Luke’s Unmatched Designer Diaries: What Was Lost is Found

Welcome back to Designer Diaries! Last time, we took a look at my design for Captain Hook, and a design that ultimately encouraged me to consider one for Peter Pan. It’s weird to consider; there’s only going to be 1 character from each public domain property usually, so why design both Peter and Hook? Well, I also know that 1 of my submissions will make it through. So as long as a Peter Pan-based character is already in the works, I should be in the clear to get one of these designs off the ground. And even beyond that, designs can be re-themed if need be.

So, Peter Pan; what makes him special or unique? Going into this, I had the idea of making him a cross between Robin Hood and Dracula. He has a team of miscreants at his disposal, will likely be more of a guerrilla fighter, will have a lower health total, and needs to be crafty about how he moves about the battlefield. So, in that vein, I drafted potential abilities based on those inspirations.

The first of these played into Peter’s trickster nature; if Peter started his turn adjacent to an opposing fighter, the opponent would discard a card (basically the inverse of Dracula). This seemed neat in theory, but in practice, much like Drac, the ability rarely procs, and when it does, it doesn’t feel the best. I quite enjoy playing Drac, but his ability is one of my least favorite in the game as a whole, despite it being highly thematic. It’s just incredibly situational and can leave a bad taste in the controlling player’s mouth.

At this point I had a whole deck built for Pan, set around his narrative more so than his ability. So when I pivoted to a design that lent itself more towards movement, I found that the deck worked perfectly alongside it. Suddenly, the pieces clicked together and it seemed like a satisfying cat-and-mouse engine had been created.

This second ability stated that, at the start of Pan’s turn, if he shares a zone with an opposing fighter and isn’t adjacent to any opposing fighters, he can move to any space adjacent to said fighter. In other words, if you’re in the same zone as Pan, he can leap behind you and catch you by surprise, the inverse of Robin Hood and his merry men running away after they fight. This feels in line with the sneaky elements of the character and keeps opponent’s on their toes regularly, pressuring them to keep a distance from Peter or to get up close and personal. Some heroes can also use their sidekicks to essentially cancel Pan’s ability for the turn, sacrificing a resource to try and run away. To me and those I’ve playtested with, it feels very fitting and makes for a tense match-up depending on the opponent.

Of the common cards, I selected Ambush, Snark, and Regroup for Peter. Snark may seem odd for a melee character, sure, but it’s thematically appropriate for the character, and the character design benefits from the light card draw without giving him too many options to do so.

But I know what some of you are thinking; no Feint? That’s by and large due to a card I knew I wanted to include; Just My Shadow. Acting like a cross between Bewilderment and Highway Robbery, this Defense 0 card cancels the opponent’s card in full, then teleports Peter to any empty space on the board. There’s only 2 in the deck, of course, but it felt fitting for the hero as a tool in his arsenal.

Peter has access to 2 schemes in his deck, the first of which I’m rather proud of. Skilled Mimic looks at the top card of the opponent’s discard pile and provides an effect depending on the type of card showing (Attack, Defense, Versatile, or Scheme). Pixie Dust, on the other hand, allows Peter and his Lost Boys to move up to 4 spaces through opponents before gaining an action (their normal move is 2).

A theme that I wanted to try and convey with this design was how disposable the Lost Boys are to Peter. In the text, he’s shown to give little regard for Lost Boys “dying,” assuming they’ll get back up and keep playing with him soon enough. So, there are 2 cards in the deck that capitalize on this. The first, the only Lost Boy-specific card, is An Awfully Big Adventure. As the quote suggests, the ability triggers if the Lost Boy dies while defending with this card, allowing the player to draw 2 cards. While it may seem odd to give the sidekick 2 copies of a Defense card as their only unique card, there are enough Anys in the deck to make them a nuisance, and the card itself provides an interesting choice.

The other card that capitalizes on Lost Boy sacrifices is Selfish Strike, allowing Peter to sacrifice Lost Boys adjacent to the opposing fighter to add +1’s to the card. I have a feeling it should be in the same zone rather than adjacent (if Drac’s cards have taught me anything), so I’ll have to edit that next chance I have.

Peter’s big hits are The First and the Best and It’s Hook or Me This Time! The former plays off of his ability, a 3 attack that becomes a 5 if this is his first action of the turn. The latter, however, is a doosy. A 4 Versatile, Peter can discard any number of cards from his hand. In response, the opponent may do the same. For each card that Peter’s player discards that the opponent does not, the card’s value is increased by +2. This can lead to some big plays, especially if the opponent is playing recklessly, but it can just as easily be a card the opponent Feints if they’re watching each player’s hand size.

While there are a few more cards here, including the card that revives all defeated Lost Boys, I think that pretty well illustrates the ideas and intent of this design. Ultimately, I do believe that, after some more playtesting, Peter and Hook will be the characters I submit, but we’ll see. And what does that mean for future entries into this series? I’m not sure. My significant other is considering submitting some designs of her own, so I may have her write on her experiences here if she’s up for it.

But for now, thank you all for reading as always, and I look forward to seeing you on the Unmatched battlefield!

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