On the Making of SINS Arena

SINS Arena box and miniatures

SINS Arena is in the works, taking the core concepts from SINS Duel (formerly know as just SINS) and expanding on that to make a game that is a love child between a deck-builder and a miniature skirmish game. But how does such an idea come about? And how do you design a game that contains both elements without one overshadowing the other, and where the DNA of SINS Duel is kept intact?

SINS Arena is being designed by the entire Luudos team, but we’ve asked a few of the people involved in the development process, Morten Fausing (Experience Designer) and Andreas Barbesgaard (System Architect), about just that.


SINS Duel is a deck-builder and, perhaps unsurprisingly, only features cards. What inspired you to add miniature skirmish elements to the mix in SINS Arena?

Morten Fausing

Morten: With SINS Arena, we wanted to take it to the next level. SINS Duel is known for its amazing artwork and character design. This motivated us all to try to get these characters even more on the table and so we decided to experiment with miniatures and skirmish elements. After playing an early prototype we knew we had something amazing.

 

Andreas

Andreas: A lot of the feedback we received on SINS was that the character artwork was amazing. We wanted to bring these characters to life and have them literally pop out of the board. The miniature skirmish element of SINS Arena really helps bring the world of SINS into being, putting the characters right on the table.

 

With SINS Arena, you must have had to consider how miniature skirmish gameplay would fit into the design space of a deck-builder. Was this challenging?

Andreas: Deck-builders have a slow start, building up your deck, while skirmish games have conflict straight away with miniatures ready to fight. In terms of pacing, these two types of games are opposed to each other, which created an awesome design challenge.

Morten: We had to overcome the development curves of the two genres. In deckbuilding, the game goes through two phases. Preparing (building the deck) and fighting (making use of the cards in the deck). Skirmish games on the other hand are much more in the action. And although you can talk about there being elements of preparations in an skirmish game, it’s much more in relation to your opponent’s placement than when buying cards in a deck-builder. The challenge was therefore to make sure that the development curves of the two types of games supported each other and didn’t leave people wanting in terms of either skirmish or deck-building. Therefore we have refined a design that makes the deck-building and skirmish element relevant to each other so that they always feed into one another.


What has been the biggest design challenge so far?

Andreas: The pace of the game was a challenge, an important element of any game, but I think we’ve done a great job creating an experience that fits both deck-building and skirmishing; mixing strategy with tactics.

Morten: Beyond the development curve, I think the most interesting challenge has been the characters. We are introducing asymmetric gameplay with characters, since each character has their own starting cards, their own strategy. This is really fun, given that we can make characters that feel unique and have their own gameplan. On the other hand, asymmetry also brings the danger of making the game unbalanced. A lot of numbers have been crunched to make sure that the game is balanced and that all characters are on an even playing field.


What’s your favorite aspect of SINS Arena?

Morten: My favorite aspect of SINS Arena are the characters. I really like the idea of choosing a character to play as, and getting to experience their story. They align with the SINS Origin Sourcebook, where the entire SINS universe is described. The sourcebook contains such a rich and wast story, which really comes to life in the arena. 

Andreas: It’s a tight, nail-biting experience. Every battle is confined into a small space called an arena. You are guaranteed to face your opponents, no matter what.

Left: Wrath miniature. Middle: Greed minion miniatures. Right: Greed miniature.

Can you tell me about the process of designing that aspect?

Morten: The first question is, how does the character play? How does it embody the Sin? For example, in SINS, Greed primarily lets players gain cards or more power. Given that we in SINS Arena have two Greed characters, we have given each of them one of the mentioned focuses.  After choosing a character’s aspect of the sin, it’s an iterative process where we ask questions about what this character would do. Is there something about the art, miniature, or background story that we have to get on the table? After going through all of these ideas, we choose the ones that give the most engaging experience and then it’s time to crunch some numbers and balance the character. A lot of additional playtesting is then done to make sure that we got the character right and ready to play with.

Andreas: The feeling we wanted to get out of the arena is tense fighting and a high paced adrenaline rush. Limiting the available space in the arena down to only to a few dozen spaces, accomplished this goal. The amount of spaces changes with the amount of players. 


There must be a lot of variables in a combined deck-builder and miniature skirmish game. How do you ensure balance?

Morten: A lot of math and overview. There are a lot of things that need to be balanced with each other. Luckily, Jacob and Andreas are spreadsheet wizards, who always makes the math work.

Andreas: A genuine love for spreadsheets.

 

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