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Card Melee combat - both duel and minion slaughter

5 replies [Last post]
Joined: 04/13/2010

I've been trying to design a tactical and simple card game for use in melee combat. The basic goals are:
1. Fast gameplay - a player's turn should not take more than 15 seconds
2. Use miniatures on grid (positioning, movement, facing, terrain + look nice)
3. Should be interesting to play both in a duel situation and for slaugthering minions.
4. Player's have their own deck, which may be upgraded (rpg style)
5. Simple rules
6. No dice or at least very few rolls (to speed things up). There is still a random element in what cards you get on your hand...
7. Players draw 5 cards fro their deck and use these. New cards get to be drawn at different points.

It is really hard to fulfill these goal and the first version was at best "ok". My conclusions so far:
A. To open up for choices (a prerequisite for tactics) each card must be able to be used for several different things. Attack, move or defense? Possibly other things like if you first play this card you may play two attacks or draw three new cards etc.
B. To give information (another prerequisite for tactics) you see your own hand of cards that you can combine in different ways and play out. Your positioning and facing on the grid also matters for this decision.

Any advice on similar games out there for inspiration?
Any advice on the rule design? This has been a long search for the Holy Graal in our group...

Joined: 02/16/2010
An enticeing topic....

Hi friend

The holy grail? Well actually, that's rather nearly a perfect term for it! This happens to be a design concept that consumed me for well over two years. Let's take a look at what your trying to accomplish and what tactics can be used to ensure the process creates a professional product.

So my suggestion to you is that you do the unthinkable. I am well aware of how this is going to sound but I assure you the wisdom of this choice will reveal itself as you begin design. You need to NOT think about combat. Yep, ignore combat and instead consider what will quickly become your MOST important question....MOVEMENT!

Now I am well aware of how silly this may sound, however, I believe you have the opportunity to attack your problem uniquely and save yourself a TON of work. I spent the first year ignoring movement and I assure you much of the following year was invested into that concept alone. A mistake that resulted in sweeping changes to the remainder of my design including portions of work I had already considered "complete".

The kinds of questions you would want to answer about movement? In most miniatures games movement takes place only when approaching targets. In the case of even the most popular miniatures skirmish, movement is an afterthought, it's simply never addressed with the correct level of importance. As an example, in Mordhiem movement is used to either gain LOS to a target, engage a target, or evade a target. This kind of obvious ignorance when designing only serves to punctuate a fact players have been trying to escape since their first miniature; models are static and unmoving.

Why movement?

When we see two actors in a movie dueling, do they stand rigidly in one place? We want players to enjoy the clear theme here, combat. In response to this theme we should design for immersion. You, like all other war-game designers, no doubt wish your players to become hopelessly lost in game play. This will never happen so long as games perpetuate "candyland" style pawn movement. It is an archaic design method that should have been phased out of miniatures products long ago yet still remains and remains for good reason. Alternatives that are immersive, FAST, and of course tactically relevant are what you called a "holy grail".

Try to imagine things like...
Equilibrium: Gun Kata
The Matrix: Lobby Scene
The Last Samuri: End Battle

Here we see three very different takes on combat but in each instance they are strikingly similar when emphasizing the importance of movement and position in battle. In SUN-TZU tactical positioning is referred to as "Hsing". I assure you that a direct correlation between game play and Hsing will offer you a clear path to your "holy grail".

It certainly worked for me ..............:)


Squinshee's picture
Joined: 10/17/2012
I have found that giving each

I have found that giving each card multiple options overwhelming. The total amount of options jumps from 5 (equal to the number of cards in hand) to 15+. Figuring out the best combination of cards to player will certainly take longer than 15 seconds.

Joined: 04/08/2012

Just thought of this idea. Figure out a way to use the game mechanic of Final Fantasy: Tactics Ogre and bring it to the table top. But you will need to change the name to your card combat duel and minion slaughter. Not sure if this like Warhammer: 40k

Joined: 04/08/2012
How to go about this idea?

A table top mountain with a black grid. Have trees, trenches, boulders, grass for the characters to run around, on top of, and through. Even bridges over streams will look appealing to players and collectors. If you won't use this idea, I will. Lmbo. :)

Joined: 04/13/2010
Squinshee wrote:I have found

Squinshee wrote:
I have found that giving each card multiple options overwhelming. The total amount of options jumps from 5 (equal to the number of cards in hand) to 15+. Figuring out the best combination of cards to player will certainly take longer than 15 seconds.

Yup, it may be a problem to find the best combo in 15 sec, but that is exactly how I want it! I want the battle to feel stressful just like a real battle contrary to many RPG systems where each strike takes 2 minutes to conclude. If you don't act within 15 sec you miss your turn... Tough, but hey - combat is tough ;)
My though was that players may play up to three cards each turn. One movement, one attack and one special. All cards have all these categories so the player must choose what card is played for what purpose. Choices gives opportunities for tactics.
But you are right - it might be TOO many choices...gotta playtest.

I want real tactical choices where there isn't a given best card to play in all situations. I also want to avoid bluffing (rock-paper-scissors) since tjis is not the kind of "tactics" I want.

Thanks also Lofwyr - movement is a central part of this system. Small maneuvering to try to attack your opponent from the side is key.
Stormyknight1976 - yes, nice terrain is a must ;) and I might look into some computergames for inspiration.

Anyway, if people know of similar games from where I can get some inspiration, please give me a holler. Also, if anyone have ideas of what other categories besides attack and move that might be important in battle let me know. Thanks!

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