Dear readers, fellow gamers and game designers!
I am ever so restless when it comes to new game ideas and one just recently came to me when I had two ideas at the same time pretty much or rather one leading immediately to the other:
Firstly, it dawned upon me that I had amassed a huge collection of highest quality game art over the past couple of years or so, mostly for Elemental Clash but also for other (fantasy-themed) games. Alone for Elemental Clash I must be owning over 250 pieces of stunning fantasy games art. Since this is a huge resource I realized that I should not “let it go to waste” and rather use some of the existing art for anohter game. I mean I own all these artworks and while I will not give up on Elemental Clash anytime soon, I see no reason why I should not “recycle” my old games art for a totally new game, so as to satisfy my urge for designing new, kickass looking games. I would think the few people actually owning Elemental Clash wouldn’t mind.
Secondly, immediately after the “art recycling” idea came to me, I set out to look for a new and unique game system in which I could put my hundreds of fantasy game artworks to good use. It didn’t take too long when I had a pretty neat idea. I thought why not go “back to the roots” and take a very popular game system and modify and build upon that for the new game to be? And what I thought of was nothing short of THE traditional and most popular Austrian 2 player card game: Schnapsen, also known as “66” in Germany I think. Schnapsen is played in taverns or homes alike all over Austria and has a long tradition over here. It is a trick taking card game using a deck similar to Poker cards and the goal of the game is to score 66 points by taking tricks. So the idea of “Fantasy Schnapsen” was born. Basically what I am trying to do is take the basic game system of this most popular card game in Austria as my starting point and inspiration and build a 2 player, strategic fantasy customizable card game based on that. Of course I will not just call it “Fantasy Schnapsen” but rather “The Magical 66” as the goal of my new game to be would be to score 66 points before any opponent can do so, so reaching that “magical number” is the aim of the game, just as in regular Schnapsen!
Well let me tell you a bit about what I got so far for the game:
The first thing I had to change from the original Schnapsen game was that each player would have their own decks, which can be customized to your hearts content, choosing cards from an extensive pool of different cards. The original Schnapsen uses only one deck of Poker-like cards for both players. To make this a real CCG I simply had to change that to one deck per player.
There are two rules for deck building basically: Firstly, your deck needs a minimum of 30 cards (you can have more than 30) and secondly, the total points value of any deck cannot be more than 100 points. Each card has a points value, which determines the worth of a card during the game and is also used in deckbuilding so as to keep the power levels of the decks you can build in check and in balance. So the total points value of all the cards you run in a 30+ cards deck cannot exceed 100.
As I said, the goal of the game will be to collect 66 points by means of trick taking. However, The Magical 66 (TM66 in short) is played in rounds of several games, just like Schnapsen. If you score 66 points and your opponent has a score of 0, you may note 3 Victory Points. If your opponent had more than 0 but less than 33 points, you will note 2 Victory Points and lastly, if your opponent made it to 33 or more points, you will only note 1 Victory Point. Games are played until one player collected 5 Victory Points.
Furthermore, I wanted to keep key elements of the classic Schnapsen gameplay. That includes the trick taking as the defining driving force within the game as well as the four suits. Speaking of the suits, I chose to go with the classic four elements of European-medival mysticism, just as I had done in Elemental Clash. But rest assured, that is the only parallel between EC and TM66!
So in TM66 players would draw 5 cards from their respective decks at the start of the game and fill up their hand back to 5 on each start of their turn and play a card that the opponent tries to beat or trump with a higher value card from their hand. That is just like in Schnapsen or any trick taking card game. However in TM66, after the opponent reacted by playing a card from their hand, you would be able to lay down another card that may influence the outcome of what is called a battle in the game. And your opponent could react by playing a card from their hand after that, after which you can play another card and so on until a player’s hand runs out or both players chose to pass. So the two players would be taking turns within one battle playing one card at a time from their hand in order to win a battle. The winner is the player with the highest Power among their Creatures when the battle ends. That player will add all cards involved in the battle to their “Treasure Chest” (their trick pile). Cards in the Treasure Chest add up to form the player’s score.
In TM66 you got basically two card types: Creatures and Spells. The former are the main driving force in combat and the latter support your Creatures or weaken the opponent’s.
I came up with quite some interesting mechanics I think:
First of all, most of the cards will have so-called “Chest Effects”, effects that is that activate when the card is in either players Treasure Chest of effects that can be activated from there by purging, removing the card from play. I will show you some sample cards below but for example, if you have a certain card in your Chest, it would for instance increase your Creatures’ overall Power or let you draw additional cards each turn. Other Chest Effects could be one-shot deals that can be activated once by purging the card from your Chest, such as giving a temporary Power boost to a Creature or weakening an opponent Creature etc. So it is great to have some cards in your Treasure Chest, and the more cards you collect over the course of the game, the more effects and bonuses you will gain from your cards. The element of purging cards from your Chest for a temporary benefit adds a bit of wagering to the game, since purged cards will not count towards the 66 points needed to win, but by purging them to gain said benefits you may be getting more points in return for the points you “sacrificed”. Also, I think the Chest Effects should benefit your opponent as well. So if they take one of your cards into their Chest, they will get the Chest Effect for themselves.
Furthermore, I will have some sort of rudimentary resource system which is needed for playing SOME cards or which activates additional effects and bonuses. I don’t want to make it all too central but it would basically work like this: You could purge cards from your Treasure Chest to add a number of “Mana” (I will call it that for now for lack of a better term!) to your “Mana Pool”. This can be spent to pay for certain cards and additional effects and would empty at each end of turn. So again, there would be this element of wagering which in theroy, I do very much enjoy. You would always face tough decisions in purging some cards from your Chest and hence giving up some points in order to gain an effect or play a card that MIGHT get you more points in return than you invested. This could be quite exciting in my opinion – if done right!
OK so that are my basic ideas for TM66 so far. Let me end this early introductory post by showing you some actual card samples I made.
Here’s a card with explanations as to what is what in the layout:
From top to bottom we got the card artwork with the card name on top. Then in the top right corner we have the Mana Symbol with an X, which would be the amount of Mana needed to play the card from hand. In the top left corner we would see the element of the card, in this case Air. With an arrow pointing downwards to it, there is the secondary elemental symbol. This means when you play this card you may switch to the denoted element.
In TM66 you commit to an Element during one battle defined by the first card you play in a battle. You can only play cards of that element in one battle UNLESS you got a card with the two element symbols and the arrow in between, which would let you choose to switch the current element. In the above example, this card could switch the “elemental focus” in a battle from Air to Fire. This system makes for clever and engaging gameplay choices and card combinations, if you decide to play with a multi-element deck.
Below the elemental symbols we got a swords and shield icon. This is the cards Power to be seen where the Y stands in the above depiction. The Power determines the outcome of a battle as detailed before. The golden box spanning across the card right under the artwork is where you can see the element, card type and subtype of a card in written form. You can tell all that, except the Subtype from the layout as well but I decided to add it in writing as well just to make things clearer. Below that we got the main text box with card text and flavor text. Nothing special. And below that at the bottom of the card we have in green the Chest Effect, which is only relevant when the card is in either player’s Treasure Chest. Lastly, the golden Coin with the Z is where the card value would be indicated. As said before, the value is what you will score towards the “magical 66” when you have this card in your Treasure Chest during the game and is also the determining factor for building decks. As you may remember, the cards in one deck may not exceed 100 points in total value. I would suggest to keep your Chest cards in a column rather than a pile in a slightly overlapping manner so you can just see the bottom with the points value and the Chest Effect box for easier reference. I expect it to get quite crowded in your Chest over the course of a game!
Lastly, have a look at some of the actual cards. These are just samples mind you, and the effects and stats etc provided on them are by far not anything near to final. They are just supposed to be visual examples to show off what the TM66 game could look like in the end!
Creature Samples of all 4 Elements:
Some Spell Card Samples (Note: The Axe is Neutral and hence has no Element Symbols at all!)
Well, dear readers, I am happy to have yet another project to knock myself out creatively so to say, and a project, in which I need not invest a ton of money for to make it look good! I am quite happy with both my “art recycling” idea and the “going back to the roots” by taking the most popular Austrian traditional card game and building upon and expanding it into a fantasy trick-taking CCG!
I promise to keep you updated on this one!