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Combinatorics: And the "Metro-like" CCG

A very long time ago, maybe about five (5) years ago... I played a older game called "Metro" designed in 1997 ( I lost the game, only because I did NOT interfere in one player's configuration... But I was already dealing with two other players and trying to foil their best intentions.

I really didn't LIKE the overall experience of the game. Because had everyone messed with everyone else's configurations, the winner would have been much harder to determine and I probably would have won... Or so I believe!

Fast-forward to July 2018 and I've been working on a Micro Deck CCG card game. Some of the ideas are COOL, just I've recently thought that the design just wasn't MORE about what I wanted it to be: more of a "Metro-like" Collectible Card Game (CCG).

Why "Metro"??? Because if I could design a game that involves interconnexions between cards and scoring based on that... Maybe it could actually be a small filler with sufficient "MEAT" to actually involve deep strategy!?

It's the re-birth of "Crystal Heroes".

Fundamentally it's very SIMPLE: game takes places in a 3 x 3 arena where players PLAY their cards to form closed "connections" to score points each round. It's all about the paths available to each player and the opponent can directly "mess" with a player's best intentions.

Each card has two (2) stats: Attack and Defense. Again very simple and straightforward. To play a card into the arena requires two things:

1. You MUST have an adjacent card to that position.

2. Your Attack must be GREATER than your opponent's Defense.

Again very simple...

Where comes the challenge is the "Combinatorics": counting the paths and various possibilities to SCORE the most points... And obviously dealing with the opponent who expects to directly mess with your well thought up plans...

And lastly ... it's a CCG. Why?

Because I like "Collectible" games and most of my designs revolve around "Cards" too. And so it makes sense to try to bring everything out there together to see if this SIMPLE game can provide sufficient challenge when playing this game.

I'll post some more, once I get some card samples written down. Think about what the game could look like ... given the restrictive hand of 10 cards and a grid that is 3x3...

Cheers and I'll keep everyone posted!


Just as a quick "follow-up"

I ordered fifty (50) Blank "Poker" cards from The Game Crafter. I should have done this A LONG, LONG, time ago (in a Galaxy far, far, away...) LOL

I've just recently figured out that IF I "sleeved" BLANK TGC cards, I could use Dry-Erase Markers to DESIGN the cards and playtest the cr@p out of them even before having a "complete" design...

Before this, I was going to use Illustrator and "design" Black & White cards. The problem with this is that it consumes A LOT of time! I want something quick I can just write on and then erase with corrections...

Those Blank Poker cards combined with my inexpensive card sleeves (they only cost $1.50 for 100 plastic sleeves) and a tissue paper to do erasing... because the sleeves don't react very well to TOO LONG "exposure" to ink. When they fully dry, the plastic kind of "absorbs" the ink and then you have to SCRATCH the ink off...

So that's why I buy the EL CHEAPO sleeves... LOL

I should get those Blanks in a couple weeks... TGC is super busy these days!


The cards are on their way

I got the news that the package from "The Game Crafter" (TGC) is on its way!

The order was processed much faster than I had anticipated too... I can't wait to try to "pen down" some prototype cards and see where they lead to.

I'll let you all know once I have done my first playtest of the NEW mechanic. Much like Graph Theory, this mechanic borrows on those principles but adds a layer of "decision making". Can't wait to test it out!


Note: I've done away with most of the constructs from my earlier version... And stripped it down A LOT! LOL Now it's a matter of trying to figure what to ADD to the "core", what enhances the game and improves the depth considering the "core" is so very simple... IDK — Yet.

I've finally received the Blank Poker cards

But tomorrow, I've reserved the day for "TradeWorlds" Card-Proofing... This is the "stories/factoids" to ensure that everything is correct. We had a numbering issue that was hopefully resolved. And I need to make sure about this and making sure there are no typos, sequence errors, etc.

I'm going to spend the ENTIRE day... There are a LOT of cards to go through and the "stories/factoids" have their own spreadsheet with 4 tabs (one for each Faction). And I believe the count is 85 Factoids per Faction.

So that's 340 cards to review and proof. Just sorting the cards will be a challenge and I want to be 100% sure the ordering is okay now.

Note: I know this is a "TradeWorlds" update... I'll get back to the Metro CCG soon enough... Maybe as early as this Sunday! Cheers...

Back on-topic

Here is the image another BGDF designer "designed" for me and the example of Combinatorics and "configuration":

But I've since figured out a more "dynamic way" of doing the "relationships"... This version of the card makes a lot of "visual presentation" to make the Combinatorics work... The NEW "mechanic" is much, much more flexible... So much so that the "paths" are configurable such that the path is not "hard-coded".

I don't have any cards (well only one prototype card) in design... So I can't upload the NEW "mechanic"... And I'd like to keep it under wraps for a while.


Note: One thing for certain, the NEW "mechanic" will work with a more limited set of cards. This is good because you get a Micro Deck of 10 cards and at the start, you discard 1 card.

This is to ensure that you can't always get all the cards in your deck... There is some replayability that may depend on that 10th card which is not usable ...

Dropping the RPS-9

I have made the conscious decision to drop the RPS-9 relationships/diagram for something that makes more sense. The idea stems from the alignment relationships from 2nd edition D&D...

So you have lawful good humans vs. chaotic evil orcs...

These relationships work so much better than the old RPS-9... Because it's more natural to have a sworn enemy that is a mutual relationship.

What I mean by this is humans vs. orcs is a logical pairing...

That's my update for tonight. Cheers!

New Faction/Race Table

I'm still "unsure" about the Faction/Race Table. The way I have it set up is the first column is the "Sworn Enemy", followed by three "Adversaries". The result is that EACH Faction/Race appears four (4) times in the table.

The table makes sense. The problem is how my Factions/Races "interact" with each other...

So IF "Order — Humans" ENEMY is "Fire — Orcs" ... And then "Fire — Orcs" ENEMY is "Order — Humans"... It make a lot of sense. But WHAT does that mean???

Does it mean each time the ENEMY attacks with more "Offensive" power? OR does it mean that the ENEMY is one the "Defensive" and therefore LESS damage is done to that unit?? Still not sure... The relationships may be clear. But how this affects the outcome of a battle is not so evident...

If it means ATTACKING does "more" damage. That's fine. But that means only "Normal or Offensive" attacks... What about "Defensive" stance???

My thought was that I would have THREE (3) Attack levels:

1. Normal: This means that the Faction/Race does average damage.

2. Offensive: This means that the Faction/Race does more damage.

3. Defensive: This means that the Faction/Race receives less damage.

But I have since been unable to find a "purpose" for the "Defensive" level. Sure we all know what it means = less damage.

The question(s) that I have is WHEN to use it???

Anyone have ideas or suggestions???

Update: Thinking more about the problem and I thought that MAYBE while each Faction/Race has a sworn enemy and adversaries... All OTHER "Attacks" are subject to a "penalty". This penalty would be a lower amount of "Damage" per attack.

This may be real good, because it opens up the field to allowing Human vs. Human interaction (think Attacks). What does it mean? Well basically if a Human is attacking another Human, the "Defensive" posture is used and that unit produces LESS "Damage" than if it were to attack one of its adversaries...

This approach may make the combat system more streamlined and not leave "dead decks" where it's Human vs. Human and NOTHING happens... In this case attacks would do less damage but still be possible and not limiting the relationships like in the RPS-9 (or in the early drafting of my alignment table)...

Maybe a re-naming is in necessary

Instead of it being "Defense/Normal/Offense" ... It might be more natural to describe the relationships as "Penalty/Normal/Bonus".

In the case where there is "no relationship", a Penalty is applied to damage done by the unit.

In the case where there is an "adversarial one", Normal damage is done by the unit (since this is one of the opponents of that Faction/Race).

In the case where there is a "sworn enemy", a Bonus is applied to damage done by the unit (when attacking).

This would also allow me to remove the "track" (three checkboxes and titles for each stat) and just use the "relationship diagram" only. This definitely could be cool and it would allow me to re-use the "track" for my Health indicator (1-12 HP).

To me, it seems logical and "opens" up the game a little. I was a bit concerned if one player had ONLY "Humans" and he battled ANOTHER player who also had a deck mostly of "Humans", the interaction would be almost 0. And that's something I want to avoid too...


Note: There has to be a way to "battle" any card. Otherwise in the cases of stalemates, neither side can do anything to affect the opponent's cards in the area of play. Which in my opinion is BORING. Having a Penalty makes it more challenging to defeat the unit in question and of course, you're going to need to make compromises between attacking a "sworn enemy" or a similar Faction/Race.

Some refinements

Each "Race/Faction" has four (4) Adversaries. When a "Race/Faction" combats one of these, that card does a "Bonus Attack". For example if the card states: "Short Sword = 15/20/25", this means that attacking an Adversary, the amount of damage is 25 points.

In the case when attacking the SAME "Race/Faction", the normal attack is used. In the example, that means 20 points.

And lastly all other "Races/Factions" are Allies and therefore there is a Penalty when attacking them. As per the example, that means 15 points.

This is to ensure that ALL forms of combat are "permissible" and maximize the ability to "battle" the opponent's cards that are in the "Monster Keep".


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blog | by Dr. Radut