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Girsanov

Stuck - Design a CCG without element of luck/chance!

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Girsanov    136
I have been wondering if it was possible to make a CCG/TCG (collectible/trading card game without the element of luck/chance. In most CCGs, players have to shuffle a deck of cards containing their "army" then draw cards from that randomized deck to duel with an opponent. There is always an element of chance: if you draw vital cards while your opponent doesn't, you have a much better chance of winning. I set out to see if I can remove this by modifying the popular Magic : The Gathering system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_the_Gathering). Basic System 1) Players start with 2 lands, they can be used to produce 1 resource. Every 2 turns, they gain an additional land. So the resource curve ("mana curve") goes 2,2,3,3,4,4,5,5,... and so on. 2) Players take their turn simultaneously. They can spend resource to summon creatures like in M:tG. However, instead of drawing cards from a randomized deck, they have up to, say 20 different cards in their hands at all times. To avoid abuse, each card can only be used once each turn. 3) Players start with 20 life. 0 life = game over. Combat System The M:tG combat system appears to be too simplistic without randomness. So I opted to use a modified version of the innovative combat system of The Spoils (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spoils). 1) One of the player go first and declare an attack if he wants to. He choose any number of creatures to be in his attacking party. Then the opponent can choose any number of creatures to be in his blocking party. Then the attacker gets to choose more to add to his party. Then the defender and so on until the attacker choose not to add anymore creatures. 2) After this, combat starts and they get to choose which creature deal damage to which creature, selecting one target per attacker/blocker. Creatures then do damage simultaneously to each other and those with 0 or lower hp are destroyed at the end of combat. 3) Creature stats are simple "Power/Toughness". Power is amount of damage dealt by creature. Toughness is amount of hp. At the end of the turn, all creatures are healed to full. Unblocked creatures do their damage directly to the player. 4) After combat, the option to attack is passed onto the defending player. If he attackers or choose to pass, the option is passed back to the original player. This goes on until both players pass. Problems 1) I started with basic 2/2 creatures that costs 2 resources. But totally got stuck. I tried out several creatures with abilities and even added spells that buffed/debuffed creatures or prevent creatures from attacking/defending but still get stuck. When one player tries to push an attack with an offensive buff, the defender can simply react accordingly and dismantle the attempt. 2) The main problem is that the defender always have the advantage to dismantle any incoming attack. There is little incentive to attack and so both players will keep pumping out creatures to defend. 3) I avoided having spells that directly destroy creatures or spells that destroyed all creatures in play because without the element of luck, there is nothing stopping both players from wiping the board repeatedly and resulting in another stalemate. Conclusion Am I trying to design an impossible game? This was the reason why I started the other thread asking if a strategy game without the traditional board/map/grid, randomness/luck, hidden information etc can work. So far it appears to be impossible! Any suggestions on modifications I can make to this game?

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Dekasa    127
I don't have time to make a long post now, but if I get a chance I'll have more comments tomorrow.

If you eliminate randomness, you also have a game where each player comes in and does the same thing every game they play. It could make for a game that isn't played much.

Oh, and if all anyone will do is defend, why don't you just lower the HP of everyone?

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Tom Sloper    16040
Quote:
Original post by Dekasa
If you eliminate randomness, you also have a game where each player comes in and does the same thing every game they play. It could make for a game that isn't played much.

Yeah, like chess and go.

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Girsanov    136
Quote:
Original post by Dekasa
I don't have time to make a long post now, but if I get a chance I'll have more comments tomorrow.

If you eliminate randomness, you also have a game where each player comes in and does the same thing every game they play. It could make for a game that isn't played much.

Oh, and if all anyone will do is defend, why don't you just lower the HP of everyone?


Thanks!

I did try lowering the hp of everyone. There is still this dilemma:

1) We need to allow some defenses strong enough to repel a least part of the attack or it will become simply a race to do lethal damage.

2) As long as we have defenses, the defender can use his defenses to block the attacker optimally. If the defender cannot dismantle an attack

Maybe the problem is that a CCG style system just doesn't offer enough complexity without the randomness.

Quote:
Original post by Tom Sloper
Quote:
Original post by Dekasa
If you eliminate randomness, you also have a game where each player comes in and does the same thing every game they play. It could make for a game that isn't played much.

Yeah, like chess and go.


lol yeah. The ability to position pieces (on a board) really add a ton of strategy to Chess.

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Tom Sloper    16040
Quote:
Original post by Girsanov
lol yeah. The ability to position pieces (on a board) really add a ton of strategy to Chess.

If you want to argue that chess has no strategy, you should go talk to a chess master, or better yet, play him.
Because chess is ALL strategy - no chance/luck. Go, too.

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Silvermyst    113
I think you'll be better off starting from the ground up, instead of starting with a game like Magic (a game that is all about randomness and hidden information) and then trying to change the rules around.



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vaneger    100
A game like magic has randomness in the shuffling of the deck - but you could take some of that out. For example you'd start with a random hand, but instead of drawing one card out of your randomized deck you could search you deck for any one card.

Now you have added some strategy.

The real issue is : you do need to come up with something new instead of retooling something already out there.

What specific goals do you have and how can you meet them in the target medium ( a CCG) ?

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Tom Sloper    16040
Quote:
Original post by vaneger
A game like magic has randomness in the shuffling of the deck - but you could take some of that out. For example you'd start with a random hand, but instead of drawing one card out of your randomized deck you could search you deck for any one card.

Or just have the players start with exactly the same deck, make it just a matter of how players use the cards.

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Ezbez    1164
Quote:
Original post by vaneger
A game like magic has randomness in the shuffling of the deck - but you could take some of that out. For example you'd start with a random hand, but instead of drawing one card out of your randomized deck you could search you deck for any one card.

Now you have added some strategy.


Have you? You've removed some chance and added some options, but that doesn't mean you've added strategy. Without getting into a long-winded and probably fruitless discussion about what "adding strategy" means, I think this is worth consideration. A large part of M:TG is dealing with unexpected changes - being able to select cards means that the player is always able to choose the most obvious possibility, rather than figuring out what can be done with what is available. I, personally, find the latter more interesting and strategic.


In my view, a more fruitful way to remove chance from M:TG is by letting the player "stack" their deck. It could be an interesting game of optimizing card order. But such an optimization may become fragile and predictable - a single "remove top card from target player's deck" card could easily nuke someone's build order. Keeping multiple options open and reducing repetitiveness of strategies would still be necessary and planning ahead would be vital.

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vaneger    100
you do add strategy because I don't think the most "obvious" card choice is obvious at all. There are many solutions to an opponent's play, some of which are actually threats of your own (opponent plays creature, you play bigger creature instead of just destroying theirs).

Quote:

rather than figuring out what can be done with what is available


Everything is available which means you have a larger selection of possibilities to choose from.

Having to 'make due' on just what is available in a normal MTG game is part of Magic - but in a theoretical new game you don't have that attachment to how things 'are supposed to be' and can tailor the game elements to the new status quo.

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RaydenUni    110
Quote:
Original post by Tom Sloper
Quote:
Original post by Dekasa
If you eliminate randomness, you also have a game where each player comes in and does the same thing every game they play. It could make for a game that isn't played much.

Yeah, like chess and go.


To be fair, Chess and Go are conceptually no different than Tic-Tac-Toe or Checkers. The difference is the size of the problem space. I would think that a MTG type game without chance would have a relatively small problem space.

One way to add depth is to have less perfect information. Allow players to make plays that their opponent can not immediately read. Rock paper scissors isn't very complex, but the choice of what to play is made interesting in that you don't know what your opponent will play.

Maybe look at other games for inspiration. Citadels might be a good one.

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Zouflain    548
Battleforge is exactly this. It eliminates randomness, but is essentially a CCG in that you assemble a deck of twenty cards, and these cards make up the units and buildings you can create in a real time strategy style game. So long as units have exact, rather than random, statistics then there is no element of chance.

---

On a side note, I wont even entertain the idea that chess has no strategy. Either someone has no idea how to play chess, or there's a troll lurking about. No one could be that stupid, after all.

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LorenzoGatti    4442
Quote:
Original post by vaneger
you do add strategy because I don't think the most "obvious" card choice is obvious at all. There are many solutions to an opponent's play, some of which are actually threats of your own (opponent plays creature, you play bigger creature instead of just destroying theirs).

A large part of MTG strategy is gaining some advantage over the "play bigger creature" approach with synergies between cards (e.g. lots of Merfolk creatures + Merfolk Sovereign who gives them a bonus) and explosive combos (e.g. the classic Channel + Fireball to convert life points to damage and kill the opponent on turn 1 or 2).

With a stacked deck, or with freely selected cards, this component degenerates: either there are so few potential synergies that the accumulation of enough insignificant moves to have some strategic depth is the only option, or the game degenerates into RPS-like blind moves (try a combo or try to disrupt the opponent's one).

In both cases, an identical, not shuffled deck for each player leads to the emergence of a well-known dominant strategy.
Quote:

Having to 'make due' on just what is available in a normal MTG game is part of Magic - but in a theoretical new game you don't have that attachment to how things 'are supposed to be' and can tailor the game elements to the new status quo.

Random card drawing forces the player to plan for the average and worst case, rather than for the best case. This is a good feature for any strategy game, and I don't see why you want to remove it.

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TechnoGoth    2937

I think for it to work with a game like magic the strategy would come down to card timing and mystery.

What I would suggest is each player has a hand of 20 cards; a mana reserve that increases by 1 for each land in play at the start of their turn, the mana left in the reserve carries over each turn. All players start with 2 lands in play. It costs 1 mana to play 1 card. Once a card is played it either stays in play until destroyed or is discarded after use depending on the card.

I would probably also have cards in hand also be the players life points if you take damage you discard cards, you lose if you are attacked are have to discard your last card or you have no cards in hand at the end of any turn.

Then there is plenty of scope for strategy, play speeds, card reserves, and mana storage all play important factors. Save mana each turn to play more cards later on. Use it all or save some from defence, include additional lands in your deck to increase mana generation, Focus on creatures or direct damage, risk it all on one attack or play it safe

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Kylotan    9853
Quote:
Original post by LorenzoGatti
In both cases, an identical, not shuffled deck for each player leads to the emergence of a well-known dominant strategy.

Only if you know both decks. If you knew they had no counter for it, you could do something like the old-school Lightning Bolt/Channel/Fireball thing, but an opponent has numerous ways to counter that (I dunno... Force Spike/Lightning Bolt? It's been 12 years since I last played...) so you might have to pick a different strategy.

Quote:
Random card drawing forces the player to plan for the average and worst case, rather than for the best case. This is a good feature for any strategy game, and I don't see why you want to remove it.


It might be that you simply don't want it. I don't think Chess would be better with a random factor, for example. And I think the original poster Girsanov is really trying to dig into how you would go about making a new game in the spirit of Chess, rather that doing what most computer games do and relying on the random factor to add the strategy. I think that's a useful avenue to research.

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lithos    414
for sake of simplicity. Keep the normal rules of MTG but separate the deck into sets of 10. Instead of going through your "untap step" you can instead choose to swap your hand with one of the sets of 10(any remaining cards in your hand becomes a new set).

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RaydenUni    110
Random does not necessarily give a player more interesting choices. Unless the player is able to somehow influence random events, I think they are generally boring. The randomness in MTG is *entirely* controlled by players. They choose their decks and they choose the probabilities of drawing cards. If you were to add a new rule that says "roll a dice and draw that many cards" it wouldn't make the game any more fun, because you don't make any decisions based on the randomness.

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Tom Sloper    16040
Quote:
Original post by Zouflain
On a side note, I wont even entertain the idea that chess has no strategy. Either someone has no idea how to play chess, or there's a troll lurking about. No one could be that stupid, after all.

Amen to that.

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themime    144
First of all, I didn't see anyone saying chess wasn't strategic. I think maybe someone thought someone was being sarcastic where they weren't ("The ability to position pieces (on a board) really add a ton of strategy to Chess.", i think is a valid point and they weren't being sarcastic).

Like others had said, I key part is deception and bluffing. In the case of magic, if you are both playing the exact same deck, with the ability to play any card at any time, the is a lot less strategy because you know how your opponent can react. Now, chess has that same aspect, but there are so many choices (after the first few moves there are thousands and thousands of combination if I remember correctly) that you try to guess what they may do. If you are playing magic with a 60 card deck, and at the beginning of your turn you search your deck for a card and put it in your hand, there are a lot of variable things one can do. Now, with magic card pool, you could set up infinite combos and first turn kills very easily, but with a standard aggro deck, with creatures and a healthy normal mix of creature removal (which, if you are making your own game, you could control this from the start), this I think could potentially retain strategy while removing randomness.

To reiterate, it's about deception, bluffing, etc, not just alternating bringing out the big guys. It's about making decisions, having options, choosing one vs the other. That's something that makes a game fun, and adds strategy (not the only thing mind you).

This is a good thread, I'm excited to see how it progresses.

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themime    144
Had some other thoughts (and a bump >.> )

I was looking into this game (unrelated to this thread, just poking around) called The Spoils, and while reading a description of game play, came upon another mechanic that can prevent some randomness. A point made earlier is getting set resources each turn. If anyone has played magic they can understand why this would be something brought up, as getting mana screwed sucks (not drawing from a random deck the proper resources needed to play cards). In The Spoils, there are specific resource types, but if you don't have one, you can play one face down as a generic resource. This reminded me of the WoW CCG, which is a similar mechanic except there are ONLY generic resources. Also, if you placed a Quest card face down, you can pay a cost and flip it up for some basic effect (usually something simple like drawing a card). I think this lowers certain variance factors in a game while retaining the fun and strategy of randomization.

Also, I think the Star Wars Classic CCG (decipher) in its mid to later years had some minimizing of variance with starting objectives and effects. By starting with an effect or objective that allowed you to pay Force (resources) per turn to pull locations out of your deck (the primary source of Force, the resource of the game), and other types of cards like Effects (mostly permanents) you could set yourself up for a specific type of play or respond to your opponent with certain cards. In this type, you retain some elements of randomness but by choosing cards that let you pull other cards out of your deck, it minimizes getting resource-screwed or screwed in other ways. The same goes for choosing starting Dudes in Doomtown or Characters in Middle Earth CCG (I've played a lot of CCGs haha), or Faction cards in various other games (Cyberpunk, UFS, Spoils, etc).

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