A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that we were looking at alternate ways to begin battles, rather than the AI deploying three cards and then the player placing three of theirs.
So this week I thought I’d explore what some of the alternatives would actually mean to the game and how it plays, but, as I pointed out a while ago, just because this blog discusses something doesn’t mean that feature is imminent (or in fact confirmed at all). Consider these posts a ‘what if’ design discussion rather than a firm commitment.
We originally had the opponent place all their cards first so players could enjoy the puzzle of working out how to use their current hand of cards in the optimum way. The side effect of this setup is it gives players an advantage over their opponent, but as everyone has the same advantage (and the AI opponent doesn’t get upset about it) that doesn’t matter.
But over time we’ve noticed that the opponent always deploying first rather limits some of our future gameplay options, and it makes deck Initiative less important than it could be (as you can see your opponent’s initial setup and so always deploy to counter whatever a faster opponent is going to do on turn one).
So, as mentioned we’re experimenting with alternate deployment options we might perhaps use, each of which has implications which are interesting to consider…
One option is to say the player (or AI) whose deck has the lower Initiative value must deploy their cards first. However, if one side has to deploy all three of their cards first then they have no information on what they might be facing in that battle, which is a considerable disadvantage. As a result we might need to say that the person deploying first also chooses the first attack type, though this is more along the lines of attempting to counter their opponent who was using deploying second to attempt to counter them!
If we took this approach I predict we’d see decks built around flexibility to counter your opponent’s initial advantage, and high Initiative to try and secure that early advantage.
Another option is to have players taking turns to deploy a card at a time, presumably beginning with whoever’s deck has the lower Initiative. This approach will slow each battle down, as players take time to look at their hand of cards, what their opponent has on the table and whether to move any of their currently deployed cards with their new ones.
However, the slower initial phase of each battle could be worth it for the much more interesting challenge of working out which of your cards to lead with (beginning to reveal your deck setup to your opponent) and how to respond to what they’re putting out.
A halfway balance between the two options would be to require the slower Initiative player to deploy one card, then the other player to deploy two cards. Finally, the slower player deploys their other two initial cards and the faster deploys their final initial card. This approach would be a little faster than a full ‘I go, you go’ but tones down some of the advantage of having the faster Initiative, so could make for an interesting compromise.
If we took this approach I wonder if people would include a couple of ‘all-round’ cards in their deck to hopefully be dealt into their hand if they have to deploy first (so they can react to their opponent and give as little as possible away about their own deck setup).
There are other possibilities for start of battle deployment, plus questions about deploying additional cards mid-battle (such as who deploys first when both sides lose cards in the same turn?). But hopefully this post has shown some of the interesting options open to a change like, and how any game design decision can ripple out into all sorts of areas and affect elements you might not have expected.
If you’d prefer a slower, more reactive initial deployment, or more emphasis on Initiative when deck building, or even something radical like deployment based on Initiative followed by a coin-toss to see who goes first, let me know in the comments and I’ll pass any feedback on to the team who might make any changes to this area in the future. You can get in touch by leaving a comment below, through our Facebook page or by mailing [email protected]. Also, if you’d like to follow our posts through RSS you can use this link: https://www.combatcards.com/feed/