. I personally prefer the older, darker tones. Even the tones i the card type bar. They just look to pokemon-ish for me show above.

I hope that doens't come off as too negative, especially after the great update post. I personally can't wait, instant back at the highest level.
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Serious? Lee
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Yes! This game certainly deserves a wider audience. It's awesome!

Oh! And you know what else would be awesome? Bring back the flavor text descriptors from 2nd ed. I loved those.
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Caio Corrêa
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I love (almost) everything I'm seeing from the new edition so far, the keywords are a great idea (more art is always awesome), and the war torn tokens are something we've improvised for long. I just don't know how I feel about changing rewards to tiles...

Knowing you'll also release Tales of the Ancients along all the other content (which I already own), just sealed the deal for me to get this kickstarter... Just hoping for a sane shipping cost
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j clowdus
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Kolossal has really done a fantastic job with this upcoming release of Omen. The team *loves* Omen.
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Christian K
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Looking forward to going all in this game is just great.
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Gold Sirius
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Hmm.

Everything looks pretty good, save a few things.

The new Spirit templating is pretty bad. The original design, with 'choose one', either the box on the left or the box on the right is MUCH more appealing.

I get that you're trying to 'simplify', but really, a simple text box with OR at the the beginning of the new sentence looks amateurish and a step back.

A few other random thoughts,
We don't really like Edge of the Aegean because it feels so different than core OMEN and we felt like there was less strategy involved. Something's off about it.

Hopefully new expansions are more similar in flow to A reign of War than Edge of the Aegean.

It's great that the original artist will be back, because cards like Blinded Visionary, Soul Gazer, Decaying Hoplite and Death Mender feel so radically out of place in Riiven's artistic vision.

Zeus's challenges are a great expansion, because they are essentially an extension of Feats.

However, Relics are never taken in our games, even if we make them available, because we feel like they are not worth it most the time.

Whims are even worse, we just don't use them as we don't see the point.

Anyway, I love OMEN, and really the only thing that kind of bugs me at this point is the way the new Spirit cards look like.

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j clowdus
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Thanks for your feedback!

I've got a lot of info coming soon about Fires in the East, as well as Edge of the Aegean. Sorry your group doesn't like that one as much.

Personally, I think combining Fires in the East with Edge of the Aegean (with a few extras added in and some slightly different rules - again, more on that soon) makes for a really fantastic Omen experience. Better than the original? I can't say for sure (after playing hundreds of games of Omen over the past seven years, it might be. It's super fresh, especially if you're an Omen vet). But, if you like the combo/choice/wow-neat! aspect of Omen, it's pretty incredible.

Zeus' Challenges and Relics have been slightly updated to make them easier to incorporate into the game (regardless of how you play it). Hopefully you'll find them even more appealing.

I think the Whims are pretty great. But, I can totally see how you wouldn't like them. They're the start player training wheels that most new players think belong. If you've been playing for years, yeah, they may not be your cup of tea. But, the good news is, they're completely optional. If you don't like them, you don't have to include them.

With the number of unique illustrations in Omen, and the seven years that have passed since the game was originally published, it's completely reasonable that different artists have been used. If you take the illustrations as a whole, I don't think anything feels out of place.
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cory peacock
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I am so excited for this new version. I already own the 2nd and the Omega edition and will happily back the newest version (prob give my previous editions to friends at work to spread the love).

Quick question for Travis. I seem to recall seeing a post listing all the Kickstarters you are planning for 2018, but despite earnest efforts, I can not locate it. Can you point me in the right direction?
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Mark Burke (The Chubby Meeple)
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There’s a great rundown of what’s planned for 2018 here:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/72699/kolossal-games-...
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cory peacock
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bloominoctober wrote:
There’s a great rundown of what’s planned for 2018 here:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/72699/kolossal-games-...


Thanks!!
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