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The Combat Stack.

The Combat Stack

One of the things I thought was interesting when I taught about the Lottery Method of conflict resolution is that EVERY element that's put in has a chance to be pulled. If you have a tumbler full of small pieces of paper and half of them are affirmative, half are negative, there's a 50/50 chance on either outcome. But the beauty of it is that this...tumbler is customizable.

Take a tumbler with 20 pieces of paper, 5 affirmative, 5 negative, 5 affirmative with a bonus effect, 5 negative with a bonus effect. That's still 50% positive or negative, but of that 50%, there's a 50% chance of a bonus effect.

What does this do? Rolling the tumbler creates a tension for everyone involved. When the result is pulled, NO ONE can argue it. There's a certain adrenaline rush that happens when you're waiting and it only grows when the person pulls and reads the result.

But how can this be in a card game? If both players put their cards into a stack, it would create a tension that creates excitement. Dropping cards from your hand meant choice and sacrifice...things gamers thrive on. It's a challenge to sacrifice something and still be victorious in the end.

But there's a problem. If this mechanic were to occur in a game, players will NOT be able to customize their decks in fancy unique sleeves. It's something that's a staple and has spawned a whole plastic sleeve industry.

But for me, I just wanted to see if it will work.

As a test, I got 10 blank cards. 5 of them put an "X" on, 5 I put a "O" on. On one of the "X"s, I wrote an x2 on it, on one of the "O"s I did the same. I shuffled it and pulled results. Sometimes I got "X"s, sometimes i got "O"s, sometimes I got "X" with an x2 and sometimes I got an "O" with an x2. It was interesting. I changed the odds. I put 1 "X" and 5 "O"s...at times I pulled an "X". It was exciting. It was new. It was fresh. I had not seen it in any card game because of the sleeve issue.

But I had something.

So what if I just...break that idea. Dominion was different enough to break away and it is now its own card game genre. Besides, what's on a particular card sleeve (art or brand) has no real bearing on the game itself; it's just candy. But is the mechanic stronger than the need for custom sleeves?

It was to me.

What if I made cards that, if sacrificed to the stack, did different things if it was pulled? The result would be "anything could happen". And anything could happen. An attack could backfire, a defense would negate an attack. An attack could do bonus damage. A defense could take cards away from the attacker. These are all things that can and does happen in games like Magic, but each individual ability is relegated to a card and has to be played in order to create the effect. I could put the same result on multiple cards and it will always be a possibility without being a sure thing.

I decided if this were to happen, I could have players drop cards into a thing I called the Combat Stack and, from that stack, a result is pulled. To refine it even further, an attacker drops their card in first, players alternate dropping cards until both pass, the defender then shuffles the stack (representing all the results of battle) and the attacker "pulls" (representing the "actual" result of the attack). If the attacker could "read" which card was theirs (barring any kind of "marking" of card) by watching the shuffle, it was the defender's fault for not shuffling it properly. If the defender could somehow manipulate the cards in a way that prompted the attacker to pull a defensive card (barring any malicious card removal during the shuffle), then the defender did their job correctly because it's the attacker that pulled the result.

The beauty is that it was SIMPLE! It's EVERYWHERE! But not in a card game...at least not that I know of. And if it was, it wasn't exploited enough to be in today's card games.

So, the game was not about manipulating the results of battle, but about manipulating the ODDS. If the result was in your favor, it was like you "bested fate"...especially when the odds were against you.

And, just like the Hunger Games..."May the odds be ever in your favor"

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blog | by Dr. Radut