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Asking for opinions about the combat mechanic in a CCG

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: 01/19/2016

First some short description of the general concept of my game:

1. Each player controls a faction that represents a nation/civ/empire
2. There are five types of Influence resources that can be accumulated during the game: [POL]itical, [ECO]nomy, [SCI]ence, [CUL]ture and [MIL]itary
3. To perform an action a player must discard a [POL] token - this represents the ability of a more organized nation to perform more coordinated actions in a given timeframe
4. [ECO] is for paying for the cards, [SCI] is for drawing new cards, [CUL] is mainly for scoring VPs.
5. There is a little negative interaction on the cards but I envision [MIL] as a main resource for the negative interaction.

The idea I want to highlight in the game is that some factions are stronger yet less organized (think: Mongol Hordes) while some others may be weaker but more organized. Also I'd like the players to get involved in some kind of an "arms race" (similarly to "7 Wonders").

So the problem I'm having is how to handle the results of the military attacks. The concept of a military actions I currently have is the following but it doesn't really sound fun/easy/good enough:

1. A player must take an action (discard a [POL] token) in order to perform an attack (they can perform as many attacks as they want, provided they have enough [POL] tokens)
2. The number of [MIL] tokens represents the military potential of the nation (both offensive and defensive), therefore it only makes sense to attack if the opponent has fewer [MIL] tokens
3. A player performing an attack on a weaker opponent has up to X [MIL] tokens to spend (where X is the difference between their [MIL]itary Influences, i.e. number of [MIL] tokens they have)
4. There's a list of effects in the rulebook and the winning player can choose *ONE* of them after each successful attack. There are two "modes" of effects: first - cheaper - the defending player selects the target(s), second - more expensive - the attacking player selects the target(s):

discard a token [POL/ECO/SCI/CUL/MIL]: 2 for 1 MIL / 1 for 1 MIL
steal a token [POL/ECO/SCI/CUL/MIL]: 1 MIL / 2 MIL

E.g. by spending 1 [MIL] the attacker can force the defender to either discard any two tokens or one selected by the attacker; by spending 2 [MIL] tokens the attacker can steal a selected token

tap a card: 2 for 1 MIL / 1 for 1 MIL
"imprison" a card (tap and it doesn't untap in the next round): 1 MIL / 2 MIL
discard a card from hand: 2 MIL (chosen by the defender) / 3 MIL (chosen at random)
discard a card from play: X MIL (any card with the cost X+) / X MIL (any card with the cost X or less)

E.g. by spending 5 [MIL] the attacker can force the defender to choose and discard from play a card costing 5 or more; by spending 5 [MIL] the attacker can choose a card costing *up to* 5 and discard it from play.

So the advantage of such mechanic is that those "Mongol hordes" may as well break through all defences yet with only 1 or 2 [POL] tokens per turn they can't do too much damage. On the other hand a faction with 5+ [POL] tokens per turn can perform a series of weaker attacks (such as tapping a lot of cards).

The main disadvantage I see is that this is pretty much the only table I would have in the rulebook ;) and I'm worried that players (especially newbies) would have a hard time trying to memorize it, not to mention include it in their strategy (how much do they have to arm-up).

Can you think of a better way to present the military struggles in the game I described? Thanks in advance for all the insight!

Joined: 08/09/2008
Why military tokens?

Why are there military tokens at all? Why not just use the cards as military strength/defense and require that the attacker use a military effect that is printed on one of his cards? For a card game, there seem to be an awful lot of tokens.

Joined: 01/19/2016
Thank you for your input

Thank you for your input, it is much appreciated. I'll think about getting rid of [MIL] influence and using only the cards, although I have the feeling that there should be some built-in mechanic for negative interaction. Otherwise the games may become too "solitaire-like" (each player plays their own game trying to maximize the score). I do like Eurogames ;) but I think they don't mix up well with CCGs.

Regarding the tokens, they are placed on four sides on the faction card and the [CUL] tokens are placed on top of it. They are used to track the level of each Influence a given player has. I guess I could have some kind of a "influence level scoring track" instead and limit it to five tokens per player or use 5x 20-sided dice per player but the general idea would stay the same: user has X points of each Influence and they can generate and spend them during the game.

I didn't mention it earlier but the main way of getting more tokens is by using Character cards and their default actions. Each character is of one or more Influence type (e.g. a faction leader could be POL/MIL or POL/ECO), they also have "strength" (e.g. a leader would have strength = 3, while a regular guy would have strength = 1 or 2). Each Character card can, by default, tap to generate X tokens of any type they are, where X is their strength.

E.g. a faction leader POL/MIL, strength 3 can use an action and tap to generate either 3 [POL] or 3 [MIL].
There's actually a bit of inconsistency here as generating [POL] tokens nets X+1 tokens rather than X, otherwise it would make no sense to have a POL strength 1 character: they would use an action (spend 1 [POL] token to do so) and tap to generate 1 [POL] token. I can't think of a decent solution for this but that's another issue.

Moving back to [MIL] tokens. The whole idea of Influence levels originated from the concept of Shields in "7 Wonders" - as long as you have as many Shields as your neighbours, you're safe. I think it's a decent representation of how the military conflicts occur in the real life - only stronger nations invade weaker enemies (or multiple nations combine their forces as allies but that's another story). Also, I really want to keep the idea of "Mongol-like" attacks (really strong but only a few per turn) vs constant weaker "waves" of attacks. Obviously it doesn't make sense to have a fixed result of a successful attack as that would favor the "waves" hence the list of possible effects presented in my first post.

Perhaps I could narrow the list down to e.g. tapping the cards only? And add "extra" effects as special rules for factions? Like, one faction could kill Characters while another one could discard cards from opponent's hand?

Joined: 08/09/2008

I'm not sure if you understood my suggestion, so I'll provide some more detail. I'm not suggesting that players wouldn't be able to attack each other; I agree that this would feel too much like solitaire.

What I'm trying to suggest is that the values on the cards are used rather than tokens. For example, Magic the Gathering has some similar concepts in the game, but they use the cards directly rather than using tokens that are based on the cards (which kind of serves to make different 'flavors' of cards all feel like an identical commodity). For example lands in MtG are analogous to your ECO tokens, but the cards are simply used directly rather than generating tokens.

Taking this analogy a bit further, here is how I would envision attacks working without using tokens:

The attacker exhausts a card with a POL value, allowing him to perform that number of attacks. For each attack allowed, the attacking player assembles a number of attackers into one group and sends them toward the defender. The defending player chooses defenders to block this one group. As long as they block at all, the attacking group does not get through but likely the two groups do damage to each other. If the group goes unblocked, a penalty defined on one of the attacker cards takes place (or possibly the POL card defines the penalty instead). Key to this is that, unlike MtG, if the group is blocked, the ENTIRE group is blocked and no attackers in that group take effect. After resolving the number of attacks based on the POL card, the active player could exhaust another POL card and do it again. There are quite a few rule tweaks possible - one likely one is that all of the attacking groups from the POL card are sent at once and all blocking is chosen at once.

This still makes having POL important so you don't have to send all of your raiders in one group. Having many groups or many waves gives you a lot more options and makes blocking you much more difficult. However, it removes the need for keeping track of POL tokens (and hopefully MIL tokens as well) and uses the cards directly instead.

I could also see powers that take out specific attackers in order to try to get rid of particularly damaging effects.

I hope that makes things more clear.

Joined: 01/19/2016
Thank you

OK, I think I got the idea, thank you so much for your comment.

I'll see how that fits into the rest of the game rules but your post gave me some inspiration! :)

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