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Old August 17th, 2020, 11:47 PM
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Re: Astro's Custom Units [Update 8/17/20: Yokai Faction]

After resubmitting Masha Shingai to SoV as a Yokai, I begun finding inspiration for an entire faction of Yokai. There are a ton of really cool and weird legends out there (one of my favorites is a priest's-head-at-the-center-of-a-flaming-wheel that rolls around, screams at people, and steals their souls from their bodies ), and it presents a great opportunity for further designs that are unique to HeroScape.

These are my first drafts at the bones of such a faction. Of course, it goes without saying that Masha Shingai is a part of it (here's his card for easy reference):

One of the main things that I wanted to do with this faction was be unique from all of the existing HeroScape controller units. In my opinion, a lot of the conventional controllers start to feel like more of the same, so I wanted to mostly avoid easing Order Marker placement or some kind of bonding/double-turns amongst the heroes. Given that one of the defining characteristics of Masha is his reliance on Order Markers, I thought that it would be fitting to make that the tying theme between each of the Yokai: a very powerful ability that relies on revealed Order Markers.

With that in mind, a very new (and exciting) design space for the controller unit becomes clear. Here is Abe no Seimei:

Abe no Seimei is a famous historical figure from Japan, being the most famous Onmyoji (basically a mystic specialist). Seimei was a valued diviner and astrologist in the Imperial Court, where he was in charge of a variety of things such as warding off evil spirits, divining the gender of babies, or predicting strange events. Once he died, though, many legends began to spread about him as a powerful sorceror--one known for longevity, for being half-Yokai himself, and for his ability to control minor Oni from a young age. This take on Abe no Seimei leans heavily into that mystical aspect of him, as evidenced by the miniature and powers.

In terms of gameplay, Night of the Yokai and Shapeshift are the two defining powers for this faction. Night of the Yokai is notable in that while moving a revealed Order Marker is normally useless, it very much frees up the Yokai faction to really excel together.

Similarly, Shapeshift is kind of a thematic must for the faction (Yokai are often known for their shapeshifting). Rather than give many different figures a shapeshifting power, I thought that Abe no Seimei could essentially "enhance" their capabilities with his magic, freeing them up to each serve a unique purpose in the army. It represents a ton of strategic freedom, letting each Yokai essentially take their turn from any of the others' positions. It's intentionally extremely powerful, but it's also very different from anything else in the game.

Finally, Divination is a homage specifically to Abe no Seimei. One of his main duties was divination in the court, so it would feel like a bit of a missed opportunity to not include something along those lines. It's yet another very powerful buff to the faction--providing a fourth revealed Order Marker for them to play around with (even if they can't move it currently) makes it much easier to swallow taking all of them in the same army. It's especially potent with Masha's Terror, triggering before a potential lost initiative, which helps Masha find a niche as a "protector" for the faction.

But, that's just Seimei. Only him and Masha would make for a pretty sad faction, so it's time to move on to the next card. The Tanuki is one of the most famous of the Yokai (there's a saying along the lines of them being the most skilled shapeshifters of them all), so it would be an absolute shame to not include one. I'd like to present Kinchо̄:

Noticeably, Kinchо̄ does not follow Einar. Much along the lines of the ninja and lawmen factions, I wanted to feature a different Yokai for each general that somewhat embodies their themes and fleshes them out more. To that end, Kinchо̄ is entirely focused around mobility.

Tanuki Trickery is a very strong mobility tool when paired with Seimei's Shapeshift, essentially letting you develop an additional Yokai each round (which is very useful given that you'll generally only be moving one figure each turn). Night of the Yokai also makes triggering it much easier, since it only requires one Order Marker each round. It's a very powerful ability befitting a tricky Tanuki, but on his own, Kinchо̄ isn't that terrifying.

Athletic Defense and Phantom Walk are what really develops Kinchо̄ into his own playstyle. He's an annoying figure that likes to get in the way, to dance out of range, and generally disappear when things start looking rough. He has a ton of uses as a general mobility tool for the faction, even if he doesn't particularly shine offensively himself.

Note that as a Monk, he also receives bonding through Master Lao Xin's Sifu. One of my other goals with the faction is to have each figure have their own "side-faction," as it were: Masha clearly fits in well with the Samurai, and Kinchо̄ acts as a new tool for the Monks to mess around with. On its own, his single attack of 3 isn't anything to write home about, but it's worth an activation every now and then, especially if he can tie down some figures while moving out.

I've already typed out a ton (my thanks to you if you've read all of it!), but I have enough time to sneak out the fourth Yokai. Masha provides defense, Kinchо̄ provides mobility, and Seimei makes the faction click, so what else do the Yokai need?

Well, a way to get more than one attack per turn in would be really nice. Enter Nure Onna:

Nure Onna is quite literally named after her legend, so feel free to look it up if you're curious (or just ask me about it, since I feel like it's a little difficult to convey well from a card alone ). She is Valkrill's Yokai, a villainous little snake that lures people near water and then feasts on their blood.

She is a valuable offensive tool for the Yokai, being one of their only answers to squad figures, but she's also extremely fragile and dependent on water. Her only way to disengage is through Seimei's shapeshifting, which also offers her a ton of freedom in terms of movement. Any Yokai waiting near water could suddenly become a dangerous threat, making the faction play differently on every map (just don't take them to the Marvel set until I get out another multi-attacker ). She also acts as a bit of an Order Marker sink, wanting as many as possible while Masha and Kinchо̄ just need one to activate.

Alright, that's about everything that I have to show for the faction so far. The faction is far from complete, but hopefully this sampling of figures gives a good idea of the intended direction and is enough of a base to gather some feedback.

@Leo Ultra has been designing an Uncommon Hero to pair with them as well, which will also help with targeting more than one figure per turn. We're hoping to get that design posted within the next couple of days as well, but even I can only type so many words a day.

Many thanks to @flameslayer93 , @Dysole , and @Captain Stupendous for providing feedback and suggestions on the initial drafts of these guys in the Discord server! All of the feedback really helped to iron out some kinks and get these guys into a better shape.
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