This page contains weekly updates from Cameron Allaer as he works towards making BOS. Stop in every Friday at 12PM EST.
October 30, 2021 - Youmacon and Rules Update
Hello everyone! I bring exciting news! I will be attending Youmacon tomorrow, and bringing BOS with me. I'll be updating the site's banner to show when I'm in the Tabletop Gaming room , so anyone can see when I'm there. Hope to see you!
Beta testing has been going incredibly well, and a rule change has been implemented that has received only positive feedback. It is the inclusion of Ether, which you can find on the Starter Guide. I'll have to update the detailed guide later, but right now I am trying to get to bed lol. This change has been in the works for a very long time, and it makes the curve of BOS feel a lot smoother. It increases variety as well, which is always a bonus.
Well, that's all for now. Hopefully I can have something more concrete very soon. Talk to you all as soon as I have an update for you!
October 4, 2021 - Beta Testing Begins!
Sorry for not updating on Friday, but I have some exciting news! I am in contact with some professional Magic the Gathering players, and I will be getting feedback from them on the game! I have already done two sessions with them, and its been going very well. While I can't necessarily say what feedback I'm getting just yet, I do want to say that I have been getting a lot of great constructive criticism. I will likely be updating my FAQ page once these rounds of initial thoughts are complete. BOS will come out more polished than ever after these sessions are done!
I have also finalized the set of cards that will be in the beta test, so I will be ordering the beta cards for my testers as soon as I receive my last test batch. The three/four month timer to release starts when those cards are put in the hands of my testers. This is it!
(Also, I've made some minor improvements to the starter guide and home page. Just some rewording or clarification, no rule changes)
September 24, 2021 - Minor Site and Card Updates
As you can see, the background color has changed once again! With Google Site's introduction of custom themes, I am now able to easily change the background color to a better color. It's so satisfying! Of course, if you have any feedback on this, please let me know.
Also, the How to Play page has been updated once again, this time with some clarifications in the Starter Guide, as well as a separation of the Starter Guide and the Detailed Guide to make it more clear to players. The toolbar at the top of the page has also been updated to include direct links to individual pages within the Detailed Guide.
I am still working on the cards mentioned in the previous post. I can't give too much away, but I would like to show you a few cards that have been really fun to mess around with. Note that these cards are still in development, so you may or may not see them in the final release.
Type: Red Boss
Condition: If an opponent controls one or less summons.
Ability: During your main phase, pay 3 vim and act: Defeat a summon.
Type: Yellow Wizard
Ability: When this is used to conduct a summon-> It gains 1 strength, then you take 3 damage.
Type: Blue Summon
Condition: Summon using any blue wizard.
Ability: When this is summoned: Pay any amount of vim. When this is defeated: Deal damage to a summon equal to the amount you paid.
September 17, 2021 - Timmy, Johnny, and Spike
Have you heard of these guys? They are the three fundamental player types. Each describes a way a player enjoys the card game, but in all honesty, it could be applied to almost any game. They are concepts created by Mike Rosewater at Magic the Gathering, and his original article is really interesting. Give that a read before continuing: Timmy, Johnny, and Spike | MAGIC: THE GATHERING (wizards.com)
You might quickly realize then, as soon as you're finished reading this article, that the colors are designed for each of the three player types. Red is for Spike, yellow is for Timmy, and blue is for Johnny.
Red has some very powerful aggression early on in the game. It is very likely that red will be leading the game's meta for a long time, and spike players will naturally be attracted to it. However, that doesn't mean that red will be the "true deck" that every player will be forced to play. On the contrary, red will eventually be left in the dust of the progression of other decks. Blue will lead the development of the meta, slowly pushing itself to higher and higher heights, until eventually it will become the deck to beat, rather than red. So where does that leave yellow? Yellow will be the grounding force that keeps the meta in check. Commit too hard to beat blue? Yellow crushes you. Commit too hard to beat red? Yellow crushes you. These three decks will form a checks-and-balance system to keep all decks relevant.
What makes this triangle really great though, is that players will be able to continue expressing the way they want to play while at the same time progressing the meta forward. Spikes will be searching for the optimal red combination to beat every other deck. Johnnys will be developing counterplay to every matchup they lose to, tuning their deck further and further. Timmys will destroy weaklings with big monsters.
To push this concept *even further*, players are not locked into their color based on their identity. There is a likely future where a Johnny picks up a yellow deck and optimizes it, or a spike grabbing a blue deck that has been dominating their locals. While the colors are very clearly designed to support one primary style, there are plenty of ways for every type of player to enjoy their color.
This leads me to my final point. I'd like to make some new cards during this beta test and see how the players take it. The players whose identities match their color should all love the new cards, and feel like they have a lot of options when it comes to what they want to play. I currently have some awesome ideas for these cards, and a general guideline for how many cards I want in each color to support their main identity.
September 10, 2021 - A few updates
As I approach the final few months of development, I'm probably not going to be posting much about card changes. Rather, I'll be keeping you up to date with all of the backside things I'm working on. This week, I've:
Contacted a web developer
Ordered cards from a new service to test quality
Gathered my team of beta testers
I'll go ahead and go into detail with what each of these means in just a second, but first I want to say thank you to everyone who is beta testing the game. Without you all, I wouldn't be able to finish the game. And hey, while we're talking about groups of people I couldn't have made the game without, how about my artists?? They are so amazing, please go check out the card list if you haven't already. They're all so good.
During my talks with the web developer, I told him detailed information about what I wanted for the site (including my super-secret plans that nobody knows about yet). Me and him have known each other for a long time now, so he knows how passionate I am about this project. He is going to take it very seriously, but will also be putting his own passion into it, just like my artists.
New cards are on the way to my home! I've ordered a full playset copy of blue, and it cost less than half of the normal price for the website I typically use. If the quality of the cards is high enough, I'll be using that site as my main method of purchasing cards until the company is larger.
Finally, my beautiful team of beta testers! I have 8 players. 2 playing red, 3 playing yellow, and 3 playing blue. I'm lucky enough to say I have a set of very strong players coming together for this. With exactly 8 players, I may be able to host a tournament between them!
September 3, 2021 - The final push begins
BOS has been in development for 9 long years, with the most recent 5 being the time period where I took it the most seriously. During these last 5 years, I've spent more time playing BOS than I have eating lol, and now its finally ready for the final set of tests.
I will be hosting a private beta test among some of the best players in the world to push the game to its absolute limits. Every day for 2 months, I will get on a video call with one of these players and play the game with them in a best of 3. I'll be recording the quantitative and qualitative results of these 2 months in high detail so I can ensure that everything is up to par. Then, at the end of those 2 months, the game's testing will be complete.
Unless something goes horribly wrong, and one of the players finds an absolutely broken strategy, I will be releasing the game with the cards I currently have now. We, as a team, will be researching these cards for 2 months, so I am positive that we can find tactics to get around whatever strong strategies are found.
Once the 2 months is done, and I have confirmed that all of the cards are in their final state, I will commission artists to finish out the remainder of the artwork for the first release. The final artwork should be complete in around 1 month. During this waiting period, I won't stop working on BOS. I will be contacting card shops in Florida and attempting to create deals with them. I'll also be contacting my lawyer to confirm everything is set up for the initial release. Finally, I'll be looking into printing alternatives to the one I am currently using, because the one I am using now has not been great for me.
So, my current plan is to have the game released to the public in 3 months. During this time, I will also be contacting a web developer I know to help finish out the website and hopefully add functionality such as an online shop, player accounts, tournament organizer accounts, an official player leaderboard, and color statistics. All of those features are up in the air right now, so I am unsure of where they will go or if they will be added at all. I guess we'll have to see. However, two things coming to the site are guaranteed. The first is the card list! It will have all the information about the card you could ever want, plus common questions and answers, plus lore. The second is the How-To-Play video! Its development is going well, with the script nearly finished.
Finally, the media. I already have a script planned out for a game trailer, and I am hoping to play this trailer as a Youtube ad, as well as having it on the home page of the site. I will also be advertising to Reddit when the game is released, so expect to see those! On top of all of this, I hope to personally stream BOS gameplay often, attending tournaments and going around the country sharing the game with people, as well as uploading BOS-related things to the Youtube channel.
2 months of beta testing
1 month of artwork after beta testing is complete
Making deals with card shops
Finding the optimal printing service
Hiring web developer
Finishing card list
Creating how to play video
Creating game trailer
Optimizing Reddit ads
Creating Youtube content
This list is puny compared to the work I've already put in. I am so excited for this, my dreams are finally within my grasp!
August 30, 2021 - A quick update, but progress is being made!
It is very difficult for me to release new dev blogs on time, since I am always at work on Friday at 12PM EST lol. So, I'm going to have to reschedule these releases. However, I wanted to bring some changes to the website, along with a concept I've been working on in the background for a while now.
First of all, there are two changes to the website. The biggest one should be immediately noticeable, and that is a mini-rework of the home page. Now it should give you a better feel for the game. I would like to eventually add a loading screen so that all of the image assets have time to load in, so there's no gray background behind "Battle of Skill." Hopefully that can happen soon. The second change is one to the How to Play page. It now includes a beginner's guide! I've written it with as little detail as possible, while making sure people can pick it up and play the game accurately without having to worry about not understanding a rule. The larger guide is still on the site, but it should be used as a reference to more complicated rules, rather than the definitive guide for every player to read. Please give the beginner's guide a read and let me know if it makes sense for you!
Second, I've been working on a project in the background that will exponentially increase the speed at which I balance the game. If you follow me on Twitter, you'd know that project is an AI! I'm using a minimax algorithm (with a lot of optimizations built-in) to play BOS in a virtual environment. If all of that was gibberish to you, then know that BOS is being played by the same sort of AI that beats the best Chess players in the world! This is a huge step for balancing the game. The end goal is for me to be able to program any two decks to play against each other, and eventually be able to solve individual deck matchups to give me a general sense of the game's balance. This AI cannot be used to solve the game, as there are more possible games of BOS than there are particles of the universe lol, but it will put me in the right direction and show me what the strongest strategies are. From what I can tell, the AI is playing fantastic against itself!
Thank you all for your patience. I am, of course, still working on blue, and doing minor tweaks to yellow to try to make good on my promise of "switching between offensive or defensive on a dime" using strength advantage. As of right now, the best way for yellow to play, definitively, is defensive. So, I'm hoping to make it more midrange. Talk to you all again ASAP!
August 13, 2021 - Three huge updates!
In today's post, I'd like to share three updates. One for the website, and two for the game. The first change will be fully implemented tonight, but its a revamped home page! Along with the gameplay footage being on the home page, the opening paragraph is now a far better hook in my opinion. Of course, feel free to send me your feedback on the changes!
The second and third are some large changes to the game. In my testing, I typically try whatever comes to mind. So when a new concept for blue that seemed very promising came into my mind, I wanted to test it out. I shared my thoughts on the state of blue after the changes in this twitter thread, so please check that out before continuing.
The other large change comes from a realization I had in regards to the game's state of play. As of right now, the game appears to be lacking in one area: Escalation. This concept was shared with me through a game design Discord that I joined a bit ago, and I have learned a lot of ways to analyze the game through that. Escalation describes the game's feeling of power growth. While it is true that vim is exponential, and in turn gives you access to more powerful spells over time, you cannot play spells if you are trying to gain as much vim as possible. So the result is a complete lack of spells being played until you think you can burst out your opponent with all of your vim and win the game. This is not the way I wanted vim to be played, but unfortunately it is the most optimal tactic from my testing so far.
So I've been fiddling around with a new concept: Turn count cost reduction. Your first spell of your turn has its cost reduced by your turn count. If it is your fourth turn, and you want to cast a spell that costs six vim, its cost while paying it will be two! This allows for tempo strategies to enter the battle more reasonably and give decks more ways to flourish during their main phase.
A free spell every turn is really fun, but is it balanced? This change is drastic, so I am working hard to get it all tested and figured out. One thing I can say for sure though is that it increases the game's complexity. Younger players already complain about the game's complexity, so it is hard to say whether or not this change is worth it at this point. I want the game to be very accessible to all players, so being able to mitigate any confusion while playing is crucial. I want this to be a game you can play with your grandma!
July 30, 2021 - Coming soon to the site!
In an effort to make BOS more accessible to new players, I've started the development of two videos! The first video will be edited gameplay footage! The game has already been recorded and the editing is in-progress. The game is pretty exciting by itself, very good gameplay from two of our players, up until one of them makes a crucial mistake...
The second video will be a how-to-play guide! I am not sure how long the video will be, so I may have to split it into multiple mini-videos to make it easier to process. I know other TCGs do the same thing with their guides, but since BOS is pretty simple in comparison, I may be able to fit it all within 20 minutes or so. We'll see.
I expect to have the gameplay footage available on the site by tomorrow at the latest. If you haven't already, join our newsletter to be up-to-date on the latest in BOS. As for the how-to-play guide, I can't make any promises on a date. That is because I will be starting work next week, working all day Monday through Friday. I will have less time to directly work on BOS, but I can assure you that I will be working hard in the time I do have. As per usual, blue is giving me trouble. Slowly but surely I am cracking through the shell.
Thank you all so much for keeping up with this dev blog! I want to make sure it is clear that I am continuously working on BOS and not leaving anyone in the dark. I expect to have some solid news in the next two weeks or so regarding progress percentage, but in the meantime, thank you for your patience!
July 23, 2021 - One yellow card: Crying Tree
Hello! I am sorry for the lack of update last week. I was very sick, to the point where even thinking about testing BOS was giving me a headache! Man, this game gets very complex at the highest level of play huh?
In my efforts to make Yellow feel more dominating, I changed the ability of one of its summons. This is a card that has been in the game for a very long time, and its old ability may see a revival in the form of another summon later down the line. But for now, this is the ability I am testing:
When this battles a summon, if this has 6 or more strength than that summon-> Defeat that summon.
With a base strength of 6, Crying Tree is a very strong card by itself. However, when you put it in yellow, you now have access to cards like Hedera that make it crazy strong. Here's the setup:
Hedera Crying Tree Hedera
After using both Hedera's abilities on Crying Tree, it now has 12 strength and cannot be battled by anything with 6 strength or less. This is an absurdly strong wall. In the end, you negate around 90% of all summons in the game, and it shows in practice. I had my brother make a red deck and play against me, and he didn't put in a single summon that had a natural strength of 7 or higher. Because of this, he got destroyed. Later, when I tested the matchup between the deck I was using and the deck he was using, he literally could not have won against me. But after bringing the base strength of Crying Tree down to 5, the matchup became a lot more fair.
The question I need to ask myself now is: How do I want Crying Tree to be used in the meta? Do I want it to be a very powerful card that you need to put cards in your deck in order to compete with, or do I want it to be a combo tool that requires more effort to make it work the best it can? I think the latter is more accurate.
So the lesson for today is to consider strength of all summons in the game when creating a card like this. Had I done that from the beginning, I probably would have left its base strength at 5. But I think I was sucked in by the allure of making a really powerful card and didn't consider the ramifications.
July 9, 2021 - Website revamp and red going first
As you can see, a lot has changed on the site! I've updated the color of the background to be more pleasing on the eyes. Also, I've completely reformatted the Card List! It should be a lot cooler to look at. As of right now, the pictures of the cards do not directly link to their pages containing more info about them, but I will be slowly rolling out updates to make the pictures link up. Also, the pictures on the Card List have the correct text on them, while some direct links may have incorrect text. If you need to reference what a card does, use the images on the Card List. Finally, the direct links to the card pages are going to have white backgrounds, please shield your eyes!
Please send me feedback to these changes on Twitter, I would really appreciate it!
Now onto what you're probably here for, something about red going first? Using Pyro-Maniac, red actually can gain a huge advantage going first against opponents by attacking themselves directly or their own summons. You can get up to 5 attacks utilizing Collaia and a couple 1 strength summons, which I will let you figure out how to do for yourself ;)
Because of this, red can get halfway to its boss before the opponent even gets a chance to play. This is particularly bad for blue, because it barely has time to generate vim. So, a lot of effort went into testing various tactics against red openings that generate a lot of attacks on the very first turn. Because this red strategy is so strong, I will actually be sharing some tactics blue can use to counter something like this. In order to share these tactics, let me first introduce the summons I'll focus on, which includes an in-development card that has been playtested a lot over the years.
These three summons will make up a key defensive strategy against red going first. There is a lot of variety in terms of when to specifically use these tactics, so take everything as a general piece of advice rather than a go-to use-every-time tactic. Here are some of the variations you can do:
1) Spell-Circle Incarnate/Water Golem/Spell-Circle Incarnate
This particular one is very potent when you can use the Spell-Circles to deal 3 damage to two of your opponent's summons without defeating the attack targets. That way, you can hinder the red player's offense and get a 9 strength Water Golem. That Water Golem can then defeat something strong that the red player controls (IE: Flame Ent). On the next turn, the red player will need to commit some resources into defeating the Water Golem so they can continue offense, either through casting a damaging spell, using an Endurance, or running their summons into it.
2) Water Golem/Spell-Circle Incarnate/Water Golem
This one is very good in the following situation:
Red player has a summon with 4 or more strength (To have the Spell-Circle attack)
You want to keep your life high
You have a wizard that you really want face-up in one of the outer columns
The second condition may sound like a general statement, but against certain red players, who may be trying to mix you up, you can't know if they're using Pyro-Maniac or Arch-Blood Champion. Losing life early against Pyro-Maniac is completely fine since the goal is to prevent the red player from defeating you using Pyro-Maniac's ability, but against Arch-Blood Champion, losing life early is almost an immediate game loss.
The idea with this is not to give the Water Golem with the wizard you want face-up the 3 strength from Spell-Circle, but actually the opposite one! The reason why you do this is because a 6 strength Water Golem is more of a threat to the red player, and they will need to deal with that quickly in order to keep up their aggression. So when they commit resources to kill the 6 strength Water Golem, the other Water Golem will stay alive and have its wizard turn face up at the start of your turn.
3) Pestering Scarab in the middle column
Pestering Scarab is an amazing card, especially against Pyro-Maniac. You want to use this tactic when the opponent will most likely hit 10 attacks and want to summon their boss, so you can keep as many summons on your battlefield as possible. When Pestering Scarab is defeated, you can replace it with another from your castle, so having 4 of them is critical if you are going to use this tactic. The weakness of this is against Collaia, so be careful of that. But it is always better to give your opponent more attacks then it is to lose, so use this tactic if you think you need it!
Those are the three tactics I wanted to mention on here. I do think these tactics will have other places in the meta as well, but in particular, these tactics are very good against red going first. I have not yet studied red dittos with a red player attacking itself on the first turn, or yellow vs red with the red player going first and attacking itself, so during this week I'll be taking a look at those situations as well. I don't like mentioning meta-defining things in my dev blog posts, since they give players insights that they shouldn't really have. It makes me feel like I'm helping the players cheat by giving them insider info lol. The goal is for people to discover the things I've discovered through dedicated practice, rather than just hearing it from me.
But, I think it's important to mention these tactics particularly because of some people I was playing with the other day. They found that in the red vs blue matchup using the current starter decks that red should have a 100% win rate against blue if it goes first, which I can definitely see being the case. So I will need to make changes to the starter decks, but I wanted to confirm that this was not an unbeatable strategy for blue in general. Fortunately, it is not, and the matchup can be further researched by the players themselves when the game comes out. But I wanted to show that even when things look impossible, there is very often a way around it using researched tactics. This will be very important for players to keep in mind when the game is released.
July 2, 2021 - Yellow and a passive tactic.
Yellow is surprisingly one of the more non-interactive colors in the game, if it can get away with it. Many times in testing I find myself considering an aggressive yellow strategy to counter another strategy, only to realize that a more passive style is far better. The result of that logic almost always comes down to one core tactic that allows yellow to play so passively that all they need are 3 summons every turn to win: The tactic of having Angel of Grace in the center column, and playing four copies of Hilltop Chari.
If you're familiar with the rules of BOS (see Battles), you will know that in order to get a direct attack, you must open up a column for one of your summons to attack down. However, the opponent you are direct attacking can block the direct attack with a summon in an adjacent column, in which case a normal battle happens. Therefore, if you want to get a guaranteed direct attack, you have to not only defeat a summon in the left or right column, but also the summon in the middle column. Then, you can get a direct attack without having to worry about a blocker.
Hilltop Chari changes this dynamic entirely. Instead of you getting a successful direct attack, Hilltop Chari essentially reduces the amount of damage all of your direct attacks deal by 5. If that wasn't already bad enough, also consider that Hilltop Chari deals 5 damage back to the summon that attacked it, which is over half of the strength of any summon. If that summon that attacked it is alive, it will have significantly less strength during the next turn, making the entire process very painful for certain strategies to execute. The end result is a situation where players of any color would simply rather not attack and try their own passive style, which in a lot of cases end up losing out to yellow's anyways.
This combination is possible to utilize in any yellow strategy, but it finds its potency in Glorious Sun decks. If players choose to not direct attack against yellow, that brings them even closer to their boss, which will often have enough strength to obliterate a player. Typically, Glorious Sun decks will defeat players in one turn after summoning their boss, so the goal is to keep the yellow player's life low.
Before I make any nerfs to yellow though, I need to do more thorough testing. In particular, this strategy is very potent against red, since red really likes to attack. Finding a way to limit their ability to make meaningful attacks is good, but it is too easy to achieve using this tactic. So I want to make sure that red players have a strong option later in the game to get over this board and deal enough damage to the yellow player to prevent them from summoning their boss every time. I want the complexity of the matchup to be more, well, complex, because right now, yellow has no reason to play any way other than this against red.
If you do not hear from me about nerfs to this tactic, then it means I found something consistent that red can do. Blue already has the advantage of being really good if playing against another passive deck, and yellow dittos between two passive decks are almost always won by the player who goes first, due to the vim tempo advantage, so the player who goes second needs to find an aggressive breakthrough anyways.
June 25, 2021 - What a 1 strength difference means for balancing
This is something I've been wanting to write about for a long time. While this topic applies to many things in BOS, this time we'll focus particularly on one card: Collaia.
Now, to preface, red is by far in the best spot of any of the colors. To be totally honest, if I was to release BOS and it was just red, I think the game would be very successful. However, a few cards in particular give me a hard time to balance, and the one of the most volatile ones has been Collaia. Its base strength is very important for its ability to be successful, and Collaia cannot have 5 or higher base strength without being by far the best wizard-specific summon for red.
In the red vs yellow matchup (with yellow going first) yellow needs to find a good opening position against any red matchup, so that way it can play something as a general opening for the first game, and then switch to something more specific for later games in the match. The red matchup that is the most dangerous would be a Pyro-Maniac strategy, since letting red get to 10 attacks quickly, and then leaving them with enough resources to wipe your board and attack directly with their boss loses the game in a very little amount of turns. With Collaia at 5 strength, yellow has only ONE opening that lets them live, which we will call X. (Please note: I don't want my research to define the meta so soon, so I will not be sharing the opening here. So just trust me when I say I've looked very deeply into this) Yellow must play the summons required for X against red every time, so every single yellow deck needs to have those cards in their castle or reserves. Unless new expansion cards add new potential openings against red, those summons will be in huge demand. However, with Collaia at 4 strength, yellow has a few consistent openings, each with their own quirks.
Remember, the goal of an opening is to find a near 100% consistent turn-one play that gives a fair shot against any deck of a certain color. Once you have more knowledge of what your opponent is playing, then you can switch it up. However, with Collaia at 5 strength, yellow's only option is X, completely independent of how much knowledge the yellow player has of the opponent's deck. If the red player is playing Enraged Mage or if the red player might be playing Enraged Mage, the yellow player must use X, if Collaia has 5 strength.
So, is this a problem of Collaia being too strong or yellow being too weak? Well, I didn't even mention the blue matchup yet, and let's just say Collaia at 5 strength brings similar results. A single point of strength completely defines a metagame. It is truly incredible to see how much complexity there is in the game, and its why the game has taken so long to release. However, I do want to make sure the game comes out as soon as possible, so I am working hard on improvements every chance I can. I just want to make sure the game is not easily "solvable," like in the example with Collaia. Instead, I want there to be general power given to all strategies, and for the interactions between those strategies to be highly complex and volatile, changing dramatically with a one-card shift.
June 18, 2021 - Preparing for a BOS tournament
Hello everyone! Today, I'd like to discuss something that seems a little off topic for a development blog: Preparing for a tournament. Going to your first local tournament can be exhilarating, nerve-wracking, and above all, fun! But if you're looking to win, there's some steps you'll need to take before you can take the victory.
The first step is what I'll call startup. You need to prepare both your mental state and your deck before you enter the tournament. To help with your mental state, the first thing I personally recommend may seem counter-intuitive: Stop trying to win. Instead, focus your efforts on improvement. While you are at the tournament, you are nearly guaranteed to play against players who are taking the game very seriously. These players will not only be incredible experience for you, but can also turn out to be your new friends. If you come at them too serious, it may leave a bad impression. Having other players who are actively trying to beat you with all of their might is amazing for practice. It gives you experience in matchups you may not be used to, or maybe they find a new tactic in a matchup you're already familiar with that you'll need to prepare for later. The second part of this step involves you simply picking what deck you're interested in playing! You can use whatever you'd like as your basis for picking a deck, whether that be artwork, strategy, or just purely based on color. Maybe that deck is a good counter against the best players in your region and their decks? Whatever the reason, now that you've selected a deck, you are ready for step 2.
The second step is training! It helps to have either a second person who is willing to play a lot of BOS with you, or a second deck that you can practice against. Whenever you can, play against your opponent and see who wins. From there, make the goal of the training session to find a way for the person who lost to win. Make sure to not change who goes first or what cards are being used in each deck, but reserve piles are okay to use. Keep going until the person who lost originally finds a route to victory! From there, reset the goal for the new loser and keep playing until you're satisfied! If you ever find a situation where it is impossible for one player to win if they either go first or second, then it may be time to either call for help from another player or to change the cards in the deck. This method of training is fantastic for brute-forcing matchup experience. Once you feel comfortable in that matchup, have your opponent switch decks. You can repeat this as many times as you like. The most important thing about this is that it trains your brain to think like a BOS player. Having tons of experience just playing BOS in any matchup is critical to being a good player, since there is a certain mindset you need to succeed. This method is actually the method I use to balance test the game, and what I often find is that players will need to be playing at a level so far ahead of where they begin in order to consistently win against beginning players. In other words, the perfect implementation of certain strategies against beginning players is very difficult to achieve, but it is possible. Once players all become experienced in every matchup, the game will explode in creativity.
The final step is attending. Head to that local tournament and give it your best shot. If you're nervous, that's okay. If you get tired out, take a break. At the end of the day, while BOS is meant to be very competitive, it is just a game. If you're getting stressed at a tournament, take a breather. Even if that means missing a round and forcibly taking a loss, all in all, it will be better off for you. But if you're excited and pumped up, then that's awesome! Fuel the flames of competition and win that tournament! But remember to focus on improvement rather than winning at the end of the day. If you are focused on winning and lose, then you can get angry. But if you are focused on improving and lose, you can only feel positive. I would wish you good luck, but in this game, you don't need it. So, good skill!
June 12, 2021 - Blue (again)
Do you guys know what 12 minus 4 is? Not 7! Happy "weekly" dev blog!
I've been doing a lot of work. Remember, blue has always been the hardest color to balance. In my effort to try to make blue perfect, I lost sight of my goal: Releasing a fun trading card game. Key word being "releasing," I swear I would have never released the game if my friend hadn't woken me up lol. Well with that said, I spent a few days this week taking a step back and scrapping everything about blue so far. Then, I refreshed my perspective on blue and asked myself "What do I want blue to be?" The answer has been clear from the beginning: I want blue to be the most skillful deck. It will be the hardest to play, while also being open to simple play from new players who are interested in the color. This is the system I came up with to do that.
Blue will be a color based on combos and big spells. Early game will have some powerful combos, but will come with risks. Knowing how to minimize those risks and use the correct combo at the right time will be critical and will take a lot of skill to master, especially with all the matchups blue has to consider. Because of the way blue is structured, these combos will be very versatile, so there will be many blue players using completely different decks. It will be up to them to come up with their own flair on blue. But none of these combos will be so powerful that they win the game. The big part comes from their bosses and spells. Their bosses will either be the result of correctly executing combos or by casting powerful spells. This means that the player, if they want their deck to focus on their boss, will have to make their combos either to set up a powerful board that their opponent has to deal with, giving the blue player time to wait for their big spells, or their combos will set up their boss' summoning condition at a fast rate. Both has their advantages and disadvantages, so picking the right one for the right time is critical.
So, if I may amend last week's post about blue, both of the cards shown don't exist in that form anymore. Actually, since I don't have access to photoshop at the moment, I cannot show you what I'm working on. But what I can do is give you some text for a card and let you ponder the possibilities.
Condition: If you have cast 3 or more spells that cost 20 or more vim.
Ability: When this is summoned-> Your vim becomes infinite. When this is defeated-> Your vim becomes 20.
(As it turns out, that "workaround" for Chronos that I mentioned last week was absolutely broken. Like, insanely. So, Chronos has been changed and the workaround is long gone)
Condition: Summon using Cracked Necromancer
Ability: When another summon you control is defeated: This gains 2 strength.
(Remember, this is an ability that can occur multiple times during a turn! So, if you can find a way to repeatedly defeat summons you control, you can make a Malevolent Zombie grow immensely)
Ability: Defeat a player if they took exactly 13 damage from you this turn.
(This is untested lol, but on paper, this seems very hard to achieve. This should allow for some creative deck building though!)
June 4, 2021 - What have I been up to?
My first dev blog entry! It's very exciting. I want to show my continuous development towards BOS' release, and hold myself accountable to making sure it is finished as soon as I can. You can expect to see snippets of insider information on cards being tested, new artwork, and my thought processes on balancing the game. This is seriously the place to go if you're excited about BOS. And of course, you can always interact with me on Twitter @CameronAllaer or @bostcg.
So then, let's catch you up. After the most recent tournament concluded, which was held at my college, I wanted to take a step back and really make sure everything was exactly the way I wanted it. And when I was looking at everything, many complaints from the first tournament remained in the most recent one. Yellow's spells are too high cost, blue is too slow, and red doesn't have much variety. I want to conquer each of these complaints before BOS' release, so naturally I had to get to the root of each problem.
For red, almost all of the cards are about aggression. This should be the case, since that is the color's identity. But what makes a card aggressive? For the longest time, I only focused on "attacking," but I could be designing other ways to be aggressive too. This is where burn comes in. For BOS, burn strategies are very hard to balance, since all you have to do is wait until you have enough vim to cast a ton of burn spells in one turn, then blow your opponent up with a one turn kill. However, red does need new ways to be aggressive, so I've decided to take some power from the cards that benefit from burning the opponent and adding it to the actual burn cards. Furthermore, I've added some quality of life changes to make certain cards viable to play with in the first place, since some of them were simply never going to be played competitively. Finally, I took a look at what the most popular red decks were, and they were a large majority turbo-aggro Mage Harvester decks. They never used the ability of Mage Harvester, but rather used it as a 10-strength bonus summon to help with aggro combos. Mage Harvester was an interesting test, but for now, it will take the backburner.
For yellow, one of the biggest issues was around Fleur de Force. Its "Flowering chain" summoning requirement has you cast 5 spells in a row to summon it, for a total cost of 15 vim, and each of them has no ability. In order to play Fleur de Force, you needed to have a spellbook of only 5 spells, plus 5 other mandatory cards. It wasn't healthy, and it was the most reoccurring complaint I have gotten for BOS. While I love the Flowering chain and its themes, I'll have to save those pieces for another time. But this problem of excessive vim costs extends to its high-cost spells. A lot of them were overpriced by as much as 9 vim, and it really makes it seem impossible to play those spells at all. While it is technically possible to cast them in certain matchups (basically any blue deck), they need to have a lower cost to be used consistently in competitive play.
Blue has consistently been the hardest color to balance, because of its intrinsic properties. It loves having vim and has cards that generate it, so being able to use those cards early can completely swing the game in your favor. Also, since its summons are weak, the spells need to be strong enough to be played consistently to make up for its weakness. But if the summons are weak, it will be constantly losing battles, which means blue is intrinsically defensive, and furthermore, slow. So how can I speed up blue? The answer is to let it thrive where it wants to! I want to abuse the fact that it has weak summons, and loves to generate vim. Let's exemplify its strengths and increase its weaknesses to make it more polarizing and interesting to play, but keep it varied enough to allow for unique combos. Finally, as an extra note, some things in blue were simply unhealthy for the game in the long run. A mill deck this early in the game's life isn't fun, and having Counter available from the start also isn't great. In the end, almost every card in blue will receive either a minor tweak or a overhaul.
You might be wondering about Chronos' new condition, and how that would *ever* make blue be faster. I mean, waiting a whole 20 turns to summon it? And that's only in a 1v1 battle, imagine a free for all! Well, don't worry, Chronos has some help. Tune in next week!
P.S. You may have noticed the font size increase! As it turns out, people love being able to read their cards. But the condition box on summons and bosses is still too small to have the text increase in size, but I'm working on a solution.