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  Mechanic #134 - RPG Card Battle
Posted: 12/01/11

A simple card battle game between two RPG characters.

  RPG Card Battle



Fig 134.1 - Battle. With Cards.


I was watching my daughter play the card game War, which isn't a particularly good card game. There's no creative input from either player. It might as well play itself. However, I was impressed by how fast each turn went and thought that I would like a two-player battle game that had a little bit more in the tactical decision making area, but still was relatively quick to play. As such, I tried to limit myself to cards that did only one thing.

  The Basics of How to Play

Each player has a small deck of cards, customized in a manner similar to [#100 - Equippable Card Game]. That is, the cards are decided by what the player has equipped. The player has no direct control over the cards. Each item contributes 5-7 cards to the deck, with an additional "class set" which is based on the character's class. Then the players are each dealt five cards, visible to the other player.

Also of note is that each player has a built in set of stats, also based on the equipment. In this example, it is basically the attack and defensive value of a basic attack, and the number of hit points that player's character possesses.

Each turn, both players select a card to play OR can remove the leftmost card from play in order to perform a basic attack. Cards that are removed from play are simply placed aside to be reshuffled back in when the player runs out of cards. Cards that are discarded are considered removed from play and can not be used again and will not be reshuffled back in. For instance, items can only be once. To indicate this, they are discarded from play rather than being shuffled back into the deck to pop back up later.

A basic attack is performed by removing the leftmost card from the hand (to be reshuffled in later). The character does his base attack against the enemy. The damage done is simply:

(base attack + attack modifiers) - (enemy base defense + enemy defense modifiers)

In the above example, the female knight would have a base attack of 5 versus the enemy's base defense of 3. Unmodified, the result would be a total of 2 damage done.

The ATTACK and DEFEND cards, usually put into the hand by the character's weapon and armor respectively, will modify those base values. So selecting an ATTACK + 1 card and the enemy selects a DEFEND + 2 card, the result is (5 + 1) - (3 + 2), or 1 damage. If both players pick ATTACK cards, they hit each other using unmodified defenses. If both players pick DEFEND cards, no damage is traded that turn. Actions are considered simultaneously, so even if one attack would eliminate one player, both actions are played out in full before that happens.

Equipment won't just have ATTACK and DEFEND cards. For instance, shields may include a SHIELD BASH card which can defend and reflect damage back at the attacker. A sword may have a PARRY card that will nullify damage from weapon attacks. A poisoned sword may have both ATTACK cards and POISON cards in its set. And so on.

Items are one use cards that have some effect, like healing or making the player hard to hit. Items are discarded (removed from play) after use and their effects are considered after the end of the turn (i.e. you heal after you have been hit). Items and effect cards that cause ongoing effects (poison damage for 3 turns) are placed to the side of the field as long as they are in progress. When they complete, they are placed in either the reshuffle deck or the discard deck, depending on whether it is an item effect or a weapon effect. If there is a reshuffle while they are in effect, they are not placed back in the deck.

After a turn is complete, players draw a new card and slides it in from the right. The end result is that as cards are used, either as actions or to perform basic attacks, the remaining cards shift to the left as new cards enter from the right.

When the player's draw deck is depleted, the player may not draw any new cards. He must use up whatever remaining cards are in his hand, either by playing them as actions or using them to before basic attacks. Once the hand is completely empty, the non-discarded cards are reshuffled and another five cards are dealt out to be the player's new hand.

  Passive Abilities

Passive ability cards are cards that have effects that affect the characters and the board for as long as they are in the hand. For instance, a "Sword Specialist" card may permanently add two to any sword-based attacks (including basic attacks) while "Undead Meat" may reduce all incoming non-magic damage against the character to be reduced in half. These effects are usually positive and the only way to remove them from the board through normal play is by giving them up to perform a basic attack.



Fig 134.2 - Shifting Cards To the Left.


The reason this words is because new cards always enter from the right, shifting all the remaining cards to the left. Cards that are not used will naturally drift towards the left, eventually ending up in the leftmost spot. If there is a passive card there, and the player does not want to lose it, it will result in a situation where the player is unwilling to make basic attacks. If the entire hand fills up with passive abilities, this may do more harm than good - and the player must get rid of the passive abilities in the order that he receives them. Also, once out of cards, the player must clean out his hand through basic attacks to get a reshuffle.

  The Class Deck and Leveling Up

Most of the cards in the deck are decided by the equipment in hand. The player has no direct control over the cards in his deck with the exception of his class cards. Each time he levels up, he can select a new class card from the pool of potential class cards to add to his deck. These are level locked, so a level 3 character can only select new class cards that require a level 3 or lower. The player can trade these cards in and out of his deck as long as he has exactly 7 cards in the class deck at all times. This represents the player becoming a more skillful warrior or thief and learning new skills.

In addition to this, leveling up may unlock cards in the equipment too. For instance, a sword may have a total of 7 cards, but only the first 5 are available to characters under level 7. Some of the more powerful equipment can be used by lower level players, but the best equipment cards are reserved for higher levels.



Copyright 2007-2014 Sean Howard. All rights reserved.