We built Ruins of Elysia on two very basic mechanics (we did put our own spin on a couple of things, though): Deck Building and Tile Laying.
The tile-laying mechanic does the heavy lifting in terms of exploring and building the map. Exploring also involves a push-your-luck mechanic in that as long as you still have movement, every time you place a tile you may choose to end your movement there, or you can keep walking and find out what lays over the next horizon. There are empty terrain tiles and overlay tiles (made out of the same material so you can’t tell until they are drawn) that make up the map. Right now we have 5 terrain types (desert, forest, water, mountain and plains) and 3 overlays (village, ruins, and fortress). Monsters always spawn in Ruins. Villages allow players access to the card market. The fortress is the end boss’s lair. We would love to have more terrain and overlay types, but we want our base game to be reasonably priced.
We didn’t try to re-invent the wheel when it came to deck-building. Our goal is to keep the game as simple and therefore as accessible as possible. While a careful reading of our rulebook will reveal some “neat tricks,” at no point does the game require you to know them to accomplish a goal. In fact, we only broke one norm when it comes to standard deck-building mechanics. In almost every deck-builder, you draw your hand at the end of your turn, play cards, then discard all cards played and all cards still in your hand. That last one was the part we chose to break. Since you might need more weapons cards than money cards (or vice versa), you can leave cards in your hand.
There are only 5 types of resources in the game that the cards provide: coin, card draw, walk, attack and defense. In the interest of keeping things simple, we don’t plan on changing this. Of course, we aren’t counting any text based special ability on the cards themselves as a resource. We would love to add more item cards to the market, the Exploration Deck and even more playable characters, but we feel anything more than what we have right now should be in addition to the base game, such as through booster packs (maybe a new character deck in a tuck box) and expansions.
Granted, we took significant liberties in designing our combat system. There are no dice in Ruins of Elysia. Combat occurs in repeating rounds of attacking and defending because players can only play one card each time they attack or defend. You cannot stack attack or defense, and you must discard a number of cards from your hand equal to the attack value you are unable to defend against. We feel this makes for a much more interesting combat system. Rather than just showing you have the required attack points or rolling a die and hoping you succeed, combat requires cunning hand management and reading your opponent. Due to this combat system, no player starting deck affords their character more than 2 attack (or 4 if they use their special card that allows them to play more than one).
So that’s it, the three systems at the core of Ruins of Elysia: simple deck-building, simple tile-laying, and a combat system based on back and forth hand management. Why is this relevant?
It may be just a twinkle in our eye right now, but so too was Ruins of Elysia. After our kickstarter ends (assuming we are successful), we want to add a feature to our website that allows fans to create their own official content. We’d be looking for things that add to our base game in some way: new terrain tiles, overlay structures, character starting decks, and anything else our fans want to see that we haven’t thought of. Of course, we don’t want to break the tenets that we believe make Ruins of Elysia a great game:
- A true open world for your tabletop. You can explore to your heart’s content and the game doesn’t punish you for it.
- Exciting, strategic combat.
- Not just multiple paths to victory, but multiple end game goals available to all players at all times.