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Subject: Scratch--Rule light strategy card game rss

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AJ Quinn
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Scratch is a strategic card game for two players. Players build decks of just 10 cards and take turns playing a single card in a tic-tac-toe style grid. The numbers on the cards are compared and it is possible for new cards to defeat and gain control of old cards. Imagine a game of tic-tac-toe where you could convert an X into an O!

Scratch takes about 10 minutes to learn and a single game can take as little as 5 minutes. Typically, games are strung together into a 'match' which takes about 30 minutes. As you get better, you'll find more and more strategic depth to Scratch. From strategy in the game, to strategies in matches, and strategies in deck building, there is always some new spot that needs scratching.

Check out the development blog here: http://www.scratchtheline.blogspot.com/
Download the quick start guide here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/64797465/scratchDTL.pdf
Download all of the faction cards here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/64797465/scratch_full_faction.pdf

EDIT--Updated sample card to reflect the art of venerable Jason Kingsley instead of my shabby efforts.


Thanks in advance for checking it out!
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
I can appreciate the desire to get into the Collectible Card Game market. Just a friendly word of advice: it might not be all that profitable anymore. That said, you may want to try providing at least two playable decks that would cover most (or all) of the cards you had in mind.

I do like the idea of having a deck that fits in your wallet. So, if you can get enough cards in a "booster pack" to make a deck, that might actually be rather feasible.

If you're still into making a CCG, there's a thread somewhere around here where I pretty much just learned that TheGameCrafter is willing to help get these published.
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AJ Quinn
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
Hey thanks for the quick reply!

I actually probably misused CCG. If this ever becomes a game to sell, I would sell a complete set and not go for boosters or card scarcity. If it is sold, you'll get every card and duplicates of some to ensure you can design any deck you can conceive of making. The lure of the game is supposed to be strategic competition against a buddy, not purchasing enough cards to mop the floor with your friends.

The 24 cards provided at the end of the PDF are more than enough to play the game. I provided 12 cards each from two of the four factions, but you can actually mix and match factions in your deck. The only deck requirement is that it is 10 cards with at least half being 'commons.'
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
Ok ... just read through the rules. Some comments:

-- I found the part in the rules that say that Scratch will be sold as a complete set. So ... the question is, with 4 factions that have 7 common, 5 rare, and 5 uniques, will the complete set mean just 68 cards? Or will there be multiple copies of the common cards, thus allowing the player to have ... say ... 3 imps and 3 drakes in his deck.

-- I like the use of symbols, and the placement of the numbers as well as the little telltales along the bottom left are great. (I can tell that you intentionally put it there so that you can fan the cards and get a quick idea of what cards you have).

-- The current orientation of the quartet of numbers at the bottom left would make it easy to fan the cards "horizontally", with the bottom left corner exposed. However, many people are used to holding their cards vertically (and it's a bit friendlier to small hands); but when held vertically, all the numbers are rotated. It probably isn't a big deal to rotate all the cards such that whats on the bottom left is now on the top left ... and move the creature name back on top.

-- Put something on the "6" like an underline ... "6" ... that way it's clear that it isn't a 9. (I didn't see a 9 in the sample, but the underline might help even if you don't have a 9 anywhere in the game)

-- You might want to think of a catchier name. Like ... "Trick Drake Troll!" (yeah, I had a hard time making it sound like Tic-Tac-Toe; but there's a start).

-- I can already see that there's a lot of elements of "Heart-wrenching Decisions" (what's the official term to that again??) to be made in this game. I like how you can build a deck with a certain strategy in mind (like ... I'll take control of corner and work outward) ... but whether or not the 5 cards in your hand actually match your strategy can throw a monkey wrench into it. Nice work.

-- On the right column of page 2, it says "... you fill your hand back to 5 cards." However, the rules on the left column don't have any instructions about how the discards are reshuffled back into the deck. It may sound trivial; but there are games where you don't get to recycle the discards back into the deck ... so if you decided to discard a card in that kind of game, you're essentially choosing to work with what you have.


-- On page 1, in the "Where did Scratch come from" -- I found the idea of a game-within-a-game intriguing! I'd certainly like to see if you have any ideas about how that would work (and no, I haven't played FF8 ... I'll have to look it up). But it kinda reminds me of the old hobby of collecting baseball cards, and then playing a game where you "duel" the baseball cards for the chance to win an opponent's card. Or ... even more recent ... collecting Pogs and dueling with Pogs to get more Pogs.


-- one last note, and you might be aware of this already, considering that your card counts are almost in-line with it, and considering that you're very much aware of how 9 cards fit on a regular sheet of paper.... well ... ummm ... most Print-on-Demand guys do use that 9-cards-per sheet as a template; and others would use 18-cards per sheet. You're pretty much there with 17 cards per faction (and use the 18th card as a player reference or mini-rulebook).



This seems to be an excellent game to play with kids; if all goes well, you may hear more from me and my son this weekend.



Oh ... and here's a challenge: Can you make it work for more than 2 players? My son (5-year-old) absolutely loves Tic-Tac-Toe; I think he's still convinced that it is a game he can consistently win (*grin* yeah, I let him win sometimes). But we recently wanted to include his younger cousins to play together ... and ... well ... there's 3 of them. So the standard Tic-Tac-Toe would have excluded 1. The solution I've tried is to add extra rows and columns. So, a 3 player game uses 4x4; and a 4 player game uses 5x5. I'm not sure if that's an official Tic-Tac-Toe variant ... but maybe a similar setup will work for this game and open it up to more than just 2 players.
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AJ Quinn
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
Thanks for the great feedback. Places like this are a godsend for useful input especially when compared to what you generally get from family and friends ("It's a very nice game.") Also thanks for actually taking the time to check it out; very cool of you and I hope you have fun with it.

-- Since we are a long ways from selling anything I haven't put any stakes in the ground, but what I'm leaning towards is 5x common, 2x rare, and 1x unique. That makes each faction 50 cards (35 commons, 10 rare, and 5 unique) and a full set 200 cards. That way there are plenty of cards for a group of people (thinking towards a typical D&D group of 5) can divy up and get one of every common and then haggle over rares and uniques. All told, it'll be enough to build a lot of different themes without stepping on anyone's toes.

-- My main goal on the cards is to make sure they are easy to read when played. I always disliked strategy games where part of the challenge was that I found stuff hard to read or memorize. My fear about moving the quartet of numbers is that it makes them useless for left handers. Where they are placed now, you can sort of hold the cards horizontally but then stack them with all bottoms exposed. This is equally accessibly to right- or left-handed players, albeit not as good as normal playing cards for either.

-- There are no 9's in the game; all values are 3 to 8. The reference to the 9 was supposed to be sort of tongue in cheek, but your point is still well headed. The 6s might need some notation.

-- Since the game originated in D&D, it was originally called Claw-Maw-Rake (after the dragon's attacks). We changed it to Scratch to make it a bit more generically accessible beyond D&D. I'm actually pretty fond of Scratch since it seems simple and unassuming, much like the game. Again, point well heeded, I'll think on it.

-- On discarding: Discards are not shuffled back in during the game so all you get are 10 cards. You would reshuffle and reset your deck to 10 between games (assuming you are playing a match to 5 pts). That's a good comment and an oversight in the rules.

-- I actually didn't know that about print on demand sheets, so thanks. One of the reasons we kept the rules so brief is that we wanted to print a 'rules card' without the print having to be tiny. That might work great.

-- I'd love to hear how it goes with your son. My family all works in education so I had a vague idea that it might be a good math tool at some point for elementary aged kids, sort of like a living word problem. I'd probably have to change a few card names (Town Drunk comes to mind...).

Hopefully you'll find that while it is simple enough to be accessible to kids, some complex strategies emerge for you too. We've had 30 year old engineers racking their brain to try and predict outcomes, so it certainly has the potential.
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Herc du Preez
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
This looks like a fun and fast game. I dreamed up a very similar game 2 days ago.

I look forward to seeing if the card orientation will remain landscape (horizon) or change to portrait (vertical) for the icons along the bottom.

I take it monsters are top heavy and kingdom is bottom heavy?



Finally some minor nit pickings:

Rules Text wrote:
Only one instance of each rare (i.e. ‘giant’) may be in play at any time.


Should be e.g.. Otherwise it sounds like all rares are giants.

Some Better text for "Insult to Injury" could be something like:
When Chancellor defeats a card, choose and discard a card from the opponents hand.

Maybe change the icon for wilds from a tree to 3 claw slash marks? Makes it seem more dangerous and less MtG like.
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Julian Fox
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
This reminds me of Triple Triad from Final Fantasy 8 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=264wi-_Yxmw). That was massively addictive... oh the hours... impending Scratch addiction in 5,4...
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
julesfox wrote:
This reminds me of Triple Triad from Final Fantasy 8 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=264wi-_Yxmw). That was massively addictive... oh the hours... impending Scratch addiction in 5,4...


+1
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
Picked out a few items on your response ...

Runeward wrote:

... each faction 50 cards (35 commons, 10 rare, and 5 unique) and a full set 200 cards.
...

... make sure they are easy to read when played.
... you can sort of hold the cards horizontally but then stack them with all bottoms exposed.

... The 6s might need some notation.

... I actually didn't know that about print on demand sheets


... because they all pointed me to something else... and here it is:

What if you don't use cards?

For playtesting purposes, the cards are fine for now... but I'm thinking the final product might actually benefit in using a different ... medium.

... like, Square Chits ... or even Circular Chits ... or, for a deluxe and durable feel, the kind of chips you'd have for Poker chips. But you might need a couple of cloth bags to allow for random draws of chits/chips.

It might be a bit more expensive to produce chits, and probably definitely more expensive to produce poker chips ... but if you're going for 200 cards per set, resizing things down can have a huge impact to the cost of the game.

About 22 sheets for 200 regular playing cards (roughly $40 at PnP Productions); only 7 sheets for 200 1.25" diameter circular chits (roughly $32 at PnP Productions).

(look at Print & Play Productions for more ideas)

Rather than using names, you can use pictures -- so a picture of a Troll, rather than the word "Troll".

And instead of arabic numerals, you could use Pips ... maybe make them stylized and use swords, or claws, depending on the picture. Using symbols like that does many things, among them: (1) you can "read" them at any orientation; (2) they teach kids how to count objects at a glance (I forget the official term, but I've heard that it's a good skill to see six pips and know it's six, instead of counting each pip "1,2,3,4,5,6"); (3) it's probably easier to see "which is greater."

Also ... making them squares or circles introduces another concept you can try ... rotating!

(edit ... adding a picture)

I just noticed this image on PnP Productions; I haven't looked at the game it belongs to. It just struck me because it has numbers on the 4 sides.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
Runeward wrote:
-- On discarding: Discards are not shuffled back in during the game so all you get are 10 cards. You would reshuffle and reset your deck to 10 between games (assuming you are playing a match to 5 pts). That's a good comment and an oversight in the rules.


Yeah, that's a pretty important distinction. Some of us may be coming from games like Dominion, where you always reshuffle/recycle the discard pile. It actually makes more sense for this game that "once discarded, stays discarded" ... it's yet another Agonizing Decision (there, I remembered the term!) ... "should I discard this and hope that the card I want will show up?"
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Nate K
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
Interesting. A complex, variable, and customizable version of Tic-Tac-Toe. Neat.

One thing that I didn't see mentioned in the rules: Say I lay a card down adjacent to two enemy cards. My cards beats one card, but loses to another. Do I gain control of the enemy card that I beat, but lose my card to the other enemy card?

My guess is that I don't--it sounds like the intention is for players to only check values when they play a card, and when they make that check, they can gain control of cards adjacent to the card they just played. Sort of like how in Carcassonne you can only put a Meeple on the tile you play during your turn--i.e., the piece you just put down is the only one that is relevant.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
kurthl33t wrote:

My guess is that I don't--it sounds like the intention is for players to only check values when they play a card, and when they make that check, they can gain control of cards adjacent to the card they just played.


That's the way I read it too.
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Nate K
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
Stormtower wrote:
kurthl33t wrote:

My guess is that I don't--it sounds like the intention is for players to only check values when they play a card, and when they make that check, they can gain control of cards adjacent to the card they just played.


That's the way I read it too.


Oh, good. But it's probably something that should be mentioned in the rules--especially because you know it's something that will come up when one player teaches another player the game. The new player will ask about this, and the veteran may want to be able to point to a rule and say, "No, see, it works like this."
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AJ Quinn
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
Thanks for another round of great responses and links to information!

Avianfoo--That's correct, the 'tendencies' or which side tends to have the highest number are the same as the positioning of the faction icons on page 2 of the PDF. Thanks for both the edits and I really like your Insult to Injury text change.

Julian--Definitely has a bit of Triple Triad in it but the rules take it in a new direction. They had to, really, because part of the fun of Triple Triad was watching the chaos unfold from complex rules. That doesn't work in an analogue game where you're responsible for knowing the outcome instead of a CPU. As it got simpler, though, it got more strategic and I sort of like that aspect.

Sturv--Chits are neat and it is more to consider. I really enjoy the 10-card deck size because it can fit in your wallet (about the size of 2-3 credit cards) and since the rest of the game is scratch paper and spare change, that means you could conceivably play any time. I don't think Scratch could ever be played for a 4+ hour stretch like MtG could, it is more of a 30 minute in and out to kill some time sort of game, so I appreciate its convenience.

Nate--You are correct. You only check values when a card is first played and it only goes one direction. This is all really helpful because when you've designed a game from the start and only ever taught it to people visually, it is easy to not make assumptions that prove false.

Thanks everyone for the feedback.
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AJ Quinn
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
I made a quick PDF rules update that is more explicit on the rules and also provides an example of how 'swap' and 'flip' powers operate. Once I feel like I've hammered down the majority of the problem spots, I'll overhaul the wording to make sure it is as tight as possible. The first page is identical to the original PDF, so if you read that one feel free to skip the intro.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/64797465/scratch_rulessample.pdf
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
Looks good to me, I like the examples. It clarifies a lot more than just the two special abilities.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
Stormtower wrote:
... like, Square Chits ...


I figured I should at least test out the idea I'm suggesting. So I made this based on the Kingdom cards, and this will be what I'll try this weekend.


These squares a little bit larger than 1 inch per side; so you can fit at least 70 on a page.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
As promised, I played a couple of games with my 2-months-away-from-6 son.

I made 2 copies of the Kingdom cards, using the square chits I showed above. But I took out all the non-common chits, except for the Knight, to keep things somewhat simpler (... no special abilities). In retrospect, I should have included at least the common Monster cards. Ah well, it gives me something to do, LOL!

So, here's a look at the 2nd game ... re-enacted from memory.

I used white poker chips to mark off the 3x3 grid. I'm the blue player using blue poker chips; my son played the green chits with red poker chips. On our turn, we'd put our chip color down on the spot we want to occupy, and place our chit on top; then we check the adjacent spots to see if we had beaten them, and replace the poker chip with our color as necessary.


Blue went first in this game.

Blue played Cross in r2c2.
Red played Knight in r2c1, capturing r2c2
Blue played Blacksmith in r1c1, capturing r2c1
Red played Archer in r3c1, to block the 3-in-a-row

It is now Blue's turn.

We were playing with our chits face-up, so we can discuss strategy a bit. At this point in the game, I pointed out that it was a really good idea to have blocked that 3-in-a-row, even if he couldn't capture another spot. However, at this point, I have several chits that can be played in r1c2 and capture r2c2 ... which gives me two potential rows to make 3-in-a-row.

In retrospect, having the Monster cards available would have helped stop that situation. Like Red could have played a Goblin on r1c2 (instead of the Archer in r3c1), and that would have threatened 2 potential rows to make 3-in-a-row for Red.

Very exciting game! Makes Tic-Tac-Toe more interesting.


Some other notes:
-- I made a box for my components. It's actually from a sheet of bad printing of the chits ... just couldn't let a piece of cardstock go to waste!
-- I was trying out using those little glass beads instead of the poker chips. They'll probably work, since these are small enough to fit in the center of the chit without blocking the dots ... but I only have the one color so far.
-- I've done a little research, and apparently, Tic-Tac-Toe is called "Noughts and Crosses" in the UK. So I've nicknamed this little game as "Knights and Crosses" ... hmmm ... gonna have to find a monster that sounds like "Crosses" ...
-- Oh ... I renamed the Town Drunk. That's the Cross chit.


-- I also just noticed that I didn't include Knight's "Stand your Ground" ability. Now that I've read it, I'm not sure I understand completely. When you say "Swap with Tail" ... does that mean you try to swap with the chit on the "7" side?


(Oh ... forgot to mention: the chits are just laminated pieces of cardstock.)
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AJ Quinn
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
Wow! Really neat post, thanks for getting into it and glad you had fun. Your method seems to sort of euro-ize the game (giving lots of little pieces to fiddle with) while my concept sort of took it in the other direction (as few things to get in the way as possible). Looks fun.

Having both factions in play would make it more likely to have viable threats on any side of the card or chit, so it would further balance the game. A different way to put it is that with only one faction, you make the first mover advantage bigger because all of the cards are sort of oriented similarly within a faction, and you get to pick the anchor side for the match. You'll also probably eventually note that the point totals of cards increase as you go from common --> rare --> unique. So having the complete faction also lets you play larger cards in those moments when you really have to block something.

I think using just commons is a great idea, though, for playing with children. I'm impressed that your son is strategic enough to understand planning several steps ahead--or maybe it's just been too long since I was 6 and I'm not giving kids enough credit. Either way, I'm really happy that it was fun for all ages.

The Knight's power of Stand your ground! allows the Knight to not be affected by Push the attack! and the 'swap' mechanic. In other words, if you look at the second PDF with the samples of play, the Troll would not have been able to sneak in there and bury his 3 in the corner. The Knight cancels that power, so it is fairly limited in its use, but when it does come up... it can really save a game.

Finally, instead of poker chips below, what we've been doing is using US-Quarters. We used a permanent red marker to paint the tails side red and then we just flip the coin each time control is gained or lost. It has been really quick and easy to visually see at a glance.

Thanks for giving it a try!
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
Runeward wrote:
Finally, instead of poker chips below, what we've been doing is using US-Quarters. We used a permanent red marker to paint the tails side red and then we just flip the coin each time control is gained or lost. It has been really quick and easy to visually see at a glance.


Yeah, I was thinking of making a two-sided chit, and then I'd also have to use the cards you've provided. But now that you mention it, I just might mark up a coin the way you did it. I had liked the simplicity of flipping the penny heads or tails ... but the mono-chromatic nature of that didn't make the 3-in-a-row stand out easily ... having two-colors is definitely an improvement.

If I stick with my square chits, I might end up just baking up some custom clay chips with one color on one side, and a different one on the other.

Thanks for the game!
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
I updated the game with all of the helpful feedback I've gathered so far and tried to clear up any confusion. The new document is a polished version of the game with a robust sample of play to help highlight strategies and game play. I'm still looking for play testers, so any feedback is very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/64797465/scratchDTL.pdf 2mb PDF
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
I've made something that may very well be an oversimplified PnP version of it. I'm about to try my hand at writing out a modified version of your rules to go along with the PnP components ... but I don't want to infringe on your IP at all.

So I'm definitely crediting you with the rules and the basic layout.

(edit:
It can now be found here:
Knights'n'Crows PnP v0.8 pdf
)

Here's what that oversimplified version looks like (see pics from Gallery below). I agree with the fiddlyness comment you've made earlier, so I reworked the components one more time. I think you might like the new result.


These are two copies of the PnP sheet -- I made two copies because I planned to laminate the chits, and I might as well use the full sheet of laminate. The way the sheet is designed, you would fold it in half, and the corresponding halves would line up to form the two sides of the chit. So, the Blue-colored Knight on one side would have a matching Green-colored Knight on the flip side.

That way, all you have to do when you capture an adjacent chit is to flip it over to your color. No more need to flip a separate penny.

(Side note: I'm using "0"'s to show the "strength" of each chit, but I might make one side use "X"'s instead ... and that way, we'll have O's and X's from the classic Tic-Tac-Toe again."


The folded sheet is glued. I used Elmer's Glue spray adhesive, based on some recommendations I've read on the DIY forums.


The two glued sheets are placed in a single sheet of laminate (using a 5mil sheet here). And after running it through the laminating machine (did it about 3 times, lol!) I'm ready to cut the chits out.


Here's a close-up of the edge of the resulting chit. These are about 1.2 inches on each side.

So ... sample usage:
Blue plays Crow
Green plays Knight, capturing Crow
Green plays Smith, capturing Knight
Blue plays Mouse (image below), and is now about to capture Smith and Crow...

Smith and Crow are captured, and we flip the chits over from green to blue



Like I said, these are overly-simplified chits -- there are no special abilities. So it's pretty much an extremely genericized game, and I went ahead and just changed most of the names (I think the Knight may be the only hold-over from what you originally used). Essentially, it just teaches the basics of your mechanics. This copy that I'm using will be what I'll play with my kids, their cousins, and many of my friends and co-workers, hopefully.

I'm calling it "Knight'n'Crows" ... again, a pun on the UK version of Tic-Tac-Toe ... "Noughts and Crosses".

Seeing as how you have a new version of the rules, I'll have to review that and make sure I'm as consistent with what you've envisioned. Aside from the email address, do you have a website page you want to have people send you inquiries about? Maybe a facebook page? I'd probably include a link to this thread ... but that might just confuse the players.
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Sturv Tafvherd
United States
North Carolina
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
Stormtower wrote:
I've made something that may very well be an oversimplified PnP version of it. I'm about to try my hand at writing out a modified version of your rules to go along with the PnP components ... but I don't want to infringe on your IP at all.


It can now be found here:
Knights'n'Crows PnP v0.8 pdf

from the pdf file wrote:
Description:
This is a game based on “Scratch”, which is designed by AJ Quinn (aka Runeward). Rules and samples of that game were posted on BoardGameGeek.com; and you may still find links to that original game by reading the following forum thread:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/772841

The game described in this document is a simplified version of AJ Quinn’s game. It’s basically a game of Tic-Tac-Toe (or Noughts and Crosses, as it may be known in Europe), but with this twist: you may capture adjacent positions during your turn.

The goal of this version is two-fold: (1) to provide an easy Print-and-Play format to introduce the concept of the original game to other players; and in addition, (2) to allow young kids to enjoy a different version of the Tic-Tac-Toe game.
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Herc du Preez
South Africa
Cape Town
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
Did this game get a variant before it was completely released? surprise

My personal preference is the more complex card game but I can see the chits version working for a much wider audience.

So when do we get to see the other decks?
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Sturv Tafvherd
United States
North Carolina
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Re: Scratch--Rule light strategy CCG
Avianfoo wrote:
Did this game get a variant before it was completely released? surprise

My personal preference is the more complex card game but I can see the chits version working for a much wider audience.

So when do we get to see the other decks?


Yeah, I'm really curious to see the entire range of abilities too.

And it's possible to add the abilities onto the chits ... it just depends on how many different abilities there are. Each ability can be assigned to an icon, and the chits themselves can be larger.

At any rate, my aim at the "variant" is to be able to take the game along with me -- to the mall, to the playground, or when visiting my son's cousins and friends.
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