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  • How to properly incorporate army into Deckbuilder + Skirmish game?

     Max Moody updated 1 year, 12 months ago 4 Members · 7 Posts
  • Max Moody

    May 27, 2021 at 7:32 am

    This is a repost from the BGDL facebook group, but I figured I’d reshare to start to fill in content here!

    Hi! I’ve been struggling with a specific issue in my Command Strike Game for a while now that I would like to get some thoughts on again…

    Command strike is a deckbuilder + skirmish war game in the thematic vein of an old school PC RTS game. For a large part of it’s design life, I had the players purchasing unit cards that could either be played onto the battlefield as a military unit to fight with on a skirmish map, or to play the card for a monetary value to buy new units. If a unit was destroyed on the map, it would go back to your discard pile. A problem that kept occurring that I finally realized was game breaking was the fact that if the player generally deployed their unit cards onto the board, that means their deck is basically continually being reduced to it’s near starting deck point, making the deckbuilding portion of the game not very fun.

    My first solution to this was to entirely remove the “units” from the deckbuilding portion, so the deckbuilding focused almost entirely as your economy, which you used to purchase buildings and new units that were separate functions from the deck. There would be around 12 unit options. The units would be purchased and immediately go to the battlefield, and be removed when destroyed. The problem with this method is the deckbuilding itself doesn’t feel like it has enough layers. There isn’t enough going on since it’s just entirely economy and I’m not sure what layers could be added to make it more interesting.

    Another solution is to have units as cards as was in the original version, but instead of the card itself going on the battlefield, a token or small card would be placed onto the battlefield after the unit card is played from your hand. The unit card stays in your deck this way since it is separate from it’s unit token on the battlefield. The problem with this method is if I have almost every card in the market deck be some sort of unit, I would need far to many different tokens to represent all the different units to purchase. I could have there be non-unit cards in the market, but the problem with that is if the market puts out all the non unit cards so there are non to purchase.

    I don’t exactly have a specific question here, but wondering if the description of the problems spark any ideas or thoughts?

  • Jeffrey Pacitto

    May 27, 2021 at 9:52 am

    What about limiting the size of the army? If any one player can only have X number of deployed units it would force the deck to cycle more. Or an exhaustion point for the units that returns them to the deck. Maybe after 3 turns if they’re not defeated they return to the player’s discard pile, or something to that effect. You could track that age with tokens or dice of course, or just by rotating the card (assuming rotation isn’t part of the tactics of the game. From the layout of your game board there it doesn’t look like it is as they’re all facing the same way). Even a small “reminder” text number on the car edges could help with that. That would also open up the possibility of “longer lasting” units, or even shorter term ones that do more in less time, or something to that effect? Or even other cards to “reset” them, like a supply run or air-drop of sorts, to keep with the theme, allowing the combatants to “soldier on” (as it were) for another 3 rounds, or whatever.

    • Max Moody

      May 27, 2021 at 11:54 am

      I like this idea. I had played around with, but not seriously tested, having the number of units you can have out on the board be based on the number of buildings you have built, sort of like a population limit in an RTS based on supply depots or whatever. My only qualm with this is that the game might be too slow in the beginning and I was going towards having more units out in general so it felt more like the scale of an RTS, but I think it’s still worth exploring.

  • Stephen Hurn

    June 3, 2021 at 6:31 am

    This sounds a lot like Star Realms. In that game they use the concept of bases and ships. Bases are permanent until they are destroyed, while ships are used and sent straight to the discard pile.
    The basic problem you have here is that your decks are cycling too fast. There are a number of ways to slow them down:- introduce more utility cards that are used and immediately discarded;- slow down draw power so that players can draw less cards per turn;- limit the number of cards that can be deployed as units each round.
    Any one of these three things will do what you need.

  • Daniel Josey

    June 3, 2021 at 8:30 am

    Hey Max!
    I have been following your design process for a while now on various channels. You might have described this in some of those but I am curious what you end goal for the game is? I ask because if the goal involves a large Kickstarter campaign then awesome chunky minis that are placed on the battle field might fit really well! I would suggest less than 10 unit types if you went this route. Think TI 4, all players have access to the same units and then you could have cards that boost a specific unit type for that player.
    A couple of other thoughts:The slowing down of your deck by playing out units sounds a like a nice balance mechanism. If you can get the core deck to be fun from the get go.What about the cards as activations? Add another layer as you mentioned, if used as activations then you can’t use them for economy. This also helps balance the game when one player has a much larger force on the field that the other given they could only activate as many units as they have cards. Could also make tempo more important.

    • Max Moody

      June 3, 2021 at 1:26 pm

      Hey Daniel, good to see you here!
      I have not decided on the final path yet as far as production and selling. I always feel like kickstarter is the more lucrative/sexy path, but it looks like there is a lot more work involved.

      I had been originally avoiding minis since I wanted the unit stats to be on whatever is on the board (card or token), but it might be more possible to have minis if I have fewer units.

      The direction I’m currently exploring is back to the activation type cards, so we’ll see how it plays out.

      My fear with going the activation card route is dead hands and/or not enough activations in general and the tactical skirmish part feels stale.

  • Max Moody

    June 3, 2021 at 1:02 pm

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