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[Homebrew Card Expansion] The Grey Legions

Hi all! So @Dwarddd and I have made a homebrew Codex faction. It’s probably broken one way or another and is in a very draft stage, but should be fun! We are just jumping in to playtesting what we have, even though there are several cards which probably (definitely) need revision and quite a few which are just placeholders until we think of something better. We would love to hear people’s constructive criticism, both to improve balance flavour and enjoyability where it falls down, and to find out which things you think are particularly fun and should stay.

So, introducing:

The Grey Legions: Good, Evil and Pragmatic (or Good, Bad and Ugly, or The Grand Alliance, Keter’s Hordes and the Forces of Callow)

The full set here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1YWLBIk6Fu62kYnXpE4cPDyU7Dxka3F5Ah4BgqJ3xA_c/edit?usp=sharing

(Do take a look, as the tables below do not have the flavour text!)

Flavour theme:

The cards in this colour are based off the webfiction A Practical Guide To Evil.

This is obviously a terrible choice in some ways, because it’s pretty likely that no -one else here has read it, and so we have to explain it.

However, it is also a brilliant choice because these books are excellent, and feature a great cast of interesting heroes and villains and troops with codex-style “everything is overpowered” abilities.

In the Guideverse, the universe really does bend towards Story Logic. People can often align themselves towards tropes of Good and Evil - and the universe will respond by awarding them power. For instance, if you got yourself a castle in the mountains and a hunchback servant and THEN started making horrors of science, those horrors would be more likely to work well properly than if you did them in your shed in a nice English village. The catch to this is that stories tend to play out - in your role as a Dr Frankenstein wannabe you would be a lot more likely to be killed by your own creation in a climactic battle atop the highest tower than your English village counterpart.

Within this soup of tropes, the protagonist is someone who is genre-savvy enough to navigate stories, taking actions that influence which story is taking place. If found in a horror where the trope ending would be her death, she manages to make it into a farce. If she finds herself the doomed villain in a sequence of events, she manages to make herself the anti-hero who lives to fight again. The themes of the universe, then, are inevitability and disruption, a constant battle between things which are powerful yet predictable and characters who are flexible and unexpected.

There’s also lots of politics and undead monsters and big armies and military battles.

The heroes and many of the other cards are characters from this world. We’d explain more, but we don’t want to ruin it for anyone who reads the books!

Mechanical theme:

Red is aggression, blue is counter-play, purple is combos and timing attacks, black is removal and swarms, green is buffing and control, and white is efficiency and answers. What would grey be?

Fitting into the flavour theme, we aimed Grey mechanics to be a mixture of rule disruption/unpredictability and patience. When playing against Grey, you should feel like you know what the plan is from fairly early on, and need to scrabble to stop it… only for it to do something weird which throws you off. Or maybe it doesn’t and the story comes to its completion and crushes you under its weight. Can you disrupt the story before the disruptors disrupt you?

CARDS

STARTER DECK

UNITS

Name Class Abilities Stats cost
Doomed Peasant Cursed Human Dies: summon a 0/1 Undead Peasant token 1/1 1
Stepping Stone Villain Pawn of the narrative Dies: Trash this card 0/1 1
Fantassin Mercenary Anti-air 2/2 2
Underequipped Soldier Soldier Arrives: Give this either a Sword or Shield token. Sword: +1 atk. Shield: +1 health. 2/2 3
Shining Prince Royal fool Attacks: gain 1atk this turn, Patrolling: -1hp 2/2 2
Gentle Giant Giant 1/4 3

Doomed Peasant and Giant lead into Evil and Good “default” plans respectively (tokens and high health). Fantassin is a simple 2/2. Peasant is roughly equivalent to Tenderfoot, and Giant to Ironbark Treant, so that should be OK. These are the “following the story” cards - simple, fairly efficient, you deal with them or they get some value.

However, Underequipped Soldier, Prince and Villain are the disruptors. They are hard to plan against, and skew the game in some way. Prince is clearly aggressive, but can’t patrol well. If he takes damage, he has to hide at the back because patrolling would kill him! Balance wise, we think he is a slightly better Poisonblade Rogue. Soldier is the hardest hitter in the starter, and lets you choose which story the deck is embarking on. It ends up with stats like Fargo, but without the drawback and with a benefit, so one more gold. May need tinkering. Then, we have the Villain - the least valuable tech 0 unit in the game when you play it… but all those by now pretty much memorised cycling patterns for the first few turns just went out the window. OOPS! This is probably closest to something like Young Treant. A less good defender, and doesn’t have any impact that turn, but changes the game later. May need tinkering.

STARTER SPELLS AND UPGRADE

Choose Fate Spell Draw two cards. Discard one card. 2
Disrupt Narrative Spell Add a spell card to your opponents discard as follows: [Unrest. Cost 0. Your base takes 1 damage; trash this card.] 1
Pivot Spell Take one damage off a friendly unit. If you do, place one damage on an enemy unit. 0
Dwarven Supplies Upgrade Arrives or Pay 1–> put a weapon rune on this (max 3). Tap: Remove all runes. Give a tech 0 or 1 unit that much attack this turn. 2

Choose fate is patience/cycling, and lets you tell the consistency/patience story faster. It is most comparable to temporal research - better with <3 time runes for TR, worse with 3 or more. Supplies is likewise very telegraphed patience based. At worst it is 2 gold for +1 attack, at best 4 for +3, but once it is charged you have to worry about it forever.

Pivot and Disrupt Narrative are disruption. Pivot turns a weakness into a strength and should be compared to deteriorate - maybe it should cost 1 gold. DN is unique and hard to value (which should be the case for some Grey), but maybe is like a delayed discard, so an imp with no unit, which seems maybe balanced?

Overall, these cheap spells with varied effects should keep your opponent guessing in the early game!

Now finally onto the meat of the cards…

GOOD

In the Guide, Good characters get an unfair advantage - the world conspires to help them triumph, keep them alive, and then unexpectedly pull them out of the deepest pits with unexpected bursts of strength.

The Good Hero is the Grey Pilgrim, a Gandalf like grandfather who is a helping hand to rookie champions of the light (with a darker side to his idea of “mercy”…).

Hero Taric Isbili Grey Pilgrim 1/2: Healing 1 1/3
3-6: Tap: draw one extra card during your next draw phase (up to the hand limit of 5) 2/4
7: Max:Fully heal all units on the board. 3/5
Card type Name Class Abilities Atk/HP Cost
Magic Mercy Debuff Double the number of damage counters on an enemy unit 3
Magic Assign nemesis Buff Give an enemy unit +1atk and a friendly one +2/+1, linked to both in same way as two-step 1
Magic Forgive Remove all damage counters from a friendly unit, distribute the same number of damage counters between friendly units and/or heroes 2
ultimate spell Shine This turn, none of your units or heroes can be reduced below 1HP. 5

His abilities and spells skew towards keeping things alive, and keeping your hand full, though at a delay. His maxband is powerful - but just like in the Guide, he can get trapped in his own storyline if your opponent manages to set up circumstances just right! Spell wise he can maximise the impact of his healing by fostering camaraderie in your units, point burgeoning heroes in the right direction, inflict “mercy” on the odd damaged enemy and then turn up to lead one heroic charge when it seems all is lost.

What tech cards support this bastion of the light?

Card type Name Class Abilities Atk/HP Cost
tech 1 Priest Cleric pay 1, Tap: heal 2 dmg from a Good card or deal 2 dmg to an enemy patroller 2/3 2
tech 1 Daoine Watchman Empowered Militia Anti air, unstoppable when attacking units or heroes with flying. 2/4 3
tech 2 Mirror Knight Champion Attacks or is attacked: Mirror knight has base ATK equal to the printed attack of his combatant. resist 1 2/8 5
tech 2 Blessed Soldier Soldier Receives double benefit from Healing 3/5 3
tech 2 Angel of Contrition Angel Legendary. Resist 1. Arrives: summon two 0/3 Lantern Monks. Put 2 damage on each of them. If ever both monks are fully healed, gain obliterate 3 (and keep it even if the monks are subsequently damaged). If both monks die, destroy Angel. 7/6 8
tech 2 Lone Swordsman Champion .+3/+3 if this is the only unit you control 4/4 3
tech 2 Hanno of Arwad, White knight White Knight Attacks: flip a coin. If heads: gain swift strike and deathtouch. If tails: negate the attack (Hanno is still exhausted). 4/6 5
tech 3 Saint of Swords Legendary soldier Resist 2, deathtouch. Full-overpower (excess damage done by this is dealt to another unit or hero it could attack, and excess damage from that overpower to the next, and so on). 8/8 8

The tech Is are fairly simple. A holy mirror of Firebat, and Good’s only answer to flight with enough health to benefit from Healing. Evil always tends to win the first round.

Then, though, TECH II. Beefy bois for days - if you are following your narrative and need a bit of sustain to reach your Shine or tech III win con, the Blessed Soldiers might carry you over. Evil is suppressed - and your final victory is heralded by the Angel, a bright mirror to Terras Q, who can turn a slight lead into a Golden Age if your opponent does not answer you. If you are REALLY doing well, you may summon the Saint of Swords - an anime style OP hero. Good good, story completed. (The Angel might be too easy to get out, considering Taric’s maxband. We’re struggling to balance it and it might just be a broken design… thoughts?)

But what if you are behind? Well, that’s where heroes STEP UP. This is the disruptive part of the Good spec. Lone Swordsman can turn an empty board into an advantage; a discounted rhino in the right circumstance. Mirror Knight answers big units. And if NOTHING is going your way… well, summon the White Knight (basically a god powered fantasy Two Face in the books) and let fate decide.

Good should be weak to single target removal, to things that get in ahead of its big boy late game, and to being out-valued on some of its units. However, played right, it should feel like a glorious way to stomp the unrighteous.

BAD (/EVIL)

One big bad Villain in the guide is the Dead King. hidden in a distant land which he conquered aeons ago, he bides his time, plotting his final victory. Time is always on his side, as all else fades but him… yet he has also seen so much, and had so long to prepare, that his dirtiest tricks will always come as a surprise.

The Dead King himself is of course the hero of his faction.

Neshama Sepirah Dead King 1-4: Units attacking this take 1 extra damage. 1/3
5-7: tap: you may cast a spell at a discount of 1 gold 1/4
8 - Gain a patience rune. Spend a rune - take a spell out of your discard pile. 1/5
Name Class Abilities Atk/HP Cost
Legions Revealed Spell Draw a card. You may reveal it. If you do, and it is a unit, draw another card. 2
Pesh Spell, buff Give a unit or hero deathtouch until your next upkeep. 4
Hidden Horror Ongoing spell, buff Attach to a friendly hero. That hero becomes invisible. If the hero attacks or you play a spell of that hero’s type, sacrifice this spell (and the hero is once again visible, BEFORE attacking). 2
Summon Revenants Ultimate Summon two heroes from either player’s command zones to your side of the field (whether you have the ability to play more heroes or not, and whether they died last turn or not). When they die, return them to their original command zones. 8

Patience. Use Hidden Horror to hide and level to max… then disrupt your foe by turning their greatest weapons against them! Or take your time to build your forces, playing mind games with the foolish champions of the light… and then use your magic to turn the meekest soul into a deadly weapon. Neshama should be scary, even if low on tempo, and hopefully this move set captures that.

What about his hordes?

Card type Name Class Abilities Atk/HP Cost
tech 1 Sticher’s creation Horror When this takes X damage, summon a Living Corpse token with stats X/X 0/3 3
tech 1 Bone wyvern Undead Flying. Attacks: takes one damage. 3/2 3
tech 2 Demon of Terror Demon Arrives: draw a card, sideline a tech 0, I or II unit 3/3 2
tech 2 Forsaken Champion Undead Readiness. 7/7 6
tech 2 Ritual of Keter’s Rising upgrade Arrives: you must sacrifice five token units. If you cannot, this is immediately discarded. Any friendly effect which summons token units instead summons twice as many tokens (any limits are likewise doubled) 3
tech 2 Undead Seige Tower Undead contraption opponents upkeep: If this is not patrolling, it dies. Your upkeep: summon a 1/2 Bound Soul token 2/6 4
tech 2 Cursed Grounds upgrade Summon a 1/2 Bound Soul token for every enemy unit or hero death 3
tech 3 Skein Undead Hero Overpower, readiness. Spool: If this would die, and its owner has at least 2 cards in their hand, instead they discard two cards randomly and heal all damage on it 7/5 6

The story of Evil goes one of two ways. Either, you wait too long and value-over-time units such as the Stitcher’s Creation and Undead siege tower, (plus perhaps the Cursed Grounds upgrade) amass such hordes of undead that your opponent completes the Ritual of Keter’s Rising. They then outvalue you. Or, Neshama hides behind his hordes (eg the almost-a-rhino Champion, the quick-pressure Demon) until he can create the Skein, his ultimate invincible monster which you can’t beat… and then he overwhelms you after that. Patience, patience.

The “disruption” in Evil really comes from the sudden changes in pace that Ritual or Neshama’s ultimate/max band create, though it is perhaps less disruptive than other specs. It is again vulnerable to early aggression, and VERY vulnerable to DeGrey and wave clear spells. Evil can be foiled by plucky bands of heroes after all.

UGLY/PRAGMATIC/PRACTICAL

Cat is the protagonist of PGTE and embodies its genre-savvy smarts. . So, you can expect the “Disruptive” mechanics of Grey to be most prominent here, and the “story” least (the opposite of Evil).

Catherine Foundling The Squire lvl1-3 Struggle: gain 1 atk for each dmg counter on Cat 1/3 2
4-5 Evil Influence: Upkeep: lose 1 hp 1/5
6: negate midband ability; opposing heroes have -1 attack. 2/5
Goblinfire Spell- debuff Put a fire rune on a unit. Either player’s upkeep: if that unit is patrolling, deal 1 damage to all patrollers. 3
Break Spell- debuff Target an opponent’s upgrade, building, or ongoing spell. Until your next upkeep, it has no effect. 0
Raise Winged Horse Spell - buff Give Cat or a Soldier unit flying for 1 turn 3
Take Ultimate Get the full effect of the ultimate spell of one other hero that is in play (you have to pay for it)

Channeling, that hero can’t use their ultimate spell whilst this is in play||1|

Cat is the combat hero of Grey. She is able to power up very fast, at the cost of her own HP - a characteristic risky disruption move. Her Break and Winged Horse keep from being complacent whilst she is alive. Goblinfire is an interesting aggression spell which we found hard to work out the balance for - it basically says to an opponent “don’t patrol this unit, or else!”, which should create some interesting play-arounds.

Take, however, is the game winner - Cat makes you afraid to summon your favourite hero as long as she is max level, as she can swing your advantage into her own! (of course, you could just not focus on heroes and leave them in your command zone… what’s that? The Evil Ultimate targets the command zone…? :O)

What about Cat’s support?

Card type Name Class Abilities Atk/HP Cost
ugly tech 1 Exploding Goat Cute Animal End of turn: Destroy exploading goat if it didn’t arrive or attack this turn. Dies: active player deals 2dmg to a patroller or building 2/1 2
ugly tech 1 Legionary Heavy Soldier Patrolling: grants one adjacent patroller 1 armour 3/4 3
ugly tech 2 Robber Goblin Indestructible, invisible, can’t patrol. Legendary. 3/1 4
ugly tech 2 Adjutant Soldier Tap: Give a hero +3 armour, and ready them. They can attack a second time this turn. 4/5 4
ugly tech 2 Goblin Sapper Goblin haste, stealth. Damages a building - add a sabateur rune to any building. Dies:deal 2 damage to every building with runes per rune. remove all runes. 1/2 2
ugly tech 2 Drow Mighty Drow Swift Strike. Kills a unit: put a +1/1 on this. 4/3 5
ugly tech 2 War College Building Pay 1 - give a unit readiness 4hp 3
ugly tech 3 Hierophant Mage Resist 2. Legendary. You may look at your opponent’s discard. Cost 1 - Cast non-ultimate a spell from either discard as if they are from your hand and you had an appropriate hero, at no further cost. Those spells are then trashed. 2/8 8

Tech I - again, you are kept on your toes. The Goat is at best, 4 damage for 2 gold - efficient! But if you can’t defend it for one turn, it is 2 damage against you! Not to be ran against deteriorate, may need buffs. The Heavy is the opposite of this gambling - a dependable wall to let Cat do her thing behind it.

Tech II in Practical then leaves you guessing. Will it be heavies such as the Drow and Adjutant, perhaps with a War Colelge to allow extra pressure? Or do you REALLY need to get that tower to stop the goblins and their leader getting through? Failure to prepare for the goblins is one of Cat’s win conditions - if left unchecked, the Sappers can effectively do 3 damage a round to buildings and set up a massive tech break turn. They are kind of balanced around Flagstone spy, which never gets played, so it’s hard to know how the will do.

Finally, we have the keystone on the Practical faction - the Hierophant. If you played Practical defensively, keeping the masses down with Goblinfire and hiding behind your troops, then perhaps your opponent was leaning on spells to combat this. When Hierophant appears, he wrests all of those spells from their deck perhaps killing them but also maybe ruining their future card draws! AND he gets to see what you have been teching! Play-aroundable by what you tech and how you reshuffle… to an extent. Hopefully will allow absurd fun combos never seen before as you play spells from 6 different heroes at once!

And that’s it. A lot to read, but it should display out thought patterns more than just a spreadsheet. Dwarddd and I are playing a forum match with this first draft to test it, but as I said above, would love your thoughts, both on what is fun and on the many things that are likely rubbish!

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SO after 5 games of play testing - Grey feels too weak! Hence draft 2 has BUFFS.

Lots of buffs to heroes, and a doubling down on the “breaking the rules” mechanical theme all over the place. Very interested to see what people think of Neshamah’s new max band, which we found very hard to evaluate :open_mouth:

I haven’t had the time to read through the cards thoroughly and think about balance, but there’s good stuff here re: theming and adding effects that are different to what already exists. I’d be happy to help with playtesting once CAMS finishes.

2 Likes

Thanks a lot! We’d be happy to have you. Meanwhile if you wanted to read our current playtest matches i think we’ve been fairly good at detailing each new card we play at least the first time we play it so might be an easier alternative; if you dont have time though no worries. We realised after posting this that mid-tourney may not have been the most strategic time to start it off but we we’re excited to start playing xd

2 Likes

Cursed Grounds should be a building IMO for flavor reasons

Open to suggestions there as really we wanted a unit but didn’t want to make a Necromancer copy :confused: making it a building would get rid of the fact that we have two upgrades in Bad as well. Any idea for cost/health? Maybe keep the 3 cost and make it 4 or 5hp because it was a decent card before, now it’d be probably an average sorta card.

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Draft 3 is prepared! Using the same spreadsheet as draft 2, so have a look at “previous versions” if you want to see draft 2.

Changes:

  • Cursed Grounds is now a building. Thanks Nopthebard!
  • Goblinfire and Story trap recieved slight buffs to make them more playable
  • Priest received a slight buff
  • Saint of Swords recieved a slight buff - we want this unit to be legendary for flavour reasons, but we didn’t find it quite good enough for onlybeing able to play one.
  • Demon of Terror recieved a one gold nerf - we didn’t play it, but realised we should have as it is really good!
  • Forsaken champion recieved a slight nerf to make it less oppressive when played

Also, we have added a currently optional extra element to Grey - Named Units. Heroes and Villains are a big part of the story-driven world of the Guide. To keep things simple, we used some of the heroes and villains as plain old units, often not even legendary. Ideally, we wanted a mechanic which made them more heroic/villainous again. Hence, we are have made Adjutant and Hanno the White Knight “Named Units” - you have to tech them and need a tech II to play them, but they also have levels and abilities and count as heroes AND units for the purpose of spells. This also ties into Grey’s mechanical theme of subverting the normal rules of the game.

This may be over complicated so we are not committing to it for now, but would be very interested to hear people’s thoughts!

2 Likes

Draft 4 is fairly similar to Draft 3 as we iterate closer to something we start to deem balanced :slight_smile:

Changes summary:

  • Most interesting change is that there are now 3 Goblin Sappers in your codex but only one Robber the Goblin - normal total number of cards in the deck but only one goblin leader and 3 sneaky troops
  • Saint of Swords was made bigger last time, now it costs more to match that but it still has enough impact on its own to warrant being legendary
  • Hanno we are still not sure about, but we have nerfed him slightly so his ability doesn’t allow a few (un)lucky coin flips to be game-changing
  • Hidden Horror and Forsaken champion are buffed (for latter we compared it to oversized rhino and decided on 1 extra hp)
  • Cursed Grounds doesn’t spawn undead tokens when an opponent’s token dies anymore to avoid mirror Cursed Grounds being endless - if this is too big a nerf might have to revert it

Named Units are still optional and there are still a few cards with big question marks over so the play-testing continues!

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