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Monster Keep: Another day, another prototype

A short while ago, I decided that I was going to BENCH (and therefore stop working on) "Monster Keep" (MK). Why? Because "Crystal Heroes" (CH) is based on Medieval Fantasy and I felt that having MK with the same type of "theme" might be no good (too much repetition). Although CH is very different than MK, that aspect of the theme being similar had me thinking that there was little VALUE in the MK franchise.

But in the last couple of weeks, I have had RENEWED interest in MK. Basically I reviewed the cards and thought: "How neat they are!" The cards with their Tactics, Stats (Power, Skill and Magic), the cleverness of the MATH, etc... It all led me to re-believe in this small-footprint game.

Of course the MK design is NOT final.

There is still a LOT of work to be done especially fine-tuning details such as HOW to permit attacking, what are the values able to attack and determining the housekeeping and how attacking will affect it.

I will post back when I have MORE news about the design. In the present moment, I'm just doing some fine-tuning of MK to see where it can lead me.



Some KEY take-aways from tonight's playtest

The game is getting BETTER... I know for an 18th Generation product you'd think that most things would be ironed out. Unfortunately that's NOT the case.

#1: Complications

This has got to be one of the designs that has taken a LOT more time than I had initially planned to invest into. And it continues to be somewhat elusive to nail down ALL "the moving parts" so-to-speak.

1> Skin-in-the-game or so I'd like to believe

Having rules is a good thing. But when you playtest and realize that some of the more "asynchronous" rules just make things HARD to track, you wonder how good they really are.

This has got to be so stupid: Counter vs. Exhausting vs. Multiple Attacks.

It needs to be SIMPLER... And keeping track of how many resources are used per ATTACK seems to make sense (with the whole Push-Your-Luck mechanism) but it is NOT CLEAR and somewhat CONFUSING.

2> When to "Exhaust" has got me so exhausted

The whole COUNTER and use one (1) Resource and not to "Exhaust" the countering Monster is very confusing. It needs to be simpler and more STRAIGHT-FORWARD!

3> Multiple attacks is possible due to poor "Exhaust" rules

Again more confusion which MAY lead to more attacks but the REACH Levels already serve as a way to "curb" attackers desire to wage war with every Monster.

#2: Health and Health related tracking

Having some cards which become DEFEATED is very cool and simplifies the computation during the Final Round.

1> Forget formulation and stick to ALTERNATE scoring

So this means the VALUES on the CARDS are the ONLY "variables" that are added up together. Quick and simple. AND OBVIOUS. Figuring out how to COMPUTE anything MORE is a 100% complete and TOTAL DISASTER!!!

My solution is ALTERNATE scoring which is addition of the formulas ALREADY present on the CARDS themselves.

2> Health should ONLY be used for DEFEATING a Monster ONLY

This is another conflicting issue. Why ATTACK in the first place??? If the formulae are FIXED ... The ONLY logical purpose is to CANCEL and VOID a card. This means dealing sufficient DAMAGE to DEFEATE a given Monster. Could be one (1) or two (2) but not all Monsters in the Keep.

3> Dice rolling needs to be re-considered

I'm not saying Dice rolling is pointless... But instead of getting mixed up with the Health Bar ... Maybe SEPARATE BOTH. Although this Generation had a very "sleek" and designer interesting method of computing scores and allowing multiple options for POINTS. It should be CLEAR that a card has "X" DICE to be rolled and then a specific amount of Health Points (HP).

Anyhow more thinking on this one ... I know I've had MORE ideas to think about and I'm sure this needs something CLEVER too. But I don't have an immediate solution at this point in time.

#3: Conclusion & re-think

So I'll make it brief... There is STILL "design" work ... But it seems like the prototype is getting BETTER and moving forwards each time I make a new prototype and PLAYTEST it further.

I'm not exactly sure about all the bullet points. Definitely need to REVIEW and RE-THINK a lot of the MECHANISM in-place and see what can be improved upon and EXACTLY HOW(?)

It's 12:06 AM Saturday ... So I'll simply state that I will REVIEW the game during the afternoon around 1:00 PM Saturday. So I'm ready to hit the sack and see what my mind thinks about THIS playtest...

This last playtest has been in the works since 16th Generation and so I've had some EDITS without making sufficient playtesting (mostly aesthetics TBH)!

So bed for now... But definitely NEED a REVIEW... And to see what needs some improvement and clear up the confusing without GUTTING the game again (As this has happened with the game over the generations...) I think it has DEFINITE POTENTIAL... But things need SIMPLIFICATION because it's NOT all that intuitive ATM. And you want the game to FLOW nicely and be CLEAR and NOT confusing. So no Analysis-Paralysis for sure...

Keep you all posting about my playtest analysis in the afternoon!

How to ENCOURAGE combat and how NOT to help your opponent???

Scoring: add up all 6 cards and that is your TOTAL. Player closest to the POINTS GOAL wins (which is between 4 and 24).

So WHAT(???) would be the INCENTIVE to "knock-out" an opposing card??? "Knock-out" means render = 0 HP (and discarded from that player's TOTAL)...

Thoughts anyone???

Unlimited POINT goal is ... BAD!

One of my concept is the POINTS GOAL (which is between 4 and 24)... If I rid myself of this "mechanic"... Then it becomes a rather DUMB dual:

All you need to do is play "3" "10 x 1" Point Cards and "3" "5 x 2" Point Cards... And you earn the MAX allowed which is 60 POINTS!


But what could be a Player's Motivation to DEFEAT an opposing Player's Monster IF all this does is REDUCE their TOTAL ... Making it EASIER to be lower and closer to the POINTS GOAL???

Any thoughts anyone?!

@FrankM ... I may go with your ARROW idea!?

Hello @FrankM ... Do you think it's okay that I go with your ARROW idea???

FrankM wrote:
Maybe 9 → 1 or 9+ → 1 to relate the target number with the damage?

I'm feeling like I will keep "REACH" (which varies from "1" to "3") and remove the OPERATORS and favor "scoring"...

And so... 9 → 1 = 9 To-Hit and deals "1 DAMAGE". PLUS the matching dice with the "Black" die ... So for "2D6s" + 1 "Black die", I can DEAL "3 Points" of Damage and have it cost me only "1R" (depending on the Resource that I used).

What I am thinking also ... Is a "NUMBER OF TRIES"... So you can have "2D6s" + 1BD6 and you can RE-ROLL like "3 times" (3x)...

Maybe something like "3 x 9 → 1" and that would mean "3" rolls To-Hit "9" using "2D6" + 1BD6 (determined by your Combat Points) and then deal "1 DAMAGE" if successful. PLUS the extra damage that could occur from the 1BD6...!


Note #1: What are "Combat Points"??? Well I have come to the conclusion that depending on the number of "successful attacks", you earn POINTS toward the TOTAL POINTS required to WIN the game. I'm still WORKING on it ... These are EMBRYONIC ideas in the wee-hours (after 12:00 AM). So more about this later today! Cheers.

I feel close to a "break-thru"!!! I can FEEL it...

I've been messing with the design ... and ... well ... I feel like I am the cusp of something INTERESTING. I've been FORCING the "math" and have been struggling to find a BALANCE between Deck Construction and Formulation. What I currently have is the idea to REMOVE the "math" and go with scoring BASED on "Damage Dealt" which means this gives very granular control ... but it's a bit RANDOM due to the DICE rolls.

In earlier editions, I did NOT have Dice rolling and since the 16th Generation, I found that Dice Rolling could add a layer of unpredictability. And now I am thinking that maybe the game should be a RACE! Meaning that the FIRST Player to reach the "Point Total" wins the game.

If they "overshoot" it (meaning get more points than anticipated), the game goes on until the OPPONENT determines if they can match the "Point Total" or come closer to it than the opponent.

And basically it would become a RACE until the closer of the two (2) Players wins the game. Sort of like the "Price is Right" but it would be acceptable to score HIGHER ... But by then giving the opponent the chance to make the "Point Total" closer, they could steal the victory from the other player.

IDK... I'm getting the VIBE of a "break-thru" ... But not just YET!

It's horrible that I want to make the MATH go-away... But I've seen that the SCORING phase of the game was just TOO COMPLICATED! It was pretty much "Analysis-Paralysis" and no real ending in sight (to win).

Meanwhile I had values that I placed on various Cards and adding them up made sense and it was a 27 to 17 match-up. However I realized that although the MATH just wasn't working ANYMORE... That quick computation was what I was WANTING for the game.

So then I thought: "What IF I give points to units that ATTACK???" Meaning that all cards started with a VALUE of "0". And then IF I performed "3" ATTACKS, I would gain "+3" Points.

That didn't last because the DECK would be comprised of only the MOST HIGHEST scoring cards!

I've recently concluded that it should be the AMOUNT of DAMAGE inflicted. And that IF I tracked DAMAGE, I could easily compute the adding of all of the DAMAGE and compare it to the "Point Total".

This adds a sense to tension as both player BATTLE to WIN as QUICK as POSSIBLE!

So yeah... It really does sound like I'm on the verge of a "Break-thru"...

More testing and thought is required! Cheer all.

Adding some more VARIABILITY ... And averaging out random-ness

This is the 19th Generation... I usually after a few playtests and this time I did two (2) of them and ... felt like I ALMOST had something good going and then realized that the game was headed in a NEW direction.

So to explain some of the changes:

1> So I removed ALL "operators". The MATH is gone. Maybe this is SAD or maybe it is by necessity or perhaps TRIAL and ERROR that I came to the conclusion that what I really wanted was to simply ADD up the boxes and be done with the MATH!!!

2> Instead of the operator on the LHS there is now a BLACK DIE. It means the number of rolls per attempt. So in this case, the "Goblin Sapper" has THREE (3) roll attempts To-Hit "4" and will deal "1 Damage" if successful.

3> I removed the "+" operator and changed it to an ARROW because as @FrankM pointed out, that seemed more LOGICAL and less confusing.

The rest is pretty much the SAME. I KEPT the "Triangle" in the Health Bar ... Because it looked cool. It signifies that a successful roll does "1 Damage" as it is in Position #1 in the HP Bar. It ultimately means that the "Goblin Sapper" ONLY has "2 HP" which is fine since he is a rather WEAK Monster ... But packs a BIG PUNCH with his Tactic ("Explosive Charge") and can deal from "+1" to "+4" additional Damage.

Like I said in the title of this thread: "Another day, another prototype" as I struggle to bring this game past its Finish Line. I feel CLOSE (like in the previous comment) ... But still something is eluding my thoughts in not being able to recognize the common element which needs some fixing.

I will probably SAVE monies and time ... And not print & cut a new version. Just write on the cards a big "3" and that should be that. We'll see how I feel about this later in the week.

This version is KEWL too... In my book it all looks very original and seems something UNIQUE in terms of a "Card Game". I will set some time aside for a NEW test tomorrow as I work through the Graphic Files.

We'll see what time I finish the EDITs tomorrow and then take it from there in terms of another PLAYTEST to see how this latest version fares. Remember there was also the problem of "Exhausting" as well which I have NOT resolved from the cards (since there is no visual indicator on the cards themselves).

If you have any comments/feedback/ideas/concerns feel free to post a comment and let me know what are your thoughts on the matter.

Like how this is evolving

I like how it's developing. I know dropping the "arithmetic final exam" was really hard, but if it causes a trainwreck in playtesting then it probably should go.

(On a related note, I can't post pics in my threads. My guess is it's a privilege of being the Big Kahuna Admin Guy.)

The 3-pips-on-a-black-die looks neat, but appears like something the player should match for a bonus effect. "Roll a 3 on the Black Die to inflict +1 damage" or something.

I'd suggest a white 3 in a black circle, or three circles, or some other indication of "3 tries"

The "to-hit" number is fine as it is, or nudge it to look complementary to the first number (white-on-black-circle, then black-on-white-circle)

The damage number is also fine as it is, but if you decide to turn the tries into circle (or whatever) then these could be turned into little white bursts or diamonds or whatever, with an extra black version of the symbol tagging along as a reminder to roll the Black Die.

It's hard for me to picture exactly how these would look on the card, so obvious take and reject any combination of these at your whim :)

Which do you think is BETTER and WHY(?)

Both versions are trying to CONVEY the SAME MESSAGE:

Each time you spend one (1) Power Resource, you get "3 Rolls" To-Hit "4" and deal "1 Damage".

One version uses the Black Die and specifies "3x" while the other using "3 pips".

Which do you feel that looks BETTER and it may simply be an aesthetic reason and not a logical one either (e.g. you may prefer pips... for example).

Let me know your own feedback... While I THINK the "3x" is more representative of the purpose of why it is there, I LIKE the "3 pips" because the presentation looks COOLER. But that's just my opinion.

Please let me know what you feel is best! Cheers.

Pip, Pip, Hooray!

questccg wrote:
> Each time you spend one (1) Power Resource, you get "3 Rolls" To-Hit "4" and deal "1 Damage".

One version uses the Black Die and specifies "3x" while the other using "3 pips"

Between these, I'd go with the 3x because the 3-pips one looks like "can only be used if a 3 is showing on the Black Die," or "bonus for getting a 3 on the Black Die," or similar.

3 somethings would work, I just don't think three pips are a good choice.

A hybrid approach, maybe???

This shows the "3x", "3 pips" and "3 + 2 pips"; a combination to show that the Black shape beneath is a dice and the value of "3" to show how many times that dice needs to be thrown...

I could ADD a third (3rd) Pip to make three (3)... But then it feels a bit like a "whacky" dice which is non-existent.

IDK... To me I still prefer the "pips" version (#2) over the other 2. The "3 + pips" doesn't seem to express the correct requirements because you only see "2 Pips" when it should be "3".

Again this is aesthetics... I think I will go with the "3 Pips" (Version #2) because it feels "cleaner" TBH. But comments welcomed... Just to see what other Designers think looks better.


Here is an EXTRA plain "3" which looks pretty interesting TBH

Sometimes simplicity is best. While I REALLY like the "3 Pips"... the "3" without any multiplier I feel also looks more "natural". I guess because those two (2) versions seem to signify "dice" (pips vs. numerical).

BTW I know that the "3" is not 100% centered... I've fixed that in my AI file for the images.

My conclusions is that it must be "3 Pips" or "3 only" ... One of these two (2) Versions because they MOST represent DICE and that's what I feel is important.

Anyone feel like sharing some additional comments/feedback/other avenues to explore, etc... All that good stuff...


I'm sticking to the PIPs version

I feel that it's the most "symbolic" way to "represent" a die and to indicate how it affects the rolls. Sure you need some rules to explain this. But it's not all that complicated once you understand what the notation means.

I opted out of a three (3) versions which use the "3" value because it got me thinking about "numerical" dice and that is NOT the case either.

So "# of pips" indicates how many rolls you get To-Hit and deal Damage.

I've played around with the design a bit tonight to show some variants and in all versions my conclusion is the version with the "pips" is cleaner in appearance.

If anyone has anything that could dissuade me... Feel free to post/comment/share feedback of any kind related to "Monster Keep" (MK).

Thank you for any help or suggestions you may offer.


I got some other feedback from a neutral source (Not a designer)

And it seems like the "Pips" is the preferred version. For reasons as a I stated it looks like a "dice" and even if it may "seem" like a condition rather than an attempt count, that can be easily explained and then becomes second nature while looking at other Monster cards.

I've also been making corrections to the "To-Hit" and the dice counts (how many each Monster should have of "dice" to roll) and it's coming together rather nice.

I will playtest either later this evening or Sunday as I have an appointment in the morning later today.

But I'm very pleased with the results so far. I can't wait to playtest and see what are the "troubling" issues. I know that by adding some more rolls that has not SOLVED all the problems. Yes as @FrankM says it, I got rid of the last round Math Quiz and will make the game about "dealing damage" to your opponent.

First Player to do this WINs... If the player goes ABOVE the scoring total... Well then the opponent has a chance to beat him. If he fails and goes ABOVE the other player's Total Points, then the first player wins. If both players have the same Total Points a tie is declared and players may play another game to try to become the victor in the next game.

Again I will post on the situation later today (given that it is passed 1:00 AM in the morning over here in Montreal!)

I know there will be issues ... And that's fine, that's what playtesting solo is for... To IRON OUT all the issues and examine each issue separately and work towards resolving them all.


Another possibility to explore further

Instead of trying to score as close as possible to a preset value, I believe that the highest possible score may be an avenue to be explored further.

We'll have to wait and see. Further playtesting is recommended before I can draw any conclusions.

Cheers all.

Like writing an algebra exam with a bunch of operators & numbers

FrankM wrote:
I like how it's developing. I know dropping the "arithmetic final exam" was really hard, but if it causes a trainwreck in playtesting then it probably should go.

I just felt like LOST... How do I make an EQUATION NOW??? Like there were too many options. But filling up six (6) boxes and adding those value together to get a SCORE... Now that made SENSE! And it was relatively EASY to do.

The other aspect that I was writing about was the "Race-Aspect". As if the 1st Player to reach a certain Point Goal would be declared the winner. Well I've decided against this and have put in the option of "Knock-outs"... So when you defeat all the Health Points (HPs) of a Monster, that Monster is "knocked-out" and flipped over and the opponent will score a Final Scoring Bonus for each card knocked-out: Level 1 = +1 Point, Level 2 = +2 Points and Level 3 = +3 Points.

Of course I need to playtest this... This is all purely speculative at the current moment. But it's injecting new ideas and mechanisms to help the game flow with the newest generation of the game (19th).

I'll let you know how this generation pans-out!


Target number vs maximum number

If the goal becomes to score the highest possible total, then won't that highly skew which monsters a player chooses from the available options?

Give the little guys a chance to play, Coach :)

You make a good point...

I've been thinking a LOT about THIS "aspect" of the game. And your point is the exact reason that I didn't have this type of "scoring" because it would encourage players to play the "strongest" cards over their weaker counterparts.

But after 5 Generations, I PLAN to alter the "Scoring Card" and to basically re-invert the Scoring Pyramid and make it that the POINTS you get is accumulated based on the "Damage" you do to YOUR OPPONENT.

At the same time, you can KNOCK-OUT cards with STRONGER cards. See there is a bit of counter-intuitive logic. If it's all about dealing MORE Damage well then the opponent can build a deck with their WEAKEST cards ONLY. While you think this is possible, it's not smart... Because weak cards cannot give you strong amounts of Damage nor do the amount of dice rolling favor weaker cards.

So then what I see is to NATURALLY blend STRONG and WEAK cards together and create some kind of BALANCE. But if all things average out in the end... Well then why not have MEDIUM cards only. There are then a few strategies available to player and they aren't so obvious TBH.

Like I say, another day, another prototype... So I need to playtest this aspect tomorrow (Sunday being my day at rest!) and see what is the outcome and how to play the Rounds and what is scoring like, what is attacking like, etc.

And so choosing the STRONGEST Monsters means that you have more ATTACK power BUT you may not need all of it and secondly it means your opponent has more "meat" to ATTACK and THEY can score more Points!

I really feel it's a question of synergies and balance TBH. You want some Tanks to deal some "extra" damage and you also want to be able to Knock-Out a card or two to affect the final scoring.

However remember that not ALL Monsters can attack all opponents. This varies as per the Monster's REACH Level. And while the 1st Round is BLIND, the 2nd and 3rd Round are all about strategy and figuring out how to outplay your opponent.

So I believe that there will be this natural balance with a few methods of achieving it which will lead to more "flexible" Deck Construction.

Definitely need more playtesting ... But yeah this "issue" has been around since the START of the game Generation 1 & 2. I was struggling HARD to TRY to FIGURE out how I could make the game work with the HIGHEST possible score. And then it came to me: "Knock-Outs" which focus damage on one specific Monster to "knock-it out" and yield BONUS points for that Monster and the whole odds, balance, damage A PLAYER DEALS to his OPPONENT which SCORES POINTS!

So you want to A> "Knock-out" as many of the opponent's Monsters as possible whenever and wherever possible and B> Balance your Monsters to deal Damage according to your OPPONENT's MONSTERS (and their Health Points).

For example: You may play the "Right of Passage" (Orc Tank) which has 3 Power and 2 Skill. He deals a whooping "3 Damage" and relies on a To-Hit of "9" with 2 Dice and 2 Rolls each. He's more versatile because he DEALS TWO (2) TYPES of Damage not only Power BUT also Skill. But his potential is "5" Damage. It's overkill... Because he may ONLY score "2" or "3" Points towards the total due to the HP of the OPPOSING Monster.

So right now it is INDEED VERY CLEVER. Very TIGHT and intertwined with how the strategy will work. I will of course eventually test DUMB-ED DOWN decks with only weak Monsters or only strong Monster to see the variation of how the cards fare. But from a "Design" perspective... I think I've got something pretty SOLID.

Playtesting some more will confirm... But I want to take 18th Generation for one last couple spins tomorrow and see how they fare with some of the corrections...

Yeah... Don't think that this is the first time I've had to deal with POWER CREEP and only playing the BIG GUNS. Won't work very well because you are EXPOSING YOURSELF to HIGHER OPPONENT SCORING. It works in REVERSE. But I've explained that even IF you play WEAKER Monsters, your opponent won't score as much Damage (and Points) as you would do a stronger Monster but at the same time... Neither will you! Some weak Monsters have some advantages but I would not make a deck of only WEAK Monsters.

Secondly because NOW I am relying on DICE ROLLS and RNG... This also will alter the scoring in favor of one player over the other. Or maybe just balance out (or having a hot-streak ... Or worst a lousy-run).

I've been thinking about this "issue" for a long time. And I can only speak DESIGN-WISE, I think I have a mix that will work. It's not only about the strength of the Monsters it's also dice rolling, the right REACH Levels and figuring out WHERE to take RISKS.

It ain't simple... That's for certain!

Another way of looking at the problem (and my solution)!

If you paired off your STRONG Monsters versus the OPPONENT'S STRONG Monsters; and then pair off your WEAK Monsters versus the OPPONENT's WEAK Monsters... Well that's a bit how you could "Knock-Out" the entire Keep full of Monsters.

But like I argued, MEDIUM Monsters will perform BETTER against WEAK ONES and have a bit more CHALLENGE with STRONG ONES.

The key is that this is NOT always possible, things are LIMITED to the REACH Levels which are chosen by the players. So while you open yourself to BEING ATTACKED (by choosing the SAME REACH Level), you also allow yourself to MAYBE score some DAMAGE too to count towards your Maximum Point Total.

This is how the game presents itself from a DESIGN-PERSPECTIVE.

How it fares in reality will be determined with more playtesting. But I think this explanation gives you a better feel for how the game could play itself out.


And I've seen BROKEN games also!

Without getting too much into detail, I've seen games with BROKEN "scoring" mechanics which were all affected by Power Creep. I think I had a thread somewhere where I was discussion that very issue. One of the most notable games is "Pokemon"... Pokemon is the KING of Power Creep and as players became accustomed to the first "core" Decks (and boosters - basically the card pool in the first edition), they figured out that PLAYING "certain" Pokemon would yield BETTER odds of beating the opponent because those Pokemon were STRONGER...

And that was WAY BACK AT THE BEGINNING...! Since then, Pokemon has completely gone the "other way" and embraces Power Creep as the newer and STRONGER Pokemon are designed and Launched making or should I say FORCING players to collect newer booster packs (to hunt down those STRONGER Pokemon for their decks).

This is only one game ... But I've seen others too... Pokemon is the most FAMOUS one.

Magic: the Gathering (Magic) is different because there is a CARD ROTATION in STANDARD and MODERN plus there are cards which are BANNED from one Edition to the next... And so players are forced to keep up with Decks that get broken because a card in the strategy of that CONSTRUCTED Deck no longer is possible because of a BANNED card. So Magic handles things a bit differently in TRYING to make some KIND of "Balance". But sometimes they just create TOO POWERFUL cards and those get immediately banned in STANDARD without even going through a rotation or two...

Again there are other games where IF you play the dominant strategy to SCORE the highest points amounts to using the BEST cards that exist. And you build up your Deck with those STRONGER cards and try to "BLOCK" opposing strategies which could be combos with other cards such that you prevent those actions from ever happening. That's another way of BALANCING the games too (a bit...)

For example: I have a card which is called "Midnight Hunt" (It's a werewolf card), it has a Tactic which is "Moolight Howl" which states: "Block any one Monster from attacking." A nice way to say FU to the opponent's idea to try to score some points against you! Haha... A bit of "Take-That" too!

So there are ways to mitigate in some circumstances and in others plain bland ignore Power Creep. So our game has Power Creep!!! Buy the right cards and you too will be on the right side! Hehehe.

This is a topic in itself ... But I think I've explained some of the instances and where you can see this kind of abusive "marketing" behavior. I say "marketing" because it's all about selling NEWER and BETTER cards. And not trying to BALANCE old and new "chapters" (which play differently in a game like "Crystal Heroes")...

Let me know if you've seen this kind of "disruptive" BAD behavior in other games... Feel free to share ones that you know. It helps me examine other games and see how they DO or DON'T IGNORE the problem of Power Creep.


And if you ask...

@larienna will point out that "Duel Masters" is a much more balanced game than Pokemon or Magic. I've never played or took a look at that game TBH... Maybe I will and see what the HYPE about that game really is. I'm sure there's a YouTube video out the on the "interwebs" which presents the game and it's unique spin on how to handle CARDS and RESOURCES (like Mana).

I'm watching a video about the game. It did not fare well in the USA/Canada Market only lasted for 2 years and then was brought back a later date in time but again did not last past 2 years.

My goal with "Monster Keep" (MK) is to put the game "out-there" and with minimal cost (like $500 USD) to be able to allow people to BUY cards online directly from my own web store (TBD what platform ... ATM it seems like "Square" is the best option...) and since the art was MidJourney, may be Graphic Designing can be done by me ... With some illustrative work (TBD!)

The bottom line is I want something with a small entry barrier and people to just download the rules, see some Deck Configurations and simply BUY what they prefer and then when they master that deck, get a better feel for OTHER cards and customize their decks even further...

Something like that. Streamlined as much as possible and with 15 cards per Deck and one (1) Scorecard per player ... Should be possible to have a neat "little" game that earns it's stars and stripes from grassroot playing.

We'll see!

Build Values as a way to "throttle" the configuration a bit

FrankM wrote:
If the goal becomes to score the highest possible total, then won't that highly skew which monsters a player chooses from the available options?

There is another mechanism that I want to RESTORE to the cards: the Build Value.

Currently I have this FLAG on the TOP Left-Hand-Side (LHS). And in it has some kind of ICON. Well I've realized that this ICON is "useless" and I would instead prefer having a "VALUE" that restricts the way one BUILDS his/her own Deck.

I already have like 5 pre-made decks with various combinations of making the game harder or easier... Those decks were OLD and relied heavily on the "mathematics" of the game. Since I've removed that "utter complication" and made it much easier to compute the scores at the very end of the game, it stands to reason that I will need to revise the "pre-made decks" and correct the VALUES of the various cards/Monsters in each deck.

But IT gives me another IDEA to FOCUS on and to REFINE the game yet ... once again!


Note #1: This "Build Value" which is capped at "30 Points" is another reason why you just can't use ONLY the "stronger" cards and not mix-in a few "weaker" ones and maybe a couple "average" ones too. Everything ATM is RELATIVE and I need to "re-define" what is STRONG and what is WEAK.

Some Monsters/cards are more OBVIOUS but some are not. I guess that's where I get the "AVERAGE" values: if I have a hard time deciding between STRONG and EASY, well then that Monster will be "AVERAGE"... Sounds good in my mind!

After doing a REVIEW of all the Monster "Build Values" ...

I have an AMAZING outcome:

Out of fifteen (15) Monsters, I have 30 as Total "Build Points" and IF I divide by 15, I get the AVERAGE of "2" Build Points...

Could not have asked for a BETTER result. With values from "1" to "3" ... The AVERAGE is ALSO "2". And all the numbers work in that direction. So this sounds a bit KISMET and meant to be!

I'm up to doing more playtests during the remainder of the week. This little EVENT of mine (the above results) was a bit fortunate and was not a disaster to the decks when I took one from 27/30 to 29/30 and 24/30 to 27/30. Still all configurations with LESS THAN or EQUAL TO 30 "Build Points".

It's all still part of the "TIGHT" design... We'll see what PLAYTESTING looks like because I can TEST my current deck and see how the game unfolds. Everything seems positive and I have RE-IMPLEMENTED older mechanisms that used to be in the earlier versions (prior to the 15th Generation)... The 14th Generation stuck around for a LONG while ... Because I had not RESUMED any further development of this franchise.

But hey, you only add by necessity and remove by excess. So I'm glad that the new "Build Rules" are stacking up to their earlier version.


More balancing with the "Build Points"

I figured out that I could have an EVEN MORE "Balanced" approach to the "Build Points" if I tweaked a few Monsters. And so I have done that ... I hope this latest batch produces a FUN and engaging game. Like I said, more playtesting some time during this week.

But right now I have:

1> Five (5) Monsters with "1" Build Point

2> Five (5) Monsters with "2" Build Points

3> File (5) Monsters with "3" Build Points

So it's 100% balanced in terms of values AND quantities. What I mean is that like before the total for 15 Unique Monsters = 30 Build Points and that averages out to "2" Build Points.

Also it NOW means that there is a STRICT Balance between the various Monsters in that each of the Build Points comes in batches of Five (5) x 3 = 15 Unique Monsters...

Pretty kewl that it all seems to be working out!

Difficulty levels

The game assumes that every player has access to every card, correct?

If that’s the case, deck building restrictions can be used for additional challenge, or to handicap players of different ability (prior to ELO scores, chess players were rated by “can win against a master if the master has one of piece X removed”).

Limit deck to 25 points
Must use no more that N<5 1-point cards
Must use at least N>5 1-point cards
Must use N randomly-drawn card(s)

And so on. Basicallly whatever playtesting turns up as “broken” you can keep in your hip pocket for handicapping.

Not exactly TBH

FrankM wrote:
The game assumes that every player has access to every card, correct?

No instead I have defined five (5) Decks. Players buy the cards they want to make up the deck of their desires. They can craft other decks too (if they want to...) But there are five (5) pre-defined ones you can TRY and see which one works better for the players.

You can BUY any card you like from the ONLINE store, but the prices vary (Still working on this ATM... I have some ideas, I just need to implement them and see...)

The idea is getting people STARTED with a PRE-DEFINED Deck they like. It shows the players OPTIONS to the decks and then once they PLAY and comprehend the game FURTHER, they can choose to build their OWN deck or customize one of the existing ones.

Good idea

That’s a good idea, and it doesn’t require a player to commit to buying the entire collection at once to try the game.

One other question I had, which could be left open as a difficulty adjustment or handicapping tool:

Is a deck allowed to contain duplicates of a card?

Very True!

FrankM wrote:
That’s a good idea, and it doesn’t require a player to commit to buying the entire collection at once to try the game.

Indeed... Yeah it's like an Aftermarket Store where the cards are all available and you buy whatever you want.

FrankM wrote:
Is a deck allowed to contain duplicates of a card?

Yes you are allowed three (3) of the SAME card in your Micro Deck. But remember some cards may be very costly to have three (3) of them (anything "3" BPs is a high customization cost). And that may cause problems building a Deck.

But I already have (like I said) 5 Pre-Defined Micro Decks and so you can use one deck as a model for another and substitute and configure as you see fit.

And you know that MagicA and MtG both allow for a maximum of FOUR (4) COPIES of a card to be present in your Deck. Obviously MagicA or MtG Decks are LARGER so I naturally lowered the duplicates by "1".

It's a bit HARDER to build a Deck (because of the BPs) but at the same time you can say it is a more broader CHALLENGE to define your OWN Micro Deck (15 Cards)...


I only PRICED one (1) Pre-Defined Micro Deck ... And right now the price is around ~$25 USD. It's not the most expensive Deck, I compared with Pokemon which turned out to be ~$24 USD and some are pricier ~$30 USD and so forth. So it's not the most expensive "investment" plus you play and have FUN and LEARN more about the Deck you bought and by playing more you figure out how you would want to CUSTOMIZE your Deck or make a NEW one, etc.

Note #1: Just as a comparison, my most "expensive" Deck is $27.00 USD + shipping and my least expensive Deck is $26.00 USD + shipping. So quarters ($0.25) in difference from one to the other. Still relatively inexpensive if you want to give the game a TRY!


On some cards I'm only making $0.25 USD. The cost of making and shipping make for a more expensive product. So I'm not even following the 4x or 5x multiplier from COST (and "to let the cat out of the bag", I'm going to make "plastic" cards you can write on so you don't even need to buy sleeves!).

Like I said, I'm going to RETAIL them so no middlemen and therefore I make 100% of the profit. If I had to sell to STORES or go through distribution ... It would probably make the whole project NOT VIABLE.

So if I sell a card for $1.00 USD and am only making $0.25 USD... The price should have been around $3.00 to $3.75 USD for just one card... That's just TOO EXPENSIVE.

Anyhow ... This project is for the PLAYERS and I'll see how many are willing to drop ~$25 USD for a Micro Deck. Like I said, you play for FUN and if you enjoy the game, then you can personalize.

As a price comparison, the Pre-Defined Micro Decks vary from $26.00 USD to $27.00 USD (+shipping)! Like I said, it won't break the BANK.

The Economics of Shipping

I'm surmising that a big portion of your cost is in the shipping and handling of small numbers of cards.

I wouldn't see anything wrong with dialing down the per-card cost slightly and explicitly adding a per-transaction handling/packing fee separate from the customer's chosen shipping method.

Something like the roughly $1 that The Game Crafter adds to its orders. In other words, recoup the cost of the small box or stiff-sided envelope that you use to mail the cards.

It should incentivize people to bundle a few cards per transaction because they can see the savings from one transaction vs. two.

But I would definitely not assume the risk of fluctuating shipping costs. Don't offer "$3 ships anything," tell them exactly what USPS/UPS/etc quotes you because it can change. Then be upfront that you're adding a dollar or so for handling.

I know The Game Crafter gets away with this because they have reasonably sophisticated customers... do you think retail consumers are ready for this kind of transparency?

Well ... Shipping is a problem in most situations

But I found a site on which they CHARGE a fixed fee for the FIRST ITEM (let's say $18 CAD or $13 USD) and then a micro fee per additional items. So let's say $0.25 USD per card. So that like $3.75 USD extra for 15 cards. And the total would be like $16.75 USD for shipping of one (1) Micro Deck.

I don't know IF I can set a limit on the amount of items purchased... I'll have to look into that in further detail. But yeah there is shipping from China to my home (and it is very expensive) ... There are of course "economies of scale" in which I could purchase 1,000 units of the SAME card. But the stocking of so many cards is rather a COSTLY proposition considering that I DON'T know how WELL the game and cards will sell.

So I'm opting for the lowest quantity and there is no price break. It's unfortunate that I cannot capitalize on the fact that I could buy 1,000 units per Monster/card. And yeah some Gamers will purchase THREE (3) of one card for their needs...

The reality ATM is that I cannot afford such quantities. Especially not for the variety of cards that I will be offering.

That means that ATM the cards are a bit pricier but still within reason. But it would NOT work if I had to sell via stores. An ONLINE store, yes... Because I earn 100% of the Retail Amount. But even then, the pricing of the cards is still not your usual 4x or 5x multiplier from cost.

Everything costs more these days and IF I sold via stores it would NOT be an affordable rate considering that on some cards I only make $0.25 USD. Nobody would be happy with that TBH... Especially stores. It would just make the entire project NON-VIABLE.

But because I sell 100% ONLINE and take all retail profits, well that means that I don't mind the troubles for a $0.25 profit... Like I said, I'm doing it to further my exposure with yet another game and another (different) style of play.

Like I told @Rich the other day, I'm not a "Marketing Guru" or "Pro Graphic Designer" or a "Videographer"... I'm a "Game Designer" who wants to design unique and memorable game experiences. All my games are DIFFERENT from one another and that is BY DESIGN. I don't want ALL my games to be similar. I guess I take a page out of Reiner Knizia's philosophy on making games: focus on one at a time and try to make them different.

At least that's a sort of para-phrasing... I don't know where I got the original comment he made, could be in a YouTube Video or a Dice Tower Video, etc... IDK TBH. But I remember watching or hearing something similar to this and it was in regards to HIS games.

And if you put it ALL TOGETHER...

We're talking about ~$45.00 USD (with shipping world-wide) for one (1) Deck. That may be a bit "expensive" but I'm in Canada, shipping globally is costly and I need to ensure that if people buy extra cards the pricing of shipping will work correctly.

So when you "boil it down" it will cost the consumer around ~$3.00 USD per card/Monster.

I know that SOUNDS "expensive" but it's with shipping and all. So in the end it's not unlike the Aftermarket for MtG cards. Of course, "Monster Keep" (MK) is not a huge BRAND like MtG ... But if I can sell some cards online and get people who LIKE the game... Well then investing in the cards (time and effort) might be worthwhile given some grass-roots growth.

I know $3.00 USD per Card/Monster SOUNDS a bit PRICEY. And yeah, I must agree that's it's NOT that CHEAP. But you are buying into the MK Brand and a game...

I still need to find a WAY how to DOWNLOAD for FREE "Pre-Defined" Deck Configurations... In addition to offering a FREE "Rulebook" as well. All via PDFs that should be FREE to consult and download.

Like I said, it's a GAME, I'm offering as COMPETITIVE pricing as I can ... And I'm not even anywhere close to the 4x or 5x cost multiplier per card in that the price of cards are still VERY affordable (IMHO).

Let me know what you think! Cheers.


Is there any way of gaming how the printer bundles their cards per sheet?

For example, The Game Crafter prints poker cards 18 per sheet, so you could bulk up on the 18 most predicted-to-be-popular individual cards.

Won't help with the pre-built micro-decks, but could knock down the single-card cost a tad. There's nothing to prevent you from having the exact same card on two different sheets.

Goblin Sapper as part of its micro-deck, on a sheet specifically for that micro-deck.

Goblin Sapper as an individual card, on a sheet of popular individual cards.

That still might not get you to quantity discounts, but I thought I'd mention it just in case.

IDK how they print on sheets but...

Basically I have quantities like 200 = Price "$XX.xx" or 400 = Price "YY.yy" and the quantities go up to 1,000 cards which are the BEST "bang for your buck". But that's a LOT of cards and specifically for each design too (per card/Monster).

The Chinese Manufacturer doesn't tell me HOW they make the cards (how many per sheet and so forth), only that there are different prices per QUANTITY. If they can make 1,000 for "$ZZZ.zz" as the BEST price, I guess that is their best QUANTITY in terms of production.

I'm not sure how they package the quantities over 200, (like 400 or even 1,000) because they only sent me proofs for some SAMPLES that I purchased. Basically what I did was BUY some "Cardbacks" which are white on the Backside (No card/Monster)... Just to go through the process and understand what the shipping is like and the quality and durability and so forth.

The way it is set-up NOW, is that I UPLOAD "2" PNGs with my card and backside (another OPTION you can get less expensive if you only have "1" sided) and then they will produce the quantity that you order.

Obviously the cost to SHIP 1,000 Cards is MORE EXPENSIVE than 200... But I guess you might get some economies of scale, even thought I highly believe from what I know that 5x 200 (=1,000) cards is like 5x 1 box = 5 boxes with cards. So I really don't think that you SAVE much on VOLUME purchases. Maybe on the CARDS/Printing side of matters ... But probably NOT on the shipping side of matters...

Anyhow ATM it is not worth speculating because I WON'T be printing 1,000 of each Card/Monster. And TBH I don't know how long it will take to fulfill an order (meaning having the Bubble Wrap Envelopes, the Printing Labels, the Printer for the job, etc.) I can be wildly successful or it can be radio silence. IDK. Figure that it will cost about ~$45 USD to get one (1) Micro Deck delivered to your door.

IDK how the game will be received ... I'm still working on it (as you know)!

I get a 3.4x multiplier from 200 to 1,000 units. This is only on production and doesn't include shipping fees which was higher per volume and weight. To fully analyze the results, I would have to WASTE monies on 1,000 cards and see how much it costs in the end. And ATM I don't want to do that. Maybe on the scorecards... ONE-SIDED (less costly) and allow you to add stuff up on the opposite side towards then end of the game (instead of having two cards you only need ONE per player)... That could be an option and it means that the game could have about 1,000 supporters or 500 pairs of scorecards.)

IDK again... Maybe. I still need to think about it some more... And playtest over the weekend (maybe!) So to price the SHIPPING of 1,000 units is the only way that I'll know how affordable are the REAL "economies of scale" given that I TRY one and see.

Right now, I only know that there is a "manufacturing" savings. It's not 5x... 3.4x. So it could be more profitable to make MORE cards of course because of the variety this is NOT possible ATM (I'm tight on company cash)... But MAYBE I could make 1,000 "scorecards" and see what shipping of 1,000 units will be.



Maybe I'll find some time to CUT more cards

Yeah I printed out a NEW set of cards with the "Build Values", place to write down the REACH Level and overall "fixed" the cards with the most recent version (19th Generation) of the cards.

It's a whole process to PRINT & CUT the cards ... It's on 8 sheets of paper and I use sleeves with cardbacks that I purchased a while back for "Monster Keep" (MK).

Plus I also printed the REVISED Scorecards on 1 sheet (BOTH of them — 2-Players).

I will make the preparations tomorrow (probably)...

And then see how the game holds up... I know I should limit the printing of too many prototypes... I usually get 1 to 2 playtests and conclude that there are still things missing and/or issues with the game.

But I follow a process and it has never let me down before... So why try to FIX something that AIN'T BROKEN!

Cheers all.

Yesterday I got 50% of the cutting done

Today I hope to wrap up the 2nd Player Deck and the "extra" cards for the other Pre-Designed Micro Decks. Maybe I might be even able to get a playtest tonight in the evening...! We'll have to wait and see how I feel. But TBH, cutting is my higher priority so that even if I DON'T playtest tonight, I can do so later during the week.

The Scoresheets have already been cut and placed in their respective sleeves.

That's another thing that's been taken care of... Just awaiting the next series of playtests with the 19th Generation. I'm still a bit "concerned" with the "exhausting" of Monsters and so forth... And is the REACH Level flexible enough???

So I've got a bunch of things that need testing further.

At the moment, everything seems like it is READY for further playtesting and I guess that's my NEXT big "milestone".

Slow progress tonight

I only got 25% of what I needed to do to complete the cutting of the 2nd Deck and "extra" cards for the Pre-Designed Micro Decks. I may get to 50% in the next hour or so... But still will have some of the task left over for tomorrow.

That's the thing (just like @Stormyknight1976 suggests) it's a process to get the cards cut and sorted and so forth. It takes some manual focus but still is a very tedious task (labor-intensive).

So it's not too bad ... We'll get to testing this 19th Generation of the game. And like I said earlier, I think most things are ironed out from a "Stat" perspective ... It's just a matter of ensure that there are rules to govern combat and what is the relationship with "Exhausting" a Monster/card. Is there even necessity for a concept, that IDK ATM. Some more playtests later in the week should conclusively help to firm-up the design and tighten what seems to be a bit vague ATM...

I am currently playtesting the 19th Generation and so far...

It's going pretty well. I've figured that during the first (1st) round of play, the players will opt for a random (RNG) selection of "REACH" Levels as having one (1) strong Monster versus three (3) opposing Monsters is a bit unbalanced.

It's not like it's an "unfair" proposition, just leads to more scoring by one side of the table versus the opposing side.

But eventually battles end as the Monster suffer "wounds" from combat and then the next round gets triggered automatically (Naturally)!

Pretty NEAT so far! I'm impressed how FLUID and SMOOTH the gameplay really is. This is FAR BETTER than what I've had in previous Generations of this game. So I'm very happy that things are working out better than I had anticipated...

I will post an update (once the playtest is over) with the final scoring and how I saw the game progress from round to round.


Conclusion: Player #1 = 13 vs. Player #2 = 11

It's pretty darn KEWL!!! It was a close match-up and it all made sense without any of "How do I do this?" or "When should I do that?" ... Definitely NO analysis-paralysis which is GREAT!

No "Exhausting" either only "Knock-Outs" when a Monster has ZERO (0) HP.

Both sides "knocked-out" two (2) Monsters and helped Player #2 go from a lesser score to the more CLOSER "11" Points.

And so this doing the MAXIMUM possible DAMAGE! Hah. Not overkill and my resources had a bunch of points remaining...

It's actually FUN and a bit of "Analysis" (without the Paralysis) which is indeed GOOD. So no concerns with "Exhausting", A-P, Not enough Resources, "Knock-outs", etc. Was pretty clear as to the gaming experience. Pretty decent by my own critique and I'm very harsh on my games.

"Monster Keep" (MK) has reached a NEW level of gameplay and satisfaction.

I will conduct ANOTHER playtest later tonight (depending on my mood - Hah).

Cheers all...

Note #1: The dice rolls for "Resources" were: 5 Power. 6 Skill, 6 Magic and 4 Arcane.

Both sides chose: 9 Power, 6 Skill and 6 Magic.

Note #2: The only thing I need to CEMENT is when ATTACKING you must DECLARE your intention to deal what KIND of Damage (Is it Power, Skill or Magic???) Because sometimes you fail a ROLL but get a DOUBLE which means you only deal "1 Damage" for one (1) Resource (depending which one). I found myself not choosing at the start of combat and then choosing after the rolls and "sort-of" changing my mind...

For my FIRST (1st) playtest ... This was NORMAL in TRYING things to see how to maximize the points and so forth. But I've already ironed out those details by the near end of the first playtest. I had been choosing my resource FIRST and THEN rolling the dice to deal "Damage".

So no biggie... Was a small detail as I figured out the rules and tried things to see how they could/would work out!

Random reach?

Congrats on the successful playtest. I’m just a little confused why the players would roll dice to decide a Monster’s reach stat.

Or did you propose a couple different mechanisms, and that was the one they chose?

No REACH Levels are selected by the players

FrankM wrote:
Congrats on the successful playtest.

It's great when you feel like a DESIGN is "crystalizing" and becoming a SOLID entity (connectivity, purpose, agency, etc.)

FrankM wrote:
I’m just a little confused why the players would roll dice to decide a Monster’s reach stat.

No "REACH" Levels are chosen STRATEGICALLY by each player for each Monster/card. No dice rolling for this. Dice Rolling for Resources and to deal Damage.

Some Monsters like the "Frolicking Fairy" can grant a "+1 REACH" Level and that can also play a big part in how some points can go to the opponent's side. I'm thinking that "+1 REACH" Level should be for ANY Monster not just your own... So you can LURE an enemy Monster into a TRAP. That definitely SOUNDS better than just improving your OWN odds... Getting an opposing Monster into some hot waters also sounds NEAT!

It's just the FIRST ROUND because it's all done in SECRECY... It AMOUNTS to being a bit "random" (RNG) as to being a SURPRISE for BOTH SIDES of the table.

eg.: You don't know what your opponent will choose during the rounds, you of course know that BOTH players will REACT to the cards "already in-play". But this tells you no information about the cards for the PRESENT Round.

So when you start, you choose which 3 cards you want to play, which you want to keep and which you want to discard. Then for each of the 3 cards, you assign a "REACH" Level. But there is no additional "information" in the play-area to give you an idea about HOW you are to choose your "REACH" Levels. And yes there is HIDDEN INFORMATION each round at the same time PERFECT INFORMATION from the previous rounds (except for Round #1)...

That's what I meant... It's a bit "random" in Round #1 because it's all HIDDEN INFORMATION when you start a game.

Got it

Okay, got it. So they aren't using a real RNG; they're making a decision in a vacuum that effectively randomizes the opening Monster's reach stats.

I'm curious if a dominant strategy might emerge, such as minimizing reach when all cards are hidden... which implies only playing the cards you'd be happy with limited reach. Or the reverse: only play cards you'd like to have maximum reach.

A strategy only becomes dominant if it's the right thing to do given any plausible response by your opponent. That may not hold here, in which case things will stay "random."

Well TBH ... "REACH" Level has a limiting factor

The goal, or more specifically MY GOAL, was to reduce the amount of Battles that could occur. And NOT make the game ONLY about a lot of battles. I wanted to limit the "reach" such that ANY Monster could NOT attack another. WHY(?) Because this led to "Analysis-Paralysis"...

Who to ATTACK? Who to attack FIRST? What TYPE of attack to use?

Sure you have these questions still... but RESTRICTED to a subset of Monsters based on the "REACH" Level.

I didn't want a 100 Point game. Maybe as high as 20 "Victory" Point or so...

And I flipped the game upside-down by making the ATTACK as the points. Not some preset value or values you enter for some kind of Formula, etc.

TBH with you, it seems like the BEST opening is hedging your bets and going "1, 2 and 3" for the lowest level of the Keep. And then see where that leads from there. Too much of one value leads to unbalance and opens up the area of play giving the opponent the opportunity to score some additional points.

But if it was "1, 2 and 3" or "2, 1 and 3" or "3, 2, and 1", etc. That yields a sort of BALANCE and opens up the game. I'm not implying that all match-ups will be FAIR... Some might be a bit unbalanced or otherwise incompatible (sort of like in Magic when you have a 3/2 vs. 1/4, neither can do anything to each other) ... So there are no points in those cases either.

I think one of your earlier concerns was by NOT limiting scoring, that the weak cards could not be used or players would build decks with STRONGER cards. And while this is TRUE (I've done it in one of my pre-defined Decks), it does not mean that this Monster will rule the roost.

Sure it may deal a point or two of additional Damage ... And it could tip the balance in favor of a close victory... But it is FAR from being unbalanced.

Like I say, the dominant strategy here seems to be choose "1, 2 and 3" in the opening Round. If the opponent does something SIMILAR well then match-ups MIGHT be plausible but are not 100% guaranteed either.

I could have a "Skill + Magic" Monster vs. a "Power" Monster... INCOMPATIBLE and cannot deal damage to each other ... Even IF they have the SAME "REACH" Level...

And so the design is very TIGHT. It works better than I had hoped for and the result is satisfactory. I plan to TRY another game soon... Not tonight... During the week when I have some more time.

The bottom line is that the game is well on its way to being something of a FUN small little Collectible Card Game (CCG). I can even get PRE-ORDERS ... Say maybe 20 or 30 gamers order a specific card ... Then I can make and SHIP it...

Sort of like GMT's P500... But for a CCG and not wargames.

We'll have to wait and see. Again I still have a LOT of work to do with this particular design. Even if the DESIGN is SOLID, I still have to finish the "Card Template", write a Rulebook, Create so Pre-Defined Micro Decks (PDFs), etc.

But at least at this point in time, the game is FUN!

Decisions in a vacuum is the best way to describe it!

FrankM wrote:
Okay, got it. So they aren't using a real RNG; they're making a decision in a vacuum that effectively randomizes the opening Monster's reach stats.

You got it! 100% HIDDEN INFORMATION for the Monster(s) of the current round. And since Round #1 has no Monsters revealed, it's a bit of a "shot in the dark!"

FrankM wrote:
I'm curious if a dominant strategy might emerge, such as minimizing reach when all cards are hidden... which implies only playing the cards you'd be happy with limited reach. Or the reverse: only play cards you'd like to have maximum reach.

There is no Min/Max... Like I said, playing ALL the SAME "REACH" Level is a RISKY choice. Because it opens up the opponent to attack multiple targets versus say only one (1) on the opposite side of the table.

FrankM wrote:
A strategy only becomes dominant if it's the right thing to do given any plausible response by your opponent. That may not hold here, in which case things will stay "random."

Like I said "1, 2 and 3" or some variation of this seems to be the best way to open on Round #1. Again variations possible, it's just that the pairing may or may not be 100% FAIR (As I said above).

It depends on the players. If they are aware of the "1, 2 and 3" or some variant of this, they may open with this in mind, if NOT there are other options in-between that could work also. "2, 2 and 3" or "2, 1, 2" for example...

This really depends on the PLAYERS and how they approach the game. Do they want a lot of Battles or do they prefer to shy away from them?! And what the opponent does makes a BIG difference too...

2nd Playtest was successful and I learned more about the GAME

I played yet another game where the "Resources" were very limited and the game took ~40 minutes to play. One thing that I learnt and need to add to the rules is if a PLAYER "Passes his turn" (no combat), the opponent gets one last TRY to do some more damage and then the Round ends.

The score was Player #1: 13 vs. Player #2: 15, so Player #2 WON the game.

The dice rolls for resources were: "3, 3, 1, 2(A)".

Still very FUN and even though there is a LOT of thinking and time to ponder... there is NO Analysis-Paralysis. Sometime a Monster may get out of a JAM. By using a "+1 REACH" (for example) and that threw out the hole strategy for Player #2 which could have done even MORE damage.

Anyhow the game is pretty good... Maybe VERY GOOD. TBD.

I'll do another playtest some time tomorrow. At ~40 minutes it's somewhere between a Filler and Gateway Game. Which is COOL... I didn't want the game to be TOO SIMPLE either. I mean if people want to play Magic and win within 10 minutes... Well let them play Magic.

"Monster Keep" (MK) takes a bit longer and it's hard to predict who will win even though both sides ran out of Resources in Round #3 (Top of the Keep).


I am planning on make some "aesthetic" changes to the cards

Specifically, I would want the "REACH" Level to be on the TOP-LEFT corner. In the present position I could put the "Build Points" where the current "REACH" Level SQUARE is for writing into it.

I'm thinking about it. Because it's a LARGER area and EASIER to READ with a BIGGER or LARGER number.

Relying on the SMALL SQUARE is pure cr@p... Hehehe. No seriously it doesn't make the presentation better and it is HARDER to read since that value ("REACH" Level) is what makes Combat TICK!

In any event... I will think about it some more. But yeah, having a LARGER number is a more apparent area seems BETTER TBH.

We'll see, more thought required on this one!


Worked ALL day on a RENDERED version of the Sapper!

It looks real nice... With all the information required and made room for the "REACH" Level in the TOP-LEFT Hand corner which is the most important location for any given card template.

I don't want to share it just yet. I will WAIT until the WEBSITE or WEBSTORE is up and ready to allow people to BROWSE the cards and see what is available.

I am going to go in the way of GMT Games and have a PRE-ORDER system.

You will be able to BUY ONE (1) "Pre-Con" Micro Deck ahead of time... Once enough people have pre-ordered, I will have the cards all made and produced for the people who have bought the game.

We're not talking about MONTHS of lead-time... 2-3 days for production and 2-3 Weeks for air delivery. So it's more reasonable than many manufacturers out-there for "Board Games". Nothing like "Sky Games" which took over 6+ Months and made a bunch of errors with "TradeWorlds". I had to catch the errors and even then we could not settle on the $430 USD for the Premium Black & Gold Dice. Anyhow...

I still have a LOT of work ahead of me... Since I've done ONE (1) out of 15 Cards... Yeah the first set will have 15 cards in TOTAL. Obviously the first "Template" is usually the hardest... But still have other colors to do and we'll have to wait and see how the rest of them go... Hopefully smooth. IDK.

Anyhow... I will keep everyone up-to-date on how this endeavor goes.


20% Done ... Now I've got to make a NEW color scheme

I will work on this later tonight, since all the "RED" Cards have been done and they look pretty darn "sexy"!

Granted I know some Graphic Designers like Mike (RIP) could have made an even better template with their skills, my version is pretty decent.

Now that I don't need to PAY $500 USD for my Card Template ... I'm happy since that drops the cost of making the game and increases the amount of possible return from the project considering that it costs a LOT to MAKE (Produce) and SHIP (from China) ... I didn't want to have to drop an additional $500 USD because this is a SMALL effort and I want to minimize costs.

Anyhow ... Things are going A-OKAY so far.

We'll have to wait and see how NICE the next TEMPLATE will be (COLOR-WISE). And if it all blends nicely into the scheme of the remainder of the cards!

Cheers all.

All the cards are DONE (100%)

I spent the last couple days working on the rendering of the cards and they look pretty "sexy"! Haha. No but seriously they look pretty darn good. I want to keep the full ART/COLORED cards confidential... So it will be a bit of a surprise for everyone and anyone that checks out the SALES webstore.

I will post that up as soon as it is READY. I'm still working on the webstore and everything that is required. I just contacted support to help changing the Link/URL at the top to "k2games" since I already have the domain name and want it to be identical as to not cause any doubt. Currently it is "k2consulting" and I recently got the "license" for the "K2 Games, Inc." name in late February 2023.

I also have acquired the Domain "" the CA version because the COM version is to expensive ATM. Maybe in a year or so ... If the market is good and "Monster Keep" (MK) is still selling and people are still buying... Then we can explore that option to be part of a more GLOBAL Brand.

For now, "el-cheapo" is the motto of the current day!

I've tried to reduce the COSTS associated with MAKING the game... And now need to work on the webstore and configure a bunch of stuff. Right now the webstore is in need of MAJOR "Re-vamping" ... But the name change should be possible via the Customer Support Team.

Keep you all posted and when I get the GAME READY, I will share that information with all of you to visit and maybe even support some of my initiatives. Right now it's ONLY for "Monster Keep" (MK). If it works out good... Well then maybe it could be reasonable for other initiatives and/or product lines (Brands).


I have been working tonight on the webstore

Things like Company Info, FAQs, and generally refining the information presented to the players who might be interested in the game.

Support Replied and made the change to "k2games" as the Link/URL of the webstore.

I know that I will need to do quite a bit of WORK on the shipping side of matters because there are a LOT of countries (one's I've never even heard about before!) and I need two (2) shipping classes: one for "Pre-Con" Micro Decks and one for the Singles Marketplace.

Basically with the "Pre-Con" you get 16 Cards for $25 USD plus shipping. That's one class and then there is the Singles Marketplace where the buyer may buy as a minimum of one (1) card with a fee for shipping. That's class two. They differ because for class two, the price to ship could be $15 USD PLUS $0.25 per additional card.

So you save some money with the "Pre-Con" Micro Decks on total price and of course there is a shipping savings too.

In my next post, I will talk about "Strategy" and the depth of strategy that is made available to the players of "Monster Keep" (MK).

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blog | by Dr. Radut