Monday, July 25, 2011

The Spoils: A Brief Introduction

Today I'm going to take a detour from my main topics of Magic and programming and wonder down the path of another trading card game. I've become interested in The Spoils and although it is relatively a new game with only 4 sets, some of the rules are very similar to Magic: The Gathering while others are subtle improvements.

When playing Magic I regularly have the following problem.  I know which three cards/abilities I want to use but then I have to look at my land to make sure that I don't accidentally use up all of my red mana because I was going to Shock my opponent during combat.  And the situation just gets worse when playing 3, 4, or 5 color decks when you have lands that can produce multiple colors.  I'll call this the "land tapping problem" and although I know it can be solved by taking a few extra seconds to think about the situation, I still find it annoying.

Oddly enough the Spoils doesn't have this problem.  In order to play a card you have to pay its cost, like 2, and meet the card's threshold.  Threshold is basically the number of "basic resources", aka land, that you have.  Threshold isn't used up and can be used to meet the requirement for multiple cards.  So while a card's cost could be 2, the threshold might be 6 Rage icons, which means that the card can't be played until late in the game. 

The card's cost can be paid by any resource, so this solves the "land tapping problem".  In the Spoils, although any card can be played as a resource (aka land) only basic resource cards have threshold icons on them.  I think Magic's biggest flaw is the requirement of land and while the Spoils doesn't eliminate land, it reduces the need to stuff half your deck full of lands thus causing mana flooding or late in the game when you draw a land instead of a useful card.    "Hey it's great to draw a mountain on my 15th turn while I'm neck and neck with my opponent but I would really like something more useful."

(The VS/Marvel/DC trading card game didn’t have the "land tapping problem" and only had generic costs like 3 but penalized you for using random cards by only allowing characters with the same team affiliation to group attack.)

Combat in the Spoils is similar to Magic's old combat system. 

Declare attackers
  Let both players play cards/abilities
Declare blockers
  Let both players play cards/abilities
Assign damage
  Let both players play cards/abilities
Deal damage

The Spoils adds it own spin on combat and every creature has a speed.  Higher speed creatures assign (and deal) damage before lower speed creatures which makes combat much more complicated.  Instead of having 1/1 creatures, the Spoils has 1/1/1 creatures since creatures also have a speed.  You may have multiple combat phases because a player can attack with each of his creatures separately or together.  Creatures in the Spoils also have the annoying "summoning sickness" rule, which means that they can attack on your next turn. 

In Magic creatures have power/toughness and the Spoils renames them strength and life but they are the same thing.  The Spoils has 5 factions which are very different in flavor than Magic's 5 colors but you have to be blind not to notice the similarities.  The Spoils also has "faction cards" which are similar to Magic's avatar cards which affect how many cards you draw, your starting life, etc... 

I might try programming something like Forge for the Spoils.  It would be great to make it official with the company that owns the Spoils and actually sell it.  Programming for real money sounds like a very enjoyable project.  Not that I haven't had a great time starting the Forge project and giving it away but I would enjoy a change of pace.  A Spoils videogame with a good AI and decent graphics would be very fun indeed. 

The world needs more trading card videogames. :+}


I said "decent graphics" because that is my weakest skill.  Programming the back-end, non-graphical stuff is usually pretty easy and fun.


Anonymous said...

Another good game whitout the problem of lands is Duel Masters, but I fear there will be copyrights problems.
(Sorry if the grammar sucks, english insn't my native language)

Wonder said...

why not make a donation paypal account so people can "donate/pay" you to get the spoils project going?

moomarc said...

Sounds great! Hope you can get them interested if you decide to go that way. And I doubt you'd have to worry about graphics if they do let you create an official computer version, as they'd probably get front end artist and layout designers. The graphics interface will help sell the initial wave, whereas the backend programming will keep people playing and bring in new buyers via word-of-mouth.

Maybe they'll also want a random South African artist/designer - currently creating copyright-free artwork for Forge quest pets - to work on it. :)

Ramon said...

very nice.

With an improved AI the game can be a real success.

Forge said...

If I worked on a Spoils videogame I would try to make it official by getting the OK from the company that owns the Spoils. It would be great to sell it for $20 and I could split it 50/50 with the makers of the Spoils.

Thankfully I don't need much graphics since the cards themselves are very visual. I would just need to improve my user interface skills a little in order to make it look like a real videogame.

ubeefx said...

I agree that the backend is fun.
But if you say easy, then you are probably doing it wrong. It usually takes the most skill, certainly AI. A good user interface requires experience and some feeling. And of course nice art assets for a game.

Getting donations is hard. People really like free stuff. So if there is nothing there yet, that will be even harder I think.

Be aware that most card games around Magic are popular thanks to the very strong Magic brand and product. So other games will always have a harder time, certainly on pc.

About price, it is amazing what you can get these days on for instance an iPad for just 1 $. So 5 to 10 $ is what you have to aim for.

Getting the signed approval first is a very good idea. But this part is usually not easy for top selling games. Might also require a large investment.

Good luck!

Karzon said...

"The world needs more trading card videogames. :+}"

Agree. I love tcgs in theory, but I'm weird in that I'm only interested in single player. So yay video game versions. I wish you luck if you go through with this.

Forge said...

If I write a Spoils videogame it will be just like a commercial videogame and I would guess it would cost $20. The $1 to $10 dollar iPad/iPhone apps are just insanely cheap but I guess they still make money.

I still haven't written anything with a "good AI" so I expect that to be a challenge.

Forge said...

I love 1-player TCG videogames also so don't feel too weird.