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Subject: Random loot card packs for adventure games? rss

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Tim Kline

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So, I’m developing a dungeon-crawler-esque game, a bit like Decent and other similar games, but it plays more like a survival game, where your Heroes fight off a horde of beasts and get loot to fight off an even tougher horde of beasts and get even more loot to save the town from certain destruction.

Loot is determined randomly, you just draw a card from the Loot Deck and that’s what you get. The core game is going to come with around 80 or so loot cards (they’re half-sized cards that will be 1.75x2.5”). There’s a nice assortment of items, and there’s multiple copies of common items making up almost half the deck, then there’s uncommon, rare and unique items too. You shuffle your cards before the game, so like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.

I started thinking, what if the loot cards were different and completely random, like a pack of baseball or MTG cards? Every core game box would have a different mix of random cards, like the fellas in China would just throw in 6 packs of 12 cards each, and then the packs would also be sold separately. Then, later on, expansion packs with new heroes or monsters could also include a pack of cards too.

Just wondering what you guys think.. would a game like that “work”? Would players generally like the idea or hate not being able to get that one special card they want in their loot decks? I thought it would be a fun way to make everyone’s game a little more unique, but I’m not sure the added cost of doing all that extra printing would be worth it
 
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M. Rubinelli
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From the reactions I see to limited promos, I'd expect most buyers to react negatively to being sold an "incomplete" game.
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Lanthar Illumen
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For what it's worth, I think it's a clever idea. If the idea is successful, you can recoup the extra printing costs by selling the collectable packs. I think you would have to be just as clever in the marketing to get away with it.

As far as buying games...I'll buy the base game, and if I like it and repeat play it enough, I'll buy most expansions as well. If it's the cost of a deck of cards, I'm more likely to buy them all than multiple $30 expansions.
 
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Wesley
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There are a lot of people who don't like anything that has any sort of collectible feel to it, so that's going to turn some people off I think. I'd say you would want to have the base game be 100% the same for everyone. Then if you wanted to do the booster thing that could be something in addition to the base game.
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Jack Poon
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I agree with Rubinelli. You'll want the cards to be more like expansion packs that either add to the game or create a new scenario. One of my friends has purchased every expansion pack to settlers of Catan. The original didn't feel like it was missing anything but the new expansion packs created new scenarios and goals. Having things like MTG cards may shift your game to be more of a deck builder which is successful for some games but you'll have to figure out if it'll be an integral part of your game or like Rubinelli said, it detracts from the game instead and people feel like something is missing.
One idea is to have the core game have these loot cards but expansion cards that you can buy as a booster pack will be scenario cards. So rather than more loot, you may have these cards create events and be event specific cards. Like draw a card and a new monster appears that can only be defeated by the legendary sword Excaliber, another card in the deck that has to be drawn.
 
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The Fire
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I would only be interested if the base game had either a fixed deck or at lease a guarantee that it would contain no less than X each of rare/unique/uncommon cards.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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Let me ignore the marketing aspect of this for a post and just look to the gameplay.

The fact that different copies of your game contain different cards doesn't really benefit anyone unless they end up playing different copies.

For example, if my friend and I each buy a copy, and we sometimes play with his copy and sometimes with mine, then we each get some extra variety because our copies aren't identical. Or if I buy a copy, but also occasionally go to a game convention and play with some random stranger's copy, then I might get a surprise item draw while I'm at the convention.

But I'm not sure how common those scenarios are going to be. In the minimal scenario where either I or a friend buy a copy of your game, and I only play that one copy, the fact that different copies exist somewhere in the world doesn't really do anything for me; anything that isn't in my copy isn't affecting my game experience (except that it's harder to get card lists or strategies online if I choose to look for them, which is probably a downside, not a bonus).

Meanwhile, it's costing you, not only in manufacturing but also in design and artwork for more cards than you strictly need.

You specifically said that your deck is going to have multiple copies of some cards. If you're going to invest in the design and art of more cards, why not remove some of the duplicates and include every item in every copy of the game?
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Tim Kline

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Yeah that’s what I was afraid of, people being turned off by anything “collectible” or upset that they can’t have the “full” game.

The way the game works is you have your game board that’s 4 10x10 tiles that make up part of the town. Heroes start in the middle (for most games) and beasts spawn in the corners, and there will be objectives to complete. You draw an Encounter Card for each spawn point each turn, and the card tells you what beasts are coming, and the encounter card lists all of the stats you need to know and what the reward would be. Then you get to draw a loot card for killing certain bad guys and completing objectives. The core game will have a lot of stuff, everything you need to play, and then I was going to do separate monster packs that have around 10-12 more creatures plus encounter and loot cards. Eventually I’d like to also do campaign packs that come with new board tiles and a multi-part storyline that would have new monsters and all new loot.

How about if the core game had at least 1 of every card, but the monster packs would be random loot? Or would players really want to know they they are always getting 3 silver bullet cards in the werewolf pack every time, etc?

I wasn’t really thinking of it as a game like MTG where you are compelled to buy 20 cartons just to get the 1 uber card you want. I was thinking there would be something like 6 common cards, 4 uncommon and 2 rare in each pack, and the complete set of loot cards would have like 10-12 different rare cards total, twice that for uncommons and then twice that for common. I wanted it to be more like a fun way to expand your pool of loot items for your heroes, but not always get the same exact cards every time.
 
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Joe Strout
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I think the randomness of what you get for your money doesn't really add much to it. I mean, I know some people enjoy the thrill of possibly getting something rare and valuable, but it seems that on the whole, far more people hate the risk of getting yet another pack of stuff they don't need/want.

So my suggestion would be: keep the cards in the base game all the same, and then put out small, cheap expansion packs. But the expansion packs shouldn't be random; there should be a list available somewhere (before you purchase) saying what cards are in each pack. For example, you could simply number them as you produce them -- so pack #1 always contains these specific cards, pack #2 always contains those cards, etc.

You should make it clear that players do not need to buy these in order. And it's OK if each pack has a limited run, meaning that some cards may end up rare just because they're never printed again. If your game takes off, you'll get some collectors that snap up new packs just to collect them before they go out of print. Other players will just get a few of whatever's current. But everybody knows what they're getting, and everyone's happy.

There's an analogy in the LEGO community. LEGO could be considered a system that's all expansion packs; each set runs for a limited time, and you can easily go online and find a complete inventory of the parts included in each set. Collectors buy them and hang onto them until they've become rare, and then resell (or simply hoard) them. Casual builders just get whatever's current when they have the urge to buy, and over time end up with an extensive collection anyway.
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Tim Kline

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Yeah that's pretty much how I have it all planned out now. I guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it I thought it would be fun to introduce a kind of randomness to it, but I don't want players to not even consider the game just because of that.

Another thought that I had was to have the initial set of loot for the core game be a deck of 54 cards, that would come in their own little tuck box, and those could also be sold separately. But, it would be probably be best to just stick to having 8-12 new items in each monster or hunter pack. I'm planning those to be kind of along the lines of the Descent lieutenant packs, only I'll be doing nice and heavy cardstock pawns like Pathfinder rather than minis. Each one would have a handfull of new critters, an encounter card for each one, and some new loot. Many of the common items are going to be repeated, but the rare cards will be more unique.
 
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Matt Lee
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Randomly created "packs" for each combat is a great idea within a game session. Random cards in the game for a board game that you say is not collectible is not a good idea.

You could make the random packs within a game by separating the "common", "uncommon" and "rare" sets with different border designs that you have to separate between games and then mix before each session and have the same effect in terms of the game play.

The only game I know of that kind of does this is Risk Legacy, where a certain pack is different (and not really needed for the game).

If someone wanted to check if a copy of your game was complete, random cards in the box makes it hard to tell what is missing to get a replacement. Not to mention the very problem of random might mean someone gets a box filled with duplicates of the commons and nothing else, which might mean the game would get a completely negative review by those players. Enough copies like that would kill a game's audience as word spread about how bad the collation of the game was, even if it was "intended".
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secoAce -
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The idea of an unknown variety of loot cards during gameplay does create excitement and anticipation. But as others have responded, you're going to get very negative reactions to people getting different game components.

Even if you take out the collectible and secondary market effects out of the discussion, what's going to happen is that you are bound to get better cards in one box over another, especially if you add a rarity factor to the cards. Even if there is only one super high-sought card, players are going to get upset not getting.

You're assuming everyone in a gaming group will get a copy of the game? I hope it's a really small price point and it's small enough that each player can have a copy. I don't know how other game groups operate, but in our group, if one person decides to buy a game, the others won't. We only need 1 copy of a game.

If you want variability in a game (which is a good thing), a much better approach would be to go ahead and include all the cards in every copy of the game. Then during the game setup, limit the number of cards that come out in play.
For example, if you have 100 loot cards included in the box, shuffle and draw out only 25 cards to be used for that gaming session.

[EDIT: Extra line spacing deleted.]
 
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Nicholas Vitek
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You have another option (Edit: Expanded version of a post two above mine that I didn't read first!!):

In the game, have a deck of rarity based cards.

Then, lets say you have the following in your deck:
6 Rares
18 Uncommons
30 Commons


Sorting by backs (all common with one exception, a mark/gem/symbol near the bottom), the GM or whoever plays the badguys (or barring that, a random person) makes 6 stacks and puts 1 Rare, 3 Uncommon, 5 Common cards in each stack. Each stack is shuffled and placed in a small tuck box, or slip pack or whatever you decide.

Then, five of these are put back in the box for later, and the 9 card tuck box is your first set of treasure. When monsters are killed, you pull X cards from the Tuck Box. When Tuck Box is empty, you put it back in the box and pull out the next.

Additionally, you can sell 27 card booster packs. These are set packs of treasure but break down as follows 3 Rares, 9 Uncommons, 15 Commons which is enough to make 3 Treasure Tuck Packs. You release these Living Booster Packs in pairs and each pack has a theme. Now, whoever runs the game can tailor the Treasure Tuck packs as they want.


 
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James Hutchings
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Side issue: Is there any reason you need to use cards, as opposed to random tables (which would presumably be much cheaper)?
 
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Nicholas Vitek
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Because someone will pipe in and say "The 70s called and they want their tables back."

I like tables but they turn most people off of the games. Inelegant and too much like 'work'.
 
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