Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Titanomachia: Leaving out the Cards? Part 1

From the beginning of my Adeptus Titanicus/Titanomachia project I've been hung up on using cards, as cards were used to manage action in my inspirations of Tactical Assault Games' Combat Cards, Triumph & Tragedy, and including a card-based modification of 7TV's action/audience appreciation system. I liked how these games used cards to structure the action of games, but I think it's come time to take a step back and figure out whether Titanomachia should even be using cards. I believe I've mentioned that the cards offer distinct difficulties in trying to demonstrate or pitch the game, as Magic: The Gathering is the card game squatting on the consciousness of gamers and using anything even broadly similar invites distraction as well as comparison.

I'm particularly annoyed at some feedback that I should make Titanomachia entirely a card game, which suggests I'm not only doing a poor job of pitching the game, but such a poor job that I'm actively de-pitching my idea. The inability to communicate always upsets me, and perhaps that's why I've variously been a graduate student, a salesman, and a technical writer: because the ability to blithely communicate, to say whatever the hell I want and to somehow get my message across, has always escaped me. I have to rely on things like spelling, grammar, style, layout, and so on because I lack the shared context that, like air, is so important to enabling communication.

Which is why I'm waffling on about communication, because a bespoke deck of cards both functions to enable game-play, and a stream for revenue where they function as an element of the game as well as repository of information (Games Workshop's Psychic Cards for Warhammer 40,000). However, it also makes play less accessible, and it certainly makes proto-typing and production a frickin' hassle. Rather than prejudicing myself either way, however, I figured it would be best to explore the options and alternatives to using cards. In particular that's due to how the turn structure of 7TV works. My last game of that involved a kind of ambush/siege situation where a gang of thugs bombed a cast of cops investigating a crime scene in a neighborhood pub. One exploding burning vehicular manslaughter later the cops were all dead, and no few bad-guys were down for the count.

Now 7TV is interesting in that players alternate good guys vs bad guys, except that the protagonists and the antagonists get to act with precisely half their number of models, stars and extras, and so having some cast members with leadership, the ability to give actions to nearby models, is always useful. Even moreso the order of the game turns can alternate. People more familiar with the Warhammer series may note that the game has game turns and player turns, and one player has the first player turn in each game turn. In 7TV the player with the first player turn may change, which can allow casts on their back foot to play a double-turn, going second in the previous game turn and first in the current game turn. Such an action is literally a reversal, and beyond the initial "Wait, you get two turns in a row?!" it's quite intriguing.

Now, using cards in 7TV isn't standard, but a deck of pseudo-randomly distributed cards instead of rolling dice takes some of the sting out of clumps or runs of luck. It's also on a game-turn-basis, so that one card from a single deck is flipped to determine things like whether the initiative, the first player turn, has flipped, and whether the back-footed cast has more audience appreciation or whatnot. It's not quite the same as rolling for it, but slightly more convenient from a records-keeping perspective.

So what's going on in Titanomachia that's done with cards that can be handled another way? Currently the players each have a Strategy deck. Every turn each player draws a number of cards from that deck for a hand, the number of cards drawn and maximum size of the hand determined by their Titan's Crew System. Other cards are used for objectives, terrain, and to represent the Titan systems themselves, with each system getting a card to track damage, show capacity, and determine damage locations. Likewise the cards are used to track damage, show capacity, and determine damage locations on terrain features, with larger ones getting multiple cards. I'm keeping the other cards though.

To be continued...

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