Eji's Terribly Complicated CCG.

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Eji1700, May 12, 2012.

  1. Eji1700

    Eji1700 Well-Known Member

    Customizable Card Game. Not collectible. I apologize in advance if this is haphazard and disorganized and implore anyone who's confused to ask questions because i've kinda hit a wall and could use some input. Keep in mind that since this is a work in progress likely anything can change, however there are certain things i'd like to keep for now. I'll make clear what is not currently going to go.

    This is something i've been slowly working on for years. It's not really meant to be anything serious in some ways(maybe one day). I just want to get something off the ground(playable). So with that in mind I don't care if it's terrible, unintuitive, or complicated so long as I like it at the end of the day. The initial idea mostly started just so I'd have a closed system to screw with.

    This is also going to serve as a digital copy for me to refer to. The notebook i've been using for this is extremely old and I'd like to have this all down somewhere online so I can refer to it whenever. Since i'm doing that anyways figured i'd just post it.

    The concept: Limited customization + easy to proxy:

    MTG's system is "Use as many cards as you want that are format legal!" With the following exceptions if you're serious. 1. Use the bare fucking minimum. So lets say 60 cards. 2.You will likely need 20ish lands. So 40 cards. 3. Here's the staples of the current format. You will likely need 4 of each. So anywhere from 36 cards to less than 10 left for you to actually "customize". MTG is ALL about deckbuild and sidedecking and gameplay at higher levels, and even some lower ones, is a fairly solved equation(not that bad maybe but not really the point of this topic). Combat has always felt very unrewarding to me. These are all things I wanted to change/avoid. Not to mention that playtesting hundreds of different cards is way out of my scope. Thus limited customization(more on that in a few.)

    Easy to proxy = Oh look a deck of cards. Each suit is now a race, so each race gets 9 cards(2-10) and 4 "abilities"(J/Q/K/A). Each "deck" will be comprised of 2 races. So 26-28 cards total(might include jokers). Also I had some spare change so each race may also have a Quarter, nickel, dime, penny unit(not really relevant right now.)
    I'm not sure how far customization will go, but it might be as shallow as "pick two races"
    or maybe deeper with something like- pick two races, and 9 cards from each race.
    In the first example your deck is 2-10 of hearts and 2-10 of clubs.
    In the second example your deck might be 4 2's and 5 3's for the hearts, and the standard 2-10 for the clubs.
    For now assume the first.

    So then a summary
    The basic rules as they stand-
    A deck is made up of two races. Each suit in a deck of cards represents one race. So lets say you pick diamonds and clubs(D and C from here on out) as your races. You grab 2-A of D and 2-A of C. Next you would set aside all 8 face cards
    Deck size = 18 card(2-10 of both D and C).
    Special/racial cards= 8 (J/Q/K/A of D and C).
    Maybe one or two more(might add jokers if i need more design space)
    So then total number of cards you should be dealing with = 26-28

    The field
    It's hard to explain how this came about, but in an effort to make combat more interesting and also semisolve(also known as complicate) the issue of random deck drawing I decided that there would be a playing field, and your deck would basically BE the field.

    So then 2 players playing against each other would set up something like this-
    2 | 2 | 2
    2 | 2 | 2
    2 | 2 | 2
    2 | 2 | 2
    2 | 2 | 2
    2 | 2 | 2

    The influences for this for anyone who's wondering would be guillotine, dota, and alteil in that order.

    You "deal" out the field by taking your 18 cards(2-10 of D and C), shuffling them together, and then dealing them out in the above grid. 2 face down in each square. Your opponent does the same and thus you have 2 3x3 "fields" touching each other. Since your cards will be summoned on this field and the number of cards under/around them will effect things this could be used to add "strategy" to drawing. Say a rush oriented race would want to draw cards from their top row to open up space for creatures, while a more defensive race would draw from the back row to put shit in front of it. There's basically a lot of potential design space here and it's something i'd like to explore.

    EVERYTHING ABOVE THIS POINT IS NOT CURRENTLY GOING TO BE CHANGED FOR THE SAKE OF KEEPING THIS TOPIC MANAGEABLE- Yes i am asking for help and maybe you think some idea above is critically flawed, but for right now i'm trying to focus on certain issues. I can come back to that later. The only thing i've considered screwing with is having different field layouts, but for right now i'm choosing to assume that's the one i'm going with.

    I could do a whole post on my system for this, but right now suffice it to say basically any card can be a mana card to prevent "land screw", and likely having facedown cards underneath a mana card will have it generate more mana. So a 3 of C placed face up and sideways(to denote it's being used for mana) on 2 facedown cards would generate 2/3 C mana. Mana costs for now are just the card number and the suit. So if you have the 3 of D in your hand, but have 3 C mana, you can't play it. Probably going to be some rule for colorless or something later(likely you can take a card from discard and use it facedown to make colorless mana) on but whatever for right now.

    Every card will have a move value and a range value.
    Rule #1- NO DIAGONALS
    An example of move or range 1 (X equals the unit in question)-
    0 | 1 | 0
    1 | X | 1
    0 | 1 | 0
    So the squares to the left, right, front, and back of the X are all range 1.

    And range/move = 2
    0 | 0 | 0
    0 | 0 | 0
    0 | 2 | 0
    2 | 1 | 2
    1 | X | 1
    2 | 1 | 2
    In this we see that squares to the left, right, front, and back are still 1, and then the diagonals would be range 2. This card could also move/threaten one square in the opponents territory since it's two squares forward.

    I think this should be enough to make clear how i'm handling movement and attack range, but if anyone is confused ask. I do plan on having things that can block movement/attack...so assuming a wall or two and move/range 3-
    W | 0 | 3
    2 | W | 2
    1 | X | 1

    Possible rule #2- attack angles
    Not sure if this will be needed, but it's obviously easy to have a card that could have a move of 1 but only able to attack directly in front of itself. The basic angles of attack would be forward, back, left, right. Some possibly more complicated options open up when you include range 2 units, but for now this should do. These directions would be relative to the player that owns the card.

    My Issue- Combat and Stats and Winning-
    This is already silly complicated(a single unit already has a move, a range, and possible an attack angle), but one thing i've hated about magic is the difficulty of having combat effects that last to another turn. Now if i just bit the bullet and said this game will be programed ala alteil i can just have things like HP values and the book keeping is automatic. Since i can't program for shit and haven't looked at the various game creator programs yet I can't assume that....so i need a way for combat to actually be somewhat deep without becoming magics rather sub par(for the purposes of this topic) power/toughness system. Obviously having to have a dice for each character to represent health would not be ideal.

    The other issue is winning. One rule i've derided i want to keep is that each race will have a semi alternate way of winning. Think planeswalker ults from MTG. I've got about 9 races started and possible "ults" for each of them, however I don't have a "normal win condition. How do I do life points? Should I even do lifepoints?

    Thoughts I've had on the problems-
    Thought #1- Is the field system enough? Should i just adopt something like the magic P/T system since i've already got enough variables to screw with?

    Thought #2- Maybe a state system. So you have 3 states- Healthy, wounded, dead. This allows more design space and decision making without adding too much book keeping.

    Dota helped inspire the layout. Top row would be river towers, middle row forest towers, and back row would be raxes/towers. With that in mind perhaps controlling certain enemy squares gives an advantage or is the win condition? Honestly I have no idea what to do here. Life points seems like a good thing to have because spells like thunderbolt are always easy and good to have, but i'm not sure how to represent that on the field.

    Random Way Down the Line Stuff-
    Races i've currently got planned + playstyle(according to the master notebook i've kept for this)-
    Dream- confusing/misleading
    Chaos- Heavy random
    Ghost- Evasive, mobile, weak but precise
    Ice- Inhibiting. Area denial sort of play.
    Slime- Evolving/Group Thing glooples from Amorphous+ because that's what i'd be blatantly ripping off.
    Stong- Slow/Defensive
    Lighting- Erratic
    Fire- Constant buildup.
    Nano- Control

    So then.......yeah. Comments, questions, input, criticisms? Go nuts.
  2. ratxt1

    ratxt1 Well-Known Member

    I have also wanted to make a CCG that you can proxy off a standard deck of cards (i was thinking two decks with different backs so there would be 104 instead of 52 different characters).

    I like the field thing, and with how you've set it up has so many options for different win conditions that don't require
    book-keeping. Hers an idea I had for a win condition: What if we think of those 3x3 spaces that each player has as areas and once you "control" all your opponents areas you win, now the idea of control can be anything you want maybe it means you havea unit on top of it, maybe it means you've set up some sort of flag there or you've destroyed its "tower" (going back to dota).

    Looks fun and i don't think it's too complicated, though it probably will be a pain to playtest.
  3. -Y-

    -Y- Well-Known Member

    Yeah I had similar idea in mind. So my thoughts.

    Try play-testing the core mechanics. Don't shy from MtG abilities just because they are simple. Simple is good. It doesn't tax player. And stop thinking about it as HP. What if your whole game takes place in space and your creatures are ships that have shields. Once shield is overpowered hull is breached and it explodes. Flavor should rarely dictate gameplay.

    Think victory condition should be territory control. Or alternatively allow some kind of Hero card that suffers damage over time.
  4. Kayin

    Kayin Well-Known Member

    I applaud you for actually working on something, Eiji! But in regards to -Y-s comment about Flavor... I think that's like, 50% true.

    Flavor and Gameplay should work in tandem

    Flavor should both set the basic frame work well and often should probably conform to the nuances of rule details. Neither should force you to make a 'bad' decision in either direction and if they do, you need to change something somewhere to make the decisions good. But must be flexible. Having good gameplay IS more important than having the flavor work perfectly, but conforming to flavor can still be hugely important. I don't follow Yomi much, but I'm pretty sure David did a lot to make sure the abilities matched the flavor of each character. an ability someone thought up might have been cool, but it had to fit because that sort of cohesion adds something subtle to the game. I'm also sure it never forced him to make a downright bad decision -- it only perhaps forced him to make HARD decisions, which is both okay and what you should expect your self to have to do as a designer.

    So again, I kinda agree with -Y- but if you look deeper, there are many benefits to compromising slightly for each end of things.
  5. LoneKnight

    LoneKnight Well-Known Member

    I don't know how far ahead you are, but I was thinking maybe something among the lines of a tarot inspired stuff? You did mention you want easy to proxy, the minor arcana is basically playing cards (with an extra figure), the Major Arcana could be just like the race choice.

    You could possibly design it so that each Major Arcana is a deck, or maybe so that each Major Arcana has a one of each suit/number, and you have to fill out the deck. Like, there's a The World's Two of Swords and The Fools Knight of Wands. Or something. Would also lend itself beter to the more strategic positioning because of fortune telling routines and stuff.
  6. major_shiznick

    major_shiznick Well-Known Member

    There are some really neat things going on here, some of which I've wished to see more of in combat-oriented games in general. I particularly have wanted to see a game that makes use of a gridlike battlefield effectively. The movement and attack range is an obvious but necessary element, and I think your implementation is pretty clean thus far. The attack angle component is also nice in that it forces you to orient your units in a complementary fashion, addressing another key weakness in MtG combat.

    I agree that an HP system is going to be a bookkeeping nightmare if this is to be played with physical game pieces and that a state-based system is probably preferable. My suggestion would be like your alive/wounded/dead setup, where "wounded" units may attack but not move. Or perhaps the effect of "wounding" would vary race-to-race? Flavor options abound. Another option would be to draw from the system in Stratego, where higher-numbered units outright kill lower-numbered ones. In your game this might be balanced by having low numbers be more mobile and higher numbers being tanks, with the faces and aces being units that are generally effective at both (or super-effective at one, or have special attack angles, etc...).

    On victory conditions... I hate games that have anticlimactic finishes. This mainly involves games where the objective is a race for resources (frequently devolving into nothing more than simultaneous solitaire games) or territory capture games (because slight losses for one player are often enough to tip the game state into helplessness). I definitely feel that a "kill the general" (see: chess) objective is one of the more straightforward, easily balanced, and thematically versatile options you have for this type of game.

    Regarding "capture the flag/tower/base" type objectives... These can be done okay, but you arrive at the challenge of dealing with Turtle strategies. As a great example of effective implementation, I again point to Stratego, where the fact that almost all information is unknown at the start encourages both players to prod and explore their opponent, rather than sitting back. Alternatively, you could do like Puzzle Strike, where turtling is a viable but flawed strategy that requires just as much thought as a rushdown.

    On mana... I can't really comment. I don't entirely understand the facedown card system you have going, and I fear that it may be putting too much gamestate information in the same place at once. The information density is just as important a consideration as sheer information quantity. If you want mana/resources in your game, that's cool, but don't be afraid to streamline the shit out of it. The more intricate your resource situation is, the more you detract from combat, as far as strategizing goes.

    With that, I wish you good luck with the design; it looks pretty neat to me. I'll close with some games I've played that I think may lend some additional insight. These are largely board and video games, since what you're trying to do is historically something card games seem to struggle with. You'll also notice a lack of RTS's, because I don't like those. Here we go:

    Chess (including the Bughouse variation), Stratego, Shogi, Nine Men's Morris, Advance Wars, Fire Emblem, Fort Condor minigame in FFVII, Lufia: the Legend Returns (multi-row combat mechanics).
  7. -Y-

    -Y- Well-Known Member

    I similarly agree with KayinN but here are my thoughts on it.

    Gameplay and Flavor should work in tandem. If the game is lacking fix gameplay first and flavor second.

    Why? Because Flavor is more malleable. It's easier to explain some gameplay element through flavor than vice versa. In practice I've seen more people get hung up on flavor they forget gameplay.

    Whatever you do - PLAYTEST! PLAYTEST! PLAYTEST! Just because you suck at/don't do programming doesn't mean you shouldn't play test. Make a Print and Play prototype and put stickman figures as pics. If all fails steal samples from local kindergarten and use them instead! Play-test should steer both flavor and gameplay.

    Also rule of thumbs playtest with people you are good with but not too good with. This forum is just fine. I kinda like you but I won't lie to you if your game sucks (I'll be polite about it though).

    To Eji:

    Link time:

    It applies well to board games as well. Only way it doesn't apply if you don't intend others to play your game, in which case I dunno why you posted your game here.

    I was thinking the same thing. Only problem is - Minor arcana has 56 cards which is kinda hard to fit on a 3x3 board.
    Though I like the different way you look at it. In my mind minor arcana is the units and major are the spells.
    KayinN likes this.
  8. Eji1700

    Eji1700 Well-Known Member

    Understand that the "flavor" was more a method to narrow down what concepts i was going to use. I've had various ideas for various games over the years and I finally decided to start mashing them together. I was attempting too use too many things at once though and it quickly became cluttered and meaningless. I stood back and decided to pick a few ideas i really liked and shoehorn them in with various mechanics. It's at the point now where it's more than solid enough that I can ditch that if i need to.

    And yeah i intend others to play it, but right now I don't really have a playable game.
    "ok board is dealt out and i drew my starting 7 cards, how do I win?" "uh...."
    This is what's keeping me from playtesting.

    So with that in mind I'll probably be screwing with the following win cons-
    "Unit" on the board that can move, which if killed ends the game.
    Some sort of holding territory win condition(although this is more than likely going to be one of the races alternate win conditions.)
    Just have player health. Like literally if i can attack past your back row I hit you directly and you've got X life.

    As for my issue with MTG P/T- My biggest issue is that it makes certain things harder to do. If you've got a weak unit vs a stronger one it just flat out walls you. You either have to attack with overwhelming superiority all at once or it's a complete route. Either way for now i guess i'll just use P/T and change it later if i need to, but i really dislike the all or nothing deign of the system. I'll probably try alive/wounded/dead with some penalty on a wounded unit.

    Oh and on mana the main reason i like having mana on the field is simply because it allows attacking mana directly and having to allocate space for mana. I'm not sure it'll work but i'll be screwing with it for sure.

    Anyways thanks for the input everyone. I'll try to get some playtesting done and figure out how i want the gameplay to feel. I'm hesitant to have larger decks because one certain design goal for this is randomness without having it be 1. Too random and 2. Require multiples of a single card to combat the "too random". As it stands right now (deck is 18 cards, draw 7 first turn, two suits) you should almost always have a turn one play, but still have a decently random start(mostly low cards, rush, mostly high cards, build up, etc).
  9. -Y-

    -Y- Well-Known Member

    Well if the problem is how to win. Then think of something (improvise!) and test it. Personally I'd go for a more WoW like defeat condition. See how it work in your game.

    What might also help. Set goals what you want your game to achieve (try to make no gameplay assumptions). Create a "gameplay hypothesis". Then verify if your game achieved those goals through player behavior and/or feedback.

    For example (in MOBA for example):
    Goal: I want to simplify UI but allow grater spell interaction.
    Hypothesis: Let's introduce a set of common debuffs/buffs that are easily recognizable.
    Test: Players like interaction but find the FX confusing especially fear and solidify.
    Goal: Improve FX of common debuffs...
  10. Eji1700

    Eji1700 Well-Known Member

    Yeah that's sorta what i'm doing. The GIANT hole in gameplay right now though is i currently have the following page for each race-



    And every single page is blank. I've narrowed down what win conditions I want to test, but I now need to figure out what each card actually does. Obviously there's no point and whipping up multiple teams right now and i can ignore the J/Q/K/A abilities for now, but I still need to figure out 2-10 cards for at least 2 suits.
  11. -Y-

    -Y- Well-Known Member

    What mechanics are available? And what does each card know about context and available info? For example: In magic the card is red, it has mana cost, color, t/p, etc. Are there color of fields? What do they do? How?

    Anycase, gonna fly in head first.

    Dream (I assume mana cost will be value of the card)
    2 - Figment - Sacrifice figment stop action. 1 HP, 1 Atk
    3 - Imago - When summoned imago becomes copy of any 5 or below card present on field. *HP, * Atk
    4 - Illusion - Illusion gains +1HP and +1 Atk for each adjacent Dream creature. Can't be targeted by "abilities". 2HP 2Atk
    5 - Shattered - Whenever a Dream creature dies, Shattered can move to it's position. 5HP, 5Atk
    6 - Hypnos - 2, flip : Two adjacent enemy units deal damage to each other. 6Hp, 2 Atk
    7 - Succubus - Target unit and Succubus can't move this turn. That creature loses 1HP and Succubus gains 1HP (effect is permanent). 2Hp, 7Atk
    8 - Closet skeleton - 8mana, Flip Closet skeleton: Flip an enemy unit. If enemy unit is flipped this way summon a non-face unit for free. 8Hp, 4 Atk
    9 - Incubus - Target unit and succubus can't move this turn. That creatures loses 1Atk and 1HP and Incubus gains 1Atk and 1HP (effect is permanent). 7HP, 8Atk
    10 - Wraith - Whenever creature deals damage to Wraith deal same damage back to it. 7hp, 11 Atk

    Nightmare Court
    J - Lord of Masks - At begining of each turn, person that controls Lord of Masks can chose a face card and Lord of Masks becomes a copy of that card. *Hp, * Atk
    Q - Queen of the Fakes - Flip a creature you own and create a token 10 HP/10 Atk Fake unit.
    K - King of Nightmares - Whenever a Dream creature dies, destroy another creature. 13 hp, 3 Atk
    A - Count Zero - Flip: Opponents creature lose all their abilities for this turn you can summon Count Zero next turn for 3 mana. 9hp, 14 Atk

    Flip - Means you "unsummon" unit, so it can't be killed but you need to summon it again.
    Numbers are imagined along with several mechanics. It's a very rough draft, hopefully it'll get juices flowing.
  12. ratxt1

    ratxt1 Well-Known Member

    Figuring out what each card does can be a proccess. I'd suggest that the first time through put little thought into what the cards do than balance them through playtesting.
  13. Eji1700

    Eji1700 Well-Known Member

    Some "small" updates-
    1. Work ends around next weekish so I should have more time to throw towards this when i'm not job hunting.
    2. Haven't had much time to really playtest combat yet so things are still sorta up in the air(not that they won't be for a LONG time)
    3. mana systems likely need testing too, but i've got 3-5 different ways of doing it so far.
    4. Also likely testing a draw rule which allows you to draw top card of your discard pile instead of from the field if you so choose. Likely with some downside.
    5. If people want to start throwing out ideas like -Y- i'm all for it. I have no idea what sort of mechanics i'm going to keep or what not, but anything is better than nothing. The only real guidelines i've got going right now are-
    There are two types of cards so far. Units and spells(-y- suggestion for example is all units)
    Mana cost is the card number(2=2. With current rules you'll likely have 3 mana on turn one.)
    Range and movement will be important.
    Still not sure exactly how i'm going to handle the J/Q/K/A cards, however note that they'll mostly be abilities that give flavor to the race. Need to have mana costs or something.
  14. NoahTheDuke

    NoahTheDuke Active Member

    Sounds like you need to try Summoner Wars. It's a card-based boardgame that plays out similarly to this. It's a lot of fun, and you might be able to mine it for ideas. Check it out:


    Otherwise, looks like you have some interesting mechanics on hand. Once you get a barely-alpha version of the game set up, I'd love to playtest it for you.
  15. Eji1700

    Eji1700 Well-Known Member

    Yeah i've always heard of that. Never realized how similar it is to the idea i'm going for. Whatever though. Does seem like a good way to see various ideas working out.

    Actually what I find most interesting about summoner wars so far is seeing what people will put up with. Not that it's exactly bad, but I personally HATE attack dice systems in games like this.
  16. -Y-

    -Y- Well-Known Member

    RESERVED (Ghost)
  17. -Y-

    -Y- Well-Known Member

    2 - Booger 3hp, 3Atk
    3 - Spitter 3hp, 2 Atk. Ranged (can attack adjacent fields)
    4 - Spiky 5hp, 1Atk. Any non ranged creature that attacks spiky suffers 2 damage
    5 - Acid Slime 3hp, 0 Atk. On death this and two adjacent fields become trapped. Any unit that stops on trapped field it takes 5 damage.
    6 - Heavy Slime 10hp, 2Atk. Whenever Heavy takes damage reduce it by 5.
    7 -
    8 -
    9 -
    10 -

    J -
    Q -
    K -
    A -
  18. Eji1700

    Eji1700 Well-Known Member

    Finally have the time to work on this a bit again. Someone threw out/misplaced the spiral notebook i was keeping concepts in so for now i'm just going to be putting shit I think of in this topic so I don't forget. A lot of this won't make much sense(since it's written meerly so i can understand it, and I haven't worked out decent jargon to make it easy to explain yet), but it's more for book keeping purposes right now as I got to play a quick and dirty test game with my brother and came up with several concepts.

    Current incarnation/changes-
    A no mans land of 3 horizontal squares. squares between the two sides.

    Battle stuff:
    Cards number = it's health and attack. If you have a 3 vs a 6, the 3 dies and the 6 becomes a 3. (this feels inelegant/counter heavy, but it's a start)
    All cards currently only move one space at a time, and attack by moving into an occupied space. If they win they occupy the space they were attacking.
    Exception being attacking lands(facedown/horizontal cards). They automatically destroy one card that is under the "generator".
    Cards can be placed on undeveloped spaces(facedown vertical cards). They cannot move but gain a +1 or 2 bonus to battle.
    * maybe let cards combine...maybe just a slime/race trait*

    Mana/phases stuff:
    Both players set up a 3x3 field of facedown cards. 2 cards per cell. They then draw 6 facedown cards.
    Turn order(all optional?)?-
    Phase 1-
    Draw phase(draw 1 card.)

    Phase 2(can happen in any order)-
    Set "gen"- Place a card face up horizontally on any "unoccupied" cell on your side of the field. Generates mana type equal to it's suit and amount equal to the number of cards in the cell. So standard T1 play offers 1, 2, or 3 mana of one suit(placing it on an empty space, a space with one facedown, or a space with 2 facedowns). *4 with recycle rule in phase 2?*

    Summon- summon any card from your hand that you have the mana for to any cell on your side of the board. *Rules on walls/facedowns/recycles here* May also summon any "gen" although it stops producing mana once summoned. *gen can only be summoned in adjacent cell?* Cards have 1 turn summoning sickness(cannot move and thus cannot attack) May summon as many units as you have mana for(if you make 5 a turn you can do 1 5 or a 2 and a 3)

    Move- Move cards.

    *discard- Destroy any one gen/card underneath*?

    Phase 3-

    Recycle- Place a hand card underneath a "gen"/faceup horizontal(increases the mana that gen produces and stays faceup so you may draw it later/manipulate it)

    Current win conditions-
    Move a card past the opponents final row.
    Just kill everything

    Work on-
    Races/stats/etc(shooting for just one, probably based off of chess pieces right now. 3 would be nice for testing purposes and 4 would be great. Ultimate goal is the original list).
    Win cons.
    Graveyard manipulation/options(shogi?)
    Real costs and colorless mana.
    Simplifying shit
    JQKA abilities.

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