Monday, April 09, 2007

Card game designs

Kessel Run

I'm sure I'll have to rename this (maybe Blockade Run or something), but in the meantime Kessel Run is a race between smugglers (a la Han Solo) to smuggle contraband to various systems en route to Kessel and back.

The 'board' is a series of planets which will purchase one or some of the various resources in the game, and will pay a certain amount for them. Your ship can move to the next system on your turn, OR you can initiate your hyperdrive and 'jump' several systems down the line. However the Hyperdrive must be charged.

For each system you stop in, you take a Parsec card (indicating that you have travelled through a parsec), then you can deliver goods. Payouts for a delivery is drawing more cards, you assign some of the cards to charging your Hyperdrive and the rest are goods to be delivered later. At the finish line, your score is the number of goods in hand minus the number of Parsec cards you've collected.

The idea is to choose efficient stops where you can make good money off your deliveries, and choose wisely how much of your payoff to put into fueling your Hyperdrive (up to it's capacity) and how much to save for later. The sooner you return to the starting planet, the fewer points you lose for mucking about in outer space.

In an attempt to capture the feel of 9-ball, I'm working on this card game.

On your turn you first play a card either from your hand or from a face up pool. The difference being that your hand does not refill until the end of your turn, while the face up pool refreshes after each shot. Thus, if you make several shots in a row, your hand size will decrease and eventually you will run out of plays.

Then you would follow that up with another card, either from your hand or the draw pool, and you would keep doing that until you decide you're done, or until you play a [BALL -> POCKET] card, sinking a ball in a pocket. After the shot is complete, you may perform a "Leave" if you wish, which consists of discarding one of the face up cards from the draw pool and replacing it either from your hand or the deck.

Finally, you refresh the draw pool to 3 cards from the deck. If your shot both began by hitting the Object Ball and ended with sinking a ball, then you may begin another shot by playing another card. Otherwise, you refill your hand and it's your opponents turn. If you happened to Table Scratch (not hit the Object Ball first, and not play a SAFETY card), then you opponent gets to discard a card out of the draw pool or his hand and replace it from the deck before starting his turn.

The player who sinks the 9 Ball wins the round. The game can be played to any number of rounds, or you could score per round as follows:
Score points equal to the number of the ball you've sunk. So the 8 Ball is worth 8 points. Sinking the 9 Ball in this case should count as some kind of bonus as well. The game could be played until a predetermined point total is met, or the player with the most points at some particular time could be declared the winner.

Table Tennis
The genesis for this game was the following:
First, consider Rock paper Scissors. Not much player decision there, you pick either R, P or S, and you see if you win or lose.

Now consider a similar game where there are 5 choices (A, B, C, D, and E), and each choice 'beats' 2 of the other choices (A>B,C; B>C,D; C>D,E; D>E,A; E>A,B), and instead of player simultaneously choosing, these choices are on cards an you take turns playing cards back and forth - where you have to play a card that 'beats' the last card played. So if you play a C card, I have to play either an A card or a B card. This gives me a choice to make, but not much to base that choice on, so it's still not terribly interesting.

Next, let's say that we each have a deck of these cards, and we turn 3 of them face up - and when playing a card, it must come from that face up pool (and then replace that card from the deck). Now that we can see what options the opponent has available, we have some information on which to base our decision. It's still not a terribly interesting decision though...

Finally, let's add time pressure. Each player has 5 seconds on a chess clock, and if your time runs out, you lose, and if you have no legal play you flip cards off the top of your deck until one is legal to play. After you play your card you hit the clock and my time is ticking: I have 2 basic options... make the first/fastest legal play I can each turn and hope to stay ahead of you so that your flag
falls first, or look at what plays you have available and try to play cards you cant respond to immediately, costing you valuable time cycling through your deck looking for a play. The catch is that even such a simple decision will take a little time, and you only have 5 seconds total.

I think that could make for a fun and interesting game.

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