The Aesthetics of 7th Sea: City of Five Sails

The Aesthetics of 7th Sea: City of Five Sails

 

By David Lapp and Rhiannon McCullough

From the Weird West to Théah, adding a new card game to Pine Box Entertainment’s lineup has been quite the adventure. When we continued Doomtown, we already had an established game to move forward on. Creating one from scratch has been a whole different beast, and quite a rewarding challenge at that. 7th Sea: City of Five Sails is currently still in development as design and playtest continue to work hard to bring you this amazing swashbuckling game. At the same time, we are also working on card layout and art and we wanted to give you a first look at one of the card types, Risks.

What are Risks?

In the 7th Sea roleplaying game, Risks are defined as important actions that could impact the story:

“When you’re playing 7th Sea, you’ll find that your Hero is put in all kinds of tough situations, moments in which real danger or disastrous consequences lay just around the corner. Your Hero takes actions in response to those threats and consequences—Risks—in the hopes of saving the day, warding off fate, or just plain staying alive!”

The Risks in 7th Sea: City of Five Sails represent actions taken in both the main phase and ‘Maneuvers’ that occur during combat. They affect the outcome of the turn and what you can do with your crew.

Nation Specific and Neutral

During deck construction, players will be able to field cards specific to their own Nation, along with those of a pool of Neutral cards to form a 35-40 card play deck. While the actual rules of play remain a work in progress, we hope you are as excited as we are about the layout and graphic design itself.

The following layouts are from some Risk cards that share certain characteristics. The name and cost appear at the top. The symbol for the Nation is in the middle of the card, towards the right. This Nation symbol and the ‘RPT’ combat values at the lower left are a nod to the original 7th Sea card game actions. The Riposte, Parry, and Thrust values are signified by symbols and occur in the same top to bottom order on every card. The card’s main abilities appear in a text box to the right of the RPT values. As in Doomtown, the flavor text listed below the text box help tell the story accompanying the written fiction you will find in card set releases and online. Please note that some terms are subject to change. For instance, the word ‘Character’ may be replaced with ‘Crew’ as we continue to develop and assign terms that are flavorful and appropriate, but also clear and concise to our players.


The Iron Reply (Eisen Nation) is only used in Combat, due to its Maneuver text.


Valiant Spirit (Montaigne Nation) is useful both outside of Combat for its Action, or in Combat for its Maneuver. ‘En Garde’ refers to the act of a straightening a card, thus once again making it ready for use.

Lastly, we have Bleed Out, a Neutral card available only to Villain Leaders. This card adds Wounds to a Character. Characters will be able to take Wounds up to their Resolve rating. That’s right, there will be an opportunity to play the bad guys.😊

Complementing the art, the new card templates have been designed to capture the sense of swashbuckling adventure and feel of the original CCG design. At the same time, we hope that the cards for 7th Sea: City of Five Sails are both readable and aesthetically modern.

Besides developing 7th Sea: City of Five Sails, David is also currently the Lead Developer for Doomtown. Rhiannon is an illustrator and gamer from the Northeast and a graduate of The University of Hawai’i Mānoa. She has previously worked with Dark Steel Games as an illustrator.

What to Expect from 7th Sea: City of Five Sails

What to Expect from 7th Sea: City of Five Sails

A 7th Sea: City of Five Sails Playtest Article

I’m Max, one of the playtesters on the new 7th Sea: City of Five Sails card game under development from Pine Box Entertainment. Today I’ll provide a partial overview of what you can expect from the upcoming game. 

But first, let me introduce myself, a game player from a rainy ol’ island known to you all as England. I’ve been playing card games for the last 12 years – I started, like most, with Magic: The Gathering and did my time travelling around for Grand Prix and Pro Tour Qualifiers. In 2012, I discovered Android: Netrunner, and the whole game changed, as I discovered LCGs in a big way. Since then, I have played almost all of them in some way, shape, or form. I’ve also done my time with some non-LCG games throughout the years, primarily Pokémon and AEG era L5R. So, don’t be surprised when, for context, I reference various other card games. So, with the boring introductions done and dusted, let’s talk 7th Sea: City of Five Sails, and some of the features you can expect. Please note all mechanics are still in development and you may find changes in the final product.

Approaches

Approach cards are fundamental to 7th Sea: City of Five Sails for determining initiative for the turn. They also set your starting Panache – the stat that determines how many cards you will draw at the start of the turn. If you are familiar with the Game of Thrones LCG, this is similar to the Plot Deck. Although the effects are less dramatic, Approaches tend to enhance your game plan for the turn rather than define it. 

You’ll be coming to your games armed with 7 of these Approaches selected, forming their own mini-deck. You choose one Approach each turn, and then you’re off to the races (or a deadly back-alley brawl, at the very least)!

Locations

You won’t face off against your opponent in some imaginary, theoretical battlefield. Oh no, you’ll duel it out at three locations across the City of Five Sails. These are less like the Deeds in Doomtown, and more like planets in the old Warhammer 40,000 Conquest LCG. 

At each of these locations (The Docks, The Forum, and The Grand Bazaar) you will deal Neutral Cards from the Search Deck (more on that below). Control these locations to earn “Hero Points,” and also use them as the base to launch your noble (or nefarious) plans. 

“Search Deck” (Playtest Term)

The Search Deck really sets 7th Sea: City of Five Sails apart from other games. Between you and your opponent sits a Neutral Search Deck. This deck is fixed, it will be the same for everyone playing the game around the world. During the game you’ll be dealing one card per Location each turn. 

The Search Deck contains events, characters, and attachments for players to lay claim to. Some decks rely on the Search Deck to get their game plan going, whilst some for the most part operate independent of it. All players, however, will need to be aware of what is coming out of it each turn, as it really is full of treasures. Even if you don’t want a particular revealed card, you might just want to stop your opponent from getting their hands on it.   

Skulking and Scheming

The heart and soul of the game takes place in the Skulking and Scheming phase. Here you will tussle with your opponent at each location, with you and your opponent alternating taking actions.

These actions form the core of the game, ranging from challenging your opponent’s characters, playing Risks (action card), and moving your characters around Five Sails in an attempt to dominate the city! The alternating action taking (I go, U go in classic gaming parlance) is core to the game. To reference the short lived Star Wars Destiny game, sequential flow makes the game feel fast and engaging to play. 

Riposte, Parry, Thrust

Combat in 7th Sea is, dare I say it, flippin’ fantastic. You see, every card in your deck has a Riposte, Parry, and Thrust value (RPT from here on out). 

Once you and your opponent are locked in combat, you’ll alternate playing these cards in a deadly, swashbuckling duel. Play a card with 1 Riposte? Deflect a damage, and send it back to your opponent. Parry? Get that damage away from me! Thrust? I’ll take the hit, but I’m slinging some of my own damage back at you. Combat only ends when there is no more damage ‘incoming’ at either player, and some of these combats become epic battles of back-and-forth card play.

Just like the Poker Hand mechanic in Doomtown, this combat system drips with theme. You feel like a Musketeer or a swashbuckler every time. It also makes deckbuilding both fun and challenging. Maybe there is a really powerful card, but its RPT values aren’t great, or there’s a lower powered card but when you’re in combat, its high RPT values allow you to dominate and win the battle. Oh, and yes, some cards have points in each RPT stat, and you get to use all of them when you play them into a duel. 

Concluding Thoughts

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into the game as it currently stands. I’ve not delved too deep into the details, as we’re still thrashing some of them out during playtesting. Hopefully this has let you know some of the things you can expect. At some point, I hope to share with you all more insights about 7th Sea: City of Five Sails’ Factions, along with tips about deckbuilding and general game play strategy. 

 

Announcing 7th Sea: The City of Five Sails

Announcing 7th Sea: The City of Five Sails

An Evolving Tabletop Game set in Theah’s Most Interesting City

Cover Art, by Charles Urbach

Pine Box Entertainment is proud to announce the development of a new experience for 7th Sea fans in the form of a hybrid card game/board. Folks familiar with our Doomtown game will find familiar concepts in area control and a player driven storyline. Players will choose a Faction vying for control of the City of Five Sails. Their Leader and Crew, along with hired mercenaries will battle and duel over three Locations with the city. Throughout the game, they must use Influence, Brawn, and Finesse to outmaneuver and defeat their opponent. Five Sails is a port city with five districts representing the five countries surrounding its border. But most importantly, it is itself a free city, operating independently from any of those outside influences. As such, it is a frequent destination for travelers, explorers, pirates, people wishing to hide, and those who are looking for them. Not only are there inhabitants from the five border countries, but the city is a hub of activity for traders and pirates from all over Théah. This makes Five Sails’ population as diverse and random as its interpretation of laws.

Five Sails is a game of swashbuckling, sorcery, piracy, adventure, political intrigue, and skullduggery within the city. This is not a game of naval combat. While we did not go back to the format of the original 7th Sea CCG, we believe that Five Sails retains the heart and soul of the original game at its core. We will feature key elements from the 7th Sea roleplaying game, incorporated into a rich, storyline driven tabletop experience. Players engage in combat duels that go back and forth with impending damage. Parry, riposte, and thrust at your opponent with the assistance of plot cards and attachments to damage and eliminate opposing crew members and mercenaries. Each Leader has their own unique playstyle with additional ways to obtain Hero Points, and forge a path towards victory. Alternatively, controlling the locations or assassinating the enemy leader will lead to domination over the city.

 


Iron Reply, Eisen specific faction card. Art by Mirco Paganessi

Each Day players will reveal a Scheme card that helps determine their goal for the turn. A communal mercenary deck will reveal Events, Artifacts, and Characters at the locations that players can Recruit to aid their cause. Setting the game in the City of Five Sails gives us the freedom to build a solid ongoing story and depiction of various nationalities and secret societies that bring more of the flavor of the world into the game.

We anticipate the first interactive, player driven storyline experience as a key part of our inaugural world championship at GenCon 2022. At this tournament and through local organized play, players will be able to determine the direction of the storyline fiction. Players will also be able to alter the communal mercenary deck for future expansions, as the city and storyline evolve with an expanding card pool and additional factions. The key thing about the mercenary deck is that each card bears a unique number. As the story progresses, characters may permanently join a Leader or new events disrupt the City of Five Sails. When this happens, a new card with that number will be printed to update this communal deck, replacing the one that is going away. This way we can keep the ebb and flow of the bustling, dynamic port city alive over time and keep you on your toes along the way. The cards used for the current pool will be noted and provided at organized play gatherings.


Maya del Rioja, Loyal Crew member of the Castile faction, led by Soline el Gato. Art by Waclaw Wysocki

The initial box set, containing everything you need to play 7th Sea:The City of Five Sails, will follow the story of Five Sails as initially presented in the 7th Sea Roleplaying Game:

The history of Five Sails goes back six hundred years before the First Prophet. When the Numanari came conquering across this land, they found a fort built by a now-unknown warlord. They took the fort for its strategic location, erecting their own wooden walls and port. The fort eventually became a town with a castle. Stone walls ran over 5 kilometers all the way around, protecting the people from invaders. Those walls still stand, and you can see them dividing the “inner city” from the “outer city.”

Five Sails has seen its share of battles, each conflict wounding some part of the city, calling for rebuilding and restructuring. In addition to the battles, the city has suffered fires and plagues, further erasing older parts of the city for newer structures. This has made the city’s interior a bit of a maze with older buildings eclipsed by newer, tight alleyways that twist and turn and sometimes end in walls, stairways leading to nowhere and other architectural oddities.

In the 1400’s, a Vodacce prince named Dalmatia claimed the city as his own and his family held it for nearly two hundred years. However, the War of the Cross rolled over the city, and within those thirty years, Five Sails changed hands hundreds of times. As the war raged on, Five Sails became a kind of home for mercenaries and pirates looking for coin and trying to find refuge from the war.

When the Nations finally declared peace and the War of the Cross ended, the city was in shambles. Five different Nations claimed ownership of the city. Anastasia Russo, the appointed mayor, found opportunity in the chaos and declared Five Sails an independent city, free of any national hand. She gathered a handful of war-weary veterans to enforce her claim. A bold move for certain, but thanks to her army of mercenaries and a fleet of pirates, she was able to maintain her claim. Five Sails was a free city.

Since then, the city has remained both united and divided. Five Sails is divided into five districts, each maintained by a “governor” (the titles are different for each district). Every three years, the governors elect a mayor who runs the city’s bureaucracy and infrastructure. Because the mayor must win the favor of the governors, many outside the city see her as a kind of puppet holding a rubber stamp, but that is further from the truth than such scholars know. The governor assigns commanders for the city’s watch, army and navy, giving her considerable power. Those who fall under her disfavor can find life very difficult in Five Sails, regardless of their status. In other words, the relationship between the governors and the mayor is a delicate balance.

 


Iron and Velvet, Ussura specific faction card. Art by Manuel Castanon

 

The featured cover art by Charles Urbach depicts the four musketeers available for play with the Montaigne faction, led by Odette de Dubois. Throughout the coming months we will continue to preview elements of this game as new art, fiction, and card templating become available. We are excited for this project and will be continuing to work closely with Chaosium on being part of the future of 7th Sea.

Designers Case Lopez and Robert Croy have recently been joined by Legend of the Five Rings CCG designer Chris Medico and Transformers TCG designer Case Kiyonaga as the game has evolved from the initial presentation in the The Jade Throne Podcast and version of the game shown to 7th Sea fans last year.

Those not familiar with the 7th Sea property can check it out here.

Stay up to date with news on all our projects by following the various Pine Box Entertainment social media outlets listed here.

Folks looking to join playtest can do so by emailing us at pineboxentertainment@gmail.com.