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Solbound - A combat dice+deckbuilding game that levels up with free expansions

Dev Plan:
Solbound (working title) is expected to be tested and played across 5 different expansions that come with the core set. As the player gains real experience with the game, they can “Level Up” their game by adding new rules and cards. These are:
Level 1: Core rules and Command Cards
Level 2: Additional Keywords and Drafting
Level 3: Might Cards
Level 4: Magic Cards
Level 5: Hero Cards

These will be tested separately. Before moving on to Level 2 rules and testing, Level 1 must first be reasonable for release. It does not have to be a perfect game between each release, but they should be acceptably fun and relatively balanced. Issues in prior levels should be addressed as soon as possible in future ones.

All 5 levels will be included with the core set of the game, so they exist solely to have the game's complexity match what the player's looking for.

The card types, and their expected roles in the game, are:

Command Cards: Control units to attack. Are very versatile and powerful, but expensive to lose (causing you to discard an extra card when they die).

Might Cards: Equipment that you can utilize for yourself in combat, allowing you to defend yourself or even launch an assault. You swing with more dice, but they're slower and more predictable to use than Command Cards and leave you open to attacks easily.

Magic Cards: These are hidden spells that can trigger when an opponent meets a criteria with their actions. They can also be used to steal cards from the top of your opponents' discard pile, a representation of magical manipulation on the minds and resources in your opponents' control.


Hero Cards: These are special cards that are chosen at the start of the game that influence the rest of gameplay. A "Necromancer" might allow you to move dice from a card you control onto another card when it dies, while a "Paladin" Hero grants a +1 bonus to any of your (or your cards') rolls as long as the opponent is rolling more dice than you.

The core gameplay involves investing your limited d6s towards cards to give them better rolls, more actions, or access to special powers. You start with 5 (with each card costing a minimum of 1 to play), gaining more as a player is Hit, up to 10. Once you have 10 dice and take one more hit, you lose.

The rest all comes down to how you spend those dice and adapt around your opponents.


New cards, new rules

What I find good about your approach is that each expansion is dealing with something specific in mind.

Is it possible for players to skip an expansion?
And simply get another one instead?
How does that affect the balance?

Be careful that you don't create expansions that are too big. An example is that if you have a special ability that also requires a counter effect in order to balance the game. Then you add 2 rules instead of 1.

I got my additional rules specified on this particular effect.

1 rule abilities.
These are always counterable with the basic game. Most likely through the costs of such ability.
The ability has effect on some cards for a bit of an extra cost. Which results it has less effect on other cards simply based on same said costs.

2 rule abilities.
These abilities have an evil twin. Meaning they can be countered by another ability. Additional balancing through changing the costs isn't always nessesary.

Multiple rule abilities.
These can be compared with the 1 and/or 2 rule abilities. Things get complicated now, because the same effects can be combined.
Most often, the basic game starts showing a RPS system with 2 or more new abilities.
These are the most difficult to balance. And you need to make sure that all the previous abilities are ancounted for.

I got this with for example the interaction of the basic RPS system with Burst type weapons and Charging weapons.
It depends on the players decision on which type of damage is chosen against said targets. If it is good, the burst prevails. If it is bad, the charging prevails. The rest in between with certain thresholds, and the basic weapons prevail.
So one RPS created another RPS in combination with 2 new abilities. A synergy happened.

Once you noticed that synergies emerge from your game. You have to balance these too. Welcome to a pyramide game.

Here's the thing regarding

Here's the thing regarding missed balance.

All players will be starting with the same cards and resources.

This is important because balance only needs to apply to each player's ability to react. If they both have the opportunity to get the really big thing, and have the means to react to that, then there is no issue.

I remember reading about this with Small worlds. Folks were irritated about how stupidly strong Elves are with some powers that combined kinda just overwhelm everything else without trying. But then, someone noted that the combination is telegraphed. It's part of the game to try and risk taking that resource or figure out how to adapt around it.

It's like saying "The Queen in Chess is too strong". Well, yes, but that doesn't favor anybody.

Even if Might cards happen to be a bit too strong early on, like Level 2, both players can take that into account by playing and reacting during those newly updated games.

Then, as finish Level 2, they start learning how the lessons they learned can be applied towards the future. "I learned this, so I can expect spell triggering to work like this". They'll be better able to perceive what is strong and what isn't, despite never actually seeing it. The player that does that better is rewarded...with that OP power.

And so the better player wins.

As long as there are limits

It shouldn't just be that no one is being favoured since everyone uses the same piece.

It should be that no one is being favoured while every possible piece is used at least once.

There is a reasoun why I Math so hard on certain aspects.
I would hate to design multiple expansions. Only to see 1 prevail and being used for the rest of the existence of everything.
Then again, I look different at things.

Something that came to mind while reading...

The title said "Combat Dice + Deck-building" and I was like "Hmm..." But as I read, there seem to be less focus on the "Combat Dice" and more focus on the "Deck-construction". The mechanic of "Deck-building" is used when the cards are combined DURING a game (like in Dominion or TradeWorlds). However I think in your particular case you were talking about "Deck-construction" prior to playing the game. I know people use these two (2) terms loosely, I'm formally explaining the difference (for those who do not know).

Don't take me wrong... I don't exactly know all the DETAILS about "Roll Player" (by Keith Matejka) but that game seems to rely "heavily" on dice during a game. But I thought your "Combat Dice" were going to be similar. However as I read further... I didn't really get a feel for any "specialized" Combat Dice. You should look at "Roll Player" if only for some custom dice ideas.

I say this to HELP you... And to help generate some fresh new ideas. Maybe I'm wrong and this won't help you at all... IDK. But take a look and let me know about what they have ("Roll Player") and how it could maybe be used by you or some kind of similar mechanic(s). Or if some kind of similar system might be of value... Like I said, when you said "Combat Dice" ... I thought "Roll Player"!

Don't worry if what you are doing is different. Like I said maybe just a "hit & miss"... Cheers!

Levels are difficulty mods, not an active part of the main game.

Just to clarify, the "Leveling up" doesn't happen in the middle of a game, but happens between games.

The majority of the active game will be revolving around playing the correct cards in your starter deck and the cards you've collected, as well as choosing how to invest your dice in those cards.

This thread was intended to be a rough guideline as to the development goals of the game, but the actual gameplay segments will be submitted as separate threads.

I do appreciate your insight, regardless, and please let me know if I misunderstood your post.

I have a couple QUESTIONS for you...

And a comment too... So IF "Leveling up" is between games what guarantees that you will be playing the SAME opponent? So my earlier thought that this was "Deck-construction" is valid: you build or upgrade your Deck outside of the game, right?!

I think you are making a very HIGH assumption that games will be played against the same opponent, which in my mind don't hold true. Just think of competitive Magic: a game is played between two (2) opponents. But it's ONLY one (1) game. Same with games of Pokemon, yes sometimes it's a question of best 2 out of 3 or 3 out of 5. But still the CUSTOMIZATION can take TIME... All that time is not available between games. You want to play before the games are over, no?

Right now, I'm just trying to get a "feel" for how the game is going to be played. From what I thought, to what you have explained... I'm asking myself: "HOW LONG for a game with Level 1 takes???"

Maybe getting an answer to this question may clarify things for me. Cheers!

Sorry, you are not upgrading

Sorry, you are not upgrading your individual decks outside of the game.

All players start with a "starter" deck each game, similar to how other deck builder games do it, like Ascension or Star Realms.

Each Expansion will come with a little reference card about what rules it adds, so that newer players can get familiar and catch up.

Sorry, don't know how to

Sorry, don't know how to delete posts, ignore this.

Sorry I think I mis-read the OP

Yeah if you are LEVELING-UP during the game and THEN adding cards from different LEVELS... This is "Deck-building". Sorry about that. It's been a long week. But still if you are interested in "Roll Player" for some of the dice play... Do have a look. Cheers!

There are a lot of interesting "concepts" in Roll Player

I definitely think you should take a look at "Roll Player" (RP)... I was second guessing myself. Until I realized that I don't know if you have stats and dice to match with them. Check out this Player Board:

Again ... Just to give you some other ideas. In RP, the Player Board is rather interesting in that you have a Specialization, some kind point goal and a trait card (which can lose you points also).

And they are all cards used to specialize your character. I THINK you are doing something similar with the "Hero" cards, not sure...?!

Hero Cards aren't too important, an addition to a working game.

I suppose it's kinda like that, but dice will generally be assigned to your other cards, like Power from Pokemon.

Dice determine Initiative, how many actions a card can take, and they improve your contested rolls with those cards, so there's a lot of strategy involved with how to allocate them.

They even come with some risk. A Magic card in the works, Heroism, gives an ally a +1 bonus to their attack and defense rolls for an engagement, but it only triggers when that ally is attacked by an enemy with more dice than them.

Hero Cards might be able to hold some dice, but that's usually to fuel some kind of special ability. Imagine how the hero cards work in something like BANG!.

They might be specialized, or they might change how everything works on a very small scale. However, they won't matter more than the core gameplay (ideally, anyway).

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