#43 - Designing Welcome to Jaelara part 5 - The Stack

Hey champions,

This is your weekly podcast about Genesis: Battle of Champions. In this 'cast we talk about everything related to game design, development, testing, and more for Genesis.

As always, if you have any questions, reach out to us at: contactus@hauntedcastlegaming.com

Music: Jake Butineau

7/22 - PodCast - Designing Welcome to Jaelara pt5

Assad Quraishi at KCC 2018

Assad Quraishi at KCC 2018

By Assad Quraishi

Hey Champions! Last week we talked about testing for Welcome to Jaelara; the difference between Exploratory, Smoke and Sanity Testing, and also our Future League.

This week I want to wrap up this series of podcasts by letting you in on one of our major insights while designing the set and how we steered into the curve for it.  


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Okay, let’s talk about our big realization in Welcome to Jaelara. This is something every Champion eventually has to learn and always gets confused about and that’s The Stack.

First, let’s be clear about what a stack is. And before you go and think that the concept of the Stack is owned by other games, you should know that it is a basic concept of mathematics and computer science. So I’m going to pull up Wikipedia here and just read off their definition: “In computer science, a stack is an abstract data type that serves as a collection of elements, with two principal operations:

  • push, which adds an element to the collection, and

  • pop, which removes the most recently added element that was not yet removed.

The order in which elements come off a stack gives rise to its alternative name, LIFO (last in, first out).“ You can read more about it at this link (see show notes) and I encourage you do so: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stack_(abstract_data_type)

Now that we’re clear about the fact that the Stack is not a coined concept in other games and that it is open market to use anywhere else, let’s talk about what this idea represents and how it applies to Genesis. Imagine a stack of pancake… Warm… fluffy pancakes… with some syrup and butter. That’s the stuff. Now, you’ve got this stack of pancakes in front of you and you want to eat them. The best way to do that is to dig from top to bottom and get each layer with each bite. Or maybe you just want to eat the top one, and then the next one, then the next one and so on until it is done. This order of eating the top one and then the new top one is what this Last In First Out concept represents. Basically, you can’t reach the second item until you’re done with the first one. 


Let us put this in an example into the game. If you’ve had a demo done by me then you would have heard me say, “the game favours the defender”. This is a simplified explanation of the stack. This is when two summons of same size attack each other, let's say two Jaelarian Hounds, the second one to put their ability onto the stack will be the first one to resolve it’s ability. So if my Jaelarian Hound attacks your Hound and you respond by having your Hound attack back, since your attack is higher on the stack it will resolve before my attack. But if I respond to your attack with Feng’s Fire Shield, then that is now the new highest item on the stack and will be resolved first. You always resolve the newest ability on the stack first.

That’s brief, but I hope you understand how this works now.

Let’s introduce a new confusion, trigger abilities. Let’s look at Rampage Toss. Imagine I play Rampage Toss against you, the first thing that goes onto the stack is the Basic Attack [2]. After it resolves, and if it resolves successfully, then the Toss goes onto the stack as a separate ability. The important thing here is that both the Basic Attack [2] ability and the Toss ability don’t go onto the stack at the same time. The Attack has to fully resolve before the Toss goes onto the stack. I explain why we designed things this way in tomorrow’s blog.

This knowledge of how the stack works can be very powerful once you learn how to manipulate it. Let’s look at Gust. It has two abilities, the cast ability that deals 2 air damage and the push ability. Only after you deal the 2 air damage does the push ability go onto the stack. But something to note here is that the stack can be added on while things are being resolved. So after each ability resolves everyone has the opportunity to add more things to the stack. This means, if you play gust and deal the 2 air damage now the push is on the stack. In response to the push you can play another gust which will hit for another 2 air damage and put another push onto the stack. You can do this as many times you want as long as you put the new gusts on top  of the stack after the previous one has done the damage but before the Push is resolved. Once you have as many pushes on the stack as you want, you can start to let them resolve. This will push your opponent multiple squares away from you.

Okay, we’ve talked a lot about the stack and the fun things you can do with it but why is this important. Well, two reasons: the first reason is because this is a key part of the game. With so many swift abilities in the game, building on the stack is really important and learning how to resolve it is doubly so. This leads us to the realization that instead of trying to simplify the stack, we’re going to ask you to learn it even better. This leads us into the second reason which is because we’ve made cards that play off of the stack. The first is a token card.

We recognize that keeping track of the stack can get confusing so we want to lend a helping hand in trying to make it easier to keep track of. You can get this token card in your booster packs for Welcome to Jaelara.

The second card is Foresight of the Ancients. The card is swift speed, costs 15 aura and exert and the ability reads: “Draw a card for each ability on the stack.” 

 
 

This card is really cool addition in Welcome to Jaelara because it calls out what the Stack is for the player. That way, if you don’t know what it is you have to learn the concept to be able to play this card. Is this card confusing to new players, probably. But Genesis is a complex game and we need to steer into that instead of avoiding it. Also this opens the door for many more cards that could do the same thing in the future. Wouldn’t that be super cool? I know I’m excited for what new doors this might open.

Now that you know how the stack works and that all abilities go onto the stack, you could imagine the sheer power of Foresights of the Ancients.

What do you think? Are you going to run this card? Does this card terrify you? Let me know in the comments below and I will talk to you next week.

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