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Subject: Modeling learning and getting old as a deckbuilder rss

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Nicolas Le Roux
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Hello,

I hope this is the correct forum to talk about a mechanic I want to explore. I thought that some of you might have comments or ideas on how to develop it.

The general idea is that you will use cards to achieve actions. These actions have more or less chance of succeeding based on the cards in your deck. Think A Few Acres of Snow for an idea.

Each player starts with a character represented by a small deck of cards, let's say 10 cards. The cards in that deck are not very powerful, representing the lack of ability of that character.

As turns go, players develop their character by adding more powerful cards. Their character can become better at fighting, diplomacy, leadership, etc. For instance, with fighting cards, the players will have a higher chance of conquering new regions.

However, their character also grows old. Regularly, like in Friday, they add poor cards to the deck. This means that, at some point, they need to reproduce.

That is where negotiation comes into play. To have a child, two players must agree to conceive (let's assume every character can procreate with any other). When they do so, the following happens:
- Each player shuffles their deck, keeping half of it and merging the other half with the other half of the other player.
- This merged deck, containing cards from both players, is then shuffled and each player gets back half of the cards (thus including cards previously belonging to the other player). The proportion going to each player can vary based on negotiation (see below).
- They select 10 cards to create their progeny.

They know have two decks: half of their previous deck (the parent) and a small deck of 10 cards (the child).
The players act with the deck of the parent, training the child but without playing it. Whenever they decide, they abdicate and now play with the deck of the child.

What interests me in that mechanic?
- First, there is a timing element. When to switch to the child and when to keep the old character around.
- Second, there is a negotiation element. Maybe my character is great but, if I developed skills that do not interest any other player, I will not be able to reproduce or I will have to give most of the cards to the other player.

I think MIL (1049) had a mechanic along these lines but I never played it.

What do you think?
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Corsaire
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It sounds like a really interesting game to explore; however, I think the idea of negotiating a reproduction with another player would end up as just a nice idea and not really implementable as a fun way because of variations in pacing and being broken with odd player counts.

I'd consider more along the lines of being able to discard to a personal storage at the same time you seed a stack in a common area. When you choose to or if your character "ages out," you combine your stored stack with one from the common area and then add X starting cards to form your new deck. I think the common area discards could generate some deep play potential.
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Benj Davis
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I quite like the idea that you can only do deck-thinning cooperatively.
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Dani Garcia
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That sounds like a really interesting idea, I'd like to know how it works if you test it.

As Corsaire said, if negotation doesn't work, the mechanic could still work with each player creating a secondary deck for their child with the cards they discard from their parent.

But I still like the idea of mixing the decks of 2 players to create childs, so maybe you can have both options, so people that don't want or can't find a partner can still use this mechanic by themselves.
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Jeremy Lennert
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What if you kept the idea of mixing two players' decks to make children, but instead of creating one child for each player, there was an option (or maybe even a requirement) for one of the participants to get some other benefit instead of a child? Then you don't necessarily need to have 2 players who both want a child at the same time in order for it to work.
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Nicolas Le Roux
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What I like with the mechanic involving two players is that it's a great catalyst for negotiations. I can procreate with a player who has a weaker deck but I get something in return, like control of some land.

However, I agree with everyone who replied: it needs to be that not procreating is not too penalizing. Another possibility is to limit to an even number of players and force the time of procreation.

To those interested in knowing how it will turn out, I'll be honest and admit that I don't know when I'll have a time to design a game around this mechanic (it already took me almost a year to design my first prototype for which I had a much clearer view) so I'm more than happy to collaborate with someone who wishes to implement it.
 
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Nicolas Le Roux
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Antistone wrote:
Then you don't necessarily need to have 2 players who both want a child at the same time in order for it to work.

Indeed, it could be a deal along the lines of "I give you a progeny in exchange for some land / money / etc."

Another advantage of your proposal is that mine leads to a homogenization of the decks as two players would have gotten similar cards.

Thanks.
 
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Mike Haverty
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Why would the player count need to be even? Is there any reason to restrict players to a single offspring? As long as the parent deck is sufficiently large to remain playable after losing half of it.

Negotiations for procreation can include other things besides who gets what proportion of the "new" cards? Why not allow promises, payments, etc. as part of negotiations.

If allowing multiple offspring, there should be some cost to "supporting" a child until the parent retires. It shouldn't be too great a cost though... someone with sufficient money could be allowed to "farm children" simply for the privilege to thin their deck.

Can procreation be backstabby? e.g., we agree to procreate and then I dump only my worst cards into the offspring because I don't really need/want a child right now and you do. I end up with a weakling child that I don't intend to make my heir, you end up with a weakling that you have to use because you're about to retire.

If you're looking for a theme, I've been kicking around the idea of making a game about the Bene Gesserit quest for the kwizatz haderach. Each player controls one or more houses in addition to different Bene Gesserit-like factions, and over the course of millennia you cross-breed different bloodlines trying to achieve your faction's ideal messiah.

This is a very intriguing idea!
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Ηaralampos Tsakiris
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I think leaving the bad card behind, shows that the deck/character is now really old and unplayable.

Once procreation happens limiting the spawn in only 1 deck i think it can be problematic.

I would suggest the ability to create 2 new decks with the cards of the old decks and maybe to an i split you choose method, where both players make 2 piles of the good cards and each one choosing what they think its best.

I would remove the negotiation as the optimal thing is to procreate with the strongest person besides you, leaving the rest behind, creating a king making problem so you only have now to worry about one person that will be on the lead with you...

Its my take on this and maybe you can keep all of it or just make your own version out of it...

I am glad if i helped even a little...
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Daniel Nace
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A very interesting mechanic! Seems like this would lend itself to a medieval Europe theme, nobles making deals and arranging marriages.
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Jay Klitz
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Interesting idea, but unfortunately we don't get to choose which traits we pass on. If you had it where you randomly put say 5 or 10 cards from each player into a new progeny deck that could lead to some kid inheriting great skills while others may get less desirable traits so to speak.
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Adrian Pillai
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This sounds like a really fun take on the deck building mechanic. My thoughts:

Since any 2 characters can procreate, being a gendered race like humans can be a thematic barrier. If ungendered or gender switching is possible, then a alien or magic fantasy race might solve this aspect (and create other problems.)

Odd player counts can work. Not every player who gains a child automatically gets locked in to a stable relationship. A pair might decide to raise a child together. Or might gain twins. The idea at play here I find is reincarnation - transference of some traits and training so you can play as a renewed character very interesting. Also, just because you had a child with 1 player doesn't mean it's exclusive. You can "seed" more than one deck.

Side note: the idea of being an older character having to fend for a child as you adventure is also very intriguing to me. Like, you have the deck building mechanic for the main character, but as the deck gets unwieldy, you can streamline it by trashing cards - which are the cards that get passed to the child. Interesting potential of having to pass better cards to child at risk of not being able to use it currently or passing not as good cards that might hurt the child later...

I really like the idea of this and would like to see this go forward.
 
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Nicolas Le Roux
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Thank you everyone, I'll try to go forward. Another aspect I want to integrate is that life is a journey and that a result is not necessarily good or bad but drives you toward a point.

In practice, this means that bad events make you acquire traits that can be beneficial. For instance, let's say you want to conquer a territory. If you fail, you gain some resilience which could help you later.

To slightly derail my thread, a book does not offer choices and yet people enjoy the story. I wonder if one can design a competitive game without victory conditions, ala RPG but without GM. At the end, you had a lignage of characters with their abilities, flaws, and the existence of a winner is irrelevant.
 
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