Borealis Production Update: January 20, 2022

At the beginning of this month, we announced the Midnight Sun Booster Pack and gave the first spoiler from the Borealis Cycle: the Shaper event Deep Dive. It’s been delightful to watch the reactions. We can’t wait to share the rest of the Booster Pack with you over the coming weeks and months.

Of course, prior to the Booster Pack announcement, the last time you heard us talk about the Borealis Cycle was last September, when we announced the set. I know that everyone has been clamoring for more information on the set which is why I’m here today as NISEI’s Lead Producer: to give you all an update on Borealis production. I’m going to talk about where we were for the past few months, where we are currently, and what the plan is moving forward into 2022. I know that people have a lot of questions and I’m hoping that this article and similar articles in the future will help clear things up.

Illustration from the card Project Vacheron. A multi-layered clock face glows with cyberspace pinks and reds.
Project Vacheron by Patrick Burk

Where We Were

Prior to the announcement in September, Borealis was going through playtesting for the majority of 2021. Around the time of System Gateway’s release, we had wrapped up playtesting on Midnight Sun, the first pack in the Borealis Cycle. However, for most of last year, production was held up by a few obstacles, namely, recruitment in some key areas. We were in need of an art director and a producer, the lack of which caused significant delays to the production process. And without a dedicated recruitment officer, people were doing their assigned roles—at times multiple roles to cover the staffing gap—whilst also trying to recruit and fill holes in the organization.

On top of this, we were planning and executing a significant restructuring, which meant there were new roles that needed recruiting for, as well as changes in how various teams worked. Today, as you know, we have a dedicated Recruitment Director, as well as a new Visual Director and a whole team of producers. With those key roles filled, we could start the production process in earnest, the main part of which was getting the art creation going at pace.

Illustration from the card Creative Commission. A tattooed artist manipulates holographic pieces to make an intricate digital artwork.
Creative Commission by Benjamin Giletti

Where We Are

Since completing the major recruiting, production for Borealis has really kicked off. Our new Visual Director, Matt, has done a great job hitting the ground running and we’ve already started getting briefs sent out to artists, with many pieces for the Midnight Sun Booster Pack already well into their fulfillment. We have artists confirmed, and many of the pieces are scheduled to be completed in the next few weeks. We aren’t just working on the Booster Pack, either: we’ve been shipping out briefs for the rest of Midnight Sun and reaching out to artists to also make progress here.

The Rules team is reviewing Borealis right now as well, having signed off on the Booster Pack cards. They’re working with Design and Development to make sure the final wording of all the cards work under our rules framework and still operate as intended, and meeting with Narrative to find terminology that is both evocative and precise.

All the while, the Production team is keeping an eye on each team and jumping in whenever additional support is needed. We meet regularly to get an overall view of our production and we have our own internal Trello board that we use for tracking everything that needs doing. We do have people new to some roles that are taking their time to get up to speed, but things are moving along at a good pace and we’re very pleased with where things are right now.

Where We’re Going

Let’s address the burning question: when is Borealis coming out?

Illustration from the card Red Team. In a barren warehouse, two figures pore over documents to plan a caper.
Red Team by David Lei

We don’t have a hard date or even a month that we can give you. What we can say is that we’re hopeful that we can release the first set in the Borealis Cycle in late Q2/early Q3 of this year (that is, June to August 2022). If all goes well, we believe we can have Midnight Sun out this summer. 

Now, we don’t know that for definite. Hiccups might occur, or real life might get in the way and cause delays, but with our new Production team in place, if we identify where these delays might happen, we can jump in and help before things get too bad.

I know this is not what you were all hoping to hear. It sucks to hear that new cards are still a few months away. Believe me, we wish we could release them sooner. We want you to have them, we want to play with them—we’re so proud of Borealis. But unfortunately, there’s a bit to go yet.

We also get it: It’s not great for the first update on Borealis since the set’s announcement to be “It’s going to be several months more.” One thing that we’re going to be doing is releasing more production updates, more regularly, to keep you well informed as to our progress. Every couple of weeks or so you’ll see an article from us on the Production team discussing what’s happened since the last update. It might be big, it might be pretty small, but we want to keep you all in the loop.

As for what’s left to do? There’s a lot of work to be done on art. That’s probably the big one. We still need to get a lot of briefs out and contact artists for some of the cards. As I mentioned, the Rules team is also reviewing Borealis and finalising the exact wording of cards. Our Narrative team as well is working on the stories and fiction surrounding Borealis, as well as finalising card names and flavour text.

Once we have all those pieces, we’ll be able to start making the final cards, getting spoiler articles written, preparing print-and-play documents, contacting print-on-demand services and getting things ready to upload to the print-on-demand storefronts. If we can get all the art and rules text in Q2 like we’re hoping, then we should be on track for a summer release for Midnight Sun. We’ll keep you all updated on that in the coming months.

I’m sure you all still have a tonne of questions and are still keen to see more. We will be working to keep you updated every step of the way so you’ll be able to see Borealis take more and more shape. I hope this answers at least some of the questions you’ve been having about Borealis and makes the production process a little clearer in the interim.

Our first update article will be coming out very soon with more details on where we are with Borealis. We’re looking forward to showing you more about how we make the best game ever made and we hope you’re excited to get more of a look into our production process.