- Two of the Abandoned Land cards ended up coming out, Abandoned Harbor and Abandoned Farm. Abandoned Harbor ended up doing exactly what we wanted it to do, I drew it when we'd just been hit with a Plague Wind and dropped it untapped and held off the zombies for a turn. Abandoned Farm came out but didn't end up being used. The boost may be too small. But it does boost the whole Survivor team, not just one player's dudes. Outlook is positive for the Abandoned Lands.
- Eager Slayer (with clutch 1-- gets +2/+2) proved to be exactly what we wanted. She is a cheap, effective but somewhat unreliable defender, and a poor attacker.
- Mage's Boomstick (clutch 4 for a charge counter, spend four counters for four damage) charged far too slowly, the wizard shotgun never got fired.
- Rugged Survivor's (clutch of 3, get +1/+1 counter) didn't happen soon enough, he ended up being a chump blocker.
- Fleeing Necromancer (clutch of 5, reanimate a creature) never happened, the whole game. Even when he wasn't on the field.
- Apocalypse Cryomancer (clutch 5, tokens enter tapped) also didn't happen.
Mid playtest, we changed some of the clutch numbers to be lower and just wrote on our proxy prints with pen and played again. After these changes, Fleeing Necromancer actually triggered. Rugged Survivor started being a decent blocker. With clutch 2, everything has a (roughly) 35% chance of triggering. This ended up being much more fun.
So we are changing Clutch to be always two or more creature tokens. We playtested higher numbers, and the events were rare enough that the cards almost never triggered, or the event happened when the creature wasn't on the battlefield. We've kept one design that uses a higher number as a silly crazy card with a very small chance to trigger, which we have removed the ability word from. All the other Clutch spells are being balanced to accommodate the number always being two.This also makes the text always the same, matching up with Morbid and Threshold. The updated cards are going on the Custom Cards page
We've recently added a Grave Betrayal to the Horde Deck. It's absolutely brutal if the Survivors don't draw into any enchantment removal. Which we had none of in the colors we ran. But our Horde deck now has a large enough number of enchantments that the Survivors have incentive to run it. This brings up an interesting point about the cooperative deckbuilding experience. There are a few things that every team needs in this format. Enchantment hate, some spot removal, and black/artifact creatures to block zombies with intimidate. We had enchantment removal in other colors, but didn't run them since the pools were weaker. But the team as a whole suffered for it when grave betrayal chained into a Plague Wind.
Horde Deck Cards
- Selective Reanimation: [Enchantment: The Horde reanimates the strongest creature, rather than randomly]This card was designed to take advantage of the Horde's random behavior, and modulate it. It proved to just be far too weak and trigger far to little to remain as a card in the Horde deck. It might have some potential as a Hard Mode Emblem, but as a non-token card it doesn't pack enough punch.
- Hell Is Full: [Enchantment: when the Horde's graveyard has 10 or more creatures, any that die go back to its hand] A top-down design based on the name, the design we owe to a friend. The number 10 proved to be a little to high for this card to matter, since by then the Survivors had drawn into some enchantment removal or graveyard hate. We playtested with 6 instead, when it DOES come online, it's almost totally unbeatable. design just doen;t work at all. Another option is to put counters on it whenever a Horde creature dies, and have it activate when a threshhold is reached or remove counters to activate.
- Zombified Pets: [3/4: has protection from target Survivor] Top down design for encountering your own zombified loved one (dog). Wording needed to be changed, it should be targetable in the graveyard and the wording prevented that. Having protection from a player is a cool piece of design space that couldn't be in many other formats, and the top-down-design is nice, but it will probably need some added punch to be deadly enough to earn a spot in the Horde.
- Second Unlife: [Enchantment: all zombies that die for three turns come back] This was a top-down for the trope "It's getting up again!". This card worked as expected. The players were able to play around it since the Horde didn't have any particularly nasty creatures out at the time, but overall the design seems solid and working.
- Rotting Books: [Enchantment: each turn, each player must discard a spell or give the Horde a zombie] This was a bottom-up design trying to get the players to discard without being as severe as Oppression. The Horde almost always just gets the extra 3 or 4 tokens. not once did a player discard a spell. The idea needs work and testing. Maybe make it two tokens and discard any non-land card.
- Zombified Friends: [Sorcery: Each Survivor discards a creature, the Horde gets them] A bottom up design. It doesn't work often, since the Survivors usually play their creatures pretty fast. And doesn't really explore any design space that is unique to Horde. Cut from the designs.
- Bloated Boomer: [3/1: if takes lethal combat damage, summon 4 tokens] Top-down design for the Boomer in Left 4 Dead. If you get up in his grill and shoot him, you get covered in bile and attract a zombie horde. Isn't unique design space and proved quite easy for the Survivors to deal with. The top-down design is nice but without change this card is going to get cut.
- Zombie Mutation: [Sorcery: Horde trades tokens for zombies from graveyard] A design that two of us came up with independently. Proved modestly effective the one time it came out. it has a large chance of dumping a good board for the Horde. Changed into an enchantment that does one a turn,
- Infested Safehouse: [Enchantment: If the Horde reveals 0, gets 4 tokens] Got counterspelled. But has a 40% chance of summoning four zombies, so we're leaving it in the playtest for now.
- Power of Rot: [Sorcery: Tokens get +3/+3, die at end of combat] Got counterspelled. Unfortunately, it also doesn't really explore any unique design space, it's just a black Overrun but much worse. It also doesn't really do much unless the Horde is already doing well.
- Rain of Undead: [enchantment: if the horde has 2 or less creatures, gets extra reveal] Worked great. It eventually ate some enchant removal, but pumped out a couple extra waves of zombies. Probably going to continue unchanged.
- Gravewrought Titan: [6/7: must be double blocked, blockers get +1/+1 if have different controllers]Performed admirably. He died, but all 3 survivors had to contribute a blocker. they happened to have those in excess, but that won't always happen.
Overall, the playtest was very informative and a lot of fun. The Survivors' Cube is beginning to stabilize somewhat, the pace of edits to correct for balance problems has slowed. Tweaks are still being made, but it's beginning to converge to the power level we want.
Here are the new versions of all the cards we tested (and have the artist's permission to post the image). The Clutch creatures are all changed to balance against the 2-token threshold, and the lands have had their flavor text shortened to one line.