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Topics - Benionin

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General Game Discussion / 2017 Player of the Year Voting!
« on: January 10, 2018, 03:28:14 PM »
Nominations are in and accepted, it's time to vote. Voting will close on January 25th

This year we're using a Strawpoll, which can be found here:

General Game Discussion / Player of the Year 2017 Nominations
« on: December 04, 2017, 07:33:00 AM »
That's right folks. In spite of all of the talk of the game dying before it could happen again, the calendar keeps moving forward and IW's pulse keeps beeping on life support, no matter how slowly. And that means it's time for another Player of the Year vote. Naturally, this calls for nominations.

The Rules:
1) You can't nominate yourself.
2) You can nominate folks for whatever reason, be it a content contribution, gameplay, or just being friendly.
3) One nomination per person.
4) All nominated parties will be notified and must accept their nomination.
5) Yodo1/Lightmare employees cannot be nominated, but volunteers can.
6) Nominations close on December 31st

There are plenty of great folks in this community. Regardless of all of the hardship and salt, let's take a moment to celebrate that.

Pending Nominations

Accepted Nominations

Declined Nominations

Community Events & Contests / [CDC] You Will Be Assimilated
« on: November 28, 2017, 03:11:11 AM »
Greetings, Card design enthusiasts! This round of the CDC will be perhaps a bit different than others. As many of you may know, I'm a fan of the Star Trek promotional set, playing decks featuring its cards fairly regularly. There are particular Trek cards that I simply love, but have the unfortunate side effect of being, well, not legal in ranked or tournament play. As such, this challenge is to

Design a ranked-legal card based off of/inspired by a card or mechanic from the Star Trek promotional set

One example of a card that exists in the game that would fulfill this requirement is Leader of the Charge, who is essentially Riker except better because they are an overseer and can have flying (the original version didn't have to ascend but didn't gain flying, so that's a thing). Missions were also introduced in this set. A full list of the cards can be found here.

Your card can be based off of an individual card (like Riker) or based off of a mechanical idea (like stealing other players' characters). The exception to this is missions--while they were introduced in this set, if you design a mission you must connect it in some other way to the set other than the fact that it is a mission.

Judging will be based off of how appropriate your shift to a ranked-legal faction (or factionless) is--did you just dump the card in that faction, is that design better suited for another faction?--in addition to normal design considerations.

The contest will close on December 10th

--- Card Design Challenge Rules ---
1) The Judge appoints a challenge, it can be anything, making new card, redesigning an old one or whatever you wish.
2) All that wish to participate submit their card design. Each participant may only submit one entry per challenge, you may however edit your post as many times as you wish till the deadline.
3) If you edit your post you should make an additional post in this thread informing of the edit to make sure that the updated version of the card will be judged. The post should contain the full updated card details as well as a brief summary of what changed from your original submission.
4) After an announced deadline the Judge decides a winner. The winner then becomes the Judge for the next round.
5) All entries submitted before the deadline are guaranteed feedback, either in this thread or in another detailed feedback thread.

1st place: 3 alt art packs and 3 collection penta packs
2nd place: 2 alt art packs and 2 collection penta packs
3rd place: 1 alt art pack and 1 collection penta pack
All participants who submit an entry will receive a collection penta pack

Rules Text:
Flavor Text:

Community Events & Contests / [CDC] Unfettered
« on: October 08, 2017, 04:06:02 AM »
Greetings, Card Design Challenge enthusiasts! This round of the challenge is going to be rather simple: create an unlimited card. It could be a character, it could be an ability, an artifact, even a mission (the way locations works makes that untenable, however), it doesn't really matter. Just make something that you could theoretically have 40 of in your deck. Or a hundred, I suppose.

Card Deadline: October 22nd

--- Card Design Challenge Rules ---
1) The Judge appoints a challenge, it can be anything, making new card, redesigning an old one or whatever you wish.
2) All that wish to participate submit their card design. Each participant may only submit one entry per challenge, you may however edit your post as many times as you wish till the deadline.
3) If you edit your post you should make an additional post in this thread informing of the edit to make sure that the updated version of the card will be judged. The post should contain the full updated card details as well as a brief summary of what changed from your original submission.
4) After an announced deadline the Judge decides a winner. The winner then becomes the Judge for the next round.
5) All entries submitted before the deadline are guaranteed feedback, either in this thread or in another detailed feedback thread.

1st place: 3 alt art packs and 3 collection penta packs
2nd place: 2 alt art packs and 2 collection penta packs
3rd place: 1 alt art pack and 1 collection penta pack
All participants who submit an entry will receive a collection penta pack

Rules Text:
Flavor Text:

Community Events & Contests / [CDC] But How's the Dental? [Closed]
« on: July 26, 2017, 02:58:05 AM »
Greetings, Card Design Enthusiasts!

Infinity Wars' faction purity system is one of its core mechanics, dictating which cards you can and cannot run in your deck. By showing your dedication to a faction, you can command certain elite cards, such as the Avatars, which demand no less than full devotion to the Descendants of the Dragon. But while there are cards with all manner of purities, there are very few (really none) that, beyond the deckbuilding requirement, care about your deck's purity. That's your challenge this week:

Create a card that cares about your deck's purity.

Some basic examples:

Dedicated Monk
CARDNAME gains +0/+4 for each purity of Descendants of the Dragon your deck has.

Genesis Auxiliaries
When you deploy CARDNAME, if your deck has at least one Flame Dawn purity, CARDNAME gains charge.

Challenge Deadline: August 13th

--- Card Design Challenge Rules ---
1) The Judge appoints a challenge, it can be anything, making new card, redesigning an old one or whatever you wish.
2) All that wish to participate submit their card design. Each participant may only submit one entry per challenge, you may however edit your post as many times as you wish till the deadline.
3) If you edit your post you should make an additional post in this thread informing of the edit to make sure that the updated version of the card will be judged. The post should contain the full updated card details as well as a brief summary of what changed from your original submission.
4) After an announced deadline the Judge decides a winner. The winner then becomes the Judge for the next round.
5) All entries submitted before the deadline are guaranteed feedback, either in this thread or in another detailed feedback thread.

1st place: 3 alt art packs and 3 collection penta packs
2nd place: 2 alt art packs and 2 collection penta packs
3rd place: 1 alt art pack and 1 collection penta pack
All participants who submit an entry will receive a collection penta pack

Rules Text:
Flavor Text:

Community Events & Contests / Storytelling with Benionin
« on: July 17, 2017, 05:44:15 AM »
Stream on hold due to scheduling issues

Welcome to Storytelling, Benionin’s weekly live-streamed Infinity Wars fanfic story--featuring the input of YOU, the audience! Follow along as Ben writes with your suggestions and his own characteristic flair for the dramatic. Stay tuned week by week as the story we create together grows and develops into a monstrous mess. Ahem. Grows and develops.

The 'stream' will be taking place live each Thursday at 5pm IWT. I'll be hanging out in IW's official Discord's voice channel and in #roleplay, and you can follow along as I write--and occasionally read out loud--the story here

Have suggestions? Let me know in #roleplay or in voice chat. Missed previous installments? Don't worry, it'll all be there in the doc for you to keep up with.

Note: I reserve the right to refuse certain suggestions. Most notably, there will be no erotic content.

Giveaways. Might be a thing. I'll have to see.

Special Events & Tournaments / Team Bio--United Talich Front
« on: July 02, 2017, 06:16:28 PM »
United Talich Front (UTF) is a team founded by Mew28.

Founder/Centurion, Mew28
Player of the Year 2016, Mew's known for his aggressive playstyle, love of Aberion, and Rock Bottem memes. This Flame Dawn Fanatic has a love for Aberion and is an avid collector of Flame Dawn premiums. Why did I mention how much of a fan he is of Aberion twice, you ask? That's just how big of a fan he is.

Team Member/LoreNinja, Benionin
A long-time veteran, Ben's most known for his exploits outside of the game, where he's written fanfiction (seriously, check it out), run forum games, and even hosted a tournament or 3. A mostly casual player, he's taken rogue decks to tournaments with what we'll call mixed success. He shamelessly plays Star Trek decks whenever he can and is especially proud of his Infinite Bordered Gowron.

Team Member/Footman, Broadwell
The newest player on the team, Broadwell only recently hit level 20 but he's ready and raring to go. An experienced MtG player with multiple competitive Modern decks, he is a mechanical keyboard enthusiast, audiophile, and (most importantly) bears an ardent hatred for bar soap that cannot be quenched.

Alternate/Aspirant: empty spot on roster

This post subject to updates

Fan-Art & Fan-Fiction / Pandemonium
« on: May 24, 2017, 02:44:50 AM »
A Commission for Belial12

Pandemonium, n.: from "Pan-" (all) and "daimon" (spirit, soul, or demon), usually denotes an uproar or state of chaos in the English language. A state of wildness and disorder. However, the origin of the word is Milton's Paradise Lost, where he uses it to refer to a gathering of all the demons in Hell--itself a riotous event.

     Vasir found something rather curious. A portal to the mortal realms. And on the other side, an arrogant mortal with promises of power and service, of thralls to be captured and realms to be crushed. Of a world to be conquered.
     It was an offer far too tempting to refuse. He flew through the portal, flexing his wings to proudly display his size and power. "You were wise to ask for my assistance," he lied to the woman.
     "Well, you were foolish to give it," she replied, and the trap was sprung. Magic surged forth around him, binding spells and mystic chains. A cohort of sorceresses joined in as the mortal--wait, she was no mortal, she was that Aleta! Aleta fought Vasir to a standstill, forced him into submission. Forced him to actually give her the power he was planning to cheat her of.
     The Archdemon raged against the world as he was hauled away, immobilized by purple chains.

     The Demon Prince was gone.
     It was not immediately apparent, but once it was apparent the news spread like wildfire through Torment. Demons and Archdemons alike roiled in confusion and ambition, each trying to fill the void. Yagron called for a Pandemonium, a meeting of all Torment to discuss the new changes and, perhaps, elect a new Demon Prince. Though 'elect' was a polite word for the contest of power that would take place, a contest that had already taken a year and would no doubt take many more.
     Nysrugh had no appetite for the other Archdemon's ambitions. "Let Yagron pander to the others and try to manipulate them for his own ends. I'm far more interested in other matters." Nysrugh had been feeding off of human emotions of hunger, greed, desire, and sometimes even ambition for millennia. All appetites fed his own insatiable hunger. Yet he had no hunger for power within Torment.
     He was far more interested in where Vasir had gone.
     Most demons had been too busy jostling for power in Vasir's absence to realize that he had disappeared through a rift to one of the mortal realms. He had gone to directly interfere where before the demons--and the angels--had only indirectly fed. A mortal had opened a portal, a hellmouth, and was letting demons through.
     Minor demons were disappearing as well, ones no one would miss. No doubt slipping through. But Nysrugh could sense their hunger once they entered the mortal realms, and their continued frustration. They had been promised power, and only received chains.
     Nysrugh worked his way through Torment towards the portal, careful to avoid notice from the other Archdemons. Where Solace was a land of light and clouds, Torment was a world of fire and pain, that in spite of the constant flames was shrouded in shadow. When he reached the portal, the Archdemon carefully crept through. There were witches on the other side, of course. They cast binding spells, chains, smiled as they sought to enslave him.
     Nysrugh smiled as he surged forward with an unexpected burst of power, escaping their spells and devouring the arrogant sorceresses. For so long he had fed indirectly, consumed emotions. This... visceral... mode of feeding was far more to his liking. He smiled widely, blood dripping from his mouth.

     As Demon Prince, Vasir knew everything that went on in Torment. The Archdemon seethed as Yagron and the others tried to seize his power, but took solace in the fact that once he was free he would be able to take his throne back and punish all would-be usurpers.
     What's more, Vasir sensed Nysrugh's departure, although his awareness of the insatiable Archdemon grew faint once he was in the mortal realms. Apparently he was running amok in the wastes between Veroria and Jinhai, gobbling up any he came across.
     No matter. Vasir had more pressing issues. Namely, the chains pressing in on him. His acidic spit wore away at binding runes, and he worked his way free. When Aleta returned, shocked and irate at his escape, she stood no chance.
     Revenge was sweet, as was binding her in the chains that had bound him for the many years. Within the sphere of magic that he used to confine her, Aleta raged. She swore, threatened, threw spells, wrought powerful and dangerous magic, and accomplished absolutely nothing. Within those chains, she was powerless against the Demon Prince of Torment. Eventually, far too soon for Vasir's liking, she gave up.

     Word had spread among the other Archdemons that Nysrugh had disappeared into the mortal realms. He was the second Archdemon to do so, and he would not be the last, though the others were hesitant to follow his example while cultists still guarded the rift--guarded with greater vigilance too, after Nysrugh slipped through their grasp. Still, it was only a matter of time. While the Pandemonium raged and roiled, with Yagron trying to keep the chaos limited to at least some manner of control--or at least dominance--Tygrugh explored the rift.
     There were no sorceresses on the other side to ensnare unwitting demons, not anymore. After Vasir broke loose of his chains in Veroria (oh, the demons knew about that, and trembled) the cultists had fled, licking their wounds and letting minor demons trickle into the world without restraint. The once formidable Cult of Verore was now ruined, reduced to squabbling factions unable to reclaim Aleta's mantle of leadership. Their days of summoning and enslaving demons were over.
     Tygrugh stepped through the rift, relishing the feel of the mortal air on his skin, the sensation of not constantly stepping through flames and on embers. Being outside of Torment was surprisingly pleasant. "I think I like it here," he rumbled. He bounded away from the portal and into the wastes surrounding it, where he found a group of corrupted humans.
     They fell before him, and the Archdemon grinned cruelly. Reaching out with his claws, he seized their minds and replaced their consciousness with raving madness. "Reish," he rumbled, walking away as the corrupted humans, the devils, writhed in their newfound insanity. He glanced through the scraps of sanity he had stolen from them. "Interesting..."
     Mortal minds were always so easy to manipulate, to exchange sanity for madness. Long had Tygrugh fed off of the ragged edge of the human psyche--to tear it apart in person, however, was so much sweeter.
     Another group of humans, these fleeing westwards away from something. Tygrugh mercilessly seized their minds, leaving only scraps behind as he devoured what knowledge he could take from their already deranged psyches. What he found was most displeasing.
     The angels were directly interfering. They had opened a massive gate from Solace to one of the mortal realms and were pouring through, fighting the undead and asserting their dominance over the mortals. If the angels were in the mortal realms, it was only a matter of time before they and the demons would clash.
     Tygrugh let himself grin. "Let them come," he snarled to the sky. "I will gladly demolish their minds and rip open their bodies. Let them come."

     The angels were coming. Vasir growled furiously as he beat a hasty retreat. It seemed that alone he could not face their champions, their armies, their annoying guns that spat light.
     "It is high time," he muttered to himself, "that I returned to Torment. I'm sure they've enjoyed the century without me, but with the angels interfering we must all act. I cannot let Sol and his ilk dominate these worlds, not when feeding upon them directly is such glorious pleasure."
     And so he flew, the chained orb holding Aleta floating at his side. Back across the world, back west, back towards the hellmouth.
     Back home to Torment.

     The balance of power within Torment had been obliterated. The Pandemonium had fallen into, well, pandemonium. Archdemons fought openly as the others watched. Minor demons were quashed without thought, collateral damage in the mayhem. All were in a panic now that Vasir was on his way.
     Yagron roared and howled, attempting to exert dominance over the uproar. As he had from the beginning, from Vasir's disappearance. His control of the situation, of the Pandemonium, had never been entirely secure. Now, however, with multiple Archdemons forsaking Torment for the mortal realms, it fell apart. He had spent a hundred years trying to cement his power and seize control of Torment, and now it was all slipping away. Even if a century was a short span of time for a demon, it was more effort than he'd care to lose in one fell swoop.
     Normally Yagron would welcome the disappearance of his rivals, but their departure had wider consequences than he had expected. The turmoil had been greater than he had expected. So many things, it seemed, were running counter to his expectations (not that he had expected Vasir to disappear in the first place, or even particularly expected events to proceed according to his expectations).
     Perhaps trying to control Torment, to control the Pandemonium, was too much work for too little gain. No one was going to replace the Demon Prince anytime soon. Besides, Vasir was on his way back to Torment to reclaim his throne. Even if Yagron managed to seize control, he would be no match for the Demon Prince, whose wrath, no doubt, would be great.
     Yagron figured it would be best to make himself scarce before that happened. So, quietly one day, he slipped away from the Pandemonium--after encouraging a fight between two of the few other remaining Archfiends, of course. Their battle gathered more than enough attention for him to escape unnoticed.
     "If the mortal realms are good enough for Vasir, Nysrugh, and Tygrugh," he rumbled, "they'll be good enough for me." As Yagron passed through the rift, he paused. "Hmm..."
     Carefully, the Archdemon tore at the edge of the portal between worlds, peeling off a strand of... well, he wasn't quite sure. Ambitious now, and more thoughtful than his predecessors by half, he affixed the strip of rift-ness to his own torso. The pain was sudden and immense as though he was being ripped apart from within, but Yagron had spent his entire immortal life in Torment, where pain was a state of being.
     Slowly, he fought down the nausea and the pain, controlling the explosion of power that nearly tore him in half. And just as slowly, he reached through the rift in his belly. Torment was on the other side.
     Yagron smiled and began to stride away, a personal rift between worlds. Many lesser demons would hark to his call and obey his will, and he would provide them access to the mortal realms.
     "Forget Torment," he laughed harshly, "I am the lord of my own rift. Let Vasir rule there, I will rule here."

     Vasir returned to a pandemonius Pandemonium. It seemed that Archfiends were disappearing into the mortal realms left and right. Roaring, the Demon Prince reasserted his will over the realm of fire, shadows, and pain that was Torment. Those Archdemons who had not fled trembled before him, and the lesser demons disappeared in fright.
     The Demon Prince was back.

Special Events & Tournaments / Lore Tournament: Duel Decks!
« on: April 08, 2017, 10:10:19 PM »
Ladies and Gentlemen, Riftrunners afield! Welcome to the latest of Benionin’s special tournaments! In the past I’ve challenged you to think in creative ways to both make competitive decks and convey story/flavor by having players build around secret ingredient cards or around unique characters. For this tournament, the challenge is very different.

In the history of Infinity Wars’ lore, there have been a number of showdowns between individuals. Face-offs have occurred and people have fought for all the marbles on the battlefield known as the infinite worlds. It is your job to reenact those battles using a pair of randomly assigned premade duel decks, each built to create a balanced experience fighting the other. Don’t worry, the match won’t be decided based off of who gets the deck that canonically “wins”--let the best player triumph in this battle of Duel Decks!

The tournament is scheduled for April 29th at 5pm IWT.

Every list of the Duel Decks will be posted in advance of the tournament (see below), allowing you to replicate and practice with the lists before game day. Once the tourney starts, you’ll be randomly assigned a match and deck and will face off against your opponent, who will be running the paired duel deck. With 8 sets of Duel Decks from all factions and 4 rounds of Single Elimination play, you’ll have the chance to experience a variety of lore-based encounters and live out some of IW’s storied history--including duels that are on the cutting edge of the lore, such as Lilariah’s rebellion against the oppressive Sol.

Broadcasting info
If possible, there will be commentary on matches that are being streamed. Details TBD, no guarantees.

Door prizes: 1 rift token, and 2 penta packs
Streamer: 3 alt-art packs!

1st Place:
20 Collection Penta-Packs
Choice of Infinity Border - 1 Epic, 1 Rare, 1 Uncommon, 1 Common
Random Gold Rare or Higher - 3

2nd Place:
10 Collection Penta-Packs
Choice of Infinity Border - 1 Rare, 1 Uncommon, 1 Common
Random Gold Rare of Higher - 2

3rd Place:
5 Collection Penta-Packs
Choice of Infinity Border - 1 Uncommon, 1 Common
Random Gold Rare of Higher - 1

The Match-ups (listed chronologically):
Gao Han vs Aleta Sorceress (the Rifts open, a pursuit begins!)
Hehkeem vs the Sleepers (experience the corruption!)
Exiles vs DoD (Mr. Kung Ji, tear down that wall!)
Orion vs Sol and Aberion (the Architect’s last stand!)
The Last Sleeper vs the Overseers (Purge the Unworthy!)
Candit vs Rita (Struggle for Power!)
Kali vs Aberion (the revenge she’s been waiting a lifetime for!)
Lilariah vs Sol (the rebellion rises!)
Klingon vs Federation (the next generation of crossovers!)


When building your decks, attempt to be as close to the list as possible. If there are cards that you do not have, you are allowed to instead put in one of the factionless cards that would normally be in your sideboard. You may increase the number of any sideboard cards to 3 to ensure that your deck and sideboard are full.
For the fullest Duel Deck experience, try to be as loyal to the posted decklists as you can be.

If you are missing any commanders, please let me know and I will contact ES.

Fan-Art & Fan-Fiction / A Father to His Men
« on: March 27, 2017, 05:03:33 PM »
Father to His Men
A Story of Infinity Wars
Commissioned by Mew28

     The death of Thomas II came as something of a shock to his kingdom. The man had seemed so solid, so permanent, and so vital that it seemed he would live forever. He was built like a gorilla and as hard as a brick with a grin as bright as the dawn. Stories had it that he would rise before dawn and run five miles every day, even when on campaign.
     And what a campaigner he was. He had expanded the red and gold banners of his reign from shining Aubade all the way to Bask in the east and the shining port city of Pallydium to the west, though that city still held out against his rule. Most notably he had conquered the fire-worshipping desert kingdom in the desert south of Aubade, bringing vast swaths of conscript soldiers into the ranks of his army. A third of Talich, some said, lived in the shadow of his banner with its black hawk on a red field.
     No one expected him to die, yet one day that vital, powerful, boisterous, alive man stopped being so alive. Four provincial governors immediately rebelled, leaving Lord Regent Pyrrhus, formerly Thomas's Lord Commander of the military, in a precarious position in Aubade. The armies besieging Pallydium set to looting friendly territory in the west, the desert tribes seemed to disappear overnight, and the kingdom Thomas II had built over a lifetime seemed doomed.
     The crown fell to Aberion, the elder of Thomas's sons, with the younger Syn only barely out of infancy. Aberion had been trained for combat and groomed for war--it was everything the young man would ever know or want.
     Lord Regent Pyrrhus was confident he could control Aberion, with the "lad" not even twenty years of age. He would soon learn that he was horribly wrong.
     "The first step," he explained within Aubade's council chamber, "is to stop the bleeding. We must recover the rebellious provinces and prove to them that we will not suffer disobedience. Then the kingdom can return its attention to Pallydium before turning our armies south."
     Aberion nodded and stroked his chin, where his beard was beginning to thicken into a dark black. "Right. We'll start with the desert province."
     Pyrrhus quickly shook his head. "No, no, no my Lord. The desert will be our most difficult conquest and should not be undertaken so quickly. Might I suggest the east?"
     Aberion glanced at a map and frowned. "Many of our best soldiers come from the desert. Hardy, determined warriors."
     "Conscripts," the Regent said dismissively.
     "Our best," Aberion repeated.
     "I have been campaigning for as long as you have been alive, young Lord," Pyrrhus said, drawing himself up in his indignation. "I should think I know how to conduct a war."
     "Father did, that's for certain," Aberion replied. "I'll see soon enough what you can accomplish without him."

     The march to Bask had been simple, with the two rebellious eastern provinces withdrawing all of their troops to the city. Aberion had insisted that his soldiers refrain from pillaging--"This is still my kingdom, after all"--and they arrived outside of the city after a week on the march.
     The armies of the rebels were smaller than those of the Kingdom of Aubade, but they were well fortified and entrenched, having spent the past week digging in. Pyrrhus chewed his lip and scratched at his thinning hair.
     "We'll launch a frontal assault, overwhelm them with force," he shrugged. "I'll have the men attack, I suggest you rest while they take the city."
     "Pyrrhus," Aberion interjected, "attacking like this is suicide. At least let the men rest from the march."
     "We cannot let the rebels think we are hesitating, or weak. An immediate frontal assault will demonstrate to them that rebellion simply is not an option."
     Aberion fumed. "You'll throw away our men needlessly. A frontal assault is well and good, but with ready, rested troops. I suggest we attack at dawn, from the east. Their soldiers will be blinded by the sunrise and we'll be able to get in close and dislodge them from their positions."
     Pyrrhus scowled, but relented. "Very well. As you say, my Lord."
     "I'll be joining them."
     Pyrrhus was shocked. "By no means! We just lost your father, the kingdom simply cannot afford to lose you as well."
     "It won't."
     "I have let you question my ability, I have let you dictate the conditions of the attack, I have let you refer to me without proper title or respect, but I will not let you throw your life away in a brash attack. This is where I draw the line, young man! For the time being I am regent, and you will return to your tent until tomorrow morning when you and I will oversee the battle from the rear and direct troop movements. Understood?"
     Aberion returned Pyrrhus's scowl. "Very well. If you cross me and order an attack while I rest, know that I will have your head."
     Pyrrhus smiled thinly and bowed. "Of course, my Lord."

     Much like his father, Aberion was awake before dawn. The young warlord ate and exercised a little before putting on his battle armor and going to meet with Pyrrhus. Surprisingly, the Lord Regent was not wearing armor.
     "Aren't we attacking today?" Aberion asked.
     "Oh, yes, we are, but you're not going to need your armor. We'll be safe here in the rear." Pyrrhus gestured out at the ranks of the army with a grand sweep of his arm. "Is it not grand, my Lord? Thirty thousand men, willing to die at your word."
     "Grand isn't the word I would use," Aberion muttered. "I should be out there, fighting alongside them."
     "The risk--"
     "Is nothing." He took a deep breath. "Still, at least this once I will watch. Show me how we wage war, Pyrrhus."
     The Regent smiled. "Very well." Picking up a radio, he flicked it on. "This is Lord Regent Pyrrhus, speaking on behalf of Crown Prince Aberion. Commence the attack!"
     Immediately, five thousand men began to march towards the enemy positions. Flares shot up in the predawn light, illuminating the battlefield. Shots began to ring out from the enemy trenches, but they were too far out.
     "Group B, follow!"
     Another five thousand began to march. As the first group began to close in and sustain casualties, they charged. Aberion picked up a set of binoculars and watched as men were cut down trying to reach the defenses.
     "Groups C and D, attack!"
     Men were cut down by machine guns, tripped up by barbed wire, or blown to pieces by land mines before Aberion's eyes. And a few, a lucky few, made it far enough to be slain on the earthen ramparts of Bask's defenses.
     "All other groups, join the attack!"
     "This isn't working," Aberion muttered.
     "Give it time," Pyrrhus replied.
     "Our men are dying."
     "This is war, lad. Men die all the time."
     "Not like this. This is purposeless. When men die in my name, let them die for something. Let them die knowing that their leaders share in their hardships and toil." Aberion stomped over and grabbed a motorcycle from a courier.
     "What are you doing?" Pyrrhus demanded, dumbstruck. "Think of your safety! Of your father! Of your brother!"
     "I am," Aberion growled. "I'm going to fight."
     Strapping his warhammer to his back, Aberion fired up the bike and zoomed off towards the battlefield, the Lord Regent's spluttering objections lost in the rush of the wind. Even now his soldiers were closing with the enemy and waging bloody battle, engaging in close combat for the city's outer defenses.
     Aberion rode past medical teams as they searched the battlefield for wounded and dead, past those who could limp away, past the rearmost elements of his army. He had left his helmet behind and his hair, which he had always kept long, whipped about behind him in the wind.
     He passed into the midst of his army, with his soldiers parting before him, pointing and whispering amongst themselves of how their leader rode to battle. He reached the embattled trenches and ramparts and there he dismounted and unslung his warhammer. Hefting it in his right hand, he grinned and cracked his neck as the roar of the wind died down.
     "Alright, who's ready for battle?"
     He ran forward and found a pocket of resistance, where a phalanx of knights with swords and shields stood against his own soldiers. Roaring a battlecry, Aberion raised his hammer and charged.
     In the east, the sun rose. The dawn broke. Sunlight flashed across the horizon and into the defenders' eyes. It caught on Aberion's upraised hammer and turned it into a miniature star, a beacon of light in the battle for his men to see. It was a magical moment, and the world held its breath.
     The defenders faltered. The hammer fell. The line broke. Aberion savored his first kill of the day. The soldiers fighting with him cheered. Spinning, Aberion raised his hammer to the sky. "The Dawn guides us, brothers! Onwards! To battle! To victory!"

Suggestions / Meditations on Design Space and New Set Releases
« on: March 26, 2017, 08:32:02 AM »
A Treatise Concerning Card Design in Infinity Wars and Speculating How Set Releases Ought to Proceed in the Future, Concluding with a Few Suggestions for Moving Forward

Concerning Design Space
Based off of any given game's mechanics, there is a finite amount of design space within that game. Designs can push the envelope, seek out and probe the edges of healthy gameplay and interaction with the rules, but eventually there are only so many stats and abilities you can come up with before you've exhausted every opportunity and the only thing left is to make things that are strictly better than their earlier counterparts.

Design space is limited within any one particular faction based off of its themes. You can't very well start giving the Overseers RNG effects, or the Sleepers flying, or the Warpath reanimation, because that's not how those factions are meant to work. Each faction has themes and mechanics which are specific to it--perhaps overlapping with another faction in part, but each has its own synergies which that faction does best--and things that it's not supposed to be able to deal with. You cannot bleed too many cards between these factions' themes/identities before they begin to lose their identities and render the faction system meaningless. If every faction in the game had the same cards, the only reason to play one over the other would be aesthetic. Worse, you could combine the best cards from multiple factions to create a redundant, incredibly consistent, powerhouse deck.

If you want to allow power creep and say "we're running short on new ideas, but here's a Better Paladin--7/7 2 cost charge cannot be killed by non-damage sources," you can but then your game will spiral out of control and just turn into a mess. Just look at Konami. They've let power creep get wildly out of hand and now constantly have to ban broken cards (or un-ban broken cards) in order to try and keep a semblance of balance (they also have something like Tier -1 decks and loads of turn 1 kills, so... not an example to emulate).

Eventually, your design space will run out. You can sort of see this already with the Flame Dawn. There aren't really too many more ways you can make 2-drops with charge anymore. A Flame Dawn rush deck is going to be as rushy and tempo-y as it'll get, and adding in new cards can only happen if they're better than older ones--creepier, as it were. While not completely exhausted, the Flame Dawn's nearing the end of its low-drop design space, and even if you come up with ideas for higher drops they'll never be played over the rush strategy and will be more or less pointless. Unless, I suppose, you make their late drops so good that Flame Dawn lategame becomes more viable than Flame Dawn rush, at which point you've crept in a completely different direction and left the Flame Dawn's particular style of rush-oriented gameplay behind. This is a faction that doesn't care about the late game because it wants to have won by then, and right now it's approaching a critical mass of early rush cards that can't be added to further without making cards that won't see play or cards that are creeping ahead.

Balancing tcgs is hard, as you can see. But y'all know this. The balance team certainly is aware of the fact. So what can be done?

Concerning Methods for Conserving, Reopening, or Recycling Design Space
The factions are getting cramped. They're running out of room and it's hard to come up with new ideas for new cards. How might one avoid falling into power creep but still make room for new sets of cards (gotta sell boosters, and nothing sells boosters like preordering a new set)? Not printing new cards is obviously out of the question, so how should we move forward?

Rotation. This has been mentioned before and it's one thought. Rotate out certain sets or certain factions from the game, allowing them in Infinite Mode but not in Ranked, Tournaments, or even Draft. This opens up functional reprints or near-reprints that maintain the standard metagame without tipping it over the edge, without unduly harming the Infinite Mode. However, rotation leaves a bad taste in folks' mouths. They don't like it. It's annoying. And IW's factions don't exactly map directly onto MtG's colors, so the textbook example isn't truly easily applicable to the situation (factions have far narrower and less flexible identities, while colors are broader, allow a variety of playstyles, and can rebrand themselves to a degree with each new world MtG visits--compare UB in Innistrad and UB in Kaladesh). While floated a few years ago by LM, it appears that faction rotation has been abandoned and Yodomare doesn't seem eager to pick it back up.

Let power creep happen. Honestly, not an amenable option, and to be avoided at all costs.

Stop making new cards. Definitely not an option, but I'd consider it preferable to rampant power creep.

Introduce a new faction. In theory, this will open up new design space and viola! More room for cards. Except, adding another faction means it needs a satisfactory base to work from, so plenty of cards when it's first released and more with subsequent sets. And with 100 card sets it's already split in enough ways between the 8 existing factions and Factionless--and the Sleepers have only been getting 1 or 2 cards per set for the last few sets! People love factions and want for there to be new ones though, so this is important to keep in mind. The earlier idea of rotation was designed to take factions out so more could be added in.

Release more promotional content, like Omni, Star Trek, and the proposed CDC Packs. It doesn't affect ranked, but it's fun and at least some people will buy into it.

It's late and I don't feel like being exhaustive right now (feel free to come up with more ideas, discussion is what I'm aiming for), so I'll just move on.

Concerning a Path Forward
New sets will come out (along with new alt-arts). I don't think continuing with business as usual will work for much longer, so here's my suggestion.

From here on out, sets will be 100 cards, as per usual. ~80 of those cards will be for a new faction release. Factions right now have about 90 cards, so theoretically an 80-card faction would start out even with its predecessors in terms of deckbuilding options and versatility, as well as draft variety. The rest of the set would be composed of one or two cards for each other faction, perhaps hybrids or mercenaries, with one or two factionless. Ideally, these cards would interact with the new faction's mechanics/design space from the lens of the older factions, perhaps offering counterplay or synergies.

This would 1) introduce new factions, something players want, 2) slow down the consumption of present available design space while opening up new space, and 3) not introduce undue/avoidable levels of power creep, assuming the new faction is properly balanced on release (looking at you, Overseers).

The downside, of course, is that we'd see fewer new cards for our favorite factions. Moreover, since these new factions would be confined in their vast majority to a single set (with a few cards coming out in each new set), faction packs for them likely wouldn't sell very well, since their normal set pack is basically (but not exactly) a faction pack. Even with the introduction of new factions, there's only so much design space out there. You'll still run out eventually (though hopefully many, many years down the line). And I guess Enyah becomes more powerful (if you're worried about that).

Those are my thoughts for now, though I'll certainly keep developing the ideas in the future. Thoughts? Discussions? I'm interested to see what you think.

TL;DR: Design space is limited, so just release new factions wholesale instead of trying to expand each of our current factions. Discuss.

Trading Post / Benionin's Story Commission Workshop
« on: February 27, 2017, 04:31:29 PM »
Greetings, Infinity Warriors!

Sometimes, the humble LoreNinja needs cards. Sometimes, the world needs stories. When those two times coincide, amazing things can happen. So here's the deal: you can commission stories from me by trading cards.

The specifics:
Cards expected upon delivery of the story, rather than upfront. You'll have a chance to review the story before I post it. If you're not happy with it, I'll rewrite it before posting it on the forums.
Subject of the commission is to be decided upon by the commissioner (naturally), but I reserve the right to refuse to write on certain topics.
Each Legendary=1000+ words of story
Each Epic=500+ words of story
Each other card=250+ words of story
Plat or Gold Border=3x multiplier
Foil=2x multiplier
Alt-arts=3x multiplier

NOTE: All stories exceeding 1000 words must include at least one Legendary in the trade.

What I'm looking for:
Any useful Epics
Miscellaneous premiums (esp. DoD), Star Trek cards

Current To-Do List:
Commission by TameRlane, indeterminate length
Commission by Belial12, at least 1000 words


Mark -1500 (1300 Local Time), Outside of Pyr
     It had been days since Erebus had received the message from the one called Ethan: "Ask what you will." The former Lord Commander worried over this message. The more he thought about the mysterious mage, the more he worried. Just how powerful is he, and how much collateral damage is he willing to condone? When he had sent his reply, all he could do was hope: "Keep the Overseers out of Talich." Preferably without killing all of us in the process.

Fan-Art & Fan-Fiction / Genesis James/Aberion's Wolves
« on: February 15, 2017, 09:29:40 PM »
Genesis James
A Tale of Into the Fray

     Genesis liaisons came and went, but my favorite has to have been James. Now James was really into music, and he felt that the entire combat robot complement of our expedition was just his personal stereo set. Knight-Captain Damian had to repeatedly tell him to stop playing the latest orchestral recordings from the speakers of every single piece of tech in the expedition, as doing so would alert the beasts to our location and "compromise security."
     James, as you can probably imagine, grumbled about this constantly and would usually pop on a headset to listen to music there.
     "Music," he said to me once, "is the only evidence we have of a higher power."
     Vlad had raised his eyebrows. "What makes you say that?"
     "What, Vlad, don't tell me you're getting religious," I had said.
     He shot me a scathing look. "What I'm suggesting is that there is no evidence of any higher power. Gods, demons, angels, call them what you will, it doesn't change the fact that they simply do not exist."
     James shrugged. "Maybe so, but all I can say is that when I'm listening to music the world feels... right. Aligned, even. I get this sense of grandeur that there's something bigger than me out there. It's almost... ocean-like. And you can't tell me that there isn't some sort of genius behind the great composers. Admit it, Vladimir: music suggests the existence of the divine."
     "If so, then the so-called 'pop' music that's all the rage these days proves the existence of diabolical influence," my dour friend countered, and we all laughed. "Imagine naming a song after a day of the week and just repeating it over and over again in an asinine, despicable, whining tone."
     We laughed some more, and James conceded the point. "Still, the masterpieces of classical composition inspire and uplift the soul."
     Vlad shrugged. "They've a gift for manipulating emotions, that's true enough."
     They agreed to disagree.
     The coolest thing I ever saw James do was a modification he performed on an aerial drone. He replaced the running lights and spotlights with ones that changed color, and rewired it to be in sync with the speaker system that he added in. At the press of a button on a remote attached to his wrist, James could have the drone play any music in his considerable collection along with an accompanying lightshow.
     The first time James actually did so, he attracted a pack of beasts to our location, prompting Damian to request his transfer. Before he left us, though, James did partake in a memorable battle, the one that would give our expedition its chosen name.
     Our force was assembled in a shadowy meadow, soldiers of the Flame Dawn filling the space while combat robots kept the perimeter. At the center, Knight-Captain Damian strode. "Our mission today is simple," he explained. "There is a large pack of beasts heading northwest to join their main force, which even now is locked in battle with Bromich's expedition. We are to delay, harass, and if at all possible destroy that pack.
     "The migratory route they're taking is a well-established one, so it shouldn't be too hard for us to travel." I winced, remembering the difficulty we'd had those first few days of trying to forge through the thick undergrowth of this new world. Having clear trails was always a blessing. "Given the size of the pack, we'll wait for it to pass us and then begin to harry it from the rear, picking off the slowest of the beasts and working our way forwards."
     James spoke up. "My aerial drones will keep tabs on the pack's progress, and the combat robots are ready for battle."
     "Excellent," Damian nodded. James had always kept the artificial troops ready for battle, even though they were plagued by malfunctions and jams in this world. "We set out within the hour."
     The idea was to arrive on-site before the pack did, and to lie in wait before falling upon its rear. We did not. By the time we reached the immense trail, the beasts were already heading past. A massive creature with scarlet fur led a horde of smaller, similar beasts with fur that was scarlet brown. The massive beast had thick metal plating on its head and shoulders, and James winced when he saw it.
     "What is it?" I asked.
     "Looks like the Skraar," James replied. "We lost an entire expedition to it in minutes five days back. Genesis command sent out a bulletin with its description."
     "And what action does the bulletin recommend?" Lysimachus asked.
     James looked at my large friend and his machine gun. "Fleeing in panic," he replied. "Even your big gun won't do anything to something of that size. We're best off letting it pass and focusing on its young."
     The pack--no, herd--passed by slowly. Each of the smaller animals was still easily twice the size of even our biggest soldiers. "I've no intention of fleeing in panic," I said. "If we don't take these beasts down, they're going to slam into the main force. They're already hard-pressed as it is." I clenched my fist. "It's our duty to do what we can for the cause."
     "Preferably without dying," Vlad added, checking that his pistol was fully loaded.
     For half an hour the herd marched past, the young following Skraar as he led them northeastwards. Even in the distance we could see the immense leader of the herd, his form towering over the other beasts, the trail, even the trees. How are we going to bring that thing down? I wondered, but then I remembered that we had taken down the behemoth that had been so tall as to be hidden by the clouds. If we killed that, Skraar too could fall.
     James's radio buzzed and I heard Knight-Captain Damian's voice: "The herd is almost past, prepare for the attack."
     And then we saw the end of the line. The stragglers at the back of the pack. Not all of Skraar's young, it would seem, had been created equally. Concealed at the edge of the trail, we waited for Damian's signal.
     "All soldiers, attack the rear. Pick off the slowest beasts and move your way forward. Do not, I repeat do not, attract the attention of the entire herd. If they turn on us, we're finished."
     "For the Dawn!" I shouted, bursting out of my hiding place and into the clearing of the trail. Falling upon a small beast at the end of the herd, I struck it in the leg with my sword while Vlad placed a bullet in its head. It went down immediately. Behind me, Lysimachus' machine gun barked, pouring hot lead into another straggler that stumbled and fell before it could even react. A few other beasts turned and looked back as our force left the treeline, but most of the herd continued to press onwards, towards Bromich's position over a day's journey away. With Gwendolyn and Haraldur at my side I charged another beast, slicing into its hamstrings and bringing it down for my two companions to finish off. All around me, other groups of soldiers were doing the same.
     One beast turned and roared, bristling in rage and charging our forces. As I watched, Aspirants were crushed beneath its feet or mutilated by its jaws. Finally, a combat robot launched itself forward into the enraged beast's way, ending its unstoppable rampage with the bark of canons and a crash of bone upon metal. I turned and watched as James directed more of the robots out of the trees and towards our line. While they weren't as fast as our soldiers, those combat robots were instrumental in stopping the charges of the beasts. Many fell, but even as they did so technicians and field mechanics began to recover the scrap for reuse.
     Suddenly, Knight-Captain Damian called a halt. "Cease fire and fall back into the trees!" he shouted over the radio. I looked up at the main body of the herd and immediately understood why. The beasts had stopped moving and had circled up. If we continued to attack them, we'd be walking into a wall of muscle and claws prepared for an attack. As quickly as we could, we disappeared. Gunners fired a few warning shots to keep the beasts at bay while we retreated.
     "Good work," Damian's voice said over the radio's static. "But we're only getting started. James, I want to know as soon as those beasts are on the move again. Once they are, we wait five minutes then resume the attack."
     And so we did. Moving with an uncanny coordination under Damian's command, we would attack, then disappear, always picking off the slow, the wounded, those out of position with the rest of the herd. Once, twice, three times we struck and vanished, whittling away at the beasts' numbers.
     But the third time they followed us.
     "Move, move, move!" Damian shouted into the radio. "Make for the trees and keep going! They're hot on our trail!" Lysimachus laid down some covering fire as Haraldur and I escaped back to the woods, with Vlad calmly clipping off another headshot at a charging beast. Combat robots placed themselves between the oncoming stampede and our forces, only to be quickly overrun.
     We struggled in the thick underbrush to put as much distance between ourselves and the enraged herd, but I knew that those beasts would have far less trouble than we did. Rather than forcing their way through the trees, Skraar's young would smash through them, an unstoppable charge. Already I could hear them crashing through the vegetation.
     "James," I said, "we're not going to make it."
     He nodded even as he disentangled himself from a thornbush. "You're right. Not like this." He tapped his wrist remote, and suddenly his modified aerial drone was overhead. He looked up and smiled wistfully. "See you on the other side, little friend."
     Then he tapped the remote a few more times and the drone shot off, back towards the trail, back towards the herd. In the distance, I could see lights flashing and hear music play. The crashing sound suddenly stopped. Looking back, I could see that the beasts were turning away.
     James turned on his radio. "Knight-Captain Damian, I've sent the aerial drones to distract the beasts. It should be safe to regroup now."
     "Acknowledged, James."
     He looked at me sadly. "Well, there goes my music."
     I patted him on the back. "James, your music just became our guardian angel."
     He smiled. "Huh. You're right."

     We gathered around in another clearing, this one artificially cleared by combat robots. Damian stood at the center, proudly pacing. "I have just received news from the main UTF force," he said. "Thanks to our efforts, the herd of beasts was sufficiently thinned, allowing Bromich to repulse them. We fought well, harrying the herd and killing off the weak, separating it and chasing down the stragglers. It strikes me, men and women of the Dawn, that we have fought much like a particular kind of beast, a beast feared throughout legend. Like a pack of wolves we have hounded our prey; like a pack of wolves we have downed one animal after another; like wolves we have fought together and died together. We are Aberion's Wolves!"
     We cheered, stomping our feet and pounding each other on the back.
     Damian held up his hands for silence. "However, special note is to be made of our Genesis Liaison, James Sibello. It gives me great pleasure to award him with the Crimson Cross, earned for bravery on the battlefield. Sibello's efforts sacrificed much of his force in order to secure our retreat, and saved many lives."
     I clapped James on the back. "Great work, James!"
     He smiled and let his headphones dangle around his neck. "I do what I can."
     Then Damian stode forward and was handing James the medal. Taking the mechanic's hand, he raised it high. "To Genesis James!" he shouted, and we cheered. Even though James transferred back Talich-side a few days later to be replaced with a different liaison, I will never forget that moment when we honored him as one of our own.

Fan-Art & Fan-Fiction / The Darkest Hour, Chapter 6 and Epilogue
« on: January 11, 2017, 03:59:21 PM »
The Darkest Hour
Table of Contents

Chapter 6.1: The Darkest Hour/Our Finest Hour

     Gao Han's command tent was somber. Captain Hyeon, the Stalwart, Mavuto and I were there. "Wen," Gao Han asked pacing, "how many soldiers do we have left?"
     "Fifteen," I gulped. "Counting the beasts."
     "This position is untenable," the Stalwart muttered, "but it was never meant to be held." He straightened and slammed his fist into his palm. "Damn it all! There's no point in us staying here. And we need to make sure that those soul-trapped monsters don't make it to Reish."
     "So are we going to fall back to the rift?" Captain Hyeon asked.
     Gao Han nodded. "We'll need reinforcements if we are to hold it."
     "But what about my world?" Mavuto growled. "Will you abandon it to protect your own?"
     "Mavuto," Hyeon said, "it's not that simple. Without more fighters we cannot seek these soul-trapped monsters out, and burying them is only a temporary solution. Who knows how long it will take them to escape the tomb that we have turned this encampment into? Days? Weeks? Months? Once we get more soldiers and figure out a way to permanently deal with the soul-trapped, we will help you cleanse your world."
     "When I came here," Gao Han said, "this world was unblemished. I would see it stay that way."
     Mavuto nodded. "Very well then."
     "Wen, open a link to Xia Han," Gao Han ordered. "Hyeon, if you could help him? The spirits are becoming harder to summon, the magic more difficult. Even my spirit armor is less powerful than it is in Jinhai."
     Soon enough, the ritual was complete and three glowing orbs floated in front of us.
     "Honored Sages," Gao Han began, "I have news of the unblemished world."
     "Well, well, well," laughed a voice. "If it isn't the Stalwart, back from the dead. The prodigal son does indeed return."
     Gao Han ignored the jibe. "We pursued the Sorceress into this world and fought several battles with her. Although we were unable to capture the Sorceress and she managed to escape through another rift back to Reish, her retinue was nearly destroyed and we believe that her power base within Veroria itself has been severely shaken."
     "You went through all of that trouble, threw everything away, and failed to stop the Sorceress? Pathetic, Commander."
     The Stalwart clenched his fists. "Honored Sages, there is far more at stake here. Even now an undead horde of soul-trapped monsters is heading towards Reish and Jinhai. My force managed to hold off a small portion of this horde last night, albeit barely. I aim to take my warriors and hold the rift, but I need more soldiers. I have only 15 after the battles that we have gone through here, and that includes the locals who we have secured as allies. We need more soldiers if we are to hold."
     "None can be spared from the Wall, Commander," a different, calmer voice said. "After your decision to abandon your post and ignore a direct order, attacks by the Exiles and the Cult have only increased. Our forces have been stretched thin as it is."
     "If you will not help me hold the rift," Gao Han snarled, "then at the very least listen to what I have to say. These monsters cannot be killed. The best solution my men have been able to come up with is to have stone-callers bury them belowground, but even that is only a temporary measure as they are clawing their way out. I don't know how long it will be before they unbury themselves, but it's all that we have."
     "Very well, Commander. We will take that into consideration." There was a pause, and I thought the sages were going to close off the link. "Oh, and by the way, you and all of your men have been reported honorably dead against the Cult of Verore. Should you return... there would be much explaining to do."
     The orbs flickered out of existence.
     "Well," I said, hoping to break the tension, "I wonder who convinced them to report us dead instead of deserted?"
     No one smiled, no one laughed.
     "Mavuto, gather your beasts. See if you can round up any more along the way. We're going to the rift. Wen, prepare the men."
     It didn't take long to break camp. Soon enough we were marching back the way we came. Back to Reish. And, without reinforcements, to certain death.

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