17 December 2016

A Trading Card Game

Last Update: Dec 2016
What's all this about? A pitch for a multiplayer strategy-ish trading card game-ish game.
The TCG bit comes from earning new "packs" of units, and the units being called as cards. apart from that its your typical turn based strategy game or a board game if you like to call.


General pitch

Launching the Game

Battle Screen and Game UI

Game phases

Winning and Losing

Battle Map

Placing units
Rules of Engagement
Destroying / Removing units
Change in Stats
Battle Map / Tile / Terrain Types
Unit types
Single player AI / CPU controlled opponents
Specials (unit stats)
Game Setup

General pitch

This is a wargame simulation or an actual battle viewed in a console that allows controlling battle assets via a commander's UI. This UI is similar to a very low res CRT screen that resembles a C64, scan lines and crappy pixel visuals similar to the ones from the era.

Each player has limited cards, places one on an any empty tile per turn. once placed, the units do not move. They can only attack where the arrows around their borders point. some units have armour (yellow lines) some have special powers (yellow icons below them)

each game should take around 10 minutes. (perhaps slightly longer if more than 2 players)

Game has to be easy to play, easy to learn and easy to understand what happens on screen.

Development stage should be as fast as possible. Minimal pixel art style should allow fast production of assets.

See below for an image of the game screen. It should give some general idea on how the game works.

Launching the Game

Due to modern processors and low requirements of this game a load screen wont be needed. However if done correctly, an initial loading screen can be a nice way of reinforcing the 80s cold war era feel of the game.

Since the game is played via a CRT screen interface, having some Russian or other foreign looking text as if the computer is booting up would work nicely.

Loading written on top and random stuff written on each line as the game loads. (or acting as if the game is loading and occupying the player for a few seconds) These random lines can be a mixture of both serious (analyzing combat zone topography) or funny stuff (waking up sarge, doing 100 pushups etc)

Battle Screen and Game UI

General feel of the UI, should use a very simple layout. player names on top corner, 20 or 25 second counter on the other corner, total number of cards remaining in the player’s deck and current 6 cards in the player’s hand at the bottom of the screen.

Decorative UI layer on top (crt screen) deck, available cards and on numbers on middle, board and played cards at the bottom layer

Game phases

0 start game phase (only once per game)
1 deal card phase
2 play card phase
3 action result phase
4 end turn
5 end game phase (only once per game)

Start game
When the game starts each player is given 6 cards from its deck (randomly)

Deal card
A new card is randomly drawn from the player's deck and added to the list of cards available to play.

Play card
Each turn players have 25 seconds to play a card. Drag and drop a card to an empty tile on map to play.  (shows 20 on screenshot but 20 is too short for a tactical decision) If the time is over before a card is played, a random card is chosen and placed on a random location behalf of the player. Once a card is played the action is resolved (ie did the played card attack another card or did it receive a terrain bonus etc.)

Action / result
Once the action phase is done the player's turn ends (no need for end turn button its auto end turn)

End turn
This is done automatically after the result phase. The next player starts its turn

End game
Once all cards are played the game proceeds to the end war phase, where the HP of surviving units are calculated for each player.

Winning and Losing

Once all cards are played the game proceeds to the end war phase, where the HP of surviving units are calculated for each player.

Battle Map

game map consists of tiles. all tiles are the same and have no special properties unless its a forest or mountain. (more info on these and the stuff shown with arrows later on) players drag and drop units on empty tiles to play.


units have 3 properties.
HP - life left
DMG - damage it can deal to enemy unit’s HP
Special - tiny icon below unit image that shows it has special properties. see special for details

Couple of examples to give an idea of how the units will look.

wargame units

Placing units

A single unit can be placed on any of  the empty tiles. Units cannot move once placed and remain there until destroyed


Units can reveal the fog around them. if an enemy is placed on a tile out of sight from your units visible range, the enemy location is revealed but the unit type and stats are hidden until a friendly unit spots it.

rules of engagement

Let’s say we have 2 units. A blue soldier and a red tank.

blue soldiers have 3 hp and 2 dmg. They can attack east and west (black arrows point e w) and are able to see the enemies around them.

Red tank has 4 hp and 3 dmg, can only attack the corners (black arrows on unit borders) and has armour n,e,w directions (yellow lines).

Assume its blue player's turn, he places the soldier on the tile as shown in the image. Even if it was blues move, the red tank will attack the blue soldier (because blue can only attack east and west while the tank can attack corners.)

In this example blue cannot attack but red can hit blue for 3 DMG. blue will die after the attack due to 3-3=0HP

Attacker can hit if arrows point toward an enemy.

Defender can retaliate if arrows point toward attacker (after the attackers attack is complete)

if defender has no armour
Attacker DMG is deducted from defender HP

if defender has armour
Attacker DMG -1 is deducted from defender HP. Armour is always applied for each attack.
Another example to grip the basics of combat

In this example blue is placed between two red units. Blue will start attacking clock ward (N NE E SE S SW W NW) so it will attack red tank for 2 DMG. Tank has no armour below so it will lose 2HP, next the blue soldier will attack the read soldier below for 2 DMG, killing it.

Note that all attacks are done in the following order (N NE E SE S SW W NW) as long as the attacker has arrows pointing any of those directions, and executed in the same turn the unit was placed.

Red units could have retaliated if they had arrows pointing towards the blue unit. If the tank had retaliated with 3 DMG the blue infantry would have been destroyed right after the attack, leaving the red infantry unharmed.

if attacker has flame attack (a special ability) it can hit through armour without penalty

Destroying / Removing units

unit is killed if HP reaches 0

if a vehicle's or structures HP reaches 0 it turns into debris (The big X in the screenshot) and continues to block the tile until the end of the game.

If an infantry is killed it does not leave debris but is removed from the tile so a new unit can be placed on the tile. Same applies for air units. While may sound strange, this allows various opportunities with tactical unit placement to block tiles or keep them open to attack next turn

Change in Stats

Should be clearly shown to the player and easy to understand. I suggest using floating bars that fade in and out above units to show changes.

Examples such as damage dealt on enemy, damage taken, attack bonus etc.

When a unit is placed on an empty tile - no floating bar

When a unit attacks another for X damage, attacker should have DMG-X floating

When a unit takes damage it should have floating HP -X

When a unit attacks or takes damage with / due to special attacks, it should have a tiny icon next to the floating numbers to show the reason.

Battle Map / Tile / Terrain Types

Battle map consists of the total number of cards + 2 extra tiles.

A deck is 12 cards each. For two players that makes it 24 cards, so the map would have a total of 26 tiles.

More than 1 deck can be used depending on game mode (2 decks vs 2 decks etc, whatever)

Map size will always be total number of cards +2

Map shape can be pre made (arena, official map etc)  or randomly generated and seeded (random feels better to remove first turn advantage)

Terrain tile amount can be set before game starts? See below for types of terrain

Clear (Empty) - Maps are mostly full of clear (empty) tiles where units can be placed without any penalty or buff.

Forest - Forests provide cover for units

Mountain - Rough terrain, usually negative for vehicle health

Debris - any vehicle or structure destroyed will leave a debris and block the tile till the end of the game

See unit types section below to find out how terrain relates to unit types.

Unit types

Infantry - foot soldiers ideal for taking advantage of terrain, these are removed from the board when killed.
+1 HP when placed on forest
+1 DMG when placed on forest
+1 HP when placed on mountain
+1 DMG when placed on mountain

Vehicle - most common unit type, these leave a debris when killed and the tile is blocked forever
-1 HP when placed on forest
+1 DMG when placed on forest
-1 HP when placed on mountain
+1 DMG when placed on mountain

Air - cannot be hit by flame units, these are removed from the board when killed.
No effect on forest
No effect on mountain

Structure - ideal for taking advantage of terrain, these leave a debris when killed and the tile is blocked forever
+1 HP when placed on forest
+1 HP when placed on mountain

Single player AI / CPU controlled opponents

This game is meant to be multiplayer only so single player is just used as a tutorial / practice / deck test before facing actual humans so the AI can be very basic and doesnt have to provide much of a challenge.

There can be 2 types of AI;


unit placement is random regardless of type, direction and tile. Easiest to code


Ideally the AI should consider the placement of player units in play and try to avoid being hit as much as possible.

Ideally the AI should consider the special abilities of units and try to attack players using stone paper scissors mechanics to force win.

AI should see inside the fog (regardless of unit sight) and consider placement (not fair but considering how weak the AI is, such action should provide a better challenge.)

every turn check if AI has infantry in hand;
- play infantry on all mountains asap before player does
- play infantry on all forests asap before player does

if AI has no infantry in hand;
- play anything on forest tiles as much as possible to block player from gaining cover
- must try to avoid playing vehicle on mountain as long as possible.

so we can try to reinforce the AI's lack of intelligence by making it block the cover tiles usable by the player.

if AI has vehicle in hand
then do not play on mountain unless no free tile available

if AI has repair, star or any other buff in hand
then try to play next to other friendly units

AI should also check and make sure not play a unit on a tile that had a unit that was destroyed previous turn to avoid death traps and choke points that can be set by the player.

Single player mode

Campaign mode with simple story?

Ready made decks per stage to provide challenge? first few missions should involve simple soldiers and gradually increase to tanks, artillery planes etc, but cpu units would always be of better tier to give a challenge.

Or collect cards throughout the campaign? Decide which to use in your decks? Will using them make them earn more xp an get stronger?

Campaign missions can have various objectives and AI can have pre deployed units (special units?) to give advantage

campaign decks cannot be used in multiplayer. players should earn multiplayer cards by playing multiplayer games or purchasing decks?

Specials (unit stats)

Binoculars: +1 extra sight radius around unit. Ideal for placing on random tiles to reveal as much of the map as possible. When attacking enemy stealth units, scouts never miss.

Wrench: +1 heal to all (damaged) adjacent units the same turn the wrench unit was placed. (no effect if adjacent units are undamaged or take damage any turn in the future)  

Star: +1 HP and DMG to all adjacent units (buff is removed once star unit dies) unlike the repair effect, units placed after the star unit will also earn buff as long as the star unit isint destroyed.

Flame: this unit’s attacks are not affected by armour, but flame units cannot attack air units

Rocket: + 1 attack vs air units

Shell: + 1 attack vs vehicles

Bomb (not shown below) + 1 attack vs structures

Stealth (not shown below) has a 50% chance to dodge incoming attack


Each decks consist of 12 cards belonging to a single faction. Depending on game mode you can use more than 1 deck per battle. So for example if you want to use 2 decks in battle (total 24 cards), and you want to use 2 factions to build your 2 decks.

Red deck should consist of 12 red cards
Blue deck should consist of 12 blue cards etc…

every faction requires a minimum of 12 cards to play

See deck building screen below

first pick a faction to create a deck. Once you pick a faction, only the cards belonging that faction will be listed. Every faction requires a minimum of 12 cards to play, if a faction has less cards it should be darkened out or have a warning icon on it

Maybe 2 or 3 factions can be unlocked by default and additional factions can be paid to unlock or something. (depending on content and payment models etc.)

Next drag and drop the units desired into the purple slots and save

Where do you find the cards? start with them? earn as you play single player? buy packs?

Game Setup

Just some brief ideas on game parameters when creating a “new battle”

Number of players (2 - 4)

Number of decks (1 - 2 - 3 - 4) the number of decks each player can bring into battle. 1 or 2 should be ideal
A deck is 12 cards
2 makes it 24 cards per player (ideal for most)
3 makes it 36 cards per player
4 makes it 48 cards per player. Would be a pretty long game if 4 players have 4 decks each)

Factions per deck (single - multi) will a player's deck consist of a single faction or multiple factions (this depends on the number of decks, if its a single deck game the faction must be single)

each deck (12 cards) cannot contain mixed factions but if a game has 2 or more decks, each deck can be a different faction per deck (not mixed)

So every faction requires a minimum of 12 cards

Time limit (25 - 60) seconds before auto end turn. (25 by default to make sure each game takes only 5 - 10 minutes to play)  

Fog (on - off) if the map has fog (on by default)

Shroud (on - off) if the map is covered in blackness or starts explored. Only the tiles around units are visible. (off by default)

Shroud regrows (on - off) if the blackness regrows in time (ie after a unit dies and 3 turns pass, the tiles around it will be covered in blackness again (off by default)

Map size (small - normal - large) each map is total card amount +2 empty tiles. Changing map size should affect the number of extra tiles. Note that the amount of extra tiles is a delicate decision. If too many extra tiles are available, players can just start defending.

Small - card amount +0
Normal - card amount +2
Large - card amount +4

Special tiles (off - few - normal - many - random) the amount of forest and mountain tiles. (random by default)