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random action deck mechanic

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Horatio252's picture
Joined: 03/13/2011

I've seen two prototype games use this mechanic and want your perspective. The one game I am thinking of primarily has you moving your pawns up several different tracks. You have 3 base movement plus the effect of a card. You have a hand of action cards of which you play one on your turn. The cards say things like "Move 2 pieces 3 spaces each" or "divide 6 moves across your pieces" or "the leader moves back 2 spaces" or "switch one of your pawns with another player's pawn". The cards are a bit more specific than that, but you get the gist. Their effect is much greater than the base movement and includes a variety of positive and take-that elements.

My reaction towards this game design is negative. First, I don't like take-that elements. I will gladly play direct conflict games, but I don't like occasional conflict games. Ignoring that though what I really want your feedback on is the use of action cards as the primary driver of the game. I don't like that. I like base movement to account for more like 75% of players movement and random card draws to account for closer to 25% or less. The game seem more like Candyland or Chutes and Ladders rather than a strategy game when it so dependent on card draws to determine what you can do or how far you can move.

I bring this up here because I wonder if my negativity represents a general truth of game design, or a personal preference. Is it a problem when card draws run the game instead of base actions or is it just a kind of game style?

Joined: 10/13/2011

Hi Horatio252,

This sounds like personal preference to me. If there are only resources available for one version of the game, I think I would develop both and let playtesters decide the outcome.

However, I would agree with you that games that are largely decided by chance will probably not find much audience in the serious gaming community.

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