Not every card game has persistent card effects. One of the criticisms of card games without them, such as Hearthstone (excepting a few cards such as Raid Leader) is that winning the game generally devolves into what card game veterans call “creature bashing.” Longtime Magic: the Gathering veterans who are used to playing decks with insane non-creature combos or alternate win conditions are some of Hearthstone’s biggest critics because the game lacks the sort of variety of gameplay that comes with having cards that sit on the battlefield and provide an effect without having a creature body.
The original design of Zems was going to include these kinds of cards, generally called ‘enchantments’. In the original Zems design, there would be two kinds: Persist cards, which provide a persistent card effect for some number of turns, and Environment cards, which provided a permanent effect. After receiving feedback from our Ludum Dare entry on how complex the game was, we’ve taken steps to make the game more accessible for players new to CCG games without sacrificing the variety that comes with having enchantment cards.
The Return of Shrines
- Problem: Have enchantment-type cards in the game without increasing the learning curve for newer players.
- Solution: Utilize an existing card type (creatures) as the base for enchantments.
We originally used the term ‘shrine’ to mean something else entirely, but I won’t touch on that here. Shrines in Zems are essentially creature cards that cannot attack and cannot move. The best way to picture them is as ‘building’ cards. Specifically, these are the attributes shrine cards will have:
Shrines will be placed on the grid just like creature cards. If a shrine’s health equals zero, it is destroyed and sent to the graveyard, just like a creature. The idea is that a shrine is a sort of magical portal that maintains some sort of spell, and if the portal is destroyed then the spell dissipates.
This means that unlike other card games where enchantments can only be destroyed by cards that destroy enchantments, in Zems it is possible to destroy a shrine using a creature. The fact that the shrine goes on the grid instead of to an alternate zone, which we originally planned to do with Persist cards, means that we can now create persistent spacial effects such as the ability to boost the attack power of creatures near the shrine or to restore the health of a creature if it goes near the shrine.
We also want to introduce non-creature win conditions through the use of shrines. Creature bashing on a grid is fun and very interesting when movement is concerned, but eventually it gets old. Shrines will allow us to support decks that run zero creatures, which is a concept very few online CCGs actually have, and we are quite excited to add them into the game.