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Trying to design a competitive crafting game

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Heya! Trying to create a quick, escalating and competitive crafting card game. Each round should not take more than a couple minutes, so you can play a "best of 3" in a coffee break. The project should be finished this week. It's a little something to break the routine.
 
The idea is that a customer walks in a blacksmith shop, and asks for a random item (example: metal hammer) and a quality (normal, legendary, etc). The player is supposed to make that something, or as similar as possible. Limited amount of turns to create and improve the item. 
 
Heavily work in progress, but after working for the past few years on serious, "commercially viable" products, I just wanted a silly, quick game. Here are some WIP notes and concepts:
 
 
Please, any comment or notes here or in the doc. Many thanks!

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I love me some crafting, and have recently started playing card games more (hearthstone, and even Magic just last weekend!). 

 

Is this meant to be a CCG where players have a certain "collection" of cards? If so, I wonder at the speed of gaining new loot cards. You say you can finish a few rounds in a coffee break which makes for a potentially very high turnover, which might make it trivially easy to gather every card in the game. 

 

Also, an alternative idea which I think might give players more options during the game (but also likely has the tradeoff of making matches longer): Instead of having a single order for both players to craft, have a choice of three (or however many for good balance). Players "win" the completed order once they'e made the item (and perhaps have options to win the order with a non-exact match as you describe in your doc). Completed orders are replaced so there are always three options available to go for. Furthermore, players on certain very good turns could have the ability to win more than one order at once if they use their cards very efficiently.

 

I suggest this because I think it might allow for more playstyles and big swing turns for people who've fallen behind, which is always a fun thing to see in card games. Also helps prevent a person being entirely screwed by never having the cards to go for the correct single product.

 

Anyway, the concept sounds interesting! One last note: in your  doc you mention "stroking" the coals, when I'm fairly sure you meant "stoking." I do not imagine there are too many blacksmiths who stroke their coals on purpose. ;)

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I have had something similar a time ago. Besides game development I'm also hobbyist author of board games. My version was about crafting alchemy/runes with a deck building system included.

 

Draw 5 random cards from the center deck (this is your walk through the nature to collected ingredients/rune wood), you may discard cards to achieve more crads from the center deck until you have enougth cards in hand to bring receipes/rune spell onto the board. You have 4 types of resources to craft simple or more complex stuff with greater power.

 

Cards are chained into a tree that is counted from bottom to top root card counting the points and effects you gain this round.

You could also attach cards to opponents constructs for triggering critical mass/certain rune effect.

 

The game ends when a player lost all his 5 explosion counters/curse marks, has less than 5 cards in his deck or achieved 20 faith

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I love me some crafting, and have recently started playing card games more (hearthstone, and even Magic just last weekend!). 

 

Is this meant to be a CCG where players have a certain "collection" of cards? If so, I wonder at the speed of gaining new loot cards. You say you can finish a few rounds in a coffee break which makes for a potentially very high turnover, which might make it trivially easy to gather every card in the game. 

 

Also, an alternative idea which I think might give players more options during the game (but also likely has the tradeoff of making matches longer): Instead of having a single order for both players to craft, have a choice of three (or however many for good balance). Players "win" the completed order once they'e made the item (and perhaps have options to win the order with a non-exact match as you describe in your doc). Completed orders are replaced so there are always three options available to go for. Furthermore, players on certain very good turns could have the ability to win more than one order at once if they use their cards very efficiently.

 

I suggest this because I think it might allow for more playstyles and big swing turns for people who've fallen behind, which is always a fun thing to see in card games. Also helps prevent a person being entirely screwed by never having the cards to go for the correct single product.

 

Anyway, the concept sounds interesting! One last note: in your  doc you mention "stroking" the coals, when I'm fairly sure you meant "stoking." I do not imagine there are too many blacksmiths who stroke their coals on purpose. ;)

 

Interesting concepts (especially the 3 requests), I'll try to implement them in the design. It allows for better competitive gameplay.

 

Also, adding a new round phase: gathering. This allows you to get more and better resources, based off your tool quality (high QL pickaxe gives rare ore). 

 

As for the CCG part: no. This is a closed game, nothing to collect. One box, several stacks, put the cards on the playing area, done. Imagine Munchkin, Exploding Kittens or NetRunner. Expansions add new events and resources, but a player with more cash and time should not have a better deck.

 

The current issue I'm encountering is balance: how to allow a player that is losing, to have a chance against someone with better resources and equipment? Maybe with "screw you" cards? An action could be to mess up with the opponent (hire people to oxidise and ruin the opponent's ore).

 

As for "stoking" vs "stroking" yeah, my bad. English is my 3rd language after all :D

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...

 

As for the CCG part: no. This is a closed game, nothing to collect. One box, several stacks, put the cards on the playing area, done. Imagine Munchkin, Exploding Kittens or NetRunner. Expansions add new events and resources, but a player with more cash and time should not have a better deck.

 

...

 

The current issue I'm encountering is balance: how to allow a player that is losing, to have a chance against someone with better resources and equipment? Maybe with "screw you" cards? An action could be to mess up with the opponent (hire people to oxidise and ruin the opponent's ore).

 

Ah, my mistake on the CCG thing then. And ah, balance. The scourge of us all. At first thought I agree that you should have ways to mess with the other person's strategy. The question that follows, for me, is what shape it should take - sabotage like you'd mentioned, or "cleaner" economic competition, like blocking them from buying certain resources or limiting their hand/storage amounts. Lots of options, and a lot of the decisions will come down to the kind of theme and mood you want.

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Well, honestly I like being a dick in games. Sabotage, ruse, deceit. Would love to introduce these elements to this game, like some actions are only for screwing with the other players.

The original idea was to make an asymmetric game, but that creates far too many layers, and it's too soon for that level of complexity in the design.

Ideas?

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One immediate idea: I recently played a board game called Splendour in which players compete for various objectives in a somewhat similar fashion. One element of that game was being able to "Reserve" a certain objective, preferably when you had noticed another player specifically aiming for it - in this way you can further your own goals while rendering some of their work useless. This could work for your game: a player can (with the use of a certain card or otherwise limited-use action)  "reserve" a product for his own completion. You could even be extra dickish about it if you make that not count as removing it from play, essentially limiting the other player's available goals to two (or however many) until the reserved product is completed by the reserving player. 

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Some brainstorms:

 

(1) It might be good to have some customers be "poor", meaning that if you sell them a legendary item you don't get an additional reward.  (Whether that's normal amounts of gold rather than big amounts of gold, or not getting the best-of-three loot pick, etc.)  That way you have a reason to hold back on your cards that would make a normal item legendary, rather than making legendary items immediately at every opportunity.  On the other hand, "rich" customers will give full bonus for higher-quality items but if you disappoint them, they never come back with another order.

 

(2) For the catching-up-from-behind problem, the root of that might be that it sounds like there's one basic path to victory on an exponential curve (you win by making the best stuff, and winning makes you better able to make the best stuff).  Other paths to victory would help the player who's further back on that curve.  What other things could a blacksmith do to "get ahead"?

  • At one point in the game, each player chooses an Apprentice card from a random deal of three.  Each apprentice card gives a minor perk.  By orders of the Guild, the player that's furthest behind gets first choice of Apprentice.
  • In addition to making stuff for customers, the player can work on their "masterwork", which is a special item that uses every resource.  When they make it, the player graduates to Master Blacksmith status (which gives you some kind of perk, like a free action or an extra apprentice).  That gives the player a way to get ahead even if they're unlucky on the customer front.
  • There's a tradeoff between making more, easier things for many poor customers and fewer, harder things for few rich customers.  The latter is the obvious route to victory.  But if there's some bonus for the *number* of customers you satisfy, then being the Blacksmith for the Poor can also be a viable strategy.  For example, the player who satisfied the most customers is elected "Mayor" (which gives them another perk, like collecting "sales tax" when other players make sales).  (I don't know if you have gold in the game, but even without gold, maybe "sales tax" could be something like, when another player sells a legendary item, they choose two cards but the Mayor gets the third.)

These also give a bit of asymmetry, but asymmetry that's not set in stone.  Any player can be a Master Blacksmith or the Mayor if that's their strategy.

 

(3) For messing with other players: A common marketplace of items where you can list an item for sale at any time.  In selling, you reveal the *type* of item but not its properties.  A player can take an item from this marketplace, reveal its properties (and therefore value), and then immediately pay the value to the selling player.  So that's a way to get rid of low-value cards... but also high-value cards that you don't actually need, so that your opponent takes the loss instead of you.  (So say you have a chance to make a legendary axe and there's no customer who wants it, and you can place it in the marketplace.  Your opponent needs an axe, just an ordinary axe, and buys your axe, and realizes it's legendary and they have to pay 12 gold, and they were only going to get 4 gold for fulfilling the order in the first place.)

Edited by valrus

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@Telcontar: I'll research about that game, but I don't think the idea fits in this card game. The concept is that a customer presents a work order, and the various players scramble to complete it as fast as they can, while screwing eachother.

 

@Navyman: Yeah, saw that review, which shares many of my thoughts: mobile design, repetition, "clicker" feel, etc. Learning from its mistakes

 

@Valrus: 

 

1. Currency adds too much complexity. Would like to avoid it. The fact that you present a higher quality item means you misused those resources, so when the time comes and you need to craft a legendary item, you won't have rare ore, as you wasted it on a previous work order.

 

2.

a) Would need more details about that apprentice. The idea is that all players are apprentices in the same smithy.

b) Was thinking of doing this to improve their own tools, thus being able to have new actions and rarer resources.

c) I also feel that this is too complex for the current state. For the future and in digital form, sure. But as a current prototype LCG, it feels over the top.

 

3. This makes the game the other way around, kinda like Potato Weapon Shop or Recettear. You first craft a lot of stuff, then you present it to the customers, hoping they'd like it. Occasionally, you make things on the spot. This game, on the other hand, has to be quick, with no finished product inventory. Customer walks in, you fight to make that (or those) product(s), whom ever does the best job, wins. Repeat for the best of 3. KISS principle for now, until all the bases are covered and the core gameplay is engaging.

 

Thanks to you all for your thoughts!

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