Friday, March 18, 2011

Alter Ego - new form factor

The other night Mike and I were at dinner discussing what it might take to come up with another deck building game, one on par with Ascension (with regard to scope). We brainstormed some themes, and one that sounded promising was superheroes. At first we were talking about each player's starting deck representing a hero and a sidekick, with one or two of several abilities (which would work like the icons in Eminent Domain). The "kingdom" cards would be Hero cards you would get by "training" - they would add icons to your deck. Then you would fight Villains, like you fight monsters in Thunderstone. They would have various costs to defeat, comprised of those ability symbols. Once beaten, maybe TMG's Villains would go in front of you and give you some static effect, like the planets in EmDo.

Then we thought another way to do it would be to have a sort of Legion of heroes, rather than 1 per player. Say there were 5 abilities, there could be 10 heroes, each with 2 of the abilities on them. This would be your starting deck (one card for each hero). You would add cards to your deck such as Sidekick cards, or training cards, or equipment cards, in order to make you strong enough in the various icons to defeat the villains. Mike was very enamored with this idea, and maybe it could be made to work, but I wasn't feeling it.

Thinking about heroes I of course remembered Alter Ego. It occurred to me that the thoughts I'd had about the format of the game were really actually PERFECT for a deck building game... If you start with a deck full of Community, Job, and Family cards, and have to literally lose them to get Hero cards in order to fight Villains!

I think that could work really well, and here's how I see it going down:
Players start with a deck of maybe 6 or 8 each of Family, Job, and Community cards, and possibly a couple of Hero cards (or possibly not). The turn order would follow this outline:
1. Train - remove any one Alter Ego card in hand from the game and replace it with a Hero card.
2. Support - play any number of Family cards and draw two cards for each.
3. Equip - play any number of Job cards to purchase one equipment card into your deck. Equipment cards could be like EmDo's Tech cards or Dominion's Kingdom cards (different selection each game).
4. Patrol - play any number of Community cards. For each one, draw a card off the Villain deck. Then choose a Villain to fight. This could be one of the drawn cards, or one of the standard wimpy villains, or one for the Arch Villains available for the game. Defeating an Arch Villain is how you win the game. In order to qualify to take on an Arch Villain though, maybe you have to defeat several of that Villain's henchmen (villains of that type or 'suit'). I also think if would be cool if you NEEDED to defeat villains to even have a feasible shot at besting an Arch Villain. As such, I think the villains you defeat should come into play in front of you and give you a static ability, like planets in EmDo.

The basic idea here is that you must weaken your deck in one or more of the three basic areas in order to make progress toward winning. I hope to try this idea out, and I think I can do so using an EmDo prototype. Maybe I'll do that while I'm here in Vegas.

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