Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time - it's tricky!

Yesterday a thought came to mind about trick taking games. To start with, I HATE trick taking games. I just don't think they're fun at all, and I'm terrible at predicting how many tricks I will take, which is the measure by which many trick taking games are scored. So if I hate them so much, why give them a moment's thought?

Well, somehow in thinking about 7 Wonders, and reading something (probably on about trick taking, this idea popped into my head:

"What if the cards from the trick you've won went into play in front of you?"

I think I would like a trick taking game better if the trick taking mechanism were merely the way you go about improving your board position and getting an interesting combination of effects. Imagine a trick taking game in which the cards of each suit, in addition to having a numeric value, also had some game effect printed on them. Maybe a character (a Champion?), some Equipment, some Artifacts, and some Events. The Character would go into play and provide the ability to do something later. The Equipment would attach to the Character and be useful, but if you don't have the character in play it would be discarded. The Artifacts would simply go into play and have a static effect. The Events would have an immediate effect and then be discarded. Thus by winning a trick, you would get some cards which would all come into play and/or have their effect. Or perhaps from your trick you choose 1 card to put into play and save the rest for some other purpose (or just discard them).

Of course the game would have to offer something to do with these items once they're in play. Maybe after several rounds of trick taking, you then resolve some battle, or economy, or whatever based on the stuff you have in play. Maybe this is iterative, and the results of this resolution are how you get cards for the next round of trick taking. Maybe it also scores points. Or maybe something that's good at scoring points is bad at getting you more cards, while things that help you get more or better cards are not worth as many points.

A dynamic I've been interested in using in a game (and indeed, was using in the Liar's Auction game I was working on before) is this: In a game with several different categories, having collected something in one category makes you better at collecting more things in that category, but rewards for doing so suffer from diminishing returns, so that for scoring you would rather have things from a variety of categories.

In the Liar's Auction I was using the item you got for winning the Red auction made it easier for you to win more Red auctions, but each time you win a Red auction you get fewer points than the last time. So for scoring you'd rather win 4 different auctions (20vp in this case: 5+5+5+5) than 4 of the same auction (14vp in this case: 5+4+3+2).

This could apply here, where winning a Spades trick could put cards in play that make it easier for you to win future Spades tricks, but the rewards in the game are better if you win a variety of tricks. Perhaps you can only have 1 Champion of each suit in play, so if you want another Champion you have to win a trick of another suit, etc,


Seth Jaffee said...

I believe that's the Pillars of the Earth card game. I didn't realize it had trick taking in it.

I've been scooped! :)

Nolan said...

It seems that the Pillars of the Earth card game is about half of what you are describing. It is certainly a different spin on trick-taking, but the latter part of your thoughts start to lean towards something that is also about building an efficient engine. I think there is some potential in combining the two mechanics.