As March of the Ants begins to arrive, I wanted to discuss the blank, home-brew cards that were created for the Kickstarter campaign. This article expects a familiarity with the March of the Ants, but if you have any questions please reach out to me in the comments- I’d love to help!
These blank cards have the same backs as all the regular cards and the fronts have the same borders, but the cards are blank so you can create your own new cards and mini-expansions. There are three Evolution cards (one of each segment), two Event cards and a Colony Goal – the same design space we used to create the Bee mini-expansion already in the game.
(For perceptive readers you may have noticed that an error was made preparing these cards for print and on the red bordered cards it says Evolution, where it should say Event. Our apologies for this error. Ryan suggests the possibility of making a hybrid Event/Evolution card or aggressive Evolutions.)
Ant cards have two main values: Cost and Power. Each card has a Cost that is paid in Ants or Larvae when the card is played. The more powerful a card is the higher the cost should be. The cost of Cards currently range from 1 to 4 but some cards specify they must be paid only in Ants, not Larvae. The effect of paying in Ants makes the card more expensive, because you are forced to give-up position in the Meadow.
The second value on each ant card is Power, a number that is used during battle to boost your ant armies by discarding cards from your hand. More powerful cards tend to have higher power values, which helps new players evaluate how useful cards are when making discard decisions. If a card has a very situational effect, we tended to lower its power value so a player would be tempted to wait for that specific moment rather than just tossing the card in the heat of battle. The higher the power value the better and it currently goes from 1-4, with a single card at 5 (to spice things up!). Colony Goals have some of the highest Power values, so that players balance long term goals versus short term victories.
Evolution cards are the majority of the ant deck, since evolving and creating new ants it what the game is all about. To reduce complicated card interactions and to reinforce the flavor of the game, the ant Evolutions are tied to the three castes of ant society- Queen, Soldier and Worker, and each caste is represented by a specific phase of gameplay. The game is further structured by tying all the Soldier cards to the Head segment, the Worker cards to the Thorax and the Queen cards to the Abdomen. Players only need to pay attention to a single segment of their ant during the corresponding phase of play. players are less likely to forget about cards they had in play, and it also becomes easier to pay attention to what your opponents have going on.
Event cards are played instead of taking taking colony actions like Explore or Forage. They generally attack an opponent, help get your ants to otherwise inaccessible hexes in the meadow, or smooth out your economy by giving you resources. Their cost ranges from 1-4 Ants/Larvae, and these cards would be mostly likely to have alternative costs, like paid only in Ants or some other resource. Be careful of creating Event cards that give too much free food, because this can bloat the economy and make the game drag on. Since Events happen once, rather than evolutions which a player can use over and over, feel free to make the game effects bigger than you would an evolution.
The final type of card is the Colony Goal, which represent different strategies a player can choose to gain points at the end of the game. The Colony Goals are structured so when you play it you gain an immediate boost that works towards the theme of the goal, and each Slumber you gain Colony Points if you met the goal. They cost 2 Larvae/Ants each, and are balanced to produce 0-2 points each turn, with the most powerful going all the way up to 3. You might make a more powerful colony goal that gives even more points, by making its condition very difficult or you could make the initial boost into a cost to balance the bigger, late-game reward.
I have been thinking about this article for months as something i wanted to write before these blank cards started landing on your doorstep. I hope this information about how we designed our ant cards helps you make your own cards that are awesome to play and fit cohesively in the game. The best place to share your great ideas is on the forums on our Board Game Geek page, and is also where we will share and test our own ideas.