Sep 012016

Image result for riddles and questions


I am finishing up thoughts on DDO the Card Game, but I am mentally spinning in circles over one specific thing. I don’t know what to call this thing – “burn through”? “seek rate”? So instead I will try to describe it.

A few cards in the game allow the player to seek through their Loot deck to find a specific card or card type and then reshuffle the Loot deck. A few other cards allow the player to go through the Loot discard pile to find and pull a specific card.

I like the idea behind this, it gives me more ways to differentiate cards. For instance, the Fighter card does not have the DPS of the Barbarian, nor the defenses of the Paladin. But it does have Feats. How to give the Fighter feats? Have level ups with text like this: “When deployed, search loot discards for any one feat and deploy it to this character.” Voila, now we can be assured that the Fighter will have access to more Feats than any other melee class.

So yes, the capability is a good thing to have. That is not the quandary. The quandary comes in when deciding whether I really ought to have both of these search methods (Loot Deck and discard pile) or not, and the specifics of how they will work.

It seems a straightforward question but actually has surprisingly many side effects.

  • If I have discard search only, that will be not very helpful in the beginning of the game, as there won’t be many cards in the discard pile
  • Later in the game, searching the Loot deck won’t be as helpful either, for the same reason
  • If I let people re-use discards, will they be able to set up loops where they re-use powerful combos over and over?
    • If yes, do I want that? Do I need to make other changes to encourage it?
    • If no, how do I prevent it?
  • If I allow both kinds of searching, memory comes into the game.
    • Players with a good memory will know whether the card combo they want is in the discard pile or the Loot deck.
    • Do I want the ability to remember what is in your discard pile to be a useful (or really, required) skill in this game?
    • If I allow both kinds of searching, a card that allows the player to choose which pile to search will be really powerful.
  • If I allow players to search the discard pile, do they need to keep it in order?
    • Does it matter which discard is on top of the pile?
    • Do I want the order of the discard pile to matter?
    • If yes, what other changes do I need to make that happen? For instance, I could change the rules for drawing Loot to be either “Draw a Loot card or draw the top card from the discard pile”.

But it gets even deeper, potentially affecting the nature of the game:

  • If I allow people to search the discard pile, that provides an incentive to discard cards. Is that good?
  • Will this be the kind of game where you go through your Loot pile as fast as you can and then reshuffle the discards and use them as a new Loot pile? If yes, I need to add more ways to gain Loot cards.
  • Or is it the kind of game where your play is throttled by the Loot pile, you go through it slowly, and may not even make it all the way through in a single game?

See? A simple question, but not at all a simple answer. And it has unexpectedly deep consequences.

I will come up with an answer. Writing all of this out helped me advance the answer, in fact. But I am very curious: what do you think? What will be the most fun?

Because fun matters.


🙂 😀 🙂

  4 Responses to “A Design Quandary”

Comments (4)
  1. You could make a “Scavenger” category where they get to go through the top x cards in the discard pile. Allow the x variable to change depending on class/level/skills/ability modifier or whatever works for the other rules of the game. I’ll admit that I haven’t read up on most of the other ddo card game posts, so it would be difficult for me to chime in more fully without understanding how it all interacts. Allow the different classes to scavenge for different types of cards??

    Additionally you could make a “Premonition” category which would do the same thing but through your unused cards… “Your premonition causes you to prepare for upcoming action choose the top x from your draw pile and select 1 action/feat/skill (depending on class or subclass) then shuffle the remaining cards back into your draw pile….

    Not sure if you have skills etc in the game, but could even make these part of a skill set …

  2. Playtesting…

    and ditch the all or nothing thinking. What about limiting loot/discard searching to top/last 3 cards, or something like that.

  3. Might be time to consider the use of Past Life Feats. By restricting the benefits associated with some of these options to the burning of Hearts you can wet your feat in the waters of micro-transactions. Set up a 1-800 hot-line; “Hi, Geoff? The party is dead but I pulled the Fate Spinner as an end reward for Water Works and I want to use a heart to spin the ability; re-use awesome combo. $2.99? Here’s my reader swipe now….”

    Now let’s hope that your one-day service really is what it claims to be; were hoping to run the next series of quests Monday evening….

    “Geoff, you still there? Oh good; is it ok that I looted the Druidic Heart from the party’s warlock while he was incapacitated but before he… expired?

    Maybe not so helpful… Loot pile? I like the idea of big pile, not getting all the way through and that it may or may not have the most coveted items in it from session to session. ie 50-common, 10-rare, 3-very rare and 1 legendary

  4. Yes, looping the discard/loot piles becomes a possibility based on your outline above, but can be mitigated. For example, a rule saying that a player can’t play the card from discard or loot until the next term can prevent a play-get-play-get loop, provided you have counters available to other players. Perhaps an instant effect to destroy a card, or a way to force the fighter to pick another card.

    Another option is to have a top-of-pile option along the lines of, “the fighter has the ability to select the top card from the discard pile and add it to his hand once per turn.” This means the fighter can’t plan on getting a specific card, but gives them opportunities to take advantage of the rule.

    The concern with digging through the loot pile is if there’s a loot card that unbalances a part of the game then players are incentivized to play a fighter and grab that card right away. I suspect it’ll unbalance things. Discard means something had to have already been played, discarded, or countered prior to someone else getting it.

What do you think?

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