Friday, October 31

NaGa DeMon 1: Codename: Dragon - A First Look

This time last year I had a first draft of the rules of Zombology, but due to various things I'm not quite so organised this year, but here's what's in my head at the moment. I'd appreciate any feedback on the ideas, what you think might work well or what badly and anything you think I've overlooked. This week we're having our house double-glazed, so I imagine I'll be spending most of my free time cleaning up whichever rooms have been trashed during the day. Also my father-in-law is visiting shortly. I'm hoping to make it to Newcastle Playtest on Tuesday, though I won't know until after Monday's clean up how viable that is.

Codename: Dragon: The Concept

It's a two-player card game about the showdown between St. George (patron saint of England and a bunch of other places) and the dragon. It's a Good Little Game, so 18 cards, some counters representing George's hit points and the dragon's hit points and some dice (a few for each player). One player plays St. George, he has nine cards, a few hit points and several (4? 5?) dice. The other player plays the dragon, with more hit points, but fewer dice (3? 4?).

At the beginning of the game both players roll all their dice. Then each round both players simultaneously choose a card (representing an attack, defence or movement) and optionally a die. Once chosen, both players reveal their chosen card, action them and then discard them and any die they chose.

The cards represent attacks (which do more damage for high die rolls), defence (which work better with low die rolls), movement (between long and short range) and a recoup card which lets you draw back the cards from your discard pile to your hand and re-roll all your dice.

The game has two ranges, long and short. At the beginning you are at long range. Some attack and defence card only work at long/short range and the ninth card that both players have is a double-sided cheat sheet showing which cards work at the current range. Each player has cards that let them move from short to long range and vice versa. If one player advances and the other retreats they stay at the same range, if both advance they are at short and if both retreat they are at long range. If only one player moves then the range changes as appropriate for the card played.

First player to run out of hit points is slain by their opponent.

Some details

The game is asymmetric, the dragon cards are different from George's cards and have different strengths and weaknesses. I'm thinking the dragon cards will be:
  • Cheat sheet
  • Recoup
  • Breathe fire (long range, high damage)
  • Bite (short range, medium damage)
  • Slash (short range, low damage)
  • Block (medium protection)
  • Flap (high protection)
  • Advance (move long -> short)
  • Retreat (move short -> long)
St. George's cards could be:
  • Cheat sheet
  • Recoup
  • Charge (long range, high damage + move long -> short)
  • Hack (short range, medium damage)
  • Slash (short range, low damage)
  • Combo (short range, medium damage, can be played immediately after Hack or Slash if they did damage)
  • Block (short range, low protection)
  • Dodge (all damage avoided)
  • Retreat (move short -> long)

An example card

An example of what I'm thinking to make the above a little more tangible:

Slash (St. George)
Can only be played at short range.
Damage done:
If no dice: 0
If 1/2/3 on the die: 1 damage
If 4/5/6 on the die: 2 damage

Flap (Dragon)
Can be played at long or short range.
Reduce damage by:
If no dice: 1 damage
If 1/2 on the die: 4 damage
If 3/4 on the die: 3 damage
If 5/6 on the die: 2 damage

Obviously, I'm going to have to play this a lot to adequately balance it, but what are your first impressions? Any ideas? Want to help test it when the files and rules available? There's PIPs in it!


Konrad said...

Jack, it certainly sounds nice so far.
My concern is that maybe just dealing damage may not be enough to balance out the game.
First of, do you believe that there must be so many different cards? How about 4 different ones, but then maybe multiple copies?
How about the removal of cards (Stomp - if played vs. Shield´, discard Shield afterwards)?
And what do you intend to do with the different amounts of dice? Will you reduce the die pool according to damage taken? Are the dice used up? And if so, when is the usage of a die decided?

Jackson Pope said...

Hiya Konrad,

Thanks! Yeah, until I've tried it I've no idea how badly unbalanced this is. And to your point on too many cards, I tend to start complex and simplify, so there's a high probability it'll get simpler.

The stomp/shield idea is a nice one, once I've tried this version I'll see if I can incorporate it.

My thinking on the dice (slightly changed from the main body of the post) is that you roll all your pool of dice and then each round you simultaneously select one or zero dice from the pool (without changing the number rolled) and then once you've seen what die your opponent selected you simultaneously select a card to use with the die. Afte the cards have been resolved the card and die are discarded and neither of them can be used again until you play your recoup card. So a small dice pool means you need to recoup more often. While recouping you are vulnerable since you are not reducing any damage dealt to you.



Jackson Pope said...

P.S. Two PIPs for getting involved and the good ideas.

Roberto said...

Hello Mr. Jack :-)
It sounds interesting.
I've got a couple of comments.
First, how do the players select zero or one dice simultaneously? It might seem a small detail, but I think it's important to find an elegant way to solve this action. I'm sorry I have no suggestions for this.
Second, what if there's one card with two possible actions? Then the player can choose which of them to apply after the oponent has shown his card. This can also help to have more asymmetry. For some reason I think it fits better on St. George's side.
I hope this helps. I'll track your progress and I hope I can help you to slay the demon this year!

Jackson Pope said...

Hiya Roberto,

Thanks for your support and welcome aboard!

My thinking for the dice selection would be that players would place their dice behind one hand shaped like a screen and choose one (or none) of them. The selected dice would be separated and then the players would hide the chosen die under one hand and the rest under their other hand. Then they would simultaneously reveal by removing the hand covering their chosen die (or lack of one). Seeing as there's five or less dice, it should be possible to hide them in your hands.

The double cards is a nice idea. I'm going to keep it 'simple' to start off with, but that might well get incorporated at a later stage.



P.S. Two PIPs for getting involved and great ideas.