Working our way closer and closer to the specifics, we next needed to determine what each elements niche is for this set, meaning what type of design do we want to incorporate into each individual element? Although we are blowing the lid on multi-element deckbuilding, we still needed to give each element an idea to work with. Eventually, the following was settled on:
Earth: Permanent Mission Theme
Fire: Finishing up coins, BR, and Mill
Lightning: Taijutsu, Naruto Transformation, Ink, Cloud, Weapon
Water: Give Chakra Theme
Misc: Tailed Beasts
These themes, along with past themes throughout the history of the game, are pervasive throughout the entire set, bringing golden oldies such as Drifting and Threat of the Tailed Beasts back, in a more flexible, balanced form. Longtime fans of the series can expect to see oldies such as Over 9k Gaara, Chain Lightning, and Taijutsu to make a resurgence in this set, with the foundations being set for the next block at the same time.
The Next Step
Now that we have our art, design direction, and archetypes, we can now begin to actually create the cards. Typically we start in card number order, but this time, with our creativity at its best, we started with the SRs. Working with the SR layout has been cumbersome in the past, and creating the 15 SRs from this set took all of the creativity we had. With an entire day dedicated to the designing of the SRs themselves, we wanted to be sure that these were the best that anyone could ask for from our design direction.
Creating the Kage’s proved difficult at first using the SR layout. Given that we only had 230 characters or 5 lines to work with put us in a tight spot: How do you design a card that encompasses 3 different elements, on 1 card, with space constraints? These set of constraints were entirely new, and much more difficult to meet than Naruto (Sage Mode) ever was. We had to be unique in our directions with the kages, but at the same time, we had to create something that fit. As many of you noticed, after correcting the templating, it becomes very difficult to fit the exact effect you want on a card. Onoki in particular proved difficult to fit. I jokingly thought a few times to move the text box up and make it bigger since it shouldn’t interfere with the art due to his short stature.
The Jutsu cards came much more easily, as they are the signature Jutsu from each Kage: Atomic Dismantling, Liger Bomb, Solid Fog, and more. For Fire and Wind, we decided to shift the SR to a few decks that we wanted to focus on, including Puppets, giving them a swift kick in the rear to move them up in strength, especially since Wind is needing such a bump.
The Missions fell together very easily, creating a new cycle of cards that represented every design keyword we set out to meet, as well as meeting the qualifications for the three elements on each of them. Wildly playable, I expect these missions to be played in triplicate, some more than others, as we move into the new block and post rotation. How are they named? Very simply: “The (Insert Village Name Here) Council”. Since every group posed in the anime, these images were very easy to find and really gave the cycle its own signature, both in image and name.
After the SRs, we moved down to the most logical place: the bodyguards. Aside from Fire, which was treated differently this set due to Danzo, Fuu, and Torune being introduced before, each bodyguard needed to be different, and again reflect the base elements on each one. We had planned 1 bodyguard to be a 4 drop, and the other to be a 5, meaning that you can curve out bodyguards into kages, but what we did with the effects had to be unique, and yet tie into the tri element setup at the same time.
In the end, the 4 drops were given two put in play effects, relevant only to whether you had a certain element Ninja in play, with that effect representing one of the two elements on the Ninja itself. The 5 drops were given effects that activate at the start of your turn, with the same type of requirement as the 4 drop, but covering the 3rd element. If you curve out bodyguard into bodyguard, you will garner the 1st effect of the 5 drop on Turn 6, and both effects on Turn 6. Kurotsuchi proved slightly difficult, since her character is actually tri-element in the show, but we managed to work it to where her effects were slightly more streamlined than the others.