Design Diary for the Unnamed Card Game, Part 1

About six months ago I was struck by inspiration, an idea for a card game which sounded great and I have been developing the concept since then. I thought that I would like to write it up here, partly for my own records but also to let anyone else add in their thoughts or point out things that I might have missed. Might not be interesting if you don’t like card games and game theory though. I’ll try to keep it brief.

I had been playing some card games with a few friends and I thought, how about a card game where you score by removing cards from play, then as the deck recycles the new card mix causes gameplay and tactics to change. I was picturing agonising decisions as players try to decide whether they want to take the high scoring card or the one that could otherwise help their opponents or just hold on to the card for another turn leaving more options open for next turn.

Initial thoughts for how to turn this concept into an actual game didn’t really go anywhere. I realised that I needed a setting for the game, a story to hold it all together. I wrote down what I wanted to happen in an ideal game: Limited resources being removed from the setting with play getting more and more nasty as the game progresses. Almost the second I pinned this down I had my setting, a planet about to be consumed by its sun, the players in control of the evacuation efforts. My mind flooded with images of Chris Foss spaceships and solar flares.

So now I was able to start putting names to the resources the game was to be about. Spaceships would be the linchpin that ties the rest together, people would be the primary cargo for these ships with valuable items a secondary option and then of course the ships would need fuel and the people would need supplies like food, water and medicine. Add in a healthy selection of action cards to let players mess up each other’s plans, steal each other’s resources and fsift through the deck for the cards they need and that sounds like a full set.

Bam, nailed it! I thought. I now had a game concept that sounded interesting, different, fun and most importantly, it sounded like it would work!

It is at this point in any creation that I am working on that I am at my most enthused. I always make a point of writing down exactly what it is that I am trying to do to try and hold onto this excitement and focus. Too many times I’ve found myself losing track of what I was trying to make after making one too many changes in an effort to make it work. If you were hoping for some insight or gem of wisdom from me in this post, that was it. Although you probably already knew it.

Next up: Putting together a prototype deck and getting playtesting started.


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