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The Time Mechanic

One of the mechanics I introduce in my game is the Time Mechanic. It's a system that uses a cool down when an active ability on the field has been activated.

Here's the evolution of that mechanic.

When I was playing Magic: The Gathering way back in the day (early 1990's), I loved the Tap mechanic. It was a way to indicate that a card was being used to both you and your opponent and it was so simple in design that people ate it up.

Back then, it was cool. Everyone was playing Magic. But as I taught people to play the game, people would always ask, "So, which way do I turn the card? Left or right?" Of course the answer was "It doesn't matter", but it always irked me that people would ask such a question.

Fast forward to about 10 years ago. My favorite anime Robotech had just come out with a card game. I had always talked about the idea of a Robotech card game, but with the triple-changing mecha, it was difficult to account for the transformations on one card. So I just mentioned that maybe you can use a tap mechanic with the mecha; each side turned indicated a particular transformation. It was brilliant, but I didn't think I had the know-how to utilize that effectively into a card game. I'd like to think that idea was stolen from me (since I knew all the people at Harmony Gold); I mean I didn't really care, but someone created a game, which was fine by me. The sad thing was that because the anime was so disjointed (the show was a mash of 3 different shows), the card game was equally disjointed. But having each side of the card mean something intrigued me.

Fast forward to about 2 years ago. Netrunner just came out and I was really excited to see an old game come to life again...especially one that had a lot of buzz in the card game community for years. One of the mechanics used a click system, which gave each player a limited amount of moves during their turn to force a player to maximize their play time effectively.

The problem was that FFG gave you this card visually indicating the clicks you had in a turn and a convenient token to place on it...but it was never explained on how to use it. Did you place the token ON the number slot when you actually did the action, or did you have the token already on the slot, then moved it to the next number when you played the action? It was confusing. I suppose FFG left it to the players on how to deal with it.

For me, I wanted something definitive. I loved the card game theme and I wanted to do something that indicated I was using my clicks, but not so confusing. I remembered Magic, I remembered Robotech. I just wanted something for myself to help me track my clicks. So I created a card that had a number on each side and I tapped in one direction (to the next number) to indicate that I've used a click.

But what of the Corporation? Don't they have 3 clicks and the Runner has 4? It's uneven. Not really. The Corporation side MUST draw a card, so in essence the Corporation DID have a 4th move. So for the Corporation, I put "draw card" at the top, click 1 on the right, click 2 on the bottom, and click 3 on the left (click 1-4 for Runner). I used the card like a switch, whatever side it was on was I needed to do. At the end the card, when the card did its 4th "click" it was in the "ready position" for the next turn. I created the card in Photoshop, but I never ended up printing the card. But I thought there was something, so I just pushed to the back of my head.

Fast forward to 3 months ago. I was thinking of creating a card game using a lottery method of conflict resolution (see previous blog post), but I didn't think the lottery method was enough. I wanted to put in another mechanic as I didn't want this game to be a one-trick pony.

I was watching TV and I happened upon the movie Ender's Game. I never watched it in the theaters, so I was curious; I knew I wanted to see it, but never had the chance until now. So I did. In the climax of the movie, the character Ender does a very ballsy move as he goes in to attack the planet of the enemy. He shoots off his big cannon early (to create an opening through the enemy ships), but then commands his fighters to surround HIS ship as it punches through the enemy lines to get enough time to break through and fire the cannon the SECOND time to decimate the planet. It was nail biting. He had this amazing weapon and he had to wait for it to cool down before he could fire it again. It created an amazing tension that I loved.

I could...get this tap mechanic (Magic)...make each "tap" mean something (Robotech)...give tap a specific direction to turn (like, say clockwise like Netrunner)...and have it countdown like a cool down (Enders Game).

Thus the beginning of the Time Mechanic.

I wanted that feel of Enders Game where you had these amazing abilities that you triggered, but could only do it once every so often. It created tension for the player because you had to wait to trigger the effect every time you used it, but it also created tension for the opponent to do something before your "special ability" was able to trigger again.

So the Time Mechanic...and this Combat Stack...what to do with it?

Comments

I like it

Thanks for sharing the idea: it looks like a great one! To simplify it a bit, and to get rid of the need for an underlying mat, you could have the cards, when activated, rotate left once, twice, or three times (90 degrees each time). Then, when the "recharging phase" hits, you can rotate the card back one 90 degree rotation. When it's upright, you can use it again. This gives a three-turn charge up, which is likely enough for most any game.

Do you mind if I include this idea in a game I'm working on?

It's very interesting ... but

It reminds me of another game idea I saw on this website.

I believe the name of the guy's game was called: "Monster Mash".

And what he did is have STATS around each card. You would draw four (4) cards and put together the type of monster you wanted. Obviously as you suggested cards would get turned (left/right) and you could create different types of Monster stats including using special abilities.

Now he was still in the design stage and I tried to prototype the idea - because I thought it had *merit*. But I found it was too complex and did not have sufficient amount of stats to design the *perfect* creature.

So maybe it was a question of throwing MORE stats on the cards, DIFFERENT stats for more combination. IDK it's just the mechanic was not as smooth as I thought it could be.

But I still think to this day - that turning mechanic could have some potential!

ruy343 wrote:Thanks for

ruy343 wrote:
Thanks for sharing the idea: it looks like a great one! To simplify it a bit, and to get rid of the need for an underlying mat, you could have the cards, when activated, rotate left once, twice, or three times (90 degrees each time). Then, when the "recharging phase" hits, you can rotate the card back one 90 degree rotation. When it's upright, you can use it again. This gives a three-turn charge up, which is likely enough for most any game.

Do you mind if I include this idea in a game I'm working on?

You could. Since I'm on a fast track for publishing my game (through VPG), I'd like it if you could wait until my game was out before tinkering with the game design (which will be this year hopefully). I understand game designs shouldn't be hoarded, but I wouldn't have made the blog post if I wanted to keep it to myself.

My hope is that my blog will inspire people to not give up thinking new ideas. In the early 2000's many people didn't think card games could evolve, but then deck building games came out and new business models for game distribution (LCG) brought card gamers back to playing again (it did for me).

questccg wrote:It reminds me

questccg wrote:
It reminds me of another game idea I saw on this website.

I believe the name of the guy's game was called: "Monster Mash".

And what he did is have STATS around each card. You would draw four (4) cards and put together the type of monster you wanted. Obviously as you suggested cards would get turned (left/right) and you could create different types of Monster stats including using special abilities.

Now he was still in the design stage and I tried to prototype the idea - because I thought it had *merit*. But I found it was too complex and did not have sufficient amount of stats to design the *perfect* creature.

So maybe it was a question of throwing MORE stats on the cards, DIFFERENT stats for more combination. IDK it's just the mechanic was not as smooth as I thought it could be.

But I still think to this day - that turning mechanic could have some potential!

The stat mechanic was in the Robotech Card Game. Each "transformation" would have a certain stat, which is probably where he got the inspiration from.

I wanted to do something that complex, but it was just that...it was complex. The beauty of the Time Mechanic is that it's simple and easy to understand. Most people understand terms like "cool down", "clockwise" and "tap", in all honesty I was waiting for someone to do it...I guess that someone was me.

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