Skip to Content

Battling the deck-building bug...

4 replies [Last post]
PierreNZ's picture
Joined: 10/01/2011

Hey gang!

So Dominion is still going strong, quite a few challengers are doing rather well, many critics are turning their noses up when they hear "deck builder"....

I must say I've completely fallen for the DB mechanic. I find it so very elegant in the ways it creates that feedback loop to regulate the runaway leader issue, how players start on an equal footing with basic/boring cards are free to develop their own strategies/combos/engines as the game progress or how it instill that little element of randomness (which shafted me soooo many times).... among other things.

But this is not about singing the praises of deck-building. Nope. It's about finding a way to beat this addiction. My last three designs can be classified as deck builders. They are all well into beta testing and I really enjoy the feedback i've received so far. The first one is definetely a "pure" deck builder but the other two are using the mechanic along with others.

Not a problem? Some great DB games have been released recently (I'm looking at you AFAOS) .... yet, I feel I'm boxing myself in a niche and, with the current trend of "Groans, not another deck builder" that seems to stain all games with a smidgen of the DB mechanic, I feel I should change tack and try something different. I got two more prototypes underway but while typing away (stream-of-consciousness style), they seem to organically call for DB as a core or important mechanic. Didn't mean for it to happen but it did. Seemed to fit thematically so perfectly it would have been silly to ignore it and try to shoehorn another mechanic.

Anyway.... (OMG has he got a point?!) ... I need to find something new (to me) so I'm asking for suggestions of some cool mechanic that i could sink my teeth in and ease up on the DB addiction. Knowing that I mainly design card games or strongly reliant on them, both for the ease with which you can prototype them and the many PoD services available (not quite easy to print big board out here in NZ than it seems to be in the states) so i can send something half decent to playtesting groups. Thanks for any suggestions.

I'm off to dig out that BGG list about "Mechanics that make you go WOW!" (or something to that effect)

Joined: 04/08/2011
Yes, you are boxing yourself

Yes, you are boxing yourself into a niche. But then so am I by avoiding cards in my game designs. Where card games are conserned I have to force myself to keep an open mind. After all, I persuaded a friend to get 7 wonders in an effort to get him into non-digital gaming. And he loves that game. I do not and never will. I'm just not that kind of gamer. But I am observant enough to know that it is a safe bet that many people will like card games. I think my strong dislike of card games started when I was first intoduced to Magic many years ago. The game just didn't make any sense. Plus it has an incredibly silly name and theme: magic.. isn't that the stuff Harry Snotter does? And the art on the cards was such that I remember having trouble looking at them, similar to how one would have trouble smelling in the sewers. Sorry, I guess I've also gone into stream-of-consciousness mode.

But you are looking for mechanics suggestions that would steer you away from card games for a change?
When designing a board game the major advantage you get is that you can provide players with more information to track with relatively more ease, especially positional information. Cards are better at hiding information, but there are many ways to still have hidden information in board games. This is in fact the reason why so many board games these days include various decks of cards.

Before I'd be able to collaborate on board game mechanics though, you'd need to provide a theme and broad brush game idea. I'm not into Euro style games where the theme is almost irrelevant and the mechanics is everything, sorry.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
If you want new ideas for

If you want new ideas for deck building games, take a look at Rune Age. It's an unconventional deck building game, and this is the reason why I prefer this one to the others.

The idea is that you build up an army to attack other players or fulfill objectives. During the process some units will die, which indirectly thin your deck.

Each player has his own set of cards he can recruit from which make each faction unique. There is also 4 different adventures with an event deck of it's own that creates 4 different gameplay (cooperative, competitive, elimination, etc).

There is a video tutorial made by the company on Board Game Geek that explains pretty well the game because the rules are not available.

In overall, the game is not about building up an econimic engine, or identifying powerful card combos.

Joined: 10/05/2009
Deck-Building is not the problem .....

Deck-Building is not the problem, the problem is the tendency of CCG's and TCG's to have random rare cards that is notably better than the existing common card.
If the randomness of rare and other cards are removed for when one get them, i find no problem in DeckBuilding.

So i wonder, why do you want to find an alternative to DeckBuilding?
On obvious alterative is of course pre-made decks ....

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Are we all talking about the

Are we all talking about the same deck building mechanics (non-collectible deck building games).

It could be true that deck building could be some sort of universal mechanic that could represent accurately almost any ideas. So that in the end, all game could become deck builders. It's a bit like quick time event for video games. Anything can be managed with a quick time event.

Personally, I think you should really want to use a deck building mechanics if you think that is the best mechanic for the game.

Else, you could ask your self what it the focus of deck building games: Flexibility, replayability, expandability. If your game does not focus on these elements, then don't use a deck building mechanic.

Syndicate content

forum | by Dr. Radut