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Cooperative Deck Building Game Concept

6 replies [Last post]
Joined: 09/27/2014

Hi Everyone,

Lately I have been contemplating a concept for a potential game. I just wanted to run it by you guys to see what you all thought of it, and to gather your feedback on how it could be altered and improved. Also, I realize that this is in the very early stages of a concept, so there is definitely a lot of room for growth and improvement. I am aware that the description of the game is quite long, so any feedback at all would be greatly appreciated.

====================The Game====================

This is the game outline that I wrote:

In short, the proposed game is a cooperative deck building game in which players work together to fight randomly generated boss like enemies.

=============Game Objective=============

The objective of the game is for the players to build their deck up with various cards that can be purchased during the game and use their purchased cards and abilities to work together to take out a boss enemy that was randomly generated at the beginning of the game. The enemy will fight back and deal detriments to the players' decks, as well as directly to the players' characters. Both the enemy and the players will have a life total. Once that life total reaches zero, it will mark the end of the game.

If you build your deck incorrectly it will be too slow to take out the enemy, but if you try to kill the enemy to quickly, you might fall short and fail. It is your job to find the perfect balance in your deck in order to become victorious. Will the players be able to overcome the mighty enemy in time, or will it become enraged and wipe them out in a single final blow?


Step 1 – Choosing the Player Decks

The game will include a variety of different “player decks” that can be used for each play through. Each game, a unique set of ten different player decks is used. Each of theses player decks will contain about 10 cards that have a specific action and or attack abilities. The players throughout the game can purchase these cards in order to build their decks. These decks can be either randomly chosen or can be picked by the players to create a specific player experience.

Different examples of cards that could make-up the player decks could include cards such as:

  • Cards that give you extra actions

  • Cards that give you extra purchases

  • Cards that let you draw cards

  • Cards that give you extra currency

  • Cards that let players look at cards at the top of the “Enemy Attack Deck” and rearrange them.

  • Cards that let you set aside a card from your hand, and put it in your hand at the beginning of the next turn.

  • Cards that prevent the enemy from attacking next turn

Step 2 – Prepare starting hands/board

The selected player decks will be placed in the play area along with 3 separate currency decks each of a different value (e.g. $1, $2, $3).

There will also be one face down “mystery deck”. All the cards in this deck will cost the same amount. They will include a wide range of cards. Many of these cards will be ones with little use that will primarily slow down a player’s deck. However, it will also include a very small amount of very strong valuable cards that will have effects such as dealing direct damage to the enemy.

Each player will also be dealt identical starting decks. This deck will be composed of a set number of currency cards as well as several other starting cards. These starting cards would be a set amount of cards that mostly have deck-slowing effects.

Step 3 – Creating the Enemy

The final step of setup is to create the enemy that the players will be fighting against. There are three components that make up the enemy. The first and primary component that is selected is the creature. There will be a deck of about 25 different creatures. Some examples of potential creatures might include things such as a dragon, a wizard, a sea giant, a troll, or a serpent. Each of these enemies will have specific traits that are relevant to them. The primary aspect of each creature will be its life total. The specific enemy will be randomly drawn from the deck and that will be the creature that the players will be fighting during that game.

The second component of the enemy is its primary weapon. The weapon would also be randomly chosen from a deck of about 25-50 cards. There would be two classes of weapons that could potentially be chosen (ranged and close quarters). As with the creatures, the weapons will also have relevant abilities and characteristics. Examples of potential weapons include things such as swords, hammers, scythes, bladed boomerangs, shurikens, throwing daggers etc.…

The third and final component would be a defense mechanism. As with the others, this will be randomly chosen from a deck of cards and also will have relevant abilities. Examples of potential defense mechanisms include things such as shields, force fields, armor, etc.…

These three components would make-up the enemy as a whole. To accompany the enemy, there would also be an “Enemy Attack Deck”. This deck would be composed of different cards that will be drawn each turn, and will inflict damaging effects on the players and their decks.

Different examples of cards that could make-up the “Enemy Attack Deck” could include cards such as:

  • Cards that force players to discard cards

  • Cards that force players to remove cards from their deck

  • Cards that prevent the player from making purchases that turn

  • Cards that prevent the player from taking actions that turn

  • Cards that deal damage to the players

  • Cards that prevent the players from dealing damage to the enemy that turn


In regular play, each player will take turns and follow a specific order of play.

Order of play:

  1. Draw 1 card from “Enemy Attack Deck” and resolve

  2. Perform 1 action (unless otherwise modified) and resolve

  3. Perform 1 purchase (unless otherwise modified)

  4. Discard all cards in your hand and all cards played during your turn

  5. Draw 5 new cards from your deck

After these set of actions, play passes to the next player.

=========Win and Loss Conditions=========

The players win the game if:

  • They completely deplete the enemy’s life total, conquering and defeating it.

The players lose the game if:

  • The “Enemy Attack Deck” runs out. (The enemy becomes enraged and delivers a single final blow wiping out all players, and ending the game.)

  • Any of the players’ life total reaches zero

Joined: 09/18/2014
Looks interesting

It looks interesting from where I'm seeing, it's the type of game I'd play casually.

BUT... I'm not seeing much in the way of cooperation in this game... There's no interaction between the players aside from discussing a brief strategy with whatever they have in their hands on each turn. Would the players be able to exchange cards? This way they can play to their strengths and also increase cooperation.

Also, another thing that might be a bit of a problem is the game over if even one player is down - sometimes in cooperative games the players must sacrifice themselves for the good of the group - in your game, it would be playing an attack card knowing that you'd be knocked out when the enemy attacks, but enabling other player to finish the enemy off. With the "one down, game over" mechanic, the player would have to play a defensive card and extend the fight or completely ruin chances of winning.

Joined: 07/03/2013
Well, it's vague...

But it has potential. I've played with the same kind of idea off and on, but it's never really gotten very far for me.

As part of your game design research, I recommend that you play Sentinels of the Multiverse and Eminent Domain. The first is a deck-based cooperative game without the deck building aspect, while the second is a deck builder that's a little outside the norm, but kind of has elements similar to what you're talking about with purchasing cards (although in a new way: sounds like you got a lot of ideas from Dominion, which is why I didn't include it in this list :)

I think that the concept of a boss that has a changing deck would be fun. I think that it would be even cooler to have a set of singular cards (a la Dominion) that you draw from to put a whole cluster of cards into the villain deck. Wait, you're taking on a wizard? well, don't forget his legions of flying monkeys and his extraterrestrial allies (themes that were randomly added to his deck, each with 10 or so cards that represent the theme)!

Also, I think that players might enjoy having their starting deck tailored to their particular hero. Eminent Domain and Sentinels explore the asymmetrical start aspect of a deck-based game, and it shows me that having a player be good at something from the start often gives them a good idea of a direction they should go.

When the enemy runs out of cards, I don't think that they should just deliver a final blow, but maybe they should get harder as they get "enraged". Have a meter that goes up each time the deck is depleted. Rising on the rage meter will have different effects, depending on the villain: maybe they start inflicting damage every turn, or they play more cards, or debilitate one player, or prevent a damage type (or double a damage type!). Maybe have the villain trashes cards out of their deck to make the rage build faster. Maybe the villain grows closer to completing his super machine (another set of 5 superpowerful cards added after they reach a certain level). Don't have the end be arbitrary, but let the players see it coming and struggle to the last as the villain grows in power. That's why Pandemic is so dang fun when you lose, but kind of drab when you win too easily.

Another idea that I had was that the players might have a set of cards to buy from like Dominion, but they represent superhero gadgets or common items (duct tape, superglue, and other MacGyver-esque items).

Finally, the random buy deck probably won't see a lot of play. The random element is cool, but it seems a little out-of-place. Other possibilities exist in how to make it random and different each time. Sentinels does it through the use of environment cards, for example. The player's and villain's decks alone would be enough to keep things fresh.

Joined: 09/11/2014
I like this idea, it seems

I like this idea, it seems like a simpler version of a full RPG. As such, maybe it can be a short 10-15 minute game, with individual games being able to be chained together into a longer story. This could introduce situations where the players are encouraged to take risks to make things easier in subsequent matches.

Masacroso's picture
Joined: 05/05/2014
I like the idea, I had

I like the idea, I had something very similar written, same background of random generated enemy to fight.

I will take time to read it carefully and comment something more if I can.

Joined: 09/27/2014
Thank you all for your

Thank you all for your responses and feedback.
Particularly, I would like to thank JuKarasawa for the suggestion to make it more cooperative with trading.

As some have suggested I should do, I will begin prototyping this soon. I will post updates as it develops.

mistre's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Have you heard of a game

Have you heard of a game called Shadowrift?

I think it does what you are trying to do so check it out for some ideas.

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