Lyssan Where flags change with the wind.

18Jan/113

Cards: The von Hornbergs


"Battles leave empty thrones, my son. Your grandfather, Karl vor Hornberg, was a commoner, and a sell-sword, with only two men under his command: His brothers. By the Battle of Witges he commanded a platoon, and the Duke awarded him the now-vacant knighthood of the recently deceased traitor family von Kleist. By the time I took over the company, we had three battalions and a barony. For my support in the Battle of Keldbrukke, His Majesty, King Jerger awarded me the recently vacated Duchy of Beidebaum. You now take command of the greatest army west of the Neiße river. See to it that your son is called King."

- Kristof von Hornberg to his son, Ulrich von Hornberg, on the occasion of his 18th birthday.

Recruiting vassals is one of the keys to winning Lyssan. A vassal is an influence card representing an alliance with a powerful faction within the Empire. The von Hornbergs are one of these: a noble family that built their power a gallon of blood at a time, working their way up through the gentry by fighting in every major battle and having a knack for choosing the winning side.

Vassals give a player an immediate influx of units, and the ability to hire more agents of a type than they would normally be allowed. In a game were the final victory point can come from fielding the most knights or priests or spies, this can make the difference between winning and losing!

Only one can't depend on vassals. The alliance with the vassal is a 'holding', and holdings can be stolen by enemy spies, given the chance. When a vassal card moves from one player to another, the agents from the vassal also swap sides!

14Jan/110

Happy birthday, Lyssan website.

Hi. I'm Sam. I've been working on a wargame, named Lyssan, for the past 6 months - since July, 2010. I'd designed boardgames before, but I knew this one was different from very early. Something about the way all the parts fit together made something magical and new.

I'd first set out to design a competitive game of crisis management: Something like Matt Leacock's "Pandemic", but with the players struggling for top ranking amidst the crisis, offing each other's agents, and risking bringing the world down around their ears. I set the game in a warring, feudal world, where the competing lords would be happy to take advantage of chaos to get the upper hand on their rivals. By the time the game was ready to have the crises added in, the diplomacy and strategy of the struggle was already rich enough to be its own game. The original idea for the game is now the first expansion.

It took a week to get the first draft of the rules down. The rest of the month before I had a prototype assembled. This isn't a small game - the first version had more than 200 units, 37 map tiles, a deck of 90 cards, plus coins, recruit tokens, and other odds and ends.

In spite of that, from the first playtest, we were wrapping games up in two or three hours each, and people really liked it. And it could have continued on this way for much longer, a few playtests at a time.

For years before, I'd been bookmarking the portfolios of online artists whenever I'd found one I liked. While playtesting Lyssan, it was natural to go through that list and pick the ones who drew most like the images of this world I had in my head. And then a few days ago, I wrote to one of my favorites, and asked if he was available to freelance on the project. He said yes.

That was eight days ago. In the meantime, a company has been formed to publish Lyssan. The contact went off to our mystery artist. And this site was put up. Welcome to it. Stick around. In a few more weeks, our mystery artist (along with his first few sketches) will appear, and there will be sneak peeks of the game.