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Darkwood Games - Elementile

Created by Darkwood Games

Darkwood Games presents Elementile Utilize the power of the elements to summon an army of units and cast spells! A new competitive card game featuring 582 cards.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Mechanic Spotlight – Banners
10 months ago – Tue, Nov 30, 2021 at 06:56:45 PM

Hi Elementalists,

It's the final countdown! There are a little less than 2 days left in the campaign so this will be our last Mechanic Spotlight for Kickstarter. Today, we'd like to showcase Banner cards.


Mechanic Spotlight – Banners

Banners are a special variety of spell in Elementile which represent the highest level of mastery attainable for a single element.  There is only a single banner per element, and like prowess costs, each one requires a large investment into their representative element.  More specifically, each one requires four of that specific element, the highest possible single demand in the game, but for your devotion and skill to a single focus you are rewarded with an effect that is not only emblematic of your element of choice, but also is guaranteed to last the entire game.

Unlike any other ongoing effect in Elementile, banners exist outside of the field of play and cannot be interacted with or removed in any way once played.  The effects of banners can range from passive buffs to your units (or even you yourself) to recurring effects to be used during your turn, all of which serve to turn the tide of battle in your favor.  For the former we have the Fire and Earth banners Blazing Surge and Might of Gaia.

Art by Vivian Hernandez. Final art in progress.

These banners give your units an edge over the competition, either by increasing health and attack power, or adding extra armor.  In the case of Might of Gaia, you get to enjoy the effects of armor as well, an effect unique to this banner.


On the other side of the coin there are the banners Wind, Light, and Darkness which grant you ongoing effects to be used on each turn, similar to having a free burst spell at your disposal every turn.

Art by Bianca Esquivel and Vivian Hernandez. Final art in progress.

From repositioning key units, to retributive judgment, to lethal strikes, these banners all provide an ongoing choice for the caster.  While some of these effects exist in burst spells or the special abilities of units, having them at your disposal to be flexibly targeted turn after turn is sure to give you a strong advantage over your opponent.


The last banner is the Water banner, and it is a bit of a hybrid of the two.

Art by Vivian Hernandez. Final art in progress.

Rainy Day not only provides a freezing effect at the start of each of your turns, but also an ongoing buff to freezing effects in general, which can strengthen the rest of your freezing units and support spells.

With so many powerful effects available, you may be ready to just pick your favorite element and run with it, attempting to rush out a banner as early as possible.  While casting a banner early is a great way to ensure you get the most possible value out of it, it can sometimes be easier said than done.  In addition to four of a single element, banners also tend to require a decently advantageous, or at least neutral, board state.  While their effects are powerful, because they are ongoing, they are not generally as immediately impactful as other 4 cost plays in the game.  This makes committing to a banner not only a steep element cost, but also a decent tempo sacrifice.  Over time, this sacrifice can pay dividends and be the deciding factor in a match, especially when played along synergistic units and spells which can make the most of the banner, but I would personally caution against expecting a banner to single-handedly bail you out of a bad situation.


And that is going to be a wrap on banners!  Which banner is your favorite?  Do any of them get your deck building ideas flowing?  If they do, feel free to head on over to the card library to check out the full set and start theory crafting!


Best,

Zach Mitchell, Darkwood Games

Card Spotlight - Lighting Cross
10 months ago – Sat, Nov 27, 2021 at 02:30:47 PM

Hello Elementalists!

There are just four days left in the campaign, and we're on track for a strong finish! We've begun initiating the creation of the remaining art for the game and plan to have all assets complete within the next six months. At that point, the final files will be sent to our manufacturer and all backers who pledged more than $10.00 will receive their Print and Play copy of Elementile, so you can play and familiarize yourself with the game before the physical copies are mailed out. We will be sure to keep everyone updated every step of the way from the end of the campaign to product delivery and welcome any questions that you may have. You all are the best and your support for this dream of ours means the world to us.


This next update will focus on another card spotlight - Lightning Cross.


Card Spotlight - Lighting Cross

Who doesn’t love a good one-sided board clear? Well with some careful positioning, Lightning Cross can get the job done. In all of it’s iterations, Lightning Cross is a threat to be respected whenever facing up against a Fire and Light deck. If you haphazardly walk your units across the board, you could be hit with a blow-out spell. It isn’t uncommon for it to kill 2 or 3 units outright, and rarely, but awesomely, hitting all 5 enemy targets.

Lightning doesn’t discriminate between friend or foe, so you have to be careful to not zap your own units… or count them as a necessary sacrifice to wipe out several enemies.

Lightning Cross Versions 1 and 2. Placeholder art by Vivian Hernandez.

Originally, Lightning Cross dealt 5 damage to 5 spaces (in the same pattern as other versions) for 5 elements. It felt incredibly powerful, often being a complete blow out card, but we waited to make adjustments because all of our data was with newer players. New players don’t know to be mindful of the possibility of Lightning Cross and will accidentally position their units to get totally smoked by the X or + patterned attack. We wanted to see if the card was still as powerful against players with more game knowledge.

Eventually, we nerfed the damage from 5 down to 4. Even with experience, it was hard to not have 2+ units in range and with 5 or less effective health around turn 5 or 6 of the game. However, this change was a much bigger reduction in the card’s power than we first thought. Moving to 4 damage meant that Lightning Cross could no longer one-shot many common mid-game threats, including high priority targets like Reginald. For 5 elements, Lighting Cross often just didn’t have enough impact at the cost. It could do a good job softening a lot of targets, but unless you had the clean up crew already in position, this didn’t do enough to justify missing the chance to play a 5 cost unit instead.

Lightning Cross Version 3. Art by Amanda Kwieraga. Art is not final and subject to change.

Lightning Cross was returned to 5 damage, but with a catch: It could no longer be played before your attacks. This was a compromise between giving the spell enough punch, and reining in some of its strength as an absolute beast of a tempo swing. Without that clause, you could cast Lightning Cross on ~2 targets and likely kill both, then advance into those now cleared spaces and attack deeper than expected. This led to incredible game-ending plays where Light/Fire was just too hard to stop if they were lucky enough to play a 1, 2, 3, 4 cost units in order,  Lightning Cross your defenses, and walk into your backrow.

In its final state, Lightning Cross is a threat to be respected. Every player would be wise to watch their positioning when facing Light/Fire decks. It remains a powerful spell to swing a game back in your favor, and a great way to reset a softened or low cost mess of units.


Even when the skies look clear, be wary of the cross out there.

Lightning Cross art by Amanda Kwieraga. Art is not final and subject to change.

See you on the Elemental Plane!


Best,

Ryan The Ox Stock, Darkwood Games

Card Design Spotlight - Gaia Pulse
10 months ago – Wed, Nov 24, 2021 at 04:21:01 PM

Hi Elementalists!

We're almost in the final week our the campaign, and we just want to say that we can't thank you all enough for your support, comments, questions, and feedback for Elementile! Over the last few updates, we focused primarily on explaining some of the unique mechanics of the game and highlighting its many potential iterations. During the development of Elementile, there were also a number of creature and spell cards that needed to be balanced and rebalanced. We hope you enjoy this sneak-peek behind the curtain of our game design and would welcome any additional questions! Enjoy!


Card Spotlight - Gaia Pulse

Resource acceleration is always a careful balancing act and impossible to evaluate in a vacuum. Because every card has a cost, the power of effects that reduce cost or generate more resources are impacted by every other card in the game. The relative strength of any resource accessorator centers around the risk/reward payoff. How much are you exposed to swift punishment from an aggressive assault, what else could you have done with the turn you accelerated, and how quickly can you start powering out bigger threats? These are the three main questions of tempo, opportunity cost, and payoffs.


Version 1 - Big Ramp, Big Reward

Placeholder art by Vivian Hernandez. Version 1 of Gaia Pulse: 3 cost (EE1), 2 depleted elements (Can’t be used this turn)

The first iteration of Gaia Pulse was quite strong at first glance. Gaining 2 elements for 1 card was a net gain of 1 card. When cast on turn 3 and adding an element through sacrifice on turn 4, it allowed you to cast a 6 cost card on turn 4. Landing a Dragon or Angel on turn 4 was pretty insane, especially if you played first with the start of game rules the game had at the time (no element advantage for player 2). Your giant bomb could obliterate even the tankiest of 4 drops, like Animated Armor. The worst part (for you opponent) is that next turn you still had that element lead, and could follow it up with another giant threat, like the punching tree Elder Trent.

Giant units at 6 and 7 cost demolished early units

However, playing Gaia Pulse wasn’t always a slam dunk victory. The big cost with the spell was your turn 3 tempo, risking a quick beatdown by your opponent’s 1, 2, 3, 4 curve. It was common for the Gaia Pulse player to start their post-ramp turn with five or less health and three enemies at their door ready to finish them off. Several early game units, most notably Sprite and Scout, initially had 2 movement speed. As 1 cost units, this allowed aggressive decks to blitz into your back row and kill you very quickly if not combated. Effectively losing a turn in the early game was extremely risky. The payoff units may be absolute monsters, but they often can’t deal with many threats quickly enough (Dragon’s cone attack being the most effective, but not always sufficient). Leave just one unit in your back row and your opponent can summon and attack you immediately. In Elementile, taking damage to your face is usually a sign that the game will be over in a turn or two. Players are NOT tanky (with a total of only 10 health), so the tempo loss of Gaia Pulsing on turn 3 wasn’t without risk.

Gaia Pulse also suffered from the start of game rules that initially governed the game. Initially, both players started with zero elements, which gave the first player a tempo advantage the entire game. Elementile has a tempo theme to it, where putting your opponent on the backfoot can compound into an overwhelming position over just a few turns. Player 2 did start with an extra card, and got to search for their tutored card after they drew, but those advantages proved minor compared to the massive advantage of tempo and strength of being Player 1. This meant that Gaia Pulse was amazing when playing first and nearly unplayable when going second.

The change to the start of game rules, combined with nerfs to Scout and Spirit’s speed proved to be huge indirect buffs to Gaia Pulse. It was now much less risky to pull off a turn 3 pulse, and it thrived (The Ox made this deck tech video in that era of the game: https://youtu.be/aTMKbIY8jHk). The ramp decks started dominating, and Gaia Pulse was a favored first pick, allowing you to basically just draft 6+ cost bombs after that, almost irrespective of element color. It’s amazing how dramatically changes to other cards can shift the viability of other cards, and resource acceleration cards often sit right in the middle of that shifting midline of balance.


Version 2 - Nerfed!

Placeholder art by Vivian Hernandez. Version 2 of Gaia Pulse: Cost reduced by 1, but effect reduced to 1

The second version of Gaia Pulse changed the number of elements added from 2 to 1. It translated to a dramatic change to the card’s efficiency. If I can always sacrifice a card for an element, do I really want to pay 2 elements to make that exchange? Yes, it's still acceleration, and you do have access to 4 elements on the turn you normally would have 3. But, with similar downsides to before (missing an early turn) the payoffs just weren’t as appealing. The power jump in most curves hits at 5, not at 4. So you pay the cost of your turn 2 and don’t see the real payoff for 2 turns. It’s possible to ramp on turn 3 alongside a 1 cost card, but most of our playtesters avoided drafting too many 1 cost cards. This version of Gaia Pulse wasn’t played often, with our playtesters frequently reporting pitching it for an element the old fashioned way instead of actually casting the card. I think this version could have been viable with enough meta exploration, but it still wasn’t that interesting.


Version 3 - A Careful Middle

Art by Jesus Da Silva. Version 3 of Gaia Pulse: Cost was increased by one Triversity, but the element was useable immediately and it replaced itself

The third and final iteration of Gaia Pulse was part of a wave of changes to use Triversity on more cards. Triversity (the rainbow triangle) costs 1 of any element (like Generic costs), but is discounted if you have three or more Element types in your Elemental Plane. Most cards that gained Triversity were stuck in a tough middle spot: too weak at their full cost, but too strong any cheaper. You can read more about Triversity here: link.

This change repositioned Gaia Pulse as a flexible ramp card. You no longer had to cast it as soon as possible, but could weave it in on a turn where you could cast it alongside another unit or spell. If you had a diverse element base, casting it on turn 4 when you had Earth, Earth, X, Y elements allowed you to still cast a 3 drop! The card draw allowed the card to maintain it’s card efficiency over normal sacrifice, without ramping you two full turns ahead of your opponent. I’m normally not a fan of card design that balances by added complexity, but Gaia Pulse uses this complexity to increase the choices possible with its use - something I do love. The card now feels great to use when weaved into your curve, but doesn’t dominate with the same ‘kill me next turn or you lose’ that the first version commanded.


Resource acceleration is a tricky act to balance. It’s viability is held in tension by the speed of the meta, the power of the bombs, and the opportunity cost of the turn you give up for it.

Final Art for Gaia Pulse by Jesus Da Silva.

I hope you find creative and interesting ways to weave Gaia Pulse into your next Elementile deck!


Happy Ramping,

Ryan The Ox Stock, Darkwood Games

Mechanic Spotlight – Prowess Cost
10 months ago – Mon, Nov 15, 2021 at 11:53:27 PM

Hello Elementalists!

It’s time for the last mechanic spotlight, this time looking at Prowess costs!

Mechanic Spotlight – Prowess Cost

Prowess costs for Fire, Light, Wind, Earth, Darkness, and Water

The last spotlight focused on Triversity, a mechanic which incentivizes branching out into many different elements in order to play cards more efficiently.  Prowess cost is on the other end of the spectrum, and is a mechanic that incentivizes building up a bunch of a single element type.

Art by Vivian Hernandez. Final art in progress.

Prowess costs are symbolized by a crystal and number next to the Element cost on the top left corner of specific cards, and it functions as an alternate cost for that card.  If you control a number of the symbolized Elements equal to or greater than the Prowess cost, then you’re able to play the card without using any of your elements, essentially utilizing it for free.  For example, Tactical Summoning, shown above, is an Earth spell that can only be played while summoning a unit and increases that unit's base Armor stat until the start of your next turn. If you have three Earth elements in your Elemental Plane before casting this spell, you may use Prowess to play Tactical Summoning for free instead of paying the traditional cost of one Earth and one Generic element. This strategy strongly encourages and incentives players to build up more of a single element type.

Prowess costs are rare in Elementile, and they tend to be on utility spells, which have effects that are useful, but won't unbalance the game when they’re played for free.  These cards act as a reward for specializing in a specific element, allowing the player to gain one time benefits for their investment.

Art by Bianca Esquivel and Vivian Hernandez. Final art in progress.

Winds of Fortune and Divine Gift are both examples of utility spells which could fit into almost any deck, but become even stronger when they can be cast for free.

If you would like to take a look to see what sort of Prowess cards your favorite element has, check out the full card library here!


As we reach the halfway mark of our campaign, we’d like to thank you all so much for the love and support!  I hope these spotlights have helped foster your excitement as we get into the home stretch here.  We are so thrilled to be able to share Elementile with you and can’t wait to see you on the Elemental Plane!


Best,

Zach Mitchell, Darkwood Games

Mechanic Spotlight - Triversity
11 months ago – Sat, Nov 13, 2021 at 06:05:49 PM

Hello Elementalists!

Our next mechanic Spotlight is about Triversity!


Mechanic Spotlight - Triversity

Triversity is a unique element cost that can be found on some cards.

Like Generic costs, Triversity element costs can normally be paid with any type of element. However, if your Elemental Plane contains three different types of elements (ex. Earth, Fire, and Water), then you have ‘activated’ Triversity and no longer have to pay these costs at all.  This allows you to play cards like the Wintermist Walker for one element cheaper as a reward for branching out into three or more main element types.

Art by Dorian Blaze.

Cards with Triversity costs are naturally great options to include in decks that naturally want to spread out into three or more elements, but they are also solid splash additions to decks that are looking for access to tools outside of their primary element’s capabilities.  As an example, if you were building a Water/Wind deck, but wanted access to damage-based removal, Fireball may end up being your go-to option.

Art by Vivian Hernandez. Final Art in Progress.

While not the strongest removal effect, Fireball will allow you to gain access to damage based removal efficiently, since by using Triversity, it will only cost a single fire element to play it.


While Triversity has now found a home on all sorts of cards, it was originally developed as a solution to appropriately balance card costs.  Due to the momentum-based nature of the game, some cards ended up being in a position where they were incredibly powerful at a low cost, but increasing the cost even by a single element could make them very unattractive options.

Wisp and Gaiapulse are both examples of cards that were a little too powerful when played very early in the game, but didn’t see too much play when their element costs were increased.

Art by Bianca Esquivel. Final Art in Progress.

Wisp’s two flying movement is a bit too tough to deal with at one element, even with no offensive capability to back that movement up.  Though the Wisp can take great advantage of an empty board, it can be hard to find time to sink two elements into a unit with no offensive capability at all in the mid to late game.  Similarly as a ramp spell Gaiapulse is more effective the earlier it’s played.  The longer the game goes on, the less effective ramping your resources will be, since you have fewer turns to take advantage of the increased resources.  If a card like this is too cheap, it becomes the outright best lead option for every deck that has given earth a passing glance, but if it is too expensive, it’ll never get played at all.

For these cases, adding a Triversity cost is a good way to add a turn constraint to playing these cards.  In the case of the Wisp, it prevents the creature from being summoned on the very first turn for the first player, but keeps the cost low in the mid to late game. 


 If you’re the kind of player who likes to play with all the elements, keep an eye out for Triversity cards while browsing the card library.  Thank you so much for your support, and we’ll see you in the next update!


Best,

Zach Mitchell, Darkwood Games