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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Untitled Card Game Rules

Follows are how the card game I've devising for the next try at interactive fiction might work. The card game will more or less represent combat in the game. At one point I was playing around with extremely custom cards ... almost like Magic: The Gathering kind of deal. In explaining those mechanics to The Girl, I got a little mockery and confusion in response. At first I thought it might be the explanation but in prototyping I think it was the mechanics themselves.

So now, I moved to a more traditional card game. Players will maintain a hand of cards during the story and at certain times they will either play comptetively against the computer or play cards to control the direction of the narrative. The card game will keep the player's hand dynamic as well as introduce both skill and luck into the narrative flow.

Here's how the game breaks down ... and again this is rough:

Take a standard deck of cards and remove the jacks, queens and kings (and jokers). Aces are low. Shuffle the remaining cards and deal six cards to the player, six cards to the opponent (computer in the game, other player here).

Take three cards from the deck and place them in a row between the two players, face down. The middle card will determine the trump suit. Player gets to chose which of the other two cards to take, remaining card goes to opponent. Flip all three cards. The suit of the middle card is now officially trump. Of the two cards, the higher number will determine who throws first unless only one card is trump ... and then it automatically wins.

A hand consists of three turns with the players alternating who throws first. The rules here coincide with the "initiative" cards - higher card wins unless only one card is of the trump suit. The player who wins the turn can select which card to keep in their hand and is awarded the point difference between the two cards. If the card only wins because of trump, no points are rewarded but the player may still select a card. The other card is placed in a discard pile. The loser of the turn must draw a card from the original pile.

If the cards are both not trump and are tied, both cards are discarded and both players must draw.

The player with the most points at the end of the hand wins. In the case of a tie, another hand is played.

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Corvus said...

Interesting. I'll try and run that a few times this week. I've been toying with the idea of using my Renown deck for similar things, although I've so far been focusing on magic use.

Corvus said...

Oh, I think having the limit of a set deck is important for these sorts of things. Custom Magic-esque decks can escalate out of control too quickly, warping your system into something unwieldy and awkward.

Josh said...

Completely agreed. And it wasn't adding much to the overall setup that isn't still in there, just the illusion of depth.

If everything hums along, I might add "wild cards" in down the way, but it's something that I would only look at if I was happy with everything else. It would require another layer of interaction/code above what's already getting framed out.

Josh said...

Oh - and the number of hands may be variable depending on where someone is in the story. One thing I need to measure is if more hands = more difficulty, which will mean "bigger" opponents will require more hands.

Plus, I acknowledge that since technically the player maintains a constant hand, "hand" isn't the best term for a collection of turns. Round is better I guess.

Josh said...

Things I'm considering to tinker with:

1. Trump hidden until all three turns are played (to maintain a hidden variable which might complicate strategy/risk)

2. Discard/draw rules. Having fewer than 6 cards certain raises the difficulty level, which would aid in the "rounds = difficulty" mechanic.

Josh said...

OK - Updates being worked on now:

1. Instead of points, players are awarded tricks for beating a card. IOW instead of scoring the difference, they're just scored a point.

2. Players do not immeadiately draw a new card or take the card they've beaten.

3. At the end of a round, players get to draw the same number of tricks they've taken.

4. The maximum number of turns is the lowest number of cards either player has. So I lost enough that I only have two cards in my hand, the round only plays up to two turns, not three.

5. The game is over when one player has no more cards left.

How the trump and initiative cards work may vary during the story itself.

I'm working on a prototype which I'll share before the story/game itself is done.