Hey champs, Robbie here, catching up with James in a little Q&A about the upcoming booster set, Arcane Rising (ARC).
So… “Arcane”. Spells and wizardry. What’s up with that?
James: I’ve been a huge fan of fantasy my whole life… and what’s a fantasy world without magical elements?
WTR introduces the framework of FAB and its unique combat system. Essentially.. this is the part we release to the public to learn the basic game system.
But it was always the intent to build on it. Really, the game as a “whole” isn’t realised until WTR and ARC comes together to form the complete FAB experience.
Mighty risky move, not including magical elements in WTR
James: Well… it’s always good to surprise… to improve… and for FAB to evolve over time. I want FAB to be something the players can enjoy for many, many years to come. Revealing arcane and magic in ARC is definitely going to surprise and please a lot of people, but so will every set!
Going further into the future, we’ve plenty of surprises yet to come…
How were ARC heroes developed, with respect to WTR?
James: So, for each year of product releases, we would develop a large number of heroes and drill down to 7 heroes that we work on simultaneously. That might sound like a strange number but… there’s a logic behind it.
We knew there were 4 core melee classes we definitely wanted to include, which were revealed in WTR, and some amount of casters coming in ARC. The final class is a bit of a mystery; it’s not melee, it’s not a caster…
Well, the final hero was designed to have the right feeling in terms of flavour and fit, with game mechanics that would work beautifully with the other three heroes to create a great booster draft and sealed deck experience.
Would you say that ARC is a big step up in terms of complexity?
James: It’s not as straightforward as that. I feel like ARC gives players the “full game experience”. You get melee, and magic, and more… and you get it all together; it’s the full, unabridged FAB experience.
We spent seven years developing FAB to make sure that as the game system grows, the complexity does not grow exponentially... so that it remains simple yet elegant, and most importantly, fun to play.
So I would go as far as to say that ARC may be even more… intuitive to play than WTR, esp. now that players have begun to develop the fundamental understandings of how the game system functions.
But yeah, ultimately we want to provide players with a wide range of options and strategies… new and exciting ways to play… without making the game feel bogged down with complexity or technicalities.
What’s the major difference, beyond magic and spells, between ARC and WTR?
James: I think one thing that’s interesting is a shift in the pace of gameplay. With both sets together, the gameplay pace should be faster, and even more dynamic.
ARC is a much more aggressive format. For a start, the game pace is a lot faster. In WTR, we have two classes which can play a very long, slow, defensive, grinding game. You can even apply that game strategy to all our classes, really.
ARC has much fewer defensive cards, a lot more proactive cards, new and different ways of playing aggressive strategies and go again. There are a lot of cards with go again, lots of opportunity to play out your whole hand and have very action-packed, exciting turns.
Will there still be ways to play those kinds of (defensive) strategies?
James: As game devs, we’re very aware of the different builds that are available to fit into - the aggro, the control, the combo, the mid-range… etc. They all still exist, it’s just that ARC falls more on the aggressive end of the spectrum, especially for limited play.
How do WTR heroes stack up against ARC heroes?
James: It’s very balanced. Both of these groups of heroes were developed side-by-side and as a development team we’ve played all eight of these heroes against each other, across thousands of games spanning many years. We know that the constructed format is very balanced between the eight heroes.
Do you think ARC will increase the skill-cap of FAB? ie. what the best players can do with the given tools
James: Well I think what you can do with the given tools definitely expands in scope significantly. There’s much more options, different ways to combat existing strategies… and more.
People will have to think differently about how they build their decks, and not just the ARC heroes but WTR heroes too!
Is that what we’d expect for all the sets going forward?
James: Yeah, each new set that we release will bring new tools to the table for existing heroes. Sometimes they will force our existing heroes to evolve in drastic ways, and sometimes in subtle ways. This can be through the generic cards, or with the fundamental strategies that a new class brings into the game system. Many sets will also interact with past sets to create interesting new strategies.
Would you say that ARC is more fun (compared to WTR)?
James: If you like throwing magical bolts of aether at people, if that’s your bag, absolutely! We shouldn’t disclose too much, but ARC will definitely appeal to people in different ways.
FAB is all about playing as your hero, getting into the skin of that character and really feeling like that you are that hero in the way that your cards play out. I’m personally a huge fan of casters, of mages and wizards, and that’s my bag. I love playing this kind of character, throughout my childhood and my adult years, I’ve always been drawn to casters, ones who are physically weaker but use their mental prowess and otherworldly powers to achieve greatness.
So for me, that really excites me, and I think we’ve done a good job translating that into the gameplay experience of the Wizard (and others), and I think that’s what’s important about this set. That’s what’s important for Arcane Rising, you’re getting a very different gaming experience when you get inside the skin of the ARC heroes.
Does Arcane Rising introduce any new rules, or change any existing ones?
James: ARC doesn’t change any existing rules, but it does introduce new ways to interact within the existing rules framework. It’s an expansion of what people know about our game. It builds on the knowledge base - the fundamentals of the game do not change in any way. The game is about pitching cards to gain resources, and spending action points to play cards. Nothing about that has changed.
However, the way that cards interact with each other, it brings new interactions and new card effects to the table. People don’t have to learn anything new about how to play the game with ARC, they just have to read the cards and learn how the different card’s effects interact with each other.
We’ve talked a lot about casters and the “Wizard”. What is a wizard, to you?
James: We’re going to have a really great piece of content coming out which explains the magic system of Rathe, and there are different kinds of wizards in Rathe, but they all draw from this central source of magical power called aether. Then there are different magical specialisations, which come out of this power of aether.
But to answer your question… For me, a wizard is someone who is not engaged in hand-to-hand combat, he’s someone who’s standing up on the hill, throwing bolts of magical aether at opponents from afar. He’s physically weak, but mentally strong. To me, that’s the wizard - they use intellect to overcome their opponents.
It’s hard to imagine that playing a card could feel so different… you know, between being a melee hero and being a wizard hero - you’re still using “cards”, and you’re still playing them to do damage… so how...?
James: Ah, yes. So the key thing here is - wizards don’t rely on the combat chain.
How will the release of ARC affect cards from WTR?
James: There are some cards in WTR that are going to become a lot more viable than what they currently are, and there are some cards that will become much less dominant.
A bit of a spoiler I guess, but some of the WTR Generics become important in ARC decks, and vice-versa; ARC Generics will provide key new strategies for WTR heroes.
There have been some fan theories on the upcoming heroes & mechanics. Thoughts?
James: I love seeing the fan theories circulating on the internet (yes, we read them...).
It makes me happy to see that people are so passionate, and yes there’s some great theories and concepts floating around out there… I think when it comes to preview season, some people are going to feel very, very clever.
That concludes this Q&A!
We look forward to sharing ARC with you soon.
James White is the Founder, CEO, and Game Designer of Legend Story Studios. Robbie Wen is the Creative Director and CTO.