Saturday, July 9, 2011

All in the Cards - My Obsession

I'm going to level with you guys.  Just in case you haven't noticed, I kind of have a thing for Trading Card Games of all shapes, sizes and forms.  And while I haven't played 80% of them (In fact, half of the above pictured), trust me, were the time, money, and ability to do so mine, I would be familiar with all of the TCGs.  I'm not really sure what it is about it, whether it's the strategy involved in deciding your deck structure, collecting better cards, just the way a match plays out, or some other thing.  But there's just something that makes every card out there something I want to at least see if just to try and understand its place in a game.

And while you might have noticed the beast that is my TCG-desire has been temporarily sated, that doesn't mean I'm not constantly thinking about them and how any game out there could be converted to a TCG structure of some sort without too much hassle.  I say some sort, because I have been schooled in the ways of Card Games, and I've learned that they're not always going to be a simple "Here's your field, here's your bench, here's your hand, GO" affair.

This is, of course, because of the above-pictured Metal Gear Ac!d 2.  (I don't know how to do superscript.)  Also the non-pictured Metal Gear Ac!d.  Now, a lot of people don't even know about the two Metal Gear Ac!d games, and I can't honestly blame them, as they simply are not only strange games, but games that weren't really mentioned a lot when they were released, which was several years ago.  But Metal Gear Ac!d (I believe) was one of the two games I got with my PSP and I never regretted it for the sheer amount of fun it ended up affording.

If you're unfamiliar with the gameplay of Metal Gear Ac!d as a series, think of any grid-based Tactics RPG you've played.  Final Fantasy Tactics, Disgaea, Jeanne D'arc, etc. etc.  Every character has a base amount of movement they can do on their turn and they usually get one attack before it's over.  Kind of turn-based, but with strategic movements.  Well, take that and add cards.  Metal Gear Ac!d (henceforth simply referred to Metal Gear Ac!d to cover both games at once) feature a few different types of cards, which, regardless of what you have, fuel everything you do.  To move, you use a card and pay the COST of it, which builds up as you perform actions.  That COST then determines how long you have to wait til your next turn.  (You can usually only play two cards a turn.)

Of course, it's not always that simply or difficult.  Using a normal card usually only affords a few blocks of movement (3 or 4, I think), but there are specific Movement cards that will almost always let you move farther and/or more silently than that.  Another type of card is Equip Cards, which will be your Body Armor and such and also some weapons that, when you have them equipped, might afford you a counter-attack if you're attacked.  (Which then uses up the card or uses the ammo, which you can replenish with another of that card.)  Then you have Use cards which are instant-use and usually encompass the other half of the available weapons, rations, and special abilities.  There are other types, but I'm sure that's confusing enough for one installment.

And if you don't believe I spend my time thinking about this, well, you are quite mistaken!  To prove that, I'm going to use inFamous 2 as an example of a scenario setter where the game could be adapted into a card game.  Now, while it would be fairly simply enough to just do a complete reskin of Metal Gear Ac!d (replace gun Use cards with powers, Use Ration cards with "Recharge Point" cards, etc.), I'm sure we could go about this the extra mile so that, while similar, it would be a different game from MGA.

Imagine a grid-based board like you'd expect from, again, a Tactics RPG or if you're familiar, a Metal Gear Ac!d level.  Fairly easy level; you have a few Militia men on the other side of the board surrounding a Blast Core that is your main goal.  You have, instead of a deck, two half-decks, (Or maybe one deck is smaller than the other, regardless you don't have a single 60 or so card deck like most card games) one stack is powers or actions, the other is your "support" cards; Support characters, special actions, and such.  Each turn, you draw one of each and get to use up to three cards in any combination of what you have, though you can't have more than three of either type of card at one time.

So, the main goal is to get to the other side of the board (which has water hazards, of course) to fight the Militia and recover the blast core.  How you accomplish that is simply up to how you use what cards you've decided to put in your decks to start with.  For instance, there'll be "Good Cole" and "Evil Cole" cards, obviously, which will confer the Karma-specific powers.  For this example, we'll use Good Cole's card set.  We draw three of each card to start the match and end up with an Ice Pillar card and two sticky grenade cards.  The support cards, for this example, don't matter, as our Good Cole is rough and tumbler.  Using the Ice Pillar card from his starting location, Cole is propelled a goodly distance across the board and is in range of the Militia.  (I'm also sort of condensing this for ease of imagining.)

With two more actions, we use the first Sticky Grenade card and target the closest Militia.  The attack goes through and successfully hits, dealing enough damage to defeat him.  The other two Milita aren't close enough to stick one, but we can hit the square between them, so that's where the other sticky grenade goes.  From not being a direct impact, both Militia members survive, but are staggered, which means they lose one action on their turn.  You've used three actions, so you're done.  Enemy turn, the Militia with one or two actions a piece only, vainly attack Cole for a little damage, but nothing too lethal.  Their turn cleared, we draw our Action card (but not a Support, since we still have three.  Or maybe we draw a Support card and have to discard one) and it's Ice Rocket.  The Militia are standing next to one another, so a direct hit freezes them both.  Then using a support card for basic movement, we collect the Blast Core.  Match complete!

So there you go.  Looking back on that, I'm...not too sure why I plotted that all out.  But at least to me, it sounded cool.  Hopefully I didn't go completely out of the box and confuse anyone who might not be as obsessed with card-based games as myself.  And hey, if anyone from Sucker Punch is reading this (hahahahaha) and liked it, I'm more than free to consult on such a project!

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