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Zones_Abstract Approach to my card game design

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: 12/12/2011

If you look at almost any card game, cards exist in zones and the game rules and card effects exist to move cards from one zone to another, while in doing so, progress players to a win condition.

Almost all card games have the following 4 zones. The deck, your hand, in play, and a discard pile.

I want to design a card game with a focus on these zones, but first I'd like to solidify the base mechanics.
For now, I’m going to remove the concept of ‘in play’ and ‘discard pile’ and just have zones 1, 2, & 3, as well as your hand, and your deck.
Every card would act differently based on which of these zones it occupies.

I’m trying to figure out how to accomplish this without making every card extremely complicated.

One idea I had was to use stat numbers and colors which change based on which zone the card is in. Your cumulative total of each stat and color would influence the game in different ways. i.e. That card with 5-Red in zone 1 gets switched to zone 2, and now has 3-Blue.

Another idea is that every zone is used for a specific role, and so when a card changes zones, its role changes. Cards could be more effective in one zone over another. For example, these zones could represent Active, Passive, and Resources.

Lastly, for now, each card could just have an effect based on which zone it is in. These effects could be a one-time thing on entry to a zone, or continuous while in that zone.

I could use a combination of the above ideas as well, but it could quickly grow too complicated.

My other challenge is determining how to achieve a win condition. I want to somehow make zone management relevant, one way i can see for that is to incorporate the stat number/colors into the win condition resolution. However, if I make good use special abilities and make certain zones more pivotal to winning than others, zone management inevitably becomes a priority.

Would you please brainstorm with me?

Joined: 12/02/2012
When you say that cards have

When you say that cards have different values or abilities depending on what zone they are in, do you mean, for instance, that a card might be worth 5 points if it's in the discard pile, but 8 points if it's in your hand? I'm just getting confused by the way you are referring to Zones. I was following you at the beginning when you said zones equal places for the cards, i.e. discard pile, draw deck, hand - those are all different zones. Is this correct so far?

If I'm am reading this correctly, my question to you would be: don't most card games already do this, except that, for the most part, the value/usability of a card in the draw deck is essentially 0, and changes value/usability when it enters your hand? And then, when it goes to the discard pile, it's value and usability return to 0 again. So in essence, you're saying you'd like to see some mechanic whereby when the card is in the draw deck, it does have some value or usability, however that changes when it enters your hand, and changes again to a third value/usability state when it enters the discard pile?

Joined: 12/12/2011
I think we're on the same

I think we're on the same page.
I'm planning to keep only the draw deck and hand as zones while introducing three arbitrarily named zones. I'll call them the red zone, the blue zone, and the green zone from now on, instead of 1, 2, & 3.

So I'm looking at 5 zones in total.
no discard pile per normal card games.

Your second paragraph sums up the concept I was trying to point at. I just want this change of zones to be more interesting than 0, to something, to 0 again. While, yes, in the draw deck a card can't really do anything, and in your hand it provides potential. Once a card is in play, things may manipulate it around the zones.

For a card example to convey this idea...

Ruby Robot
Red Zone- provides 2 offense points
Blue Zone- Provides 1 defensive point
Green Zone- Inert

So for the ruby robot, if a card put it into your green zone, it would effectively be the same as if a card had 'discarded' it from play. But take the below example...

Green Tree
Red Zone- Inert
Blue Zone- Heal 1 each turn
Green Zone- provides 3 defense points

The Green tree is actually best in the Green zone, so moving it there would only help while moving it to the red zone would be effectively similar to 'discarding' it.

There'd be a lot of room for multipurpose cards. For example...

An effect that moves any card from a player's blue or red zone to their green zone. This could be used to make a card like Ruby Robot worthless, or be used on a card like Green Tree to bolster your defenses.

the names and keywords I used above are purely for explanatory purposes. I don't eve know if I'll be using an offense/defense system.

Joined: 12/02/2012
I got it. And I like it! One

I got it. And I like it! One thought on how a card in the draw pile could still have an effect (thus making the draw pile a viable Zone) would be to maybe always have the top card of the draw deck face up on top of the deck, so that it can offer some sort of special benefit. Maybe it gives the whole table an effect, however once someone draws it, it no longer provides that "in-the-draw-deck-zone effect". that way, the person drawing has to weigh the benefit of the effect it is giving them 9along with the rest of the table) versus the benefit the effect will give just that player, were they to draw it (and also taking into account removing the benefit it's giving the table).

Either way, I think your idea is top notch.

Joined: 12/12/2011
Thank you! I had that same

Thank you!

I had that same idea! about keeping the top card of each player's deck revealed, however one of my favorite aspects of card games is the limited information each player has by not knowing what cards their opponent/s have in hand.
I could potentially achieve both by doing something similar to ticket to ride and how their train cards work.
You would have the top 3-4 cards revealed and you could either draw from one of those cards, or draw straight from the deck. I think this may over complicate things, especially at this stage of the design, but I like the idea for sure.

Now I just need to brainstorm how to actually add competition between players and a win condition.

Any thoughts?

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