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Card Game - Issues I've met [Wall of Text]

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Hiddius's picture
Joined: 11/14/2013

I've been working on my card game for quite a while now, and it's ever changing.
Each time I bring up my laptop to work over some of the mechanics that I've thought of during class and during gym etc,
gets their respected place in one of my several documents containing all my information.
I check up on the already existing work, and rework. And rework more.
- I never thought it would be this much of a hassle.

I don't want to clone an already existing game.
Memory issues is a hassle, as I don't want the players to always bring dices and such all the time.
Artwork is easy, as I have friends that are great artists. But I can't put them to work unless I'm clear with what I'm creating.

The game uses a set number of "Champions". No other "monsters" or stuff going on. Just your champions, battling it out.

The theme is set in a world with swords, magic, occult and technology. Overall setting is quite grim.

Five characters, just as DotA, HoN, LoL or any other MOBA game. You draft your characters before the game starts, with either your opponent having the first pick or you. Then pick a character until both have 5 characters.

There is 8 factions at the moment: Artificiers, "White", "Red", Demon, Dark, Elf, Nature and Dark Elf.
They all have different kind of playstyles, but all champions can be used together, and there is no faction limitation.
Why this works is explained in story. Won't go in to that yet, though, but it's important to me that it makes sense why a Dark Elf actually allies himself an "Wood Elf".

Each character has a passive ability, and other active abilities that you, as the player can use. Just as in a game of Pokemon, you attach "energy" to your characters each turn. But the difference here is that you always get to attach energy, as it is in an other pool of cards that both players can utilize.

The abilities costs different amount of energy, and the best abilities "release" the energy. All abilites either deal damage or does some other stuff, that helps you or cripples your opponent and his characters (The terminology here is Rival, not opponent)
And the goal of the game is simply to drop each rival character to 0 health.

Here, I face the memory issue I talked about earlier. Each character has a set number of health points, ranging from X to 20 maximum. Should I implement another kind of system, or have the players write it down/use dices?
The numbers are kept low, as when I played Yugioh, the massive numbers in that game only confused.
But you still have to keep track of 5 different health bars.

Each champion also has a set number of "Power" and "Arcana" (still thinking of what I should name it, but it is a statline for the Arcane power a champion wields, so Force would be wrong, and also Willpower would be wrong).
These numbers currently also shift alot, as there are some champions that increases their Arcana and Power. I haven't playtested yet, but I feels like there would be ALOT of dices stacked on each card, making the visual part of the game wierd.
If I included some kind of "spindowns" on the cards, it would be easy, but making the cards "clunky" and not that easily sold in a booster pack.

- Any ideas are super-welcome.

The game also uses several kinds of other cards. So far I've thought of Actions, Counter-Actions, Spells, Hex, Aura, Artefact and Follower. Though Artefact and follower is some new ideas I recently wrote down, I don't want to make it look like Legends of the Five Rings-ish.

As there are no "colors" as Magic: The Gathering has, I want all the cards to be used by all players, if they so will. The game still utilizes Deck Construction, and a sideboard containing 15 (at the moment) cards with the mainboard being either Between 40 or 60 minimun (not decided).
The difference here is that after both players have chosen their characters, they have a chance to sideboard even before the first match. This fixes the "these cards are really not good vs these characters" issue.

All these cards have no casting cost at the moment, except Spell cards, that needs spellcasters on the field to cast the spells (only a spellcaster can cast spells (duh) and only one spell per round, while still using other abilities several times, IF they have enough energy to do so).

All the other cards have other purposes, Auras enchants your champions, giving them different kinds of bonuses, hexes enchants your rival champions, and effectivly debuffing them.
Artefacts gives bonuses/abilities for the champions to use. Followes do their own kind of stuff, but still act with the champion. Counter-Actions require a condition before you can cast them, and Actions can be used freely.

- Ideas are welcome, as I don't want a system using "resources" for the cards in your hand. What you play with your cards in hand are simply "fate" happening. Well, sort of fate.

The actual gameplay is simple. Each turn you draw a card, even the person who starts, gets to draw a card. After he has drawn, he attaches 1 energy to a chosen character (or two, in the case of 5v5 battle, though to a different character). He can even attack if he wants to.
There are several steps in each step, but that's the general idea.

Then the round is over and it's the opponents turn to do the same.

- The starting players gets to draw, and attack, but with counter-attack (see below) there's a catch.) I'm fine with these rules.

Power and Arcana has (of course) uses. A character, when entering battle, can be put in "Offense" or "Defense". A character has to be offensive to use melee/ranged or some spells. But a character in defense "counter-attacks" when hit by melee attacks, according to the champions power.
In this way, melee are the strongest attacks, and cheapest, energy wise. But can be counter-attacked (unless otherwise noted). Spells and Ranged can't be counter-attacked.
Also, a character can only counter-attack once per turn (unless otherwise noted).

I want the whole game to "make sense". As I said in the beginning, having different factions fighting with each other has to be logical somewhere. And why "suddenly" your Spellcaster from the Dark faction get's a Blessing of the Phoenix (An Aura, inspired by the "Red" faction) cast on it. As a player, I don't want to go "Dude, this Rhino can't use shoes... (For all those whom played Magic the Gathering and Artefacts). All characters in this game is atleast Humanoid, but seeing a big evil demon running around with a small pair of shoes is still rediculous.
The game is to be serious, but still fun to play.
I want it to have the players to think, and not making mindless decisions as to "what to do/Cards to cast" etc.
A deep storyline (but I got that covered) and players to actually get affectionate with their champions, not just picking the ones that "are the best". Everyone needs to be good and pickable. Of course some are "better" in some situations than other, and having a team only with spellcasters can be kind of rough.

These rules makes sense to me, and I want to playtest it. But there's a long way there..

That's all I've got to share at the moment.

Joined: 10/09/2013
Dials? Dice? Player Boards?

I have three ideas, but you already thought of the first, dice. You can use different colored dice for each character, but that would be 25ish dice per side. The other option would be to use dials. You create a circular cardboard that you rotate and it shows only the current hp value, energy value, etc. This is STILL 25 dials. The other option would be to use player boards. I'm not certain how many players this game supports but I'll assume it's mano a mano.

So for the player board, you could go with option 1, which would be create a player board per character then give each one a track, kinda like a scoring track. Each different colored cube represents a different resource. This is a possiblity, but another one is to provide just two player boards with five separate tracks on them, one for each character. After that just follow the previous instructions.

Another thing that may be needed is to simplify your game and get rid of a couple of resources so that you can fit 2-3 dice on a card/dials.

Hiddius's picture
Joined: 11/14/2013
The problem I have with using

The problem I have with using boards (I've thought about it) or having some kind of "set-up" where you have your champions is that it makes the game sort of hard to move around. I want it to be able to be kept in a smaller container (like a magic card box), and simple to pick up and played.
It's a great idea, but makes it hard to carry around.

Alot of dices on the board also makes it hard. If some of those dices were to shift due to a table being pushed, you have to remember all the numbers anyway.

One idea is to have the characters printed with empty boxes, where you can write and erase as you will. This will though lead to alot of work from the players, and wears the cards alot.

I can always try to have the Power and Arcana numbers not shift as much as originally designed, but still having health to 20 and below, making a normal spin down D20 useful.

Joined: 10/09/2013
Not a Full on Board

Woah woah woah! I'm not suggesting a full on BOARD. I'm suggesting a player board. You can make it thinner so that it folds more easily and thus you can make its final size smaller. It still may be bigger than your asking though. If you do use a board, you wouldn't need dice either, you could use cubes instead.

Hiddius's picture
Joined: 11/14/2013
I still imagine it a bit

I still imagine it a bit chunky to carry around. And unfolding to play? I'd rather not.

I've managed to get a proper number on the amount of cards, and when I'm done with them I'm probably moving on to fixing this problem. But it still bothers me, as alot of ideas comes from acually increase/decrease in Power/Arcana.

As designers, what's your opinions about memory issues in card games?

zmobie's picture
Joined: 11/19/2008
Check out Mage Wars. That

Check out Mage Wars. That game has some similar pieces to what you are going for, is really successful, and would have lots of good little bits of inspiration for you. Mage Wars has a full on board, player boards, spell books and more, and it's players drag all that stuff around to each match. Remember, there are people out there who play miniatures games. People are willing to drag around giant suitcases full of crap in order to play a game.

Also, If you want a more elegant way to track life, try changing the mechanic altogether, how could you rewrite the game to feel the same but make each character have 3 life? I imagine you could have a damage threshold where you need to do X damage to a character in a turn in order to take away one of their 3 life points. That way you track less stuff over the course of the game.

Also, if you want players to get attached to certain characters, and play them regardless of their power level, I would advise against a draft format for the characters. If you can't be guaranteed to get the character you want, you aren't going to build decks for certain characters, but for general purposes, and you aren't going to become proficient with one or the other. Maybe I missed something in your wall of text, but you should definitely have at least a team leader or someone that you get to pick beforehand.

If you want an example of a game where players get attached to a faction, check out legend of the five rings ccg. Players in that game will play a Clan that is terrible competitively because of clan loyalty, which seems insane, but they have really nailed the storyline and asymmetric game design thing in that game.

Hiddius's picture
Joined: 11/14/2013
Mage Wars.. Interesting.

Mage Wars.. Interesting. Think I've seen some people playing it at a local gaming area around here.
Will look it up.

Yeah, I've played Legend of the 5 Rings. It was fun, and had great depth. But I'm not sure about locked factions.
With locked factions I would get such an easier job balancing the game, but I don't want to take away the possibility to use all the cards in the game. Gotta figure that out...

But this.. This spellbook from Mage Wars.. It intrigues me... Gotta think about that. Pretty awesome not needing to draw cards... hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

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