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Meromorph Games is a game company, creators of the card games The Shipwreck Arcana and Norsaga.

Meromorph Games Blog

Art and gameplay design diary as well as current news and updates.

Shipwreck Arcana promo playtesting

Meromorph Games

If you’re one of the brave souls who’s expressed interest in trying out the new batch of Shipwreck Arcana promo cards, stay tuned — we’ve got the final concepts in hand, and will be sending them to playtesters within the next week or two.

If you haven’t reached out yet but are interested in helping out, please shoot us a note via meromorphgames@gmail.com!

Shipwreck Arcana Reprint and Mini-expansion

Meromorph Games

Post-Gen Con greetings! While we've previously talked about potential upcoming projects, this post is meant to cover a new subject (for us): reprints! We're close to exhausting the initial print run of The Shipwreck Arcana, which means we're figuring out the logistics of a 2nd Edition print run campaign.

Why run a reprint via Kickstarter? Primarily: logistics. We can try to personally fund a print run up front, but we're not sure how many to print. We can freight them to the U.S. and continue fulfilling via the webstore, but that's challenging for international patrons who can't afford expensive shipping. We could try a preorder system, but raising awareness is hard. Doing a Kickstarter -- and throwing in some spicy new bonus cards via a mini-expansion -- helps solve all three issues.

We're currently planning to launch the 2nd Edition campaign on January 29th, 2019. If you or someone you know has been waiting to grab The Shipwreck Arcana (especially internationally), this will be a great time to obtain everything at a reduced shipping cost. If you're a previous backer who's interested some new cards, please keep an eye out as well. You can join our mailing list to be notified when the Kickstarter launches (currently, that is absolutely all we use if for). You can also keep an eye on the Meromorph Games page on Kickstarter directly.

And speaking of those new cards, here's one of the concepts we're playtesting:

 Fuse: Play one of your fates here. Each turn, I fade if the sum of my visible fates is at least twice your hidden fate.

Fuse: Play one of your fates here. Each turn, I fade if the sum of my visible fates is at least twice your hidden fate.

Dev Diary: Arcana Breakthroughs

Meromorph Games

Over a year ago, I posted about the iterations that The Shipwreck Arcana's art and theme underwent... and said that my next post would talk about some of the mechanical evolutions that accompanied them. Well, better late than never! Here are some of the minor tweaks that had major impacts on how the final game would play.

Cards fade into powers

An early issue was the search for a comeback mechanic that could provide access to the "helper" powers. Since these powers help you guess right, it felt wrong to reward them only to players who were already succeeding. The suggestion by a friend to award powers each time a card faded meant that you naturally unlocked them as the game progressed, independent of doing well. This was crucial not only to helping players who fell behind, but also in adding more strategy to fading as a whole. "Do we want this to fade so we can use its power later?" became an interesting choice (soon).

The final piece of this puzzle was realizing that we could actually print the power on the back of the cards themselves, providing a clean throughline for how cards transitioned from one game use to another.

 

Canceling fades

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After a year of iteration, the game was "done" but still felt lacking. Turns felt homogenous and the decision making of when to guess versus when to pass wasn't gelling. Another friend and fellow designer suggested something brilliant: what if fading penalties didn't apply when you guessed right? This finally broke the stalemate and created a sense of pacing. Now turns feel different based on how many fates are accruing, which cards are close to fading, and how many powers you have to cancel the penalty.

 

The Hours

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The final major innovation was crafted on a drive back from Playthrough convention in North Carolina. You see, at the time, the rule for "I can't play anywhere" was to begin replacing arcana cards until you could make a play. Sometimes this cycled through 6-9 cards, giving far too much information while skipping over fun card abilities.

We needed a better way to handle this scenario, one that would still cause the game to advance (usually by adding fate to the board). The solution was... what if you just put your fate on the board? But in a way that signaled "I'm playing here illegally." We created a "dumpster" card to make this easier, and had it shift fates to the right so that they would still pile up in front of cards that could fade. (The "shift right" was chosen to prevent gaming the system by piling fates up onto the most durable or least useful cards.)

We got home, playtested it, and found an instant improvement. "I can't play" turns are still rife with information, but no longer the insta-wins of yore.

 

And that's all for today! I can't say thank you enough to the friends who playtested the game with us so much over 2 years, and who helped us slowly but surely craft it into the final version. You are all wonderful!

Gen Con 2018 and Upcoming Games

Meromorph Games

Gen Con 2018 is approaching (Aug 2-5), so here's what's coming up for Meromorph Games!

Gen Con 2018 Exhibit Hall

You'll be able to find us in the Exhibit Hall this year at booth #2646. We'll have existing Norsaga and The Shipwreck Arcana products for sale. Stop by with your Gen Con coupon book to grab a free promo card:

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If you're a Kickstarter backer of either game, we'll also hook you up with those promos, regardless!

We'll be running demos of both games in our booth, along with something new we're working on...

Prototype artwork shown.

Our current project is a pocket fighting game, which requires only a handful of components and features quick, tactical gameplay.

  • Players secretly and simultaneously program their desired actions and movements each round, then reveal and resolve them, which keeps gameplay moving and limits downtime.
  • Luck is limited to a single die roll each player makes each round, which determines their priority. Everything else is outguessing your opponent to land hits before they do.
  • A diverse roster of 12+ characters with their own abilities and signature moves gives endless variety. Special map tiles, gameplay modes, modifiers, and items can be mixed in for even more.
  • The game scales easily from 2-4 players, and we're testing it all the way up to 8 players. Modes include free-for-all and team battle, and we're testing AI opponents for solo and co-op play.

Overall, this game presents a very flexible, expandable fighting system that you can take anywhere, teach anyone, and play quickly. We're excited to be demoing it at our Gen Con booth this year, and after the convention we'll be preparing Print-and-Play files for anyone interested in playtesting the game at home (shoot us an email at meromorphgames@gmail.com if that's you).

If you enjoy it as much as we have, I expect it will make its way to Kickstarter in 2019!

Game design by Peter Plashko, Matthew Bishop, and Dan Miller.