Hey Mages! This is the last game design talk about elements. And I have to admit I’m a bit excited for this one as it is quite a peculiar element. Today we talk about the specialist of intricacy, the king of the unexpected and the master of crazy interactions. Today we talk about Arcane.

Galactic mantle by Johann Goutard

Galactic mantle by Johann Goutard

So what is Arcane about exactly?

Arcane is the magic of space and time. It’s the type of Magic that was discovered the most recently within the Circle due to its complexity. It touches the fabric of reality itself and as such can lead to very unexpected results. There is one main thing we wanted to convey with Arcane:

  • Intricacy

And by intricacy we really do mean this word and all of the latin roots it derives from. “Intricat-” means “entangled” and comes from “tricae” meaning “tricks, perplexities”.

We know more advanced players will eventually want to go further into what the spell system in Mage Noir can do. And we want to give them the opportunity to do so with Arcane.

What we did with Arcane

One of the first things we wanted to focus on for Arcane was to make full use of our spell crafting system. We wanted an element that would have different card effects depending on the component you use to cast them!

Just like some Air or Water cards reference your components to apply their effects, here we wanted to go the other way around. The component would refer to the spell using them in order to change it.

Thus we created time components. We could try to explain them to you with text, but a picture is worth a thousand words.

Millenia card Split second card

For instance a card needing one Time component that would simply inflict 3 damages would either:

  • Deal 6 damages if it was cast using Millenia
  • Deal 2 damages if it was cast by a regular Mage with Split second
  • Deal 4 damages if it was cast by a Mage noir with Split second

So as you can see, this system allows for a lot of possibilities only using one simple spell. And keep in mind this is for a very simple effect: some other effects might be way more interesting to play with using this sort of interactions. This gives Arcane a lot of depth and allows players to fine tune their deck with a lot of precision.

This also involves that a spell requiring a Time component has an additional cost, but also an open gate to make it even stronger and more interesting to use.

This gave us a very solid base for an interesting and fun to use element. But we also had to take into account the flavor and what the element is about.

It’s about time

So how do you represent time in a card game? Well we looked at it from an extremely pragmatic point of view. You start the game and as time passes on while you play, your cards go from your deck, to your hand, to your board, and then they go to your discard pile.

At the end of a game, cards went from your deck to your discard pile, simple as that. So that would mean the natural flow of going towards the future is actually as simple as… auto-milling.

For those who might not be familiar with it, milling is the name given in card games to putting cards from a deck directly to the discard pile. So travelling in the future would mill yourself for a given amount of cards depending on how far you want to go.
On the contrary, making cards go from your discard pile to various places in the game like your board, hand or deck means going back in time. The number of cards and where they go would represent how far you went in the past.

As a result, it was very clear to us that Arcane had to interact with the player’s deck and discard pile. This allows you to turn back time and use it wisely to get strong and interesting effects.

We like this philosophy because playing with time can also lead to dangerous side effects, like bringing you closer to death by self milling or bringing you in a time loop, making you use the same spells again and again.

For instance, as strong as this equipment can be, what would happen if you were to cast it with no cards to self mill or draw at your disposal?

Galactic mantle card

Well you would end up having to play with the same spells again and again without being able to access your deck.

This is why playing Arcane requires a good level of foresight, making sure you’re not putting yourself in bad situations while searching for incredible effects. Many Arcane Mages ended up lost in time loops, be careful with it.

Weak spells, great combos

Even if the intricacy and the flavor of Arcane was great, this was not enough to make an element. It also needed to have a given weakness.

So Arcane got the least powerful base firing power. With spells inflicting as much as 0 damages (Yeah we do have one that does exactly that). And a very special and weird way to inflict damage, Arcane has a lot of tools at its disposal but not that many to simply harm its opponent. Making it a great support element but a pretty weak offensive one when trying to use its spells one by one without synergizing them.

Having this weakness would make its strength even more emphasized, promoting intricacy and its ability to enhance spells with Time components even further.

The one thing we’re sure of is that Arcane is definitely one of the most interesting elements we’ve designed and the most complex to grasp too. It has an incredible number of layers of understanding and always more interesting combos to discover.

Rite of passage by Jeffrey Jeanson

Rite of passage by Jeffrey Jeanson

But we’ll let you discover all of that when you play Arcane for the first time.

See you later Mages!

We hope you’re as hyped as we are for Arcane as it is really an element we’re proud of. We have the ambition to think it could bring really new things to the cards game genre all by itself. We’re eager to discover what kind of crazy interactions you Mages will manage to pull off.

This was the last game design talk presenting the elements. We still have some subjects we’d like to talk to you about so you can still look forward to the next game design talk.

Until next time though, take care of yourselves Mages, and have fun!