For the two of you who are actually interested in Minibots Arena, no, I haven’t completely abandoned the project. I’ve been busy with personal life and to be honest, the last few playtests I ran were okay but I felt like I was heading in the wrong direction.
From the blogs and articles I’ve read, it’s absolutely normal that your initial idea and the product you end up with at the end of the day are quite different and you shouldn’t fight it. However, I had intended for a chess-meets-MtG-meets-Dominion experience that would be played quickly and within an hour but every playtest I ran lasted well over that – the most recent one lasted close to 3 hours!
With that in mind, I decided to let it sit in the back of my mind (a process I’m already accustomed to for writing and creating D&D campaigns) and over the course of months, whenever I had a free moment of absent-minded thinking, images of cards and ideas of rules would form in my mind.
So I’m back at the designing table. Minibots Arena 3 (name subject to change since that name is now associated with other projects) will see a playtest in the coming months, with simplified gameplay that will hopefully speed up and add dynamism to the experience. Since I’ve yet to publish a game too, I feel like a simpler game is better suited for me. Hey, if this ever sees the light of day, then why not make a 2nd, more complicated edition later? I’m looking at you, “Advanced” Dungeons & Dragons.
Also, rather than spending most of my time designing 100 cards (the last set had 119 unique cards!) I want to spend more time playing the game with different individuals and getting more feedback.
It also looks like I have to abandon my dream of making miniatures out of recycled plastic at the moment. I have yet to find any local factories or individuals (in Vietnam) that could help me in that regard and I’m not interested in adding to the litter piles of our planet. No miniatures would mean a less visually seductive affair, but also a cheaper game to produce and to buy – and why not have models available for 3d-printing in the future anyway?
With all this being said, here are a few new cards that I’m building the game around, followed by a quick breakdown of some new rules. I find this process helps me wrap my head around my own project tremendously.
Note: The new rules haven’t been fleshed out yet.
So right off the bat, we can see that each card opens with a clear instruction: either Play, or Discard the card – with the explanation at the bottom so that any player has all the necessary info available at any time.
This time I’d like to make deck-cycling and deck-building more important than the previous edition (where everyone simply ran after Loot boxes for the best cards, which was also very fun). I haven’t decided on the “buying” mechanic yet, but it’ll probably be something akin to Dominion or Arctic Scavenger where all the basic cards are revealed and limited from the beginning of the game, so players can and need to plan ahead.
When you Play a card, you play it from your hand and it goes in your own discard pile. When your deck is empty, you shuffle your discard pile and it becomes your new library – a classic deck-building mechanic – which means that your basic cards should stay in your répertoire as long as you want them to be… Sort of like the basic cards of Marvel Legendary.
Nobody wants to buy clones of other games however, so instead of “money” (stars in Marvel Legendary, plastic in my old version of Minibots Arena), I’m thinking of making the cards the actual currency.
So the tentative “Purchasing” rule at the moment is to have a step in each player’s turn where they may pick up one face-up card a turn (already working well in Arctic Scavenger) and add it to their discard pile (to eventually be cycled back in their deck). The basic cards would be free (Battery, Melee 1, Move 1, Ranged 1) but other cards would require you to pay by discarding (removing) cards from your deck permanently.
The other opening text on the cards is to Discard the card. So hopefully a reflex will be adopted by the players: when they read “Discard” they know instinctively that they are losing that card permanently. It’s meant to cut down on rules checking.
Where would the discarded cards go, you ask? I’m not sure at the moment. A common “junkyard pile” that could be scavenged with the right card? The Loot deck, making the rare items inside harder and harder to get? Would a Loot box be placed on the map every time a player discards a card? Could be fun, but that sounds excessive. However, if the battle map becomes littered with boxes, it offers a lot of cover and adds a layer of strategy.
One last thing I’d like to showcase is the addition of dice. After playing a bit of Warhammer 40k (I was able to pull myself out of that blackhole just in time) I realized that adding dice to the game adds a bit of excitement and unpredictability. Also, everyone loves rolling dice! It also helps to make weapons more significant. A gun with a scope could either add to the attack range, or make it easier to roll a hit, for example.
Well, this post is already getting too long so I’ll give more insight later on. Feel free to leave your questions in the comments below!