Deck-building = what?

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Spiff
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Deck-building = what?

GSF is supposed to be a "deck-building game".  Can anyone who's more familiar with that term than me give an idea of what that actually means?  I'm guessing they don't mean "deck-building" as in building your deck of Magic: the Gathering cards using randomized booster packs (at least, I'm hoping that's not what they mean).  They probably mean it more in a Dominion kind of way, but I've never played Dominion so I'm not entirely sure how it's supposed to work.

From what I've been able to tell online, it seems like everyone starts with their own small deck of cards which are the same for all players, and then there's a larger deck in the middle which all players bid for or pay some resource to get cards from to add to their individual decks (thereby "building" their "decks").  Each game can be made different by filling the common deck with different cards (not sure how you determine which cards should make up the common deck), and each player will be trying to pick cards based on their individual strategies (one player may want more Troll cards because they do one thing, while another player may be looking for Knight cards because they want to do something else).

Am I even close, or is a deck-building game something else entirely?


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Edited by: Spiff on Feb 8 2013 - 6:40pm
Ronway
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Yeah, that's about the gist of a deck-building game consist of. I can't really describe it better that what you have already did. I myself currently own one deck-building game, so not really a master of them.

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(As far as i understand it ...)

Deck building is a broad enough term that it could apply to the Magic:The Gathering style (which is basically pre-game deck building -- you organize and make your deck before the game, typically using booster packs and so on).  And then there are other Deck Builders where you build your deck in-game (like dominion, seasons, and 7 wonders i think also fall in to this category) which is pretty much as you describe where you have a base start but then as part of the game you build your deck from the pool of available cards.

So it could be any of the sort from just the term deck builder until more info is available. And considering how early it is in development, while that sort of detail may already be nailed down, it would be an awkward piece of detail to announce until other details of the game get announced to give it context.

 

 

 


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The central concept is that you begin with a personal short deck of "weak" cards to draw from. As the game advances, you chose new, more powerful cards, that you add to your deck, and (often) get rid of the less powerful ones. The goal is to build a "streamlined" deck of powerful cards that you can cycle through fast enough to use your more powerful cards/card combos more often.

Most of these games (not all) have you draw a new hand of cards each turn, meaning you can't keep a good card in hand "for later" - so you need to "build" your deck in such a way that you maximize the probability of having a good hand each turn.

The way new cards are gained varies : bought by spending ressources, gained as trophies, always available or randomly selected, etc.


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Spiff
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OK then, if I've got the basics of a deck-building system down, here's a follow-up question -- how do we think a cooperative deck-building game would work?  I would imagine that the act of getting cards from the central deck is an inherently non-cooperative thing.  You're getting a card which denies your opponents from getting that card, so you're naturally advantaging just yourself.  In a co-op setting, would everyone just decide who gets what and then hand the cards to the most deserving players?  Would that be fun?


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Spiff wrote:

OK then, if I've got the basics of a deck-building system down, here's a follow-up question -- how do we think a cooperative deck-building game would work?  I would imagine that the act of getting cards from the central deck is an inherently non-cooperative thing.  You're getting a card which denies your opponents from getting that card, so you're naturally advantaging just yourself.  In a co-op setting, would everyone just decide who gets what and then hand the cards to the most deserving players?  Would that be fun?

Just guessing. It could be possible that the card does different actions depending on what "role"/character you are playing with. So you might discuss who should get this card, etc. (like do we need a healer or a support character)

I guess it would be like in Sentinels determining who should have their ongoing cards sacrificed or turn skipped for the greater good based on the situation.

 

(Pure Speculation).

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It depends on how the cards are made available, and the possibility they give to establish "roles" for each player.

Shadowrift is a cooperative deckbuilder, for instance. In this game, you choose, at the beginning of the game, the 8 buyable cards for this game, and had the 8 stacks of copies of these cards to the "buying" area. You don't need to buy all of them, as you want to have a "thin deck" to draw from - in fact, each player will probably buy only one or two copies, if any. Players often optimize their decks foe the "role" they chose : one may be a warrior, the other use spells, another take care of wounds, or recruiting, or ressource management, etc, and each will only buy the cards they need to be good in this role. So there is no competition for cards.

If cards to buy are randomly drawn for a common deck, like in Ascension for instance, the competitive aspect becomes more important.

In a cooperative game, if there are many different ways to become "better" - different strategies or roles in the team - each player gives a different value to the available cards, and so often won't need to all buy the same one. I don't know how GSF will work, but, for instance, if one player can become a "fighter", and build a deck of warships and damage cards, while another specializes in a deck of "support" and reparation cards he can use to help the fighter, they both will want to buy different cards from the "communal" pool.

Anyway, as I said, deck buiding games use a lot of different mechanisms, the only idea they have really in common is the fact that you try to optimize the deck of cards you slowly build. The different optimization strategies available, the way to buy new cards, the ability to trade cards, or not, with other players, etc, depend on the specific game, not on the central deck building game "generic" mechanism.

By the way, in Shadowrift, each player has his own deck, but there is also a "team deck" for the whole team - the Village deck, that works also by the deck building principles, but is available to all players : it represents the different villagers the players try to protect, each one giving them a special action/ability when drawn, and part of the game is trying to "build " this deck to make it more effective. Possibilities are endless.

 


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huh, for some reason I interpreted the deckbuilding thing like deckbuilding in the Lord of the Rings co-op living card game, where you build your deck beforehand. Strange, since I also play a lot of Dominion, and Dominion-like deckbuilding makes much more sense. The deckbuilding aspect of LotR often works out to be more of a solo thing for the guy who owns the game, so the other players can just grab a preconstructed deck and start playing. Not much co-op in that aspect of the game, which doesn't seem something >G would put in a co-op game.

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The recent Marvel deck building game (Legacy) is co-operative and is one way of doing a co-operative deck building game (not that I am suggesting that >G would copy Upper Decks, it's just a way of doing it).

And while I have not played it, I have watchitplayed

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHvfN_pNBj_GVEwPkkD8zc_-J-oSw2aV-

 

I do recommend this excellent youtube series that goes into how games are played.


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"Deck-building game" definitely refers to games like Ascension, Dominion and Eminent Domain where you build a deck as one of the main mechanics during the game. Games where you build a deck before the game are not deck-building games, they have other names like CCG or Living Card Game. The nomenclature is somewhat confusing, but it's the way it shook out.

It seems like there are a few angles you could take to make it interesting as a co-op game. If cards are scarce and randomly available like ascension or Core Worlds, then you have to strategize with one another about whose deck should get the card: where does it synergize with other cards and use it most efficiently or who needs a certain support effect like draw or cycling the most. If cards are static and generally available like Dominion or Eminent Domain then you'll need to strategize about who specializes into what so that you can each fulfil a certain role or handle a certain type of threat. You could even have movement on a board (modular panels, maybe?) and different markets of cards available on different planets, which will force you to plan out who goes where so you don't have two people clean out one market and leave good cards sitting useless in another.

I think different start cards, either from something like a character card in SotM that is always in play and gives you certain bonuses or extra abilities, or from different starting decks (or better yet, both) could give a more interesting texture to early game decisions, more variability between games, and give you some guidance on what sorts of roles to go for. For instance in the Penny Arcade DBG you each get a character card which determines exactly what's in your starting deck. It's normally just slightly tweaked values of the two currencies where you might have 7 coins and 5 power instead of the standard 6 and 6, but a couple of the characters have unique cards or even start with a different number of cards in their deck. I really hope they do something similar. With this setting there's a lot of potential to make cool interesting characters or different converted smuggling ships and putting those on things that identify you for the whole game could be really neat.


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Well it would seem from Christopher's appearance on The State of Games that each player does start with their own unique ship and deck, and that cards for the deck and ship can be gained from different sectors which you move to. Also, interestingly, the enemy will travel about and can destroy acquirable cards in the sectors they're in...


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So if each player has a unique deck and ship (which is how I would love it to be), then perhaps the deckbuilding aspect is simply that you start with a small number of cards to draw from and then lay out a card at each of the planets, and you build your deck by visiting the planets that have the cards you want to acquire.  No competition from other players for cards because each of them is building their deck with cards from their own decks which are spread around the planets, if that makes sense.  If that's how it will be, I dig it.


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BlueHairedMeerkat wrote:

Well it would seem from Christopher's appearance on The State of Games that each player does start with their own unique ship and deck, and that cards for the deck and ship can be gained from different sectors which you move to. Also, interestingly, the enemy will travel about and can destroy acquirable cards in the sectors they're in...

That actually sounds quite neat and very cooperative indeed. Gives the whole whos card should be sacrificed in order to obtain a better position.

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BlueHairedMeerkat wrote:

Well it would seem from Christopher's appearance on The State of Games that each player does start with their own unique ship and deck, and that cards for the deck and ship can be gained from different sectors which you move to. Also, interestingly, the enemy will travel about and can destroy acquirable cards in the sectors they're in...

Ooooh, this is juicy. Sounds reminiscent of Mage Knight in terms of having a board you have to travel around to beef up your deck. Which is a good thing because that game is awesome and would be so much more awesome if it played in 2 hours instead of 6. Also, I really like the idea of the enemies actively moving around and messing with your stuff.


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I don't know. When I think "co-operative Deck Building game" in the classic sense, I think of The Lord of the Rings LCG from Fantasy Flight games, and that's not a bad game to be sure! 

 

But if it's closer to the new Dominion Style Deckbuilders, I would be interesed as well. Deckbuilders are notorius for being a bit fiddly, but they do offer a LOT of endless replayability. As long as they stick to the theme, which GtG is known to do, then I think this can be as good as SotM! I'm excited either way!


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I'll say, it's much more like Ascension style deck building than Dominion style deck building.  Also, how is 7 Wonders deck building?  It's a drafting game.


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I don't understand the distinction between "Ascension style" and "Dominion style".  Elaboration?


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7 Wonders isn't deck-building at all.

But of course neither are CCGs and LCGs. You build decks beforehand in those sorts of games, whereas the "deckbuilding" we're talking about when we talk about "deck-building games" is the mechanic of buying cards to put into your deck during the course of the game. I am 100% certain they're using it in the second sense when talking about GSF. If it was going to be an LCG, they would call it that.

In Ascension, there's a central pool of cards that you use to refill a rotating palette of choices. When you buy something from the middle, something new and random takes its place. It's kind of like everybody drafting from the same bottomless hand.

In Dominion, there's a number of stacks of cards that are always available to everybody. You can set up your strategy at the beginning of the game and your options aren't going to change much over the course of the game.


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I've not played Dominion, so I can't speak for that, but I am familiar with Ascension - it was, in fact, my favourite out of the card games we owned...until I got hold of Sentinels.

In Ascension, everyone starts out with a deck of ten cards, consisting of eight Apprentices and two Militia. You have your deck in front of you, with space for a discard pile, and draw a hand of five cards. Obviously, your starting hand will consist of either five Apprentices, four Apprentices and one Militia, or three Apprentices and both Militia. The only Apprentice and Militia cards in the game are those in the players' starting decks - they can't enter the game by any other means so you just keep the rest off to one side/back in the box.

The game has a board, on which are laid all the other cards. There are three card types laid face-up to one side of the board. These are Mystics, Heavy Infantry, and a Cultist (of which there is only one in the game). The rest of the cards (the "deck proper") are placed in a stack at the other end of the board, and the top six are dealt, face-up, along the middle row of the board for the players to see. You decide who goes first and the game starts.

On your turn, you can buy cards or defeat monsters. Your resoureces for buying cards are called Runes. An Apprentice produces a single Rune. So if your starting hand consists of five Apprentices, you can buy five Runes' worth of stuff. The Mystics cost three Runes to buy, but generate two Runes each (so you can use three Apprentices to buy one Mystic). So if you buy Mystics, you can use them later to buy more expensive stuff.

On the other hand, defeating monsters requires Power. A Militia has one Power, so it can only defeat a creature requiring one Power to defeat (numbers are shown on the cards). Heavy Infantry cards (the stack next to Mystics on the board) cost two Runes to buy and generate two Power, so you can use them to defeat more powerful opponents. The Cultist only requires one Power to defeat so you can always just kill it a few times if you have attacking cards in your hand and nothing to kill - Cultists are considered to be an infinite supply so you just leave the one card on the board for the entire game.

Anyway, you use your starting hand to buy/slay cards from the centre row, or buy Mystics/Heavy Infantry or slay the Cultist. When you buy a card, it goes into your discard pile. Your turn ends when you've used (or discarded) all your cards - you don't have to play a card if you don't want to, and indeed can just discard your entire hand without doing anything if there's nothing on the board that you want.

Next round, you draw the next five cards from your deck, the other half of your starting ten, and buy/kill more stuff. Next round, you have no more card in your deck so you shuffle the discard pile and lay that down as you would in Sentinels, now drawing the top five cards as your new hand (which will of course hopefully contain at least some of the stuff you bought during the first two turns). These might consist of Heroes (one-shot cards who do one thing and are then discarded) or Constructs (equipment cards which stay in play once played, and whose abilities can be used as described on the card, usually once per turn). Both types of card can produce more Runes and/or Power, or may have some other effect (such as letting you draw more cards from your deck or insta-killing a monster with a certain number of hitpoints).

Whenever a creature is killed, the person who killed it gets some Honour (in the form of a little plastic token) as a reward. When the Honour total (in tokens) reaches a certain total depending on the number of players (60 for two players, I think 75 for three and 90 for four), the game ends at the end of that round. Everyone then totals up their Honour (bought cards also have an Honour total, which is only counted at the game's end) and the player with the highest Honour total wins :).

Now someone needs to outline the rules of Dominion so we can see what the comparison is :D.


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Hmm.. First, I didn't know they were called Runes and Power, we always called them triangles and circles, or money and fight.  Second, unless the UK version is different, Cultists have always required two power to defeat.

I can tell you've only played the original game with no expansions (or, at least, are only describing the core game) as you make no mention of Fanatics, events, or Soul Gems.

The main difference with Dominion is that, instead of a changing list of cards to purchase, the list of cards are a fixed set (until all of the cards of a set are purchased, then there are no more cards of that type to purchase).  While they are random when setting up the game, once the game is played, it doesn't change (except for the Knights card set, but that's a special case).  In addition, there are a list of Treasure and Victory cards (as well as Curse cards and Ruins cards) which are constant in every game played.  The second difference is that each turn is done in two phases, first is to play an action card and resolve it's effects, and second is to play as many treasure cards as desired and purchase one card (though other cards can modify these by stating "+X Actions" or "+X Buys" allowing more cards played or purchased during those phases), rather than playing cards and purchasing cards limitlessly (so long as they can be afforded) as in Ascension.


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The manual calls them Runes and Power, so that's what I call them ;). And maybe the Cultist does need two Power to defeat, yeah, I may have misremembered that (hey, I've been playing Sentinels every weekend since around September, I can't fully remember every detail - blame GtG for that ;)). And no, we don't have any expansions. I'd never even considered that there were any, actually (until that thread where the tale of the bloke who used the game to propose to his girlfriend - I think an expansion of some kind got mentioned there).

Based on the description, I think I prefer Ascension to Dominion - I like the randomness of it, the way you don't know what cards are gonna come up in what order. Sometimes the entire starting row consists of creatures, in which case at least one player needs to buy some Heavy Infantry in order to deal with them. But then if loads of buyable stuff comes out, you need the Runes to be able to afford it. I like nabbing as many "draw extra cards" cards as possible - Master Dhartha, Ascetic of the Lidless Eye, and so on. That way I can burn through half of my deck in a single turn and sometimes therefore get to the bottom and shuffle the cards I just bought into the deck I now need to immediately draw from :D. Getting a good combo of as many Mechana Constructs as possible is really cool too, but can be difficult. It's nice to get hold of Mechana stuff anyway for the high Honour score (especially the Hedron Cannon, of course, with its value of eight, the highest in the game).


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Spiff wrote:

I don't understand the distinction between "Ascension style" and "Dominion style".  Elaboration?

 

I have played dominion, but not ascension.

You can try the web client to get a better idea of Deck Building genre. The board game style is definitely better but this implementation is quite decent.

http://play.goko.com/Dominion/gameClient.html

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Spiff wrote:

I don't understand the distinction between "Ascension style" and "Dominion style".  Elaboration?

 

The key differences between Dominion and Ascension are two-fold.

Dominion has you randomly select a number of card sets that every one can purchase from, each set is difference but each card within a set is identical and everybody can purchase from those sets.

Ascension has one single deck loaded with lots of different cards, some cards are unique and some have multiples; you flip over x cards at the start of the game and a new card after someone buys one, thus the cards you can buy change each turn as the previous person buys them. It adds a very real 'screw you' component to the game.

 

The second key difference is that in Dominion buying the cards is the only win condition of the game, there are cards that are worth victory points and you can only acquire them by buying the cards and adding them to your deck.

Ascension has multiple ways to earn Victory Points. Some of the cards in the deck are worth victory points, some allow you to take victory points when you play them and some are enemies to be defeated that grant you victory points when you do (and those cards are NOT added to your deck).

 

Dominion leads to a much cleaner game, you can plot out a strategy from the beginning and work towards your ideal deck.

Ascension has more player interaction.


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There are some edge cases that invalidate two of your generalizations describing Dominion, however.  The first is both Knights and Ruins cards.  Each Knight card is a completely different card (even though they are part of the same card set) and the Ruins deck has multiple copies of 5 or 6 different cards.  Both of these are only available in the new Dark Ages set.

The other part is that there are some Action cards which give Victory Tokens, such as Bishop and Monument.  When these cards are played, the appropritate amount of tokens are placed on one's Victory Token Board, and includes that count alongside any victory cards in the deck, much like how Honor pieces are counted alongside the Honor value of cards in one's deck in Ascension.


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oooooooooh

 

I hadn't seen the Dark Ages expansion. Sounds neat!


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Bishop and Monument (and Goons) are from the Prosperity set.

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From what I've gathered, it seems like it will be dominion/thunderstone (got to throw that name out there, since its my current favorite deckbuilder) mixed with exploration. So instead of the stacks being all in one village, discovering a location would allow you to take from the cards there.


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