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sunandshadow

CCG implemented as a single-player PC game

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I have a vague idea of the game's design, but I'd love to hear suggestions about what might be included in it to help me clarify my concept.

My two main inspirations are the old Magic the Gathering PC game Shandalar, and the Pokemon handheld games. I want to create a game where the player captures monsters and uses these to deckbuild, then uses the deck to capture more monsters, etc. with the overall goal of "catch em all". So the player would be the monster tamer, and the monsters would be their card collection, used in combat somewhat like that of Magic the Gathering. The player could also win as loot 1-use items which would allow them to convert a card to a variant (for example, a Fire Opal item might be used to convert a basic Cat card into a Fire Cat card) or to merge two cards together (a Humanoid card could be permanently bonded to a Cat card to produce a Cat Rider card). The cardset as a whole would be basically all creatures, and the player would be encouraged to build decks themed by type because most creatures would have some kind of bonus for having multiple creatures of a type in play on the same team.

Significant differences from MTG and Pokemon: the game would not contain different colors of mana, and creatures would not have elemental strengths and weaknesses (instead fire versions of creatures might have more attack and less defense than base versions of those creatures). Mana generated (probably from creatures, maybe every creature that did nothing else that turn would produce 1 mana) would carry over from turn to turn. Damage to creatures would also carry over from turn to turn. The online game Elements demonstrates that both of these work well in a computer environment. I'm also considering whether the player should refill their hand or draw a whole new hand every turn - I really like the way that works in Thunderstone.

So, questions:

- Should there be only one of each creature allowed in a deck, or how many should be allowed?

- What should the minimum deck size be, and should there be a graveyard or should dead cards be removed from the game or put on the bottom of the deck?

- Besides attack and defense, what other stats would it be interesting for creatures to have? Magic or Rage points which must be saved up to execute a special ability are one possibility.

- Any creature types or secondary types you'd particularly like to see? Secondary types might be elements, drain life, can't attack, must attack, can't block, biased toward offense, biased toward defense, etc.

- Should each player start with some mana or get a set number of mana per turn so they don't get stuck unable to summon any creatures?

- Anything I've forgotten? All comments welcome. :)

[Edited by - sunandshadow on September 27, 2010 7:50:08 PM]

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Iiii just discovered the original Magic: The Gather - Duels of the Planeswalker game. It's pretty excellent. I assume that's what you're talking about when you're referring to Shandalar.

Anyway, I don't normally like open world RPGs like Darklands, which is apparently what Shandalar's engine is based off of and essentially still plays like, but because M:TG's core gameplay is so strong and the RPG element is relegated to strict metagame stuff, it works.

So I GUESS my advice would be to focus more on the actual card game mechanics than the outer game. Not really what you're asking, but it's some general advice that I think would work well because I've seen the OPPOSITE case a couple of times and the end results aren't that great.

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What about making it something like the Vampire the eternal struggle ccg? Essentially you have two decks the crypt which is your monster deck no more than 10 cards and a second deck that contains all your action cards, equipment, locations, and other things. You also have a blood pool which is both your life and used to bring vampires into play, and certain other cards.

Vampires are also unique which makes it interesting as if you bring one into play that is already in play both go out of play and you have to spend blood every turn until one player forfeits their vampire. Vampires are also very difficult to kill and there only a few special ways to permanently remove one play. Taking away all of a vampires' hp(blood) resulted in it being temporarily unavailable until the player used one his other vampires to rescue it.

Action cards are tied to vampire abilities and have two levels basic and superior.

You could allow the player to take up to 10 creatures into battles have a second deck of say 30 cards made up of attacks, evolutions, mutations, etc.
So I might bring a cat into and then use the trickster evolution card to turn into the Cheshire Cat, which has the superior Mind Games, superior Illusion, and basic magic abilities. This would allow me to play actions like Mental Maze to redirect an attacking creature back at its owner, or if it gets in a battle I could play Falling Anvil to do 4 damage to the other creature instead of the usual 1.

Any way you get the idea VTES has probably the best system for interesting creature battles with small numbers of creatures of any CCG I've ever player you can read the rules online and see some of the cards on the white wolf website. It's all about making the most of each creatures, as opposed to magic which tends to be about either quick fire battles or massing large powerful forces.


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Would there be any cards other than monster cards and secondary effects that could be used in battle? If not, I would focus on ways to combine the cards temporarily to allow for diverse battles with a single deck, although in my opinion the permanent card-changes you mentioned are a must.

If the creatures are the central focus to every battle, I would even go so far as to remove the mana aspect of the game. If its only purpose is to summon monsters, which then have their own mana/rage/abilities, it may be worth developing a different mechanic for resources, like sacrificing monsters or combining them on the fly for various other monsters or effects.

Considerations like graveyard or not, number of cards in a deck, restrictions on multiple cards, depend on the resources a player has and the behaviors of individual cards, as well as your story for the game (such as, why are monsters in card form? Answering this will help decide what might be a fitting mechanic for removing cards from play, etc.).

Something I think could be cool:

Each player has a small secondary deck, which they use at the beginning of each game. The secondary cards are landscape cards/building cards, etc., and players take turns laying them out to create the battlefield. Landscapes can have different effects on their own (swamp restricts movement, castle ruins provide extra defense), and can affect specific properties of monsters (which can perhaps be modified in play by secondary cards).

Players can then summon monsters and modify them to fight, and possibly achieve various objectives depending on how deep the battlefield creation might be.

Of course, you'd need story mechanics to describe all of this too, but it would allow for some interesting customizations and play strategies without falling into the M:tG clone trap using land and mana. And whatever you do, make sure that the AI is less cheap/lucky than in Shandalar. Damned dragons with their fireballs and red mana counters!

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Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
What about making it something like the Vampire the eternal struggle ccg? Essentially you have two decks the crypt which is your monster deck no more than 10 cards and a second deck that contains all your action cards, equipment, locations, and other things. You also have a blood pool which is both your life and used to bring vampires into play, and certain other cards.

Vampires are also unique which makes it interesting as if you bring one into play that is already in play both go out of play and you have to spend blood every turn until one player forfeits their vampire. Vampires are also very difficult to kill and there only a few special ways to permanently remove one play. Taking away all of a vampires' hp(blood) resulted in it being temporarily unavailable until the player used one his other vampires to rescue it.


That's very interesting. I've never played that particular CCG but it sounds really similar to Wyvern. It has two decks, dragons are unique, and you have a treasure pool which you have to use to bring your monsters into play. It's an extinct game, for fairly good reason - the rares were too rare, the order for actions was confusing, the art sucked, and you couldn't get much in the way of an interesting combo going, partly because the games were designed to be short. Although I did enjoy the mechanic that you start out with 6 cards face down, and the opponent has to gamble by choosing to attack a mystery card.

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Quote:
Original post by Khaiy
Would there be any cards other than monster cards and secondary effects that could be used in battle?

I'm leaning toward no, although I haven't completely decided. What I want to avoid is the fact that actions/instants/enchantments/etc. are usually more abstract and lead to more math-flavored play than using creatures. I want the game to be concrete, easy for the player to visualize and roleplay.

Quote:
If the creatures are the central focus to every battle, I would even go so far as to remove the mana aspect of the game. If its only purpose is to summon monsters, which then have their own mana/rage/abilities, it may be worth developing a different mechanic for resources, like sacrificing monsters or combining them on the fly for various other monsters or effects.

Interesting idea. I kind of like the idea that otherwise unnoccupied monsters go foraging for food or other resources, it gives the game a bit of strategy flavor. And I also like the playing saving up for two turns to do something big. But perhaps removing mana will turn out to be better; I'll consider it.

Quote:
Landscapes can have different effects on their own (swamp restricts movement, castle ruins provide extra defense), and can affect specific properties of monsters (which can perhaps be modified in play by secondary cards).

I like the way has some 'landscape' creatures - walls or other creatures which can't attack, and some artifact creatures. If I do landscapes I want to do them as creatures.

Quote:
And whatever you do, make sure that the AI is less cheap/lucky than in Shandalar. Damned dragons with their fireballs and red mana counters!

Haha yes Shandalar was obnoxiously buggy, I'd like to avoid that.

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Given your reply, I had a few more ideas:

-The number of a given creature allowed in a deck shouldn't be the same for all creatures. Some might naturally lend themselves to swarming, and players should be encouraged to use them in that way should they choose to. More powerful creatures should be more limited.

-A limit to the number of creatures on the field at one time would force more strategic play, and encourage tactics involving combinations of creatures and abilities.

-A bonus for like-type creatures could be a combination ability of some kind, although this might quickly get out of hand from a design perspective.

-Multiple creatures of one type could be required to be in play in order to summon a stronger creature of that type, provided that such a card is in the player's hand. Having creatures generate mana for the player, as you described in your OP, would be a nice mechanic for this.

-I also like the idea of saving up power over multiple turns to do something bigger. Perhaps like-type creatures could pool mana together for a greater effect, or a shorter charge time (this might have the effect of making some abilities unusable unless a deck is organized heavily by creature type).

Just some ideas I had, let me know what you think.

And P.S. Is this in place of or an evolution of a previous idea you had, a creature-breeding type card game?

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Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
the player would be encouraged to build decks themed by type because most creatures would have some kind of bonus for having multiple creatures of a type in play on the same team
At least in MtG I feel this dumbs the game down, making the creatures unusably weak in another kind of deck and limiting creativity.
Quote:
I'm also considering whether the player should refill their hand or draw a whole new hand every turn - I really like the way that works in Thunderstone.
Drawing a whole new hand sounds bad because then, unless you can somehow manipulate the deck or play cards obscured, there is no hidden information. Whatever you go with, I suggest you make some creatures which are able to alter the overall game flow such as the draws/refills.
Quote:
So, questions:
...
- Should each player start with some mana or get a set number of mana per turn so they don't get stuck unable to summon any creatures?
One possibility would be that you discard creatures to gain mana. This could be an emergency mechanic, a temporary sacrifice to boost something out quicker, or the main way of funding creature output. Then, as long as you can draw, you are not stuck.
Quote:
- Anything I've forgotten?
Win condition(s) might be useful, this presumably being a game and all. :)

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Another thing you should consider is the length of play. How long do you intend a card battle to last?

Depending on how you want it work it might be worth having two sets of rules a quick and long version.

Quick for short battles like claiming ownership of new creature card, and long for tournaments and boss battles. Also you need to consider if you want battles to be 1 or 1 duels or built for multiple players say a 6 player battle royal. In which case you want to consider if players can attack anyone at any time or a predator prey situation where you can only attack a certain player directly until they are defeated.

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This is still the creature-breeding card game, a bit evolved. [smile]

Quote:
Original post by Khaiy
Given your reply, I had a few more ideas:

-The number of a given creature allowed in a deck shouldn't be the same for all creatures. Some might naturally lend themselves to swarming, and players should be encouraged to use them in that way should they choose to. More powerful creatures should be more limited.

No, I don't like that kind of inconsistency. I'd rather limit more powerful creatures by their casting cost, or giving them an upkeep of sacrificing something. At the moment I'm leaning toward only allowing one of each creature in a deck. This makes the creatures more individual, and like the Pokemon handheld games I could allow players to name their monsters, which contributes to roleplayability.

Quote:
-Multiple creatures of one type could be required to be in play in order to summon a stronger creature of that type, provided that such a card is in the player's hand. Having creatures generate mana for the player, as you described in your OP, would be a nice mechanic for this.

I'm considering the possibility that creatures can be played face down for free, and when face down they do nothing but produce mana. Then the mana produced can be paid to activate the creature, flipping it face up.

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