This is going to be a big update, so grab a drink and put on some comfy pants. Today, we're going to talk about the Daramek!
The Daramek are an elite tribe of nomadic herders, farmers, and warriors who live in a deep valley, isolated from the rest of Ausonia. They call this valley "Sitrak," which is the Daramek word for "paradise." Despite the name, Sitrak is a bleak, brutal, unforgiving place that has shaped and hardened the Daramek civilization. Divided from rest of the world, the Daramek culture has evolved in isolation from others.
According to the Daramek, long ago their gods gifted them with ancient knowledge of the animal spirit, and instructed them in its myriad uses. The Daramek do not merely harness the life of animals, or even the bodies of animals; they also harness the death of animals, using the energy released at the instant of death as fuel for powerful spells and rituals. This is the essence of the Daramek's mysticism; they consider themselves shapers and workers of death's energy, and they consider the many animals in their herds conduits or containers for this energy.
In game, the Daramek make use of a lot of animals. Rats, oxen, goats, and pigs make up a big part of the Daramek deck. They also have many low-cost slaves. A lot of these cards are relatively weak on their own, and they make for poor soldiers. The cards themselves aren't the key; it's using those cards, and in many cases sacrificing those cards, to fuel other, more powerful actions. Daramek cards interact and interplay with one another more than any other faction's, so it's all about using cards to power other cards. If the Daramek herd is allowed to grow, it can be suddenly slaughtered to hit for huge amounts of damage. Playing Daramek is about careful planning and huge, explosive turns, and it's not uncommon to see the tables completely turn in a game with a patient and careful Daramek player.
Let's take a look at one of the Daramek's heroes, Mogesh, and put together a deck for him to use.
Mogesh's ability works like this: you feed him magic, and if there's an ally on the field, he'll sacrifice the weakest one and hit for its HP, +1. So if you sacrifice Herd of Goats (HP 2), Mogesh hits for 3. If you sacrifice War Oxen (HP 5), he'll hit for 6. So for this ability to work, we need magic and we need allies.
Fortunately for us, Daramek has cards that are both allies, and give us resources. Herd of Goats, Herd of Rats, and Herd of Pigs are all allies that generate one random resource per turn. They're relatively low cost, so we can get them out quickly and start generating some magic, which we can then use to sacrifice those allies and hit for damage. We've also got Ritual Slaughter, which will allow us to sacrifice our weakest ally for 4 random, meaning we can turn allies directly into resources if we need them.
We've also got some cards that can help us get allies on the table when we need them. Rat Catcher draws an ally on play, while Feast, Repopulate, and Cull the Herd let us sacrifice allies to draw more allies. These cards can be used to fish through your inventory once you have a few allies, and make sure that they're on the board when you need them.
To finish, we'll round out our deck with some more offensive cards. We have Stampede, which causes all allies on the board to attack, and Rite of Combat, which causes us to hit for 1 for every card played during a turn.
So let's take a look at this deck. We have a bunch of low-cost allies that we can get out quickly, that will be generating magic (and other resources) while they're on the board. We have cards that can help us quickly mobilize the allies we have in our deck, and get them onto the board quickly. Finally, we have cards that can provide powerful offensive punches when we do have allies on the board. This is all centered around Mogesh's ability, which will allow us to consume magic and allies to hit really hard.
In practice, this deck works really well but has a few pitfalls. Putting allies on the board and then sacrificing them feels really fun, and this deck is good at that. You have to make sure to buy at least 3-4 allies before you start using "populate" cards, but the allies are cheap enough to make that possible. Generating random resources is good for keeping Mogesh pumped up, too. I have no use for food other than increasing my HP, so by the end of this battle, I'm in the 30s. Getting a decent herd going and then using Mogesh allowed me to hit for 6-10 on big turns, and that's pretty good. Stampede is great for mobilizing units into offense, too. Drawing a "populate" card like Feast, Repopulate, or Cull the Herd with no allies can be a bummer, though, and can stall you for a turn or two. You have to be careful which order you buy your cards in, and when you sacrifice your units.
I've included an entire game played with this deck below. This was played against the Intermediate AI, which is no slouch. Listrata held on for quite a long time due to her ability and the amount of food she could generate, but in the end, she was just no match for the Daramek herd.
You'll also notice some upgrades to the game, if you've been paying attention. We added the illuminated turn indicator to the middle of the board, which flips to indicate who's turn it is, and we added the fading turn switch messages to help alert players to the shift in control. We're changing and editing the client every day!
We also have some other perspectives to offer! I don't want these updates to just be my point of view. Listen to a few of the other contributors to War of Omens and their perspectives on the Daramek.
Eric Royal is a senior artist at the studio (one of the only employees more senior than I am :P) and he's responsible for all of the Daramek cards in War of Omens. I wanted to get his thoughts on his approach to drawing the cards, and what he likes about Daramek:
"The Daramek are brutal people, with a rich culture, mythos and magic. I always saw the valley that the Daramek came from as bleak and desolate, where there was too much sun and only enough shrubbery to keep the animals in the valley barely alive. Because of that I chose to make the lighting really bright and blown out, in particular on the Slave cards. With these cards I wanted to show a hard people who survived by any means, from tiny orphans with their weapons that refused to die to haggard adults who have survived abominable conditions. In contrast, the Rite cards featuring the Daramek are usually dark and filled with fire, creating a sense of power and foreboding.
When crafting the aesthetic of the Daramek I primarily used rough jagged brushes and textures. I looked at a lot of different world cultures, including the Egyptians, the Aztec, the Maori and a few other tribal cultures, though the Daramek don't really follow any one people specifically because I tried to make them something completely different. When it came to styling them a lot of it had to do with thinking of them as prizing bodies and hides and using these hides and bones to make all of their items. So naturally when I was adorning the Daramek I covered them in skulls and gold. I also fell in love with the sporins of Scottish culture, so I decided that every single Daramek needed one. So much went into crafting this culture." - Eric
Andy Marsh is our CEO, and he's a pretty religious Daramek player. I asked him to talk about one of his favorite Daramek decks:
"My favorite Daramek deck is a Liet Ox deck.
- 2x Herd of Oxen
- 2x War Oxen
- Ox Elixir
- Gold Panners
- Rite of Brood
- Rite of Combat
The Liet Ox deck is all about rushing to a strong defensive position and surviving long enough to get a War Ox out. It works in 3 phases:
Economy Phase - Build my economy. It's an expensive deck, so I use Liet, Gold Panners, and Rite of Brood to get my economy going in a hurry.
Herd Phase - Get 2 to 4 Herd of Oxen out and to keep them out. Herd of Oxen act as a meat wall against enemy attacks and build up my economy, plus my War Oxen need something to eat and Gold Panners die too easily. Ox Elixirs and Shepherds help me keep my Herd of Oxen out if my opponent has a strong offense.
War Phase - Win. War Oxen attack 5 times making them the most prolific offensive unit in the game. They also cost a ton to buy and consume a food and an ally when activated. This deck is all about building up enough to fuel a War Ox to victory, often the same turn I get one out.
Situation Cards - I keep a couple of situational cards to help deal with counters. Too many situational cards can bog down your deck, but a couple usually doesn't hurt. I use Rite of Combat to deal with opponents with a relentless onslaught of allies and Feast to keep my allies out if someone has a strong offense.
Honestly, I'm don't think Shepherd is the best fit for this deck. Rite of Kin, Rat Catcher, or another Ox Elixir is probably better... I just got a Shepherd recently and it's a really fun card to play with." - Andy
Finally, I wanted to call attention to some other great projects currently on Kickstarter. If you love indie development and great games, check them out:
We're almost 50% of the way to our goal with several weeks left in our Kickstarter, so things are going great for us here at War of Omens. Remember to spread the word, tell your friends, watch the Kickstarter, and keep your eyes peeled! We'll be revealing stretch goals soon, and I have one word for all of you: tablet.
Happy Weekend! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna get some dinner.
- Jace (and the rest of Fifth Column Games)