Presenting (Prehistoric) Pixelmon – The Deckbuilding Game

Dear readers and friends of dinosaurs, deckbuilding games and retro-pixel monsters alike!

I am proud to announce yet another game project of mine and just as a disclaimer, this is low in my list of priorities and still I am far down the process of designing this and am actively working on getting this done later this year. Please have a look and be amazed:

– Andreas Propst Productions Prouldy Presents –

Pixelmon Banner

(Prehistoric) Pixelmon – The Deckbuilding Game will be a 2-5 player Deckbuilding Game on the lines of the revolutionary Dominion (game of the year 2009 if I am not mistakend) where players will tame, train and battle each other with a fighting team of various prehistoric pixel monsters (as seen in the above banner), all done in full, pixellated glory by yours truly!

How the idea of Pixelmon was born:

Sometimes it is funny how ideas are conceived. In the case of Pixelmon, two things occurred shortly one after the other by mere coincidence. Firstly, a while ago, I made a Pokémon Deckbuilding Game (DBG) for me and my younger sister Nora, who is a true Pokémaniac, having played through all the video games time and time again. I wanted to recreate the Pokémon experience in a game, a Deckbuilding Game and this was when the raw version of what is now the Pixelmon game engine/system was designed and developed. Of course I had made the Pokémon DBG purely for personal home use but I did try to pitch the idea to Nintendo with the argument  that “Pokemon=Awesome” + “DBGs = Awesome” would result in something totally über-awesome. They did actually write back saying anything I’d send in would become sole property of the Pokémon Company / Nintendo so that was that pretty much and the game got burried for a while. It was not until a few months later that I tried my hand in doing Pokémon Gameboy Advance Rom Hacks (as seen previousyl on this blog) which lead to me realizing I was awesome (or so I was and am being told) at doing retro pixel art (sprites). After the first couple of these tiny artworks were done, and it was big fun for me doing those, I instantly thought back at the neglected Pokémon DBG. Well how perfect I thought… I can just make good use of my very-well received Prehistoric Pokémon sprites twice – once in the Rom hack and once by just using those graphics in a non-copyrighted retheme of the Pokémon DBG!! I was thrilled about the idea to have an awesome deckbuilding game featuring tons of prehistoric monsters all done in retro pixel graphics. Of course a new name had to be found and was found soon: Pixelmon. Perfect, isn’t? 😀 #

And for all the sissies who will say Nintendo will sue my ass off: Digimon, Monster Rancher, Dinosaur King. That is just 3 examples of highly commercial and relatively successful blatant rip-offs of the original Pokémon concept (you know some kids going around having adventures with their monster companions, training them and having battles in order to be the best of ’em all, save the world or whatnot) and none of them had any troubles, and neither do I worry to get into legal troubles even the slightest bit. After all it is freaking PIXELMON… not Pokémon… 😀

How the game works (currently):

Here’s a brief summary of the actual gameplay as it currently stands. The following is based on the results of a recent playtesting session of the original Pokémon DBG (I do not have a dedicated Pixelmon prototype just now – working on it though!) which thought me so many lessons that I have a very clear idea about how the game is supposed to work in the end. Let’s have at it! So the aim of the game is to be the one with the most prizes…

Prize Card small

…after at least 8 turns (and turns are not exactly short in this game, so 8 turns will make for a game of a pleasant length, with my idea being 45 -60 mins). Basically what you do is tame, train and battle with your Monsters, whereby turn 1 – 5 are for taming and training only and in turns 6 -8 and beyond, the actual monster battling action will take place. I would be keeping track of turn count by means of an 8-sided dice being advanced accordingly.

So at the start of the game the playing field is set up, but I won’t go into detail on the setup – all you need to know that there will be a big stack of Pixelmon cards with 5 of them revealed at a time (the Pixelmon Offering), some smaller stacks with 3 cards revealed from each, which will be the Attack Stacks, one for each Element (the Elements will be Normal, Fire, Plant, Rock, Electro and Water) as well as the Item Shop deck, which will contain Items you can purchase over the course of the game. Before the game can begin, each player chooses a Starter Pixelmon from among 5 different ones at random.

Each Starter Pixelmon is associated with a Starter Deck consisting mostly of weak Attacks/Moves of 10 cards each. And this is the deckbuilding aspect in this. What you will try to do is “learn” new attacks by purchasing them from the various Attack Offerings and adding them to your Attack Deck, this strengthening and optimizing your deck over the course of the game.

There is also a very straightforward resource system involved which all revolves around the “Tamer Value” each card has, which acts as costs and also as currency at the same time in various stages of the game. I prefer to upload the full game rules once done on this here blog than explain in detail how all works, so I am asking for your understanding for not elaborating on the technical details here.

So each turn goes like this:

  1. Tame 
  2. Train
  3. Battle (only turns 6 and beyond!)

First players may “tame” monsters from the Pixelmon Offering by discarding hand cards with tamer value equal to or higher than the tamer value of the Pixelmon they want to tame to add that Pixelmon to their team (of course the stronger ones will have a higher tamer value than the weaker ones. You have to choose your team members wisely, as there is an “element wheel” involved as well, each Pixelmon belonging to one of the aforementioned elements and having a strength against one particular element and a weakness against another one. So assembling your fighting team of 3 Pixelmon is vital and you got to strive to get a well balaned fighting party together.

Here’s a sample Pixelmon card (just a preview, finished product may and will differ from this):

Sample Pixelmon Card

As you can see, each Pixelmon has indicators  for Level (left), Initiative (middle) andd Hit Points (right). Each Pixelmon starts at level 10 and you put a small red D6 on the HP indicator in the first row with the respective number on top, in the above case this Pixelmon would start out with 2 HP. Dice are moved down and the numbers on top of the dice would be advanced as the Pixelmon is trained / levelled up. In the top right corner we see the element of the Pixelmon and below that the strenght and weakness.

After all players pass during the Tame Phase, the game commences to the Train Phase.

During Training, players may do several of the following actions, until they do not have any more hand cards or until they decide to pass, whereby one player performs one action and then the next and then round the table until the starting player gets to do their next action and so on until all pass (There is no particular order in which these must be performed):

  •  Level-Up a Pixelmon by discarding any 1 card. Advance the dice one row and adjust its value to the new HP. Each Pixelmon can be levelled-up only once per turn.
  • Learn a new Attack by discarding a number of hand cards with tamer value higher than or equal to the tamer value of the Attack from the Offerings you want ot learn. Take your new Attack from the Offering and place it in your discard.

Here’s a sample Attack card for you: Sample Attack Card Upper left corner: Tamer Value, upper right corner: Element, lower right corner: Damage Value, lower left corner: Level Requirement to perform the Attack/Move.

  • Buy any Item from the Item Shop deck by discarding cards with a combined tamer value higher than or equal the tamer value of the Item you want to purchase and put it aside face down. It may be used later or during battle.

Here’s a sample Item card for you:

Sample Item Card

The “X” stands for a still undeterminde Tamer Value (cost) of this item!

After all players pass, it is either the next turn and each player draws until they have 5 cards in hand OR it is on to Battle Phase.

As this article is dragging along far too long already I will not explain the details fo how battle works. What you should know is that all players are involved in the battle – everyone can attack everyone – and the “last man standing” (the remaining player when all others had their Pixelmon all knocked out) will receive a Prize Card. Furthermore Battle is like a game within the game where players attack in rounds  always following the following structure:

  1. Draw: Draw until you hold 5 cards in hand.
  2. Attack: Spend an Attack card to launch an attack on any opponent Pixelmon by paying the energy cost of the Attack card. Each Pixelmon can perform one Attack per round and players get one attack at a time with all players round the table performing an attack until the starting player can perform the second attack and so forth. If all players spent all their attacks or decide to pass it is on to step 3.
  3. Discard/Energy: You can discard hand cards to your Energy Zone. This Energy will pay for the Attacks you will be performing in future attack steps.

As said Battle Phase is conducted like explained above until all but one player are out of the game. The latter receives a Prize card. Who has the most price cards after 8 turns is declared the winner! (If one or more players are tied for prizes at the end of turn 8, furhter turns and Battle Phases will be conducted until one player emerges victorious).

——————————————————————————-

Well, so much for my “brief” overview of the Pixelmon DBG gameplay! I will make sure to post the full games rules for all who want to know in detail how the game works on  here as soon as I found time to type them up. I’d really could make good use of a clone these days 😛

Let me close this rather lengthy introduction to the Pixelmon Deckbuilding Game with some visual impressions!

Here some of the Pixelmon to be featured in the game:

Pokemon Prehistoric Samples

And here is what the Pokémon DBG proto testing looked like:

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

And here my overjoyed sister Nora after having won!!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Hope you liked my introduction to the Pixelmon Deckbuilding Game! As always, I will keep you up ot date!!

Game on!

Yours,

Andi

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