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Custom Race: Merpeople

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 I started with every intention to make cards like PGrande's Goblins, but I got stuck on the first card: the Mermaid. I couldn't find one that A) fit the style, B) had her chest covered, and C) looked like she was preoccupied rather than looking at the viewer. Oh well.

The new race needs a good name. Right now it's the Shayanne Merpeople, but if anyone knows the name of an oceans, lakes, or seas in Terrinoth or Menara, I'd be happy to use that instead of my made-up name. Here are my cards:

Cost: 1
Strength: 1
Ability: When Played: Heal one wounded unit (rotate a wounded unit upright).

Cost: 2
Strength: 2
Ability: Response: If another friendly unit would be destroyed, wound Scuttler instead.

King of Depths
Cost: 3
Strength: 3
Ability: When played: Destroy one friendly unit to draw two cards. Choose one to place in your hand and discard the other.

Cost: 5
Strength: 4
Ability: Resolution: Gain +1 strength for each opposing unit in the combat.

In designing this new race, I wanted to focus on a new facet of combat, something we haven't seen before. It occurred to me that there are no factions that are defensive so I decided to design a faction based around defense. As an arachnologist, I immediately jumped to the idea of using a type of bug-race or crab-men. Their hard exoskeletons would fit well with the defensive theme. But something didn't feel right about a team of crabs. I felt like I needed a team more anthropomorphic and grounded in established fantasy. I followed the crabs into the sea and desided to settle on mermaids. I often associate mermaids with singing, so thought a Mermaid card would be a perfect addition to a defensive strategy by introducing a whole new ability: the ability to heal wounded units. 

I decided I could have one crab-like unit and created the Scuttler, a sort of giant hermit crab that assists the Merpeople. The Scuttler can protect its allies by taking a hit for them, but its hard shell means that an attack that would normally kill a unit, only wounds this unit. I was afraid this ability would be too powerful if Scuttlers could block any attack, so I decided that they can only use this ability if another friendly unit would be destroyed. If the Scuttler is targeted, it will be destroyed rather than wounded, but a second Scuttler could become wounded to save another Scuttler. It doesn't make a lot of thematic sense, but it was necessary for balance, I believe. However, this is one point I would really like input on. If they can be wounded instead of being destroyed when they are targeted, is that too powerful?

Next I designed the mermen. In my mind, I imagined a character that was a cross between Poseidon and King Triton. The King of Depths has little tolerance for disobedience and is quick to deal out punishment to his subjects, but that usually ensures competence from his remaining subjects. Therefore, he can destroy one ally to gain card draw. Card draw is very important for this game, but I wasn't sure how to implement it in this faction. I wanted to do something different than had already been done. I was really leaning towards using influence, but felt that it would encroach too much upon the Elves' territory. I wanted to wound a unit so that the Mermaid could just heal it, but that was exactly what the Flesh ripper does. I decided to bump his ability to the next level by allowing him to draw two cards, but at the cost of destroying an ally. If he has two units in play already, and one is a Scuttler, he can draw cards by destroying a unit, respond with the Scuttler by wounding it to save the other unit, and not lose any strength in the combat.

For the 5-cost unit, I wanted something fearsome and iconic. The Leviathan was a perfect fit. However, I had the trouble of choosing a good ability for him. The easiest choice was to enable him to wound or destroy opposing units, however, I wanted to see if I could take the defensive abilities of this faction to the extreme by not including any abilities that wound or destroy opponents. At first I tried giving him +1 strength for each wounded unit. This was problematic because it made the Mermaid's ability work counter to the Leviathan. Then I thought of the typical attributes of the element of water. It's often portrayed as being fluid and using an opponent's strength against them. I decided to give the Leviathan more strength for each opposing unit in the combat. In essence, it became the exact counter to the Dark Knight's ability, but even though it works in a similar way, I felt that having it feed off of opponent's units was more significantly different in play than it is in theory. One problem is that the player has no control over what their opponent puts into play, which is a significant disadvantage to this card. Additionally, this card adds nothing to a solo player's deck and is essentially a dead card to the solo player. I therefore decided to make the base attack 4 instead of 3 like the Dark Knight.

I haven't play tested this yet, but here are some thoughts. This faction can be really hard to play successfully. It really depends on how the other players are doing. The abilities really start synergizing once you have 2 or 3 units in play. If your units get picked off right as you play them, it can be very frustrating, especially since it has no way to wound or destroy its enemies. However, it can also be frustrating for your oppoenent if they pay the cost to destroy your forces and you end up not losing any! The most central cards are probably Scuttler and King of Depths. However, Mermaids can be very useful so that your Scuttlers go to the discard pile instead of the barracks. Mermaids are also good fodder for the wrath of King of Depths. The Leviathan is very important as a source of strength since it's ability is meant to offset the lack of offensive abilities in this faction. The ideal strategy would be to start with a Scuttler and hope it doesn't get destroyed. Then put out a second Scuttler to wound if the enemy attcks your first Scuttler. If your Scuttler gets wounded, immediately play a Mermaid to heal it so it can absorb damage again. Hopefully your last two cards will be King of the Depths, which you can use to destroy a card and respond by wounding a Scuttler instead, and a Mermaid to heal that Scuttler.

One thing this faction does really well is attack enemy cards from the encounter deck. The Scuttler's ability pretty much negates the attrition die. You still lose units, but you can engineer a battle so that you know that you will win for sure. I could reword the ability to say "If a friendly unit would be destroyed by a player card . . ." but, well, maybe I should.

There it is. I'll be impressed if anyone actually makes it through this block of text, but I look forward to hearing any ideas and especially play tests. I'll try to get around to it myself.

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