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Bastion - Card game with drafting/simultaneous actions, looking for feedback

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mdiehr
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Joined: 07/24/2009

I've been working on a card game called Bastion, which is themed on 16th-19th siege warfare.

The cards generally look like this:

Riflemen Card

There are a couple ways to use each card. You can put it on the table as a "unit", you can play it as a "tactic" (it is discarded afterwards), or you can simply discard it to sell it for coins.

When it's a unit, the card has a health (indicated in the heart) and a type (under the name of the card for riflemen it's "Infantry", and also coded by the color of the text boxes). When it's a tactic, you look at the lower text box and do whatever the rules there state. When you sell it, you gain coins equal to the cost printed in the coin.

The goal is to reduce the opponent's army from 10 to 0 morale. You lose a morale every time a unit dies, so the goal is swiftly accomplished by playing tactics that deal damage.

There is one important rule that goes along with this: You can only play a card as a tactic if you have a card of the same type (The general type, not the particular card) already on the table as a unit. Essentially, the unit on the table is carrying out the orders printed in the text box of the card you play as a tactic.

The two most important tactic abilities a card can have is X Damage and +X Resist. If you play a card that does X damage, that means your opponent will have to place X damage tokens on a single one of their units. Sometimes, a card has multiple "Damage" strikes on it - your opponent can divide those up or put them on the same unit as they wish. To counteract this, if your opponent plays a card with +X Resist, that means to reduce the amount of damage in each incoming damage strike by that amount. So if you play a card with "3 Damage, 3 Damage" and they play "+2 Resist", then they only have to place 1 Damage, then 1 Damage on their units.

The players start with a deck of 12 cards (via draft), of which they draw 7 and put 3 of the drawn cards onto the table as their starting units. Then, each turn they each do the following:
1. You may place an additional unit, if youwish
2. You may play a card as a tactic (Each player plays a card face down, then reveals for maximum surprise)
3. You may sell a card (by discarding it) for coins
4. Draw 1 card, then continue to step 1 unless...

If a player has no more cards in their hand or deck, the opponent gets one additional turn, and then the round is over. Whoever has extra cards in their hand or deck gets a paltry bonus of 1 coin per card, and then the players move into a "buy phase" where they can buy cards from a big stockpile of extra cards. Then they shuffle up their discard/deck/hand into a new deck and start a new round, this time only drawing 4 cards to begin with, since they don't need to place starting units.

Whenever one of your units has damage >= their health, they are destroyed, and you remove it from your deck into a "junkpile", which is also where leftover draft cards go. Then, you lose 1 morale. If you ever get to 0 morale, the other player wins.

Here are the full rules: BastionRules.rtf

And here is a full card spoiler: Bastion Cards

The important decisions players get to make involve deciding what cards to play as units/tactics (and in what order) in order to maximize their ability to absorb and deal damage, which cards to sell for coins (to make your deck better in later rounds), and which new cards to buy between rounds. There is also a little bit of puzzle about how to distribute damage, since you might want to keep a certain unit in play to be able to play a tactic you are holding.

Let me know what you think, the rules are a bit rough right now so I need some feedback as to any potential snags or things that are unclear.

Thanks!

Nix_
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Joined: 09/23/2009
Suggestions

Wow! What a game! I like your cards.

Concerning damage and resistance. You could have a player inflicting damage choose what they are attacking by placing damage tokens on the unit. Similarily, after the damage is placed each player could remove damage tokens equal their resist value. This effectively allows the defending player to protect certain units.

Is there a rule in place to stop drafted decks at the beggining from containing all the most powerful cards? It would be better if your deck got progressively stronger as the game goes on.

It seems that if a player were to get too far ahead in the game they would dominate. They would have all the best cards, and all the money.

Maybe you could have different faction decks unstead of everyone pooling from the same deck, that way both people can have the best cards.

It might get frustrating to have your units blown away when you have a resist card in your hand, maybe the resistance power can be activated after you see your opponent inflicting damage.

Hope these things get you thinking. If you really want to know what to fix up find someone to playtest your game with. I'm excited to see how this game turns out.

mdiehr
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Joined: 07/24/2009
Thanks for looking at it! I

Thanks for looking at it!

I have actually done about 4 playtests with the current rules and cards (and another dozen or so with rules that are between kind of different and totally not the same game) so I guess I'll tell you about them here.

There isn't a rule to keep the starting decks from being too good, except by virtue of the pool of draftable cards containing less of the better/more expensive cards. On top of that, you need a certain threshold of cards of any specific type to be able to play more than a couple of them as tactics. If you are going strong with infantry and artillery, your deck is always made better by buying up those cards at the end of each round. Of course, the best way to get a lot of money is to sell the expensive cards instead of using their effects, so getting more of them into your deck is always a good thing.

Still though, there have been some pretty off-balanced draft decks in a couple of the playtests, so I've been bouncing around between a couple of ideas for fixing it - giving the players preset starting decks would be a pretty simple solution, I think.

The way damage works right now (defender chooses where to place all damage, and each damage is affected by the resist that the defender played) seems to be working, since you always get to choose which units are taking the damage. After a certain amount of damage though, your choices begin to dry up and you have to play more units. Also, it makes the multi-damage cards more interesting, since they are better when unimpeded, but worse against +Resist cards.

There are some cards in the set already (The structures: Ravelin, Rampart, and others) that let you play an additional tactic on the turn you play them, these are used primarily to find out what the other guy played, and then play whatever counters it. For flavor/theme reasons I am probably going to change the name of those cards, or make a specific "spy" card, but that will come later after more playtesting.

Did any part of the rules seem confusing to you? Right now I am mainly concerned with the rules file since it'll let me get the game out to more playtesters without me having to stand watch and make sure none of the rules are forgotten.

After that it's card tweaking and numbers tweaking, plus there are a couple big kludges in there that I hope to smooth out someday.

Nix_
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Joined: 09/23/2009
Rules

OK, I went back and looked at just the rules, here are some things that could be made more clear.

How exactly does the drafting work at the beggining of the game?

Is there a disadvantage to having less than 3 units on the field/running out of units on the field?

What is the difference between the junk pile and the discard pile?

A few paragraphs can be put under a strategy hint category, because they are not strictly part of the rules.

Is the draw step optional like the rest of the steps?

Can you buy one card, and flip over the next card to see if you want to buy it, during the same buy step?

As the days progress won't the decks get smaller? There doesn't seem to be a way to recover lost money from the units that are destroyed, maybe each day both players could receive 5 coin or something.

mdiehr
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Joined: 07/24/2009
Answers to rules questions

Good finds. I'll answer them here and update the rules sheet after I figure out where each of these go.

How exactly does the drafting work at the beggining of the game?
Shuffle all of the cards together (this is the stockpile) and draw 8 cards to put face up on the table. Players alternate picks until they are gone. Do this again with 3 more rounds of 8 cards, switching which player picks first each time. The players should have 16 cards, of which they choose 12 to be their deck. The remaining cards go into the junkpile.

Is there a disadvantage to having less than 3 units on the field/running out of units on the field?
Having less than 3 is definitely a disadvantage, since it restricts the tactics you can play to less card types. To be able to play every card you get you need to have at least 5 units in the field.

Once you lose your last unit, however, each player then shuffles their units in the field into their deck along with everything else, and the next round starts with a hand of 7 and a pick of 3 starting units. This allows a player who takes heavy casualties in one round to get back into the game by evening out the number of units everyone has in the field. The cost of this is that in the process of going from 3 to 0 units, you lose 3 morale.

Even though I feel it might be necessary to prevent a runaway winner, this rule is pretty clunky. A couple alternatives I have been thinking about:

* Players lose the game if they lose their last unit (would be paired with the following 2 options, or by itself)

* At the beginning of a round draw an extra card for each unit less than 3 that you have in the field, and you get a corresponding extra unit placement

* You can "withdraw" your remaining units at the end of any round, if you wish. You lose a morale per unit you withdraw, but then all players shuffle their units in the field into their deck before the next round, and they get to draw 7/place 3 again.

What is the difference between the junk pile and the discard pile?
Each player has their own discard pile, which is where played tactics and sold cards go to. They get shuffled back into your deck after each round. The junkpile is where dead units go, and those get shuffled back into the stockpile once the stockpile runs out.

Is the draw step optional like the rest of the steps?
Nope. Even if it was, there is almost no case where it would be useful to skip your draw.

Can you buy one card, and flip over the next card to see if you want to buy it, during the same buy step?
Yes, you can do this as many times as you wish, as long as you have coins to pay for the cards. You will always have 3 cards to choose from.

As the days progress won't the decks get smaller? There doesn't seem to be a way to recover lost money from the units that are destroyed, maybe each day both players could receive 5 coin or something.
The decks do get smaller unless the players are actively trying to get coins by selling cards. There is an opportunity cost to selling cards, since you can't use it as a tactic or unit, but you get the card back for the next round (since the discard pile is shuffled back in), in addition to whatever cards you are buying, so you are essentially taking a hit on an early round to bolster your army for later rounds.

The other strategy information like this is definitely going to get moved to its own section. Thanks for taking the time to look through this, it's been incredibly helpful.

Alexender (not verified)
I really can help you out

I really can help you out what i know, but i always suffered the problems like bad simulation and problem is writing the codes and using the proper script , since i am busy in playing some action games ,i didn't bothered about this problem.

auvillebw
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Joined: 10/12/2008
Recouping Units

I like the idea of recouping units, or allowing a player to rotate front line fielded forces. This could allow a player to sustain unit strength (though not necesarily maximum strength... may only gain back a % of max strength/effectiveness to show how a unit gets worn down over time).

In terms of providing a realistic feal for the game, the sieger should have an easier time rotating units holding the line outside the fortification to a position of safety. The siegee should be more limited because there weren't a lot of places in forts that you could escape cannon fire and truely recoupe. You could do a lot with this in terms of game play.

The attacker may be limited to how much he/she can use a particular unit before having to rotate it off the line due to morale/fatigue/damage reducers over time. This would keep that one key super unit from constantly bashing away the line. It could make for some interesting strategy in terms of coming up with a rotation to optimize your fielded units at a given time... especially if units didn't all have the same optimum durations that they could stay on the line.

The defender may be limited in terms of the number of units he/she could take off the line; the attacker could realistically surge and pull back to a minimum force to balance what the defender has on his/her wall/perimeter, but the defender is always stuck in the fort (I guess you could add bunkers to your structure cards to help mitigate this). This still would give a way for the siegee to spread out damage amoungst his/her units.

mdiehr
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Joined: 07/24/2009
Re: Recouping Units

auvillebw, thanks for your post! It's helped me think of some new things I could do with the game if I decide to make it more complicated.

To start though, there are a couple cards I already have in the set that allow you to recall units that you already put on the field, as well as a medic card that heals a troop when you play it as a tactic. There is nothing yet that separates front-line troops from back-line troops, although I guess cards still in your deck could be considered the "back-line".

Since the game actually allows both players to attack and defend at the same time, there isn't really a way to give an ability to one player but not the other, so I would have to give it to both.

If I really want to get into changing how the game works, I could have a front line and a back line, each represented by a structure you put in the field. If you have zero or one structures, you have just a front line. When you play a 2nd structure, you can put it in the front line, or make a new line - the back line! If you play a 3rd or 4th (and so on) structure you can put them on either line.

The separation keeps your back line from getting damaged from things like marksmen, but you also can't choose the back-line troops to absorb damage in order to protect front-line troops. Maybe there are also special effects that cards you play have on your back-line troops, such as healing them or returning them to your hand. To keep things from getting too defensive though, you won't be able to count cards on your back line towards playing Tactics. For example, if your only artillery is on the back line, you can't play artillery tactics.

There will have to be a special action you can take on your turn to rotate troops from your front to the back line. Additionally, if your front line gets destroyed (including the structure), your back line becomes the new front line at the end of the turn, and your opponent gets +1 morale (or some other bonus) for breaching your fortress. If your opponent keeps breaching the walls and making progress, you won't be able to hold them off even if you are killing just as many guys.

The advantage to keeping a back line, though, is that you could use special abilities on some cards, and protect your troops from marksmen.

The new turn flow could look like this:

1. Field a Unit to either line, OR move a Unit between lines
2. Play a Tactic
3. Sell a Card
4. Draw a Card

mdiehr
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Joined: 07/24/2009
Some changes to Bastion

I've set aside the front/back line idea for now, since it's too complicated for now, although it would be neat to use for a future game.

I've also changed the victory condition for the game - rather than trying to reduce the opponent's morale from 10 to 0, you instead collect 1 prisoner card each time you destroy an opponent's unit. The prisoner card starts in your discard pile, so you get a chance to draw it during the next round. When you do draw it, you can either discard it to sell it for one coin (like most other cards) or you can field it. As soon as you field your 8th prisoner, you win the game.

At the end of each round, you have to pay an upkeep of 1 coin per prisoner. Any prisoners who you can't pay for escape back to the pile of prisoner cards, and you'll have to capture another one to catch up.

You can field your prisoners as soon as you draw them, although it will hurt your economy to pay their upkeep each round. Alternatively, you can save up all 8 and field them in a single round (to avoid paying the upkeep). However, this will mean you end up drawing mostly useless cards throughout the game, your deck getting progressively worse each time you capture a Prisoner.

This new mechanic plays well, and fits in with the other mechanics while making it easier to keep track of how well you are doing.

One thing that isn't working in the game is the way the economy for buying new cards works. Right now, the cost on the cards is used both to buy and sell - this ends up meaning that the first person to get some good, expensive cards can use them as fuel to generate a lot of coins for each round, allowing them to buy more good, expensive cards. Also, it makes it too easy to afford the upkeep for 5-6 prisoners, which barely slow down your strategy at that point.

I've been trying to think of a couple ways to combat this, which can be put in at a couple points:

1. Instead of drafting the starting decks, give both players X coins and they buy cards the same way that the normal buy phases work. This gives both players more control over their starting situation, so you aren't likely to fall behind economically.

2. Reduce the selling price of all cards by 1/2 (rounded up).
Example:
$1,$2 sell for $1
$3, $4 sell for $2
$5, $6 sell for $3

3. Reduce the selling price of all cards to exactly $1 or $2 (value to be determined by testing)

Other things I could tweak is the number and strength of cards that generate money as an ability, abilities that actually cost coins to use (mercenaries?), increasing cost for the last set of prisoners you collect ($1 for the first 4, $2 for each one after that).

Any other ideas?

awakener76
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Joined: 10/07/2008
Sounds really interesting

If I get a chance over Christmas I'll try and print out a set and give it a playtest. Quick question, how are you planning to release the cards eventually? As a single set, as a core set + expansions, as some sort LCG, or the dreaded CCG route?

mdiehr
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Joined: 07/24/2009
Playtesting

I'd love to have you playtest!

It'll be a base set with possible expansions, kind of like Dominion or Race for the Galaxy. I'm not too certain how expandable it'll be, since both players are getting cards from a shared supply, and making that supply bigger makes it harder to shuffle/play with.

I need to update the printable sheets I have with new/updated cards, so I'll post them here when they are ready. It'll be about 110-120 cards to print in sheets of 9.

mdiehr
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Joined: 07/24/2009
Latest playtest set

The latest playtest stuff is all here:

Bastion v. 8 Printing Sheets

There are 13 sheets of cards (9 apiece), although you will need to print the prisoner sheet twice so that you have 18 prisoners. A player needs 8 prisoners deployed to win, and the extras are there since you can have prisoners in your deck that don't count towards winning yet.

The image sheets are very large, but that will improve their quality when printed.

You can and should use the blank cards as bluffing mechanisms. Each player keeps one in their hand, and whenever you have an optional simultaneous action (deploy or tactic) you can use the bluff card instead of a normal card. This way you won't let your opponent know that you aren't doing anything until they are already committed.

Here are the margins to use when printing:
Printing Instructions

Here is the most recent draft of the rules:
BastionRules.rtf

Let me know if there is anything not making sense in the rules.

mdiehr
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Joined: 07/24/2009
LackeyCCG Plugin

I made a LackeyCCG plugin for Bastion:

The autoupdate URL is http://b.diehrstraits.com/LackeyCCG/plugins/Bastion/updatelist.txt

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