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I was asked to make a digital TCG about V-Tubers

So, title says it all
A couple of friends are working in the space and asked me if I can help them out since I have a lot more card game design experience (or enthusiasm at least).
They gave me a ~2 hour presentation about the topic and we had some unproductive brainstorming sessions before they had to take some steps back due to uni and exams. It is now up to me and my armies of sticky notes and sleeved cards to make some magic happen.

In case you don't know, V-tubers are essentially twitch streamers/youtubers who use rigged 3D models that move and mimic facial expressions instead of webcam footage. They are often anime-esque characters and other than the small independent content creators, there's large companies who work with very talented entertainers to create many of these characters. These bigger characters have very specific personalities and even lore that describes where they came from (and how they ended up becoming streamers), like a time-travelling detective, or the embodiment of death.

We described a couple of requirements, but other than minimizing complexity to be more around hearthstone/duel masters' level of complexity instead of magic the gathering's, let's just reopen the brainstorming and see where that gets me.

First off, let's talk about representing these characters. Since there is a lot of lore, activity, and in-jokes behind most big V-tubers, I think embodiment would work great here. Embodiment simply means that the player embodies a character that they play, usually represented by a card. While out of the Big Three of TCGs (Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokémon, and MtG), none of them do this explicitly, somehow nearly every other card game utilizes this (WoW, My Little Pony, VS System, Android: Netrunner, Flesh & Blood, Star Wars: Destiny, Marvel Champions, Arkham Horror LCG). This also allows for a clear split in card types: One-time Actions, and Permanent Upgrades or Allies. Of course most card games can be simplified into this, I prefer the clarity of the V-Tuber you're playing as taking one-off actions, instead of whatever you're doing with an Item or Supporter card in Pokémon TCG.

So you play as various V-Tubers. Next question, what is the goal of the game?
Hnnnghhh, this is tricky, since V-Tubers can come from different Lore continuities and that means that while some of them were warlords or destroyers of worlds, others had much more peaceful backgrounds. The one thing they have in common is streaming/content creation, but that doesn't have much inherent competition/cooperation and gamifying it has the problems of
a) not having many actionable elements (y'know, things to make cards out of)
b) can quickly touch on the real life aspects of being a streamer (stress/energy management) and I'd rather leave that untouched for a lighthearted card game
c) leaves the lore element (the coolest bit!) out
Clearly, we need to either add the lore part to streaming or have these V-Tubers compete over something else.
My main idea was that we could have something along the lines of a digital arena fight, where you can both defeat your opponent with lore-themed attacks or win over the audience using more traditional content-creator actions. Defeating your opponent is a simple goal, give players some health, if it runs out, they lose, either that or having face-down cards representing your health that you draw when you lose that health. The winning the audience over is a little more interesting, we can just steal the Honor system from Legend of The Five Rings LCG/TCG, where each player would have a certain amount of Viewers/Fans/Adoration, and if you have more than X you win, but you lose if you run out. This would miss representing the zero-sum nature of Adoration in arena fights, but if they are just digital viewers tuning in, then it makes sense that either player can get any amount. I'll keep an eye out on this, but seems like a good start. Defeat your opponent or win the crowd, but never lose their favor. Has some weird lore implications but an alright start.

What does a player do on their turn then? Well, in an arena fight it would be a lot of fighting, of course. The problem is, this doesn't work well with the traditional resource-growth that defines many card games (gaining more Lands each turn in MtG, Mana crystals in hearthstone, placing energy cards on Pokémon). In an arena fight you have some energy that wears down as you tire. In other embodied games, growth is done through getting more allies or upgrades (Android: Netrunner, Arkham Horror), but gaining a fresh hand of cards each turn and using some of those cards to pay for the other cards for a more linear energy level also works (Flesh & Blood, Marvel Champions).
Yeah, there's a lot of options here, but hey, all the more to try out!
Nevertheless, I'm leaving the rest for next time, take care and drink water!


What about an "Apples to Apples" collection or set???

In Apples to Apples, the Judge deals Red cards to the players (7 but you can maybe limit this to 5) and then draws ONE (1) Green Card.

Next players each choose to play a one (1) Red which seems to evoke the meaning of the Green card.

Now here's where you can change up the game a bit (like in Dixit)... Instead of WORDS on the Red Cards, you can have IMAGES of your V-Tubers.

With Dixit, each player VOTES for which is the Card with the MOST appropriate "description"...

If ALL players choose the "Active Player's Card". Then all of the players gain 2 Points and the Active Player gains zero (0) points. If no player chooses the "Active Player's Card", then all players gain 2 Points and the Active Player gains zero (0) points. In addition, each player who receives a Vote for their card gains +1 Point.

Lastly if at LEAST one (1) Player chooses the "Active Player's Card", the Active Player earns 3 Points and each player who chose the "Active Player's Card" receives 3 Points. And everyone else gains +1 Point for each Vote they receive for their card.

So there is a bit of a dichotomy:

A> You want people to Vote for your card to earn points.

B> As the Active Player, you want to ensure that AT LEAST 1-Player does NOT pick your card otherwise you (as the "Active Player") score zero (0) Points.

This game has INTERESTING ART. That allows you to "describe" the ART in whichever way YOU like (as the "Active Player").

It's not about COMBAT ... It's about being SUFFICIENTLY convincing to one Player such that they VOTE for your card. The more votes you get, the more you score points (with the "Active Player" exception).

The game plays well with FOUR (4) Players. IDK about rules for lesser players.

So it's a bit like "Apples to Apples" with VOTING. Check out Dixit as a game and you can design all kinds of COOL IMAGERY for your V-Tubers as per their personality and the different descriptions "Active Players" choose to try to make a sly move.

One last thing, you CANNOT Vote for your card! Hehehe.

Something based on "Dixit" or "Apples to Apples" might prove more FUN and much more GENERALIZED. Apples to Apples use "textual" references, DIXIT is a bit more "weird" in that they use IMAGERY and a "textual" reference to make their VOTING mechanic more quirky and interesting.

Check-out both game and see if this "NON-BATTLING" style of game play may be better. I'll also state the "Card Against Humanity" (CAH) is a variation on "Apples to Apples", and so I see no reason that you could NOT have a DIXIT variation based on V-Tubers and their representation which could allow for cool and FUN gameplay.


Note #1: And for example a "description" could be BATTLING like "Cruising for a bruising..." and all players will choose they "Combat-looking" best cards that FIT the description... And then the VOTING process takes over...

Hey Quest! Apples to apples

Hey Quest!

Apples to apples is an amazing party game, but I frankly consider art reskins a cheap move within gaming spaces, unless it really makes more sense in a new setting.
We were also looking for something that works well within a digital space, and TCGs have found great success so far, and I don't even mean profitability-wise. I think there is something to the format of two single players engaging each other in a battle of wits that I feel gets murky when additional players get involved, especially with a party game that does require familiarity with the other players and the free communication it requires doesn't match well with strangers on the internet.

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