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Nak Muay: Sharing ideas for a Muay Thai card game

I wonder how this is best done? Aside from the rather interesting way that MT bouts are scored (but that should, I think, be part of the game) my feeling is this would be a bidding fest.

Rounds perhaps divided into 10 sections.

Choose your attack for the first section (body kick, elbows, etc). Present attack with a bid.
Best bid succeeds and scores/ damages

Attacks have 2 different ranges: outside or clinch. E.g. Kicks would be outside, knees would be clinch range.
A reversible card on the table reminds players what the present range is.
Attacks with that range gain a bonus on top of the bid.
Winning attack defines range for next bid.

Punches don't get a bonus based on range, but instead they have their own inherent efficacy bonuses. Winning a punch attack allows you to choose the range for the next bid.

Bids come in different types
Low bids (1-3) can be retrieved if the bid fails. [A Naga design reminds us which cards are considered to be of this type]
High bids (4-6) cannot [A Garuda design]

2 bid cards are played together in one bidding round

It's possible to use a special bid as your second bid card. These are:

Tiger - holds the same value as the accompanying bid card. However, it invites an exchange of blows rather than exclusive success (if that makes sense?)

Hanuman - gives an extra 2 points to the bid, but must be played with a Garuda card. It upgrades the quality of the attack...they hurt more if successful.

Managing stamina and gassing out:

Garuda bids and successful Naga bids are spent from the players hand and must be retrieved if they are to be reused.

A player cannot retrieve a bid card the value of which is greater than the total number of bid cards left in his hand.

Hence, careful management of power is important.

My feeling is there needs to be another core mechanic at work in this game. Possibly an imaginative use of the score sheet might be important. I'm trying to avoid the game becoming too sprawling. Clash of Steel for example attempts a similar kind of strategic battle, but I don't think the layout and pace gives the feel I want. On the other hand, Yomi doesn't quite give the sense of the fight as a gruelling campaign - which it should be if it's MT!

Thoughts, comments, criticisms all welcome. I would dearly value some experience to go along with my inexperienced trial and error approach!

Thanks. :)


Perhaps an essential extra

Perhaps an essential extra dimension could come from something akin to a deck of 'event' cards where before each round of bidding, a card is turned which gives some extra outcome to a successful bid.

For example:
"If you win this bid with a Hanuman card and head kick, you'll get instant KO"
"A successful elbow this bid will open a cut"

This would add some luck and chaos into preceding - which I had been working hard to avoid, but which I now suspect might be a very good thing.

It would also allow a whole variety of thematically appropriate outcomes to be represented in the game without making the rules complex. This has been the main issue I've wrestled with. How to get the essential features of a MT bout into a game with only minimal rules.

Thirdly, it would act as a timer for the round. When we've been through 10 cards, the round is over.

Perhaps the composition of the deck could also be player directed - each player chooses X number of cards which get shuffled together. Or maybe even something less for thought.

I'm excited about exploring this mechanic feels right.

Muay Thai's interesting scoring system

Unlike boxing or American kickboxing, MT doesn't work by simply winning or losing rounds. How you win the rounds and WHICH rounds are a factor. Tony Myers has written some fascinating pieces on the 'narrative' nature of MT scoring.

It would be a pitty not to have that reflected in this game.

At present, the smoothest way I have devised of reflecting how MT judges work is this:

First 2 rounds....rounds drawn unless knock down (successful strikes are recorded but not used at this point)

Round 3...most and best strikes scores 10:9 or 10:8 with KD, etc...(like a normal boxing round essentially)

Round 4...number of hits from round 3 carries over, so loser of round 3 might work hard to win round 4!

Round 5...hit count doesn't carry over. If there is a loser by total ROUND points so far (10:9 + 8:10 for example) he must get KO. If result so far is a draw, round 5 score decides the fight. If round 5 also a draw, hit count from ALL the rounds (including 1 + 2) are added to find the winner.

I was very excited to learn about genuine MT scoring. It deepened my appreciation of the theme and has given a whole extra strategic dimension to the game...without adding complexity to the actual mechanics of play.


I should add, the system I

I should add, the system I have described is not "genuine MT scoring", but an attempt to capture its essence in an easily calculable way.

The bidding mechanism

Have revised, refreshed, reformed the bidding mechanic so that it has less cognitive weight but more fun decisions. (Also have completely dispensed with the system of Vedic characters as suits with different qualities. I've replaced that whole system with something much simpler and cleaner which I'll jot down in a post following this one.)

The bidding system

The issue has been to create a system where players could try to outbid one another to land shots whilst dealing with the ideas that
- the attacker should have a significant advantage, yet
- going second in a bid tends to be advantageous
- allowing the attacker to bid second feels weird
- purely simultaneous bidding doesn't capture the right feel either

I've been dwelling on all kinds of well known mechanisms for inspiration: everything from Top Trumps to Cribbage!

As it stand now, the bidding works like this:

Player with initiative (attacker) lays down a technique card face-up along with a bid of 2 Power Cards face down.

The defender's choices are
A) absorb the attack - ouch! But they get the opportunity to improve their hand
B) attempt to block the attack - guess a suit in the attacker's bid (different techniques can take different combinations of suit)
C) try to counter the attack with an attack of their own

Countering - defender lays a technique card + bid cards in the same way as the attacker

Then, the attacker chooses the winning condition for the bid - and the winner is resolved

Bid winning conditions -
1) highest total
2) highest card
3) pair (only a pair will win. Best pair wins)

In this way, although the bids are simultaneous, the attacker has a significant advantage (other than giving an arbitrary bonus) which permits deductive and tactical play on both sides.

I'm about to put together the first presentable prototype soon so any comments, questions or criticisms would be greatly appreciated. Cheers!

The suits

Power cards are 1-9 and come in 4 suits.
Suits are relevant in that different techniques can take bids with different suits.
Most techniques take 2 or 3 suits.
Techniques that can take all 4 suits tend to be the hardest to block since there's a wider range of possibilities from which your opponent has to correctly guess.
Likewise, bids of a single suits are harder to block.

So, when you are creating your fighter, you should choose suits that complement your chosen techniques. However, you also don't want your bids to be predictable as they will be more easily blocked. A variety of suits can make your bids harder to anticipate.

The suits are:

Ayy - associated with punches and elbows
Tee - associated with knees
Owayy - associated with kicks
Aish - goes with most techniques

Thus, a head kick can be executed with Owayy and/or Aish
A knee in the clinch can be executed with Ayy and/or Tee and/or Aish

To complete my update on the bidding system, I ought to mention also that a bid containing a Power Card 4 will produced an enhanced effect - as detailed on the technique card.

The decision to make 4 the 'magic' card was based on the reasoning that it's a difficult card to use because
- it's too low to make a strong 'Pair' bid
- or a very strong 'High Total' bid
- but it's not a good card for supporting a 'High Card' bid; efficient High Card bids contain one high card and one very low card. 4 is just awkward.

A good bidding system with opportunities for interesting and varied strategies is important for this game, so any thoughts would be gratefully received.


Prototype time at last

After a good 18 months of 'mental iterations' and play testing aspects of the game, I'm ready to produce the first version prototype for this game concept.

There have been some significant changes to several of the ideas in the above posts.

Power Card suits: Just 4 different colours.
It's simpler, cleaner and sufficiently abstract to not confuse or distract.

No "magic card": Enhanced damage comes through playing a bid total of 10.
This provides much more in the way of exciting tactical play.

Blocking no longer involves having to guess a suit in your opponent's bid. Blocks are now always successful - but they don't prevent damage; they only reduce it.
This simplifies play whilst raising the attritional nature of the battle. It's more fun.

The next step is to work out the effects of each successful strike. I expect this is the part that will undergo lots of changes with proper playtesting.
Each strike card will describe 3 potential effects:
Normal damage - opponent failed to counter or chose to absorb
Blocked damage - opponent chose to block
Enhanced effect - your strike landed with bid cards totalling 10 in value (this can mean more damage than normal, or it negates an attempt to block, or a few other things depending on the strike.)

Thanks for taking to time to follow this naive diary! :)

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