Play War of Omens January 11th and 12th with no beta key! If you want to continue playing after our Open Beta Weekend, back us above $10 and request an early-access key in the comments! See this update for details.
Now that we're funded, let's crush some stretch goals!
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War of Omens is a strategic card game set in a dark fantasy world, depicting the evolving political and military struggle between three distinct, warring factions. Players will take on the role of a hero representing one of these three factions, with the player's deck representing spells, tricks, techniques, and troops, and take their deck into battle against other players or a computer opponent.
We plan to launch the game with a tutorial that introduces the game and the world of War of Omens, a skirmish mode with three levels of AI difficulty, and a multiplayer client that allows players to battle each other 1v1. War of Omens will feature a card store that allows players to purchase packs of cards, plus a deck builder that allows for easy customization and saving of decks.
After launch we have lots of ideas for how to add to and support the game, not just with content but also with features, and a lot of those ideas depend on Kickstarter support. Our stretch goals are packed with awesome stuff that will really change the game we ship, and we really hope to uncover them all. We'll be revealing more details about the future of War of Omens as the Kickstarter campaign evolves, but one thing is for sure: You guys get to decide how big this game gets.
War of Omens is a hybrid between a deck-builder and a CCG. Deck-builders are games like Dominion, Quarriors, or Thunderstone, where the object of the game is to construct the most effective deck of cards on the fly. Players typically compete over a public pool of cards, vying for the best ones and cycling them into their hands while trying to achieve some kind of victory condition.
Keep in mind that screenshots, videos, and whatever else you see are from our internal alpha, and as such, do not necessarily represent how the game is going to look, act, or feel upon release.
A CCG/TCG is a Collectible/Trading Card Game like Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, or Yu-Gi-Oh, where players collect, build, and battle decks of cards assembled from a very large pool. Players usually go into these games with separate, pre-constructed decks that they've collected over long periods of time, rather than building them on the fly.
War of Omens combines elements from these two games. Players will be able to collect cards and customize their decks, just like in CCGs, but as they sit down to play individual games of War of Omens they'll be buying their cards from the bank each turn, as if they're playing a deck-builder. Opponents in War of Omens will have their own, separate deck; there are no public cards. We call this type of game a Collectible Deck-Builder.
Each player starts with ten coins that can be used to purchase cards from their bank. The bank is populated with cards that you choose in the deck builder between games. As the player purchases cards from their bank, they're immediately put into play. Once spent or destroyed, cards go into the inventory, to be shuffled and dealt back into the hand. Each turn a new hand is drawn from the inventory, and as the game progresses, the inventory grows with cards purchased from the bank (or by other means, like stealing).
Because there are four resources in War of Omens and because the factions play so differently, cards cover an incredible variety of behavior: direct damage, blocking attacks, drawing cards, resource generation, sacrificing units, stealing cards, destroying resources, and more.
We believe that the what we've created in War of Omens is a new type of card game that has great strategic depth, potential for long-term collectibility and customization, and really fast, visceral gameplay. Average games tend to be 5-10 minutes, with truly epic battles lasting longer. It's not uncommon for a crowd to form behind a desk if a game of War of Omens gets crazy. We've spent hundreds of hours (and millions of AI simulations) balancing War of Omens to require strategy, skill, and a just a little bit of luck for victory.
Everyone here at our studio has been playing WoO for months, and it's transcended "just another game we're working on." We play it at home. We play it at lunch. We have a WoO ladder. It's really, really fun. Some of us have barely started building our collections, while others have amassed almost every card in the game. We come up with new strategies and card combos all the time, and the competition around the office is varied and fierce.
War of Omens is in full 3D and plays in your browser. We started with a 2D prototype for playtesting and balancing, but over the last few months we've transitioned to a beautiful 3D environment with rendered cards, lighting, texture mapping, and shadows. The game plays at a smooth 60fps, even while cards are zooming through the air or sliding onto the table, with animated UI elements and particle effects. We're constantly improving and polishing the client to make it look and feel better. Here's a short video of the 3D client at work (remember, this is alpha footage).
Cards upgrade over time in War of Omens. War of Omens booster packs let players choose from one of three cards, rather than giving them a larger pack of random cards they might not want. Players can choose a new card to add to their collection, broadening their options and increasing their strategic flexibility, or they can choose to upgrade an existing card instead, making it more powerful.
When cards are upgraded, a new copy of the card is created with its gold cost reduced by 1. Now you have two copies of this card to use, and one of them is cheaper, which creates entirely new gambits, combos, and deck possibilities. Cards can be upgraded multiple times, and each time, the new copy is even cheaper and thus even more powerful. In this way we remove the cumbersome element of unwanted common cards that plague so many card games, give players choice when they really want it, and allow players to see the rewards of their play over time, even when getting cards they already own.
War of Omens is free to play. Each player starts with a basic set of cards for each faction unlocked from the start. Each victory, whether in skirmish or multiplayer, nets you gold which you can use to buy boosters in the store. It only takes a few victories to be able to afford a booster, so adding and upgrading your collection is frequent. We plan to sell additional gold, as well as premium currency which can be used to buy the rarest boosters, for real world dollars.
We feel very strongly that microtransactions and the "free to play" model are abused, and we don't want to do that. Too many games put too much emphasis on monetization, and in doing so, good games are sometimes ruined. We don't think microtransactions are inherently evil; just misunderstood, abused, and exhausting to players. We have a lot of experience with free to play and microtransactions, both with our own products and with others, and we want to do it right. You will not have to spend any money, ever, to fully enjoy War of Omens.
War of Omens features three factions: the Daramek, the Vespitole, and Metris. Each one of these factions is completely distinct: they look different, have different in-game mechanics, and have completely different, original storylines. Because players can only choose one faction per battle, and because the factions play and feel so different from one another, favorite strategies and emergent gameplay are commonplace in War of Omens.
Each faction also has three distinct heroes. These heroes differ not only in appearance, but in their special abilities that are utilized throughout gameplay. Even within a single faction, play styles and strategies vary wildly because of the differences between the three heroes. Some favor offense, while others favor defense. Each is designed to complement and enhance an aspect of their faction's overall style and mechanics.
"When God created man, he chose the Vespitole to rule. In politics, in war, and in commerce, the Vespitole command the respect of all. In three generations, House Vespitole has risen from a small merchant clan to an Empire in our own right. Our influence spans the length of Ausonia and beyond, from the Pelagic Isles to the far desert shores of Dalmiria. Even now my uncle the Cardinal rises in favor, and soon the Church itself will serve us. We have countless enemies outside our walls, and no small number within, but we are well-practiced in the arts of intrigue." - Listrata's Journal
"The wind brings us ill tidings from across the sea. There are dark days ahead. Some say the face of the world will soon be changed, and I aim to ensure it changes in House Vespitole’s favor." - Cardinal Pocchi.
The Vespitole are a powerful house of merchants, warriors, tradesmen, aristocrats, and clergy that seek to control all of Ausonia. The family Vespitole has a history rife with power mongering, brutal violence, and deep-seeded corruption. Now they seek to broaden their power beyond their borders, extending their reach wherever they can to control the rest of the world by way of military might, political intrigue, and even religious zeal.
In game, the Vespitole represent a balanced mix of all of War of Omens' mechanics. Troops range from relatively weak militia all the way up to mounted knights and can attack the enemy directly, while cards like embargo or bureaucrat can cripple their resources. Supplicants or Bishops can generate magic, used to fuel other cards, purchase, or even attack. Powerful cards like Malediction, Holy Wrath, or Liturgy can turn the tide of battle in a single stroke if played at the right time. And because each of the Vespitole's cards has a draw, the steady flow of Vespitole gold is never interrupted.
"Of the Shepherd’s people, the Daramek are favored most of all. When the Shepherd gave animals to our ancestors, he instructed them in their myriad uses -- as sources of food, providers of clothing and shelter, and conduits of power. He taught us that by focusing the energy released at the instant of death, we could craft weapons to destroy our enemies, medicines to heal our wounds, and rituals to know the workings of the world. While lesser tribes scrabble in dry soil or dig through the red mud, the Daramek perfect our craft, turning pitiful lives into powerful tools." - The Shepherd's Litany
"I was taught as a child that this valley was Paradise, and that we were its protectors. I now know better. There is a world beyond these mountains, and we, the Daramek, stand ready to claim it." - Esra
For thousands of years, the people of Sitrak have lived in complete isolation, believing their muddy red valley the only habitable place in the world. Their lives are desperate, brutal struggles against starvation, violence and disease. The only rulers of these lands are haphazard clans, and among them, the Daramek are supreme. By complete mastery of beasts, the Daramek are able to provide food and shelter for their people, breed monsters to defend their herds, and unleash the hidden powers of blood, flesh and bone. But the world outside Sitrak has grown restless. Explorers sail the seas. Trespassers probe the mountains. The Daramek's isolation is nearing an end.
In game, the Daramek hit hard and rely on animal sacrifices to fuel their actions. The Daramek may seem weak at first, marshaling multiple, low-impact minions like rats, pigs, and goats, but these minions can be sacrificed to fuel powerful cards that can easily wipe out even the most fortified of battle lines. If not carefully countered and controlled, the Daramek can easily grow from an unthreatening rabble to an unstoppable avalanche of blood, bone, and sinew, dealing out massive amounts of punishment for every beast on the battlefield. The Daramek may not be strong on defense, but they are unforgiving if given any quarter.
"As the Creator’s chosen people, it is Metris' duty to save humanity from itself. Though our homeland lies in ruins and our people remain scattered, we hold fast to our goals; seek out knowledge, collect it for the Library, and above all, keep our secrets safe. Our agents are everywhere, operating from cells within the most powerful nations. With whispered word and shadowed blade we keep merchants, kings and thieves alike in check, ensuring that a balance of power is maintained." - The Manual of Silence
"Something has changed. The balance has been upset. An unease spreads through the people, and strange rumors reach my ears from faraway lands. I must contact the Vanguard at once; I fear only the knowledge Metris possesses can protect us from the coming storm." - Valdorian
The night keeps many secrets. Thieves plot mischief in shadowy dens, assassins sharpen their blades, and spies lurk invisibly in the firelit raucous of taverns. But the wisest rogues know that some secrets are too dangerous to know, and some words are too dangerous to say. Amongst the dark and shadowy criminals of the world stalks a more sinister order of villain. They are the killers of kings. The demolishers of empires. They are Metris.
In-game, Metris relies on control and manipulation to turn their enemies' decks against them. Foes of Metris will often find their troops switching sides, their resources stolen, or their options severely limited. Poisons and bombs can deal damage directly and over the course of several turns, leading to a slow, agonizing defeat. Even if their enemies can manage to muster an attack, Agents of Metris have a variety of ways to avoid, conceal, and protect themselves. While Metris can't put up the strong military front of the Vespitole or even the Daramek, no other faction can control and manipulate their enemies quite like Metris can.
War of Omens has been in development at Fifth Column for over a year. We've been working on this game in our spare time; an hour here, a day there, on the busses and trains to and from work. It's a labor of love for the studio, and over the last year it's grown from one of our engineer's hobbies to an officially supported project that's being developed at time and money cost to the studio.
More than anything, we want to get War of Omens out of development and live. This has been our game that we love to play and create, but we want it to be out there in the world, where it can be everyone's game. Our players will spend more time playing it than we ever spent making it. We're preparing for that transition now.
We're putting up this Kickstarter for two big reasons: money and exposure. Because we're a small, bootstrapped studio, we need money to fund full-scale War of Omens development. And similarly, we want to get the word out about this game. If we're successful, War of Omens will have tons of backers already passionate about it when we open it to the public, which will mean great multiplayer and a thriving community. Kickstarter is a great way to get people talking about War of Omens, while (hopefully) generating the funds we need to finish it.
Here's a projected breakdown of how our budget for War of Omens is going to look. Because War of Omens is such an art-heavy game and because we take the originality and quality of the art so seriously, it's a huge chunk of our budget. Engineers are the other huge chunk, because we need people to, y'know, make all that art actually do something. The rest of the stuff is more boring, but important nonetheless.
Kickstarter is what's going to take this game to the next level of development, and we want all of our backers to feel like they're appreciated and valued. Every backer tier above $1 features beta access to the game, a special "beta tester" forum badge, and a bundle of War of Omens art only available to backers, meaning that no matter how much money you throw into this project you'll be able to play and show off your status as an early backer.
We felt that we needed to balance digital rewards; things that made playing War of Omens better or cooler; with commemorative, physical rewards that would show off our art, look good on a wall or a backpack, and really appeal to people. Some of our rewards will permanently change the game, and there are tons of exclusive cards, booster packs, and custom card skins to grab.
We also have a la carte add-ons that you can add to any tier, regardless of amount. Just manually increase your pledge by the appropriate amount, and we'll sort everyone's add-ons with the backer survey at the end of the Kickstarter. There's no limit to this stuff, so feel free to go nuts.
Fifth Column Games thanks each and every person who backs this project; if we could, we would give you all high-fives.
Help us make War of Omens even better! We have a big vision for this game, but big visions require more support. Help us make this game even better and push us over the limit.
We also want to address two big stretch goals we get asked about a lot: mobile and guilds.
We would really love to see War of Omens on mobile devices. If War of Omens is a success and we can continue working on this game, that's something we really want to do. No one needs to tell us that it would be awesome on a tablet; we know it would be awesome on a tablet, and we want it there. That kind of development is also time-consuming and expensive, so we really need to hit it big with the Kickstarter or with the game itself to allow us to develop that client. We want it just as much as you guys.
Guilds would also make War of Omens really cool. Being able to band together with your friends, buy cards for the group, increase your prestige and your clout, unlock cool perks, and challenge other guilds... these are all ideas we have, and we think they would be great. These kinds of features require a lot of design and development to get right, though, so we're in the same boat as we are with mobile. We want to, we just don't know if we can afford to.
Ultimately, you guys will help decide how big this game gets. Want to see War of Omens on your iPad? Want to start a guild with your friends? HELP US GET THERE!
Fifth Column Games is an independent games studio in San Francisco, CA. We were founded in 2011, and have grown from 3 people to 15 in a little over two years. We're proud to be completely bootstrapped, meaning we keep the lights on with our paid projects and we haven't taken any money from outside investors or venture capitalists. We've worked with publishers like 2K Games and A+E Television and shipped six separate titles, but now we want to do something for ourselves.
We believe in War of Omens, both as a genuinely fun game that we want to share with people and as a successful investment of the studio's time and money.
Fifth Column has some of the most talented creators in the business, and most of the people working on War of Omens are industry veterans with years of experience under their belt.
We love working together.
We know that trust is a huge factor in deciding whether to back a project, and we understand that trust has to be earned. Please click these links to learn more about our studio, and see some examples of what we've created already:
From all of us at Fifth Column Games, THANK YOU for even reading our Kickstarter.
If you backed us at any level, we owe you one. Seriously. You're the best. We're making the game we want to make because of you, and that's the best feeling in the world.
Risks and challenges
After we're funded, we're going to be putting our shoulders to the plow and really working on War of Omens as a studio. That means a production schedule, a dedicated team, a release date, beta testing, the whole nine yards. We all love this game and we're eager to see it through, and that's what this Kickstarter is all about. Part of this process includes communicating and updating the community (that's you guys).
Making games is hard, and predicting the course of game development is about as reliable as predicting the weather. Setbacks can arise for any number of reasons; unexpected bugs, advances in technology, emergent changes, etc. There are also forces at work that have to be mitigated if any game is going to come out on time; scope and feature creep, team burnout, moving finish lines, etc.
That being said, Fifth Column Games has been a successful, bootstrapped video game studio for over two years. This isn't our first rodeo. We've shipped 5 games for other people already. We have the experience, resources, and talent to make a good game, make it on time, and communicate with you if things go awry.
It's also worth noting that War of Omens is already in internal alpha. Kickstarter funds will be used to continue development through alpha, beta, and release. This bodes very well for the final product.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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