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CCG out of the box - In game deck building

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larienna
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I have herd recently that there is a game called "dominion" which is a kind of CCG where you buy cards throught the course of the game to place it in your deck. Then you reshuffle your deck many times during the course of the game. So it's like if playing a CCG but the deck creation is done during the game.

I liked the idea a lot because it promotes the idea of playing a CCG out of the box. Most people does not want to play CCG even if you supply the decks, so this could be an alternative.

I realized that I could use that in one of my design. The only problem so far is the amount of cards required. Originally, there was supposed to be 5 sphere of magic with 20 unique spells each. Player would have drafted spells to put in their deck at the beginning of the game. Which makes 100 cards.

If I use in game deck building, now there are multiple copies of cards because cards are flushed (and reshuffled) when used during the game. When researching, you can draw 5 cards according to your wizard spheres and keep X cards to add to your deck. This mechanic also allow spell trading which could be interesting. But now I need multiple copies of each spell which increase dramatically the amount of cards I need. In Starcraft, each technology has 2 cards, so I estimate that 2 cards for a spell for a player is OK. Since more than one player can have the same spell, 4 cards should be OK. If I have 20 spell, that makes 80 cards for each of the 5 sphere which mean 400 cards.

Now I realize that most CCG has a lot of cards but only few of them are used ( ex: you need at least 200 cards to make a 40 card deck). So this is why I am not sure if I should use a mechanic like that. Of course there are other game mechanics that allow to put a spell into play permanently to avoid having it in your hand.

gameprinter
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Dominion

I just bought Dominion after playing it. It really is a great game, and has a lot of CCG-feel to it, but without the hassle of spending $200 at the game store to get enough cards for you, personally, and then waiting for friends to make the same investment.

The problem from a manufacturing point of view is that
a) it has a zillion (well, 500) cards and
b) did I mention it has 500 cards?

Dominion has 500 cards, a box, a thin rulebook, and a vacuformed plastic tray. Being Rio Grande, they probably printed it in Germany (in combo with the European versions) or China in quantities that most small game companies can only dream of. Yet, the retail price on this is still well over $30, even at the discount online retailers. Yes, it's cheaper than Agricola, but don't be fooled. This is an expensive game to make.

I know you asked about mechanics, but I thought I'd mention this, since it might influence your design. :)

Torrent
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I like the idea. Although

I like the idea. Although I've only played it once at Essen, I really enjoyed Dominion. (And have a copy just waiting to be played when holidays are done.)

If your worry with such a mechanic is the number of cards, realize that Dominion has over 500. Its really just a box with tons of cards in 11 card stacks in the box. If that is the core of the game, then it is possible that that many cards is ok.

A second thing to think about is tokens. Check out all the amazing work on BGG for Dominion. Some people have put the mechanics of each card on small wooden disks, that you draw from your own personal bag. One of the downfalls of dominion is the eternal shuffling, which gets tedious and could damage the cards quicker in the long run. Perhaps disks could be your way.

adagio_burner
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I think in-game deck building is a great mechanic

I think in-game deck building is a great mechanic.

Deck building allows players to choose some "powers" or "actions" (or combinations of those) in which they will specialize. Then they get a chance to use these actions in a non-deterministic way. When you modify your deck during the game, that gives you a possibility to adapt to other people's decks and playing styles, and adds a lot of depth to the game.

For quite some time I had an incomplete game lacking a machanic. It now looks like the dominion mechanic may be the missing piece. I am very excited!

kungfugeek
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Some implications of in-game deck building...

If you're going to have in-game deck building your game will probably need to have a high card throughput -- where a player can get through their deck in 3 turns or so (as compared to most ccgs where you go through it only a few times a game). Otherwise the time between when a player obtains a new card and when he gets to play it is too long and becomes discouraging. That means that either your players will need to have very small decks, or your turns will have the players drawing lots of cards and discarding lots of cards. Again, this isn't like a lot of ccgs where it's only a few cards per turn. In Dominion, your starting deck has only 10 cards, and you draw 5 per turn. So cards you buy on your first two turns (bought cards go to your discard pile) will show up in your third or fourth turn (with really bad luck, your fifth, but no later). For most of the game, you reshuffle every 3 turns (it slows to every 4 or 5 later on due to the decks growing in size, but doesn't slow down as much as you think because of all the ways to draw extra cards and remove cards from your deck). But that's still only a few turns between buying a card and seeing it in your hand.

I'm sure a lot of new designs will incorporate deck building, though. It is very slick. I bet it's not quite as easy to design as it looks, however.

Oh, one more thing about Dominion -- all the cards you play on your turn get discarded, as does your entire hand. Nothing stays on the table in front of you. I don't know why he went that route with it, or why you can't choose to keep some cards in your hand. It does speed things up, though. And the game doesn't increase much in complexity like most ccg's, where your abilities continue to grow and complicate things every turn.

SiddGames
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Simplicity

I'm sure that's why he doesn't allow permanents or held cards; bookkeeping in Dominion is non-existent, which contributes to its wide appeal, I think.

I agree -- if you're designing a build-a-deck-as-you-go game, there aren't many ways to get around having a large card (or token, whatever) pool.

larienna
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Never played dominion yet (maybe tomorrow)

I did not know that there was that much cards in the game. From what I have see, there was like 10 different cards to buy and that's it.

As for my game's card flow.

- Spell research will make you draw 5 cards to add to your deck (not sure if can pick them all.
- Some resource on the map will increase your handsize
- Some resources on the map will increase the number of spell you can cast and maintain per turn.
- You can always discards card.
- You replendish your hand up to your hand size. (Making it easy to pass throught your deck)
- Some game elements can make you put some permanent spells on the table which would reduce the number of cards in your deck and which does not count as a spell to maintain.
- You can decide to remove spells from your deck when reshuffling the deck. But there might be a minimum deck size.

I am not sure if spells will all be of the same strength. The problem is that if the spells are all shuffled together, drawing weak spells at the end of the stack would be pretty much useless. So I was thinking that each spell has an equal strength and it's power (range, damage, effect, etc) is indexed to some elements of the game.

Willi B
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card count

I played this game when it was still a prototype before Jay Tummelson did (I got up when Jay arrived to play it). It is a good concept with a lot of possibility for use in many games.

The game has 500 cards, but, like Agricola, you don't play with all of them at once.

You basically set up stacks of 3 different coin cards, 3 different VP cards and then add 10 different stacks of a single card type to purchase. There are 25 different stacks to choose from when electing what 10 stacks to put out and the game comes with recommendations that allow for beginners, more interactivity, etc.

Additionally there are curse cards that are used with some of the cards (basically -1 VP cards). Play continues until any 3 stacks are exhausted or until the highest VP stack is exhausted. You buy things as you go, VP's are useless and clog up your hand and deck until the end when they are counted to see who wins.

The card count also throws some people because there are multiples of so many cards that there is probably only 35 or less pieces of unique artwork.... so that may skew your thoughts on cost. If it were 500 unique pieces of art, there is no way the game could cost $49.95 US. The cards seem to be equal in quality to M:tG cards.

larienna
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I played twice yesterday

I finally had a chance to play twice yesterday. It's interesting but I did not like the victory conditions. It's also hard to know the balance of your deck at a current stage of the game because you cannot sort your cards in the middle of the game and try to determine what are the flaws of your deck.

I think I somewhat agree with a comment that apparently somebody said on the internet: "dominion is a mechanic in search for a game". It's like if there was something missing. Still with time, other games will be developed using this mechanic refining the idea everytime.

SiddGames
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There isn't much refining to

There isn't much refining to do, I think. The mechanic is as simple as it can get. Any games using it will be doing so as just one mechanic of several comprising a more complex game.

At least, that's what I've found after brainstorming on it for two months, heh.

Torrent
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larienna wrote:I finally had

larienna wrote:
I finally had a chance to play twice yesterday. It's interesting but I did not like the victory conditions. It's also hard to know the balance of your deck at a current stage of the game because you cannot sort your cards in the middle of the game and try to determine what are the flaws of your deck.

I think I somewhat agree with a comment that apparently somebody said on the internet: "dominion is a mechanic in search for a game". It's like if there was something missing. Still with time, other games will be developed using this mechanic refining the idea everytime.


I think you are missing the point if you are thinking about sorting out cards in the middle of the game. The game is about building the deck right from the beginning. Because you buy the cards that go into it, the flaws are then mistakes of you or your own memory.
My impression from one play at Essen it is easy to buy things that seem good just to buy something. I get the feeling that it is much more of a strategic game. You pick one or two combos you want to see more and buy the cards that let you build those combos during the game.

The idea that you pick 10 cardstacks from 25 inthe game means the combos change from game to game.

FurbyFubar
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In game deckbuilding

(New member here, hi!)

I haven't played dominion. But one mechanic I've been contemplating for "in game deck building" is this:

One player draws two cards per player and makes as many face up piles of them as there are players with a minimum of one card per pile.

The player to that players left then select a pile to put to "his" cards and each player does this in clockwise order. This means that the player dividing the stacks gets the last stack left over (and it is therefore in his/her interest to make piles of as even as possible strangth of cards).

The next player in clockwise order divides the piles for the next turn.

Some notes about how games incorperating this system will probably need to work (from what I've figured out, I'm yet to use this system in any game).

1) The game needs to somehow punish players who runs out of cards. Since part of what makes this system interesting is that the piles can be of different sizes, ("Do I pick three bad cards over one good?"), having repeatedly taken the smaller piles needs to be bad in some way.

2) Games where cards of multiple types are needed to get a good deck will probably be more fun. If some cards give money and some cards need money to be played, taking too many of one sort of cards will make your deck suffer and will mean that in later picks you might have to take a pile that isn't the best pile for the rest of the players but it's the pile that's best for your deck at the moment.

3) As stated by kungfugeek above, the game will probably need to have a high card throughput or else the choices the players spend quite a bit of time on will be/feel largely irrelevant. The alternative to high card throughput is really tiny decks. If each player only has 6-10 cards in their deck then it will be easier to make deck size matter in an obvious way: You don't get to draw any cards in the late game. Sadly, games that are playable with that few cards, cards selected by the players themselfs at that, are quite hard to design.

lindyhopfan
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Furby Fubar, You should check

Furby Fubar,

You should check out the game Fairy Tale (Z-Man games). It is a game where a card drafting mechanic is the "main event" of the game. The card draft goes differently than yours, but I think the end result is basically the same. You are trying to collect cards that have good interactions with each other at the same time as trying to deny your opponents cards they would want. Specifically, the card draft portion of Fairy Tale is: deal each player as many cards as there are players. each player picks one card to keep and passes the rest of the cards clockwise. When you get cards from the person on your right, pick one to keep and pass the rest of the cards again. Once all the cards have been drafted, they get played by: everyone picks one card to play and holds it face down on the table. Once everyone is ready, the cards are revealed at the same time. The cards that have interactions with each other do their thing, then everyone picks the next card to play. Once all the cards are played, the game goes back to another round of drafting. It goes really fast, and the cards really do have neat interactions with each other (some cards "attack" others when they are played, making them inactive, others restore your your own inactive cards to active status, some combinations give you score multipliers, etc). You should check it out.

SiddGames
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San Marco

You might also check out San Marco. It is an area control boardgame, but it uses the pie-dividing mechanic you describe (player A cuts a pie, player B chooses which piece he wants). The wrinkle in SM (and what you rightly observed as a limitation) is that there are two types of cards: resource cards and limit cards (which are points cards valued from 1 to 3). The divider draws 6 resource cards and 4 limit cards (in a 3p game) and divides them up. ALL the resource cards are good, and limit points are always bad; if one player hits 10 limit points before the others, they get one more bonus turn with just them participating while you sit out, which can be very significant.

So not only are you balancing the good cards for how desirable you think they are to each person, you are also balancing the limit cards, trying to put as many points on a stack that's desirable for a player as you think he'd be willing to take, for example. There are some other shenanigans that go on to; depending on everyone's board position and how many limit points they have, you can get some really weird/unusual stacks.

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