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Archon: Circlet of the Heavens — 2nd Look

Something "loosely" ... I am trying to use my knowledge of a RPS-5 into a bunch of RPS-3 (10 combinations). And on ties, the winning player uses the Point Value instead. The goal is to capture the "Strongest" card in the Deck (5 Points).

This is sort of a "revival" of another game which I call "Archon: Circlet of the Heavens".

Each Micro Deck is composed of 15 cards and in a way, you play the cards in your Deck as you see fit. There can be some Deck Construction but there are clear rules for "customization".

1. There are only five (5) types of cards.

2. The values of those cards range from 1 to 5.

3. There are 5 colors for the cards (Red, Green, Blue, White and Black).

4. The Micro Deck has fifteen (15) cards inside.

Again you don't need "Deck Construction" ... But you may choose to use it. Meaning that you can "customize" your Micro Deck (unlike KeyForge).

The game is about KNOWLEDGE. How WELL do you KNOW your opponent's Deck! How/Why?! Well the first time through a Deck, you know nothing about your opponent. Then it becomes a balance between "keen" observation and knowing how to defeat your opponent. It becomes a virtual "tug-of-war" with the lower cards (in point value)... But more importantly learning the NATURE of the Ruling Card (5 Points).

Once you see your opponent's Ruling Card, you know the RPS and the color that can BEAT it... Then it becomes a matter of waiting for your deck to reveal to you the card that can beat the Ruling Card of your opponent.

I think I could scratch out a "The Game Crafter" (TGC) Game... Minus the "Artwork". I don't know. The game seems very "clever" and there is the ONE (1) issue of ensuring that ALL Decks can beat "each other" (lol).

That's my work on RPS in general. I don't have any other Designs which rely on RPS to work. Just thought I'd share since I have been working on this during the last week.

Note #1: Although I like some of these concepts... I can't help but find WAYS to "Break" a GOOD CONCEPT. Like what if some bad-@ss dude decides to build his DECK with ALL the SAME RPS-3. Like "Red->Green->Blue->Red"... There could be no knowledge of the deck and a game might go on forever. Or that deck could be "un-beatable" by most other decks.

See if you Ruling Card is a "Wizard" which is "Red->Green->Blue->Red" is the RPS-3 for that card and the REST of the cards are also the SAME RPS-3 ... I becomes impossible to PREDICT which card will be the "Wizard".

That SUCKS because the concept was "clever"... But you see what I DO: I break my own games with players out-thinking the game. And then I'm left with HALF a design ... Because it can be BROKEN.

Urrgghhhh! Mmmpphh... Lots more to think about!

Note #2: Working on some alternatives... Needs more thought for certain.


My First (1st) solution

Let us assume that someone is determined to "break" the game. And to do this they want to reveal the LEAST amount of "information" as possible. As I said, the best way to do this is group your cards into one (1) RPS-3 Category... Leaving nothing left to be "deciphered" and/or analyzed.

Of course this is petty and not in "the spirit of the game". But one thing you can count on: someone will "break" the game using this method.

We need to focus on a strategy much like a game of "Hearts"!

questccg wrote:

If you have the Queen of Spade she is worth 13 points. But if you have all the 13 hearts (each worth 1 point), you "shoot-the-moon" and you gain 0 meanwhile all your opponents gain 26 points. The game ends when one player reaches over 100 points, the winner is the player with the LEAST amount of points.

Therefore along that philosophy, I think that capturing the Ruling Card (5 Points) or Fodder Cards (5 x 1 Point each) could be something of a solution... I'm not 100% certain... It's just an idea ATM.

But add to this some kind a Deck Construction rules that MAYBE you need to have 5 out of 10 RPS-3 combinations... But this breaks the randomness of the Packs. So this is probably not a "good idea".

It may require something more "complex" when it comes to Deck Construction rules... IDK. Needs more thought.

If anyone has ideas/questions/feedback and want to share, feel free to respond. I'm open to anything that may be able to help solve this dilemma.

Mixing Custom Decks ... May be possible!

So one of the things that I realize that mixing of cards from a "customized" deck is POSSIBLE!

It just means that one (1) Deck is the "Light" and the 2nd is the "Dark". So you can get your "deck-out" by determining which player is "Light" and therefore this means his opponent is "Dark".

This allows you to mix-and-match cards giving a more "seamless"-type of experience. Since the Micro Decks only have fifteen (15) cards, that's not too much to "sort out" after a game is played and won.

Of course there will be two (2) distinct Decks available to purchase which means you know what you get. If you purchase a Pack, you can choose which one you want (some minor distinction).

Some advancement

Well I reviewed the number of RPS-3s out of an RPS-5 and it turns out that there are ONLY 5 combinations. This means if we set-up a rule such as three (3) of each, we get 3 x 5 = 15 cards! PERFECT.

The other point of interest is that I will ship sleeves with the RPS-3 cardbacks. There will be thirty (30) cardbacks and 100 sleeves (so you get a bit extra). The reason is that the game will be divided into two (2) parts: a commercial "cardbacks" available for $25 USD and a Print-aNd-Play (PNP) downloadable PDF which will come in a Low-Ink Version for $3 USD and in the future a $5 USD Full-Color Version.

The game is divided into two (2) sides: Light and Darkness.

PNP component is to reduce the price of purchase for the game. Once you get the "Box", you can purchase the PNP content of your choice and print-cut your own cards and CUSTOMIZE and CONFIGURE your Micro Deck!

I think this is a very INNOVATIVE way of offering Deck Construction in a way that doesn't BREAK the game (due to the 15 cardbacks which you MUST use in order to play).

But it makes the game somewhat "FLEXIBLE" in that you can CONFIGURE your Deck each time you play with a different "variation". And at the start of the game there is all "Hidden Information" and as players play it becomes "Partial Information" building the depth of strategy of the game WITHOUT "breaking it"...

We now have our own Color Pie for Archon!

There are five (5) Colors in "Archon: Circlet of the Heavens" (ARCH). Much like Magic: the Gathering, the colors are:

Red, Green, Blue, White and Black.

It took me digging through some older "files" that I found exactly what I was searching for... A TXT document with colors and information. Let's provide some additional details to each of the colors:

  • Red [Passion]: whether Anger, Hate or Love, Red is about Focus and Direct Energies.

  • Green [Serenity]: Green is about Calm, Patience, Peace and Energies which embody Freedom.

  • Blue [Empathy]: Unlike the previous colors, Blue is about others and Understanding, Compassion, Comprehension, etc.

  • White [Courage]: White signifies Bravery, Boldness, Decisiveness and everything Honorable. But to some, it means Honesty and Forthrightness.

  • Black [Fear]: Black is not only about Horror, it is also about Anxiety, Cowardice and also Vulnerability and Weakness.

That covers the Color Pie for ARCH. I'm very happy that I found this document because it will help me in designing the cards for each color. Instead of only focusing on "Units", now the Color Pie can help provide more direction too...

I went ahead and ordered the two (2) Booster Packs

I figured since I need to PROOF the "Booster Packs", I might as well have the Light and Darkness Boosters Packs made and mailed to me... So I can begin the concept of prototyping with the INSERTS (Print-aNd-Play files).

Production should be done in a couple days and my package should be out of the plant around March 3, 2021.

Which is FANTASTIC because it means that it only took a couple of days of WAIT TIME ... Which is great news in this Global Pandemic ... Which we are all trying to "Stay Safe" from.


Note #1: When I get the Boosters, I may upload some images of the finished product. In any event the "Cardbacks" featuring the RPS-3s used by the RPS-5 (Color Pie) will be proofed and then deemed "DONE"!

Other Great news...

The other "positive" note is that because there are ALWAYS two (2) sides, in this case Light and Darkness, because of the "Cardbacks", it is possible to ALWAYS determine which cards belong to what player.

And... Yes when you intermix the cards in this manner, it means that you can easily track which cards belong to which player. And you can figure out which cards you can freely sacrifice (in terms of RPS battles) and those that are of VALUE to you!

Moon/Sun Mechanic

Hmm... @Larienna (Eric) got me thinking about some other mechanics that I could MAYBE add to "Archon: Circlet of the Heavens" (ARCH). One mechanic could be a Moon/Sun Mechanic. It would be TRACK with both sides of the World (1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and Full) and you would have Midnight Moon and High Noon Sun as the polar opposites.

This mechanic can be really simple: IF a "Card" has a SUN or MOON on the bottom, this means that the TRACK will get affected by that amount on the current turn.

As far as the "starting state", I would think that SUNRISE would be ZERO (0) and have no bias between both sides. As you PLAY, the cards affect this and could have ramifications such as making some cards more POWERFUL during the DAY or NIGHT.

I'm leaning towards three (3) cards per side with a Hand of five (5) cards. But I'm struggling with CONCURRENT versus TURN-BASED. Like does Player #1 reveal ALL his cards and play his "Abilities" or should it more be ALTERNATING turns...

The other consideration that I am THINKING about is using "Sand Timers" for some kind on SEMI-REAL-TIME simulation... But I don't want people RUSHING because of a timer... I'm just pondering what could be done.

There is NO Board ... Just cards... Maybe thinking about FORMATIONS and the game is taking on a whole NEW LEVEL of play. Not sure about this because it breaks-up the whole "FACE-OFF" mechanic (one vs. one) and maybe the "quickness" and "simplicity" of my IDEA (as per my current thoughts).

I am waiting for "The Game Crafter" (TGC) two (2) Booster Packs to arrive so that I can SLEEVE those cards and play them out to see what this game could look like. Will have to wait 2 more weeks in-transit between TGC and my home.

If anyone has ANY input/comments/questions please feel free to reply and I'll do my best to address your concerns. If you had an idea or you think some of this sounds "cool", just let me know! Cheers.

I got a couple of ideas... (Maybe?!)

What if Player #1 had a "Player 1 Token" and would play three (3) out of five (5) cards from his Hand (and use a 90 second Sand Timer). Next the opponent, would have time to play to counter his opponent (and use a 60 second Sand Timer). This could be sort of "timing rules" so that there is not too much time spent building your "party" (control the length of turns).

Alternatively there is a bit of a TURN-BASED option which means Player #1 plays 1 card and has the option to PASS to his opponent. His opponent MUST then play a card (if he passes control) and then control goes back to Player #1 plays his 2nd card and repeat until 3 cards are played by both players.


Note #1: After careful review, I will be going with the "TURN-ORDER Tokens" which will determine HOW a Round is played out. For more information about this, please check out the next comment below...

I found an interesting solution to my problem

Instead of timing events with things like Sand Timers, I will use six (6) tokens that the leader player for that round chooses as his order and passes the remainder (3 tokens) and resolution will occur according to this order.

Player #2 has a slight advantage but Player #1 is in control of the flow of the round...

This sounds very promising and I cannot wait to receive the two (2) Booster Packs from The Game Crafter (TGC).

Things are starting to get very interesting with this design...

Keep you all posted as to the progress with the game in the coming month. Cheers.

I believe that I may need to RELAX the rules a bit...

Before this point, I had concluded that the Deciding Factor in a game would be the RPS-3s and their priority. But now that I am exploring the design a bit more, I think there will be more "relaxed" rules when it comes off to the RPS-3s pairing.

My idea is something like this:

questccg wrote:
Instead of beating a card due to its RPS-3 value, the stronger card/unit will gain some kind of bonus specific to the RPS-3 relationship. Like if "Red beats White", the Red card will earn +2 Direct Damage... Since Red is focused and direct energies.

The reason I am leaning in that direction is to SIMPLIFY the rules just a little bit (make them more flexible) is because I want the ROUND to be about SCORING POINTS (Yes... I finally got some ideas on this).

I'll talk in the next comment about "Scoring Points" and my general direction...

Scoring made EASY!

So in my previous COMMENT I said "Look below for more information on Scoring..." and sure enough this is what this comment is all about. I think after some review of the design, I did NOT want the ROUNDs to feel like anything less than a REAL Battle. In order to do this, I figured that each and every point a player scores has VALUE. As such scoring a round will be:

questccg wrote:
All cards remaining in play will be added together including any bonus and penalties suffered by BOTH players. The winner with the HIGHER Score wins that ROUND.

And in doing so, he/she collect ALL the cards from BOTH sides of the table and places them into his/her discard pile. Tight and close victories by 1 or 2 points in kind of what will make or break the game.

I've also decided that there should be an EXILE pile in which card go into but NEVER come out from... They are lost for the remaining duration of the game. This creates some interesting possibilities for card "Abilities" that I will design now and in the future.

More on the Moon/Sun Mechanic

I realized that because this could be a "virtual Tug-of-War" between Light and Darkness... That in addition to VALUES, there will be PRECISE indicators to various settings.

For example: A Basilisk has a 3/4 Moon Symbol. This means that at whatever time, when a Basilisk is revealed the Sun/Moon Tracker goes to 3/4 Moon. It means that it may be a little bit more FLEXIBLE to get a Full Moon or a High Noon...

In the case of the Basilisk, only 1 more "Moon +1" card needs to be played and it will be a Full Moon. This type of "flexibility" makes it a bit easier to get the right timings for the Sun/Moon Mechanic.


Dual-Scoring Mechanic to keep track of points

As I mentioned in the other "thread", my idea is to have a SIMPLE in-between Rounds mechanic for scoring Victory Points (VPs) and to have a RICH and COMPLEXE scoring mechanic for the Rounds themselves.

One (1) Round a player may score +1 VPs or 0 VPs (the loser). It's as simple as that. The winner is the first player to win 5 Rounds. Again very simple and easy to comprehend and requires little to no tracking.

Each Round itself, a battle occurs between the THREE (3) Cards/Units and the scoring system is Point-Based. Each and every point scored is important because in the end there is ONLY ONE (1) Victor and independently of the margin between both player's score, only ONE (1) VP is awarded to the winner. In subsequent rounds, scoring is NOT carried over...

So for each round, the scoring starts at 0 Points... And it is a battle to be the player on TOP with the HIGHER score of Points.

This system has a lot of BENEFITS such as easy understanding who is the leader and who is behind and it is clear HOW many rounds they are behind too... But the round itself is a complex "beast" of combos, abilities, RPS-3 duels, Day/Night and of course formation... This is meant to be a very TEXTURED and serious BATTLE which demonstrates each card makes a difference in tight situations...

That's it for now... Still waiting on "The Game Crafter" (TGC) to receive my Booster Packs for the game/prototype. Cheers!

Mitigation: Dynamic and flexible Turn-Order based on Tokens

Originally I was worried that the Turn-Order would be too "breakable" and that the design was "broken". But a couple of nights ago, I came up with a brilliant mechanic involving Tokens. Let me explain:

questccg wrote:
The starting player receives six (6) Turn-Order Tokens with values 1 to 6. He MUST play one (1) card/unit from his hand and choose one (1) of the Tokens (1-6) and then decide if he wants to give control to the other player or if he instead wants to play another card/unit.

This is a decision made for the first three (3) cards. But if the starting player decides to give up control after playing one (1) card/unit, the other player gains control and it is his turn to play one (1) card/unit plus a Turn-Order Token (from the remaining 5 or less).


Well I could be Player #1 (starting player) and play ONE (1) card/unit AND then decide that THIS card will be RESOLVED LAST (Turn-Order Token #6)!!! This is so freaken AWESOME because it quite frankly opens up the game to all sorts of "abilities" and "card play".

So just because you went FIRST... Doesn't mean that the card won't be resolved until the very END of the ROUND. Seriously LOVING that!!! It made my night before going to bed and just decompressing from the day and wanting to pen something down worth re-reading in the morning...

Can't wait to get those two (2) Booster Packs in the mail from TGC... And then start playtesting everything to see how things work out (or not! lol)

Hidden Information

While cards are only Partial Information (RPS-3s are known to the opposing player), the Turn-Order Tokens are kept CONFIDENTIAL until at what point in time the ROUND is ready to be "resolved".

And so we have "Hidden Information" because the tokens are chosen but NOT displayed (Played Face-Down) and this introduces a huge variable about how the scoring is going to play out.

In my book this mechanic is PHENOMINAL and I am sure enough that BGG has a name for it: "Order Counters". Amazing it has already by some cool games like "StarCraft — The Board Game" or "A Game of Thrones"! (lol)

I really hope that this mechanic will work well with the rest of the game because as I see it NOW... It's what is "brilliant" in the design...

A change is going to come!

I have been re-thinking the whole "You capture your opponent's cards if you have a victorious round." It's just not working with the rest of the concept. So from this point forwards, cards go into their respective DISCARD pile (not Exile). And of course, same Victory Points rewarded for a victorious Round (+1 VPs).

This means that the ONLY Victory Condition is:

"Reach 5 Victory Points before your adversary does!"

Trying to streamline the product and ensure that there is BALANCE and not too complex rules to the game.

I've also ascertained that I NEED "Mana". But in opposition to "Magic: the Gathering" (MAGIC), a card provides Mana in ARCH. So IF I play a "White Wizard", that card has "3 Colorless Mana + 1 White Mana". Mana in ARCH can be used by card "Abilities" so maybe 2 White Mana can be used to make it "High Noon" (Daybringer). And then there would be 2 "colorless" Mana remaining which means +2 Colorless Mana.

That's part of the ADDED "complexity" making the game more deterministic with more options and "stuff" you can work with an use to better your score during a Round!

Right now, that's all boys & girls... Will post new information as it is made available. Cheers.

Note #1: Just something with regards to PLAY TIME: if it takes about 5 minutes to play a ROUND, the quickest game would be 25 minutes. However the longest game (4 + 5 = 9 rounds) will take 45 minutes... It's all LESS than 60 minutes which is FANTASTIC because I wanted it to be an "in-between" game two (2) players can play and it's a reasonable amount of game time.

Note #2: Deck-Construction rules will STILL APPLY. Nothing has changed, you get 15 cards per Faction and 3 of each RPS-3. It is up to you to customize things as you see fit. But remembering the RULES to performing that customization is KEY! In any event, this aspect of the game remains the SAME.

Note #3: As per the other thread, I will revise the VICTORY GOAL to be:

"Be the FIRST player to win five (5) Battles."

@Fri made me realize that having a VP goal may be too BROAD and making the goal more in-line with the game itself may encourage people to play rather than discourage them (with it's about SCORING POINTS).

RPS-3 Bonuses/Penalties

Last night before bed, I took some time to THINK about what could be the Bonuses and/or Penalties given by the RPS-3 mechanic. Originally the idea was that the RPS-3 mechanic would "drive the show" and it would determine the winner or loser of a pairing.

As I mentioned above, I've since changed my mind and decided on a more fluid type of scoring (namely Victory Points) for each ROUND of play. Having made that decision left me with a kind of "afterthought" about what to do with the previous RPS-3 mechanic and what should be its "new" purpose.

My decision to the RPS-3 mechanic was to ADD/SUBTRACT VPs to the various cards/units in play as follows:

  • Red [Passion]: +2 VPs to the winning card (Direct focus/energies).

  • Green [Serenity]: +1 VP to all a player's Green cards. (Peer focus/energies).

  • Blue [Empathy]: +1 VP to a player's color of choice. (Reflective energies).

  • White [Courage]: +2 VPs to any player's card. (Direct focus/buff).

  • Black [Fear]: -1 VP to all opposing color of choice (Negative focus/energies).

This is the PRELIMINARY look at the Bonuses/Penalties of each color.

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