Designing a Trading Card Game (#TCG)

My daughter and I worked together to make a card game. I have played around with the Chaotic TCG and found it a little complicated to play with the kids. So this one is simpler but still interesting, I hope.

I’m sure there are lots of fascinating books and articles about how to design fun, clever, fair, and complete TCGs. Having not even looked for that literature, we ventured into creating by trial and error. It’s a good learning experience, I suppose, to work through problems which someone else has already tackled but to not access any “hints”. Also, we’re not trying to develop a commercially viable game, so I’m okay with it being an imperfect game.

The game doesn’t have a name. There are currently 10 character cards and 10 location cards. We’ll add more soon, if it’s worth continuing. The basic premise is that each player has a party of characters and must attack the other player until someone is defeated entirely. Battles occur between pairs of characters, and each character heals completely between conflicts.

  1. Each player lays their character cards face up on the table.
  2. Location cards are shuffled and placed in a pile face down.
  3. Each player rolls a die until one player rolls a lower value than the other. The player with the lower roll is the first attacker.
  4. The attacker selects a character card from each player; these characters will battle.
  5. A location card is turned over.
  6. The location card determines which player strikes first (either the attacker or the defender) and whether the initial attack is a close attack or a distant attack.
  7. The location card determines the initial conditions; for example, a particular location may provide a certain character with additional HP or may reduce magical resistance.
  8. For each turn, the active player may (a) attack; (b) reposition; or (c) flee. After this action is completed, the other player becomes active and begins their turn.
  9. Attacking: If the current position is Close, use the attacker’s Close Attack formula. If the current position is Distant, use the attacker’s Distant Attack formula. The attacking player rolls a die and calculates the gross damage done. The value is then reduced by the defending character’s Resistance (Physical Resistance if the attacker has the Physical attack Type; Magical Resistance if the attacker has the Magical attack Type). If the value is below zero, no damage is done. The defender’s Hit Points are reduced by the net damage done. If the Hit Points remaining are zero or less, the character is defeated.
  10. Repositioning: The current attack position is either Close or Distant; the active player can use their turn to attempt to reposition. The player rolls a die; if the value rolled is 5 or 6 then the current attack position is changed. If the value rolled is not 5 or 6, there is no change.
  11. Fleeing: The active player may attempt to flee the conflict by rolling a die; if the value rolled is 6 then the battle is ended. It does not matter which player flees a battle. A player may only flee 3 battles in the course of an entire game.
  12. After  a battle is complete (either because of a character’s defeat or because one character has fled), control passes to the other player, who returns to step 4. If all of a player’s characters have been defeated, that player has lost.

I had to travel for work, so we haven’t had a chance to play yet. Also, we haven’t made any artwork for the cards, which should also be fun. Once we’ve tried out the game, we’ll refine and expand it (if we like it, that is).

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