Monday, January 11

Turning The Dragon Inside Out

It's been a great start to 2016. Last weekend I spent a couple of days with my old friend Tim (I've known him since school, but never went to school with him). During the days we hung out with our families and played with the kids, while discussing his forthcoming KickStarter for a game he's designed (Toast: a game about poisoning each other during banquets). Then in the evenings we had a couple of late nights of gaming. All told I'd played 11 games by the 3rd of January!

Monday I was back at work and it was Newcastle Playtest on Tuesday. I'd missed quite a few towards the end of last year with various work trips getting in the way so it was great to get along and catch up with everyone. We also played a couple of games of Dragon Dance (my NaGa DeMon game from 2014) and one of Zombology (I'm no longer playtesting that, but I'd delivered a few copies of the handmade version and it's one of the staples of Newcastle Playtest, played almost every session since November 2013 when I started work on it - even sessions I didn't make it to!

Wednesday was my regular Games Night with an attendance of eight and seven games played, and then I played a couple more games of Dragon Dance at lunchtime on Thursday.

Why such a focus on Dragon Dance you're wondering? With Zombology finished and the handmade run hopefully being completed and shipped this month, I need something new to work on. I've not really touched Dragon Dance since the end of NaGa DeMon 2014. I'd left it kind of working: there was some bluff and strategy involved and there was nothing obviously wrong with it, but it wasn't particularly good either.

It's a game of simultaneous action selection with a bit of bluff: each action consists of a card and a die that affects the efficacy of the card. I wanted to capture the feel of combat where you're acting simultaneously using your opponent's slight tells to guess what they are about to do so you can counter or attack as appropriate. I've (technically still!) got a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, so I wanted to get the feeling I remember from sparring and competitions.

So in the game each player simultaneously chooses one of their limited number of dice, and then once you've seen the die your opponent has chosen, simultaneously chooses a card - the die is the tell and can be used to bluff your opponent or to telegraph your next move.

So far, so good. You've got a small number of dice and when you use a card and a die they are both put aside until you give up a turn to reclaim them. The die add an element of randomness but also limit the number of turns before you have to catch your breath. I'm thinking of changing it so you choose the card first and each card has three options: attack, defend and rest, the die you use will determine which of the options you do. This effectively turns each card three cards, increasing the number of options every round.

On Sunday, I even considered getting rid of the dice altogether and instead having a selection step after the card reveal to choose which part of the card to choose. Anyway, I've got ideas again, and some things to try out. Dragon is back in play. I also finished another four copies of Zombology and took payment for another two of the finished ones.

P.S. I finished the week on 27 plays by the 10th. If I could keep that rate up I'd beat my best ever month (66 plays in January 2014 when The Wife and The Daughter were banished due to my radioactivity). I won't though. I hope to finish up above 40; 50 is a possibility but above sixty is very unlikely!


Tim Page said...

Might be worth checking out Dragon Punch (a KS I backed, currently in fulfillment - but you can see the details on KS still). It's simulating Street Fighter (2?), so the designer Koen had some similar things to consider.

I'm not sure I quite got my head around your design (board games being notoriously hard to describe!), but having a fairly small set of cards to play (recycling when all played) is a good way of giving an attentive opponent a chance to guess your move. Having a dice roll after the choice to add randomness to the result could be good. Having a choice of options after both cards are picked I struggle to feels like a game of rock paper scissors within a game of rock paper scissors.

Glad you've rolled onto (back to) a new game!

Jackson Pope said...

Hiya Tim,

Yes, there's a little of Rock, Paper, Scissors about it as you have the simultaneous selection trying to guess what your opponent is going to do. You have some information about the options available to them, and also some information from the dice remaining to them, but it could all be a bluff. The game is very lop-sided too, the dragon has loads of health and does loads of damage, but is slow and ponderous and needs to recover more frequently. The knight is quicker on his feet but weak.

We'll have to play some time!