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Player Interaction in Deck Building Games

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Kamon
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Hello, all! Something I've noticed in deck building games is the general lack of player interaction. Would it be possible to create a deck building version of Magic: the Gathering? I've been trying to figure this out in my head and it sounds like it's difficult to do, so maybe that's why it hasn't been done before. Let me know what you guys think!

Note: I'm not trying to re-create Magic in the form of a deck builder. I'm simply wondering if heavy player interaction is possible using this style of gaming.

questccg
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Kamon wrote:
Would it be possible to create a deck building version of Magic: the Gathering?

Well one thing for certain, my game is FAR from MtG... But I can tell you this:

  • My game IS a Deck-Building Game (DBG).
  • It is NOT Fantasy, it is Sci-Fi.
  • One source of inspiration was Magic, namely the concept of Creatures.

So instead of having *Creatures* like Magic, my game allows players to BUILD/CONFIGURE Starships. There are over 500 unique combinations a player can design. And like in Magic, they serve as a way to attack or defend...

Basically it's like having 500 creatures in your deck... But you need to build your deck and they are Starships instead! ;)

But my game has much more like Scenarios/Objectives, player Roles (7 distinct roles) and of course two (2) distinct types of Starships: one for Space Battles, the other for Trade missions.

Unlike Magic, my game focuses heavily on Space Battles combined with game Scenarios. These objectives make for different styles of play because they are very different from one another. So there are different ways to play the game...

Kamon
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That sounds pretty

That sounds pretty interesting. How exactly are the players attacking one another? Are they comparing values or rolling dice?

questccg
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Variation

Instead of using Magic double-attack (where the defending unit matches it's stats against his opponent) I am using a method which I call "Initiative". So the attacker declares WHICH starships will attack AND which opponent he is targeting...

Normally in Magic this is a NO-NO. The defender *declares* his defensive forces...

But "Initiative" allows for the defending player to *out manoeuvre*/*counter attack* his opponent. All combat is STAT based and you obviously *configure* both the Resistance (Defence) and Firepower (Offence) of a Starship.

Note: "Initiative" is dice-based and is in the favour of the defender... So *counter attacks* will happen and then it's the defending player who decides which starships battle it out! Being the "aggressor" is like a double-edged sword... You need to take risks in order to destroy your opponent...

Note 2: This method allows the attacking player to *gang-up* on one defender (for example). But with the "Initiative", the defender can say "Fnck You A-hole, my 3 ships will now counter your strongest starship!" Fun stuff like that! :D

questccg
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Ah the Casual gamer!

Kamon wrote:
Note: I'm not trying to re-create Magic in the form of a deck builder. I'm simply wondering if heavy player interaction is possible using this style of gaming.

Neither am I... But in an earlier version of the game, I did have "Take-That" Instant cards as part of the game. But when I playtested with Casual gamers, they were like "what is that pile to be used for?" (Obviously at the very end of the game). So I realized although they were kinda cool cards that could maybe help you out of a jam... I decided to rid myself of 15 cards! Less artwork and less clutter in the play area.

My counter-proposal to this was that each Starship have a *Special Ability*. And with abilities come deplete times... They pretty much work like the *instant* cards without actually needing MORE cards. And they can help a player out if he or she is in a jam...

Again during my last playtest, Casual gamers only realized after the game that there were abilities they could use, go figure! :P

Kamon
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It seems like you've out a

It seems like you've out a lot of thought into your game! It all sounds pretty unique.

What other ways could players interact with one another? Anyone else?

baberahamlincoln
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Just a brain dump Seems like

Just a brain dump

Seems like anything outside of two players just building up their own decks without interruption would increase the level of interaction.

Add cards to your opponent's deck (so, being able to buy garbage cards for your opponent)
Remove cards from your opponent's deck (taking away something they want)
Swap cards with your opponent's deck (impacting their effectiveness / strategy)

Apply restrictions or penalties on actions taken by opponents (draw fewer cards, prevent adding new cards, limit effectiveness of certain cards / actions)

Build in mechanics where certain cards are competed for by different players. Dominion is based around this I supposed, with some variants that I've seen (such as limited card pools or the fancy knights). Instead of just limiting the pool of cards available, this same idea could apply to something where players can 'block' other players from getting a certain card, or having to pay extra / discard a card to get something. Like, putting a card from your hand on top of a stack of cards that can be bought, and players having to pay to remove the top card before they can access the rest.

For me, higher levels of interaction often stem from simultaneous turns (where players can act / react), or having some elements persist between turns (where there is some effect or something that carries on during opponents turns, to which they may need to react to). Immediate effects on your own turn can lead to interaction, but can be minimized unless the opponent can react in some way (like, playing a block or counter card)

questccg
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More player interaction

baberahamlincoln wrote:
For me, higher levels of interaction often stem from simultaneous turns (where players can act / react), or having some elements persist between turns (where there is some effect or something that carries on during opponents turns, to which they may need to react to). Immediate effects on your own turn can lead to interaction, but can be minimized unless the opponent can react in some way (like, playing a block or counter card)

One indirect form of *interaction* between player is the use of the "Chancellor" Role. This role allows players to negotiate some form of diplomatic treaty. This is intentionally left vague, so player can come up with their own diplomatic terms. So players can choose their "ground" rules - such as players need to obey the terms of the diplomatic treaty. If it's not stated, then I assume some players may break the terms of the treaty (which makes them *treacherous* players). Again what that means and the outcome of it, depends on the players. For example in a four (4) player game, if one player breaks the terms of a treaty, the other three may decide to gang up on him - as a form of punishment, etc.

The other form of *direct interaction* is like the "Militia card" in Dominion, a player may elect to use the "Soldier" role and force any player to discard 2 cards from his hand.

As far as the other suggestions (Add cards, Remove cards or Swap cards), depending on the game that *might* work.

Adding cards is just a bonus, because all cards have a purpose - and a player may elect to *recycle* cards at any time (remove them from his deck).

Removing cards might be of interest. So let's say someone has a Weapon with a Firepower of 5: most powerful and dangerous weapon. You may want to have some mechanic by which this card may be removed from the deck... That's something to think about...

Swapping cards doesn't work and that is because players do *mix* their cards. Each player has his deck/pool of cards (which is identical) but the cards are never mixed together.

So I guess one of the most interesting *mechanics* is the use of the *Chancellor* role because it is very vague and therefore very flexible (players can invent their own rules in this regard).

questccg
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"Soldier" role

I just wanted to add a *small* detail about the "Soldier" role. It may seem irrelevant in most situations like: "Why would you want a player to discard two (2) cards?"

Well one situation to be watched for is when a player uses the "Monarch" role and draws +2 cards. So his hand goes from five (5) cards to seven (7). Now there can be a *danger* with having a player with seven (7) cards. A player could use the "Fleet Admiral" role on his NEXT turn and deploy two (2) starships in one turn.

Using the "Soldier" role would force a player to discard two (2) cards, making the above scenario not possible.

It may seem a little bit like *paranoia* but I'm sure *hardcore* gamers will be able to identifying with this... Going from one (1) starship to three (3) on one turn could be perceived as dangerous for an opponent with say one (1) starship. Reasons? Well a player can use two (2) to attack and destroy an opponent's starship and then use his remaining starship to do damage to the player's Homeworld (as an example).

Squinshee
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Puzzle Strike is a highly

Puzzle Strike is a highly competitive deck building game with tons of player interaction. You should check it out.

Squinshee
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Puzzle Strike is a highly

Puzzle Strike is a highly competitive deck building game with tons of player interaction. You should check it out.

gdhvence
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just some thoughts

I am also trying to design a card game recently.. called High Bidder... the back design is very much economic system of demand and supply. Where players are to bid for cards in the centre to build their own deck. So i sort of add on a negotiation round to the game by allowing players to throw in cards to add on to the bid ( sort of like get rid of cards or give cards that is of no value to lure/force the opponent to accept the negotiation ). I think that can increase the interaction and also test on the decision making style of each player.

Do you think this will work?

Vence

jvallerand
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Joined: 10/12/2013
Just one thing I'd like to

Just one thing I'd like to point out: while many games that use it make it the main focus, deck building is a mechanic. Of course you can build a game with Deck-Building and player interaction, or with DB and auctions, or with DB and area control, or DB and worker placement.

That being said, yes, a game that works like M:tG with deck building could exist.

Some examples of games with deck-building and player interaction (at least, more than Dominion/Ascension):
- Rune Age;
- A Few Acres of Snow;
- Blood Bowl: Team Manager;
- Nightfall.

gdhvence
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Thank you for the additional games list

Thank you for listing out some deck building games. Will look at it for reference and experience.

Vence

BENagy
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I'm creating a deckbuilding

I'm creating a deckbuilding game. I also have found that most deckbuilding games have little to no interactivity. In my game, I solved that problem by having each player build their own "good guy" deck on their turn, and use the communal "bad guy" deck on their opponent's turn. Everyone uses the same "bad guy" deck, and the purchasing is extremely simple, so people focus on their "good guy" deck, but still use quite a bit of strategy with the "bad guy" deck to stop other players.

And also, for your edification, here were a few other games I looked at when I was researching for my deckbuilding game:
Thunderstone
Rune Age
Dominion
Nightfall
Heroes of Graxia
Artic Scavengers
Evolution Earth: Cataclysm
Resident Evil Deckbuilding Game
Eminent Domain
Arcana
Core Worlds
Fantastiqa
Legendary
Friday
For the Crown
Trains
Quarriors
Copy Cat
Puzzle Strike
Mage Knight
A Few Acres of Snow
Shadowrift
Mage wars
Assault on Galactus Prime
LotR Deckbuilding
Galactic Strike Force
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game
High Command: War Machine
Star Realms
Star Trek Deckbuilding Game
Tanto Cuore

Note: Some of these are famously GOOD games, so they made the list, others are notoriously BAD games, so I wanted to learn also what not to do.

Kamon
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BENagy wrote:I'm creating a

BENagy wrote:
I'm creating a deckbuilding game. I also have found that most deckbuilding games have little to no interactivity. In my game, I solved that problem by having each player build their own "good guy" deck on their turn, and use the communal "bad guy" deck on their opponent's turn. Everyone uses the same "bad guy" deck, and the purchasing is extremely simple, so people focus on their "good guy" deck, but still use quite a bit of strategy with the "bad guy" deck to stop other players.

And also, for your edification, here were a few other games I looked at when I was researching for my deckbuilding game:
Thunderstone
Rune Age
Dominion
Nightfall
Heroes of Graxia
Artic Scavengers
Evolution Earth: Cataclysm
Resident Evil Deckbuilding Game
Eminent Domain
Arcana
Core Worlds
Fantastiqa
Legendary
Friday
For the Crown
Trains
Quarriors
Copy Cat
Puzzle Strike
Mage Knight
A Few Acres of Snow
Shadowrift
Mage wars
Assault on Galactus Prime
LotR Deckbuilding
Galactic Strike Force
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game
High Command: War Machine
Star Realms
Star Trek Deckbuilding Game
Tanto Cuore

Note: Some of these are famously GOOD games, so they made the list, others are notoriously BAD games, so I wanted to learn also what not to do.

Specifically, what did you learn not to do?

Also, in your opinion, what qualities from the "good" games made them great?

ReneWiersma
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There are some mechanics that

There are some mechanics that encourage interaction by their very nature: negotiation, area-majority and auction mechanics come to mind. Then there are mechanics which are interaction neutral, such as die rolling and deck building.

There's no reason why a deck building game couldn't be interactive, just as a game with die rolling game be interactive. It all depends on how you implement it.

Shoe
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I run a MTG variant formats

I run a MTG variant formats website.

I came up with a MTG variant based on Dominion. It works pretty well, but it requires a known-balanced cardpool.

http://www.wooberg.net/dominion-magic.html

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