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My first game - DISCORD CCG

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Discord
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Joined: 12/31/1969

I thought I'd post a little introductory information on my “apprenticeship” CCG, called DISCORD, which I hope to finish soon so I can start work on STRIFE. I've included my basic design goals, and some of the changes I've made along the way, as I thought it might be interesting to others designing CCGs. Links to some sample images can be found below. Comments welcome! :)

Introduction

DISCORD was my first attempt at creating a CCG. Though completely stand-apart and fairly original(at least in parts), Magic: the Gathering was a large influence...one of the initial goals of the project was to include the possibility of “planeswalking” in the middle of battle...something that the MtG “world” contains but isn't present in the actual game. Also the fact that you, the player, couldn't naturally even do one measly damage back to a 1/1 attacking goblin bothered me.

The primary design goal was to create an original setting, and be personally responsible for 100% of the cards...card design, artwork, flavor-text, rules and mechanics, etc...not just the decision making but also the creation thereof.

Design Decisions

Wanting to create all the artwork myself was all very well, but unfortunately my talents don't include painting/sketching. Around the same time as I dreamed up the project, I had done a little digital manipulation on a photo I had taken, leading to quite a fantasy-looking picture. As a result, I decided I could manage to create artwork through the medium of photography and digital manipulation. All the photos used in the cards I have taken myself, and personally photo-manipulated.

Already having the name “Discord” for a MUD I had theorized earlier, I appropriated the name for the CCG, as a nice basic moniker for Conflict, the basic theme of most games. DISCORD also lent itself well to acronyms, for both the faction types(a la MtG “colors”) and Turn Phases.

Admiring MtG's 5-pointed star of natural enemies/alliances, I decided to go for 7 different factions, arranged as a hexagon with a central point connecting to all corners. This gave a direct opposite to each faction(except the central faction), and three neighbours to each faction(again, except for the center faction)

The factions, I decided, would all be various terrain types. I would have a color for each terrain as well, but that color would be merely representative and used in card design, never mentioned in the rules. Creatures would belong to their terrain type, not their color(in MtG terms, goblins are thus Mountain creatures, not Red creatures).

The terrain I decided upon, going clockwise around the hexagon, was Desert, Ocean, Ice, Dungeon, Copse, Summit...and back to Desert. The 7th Terrain, located between all these others, would be River. (Note that these form the first acronym of DISCORD).

I would change the positions on the hex approximately a month later, swapping Ice with Ocean. Though this put Desert and Ice as neighbours, this was explainable(Antarctica is a desert after all), and the new positions made for much better opposites. Desert's light remained opposite Dungeon's dark, Ocean's depths now faced Summit's heights, and Ice's chill barrenness opposed Copse's life-filled forests. River remained central, both ally and enemy to each other faction.

Terrain, and the Strategic Element

One thing I disliked about MtG is how (mostly)arbitrary the Lands are. There are only a few mechanics in the game(Landwalk, etc.) that would have been lost if Land cards had instead been basic Mana cards.

I wanted players to be able to hunt opponents down through the various Terrain cards. There should be differences as well in attacking an opponent on a Summit as one in a Dungeon. Something else that was rarely visible in MtG was the idea of building upon land. Farmstead is the only good example I can think of, though it was an enchantment. Ivory Tower was an artifact, and later buildings come preconstructed as a special land.

If players were to move, fight and interact with the game world, then they needed their own card. I decided on the concept of Avatars, certain roles that could be played. First one per Faction, but I've since increased that number to two thanks to finding a few more models to pose for me.

Terrain, I decided, would be placed one per turn, a la MtG, but as a Map. Avatars would start the game in play, then players would start creating a map around their Avatar. A Desert Avatar for example, would first place a Desert beneath their Avatar, then on subsequent turns be able to play a Terrain either north, east, south or west of any of their Terrains that was occupied by a friendly Unit.

Each player would then “build” their own map, which could be connected to any other players maps if you placed a terrain that could logically “fit” between the two maps. Mechanics for terrain placing are fairly simple, you can only place a terrain next to terrain of the same type. So, Deserts next to Deserts, etc...with Dual-lands allowing you to cross different Terrain.

There would of course be room around each neighbouring Terrain card, approximately half a card-width. This then gives you room to place Avatars(top-left), Structures(top-right), and other Units (bottom-left/right) on each Terrain without losing the cards underneath.

River was important for being both a newcomer setting-wise, and connected to every other terrain. I could immediately see that it needed to be a weaker faction, but with enough usefulness to encourage other factions to “splash” River in their decks. River would only have one Terrain of its own(with no special abilities), having primarily dual-lands.

Originally, there were only dual lands for allies and River. A Desert player would have to travel through either River, or Ice->Ocean, or Summit->Copse, to get to a Dungeon player. However, the most recent Design change has been to allow opposing dual lands, i.e. Dungeon/Desert. (I wasn't happy with the fact that I was essentially “forcing” players to splash River. There were ways to move from Dungeon to Desert without even joining maps(Stone Circles, etc), but these were preventable. I will quite likely make Allied dual-lands superior in some way to Enemy duals)

Terrain also needed abilities to differentiate from each other. Thus, Deserts became Harsh, Summits Advantageous, Oceans Impenetrable, and Dungeons Dark. For a long time Ice and Copse had no abilities of their own, but as each ability seeped somewhat into its allies, I felt it was balanced. Not so long ago I added the abilities Tranquil to Copse and Reflective to Ice. Harsh terrains essentially defend themselves, advantageous terrains gave you a bonus to attacking/defending, dark terrains allow you to hide your units until they come into the light or attack, etc. The abilities Foundation and Expanse I added as neutral abilities, each faction possessing them once(except River).

As this gave 4 different solo-Terrain cards for each Faction, along with 3(and later 6) dual-lands, I decided to also scrap the “Unlimited # of cards” that MtG has for basic lands. No lands are really basic in DISCORD, as solo-lands possess abilities(with the exception of the single solo-River), and dual-lands give you a choice of “mana”. So, limiting ALL cards to 4 maximum would allow for a greater variety of terrain.

Card/Concept Types

When you're trying to put rules text in a small box, I discovered it pays to have word-“types” as small as possible. Thus, having Terrain already, I decided Units would act as my Creatures. Units would have the subtypes Avatar, Minion, Familiar, Beast, Leviathan, and Elemental.

Structures would be able to be built on Terrain, and have the subtypes Wood, Stone, or Elemental(for enchantments).

Spells are currently called Channelling, which I'm going to shorten, either just to basic “spell” or another alternative. Spells can have the subtype Quick(like MtG instants).

Damage comes in the form of normal damage, harsh damage, and elemental damage. Desert-dwellers, for example, are immune to Harsh. The dryads of Copse are vulnerable to Elemental, etc.

Well...that's it for now. Though there's matters I've barely touched on....setting, drawing mana, combat, creature abilities, turn phases, etc., hopefully it gives a good first impression. I'm currently over half-way, though artwork-wise I'm almost finished.

Comments/Critiques/Questions welcome.

Discord

To finish, here are some sample cards. Ignore the casting costs, which will be the last thing I adjust once all cards are complete.







NetWolf
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Joined: 12/31/1969
My first game - DISCORD CCG

I hate to say it, but so far it just sounds like an overly complex M:tG knock-off. I like some of the ideas you have, but it still seems too much like Magic.

I like the idea that you build a map out of the land cards, but the setup sounds like it's going to take up a lot of space and it's going to cause problems when cards begin to get 'locked' into a space because it's surrounded by other cards.

I can appreciate the idea behind naming it Discord and then building an acronym-based land system, but don't get fenced in by it.

I would also watch out for the whole "Drawing mana from lands" concept. That may be too close to Magic for their liking.

Discord
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Joined: 12/31/1969
My first game - DISCORD CCG

NetWolf wrote:
I hate to say it, but so far it just sounds like an overly complex M:tG knock-off. I like some of the ideas you have, but it still seems too much like Magic.

I concur, except hopefully for the "overly complex" part. I've tried as much as possible for all the rules/mechanics to make sense and feel logical.

Yes, DISCORD is Magic-derivative...and I know it shows in places, most predominantly in how things are paid for. I've removed the tap mechanic, altered combat quite a lot even beyond having the strategy-map, etc., but the influence will always show.

I almost abandoned the project altogether once I began to envision STRIFE, but as I was almost half-way through DISCORD and had put a few months work into it, I decided it was best to forge ahead. I knew there would be lessons learned along the way, even beyond release, that would ultimately benefit me.

Being my "apprenticeship" game, I will also be releasing it for free. If I can get it finished in time, it might ship with the also-in-development OCTGN 2.0.

Quote:
I like the idea that you build a map out of the land cards, but the setup sounds like it's going to take up a lot of space and it's going to cause problems when cards begin to get 'locked' into a space because it's surrounded by other cards.

OCTGN 2.0 should handle the space problem with no problems, and it should still be workable for anyone who wants to print the cards to play with IRL.

Should also not be possible for a unit to get "locked" in a terrain, whether surrounded by friendly or enemy units.

Quote:
I would also watch out for the whole "Drawing mana from lands" concept. That may be too close to Magic for their liking.

Agreed. I don't actually call it that in the game, but that mechanic works perhaps most similar to MtG than any other. There's range considerations, draw points, etc. added, but otherwise yeah.

Discord

NetWolf
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Joined: 12/31/1969
My first game - DISCORD CCG

What if creatures had land-specific requirements? Each creature can potentially be surrounded by four types of land (If I read that correctly), so why not put requirements such as:

Red Dragon-
Requirements: 2 Mountains.
Restrictions: Cannot be near Ice.

Or something along those lines. That way it's more of a type of environmental requirement over a magical one.

Jpwoo
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Joined: 03/26/2009
My first game - DISCORD CCG

I appreciate the work that you have done in the artwork and the digital images give a distinctive kind of look.

I do wonder if you have playtested this yet. Playtesting at CCG is the biggest part of developing one. Not only do the mechanics of the games have to hold up, but every card should be tested for balance/usefulness as well.

Discord
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Joined: 12/31/1969
My first game - DISCORD CCG

NetWolf wrote:
What if creatures had land-specific requirements? Each creature can potentially be surrounded by four types of land (If I read that correctly), so why not put requirements such as:

Red Dragon-
Requirements: 2 Mountains.
Restrictions: Cannot be near Ice.

Or something along those lines. That way it's more of a type of environmental requirement over a magical one.

Hmmm...that would be one method of glossing over the "mana" requirements. Unfortunately, if I understand your idea right, this means I can either place all the units in my hand in one turn(if the necessary terrain to hold/call them is there), or set a restriction on the number of units i can place per turn(which would hinder the weenie factions).

Still...the first method might work. If I could somehow configure "spells" in the same way, then I no longer require mana symbols. Land cards become full of space for text, but units/spells might need an extra line or two with their "enviromental" requirements. Of course, I could use the current symbols to represent the enviromental requirements...which brings us back to where we started, except we've removed the "mana pool", as Terrains provide their resource constantly.

You've given me something to think about. Having a player empty an entire hand with only a few Terrains out might be a little drastic, but then it does speed up the game a little and differ from MtG somewhat more as well. Cheers.

Discord

Discord
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Joined: 12/31/1969
My first game - DISCORD CCG

Jpwoo wrote:
I appreciate the work that you have done in the artwork and the digital images give a distinctive kind of look.

Thanks...I've done virtually no digital art before this project, so I'm happy with most of the results.

Quote:
I do wonder if you have playtested this yet. Playtesting at CCG is the biggest part of developing one. Not only do the mechanics of the games have to hold up, but every card should be tested for balance/usefulness as well.

I've played some proxy games with the two most-complete factions, Ocean and Copse....both O/O, C/C and O/C. And yeah, definately learned a few things in the process. Also have a team of betatesters waiting in the wings for the complete package, so hopefully the beta release will get fairly-thoroughly worked through.

Thanks for the comments.

Discord

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