The Letters Page:
It's the longest Bullpen ever!
Run Time: 2:10:18
Welcome to Chris Burton, AKA Braithwhite! Right at the top, we establish that we'll call him "Braithwhite" for the purposes of the episode, and then we all go on to call him a variety of names over the course of the following two hours. Enjoy the confusion!
Here's the upcoming schedule!
- Tuesday, March 2nd: Episode #168 - Writers' Room: NightMist vs. Fanatic
- Tuesday, March 9th: Episode #169 - Creative Process: Hero HQs
- Tuesday, March 16th: Episode #170 - Writers’ Room: Luck o’ the Setback
- Tuesday, March 23rd: Editor’s Note #45 (THE REAL RETURN! PROBABLY!)
- Tuesday, March 30th: Episode #171 - Creative Process: American Folklore
After all that, we dive into questions all about Sentinels of the Multiverse: Definitive Edition!
We hope that this giant pile of Qs and As answer all of the questions you could have about Definitive Edition! There are some reveals in here!
Catch you next time!
- [First off, Trevor really brings the quality on the new Questions Song that Adam came up with on the spot at around 9:50.]
- Given the changes we’ve seen in previews to this point, is it safe to assume that Definitive Edition will not be compatible with the existing game? Will there be some kind of conversion rules that would make them compatible? DE is not intended to be backwards compatible with the current game. They will be publishing some instructions for how you can reframe current game text to fit the new system, but there are limits to what that can actually do. The older content isn’t playtested in the new environment or anything and so balance might be off. Paul brings up a comparison to when Dungeons & Dragons made the shift from 3rd edition to 3.5. There were instructions for how to convert, say, a monster’s stat block to the new edition and the conversion process was straightforward, but while 3.5/Definitive Edition was designed for more balance, bringing in 3rd/Enhanced Edition content was/will be simple in process, but iffy on final results. The goal in both cases was to make the experience simpler and more streamlined for new players, so they wouldn’t recommend using the conversion rubric for games with newbies - stick with DE rather than mixing and matching if you’re introducing new people to the game. In all honesty, a lot of the “conversion” is just spelling out things like “the term Equipment has been replaced by Item” or “[a specific set of instructions regarding looking through a deck, doing something with the cards, and then shuffling things] is now [mechanical keyword]”. They might have to just put in a blanket “Environmental card destruction is now Ongoing destruction” because of the changes to how Environments work in DE, but we’ll see.
- Another note on design philosophy in DE: in the current set, Wraith is somebody who you’re typically trying to get set up to be really good at hitting people with various types of knives. They want to reduce this kind of “one correct way to play the character” design. Wraith might still be pretty good at hitting enemies with knives, but the goal now is to make her feel like a hero who sticks to the periphery and does the right thing at the right time (which, sometimes means hitting something with a knife). They want DE heroes to have more versatility.
- Is the First Appearance variant for Legacy going to be the World War II hero? Maybe the first one from back in World War I? Neither. The First Appearance variants are the first appearance of the person we usually think of/the one the deck is built around as a hero. Therefore, the FA variant for Legacy is Paul Parsons VIII rather than his father or grandfather (or his daughter). Likewise, the First Appearance of Absolute Zero is Ryan Frost, not Henry Goodman.
- Do you know if Handelabra plans on adding the DE content to the existing video game or would it be its own stand-alone thing? They can’t speak to this. They’ve talked to Handelabra a lot about DE stuff at this point, but how that ultimately gets implemented is going to be up to them. They are confident that DE content will be brought to digital in some way, but the form that takes is not something they can speculate on.
- While you’d said that DE isn’t backwards compatible with older content, what do you think of the possibility of using just the variant hero character cards with the new decks? The hero cards themselves would likely still work better than the old decks as a whole (for the most part), but you’re still going to want to have that conversion document. It’s still going to be weird in many cases - even in future DE variants they might be very similar to current ones, but some might not and they haven’t been playtested for this purpose. Using the base Legacy character card as an example: if you look at the DE one, it’s actually slightly weaker than the original (it only affects hero Characters, and not himself). That has been compensated for elsewhere in the DE deck where he might be dealing damage himself. They’re more dialed-in on his inspirational qualities and that’s what Galvanize represents, so it makes sense that it wouldn’t affect him personally. Those balance changes elsewhere in the deck are what the older character variants would not be taking into account.
- How has Unity changed for DE? The guiding light for Unity is that she can’t make her Mechanical Golems out of nothing. She needs to have material to fashion them from. Simultaneously, a common complaint about playing her is that you need to destroy a piece of Equipment to make them and/or that you can have a hand full of bot cards and no means of playing them. They have worked to give her more options for how to get some bots into play, although if you’re got a hand full of them and nothing else you might have to work a bit if you want those specific bots. [We’ve seen her new character card and she’s been changed so that you can break an item to either play a bot or Discover a random one - so even if you don’t have one in hand, if you have the means of paying for one, you can get one.] They wouldn’t necessarily say that she’s stronger now than she was before, but probably “more consistent”. A few, well-considered changes to address common ways people used her (to go back to that “one true way” of playing problem) have also been made - an example is that they nerfed Stealth Bot a bit so that it can’t just infinitely tank 1-HP hits for the whole team anymore.
- They acknowledge that Mr. Chomps isn’t as cute anymore. He would look different depending on the era of the comics they were drawing from and the era that they set that card just wouldn’t have been right for a super cute depiction. This brings up a small conversation about how much work went into 1) laying out exactly which issue each card would draw from (and because they’ve already done the Timeline Project they already know what year each would have been from), 2) Adam drawing era-appropriate art, and 3) Christopher writing era-appropriate flavor text. Like, knowing exactly how goofy or serious the dialogue should be is also tied to when the comic would have been.
- While most variants will be new character cards of the same hero, what about Young Legacy? That’s a future problem. They don’t want to talk specifics about what future content will be because things could change between now and then. Legacy will have several variants of one form or another and both Greatest Legacy and Young Legacy will show up in DE content somehow, eventually.
- Do you plan on adding any new decks in the expansions? Yes. Exactly what is future problems, but yes. They’ve become wary of saying specific things too far in advance of an actual plan because inevitably somebody will complain later if they change it.
- Regarding the new Bury keyword (put the indicated card on the bottom of its deck unless that deck is empty, in which case put it on top of its associated trash instead), was that clause about not putting it in an empty deck inspired by a specific edge case that came up in playtesting? It’s possible to envision a case where, say, a card gets buried into an empty deck, then gets played, and then buried again creating a loop. They were able to set this up in playtesting, but it’s less to deal with a specific deck’s possible edge case but there are a variety of potential edge cases that this wording avoids.
- In the effort to make the decks more thematic for the characters, do you think the later decks will require less adjustment than the early ones? That’s tough to answer. Even going into this core set there were some that changed about as much as they were expecting (like Bunker), but then ones that changed more than they expected (like Tempest). There’s going to be a mix of ones that change a lot vs. a little and it’s hard to say exactly what that mix is going to look like this far out.
- Are hero innate powers and incapacitated abilities going to change? They started this whole process with the assumption that the base powers wouldn’t need to change because they were all fine. Then pretty much all of them did to one extent or another (although many are very similar to the original - Tachyon’s is mainly the same only slightly better for the player, Legacy’s is slightly worse in absolute terms but both do the same kind of thing they used to). Given that some expansion heroes (notably in the early expansions) didn’t wind up having their deck engines run the way that was envisioned they’re more likely to get some changes, but see above about how hard it is to gauge how much they’ll change until they’re working on it. Incap abilities see some substantial changes. In the past they tended to include: 1 general thing, 1 slightly tweaked general thing, and 1 option flavored for that hero in particular. With the change to DE in that there are more direct ties to turn Phases that let you do stuff like “one hero takes their Play Phase” and so rather than just getting to “Play one card” which is a classic Incapacitated Ability, it incorporates any buffs to a Play Phase that a hero might have in play. They can get into more shenanigans with other Phases as things go forward as well.
- Some discussion on incap abilities prompts Adam to note that he thinks the best thing about the restructuring of the game is how Environments have changed. Just making them like any other cards (Ongoing, etc.) rather than being their own category that worked differently for no good reason helps a lot. Braithwhite also brings up the fact that “The Environment” no longer deals damage - it’s always done by a Target. Apparently he also thought of the possibility of having Environment character cards, which Christopher promptly nixed (don’t get him wrong, a major benefit to working with Braithwhite is the sheer amount of out there ideas he brings to the table).
- [Letter from Guise starts at around 43:35 - they choose not to address most of his ridiculous questions] Won’t somebody think of the Completionists? They are. Completionists want things to acquire, so they’re making things that can be so acquired.
- You’re offering a pledge level with enough sleeves for the whole game, but what about those of us who double-sleeve? Paul takes this one, describing a complicated pledge level involving a pallet of plexiglass frames so that you can protect every card in the game, and also something like a dresser to store each set. The equivalent of a Ultimate Collector’s Case would be a cargo shipping container with several of these bolted to the walls. Then there’s something kind of like a soda machine that you can load the cards in that will “shuffle” them for you.
- The non-Guise answer is that they are coming out with card sleeves to fit several standard sizes of cards (Paul and Christopher acknowledging that their stance of “don’t sleeve anything” is apparently wrong). The Kickstarter for DE will have a level to get enough sleeves in the necessary sizes to sleeve the whole thing (including the foil character cards), but they’ll also be making these available through their normal distribution channels/on the webstore/etc. They plan on having specific card counts for their various games available so that you know how many you’ll need for whatever game you’re wanting to sleeve.
- If you stack all of the cards in the game together, would they reach the stars? If you used that plexiglass storage solution, maybe.
- Looking at the card previews in the Polygon article, it looks like the text in DE is significantly smaller; why? They’ve listened to feedback on that score and text sizes have already been increased.
- Why the change from the all-caps comic lettering font given how thematic that was? They had enough complaints about that font that they felt like they should change it (and while some people had an easier time reading it, the majority of such complaints were such that changing it was better). They tried to find one that still fits a comic-book style, but more the kind you’d find in the credits text at the beginning or on an actual letters page rather than the hand-lettered kind you get in the story panels. They put a lot of work into this decision and think they’ve found a good one for legibility by a wider number of people, efficient space use, and theme (granted, not as thematic as the old font). They’re hoping that enough of the other work they’re putting in on the thematic front makes up for it.
- When will the Kickstarter be open for backers? March 30.
- Quasi-Quirky asks from chat: Yes, but what time (I need to reclaim my “first backer” title)? In the morning.
- Will each expansion be a year following the previous release? That’s the plan. They want a new box to be available for Gen Con (or, “the Gen Con season” in August if physical conventions are still not a thing) each year.
- Will each expansion contain remakes for previous variants? Will those variants generally be themed for the expansion they’re included in or the set that the hero originally came with? All variants will be theme-appropriate to the box they come in. We’ll be seeing many variants for many heroes over time.
- Are the expansions playable on their own or will they require the core game to be playable? The expansions won’t have HP spinners, tokens, or the full rulebook that come in the core set, so to that extent they’re “incomplete” on their own. However, each box should have enough content to be able to play a game of SotM on its own [so, not like the original small-box expansions for the current edition where a single expansion only had 2 heroes and so could not play a full game].
- Who was the hero you were most looking forward to seeing the DE version of? Did any deck surprise you with how much you enjoyed it? Adam: was really excited to see Bunker function well. Paul: was excited to see Tempest, for a bunch of balance/thematic reasons. Braithwhite: Wraith - he was really excited to have her feel more “gadget-heavy” and that’s where she wound up. Christopher: Haka and Fanatic - Haka’s hakas feel more important when they’re out and when the go off [giving us some hints on how they operate now - feels like they’re Ongoings or something now instead of One-Shots] and Fanatic really feels more like herself now.
- What are the Kickstarter levels? There are two of them. The first is $50 to get the game and the pack of foil character cards. The second gets you the game, the foil cards, and enough clear sleeves for the whole game (and the foil cards). They don’t know the dollar amount of the second level yet, because they’re still working out how much the sleeves they’ll be offering will cost. While the MSRP for just the game is $59.95, they imagine that the sleeve level will have a comparable level of discount built in relative to how much the sleeves would cost retail.
- No matter how good the sleeve, some wind up ripping, so will you be including extras? Because they’re going to be selling these on an ongoing basis, they’ll be available in standardized packs of 50 or 100 or something (they haven’t worked this out precisely yet). The sleeve backer level will include enough packs to sleeve all cards in the game, but that will almost definitely result in some leftovers as it’s unlikely that the card count will be an exact multiple of the pack size.
- Will future variants also feature comic covers, or is that just a First Appearance gimmick? That’s just for First Appearance cards. Other variants will be more like the base hero character cards with polished “key art” of the hero, just in the new costumes or whatnot.
- Can Unity play her bots if somebody gives her a Play Phase out of turn? Good question. No. Her bots specify that they cannot be played in her Play Phase, and an off-turn Play Phase is still a Play Phase. Now, if an effect just lets her play a card, that would still work.
- This also prompts the comment that they’ve removed the distinction between “play” and “put into play” that we currently deal with (they phrase “put into play” shouldn’t even be present anymore).
- Will the Telenovela-verse be its own Environment, or will we just be getting a Telenovela-verse variant for every hero? You got them. Every expansion is really just Telenovela-verse content.
- Will expansion hero variants only come in that hero’s expansion (e.g. would all Harpy variants come in her expansion and none in later ones)? They cannot say that for certain right now. They want to avoid a situation where “to get all of this hero’s variants you have to buy all expansions”, but they can’t say right now that later expansions wouldn’t have something for earlier heroes. All they can say now is that all content will be in these boxes - they won’t have promotional cards you have to go to conventions to get or whatever. The only exceptions are the foil character cards, which are just cosmetic differences from what’s in the boxes but technically aren’t in the boxes themselves. Their availability isn’t fully known yet beyond this first set being attached to this Kickstarter (they won’t rule out conventions or their webstore or anything at this point - they just don’t know).
- Will there be new variants (possibly some Letters Page deep cuts)? Yes.
- Ghost-filled Fanatic? Adam can neither confirm nor deny that Ghost-filled Fanatic will appear in a future set.
- Were-wolf hunter Dark Watch? Paul and neither confirm nor deny that were-wolf hunting Dark Watch will appear, or even if that’s really a thing. [There’s also a bit here where Adam gets some grief about not remembering that this was a thing - he remembered that the plot happened, but didn’t think that it was significant enough a period for them to need variants for it (new costumes or whatever). Paul brings up the fact that while he may not have known that Dark Watch hunting were-wolves was a thing that happened, he does know it’s true that Adam just doesn’t remember stuff that gets said on the podcast.]
- Classic Black Fist? Braithwhite “can neither confirm nor deny that that is going to be a thing or is indeed a thing [he’s] working on. Wink.”
- Given the way that you’ve always managed to convey character through gameplay, which Enhanced Edition decks are you most proud of on that score? Which Definitive Edition decks? Tachyon’s always nailed this pretty well. DE does it better, but she was already strong on this. By contrast, Wraith’s was off - the art, flavor text, and mechanics weren’t right to really convey her as a character. For DE, they’re proud of all of the decks from a character standpoint. That was a major design goal now that they know more about the characters (who’ve only become more well-defined in character over the years - in part, although not exclusively, through the discussions had about them in the podcast). Some change more than others, but all of them change. Like, Argent Adept doesn’t change a lot, but we actually get art showing him playing the instruments (they’ve tried to get away from Item cards that are just a close-up of the object in isolation, as opposed to how a lot of Equipment card art worked in the current game). Braithwhite was happy with how Idealist changed from how she was depicted in the Sentinels deck to having her own. He was also very proud of how Harpy wound up (with that feeling of having just a little too much to manage going on). All of the little changes they made in the DE core set are good, though. Like, a lot of Captain Cosmic’s constructs now give a Reaction to the hero they’re next to instead of being activated when they’re hit - it fits the flavor of CC giving the hero more tools rather than just setting up little robots that do something when you poke them.
- Is there some actual music logic behind Argent Adept’s song types (Melody, Harmony, Rhythm)? Why do Melodies only have Perform as an option? Yeah, AA has had “guy who does magic through music” built-in from the start and using these terms has been important. In general terms (for all of this, because there are always exceptions) a Melody is the “main” tune of a song. If you’re humming along to something, you’re likely humming the melody. Barring edge cases, you don’t often use a melody as a supporting piece in a song, thus it’s only getting the Perform option here.
- Are Harmony cards built around getting heroes to work in harmony with one another? Sometimes, but all of Argent Adept’s deck is built around getting heroes to work together. A harmony is another tune, but one that’s there to support and fill out the melody. As such, it’s usually an accompaniment to the melody, but you can also have multiple performances in harmony with one another.
- Are Rhythm cards something about AA keeping the rhythm of the game going? Not in particular. The point is that the Melody cards are mostly “Doing a Thing” with Harmony being supportive and Rhythm “keeping things going”. In general a Rhythm is there to help support the rest by setting the pace - when you’re tapping your foot along with something, that’s you paying attention to the rhythm, but sometimes the rhythm becomes the performance.
- Why are Melody, Harmony, and Rhythm used as the card types with Perform and Accompany as the actions used on those cards? Music is made of melodies, harmonies, and rhythms, so those are the components that AA has at his disposal when composing a turn and the performance and accompaniment actions are what he does to actually make that music happen.
- Is it just words you chose to make his deck more thematic? It was intentional to build things up as described. Assembling a song through your cards was the goal for his deck from inception of the character and so the structure of the deck and the terms chosen came out of that organically.
- [Braithwhite starts a Mage of Magic Place letter at 1:20:30 and his opening delivery is pretty good] It’s nice to see some changes to Environment decks - it always seemed strange that a target like an enraged T. Rex would have to be punched or something by Haka or Ra, but Tachyon could just run really fast at it, so I house ruled it that “Destroy an Environment Card” couldn’t be used on Targets. No question here, but it results in a good bit at Christopher’s expense when he questions the logic of just changing the rules at the table to suit your whims when, as the game designer, that’s what he does all the time.
- The core set of DE is coming with 2 Events (one standard, one Critical) for each Villain in the set - will expansions also include further Events for these villains? Yes.
- You’ve said that there aren’t mini expansions this time around, so will all variants be available in the main boxes or will there be something similar to the variant pack that’s available now? If you get the main line of products you will get all of the variants.
- In the core set of the current edition, it seemed like only Bunker and Tachyon (and maybe Haka) had a gimmick built into their deck, but now it sounds like most of them (barring maybe Legacy) have something going on; is that an intentional choice on your part? They’d argue that Legacy’s “inspirational support” theme counts as a gimmick. They’d argue that all of the characters have always had a “gimmick” in that there’s a through-line of what the character is like built into the deck, but they are better at bringing that out to be more readily observable [like, I’ve often described Fanatic’s play style as being “Power through Sacrifice” and the adjustments to encourage low-HP play just make that more apparent].
- I’ve found that Baron Blade isn’t a great villain for teaching new players because games against him are over too quickly and if I’m playing a complicated/set-up heavy character like NightMist it’s over before I even get rolling - would you say Akash'Bhuta (one of my preferred alternatives) is still a good starting villain? Akash'Bhuta is likely a bit harder than she used to be. Baron Blade is still their recommendation for a first game for new players. If you’re finding the game is over too quickly, that might be an indication that you (as the experienced player at the table) are going at him too hard yourself. Maybe take a support character like Legacy in these teaching games and let the other players do the bulk of the work. Baron Blade is a nice example to use as his deck has examples of the various card types (targets [minions and devices], ongoings, one-shots) and mechanics (a simple, but memorable flip mechanic) so that players can get used to them. Having a relatively short game as your intro is actually a feature - you can play against Baron Blade while you’re getting people acclimated, then if the game is over quick, you probably still have time to play another game.
- Additionally, in the DE core game they’re actually providing an explicit “teaching game” setup: the Baron Blade deck will ship stacked in the recommended play order for that first game (and they’ll provide a written order somewhere to reset it if desired). Play whatever heroes and environment you like (and they’ll have the standard chart to show you villain difficulty, hero complexity, and environment peril so that you can choose suitably low complexity/peril options for a teaching game).
- Regarding having a short teaching game: they think that’s kind of a feature anyway. If you’ve just picked up a new long-play game (like, multi-hour estimated play time), that’s real rough to play enough for things to click but then realize that due to your inexperience you’ve set yourself up for a rough go of it for the next few hours. Having a relatively short Baron Blade game as the intro means that you have long enough for that understanding to kick in, but doesn’t lock you into poor play decisions for a long game.
- Paul also brings up the suggestion they have for their Citizens at conventions when they’re running demos. As the experienced player, but one who’s trying to get people interested in/excited about the game, even though you can probably see the Matrix and understand exactly how the team can take down Baron Blade really easy, don’t. Let the newbies do the work/see what they can figure out on their own. Rather than necessarily playing “optimally”, the teacher should play in a way such that the rest of the table has fun and comes to understand the game. Several of the guys admit to, when demoing a game, picking Legacy and stacking their own deck to maximize the stuff they can do to help the other heroes rather than Doing Things themselves. It’s after that first game, when hopefully the other players are into it and having fun, that you can break out the more difficult villain and some complicated nonsense hero so that you can show off what else the game can do. [Braithwhite also mentions in passing here at the end that Baron Blade no longer has multiple Mobile Defense Platforms in his deck.]
- Do you expect to do a Kickstarter for each expansion? They don’t know yet. One reason for using Kickstarter for the core set is that Kickstarter is a really good platform for letting a large number of people know that a thing exists and for gauging demand (in a provable sense) when planning a print run. The provable demand is also handy when establishing distribution methods, getting them into retail stores, and even when looking to get partners on-board for alternate language editions in foreign markets.
- How much extra work would you say that you’ve created for the people writing the History of Sentinel Comics book while you’ve been making DE? Not that much due to DE, honestly. The Letters Page and all of the Creative Process and Writer’s Room stuff that retroactively adds things into the history has added a lot of work, though. DE wasn’t as much about making up new stuff so much as it was going through the history they’ve already created and harvesting elements from it. The downsides are that running a Kickstarter campaign is just a ton of work and Kickstarter as a platform takes a cut of your final funding through them. So, they’ll see how the core set Kickstarter does, how well DE does in general as a salable product after that, and also how other GTG projects (that aren’t being Kickstarted) do in the interim before deciding to do more of them. There’s a lot of open questions at this point.
- What made you decide on the card numbering like HLEG01 that appears in the corner of each card you’ve previewed so far? How might that change for Baron Blade when Vengeance comes around? Let’s break down your example. That is a Hero deck for LEGacy and is the 01st card alphabetically in his deck. The only real use for these codes is for when somebody is missing a card and so they can contact GTG customer support and specify the card in question by the code. That was a request from the warehouse staff to make such replacements easier on their end. They don’t know what this “Vengeance” thing is that you’re talking about. [This isn’t particularly helpful. It could just be them doubling down on the “expansions aren’t named the same things” joke that’s been a running gag so far in DE discussions. It could be “this is a future problem” and they just don’t have an answer yet, which could also play into the first option to some extent. Or it could be an indication that the team villain content might be such that having a separate deck for Blade in that instance isn’t necessary - which seems low odds to me but you never know. If I had to guess at an answer on this myself, I’d guess that there is just a 4th letter to use in the initial position, H for Hero, V for Villain, E for Environment, and maybe something like T for Team Villain or something.]
- Does Absolute Zero’s classic line “Better bored in here than dead out there.” show up in DE somewhere given that it’s not on the card it used to be on? The line is referenced (in kind of a “nod and a wink” sort of way), but not itself stated because the only time he would have said that line was before he took up the suit and became the hero Absolute Zero.
- Is one of the guards featured in art that Adam previewed Don Vickers? If so, which one? Yes, the one on the right.
- You’ve mentioned that you love “cruel choice” cards like Baron Blade’s Devious Disruption - are there still cards like that? Will you tell us one now? Yes. Devious Disruption is still one of them. There are also a lot of Environment cards now that have this sort of element to them (Megalopolis in particular is built around problems that have multiple means of dealing with them, but they need to be dealt with in some way.
- What’s the most memorable “evil laughter moment” you’ve each had when designing DE? They don’t think they had a lot of those. They didn’t have a lot of “oh, that’s just mean” moments. Lot’s of patting themselves on the back after coming up with something good.
- It sounds like the problem with mixing current and DE content isn’t so much that people will run into situations where the rules don’t make sense so much as the pace of play has been changed such that the older content will simply feel clunky and too slow-paced to be effective - is that a fair assessment? Christopher says that clunkiness is a big part of it. Some mechanics are being phased out or altered, but the main thing will simply be that they’re not playtested to work with one another (and they’re not going to be spending any time doing so). Sentinels of the Multiverse is a thing and it is done and is good and you can play it all you like. Sentinels of the Multiverse: Definitive Edition is its own thing that’s based on what’s come before. A lot of it will be familiar, but some of it will be very different and they’re not spending any time trying to bridge that gap. They’re just starting fresh. The others sign onto that as a fair assessment, chiming in that the speed-of-play issue would likely contribute to the problems (Braithwhite in particular reports that some playtesters had, on their own, tried playing with a mix of content and reported exactly that - the older content had trouble keeping up). “Definitive Edition gets the game out of its own way.”
- This letter also had a preamble about initially thinking that DE wouldn’t be for them, but the enthusiasm that he’s heard from the team talking about it has done more to sell him on it than anything else he could imagine. This prompts Paul to reiterate their position for the Kickstarter that they will be offering full refunds. Back it, get it, play it and if you decide it isn’t for you, return it. They are confident that once most people play this version, they’ll want to hang onto it.
- Will DE have the same, different, or no rules for Nemeses? The same as before. Here’s the thing about Nemesis icons: they add zero rules text to the cards they’re on. Making them do anything else would require adding additional rules text somewhere. Additionally, ignoring them doesn’t break the game in any way. It’s one little extra mechanic for theme/flavor, but otherwise is totally ignorable and it doesn’t hurt anything. Therefore it stays as-is.
- Are you planning on live-streaming people at GTG playing with the new cards? That would be nice, but it would require them to all be in the same place and… gestures at the world we live in at the moment They have some plans for maybe using Tabletop Simulator or similar, but that’s not the same. We’ll see.
- If the Kickstarter doesn’t perform at the level you’re expecting in terms of funds raised, can we be confident that you’ll be pressing on regardless? It’s a fair question. They’re confident that the Kickstarter will fund. They’ve said this before and they’ll say it again: any Kickstarter that you run should be one that you expect to fund. If you do not think it will fund, keep working on your project or other related things (building an audience, working on marketing, etc.) until you are confident that it will fund. Here’s the next part of that, though: if you’ve honestly done all of that legwork ahead of time and then you run your campaign and it doesn’t fund, you don’t make that thing. If you’ve done all of the prep work right and then when the time comes you don’t reach your funding goal, that is important information about the market for your thing that you shouldn’t ignore. They are setting this Kickstarter at $50k and they’re confident that they’ll hit that mark. However, if they don’t, then Definitive Edition will not happen. That would suck as they’ve sunk a lot of time and effort into it at this point, but the sunk cost fallacy is a fallacy nonetheless. If the Kickstarter doesn’t make it to $50k, then Definitive Edition doesn’t deserve to exist. Does that mean that there’s this tiny little voice in Christopher’s head talking about this as a possibility and making him really antsy? Yes, absolutely, and that feels bad, but they wouldn’t be moving forward with it at this time if they weren’t confident in it.
- As an aside, there’s also a tendency for Kickstarters to set their goals low, like “we’re setting it at $20k, but we expect it to hit $200k” which is also a bad way to approach it. Set your funding goal where you need it to be for the thing to get made. If your ending funds wind up blowing that out of the water, great! Make the thing the best it can be! Make some future plans surrounding it as it’s obvious there’s a market for it, but that’s for later. They’ll be running this campaign for 20-some days and Christopher’s pretty sure that it will fund in the first week and very sure that it will fund at some point during the campaign. Whether it gets to $51k or $500k or somewhere in between is just details as far as the point of this Kickstarter goes.
- Regarding that last point, it’s also very easy for people to fall into a trap of trying to maximize that end funding level. Stretch goals! Exclusives! Gotta give people a reason to give you more money! But do you? For this Kickstarter they’re setting pledge levels and goals so that people will give them enough money to make sure that this thing happens. They’re not going to fall into this trap again like they did somewhat with OblivAeon. Everything is done and they’re not going to add more stuff to do after the campaign because that would just delay things.
- That all being said, it’s possible that they could fund, but then the game does really poorly in distribution sales or whatever that indicates that the expansions shouldn’t be a thing, and that’s a hard reality that they might have to face too.
- A worst-case of “Adam and Christopher both die” leading to the end of SotM projects also prompts a short discussion from the two of them. Even if just one of them died it likely wouldn’t go on. Adam says that there’s nobody else that he would want to work on this stuff with and so would have to just walk away from it to work on something else. Christopher would feel the need to at least try to complete anything that they had already promised to people before stopping. He would want to cap things off before walking away.
- Would you equate the value of bringing an Event Collection into a game to what an OblivAeon Mission Reward is? It’s not as strong as a Reward, if nothing else due to the fact that Rewards tend to stick around rather than being one-off effects.
- Could you tell us the core set Villain difficulty ratings and what they represent (and if that’s too much to ask, how about just Omnitron who I often use as my teaching game)? Not going into that at this time. It’ll all be talked about between now and the end of the Kickstarter, though. They don’t particularly think Omnitron is a good teaching villain - the flipping back and forth every turn is a little fiddly for new players to have to deal with. In DE the lack of One-Shot cards might also contribute to being a sub-optimal teaching game. The Fabricate/Exterminate mechanics now mean that usually at this point players can see the really bad stuff coming a turn or two in advance and can plan ways of dealing with them, which is neat.
- Does Bee Bot still look more like a hornet? Yes.
- [Comment about loving the previewed art so far, well, except the ’90s art because the letter writer doesn’t like that style.] Adam admits that there are some art pastiche pieces he’s included that are of specific notable artists of whatever era who were very prominent/influential and so deserve inclusion, but whom Adam himself doesn’t particularly like himself.
- Will DE come with art prints? A lot of people are annoyed that previous games included them. The majority of people don’t care about them. A few people really like them. With that particular ratio in mind, they won’t be including them. They might try to find some kind of print-on-demand thing on their webstore where you can get prints made from your card of choice eventually to address those people who want them. Systems for doing this sort of thing exist, but they’d have to actually do the work to get it in place before that could happen.
- You’ve said that Critical Events will introduce villain variants, but what about… less critical events; “The Matriarch” only really had 3 stories, her original one around Freedom Five Annual #2, “A Murder Most Fowl” which was a Biomancer frame-job, and the story where Ignazio Gallo’s curse kicks in and the heroes have to try to save her (maybe something along the lines of a Herioc Infinitor setup where the variant is a Hero target), so what exactly is her Critical Event going to be like? Can’t say regarding the Matriarch in particular, but they just have Events and Critical Events. The latter tend to be more difficult.
- From the Bottom of the 9th card in the Champion Studios deck we know that “assistant editor’s month” was a thing at Sentinel Comics, we also know that Skinwalker GloomWeaver was cut short by editorial demand, will there be a third type of Event that models these kinds of meta events that affect the story? If they did that sort of thing it would still just be an Event or Critital Event.
- Braithwhite: was there any bit of art or text that you pitched to Christopher and Adam for inclusion? Not that he can recall. Christopher remembers him asking that the Quark-Drive Translocator have like a laser gun on it or something. Most of his input was mechanical in nature. Adam and Christopher had started with a spreadsheet of all of the cards and they pinned down the comic/art/flavor stuff before Christopher and Braithwhite started poking at the mechanical stuff. That was helpful for him limiting his impulses to change things as it meant that he had a list of what all of the art was going to be was already present - while you could make small suggestions to tweak things, he didn’t want to be changing large swaths of what Adam was working on.
- Looking at Christopher’s discussions of menswear and melee weapons, does Braithwhite have any non-game-related hobbies/interests that he can tell us about? Mainly baking, and then mostly things that are bad for him like pies and other desserts. The pandemic has exacerbated that as he’s in his house most of the time now. He also does some art stuff like creative writing or painting the occasional mini. He and Christopher will play co-op video games sometimes, but he enjoys single-player games with good stories too.
- Are there any clever nods in DE to any of the podcast regulars (say, something from Cooltopia)? They don’t think so, at least nothign overt. They’ll leave it as an excersize for the public to identify things that came about on the podcast, though (like, the current version’s video game by Handelabra has extra character dialog and Wager Master mentions something about the Animalverse). Honestly, that sort of thing is more likely to show up in the History of Sentinel Comics book.
- Will Andy Arenson still be in Chairman’s deck? That’s a future problem. [Technically, they do the “Chairman? Who’s Chairman?” thing again, which I’m interpreting as “future problems”.]
- Is the OblivAeon event still a hard limit on how far the DE content will go, or are things like a Beacon or Muerto deck possibilities down the line? Definitely a future problem. It’s way too far out for them to be talking about that. It’s a fair question to ask, and they expect that people will continue to ask them, but they just can’t talk about things that far in the future at this point. Consider this, though: they aren’t saying “no” definitively right now.
- How do we become playtesters for future products? Contact Braithwhite. Either on the forums, discord, email, or any of the other varied means of communication we have at our disposal at this point.
- Do we know anything about the in-the-box insert for DE? For one, there is a small box included for the tokens.
- Are there any nemesis pairings that have changed? Not yet for the main cards. There are some that show up in the Events that might surprise people, though.
- Regarding prints, would GTG give permission for people who have the digital files to print them at a print shop of some sort? Here’s the thing. There’s a certain amount of work that goes into the permissions stuff. To this point, they’ll occasionally get one-off requests for specific things that have a story (like somebody wants to do something for a wedding, say) and they’ve often granted permission on a case-by-case basis. That stops being a viable option the moment that they start getting too many requests as they’d just have to change the blanket policy to “no” just due to the amount of work that any “yes” responses would generate. As they said earlier, they have dreams of being able to set up an automated print-on-demand option for them (or shirts and hats and whatnot) directly through their store. They need to get the new website fully up and running before they can even get started on that ambition.