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The CCG without mechanics - Feedback request

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Fhizban
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Hey everyone,
its been ages since my last post - i was busy working on new ideas, and here is one of them: the CCG without mechanics (well the title is a bit misleading actually). its a game without a theme yet, and just another attempt to create a collectible card game that is completely expandable into any direction.

i try to keep things short, although the idea is quite complex. maybe this catches someones attention, i would like to hear some feedback on the subject, and maybe someone even likes to collaborate.

The CCG without mechanics

Imagine a collectible card game that removes the border between the "you play" and the "you create" aspects of games as much as possible. there are the cards with rules text printed on them of course, but they function as loose blocks of mechanics players can combine in any way they like to create not only a deck with a special strategy - but also a whole style of gameplay to suit their taste.

this is done by removing restrictions from known CCGs and radically changing the point of few we have about CCGs nowadays. I am not far into this idea yet, its all very cloudy and most of the concepts are still unclear - but maybe its worth a discussion.

There will be basic card types, rules terminology and abilities of course - as without a basic syntax it would be impossible to base a game around them.

basically i was thinking about something like: "there are no rules besides deckbuilding and drawing a card every turn, playing cards from your hand and using the cards already in play."

besides that i want the game to feel at least to a certain point like: "card by card the players build a maze of mechanics and victory conditions. after a while so many interactions, quirks and side-effects are in-play that the whole game process narrowes down to a single statement: "how long can we make this going? (until a victory condition triggers)".

otherwise, i would like to put almost everything we know from CCGs into the players hands. let me discribe two sample facts about the game to make things clearer:

1. There is no resource system

Well you need resources to play cards. But when there are no systems how to create them, there is only one option left: The cards themselves open up different ways of generating resources. Tapping lands for mana becomes the rules text of card - symbolizing only one way among many to generate resources (MTG style). Having a treshhold based on the number of turns already passed is a resource system (VS system style), as is granting your opponent additonal resources for every card you play (Middle Earth style).

[i]"You draw your starting hand and then play your first RESOURCE card. You have three resource cards in your hand: The "tap permanent of type X to gain 1 resource", the "gain resources equal to the number of turns passed" or "play any card for free, grant your enemy resources equal to the cost of the card". All in all your starting hand provides you with three choices: go the Magic the gathering way, the VS system way or the Middle Earth way. Its your decision what kind of resource system your deck will be using, or two - or all three of them?[/i]

2. There is no victory condition

Well there has to be a way to end the game. But when there is no victory condition we are left with only one option: The cards themselves describe the possible victory conditions for the game. collecting a certain amount of resources could be a victory condition, or destroying a number of opponent cards, or collect tokens of some sort or allocate tokens of some kind to your opponent.

[i]after the first few turns you have two different VICTORY CONDITION cards in your hand: The "collect 35 resources" card and the "destroy 13 opponent permanent cards". Its your decision to walk the defensive or the aggressive route. or you pay the costs of both cards and open up two different victory conditions.[/i]

and - you better suit your deck your "game".

Woah okay - this whole idea is just a quick hip-shot. join the idea anyone?

simons
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Um...

I'm not 100% sure if I understood this. From what I gather, each card will do a specific thing, but the overall effect will vary from game to game? There is not one overarching system for winning, destroying cards, or really anything (besides drawing cards), but as you play cards the rules become more clear? Or did I misunderstand it, and actually it is the players choosing the rules they want (rather than it being dictated by the cards)?

If I understood you correctly, here are my thoughts: if there is no clear single way to win (or even clear multiple ways to win), then wouldn't my deck just be finding a card with a certain win condition, and then building my deck around how to achieve that as quickly as possible? What would require me to consider the win strategies that you might draw? Second, if every card acts in an extremely different way, depending on the context, wouldn't that be a nightmare to playtest? I mean, even if there are all kinds of crazy interactions in, say, MTG, an elf or a dispell will still do roughly the same thing in any deck. How much can the context change the power and value of a card?

Fhizban
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@simons Yes, you are almost

@simons

Yes, you are almost right - it seems you understood the idea very well already.

Quote:
There is not one overarching system for winning, destroying cards, or really anything (qbesides drawing cards)

Exactly. The cards define the systems for winning, destroying cards, gaining resources and everything.

Quote:
if there is no clear single way to win (or even clear multiple ways to win), then wouldn't my deck just be finding a card with a certain win condition, and then building my deck around how to achieve that as quickly as possible?

Yes, but I guess all CCGs are more or less like this? Try to accomplish your victory condition as fast as possible, try hinder your enemy before he does.

Quote:
Second, if every card acts in an extremely different way, depending on the context, wouldn't that be a nightmare to playtest?

I have to admit, yes.

I guess i have to go a little bit more into detail. You are going to far by saying that all cards work differently in every match played: the rules on the card are fixed. but basically the rules of the whole game are written on the cards. so every card represents a block of mechanics the players can bring into play to modify, break and bend the rules of the game to their liking: cards define how resources are gained, how victory is achieved, how cards can be destroyed, drawn, discarded.

i could imagine a player building a deck around a victory condition card that says:

"you win the game when you have 35 points of resources".

the player would put some copies of this card into his deck. and then cards wich support that goal: cards for resource generation, cards to reduce the cost of other cards, cards to increase the amount of resources generated and finally cards to protect the resources and to protect the players cards against opponent attacks. add some counters and a few "disenchant" (MTG) like cards to protect your deck against specialised opponent tactics and you are ready.

a completely different aproach would be a victory condition like this:

"you win the game when you destroy 13 of your opponents permanent cards"

then the player would add everything that supports destroying his opponents cards.

etc. etc. etc.

with variable victory conditions, variable resource systems and basically almost every aspect of the game being variable - i think a enormous bandwith of possibilities could be created.

Jordy
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I like the idea very much, I

I like the idea very much, I had the same idea after Settlers of Catan the Card game came out. How would it be to just create your own deck and do what you like?! After that there came expansions but they didn't quite gave me the feeling I was looking for.

But to give my feedback;

First of all I think it will be extremely tough to create such a (balanced) game. It's almost a certainty that you'll need to narrow the window of oppertunity. For example I got a nice civilization building deck and I go play against an opponent that has a Dragon deck with dragons that can blaze away buildings and citizens, how could this ever be fun?!

So, to balance all the cards you almost have to use a common theme/victory goals/ etc..

For the simple reason that there has to be a connection between al the cards. I wouldn't want to imagine a game with one player that has only dragon cards to attack buildings and another player that has only civilization destorying cards, and neither player can attack or harm each other. Ofcourse you can say you have to mix these things but this is just a crude example of what kind of problems you will have.

Another thing, I think it will be hard not to let it feel like magic the gathering or some sort.

But I think the idea is great and if you succeed it would be groundbreaking so please don't let me put you off your idea, these are just my thoughts.

Fhizban
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@Jordy Thanks for the

@Jordy

Thanks for the feedback.

I dont have rules updates for the project at the moment. But i have a theme/setting i like very much: Something like the good old Netrunner CCG, where the players represent hackers/corporations fighting a war in cyberspace.

why exactly this setting? i think it suits this "first create, then bend and break any rule" gameplay style best. players could be hackers who try to influence the web as much as they can, changing how systems work to their liking.

i would like to focus the game theme even more on the matrix/cyberspace itself than netrunner did. the hackers bring pieces of code into play wich change how the game works. sounds reasonable to me.

Jordy
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That sounds indeed like a

That sounds indeed like a good idea and I can see it coming together now.
One piece of advise don't make the gameplay rules bending card feel like they are "gimmicked", like in Flux a card game where you can play cards wich change victory conditions. Altho it works fine for this light casual game I wouldn't implent it in a game with more deepness into it.

I think you can take of the "gimmicked" feel by slowly building up the gameplay changes in the sense that players can react and respond to it.
For instance when somebody is building up a dimension in where he is hiding himself, i.e. IP-blockers or whatever, the other player can respond to slowly building up an "other dimension" to wich the game is taken and after wich a part or all of the hiding measure in the old dimension taking are abundant.

However even in a good theme like this I think you need to be carefull not to spread to far out, as to get decks that cannot interact with each other anymore or are obvisouly in a disadvanatges against certain deck styles. But again narrowing this down defies your initial intent.

If I get some theme inspirations I'll sure post them.

Howitzer_120mm
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This sounds too much like...

...Fluxx.
The ever changing game, where goals and what you have in play is always changing....

Fhizban
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@Howitzer_120mm That brings

@Howitzer_120mm

That brings me to the rules of my game, that read something like: "Draw one card, and play one card". Thats it - no strings attached.

PS: More Stuff about the game is here: [link]|http://www.cardgameforge.com/game.php?id=180&mode=cards[/link]

metzgerism
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Howitzer_120mm

Howitzer_120mm wrote:
...Fluxx.
The ever changing game, where goals and what you have in play is always changing....
It actually sounds like Dominion and Fluxx combined, to me.

Just got Eco Fluxx for Christmas (from my mother, who doesn't know just how deep the boardgame culture goes quite yet, so I have to commend her for getting something a little more out there), and was reminded just how BAD of a GAME it is, although in the group I was playing with it was...challenging, because my aunt clearly suffers from major AP.

I would absolutely shy away from the "ever-changing goals" as much as possible.

ccube78
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This reminds me of MagiFlux

This reminds me of MagiFlux (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/54209/magiflux), my attempt to combine Fluxx with MtG.

Your concept takes one step further by making the resources and goals variable. I would think that if the goals keep changing during the game, it may end up being like Fluxx, where the game feels too random. It might work if both players have their different goals fixed during the game.

I am keen to see how this CCG concept works out.

larienna
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quick replies Here are some

quick replies

Here are some quick ideas that could look close to what you are looking for

1. Designable cards: Creates a set of abilities and cost and allow players to design their own cards.

2. Multi game cards: Allow players to play different kind of games with their deck of cards like if they were regular playing cards. Which mean that if you focus your deck design for a game, it might not get efficient in other games. So you need more generic mechanics that will be used for different purpose according to the game you are playing.

3. Multi use cards: Like in duel masters, you can make every cards have multiple functions. This is especially useful for resources since in DM, any card can become a land. So you just need to select a card that you don't intend to use that will become a land for the rest of the game. I even thought of making a game where each card could be used either as a summon, enchantment, mana and even a spell.

hope these ideas helps.

Fhizban
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@metzgerism I personally dont

@metzgerism

I personally dont like fluxx at all. the idea is very interesting, but there is lots to be improved.

@ccube78

Wow, that come really close to my game idea. May i draw some inspiration from your cards?

@larienna

good ideas thank you. but i want to keep the cards to one purpose each.

So far I have got a base set of roughly 85 cards - all matrix/cyberwar themed. Not enough to call it a CCG premier set, but its something worth working on. I just have to finetune and test it - did not have a chance to testplay the game yet.

I introduced a few more rules to broaden the basic scope of the game. otherwise the basic concept would have been to limited. changes include:

* some cards can be used by any player. resources for example. samples:

1. discard a card to gain 1 resource (all players can use this ability).
2. discard the top three cards from your deck, gain 1 resource (all players can use this ability).
3. sacrifice a card in play you own: gain 1 resource (all players can use this ability)

* i divided the victory condition cards into victory conditions and endgame conditions. first an endgame condition has to trigger and then the current victory condition determines who wins the game. there can be multiply endgame conditions in play, but only one victory condition. samples:

1. the game ends when any player has at least 3 "red" cards in play.
2. the game ends when a players deck is empty (instead of reshuffling).
3. the game ends when a player has 8 or more cards in hand.

1. when the game ends, the winner is the player with the most resources
2. when the game ends, the winner is the player with different colored cards in play.

currently I am thinking about additional basic rules that i could add to the game to increase the gameplay depth more. right now there is no form of movement or combat, and there are only action, resource, victory condition and endgame condition cards. but no creatures or something like that.

one more thing is if the placement of the cards should have a effect on the game. players could build something like a board from the cards they bring into play. in the illluminati ccg you had to attach cards adjacent to other cards for example. this would allow new terminology like:

"tap this card to tap any adjacent card"

but maybe this is too far away from the initial idea. more feedback wanted, project still in baby-shoes!

ccube78
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Fhizban

Fhizban wrote:
@metzgerism
@ccube78

Wow, that come really close to my game idea. May i draw some inspiration from your cards?

Yes. Do share your complete game at boardgamegeek as well as discuss at its designer forum if you want. I have done so for my games and the discussion there has definitely helped in some of my projects.

Taavet
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Networking

Since the decided theme has become Cyber/Net/Hacking why not base it more on existing Network parameters?

7 layers of Networking:
Layer 1: Physical Layer,
Layer 2: Data Link Layer,
Layer 3: Network Layer,
Layer 4: Transport Layer,
Layer 5: Session Layer,
Layer 6: Presentation Layer,
Layer 7: Application Layer

Each layer could be specified by card type or by position on the playing field?

The other idea I had stems from Pokemon CCG. There are Basic Pokemon which can always be played and then Stage 1, and Stage 2 evolutions which must be played in sequence on top of the Basic.

So as opposed to Fluxx where a new condition can be all together just dropped into the game and make it feel very chaotic and random, you could have players build up a base which leads to a more impacting condition/ability/mechanic.

Something like: a Victory Condition can only be played after there are at least 2 End-game Conditions in play. End-game Conditions can only be played after all 7 layers have at least one 'code/card' in play each. That way players could at least guess at the possibilities which might be coming.

I enjoy deck building and I think it will greatly benefit the discussion to analyze what that process involves.

1) When a player constructs a deck what will they be thinking?
I think the first goal is always to consider the Victory Condition. If there is not going to be one set Victory Condition I think it should at least be limited to X different types.

2) Do I create a deck which is offensive or defensive?
If both our decks are defensive will it seem too much like multiplayer solitare? How will the decks interact?

3) How do I best achieve my desired Victory Condition? How do I prevent my opponent from achieving their Victory Condition? How do I prepare for all the potential possibilities?

4) Physical Construction of the deck: Is it resource intensive and I need a lot to get out costly cards/abilities? Is it focused on being cheap so even if my opponent is destroying my resources I will have enough? What ratio of resource/offensive/defensive cards do I need?

5) Always a factor but maybe just a marketing technique to get players to buy more cards: What do I have available in my collection to work with? Will some be more rare/powerful or will all the cards be equally available? Will a starter deck be just as competitive as an advanced custom deck?

An interseting idea to say the least.

Fhizban
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@ccube78 Thanks, I will post

@ccube78

Thanks, I will post on bgg as soon as I have more stuff to show. sounds like a good start

@Taavet

Thank you for the comment, very best input so far. the idea with the different layers is a bit off-topic when compared to my personal vision. but its a cool idea. i like your explanation and the points 1 to 5 very much - it exactly matches what i have been thinking about to be this games foundation.

@all

i am trying to post a small progress report with more insights about the game engine. its a vast concept and feels a little bit like a can full of worms - dont know how to control, how to balance this behemoth.

* the game uses a simplified board that the players build as a match goes on. you place cards on the table and then align other cards adjacent to them. this builds some kind of simple cyberspace grid, where each card can have up to 4 neighbours.

* there is a simplified measure of range in the game: adjacent cards for example. some effects only affect adjacent cards. usually ccgs only involve zones and no real gameboard, i just wanted this simplyfied board to broaden the scope of the game. now things like ranged effects and the like are easily possible. and: as the board grows while players are playing this is a beautiful abstract representation of something we could call "the web", "netscape", or "cyberspace".

* then there is no tapping, as i wanted to move as far away from nowadays-ccgs as possible, i decided to remove the tap mechanic completely from my game. there is a mechanic to flip cards though.

I also like to tell you about the first unique mechanic in the game, all part of a simple "no more than 7 basic rules" set - wich make up the foundation of the whole game.

1. Tracing/Jack-In : I dont like how some cards in magic the gathering work. a lightning bolt for example deals damage to any object in the game, wich is in my opinion a bit overpowered. as my game uses a simple board made from cards, its easy to implement a targeting system. this is called jack-in: whenever you want to play a "spell" (code/hack that is) that targets another card, you have to choose both an origin and a target for the effect. origin must be another card you own, and in addition to that a card that features the "jack-in" symbol. from this card you measure range/LOS to the target and resolve the effects. this means you cannot throw a "fireball" on any target you like, you have to choose a "jack-in" point you control and then draw a line of legal range/LOS to the actual target - drawing such a line is called "tracing".mtracing means to draw a legal path/route/line between the origin and the target. a trace is only possible from a card to adjacent cards that are connected to it by links, wich are legal neighbours.

its a bit difficult to explain, as english is not my mother language. but take a look at the pictures below, they show some legal and unsuccessful tracing/jack-in situations.

http://www.bgdf.com/sites/default/files/images/Bild%202.preview.jpg

tdishman
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Similar To A Game I've Worked On

This idea is similar (in some ways) to an idea I've worked on. In my game there were many victory condition cards that you could choose from (which you selected aside from your deck, similar to WoW TCG's heroes). Each victory card required you to perform some modular tasks before you could win.

For example, one card might require you to perform Sacrifice, Might and Worship feats. There were several cards that could supply these feats, you just had to select the 3 that you wanted to focus on with your deck (these feats were also set aside at the beginning of the game). Then you built your deck around accomplishing your own goals. Each feat that was accomplished would expand your resource system, allowing you to play more cards in your deck.

The big allure for me was the modular and flexible victory system. In MtG there are many types of decks which are fun to play, but cannot accomplish a victory. In my design you can design a fun deck and then choose victory conditions which compliment it well.

As some have already pointed out, the big problem was card design and balance. Although I never intended for all the colors/factions/whatever to be balanced (some are just better off to be support colors), it was very challenging to create the victory conditions and feat cards that didn't create a lopsided deck type. I cannot imagine extending the flexibility to the entire ruleset, but then again my game was intended to be community regulated to weed out any lopsided cards. Perhaps this is something to consider.

Here is a link to the rules for the game I designed (I have a few hundred cards designed but not uploaded to the site - but the rules are there to explain how the game works):

http://www.cardgameforge.com/game.php?id=10&mode=rules

DogBoy
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Game Board For Cards

Hi!

Have you seen James Ernest's "Girl Genius - The Works" game?
The rules are online at:

http://www.cheapass.com/products/pdf/GGRules.pdf
(it's not a sex site; cheapass just means reluctant to part with money)

I mention it because the game works on card placement with minimal "zones". Incidentally, in that game the cards are laid out in an alternating horizontal-vertical pattern, which looks a lot cooler than a rectangular grid.

Your aim is really tantalising and elegant (have almost all the game rules on the cards). Great idea.
Having looked at your current design I have a few questions:

* How do you keep track of who played which card? In CCGs with player-specific zones, this is usually fairly straightforward; when the cards are all mixed together in the middle it will be a lot harder. It will also make it harder to put the decks back together after the end of the game if they have cards in common... The only feasible way I can think of is to use coloured counters, which seems a bit fiddly but might be OK in practice. Of course you can use coloured sleeves, but imagine having to re-sleeve all your cards when you play against someone who uses the same colour sleeves! Not fun.

* What do "bugged", "loaded", "rebooted" and "installed" mean; and how do you keep track of them all?

The first issue is probably the most serious one for a CCG. If you can't easily separate your cards from your opponent's at the end of the game, there's a problem.

This suggests to me that the card-grid idea might work better for a non-customisable game (where all players are playing from the same deck). Or at least, the cards in the grid should be drawn from a common deck.

Here's a slightly different game idea to yours, but in a similar minimalist spirit:

THE RULES
* The game starts with a common draw deck, an empty discard pile and an empty grid of cards. Each player draws 5 cards.
* On a player's turn, that player draws a card, plays any card from their hand face down into the grid, and may turn any face down card in the grid face up.
* Follow the instructions on the face-up cards.
END OF RULES

Cards you "control" are the ones which are face-up and have a green arrow on them pointing to you. This could be in the basic rules, or it could be spelt out explicitly in the cards. Conceivably, some cards could have multiple controllers.

For many cards, some requirement has to be met for them to be turned face-up "successfully" (e.g. a static condition like "at least N cards must be face-up", "you must control at least N cards", or a resource-expenditure condition like "discard N cards from hand", "turn N cards you control face-down again"). If that condition is not met, the card will be turned face-down immediately with no effect (except obviously you get to see what the card is). Again, this could be part of the rules, or could be spelt out explicitly on the cards.

Some cards have an effect when you turn them face-up, some have an ongoing effect (usually only on their controller). Some cards say "you win if XXX".

You win when a card says you win.

larienna
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One of the thing I liked

One of the thing I liked about duel masters is that there is some unwritten rules of card design that made it elegant. I don't remember them all, but here are a few.

1- A player's card will always stay in the owning player's play zone. Never you will place a card in your opponent's playing field.

2- You can only place cards into play on your turn. Or more precisely, you will never interrupt the turn of your opponent while he is playing. It also mean that there is no stack resolution.

Pastor_Mora
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Build an RPG deck !

Build an RPG deck !

Role playing is the ultimate no-rules gaming experience. Even if the Wizards made millions selling rulebooks, there is no real need for rules if you understand the meaning of the role game mechanics.

I've being Dungeon Mastering for the last 15 years and all I need is 3 dices a monsters deck from some old D+D game (not advanced D+D). Just for the pictures! I've mastered six people for four hours like that.

Example card:
- Druid picture + "(the name you want here)" + little green shield with unicorn icon top right + little fireball icon and little crystal ball icon and little blue potion icon bottom left
That's your card ! ! that could be a character, or a henchmen, an enemy or a non-player character, or an omen, or the target of your plot or whatever you can imagine !

Love this thread. Regarding gaming, I'm an anachist !

Keep thinking!

MagicDrop
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This game sounds like a new

This game sounds like a new Flux but also a very good one. You were looking for someone to work with on this game i would love to get involved I think there is a few things that need to be done that can help this game out a lot and would like to run them by you.

Flux is infact a good game when you work it down to its core. The problem with flux is as easy as it is some people just don't get it adn they ruin the rest of the game. I got a friend who takes 6-8 minutes to play a card. He doesn't get that it is a mindless fun time waster we are playing.

hoywolf
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Comments

Quote:

* then there is no tapping, as i wanted to move as far away from nowadays-ccgs as possible, i decided to remove the tap mechanic completely from my game. there is a mechanic to flip cards though.

I would suggest keeping this type of card state, this can allow cards to be able to interact with each other more than just destroying each other, having an "active" and "inactive" state can be very fruitful and deep game play. As for cards being face-down, its a good mechanic if the card is loses all abilities and its considered like a "block" or space eatter card. You dont want people being able to play face-down cards, it maybe confusing in a game like this if your "in-play" zone is shared, also there will be accidents where you look at your opponents cards, in regards to the comment about playing similar cards with similar plastics.

Quote:

1. Tracing/Jack-In : I dont like how some cards in magic the gathering work. a lightning bolt for example deals damage to any object in the game, wich is in my opinion a bit overpowered. as my game uses a simple board made from cards, its easy to implement a targeting system. this is called jack-in: whenever you want to play a "spell" (code/hack that is) that targets another card, you have to choose both an origin and a target for the effect. origin must be another card you own, and in addition to that a card that features the "jack-in" symbol. from this card you measure range/LOS to the target and resolve the effects. this means you cannot throw a "fireball" on any target you like, you have to choose a "jack-in" point you control and then draw a line of legal range/LOS to the actual target - drawing such a line is called "tracing".mtracing means to draw a legal path/route/line between the origin and the target. a trace is only possible from a card to adjacent cards that are connected to it by links, wich are legal neighbours.

I understand you dislike on how magic card interact, but you can look at the way WoW TCG does it, equipment brings a new card type that deals damage but cannot receive it (your hero does, hence the item does not break). Your tracking system seems like a good idea too, but how do the cards position themselves to each other, will you want game flow to look like two sets of fields combining at a choke point, or all meshed into a more compact square. If it is the latter, your range/tracing system may just fall into the target whatever you want, if the proximity is that close.

Also there are games like Race for the Galaxy or Monster Rancher TCG that use your hand as your resource system, you pay the cost by discarding X cards from your hand. It could fit your theme; if each card is a code, its takes a combination of code to create a program or something in that nature.

I love TCGs and I will def like to help out more in any way. :)

Gizensha
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Scanning the thread, and

Scanning the thread, and probably missing something insanely obvious which makes what I'm about to say redundant, but...

...This sounds more like a Nomic Cardgame than a CCG to me. As such, you might want to check out Dvorak, etc, for an idea of how other games (although 'game systems' might be a more appropriate term) have handled not having a clue what components (and even rules) players will be playing with without losing sight of themselves?

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