This is a kind of public discussion document, that will (hopefully) act as an idea base for ORC or other rule sets. Eventually, a subset of it will become a ruleset of its owm, but just not in any close future. This being said - it's a food for thought more than anything else, and it will be all OK for you to give and take whatever you want.
Forgiving game rules
But not too much... Game should be easy to play, and that's the point. Easy, enjoyable, not strict, black and white, win or lose.
I'm pissed off more and more with strict phase order. There is always this stupid need of memorizing anything and keeping the order, or else... Exactly, else what? Someone will have to be nice for you? What's bad in being nice?
But what if you won't keep to the rules, really? Like in chess - you lose! You have not unmarked a card, you have not discarded what you should - you lose! Sure, we're nice to each other, and let poor bastards play with marked cards, or let them discard what they should discard earlier. And how about arranging the turns in the way that will make not such issues? For example:
Phase 1 - maintenance and playing cards: Player is expected to unmark all cards that need unmarking due to new turn, draw some cards from the deck, discard some cards if they need it, play cards onto the table and so on. It is perfectly OK to unmark half of his hand, discard a whole round lasting spell he played in the previous round, draw cards, unmark some cards, play some cards, unmark all the cards left, and play some more cards.
Phase 2 - attack: Player, if needed, attacks and resolves battles. If there are two or more attacks going on, they can be solved one after another, as they would have been a sequence rather than happened at once.
Phase 3 - end of turn: All that should happen at the end of the turn - happens now. So you have to remove all those spells that are lasting until end of turn, drop all the cards above a limit and so on.
Elastic game length
I think there can be made great variation in gameplay length.
- How to influence game length?
By agreeing on a given goal (winning conditions) prior to play - gaining X influence points is one good example
By agreeing on a given lose conditions - like being left without creatures by the end of the turn.
- How to compensate very different play time that the one used for the balancing?
Balance well in the first place, to stretch game length
Adding additional faction-dependent rules or handicaps (more cards on start, starting with some resources in place)
Resource system that will make balancing and faction design easier
There are some concepts, that would make game more attractive:
Idea is with bigger cards-on-table power, player has more problems with playing new cards.
It's a bit tricky, cause we want the game to be cheap to play, so small deck is a good thing. But at the same time card is the only real value in the game - that is a core resource, that may be turned into "fuel" or "power", into a resource card or into whatever card it happens to be.
Problem is twofold: we want factions that are consisting of many weak units and factions that are made with power in mind. This excludes counting cards, as well as casualties directly to balance the resource system.
- For each played card with the cost of X or more, discard a card from your resource pile
- For each played creature card with the cost of Y or more, discard another creature card from your table
Idea of feedback is with more resources used, flowing stream of resources is getting dry.
- You have zero RP - you draw 4 cards per turn, you have 1 RP - you draw 3 cards, you have 2 - you draw 2 cards, 3 or more - 1 card
- You are allowed to do one of the following: start a new RP each turn or add one card to an existing pile with no more than X (2-4) cards in it, or you can merge two existing piles together. This way increasing RP capacity will cost more time.
Quick playtesting routine
Purpose: Rapid initial testing (mostly used to check out new cards).
I think we'll quite soon hit the problem - testing small things (new cards) that can take long time (probably whole game from A to Z repeated many, many times). Shorthening the goal number of points will not make things better, as one card will be stronger at the beginning, while other can only be played only in late game. Besides - tested cards can be forced into RP, most probably this issue will occur with stronger cards. Thus, for testing in most cases, at least one whole hour-long game will be needed. So I thought, what the heck... Maybe there will be possible to develop a set of rules that will be more versatile than shorter games, will need less prerequisites (like deck making reasonable for particular card to be tested) and can be started ad hock and finished from start to finish within minutes. So my conclusions were initially:
- Removing resource piles and paying for played cards. No delays, no costs. Use fixed deck "budget" and play what you want when you can.
- Focusing on two phases: battle preparations and battle itself
Finally what I want to propose is really, really easy: Prerequisites:
- Compose deck under a fixed total gold cost, let's say 40 or 60 gold. Maximum of 2 factions is allowed.
- Play certain number of cards onto table, let's say take 8, play what you can, shuffle the rest with the rest of your deck.
- Draw three cards on start
- Draw two cards, unmark creatures.
- Play what you want.
Winning conditions: There should be no winner and loser, really. The game should be played until there is any change possible, and as many times with tweaked decks in between, as needed to say that a tested set of cards will work. This is not a bombproof routine, just a quick and dirty way of telling if a card or set of cards is well balanced in terms of costs, abilities and power, and also if there is a chance of abuse with some kind of combo. After an hour or two wasted on such test it should be more information obtained about the subject set of cards than after two full-length games, not even mentioning that all factions could be tested within hour if you assume 10 minutes per one play.