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Combat Cards and Leveling Up - opinions desired

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PaulG
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Joined: 07/21/2012

Hi everyone!

I've been working on one of my games for a long time, and every version is getting cleaner and more professional. I recently took a big step back and effectively mentally restarted design so that I would avoid status quo bias, and everything is awesome, except.. There's one rule I can't quite figure out.

I'll avoid going to deeply into it, but combat in the game is fairly simple. Each player plays a combat card, higher number wins. Certain cards give other bonuses as well as a number. Think Kemet, or Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation.

Now all of this is fine and dandy, the issue comes with leveling up. Throughout the game, you're leveling up an elemental, which is the source of your attack cards. As you leveled, you traded old, untyped combat cards for new, shiny ones of the element you're leveling into. This created several issues.

So, I'm trying to decide between 3 separate ideas to replace it. In all cases, combat "cards" are likely being replaced with combat tokens - things that look similar to Puzzle Strike's tokens.

Idea #1: The Simple One. At the beginning of the game, you receive a set of four tokens based on your elemental. It stays the same as you level. When they run out, you get them all back.

Idea #2: The Complex One. You start the game with two sets - the number set and the effect set. The numbers are the same between every element, but the effect cards are not. You begin with less than four effect tokens (likely two), but four number tokens. Play one of each in combat. When you run out of either set, take all of that set back. When you level, take a new effect token of the element you're leveling into.

Idea #3: The Medium One. You start the game with four number tokens. You start with two effect tokens and a blank effect token. When you level, gain a new effect token. Whenever you use a non-blank effect token, it's used permanently.

Which of these ideas make sense? Is there any way to blur them together?

Thanks a lot for your input!

kpres
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Joined: 04/20/2013
#2

I kind of like the complex one. It reminds me of the way attack cards are used in A Game of Thrones: the Board Game.

In AGoT:tBG, when you attack a territory with your army, you add up combat points from a variety of sources: the army, any supporting armies, your iron sword (if you have it), and your attack card. Attack cards are chosen secretly and simultaneously and revealed at the same time. The attack card's value is added to the total score, and any effects from it are accounted for. Once used, an attack card is discarded. When you use up your last attack card, you take all of your discarded attack cards back into your hand except for the last one. Just like your game, the higher score wins the battle. This extra bit of unknown information adds a bit of intrigue to combat.

There's a mix of known and unknown information, such as the current battle score for each side and the cards that have already been used. It's a fun mechanic. Unfortunately, the game is full of complex mechanics that pose an enormous barrier to entry for new players.

mxuereb
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Joined: 01/31/2009
Idea #2

I like idea#2 but I would consider swapping a token for an new shinny token with a new effect or better number value. Adding additional tokens ensures the players tokens will take longer to refresh, in effect penalising them for having more tokens, I would perfer the same number of tokens but improving them as you level.
For example when the player levels they could swap a number 1 token for an effect token or upgrade it to a two token. They still refresh as often as before but have better tokens and there is an element of customisation (upgrading numbers or adding new effects)

PaulG
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Joined: 07/21/2012
The problem with that is that

The problem with that is that there are an extremely limited number of combats in the game - anywhere from 3 to 10. Unlike the Game of Thrones one, there are few modifiers - it's largely just the combat card, plus any bonus power you've gotten.

I'll definitely look into the GoT game, and maybe I'll find a way for swapping to work. The big issue with swapping, though, is that it ends up being awkward and there is a lot of moving things around, as well as some issues with "well, what if I want to swap one I already used?"

I found the game had far too many components and wasn't nearly ergonomic enough, and #3 is actually my favourite as the designer, but I don't know how I'd feel as a player.

Thanks,
Paul

Orangebeard
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Joined: 10/13/2011
Base > Advanced Tokens

If combat is infrequent, then you can probably get away with a simpler system without offending the players; playtesting will show for certain though...

What about a system in which you have 4 basic elemental tokens and as you level up, you can swap one basic token for a more advanced token; when all 4 are played, you get them all back. In this system, you only ever have 4 tokens, but a higher level elemental will have more powerful tokens.

Sounds fun...good luck with your development!

Zodiak Team
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Joined: 09/09/2012
I like the idea of your game

I like the idea of your game and I don't think you need such a complicated rule. I think adding all these tokens and what not will take away from the game's simplicity and flow.

I too struggled with a leveling mechanic in my game Zodiak Legends but I figured it out using a simple Experience Points mechanic. In ZL you build up XP by successfully playing cards and later on you can remove those cards from the game to level up your Monster/character as long as the XP you built up is equal to or greater then the required "Level Condition" on that said Monster.

In your game you can easily use this same mechanic!

If each card has a value then allow those values to be added up as you successfully play cards. As long as these combat cards are played successfully (without interuption by your opponent) they can be added to a pool until you're able to level up your Character. Then simply send the cards to the dicard to show they've been used or back to the deck.

This mechanic is a tweeked version of "Fortitude" seen in the old wrestling card game "Raw Deal" so if you'd like to learn more about it you can email me at DevTeam@ZodiakUniverse.com or look up how to play Raw Deal.

I hope this helps!

PaulG
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Joined: 07/21/2012
There some issues with 4 and

There some issues with 4 and replacing when levelling are several - but largely, it makes the game feel sloppy.

If you've ever played Shadowrift, you'll have some idea what I mean - fun game, but everything is just kind of always flying around the table haphazardly. Trading means you lose lower levels, which means more components moving, and two people can level into the same element and finding a way to choose who chooses first is hard. Also, what happens if you want to replace a combat card you've already used? To the discard, or into hand? To the discard seems the obvious one, but now we're talking about a whole new level of micromanagement.

If I'm only using one set, I don't think I'll make it change as you level. Levelling already gives permanent bonuses, I'll also make it give +1 Power each time you level. Seems like a fair way to go about it.

I couldn't find a rulebook for Raw Deal :(

Another issue is that the game is a basic deck-builder game where you choose which card you want to buy simultaneously, then fight over it if two go to the same spot... So I don't have many mechanics to make combat cards more interesting. I loved Kemet's system of cards having 3 numbers, but I can't think of any way to make that happen without making elementals have life - which complicates things significantly. May be worth testing, though... A common question I hear is "can our Elementals die?" to which my response is always no. That would be impossible to implement, but maybe something of a tiered damage system... Yet, now it's getting too complicated without enough gain.

Hm. I wonder what sort of other numbers I can stick on tokens/cards so that the cards aren't just "1 < 3 < 5 < 7"?

PaulG
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Joined: 07/21/2012
Actually, I would like

Actually, I would like another opinion on this matter.

Given what my game is, it seems like it would work very well with combat against monsters (ie, not other players). My issue here is whether or not using combat cards for both player and nonplayer combat can work.

Does anyone have any thoughts? There are several ways to do it, but largely, there would be different monsters to fight each turn for different bonuses. The two major ways I've looked at are:

a) Each player plays a combat card against the NPC. It takes a minimum amount to beat it and get a bonus, and the highest number gets a larger bonus based on the monster.

b) Each player plays a combat card against the NPC. Those that beat it get the reward. Almost beating it gives a lesser reward, and hurts you. Failing entirely just hurts.

The two can also be combined.

How do people feel about mixing the bidding mechanic with a way to get points from monsters? It seems monster strengths would be very hard to choose, as well.

Stormyknight1976
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Joined: 04/08/2012
You could do this,

Add monster strengths on a tree ranking sheet for different monsters and have experience points to each monster strength and skill? This will make the players think for tactical and strategical advancements. Use tokens to purchase strengths?

Leadpipe
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Joined: 08/09/2008
Deckbuilder? why not use cards?

Since you've said this was a deckbuilder, why implement tokens when you already have cards? Especially if the idea is primarily to place numbers on the tokens, which could easily be added on the cards. In addition, combat choices would create more interesting choices if players might have to discard critical cards in order to use the high combat numbers.

PaulG
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The main cards being the

As far as a tree of things to fight, that actually sounds quite cool, but may reduce variance significantly. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. I'll think more on it. One major idea I've wanted forever is a "last boss" type mechanic, and that the game can be ended by using an absurd amount of power to defeat a Dragon (or Lich, or any other fantasy epic monster)... The tree actually works pretty well for that, though so does digging through a stack of cards.

The main cards being the combat was an idea that's been sitting in my head for as long as I've been playtesting the game - but there are two main reasons I'm avoiding it.

1) Seeing as it's a currency based deckbuilder, having to save some cards in hand for combat would be quite confusing, as well as throw off the pacing of the game quite a bit. Also, what would happen if you have no cards in hand? You could play the top card of your deck, but then it's almost pure luck.

2) The important one - I want combat to be a long term investment. One thing about the game that makes it feel different from Dominion or Ascension is that you have long term currencies. Each turn is not an independent thing, you have combat cards that last all game and instead of using actions, you have mana that lasts until you use it.

Leadpipe
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Joined: 08/09/2008
PaulG wrote:As far as a tree

PaulG wrote:
As far as a tree of things to fight, that actually sounds quite cool, but may reduce variance significantly. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. I'll think more on it. One major idea I've wanted forever is a "last boss" type mechanic, and that the game can be ended by using an absurd amount of power to defeat a Dragon (or Lich, or any other fantasy epic monster)... The tree actually works pretty well for that, though so does digging through a stack of cards.

How about a stack of cards that simulates a tree?

A monster deck is shuffled at the beginning of the game and whenever a monster is needed one is turned over. Each monster has stats (for combat) and a color. When monsters are defeated they go into the discard. If not defeated, they would go to the bottom of the deck or out of the game. Tougher monsters have requirements before they will come into play that relate to how many monsters are already in the discard pile. i.e. the Ogre only comes out if 3 red monsters are already in the discard pile, 7 red for the dragon, 6 blue for the lich. The major boss monsters end the game if they are defeated. Some monsters could be multi-colored and fulfill more than one requirement. This way you have a rough tree structure, but still the variability of drawing from a deck and it creates a power curve that saves tougher monster for later (though you still might get an easy one).

PaulG
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Joined: 07/21/2012
What if you draw a card that

What if you draw a card that there aren't enough symbols for?

Leadpipe
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Joined: 08/09/2008
PaulG wrote:What if you draw

PaulG wrote:
What if you draw a card that there aren't enough symbols for?

You would return it to the bottom of the deck, or shuffle it in, or remove it depending on what works best for your game. I would usually think bottom of the deck.

PaulG
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Joined: 07/21/2012
While I do like the idea

While I do like the idea quite a bit, unfortunately it makes for a game with a lot of moving cards around. I think possibly too much, seeing as I already think I'm just barely at the limit.

Keeping things ergonomic is hard.

PaulG
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Joined: 07/21/2012
New Option #4: You have four

New Option #4:

You have four combat tokens: 1, 3, 5, 7. When you level, you can get an Elemental token that improves one (or more) of your tokens. It goes face up in front of you.

For example, the fire token Combustion makes your 3 and 5 each burn a card from your discard pile when you play them. The Wildfire token gives +1 power to your 7, but makes you gain a Flux. (Burn = Trash, Flux ~= Curse)

Thoughts?

Stormyknight1976
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Joined: 04/08/2012
New option #4

I like it. I think this feature will work? Its like spin the luck wheel. Or is it a gamble wheel. Anyways. The outcome of the draw is interesting to see what the element will be combined into.

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