Party-Based Open-Handed Fixed-Deck Grid-Based Competitive Card Game


i'm a young, new designer currently working on an unnamed game i thought i'd tell you all about; it has 2 main "gimmicks": 1: both of the 2 competing players control 5 characters each, and 2: each of those characters have their own hands of cards, but everyone can see all of them. (also, there's a hex grid, because positional stuff is cool and interesting)

the basic is turn structure is that on a character's turn they, in any order, play a card, use an ability and move hexes equal to their speed, then draw a new card at the end, after everything else. (starting hand size is 5)

when a character is reduced to 0 HP, they're incapacitated, meaning that on their turn they only get to activate one of their relatively weak incapacitated abilities rather than taking their normal turn. the goal of the game is to incapacitate all of your opponents characters.

also, at the end of each round there's an "environment turn", where the top card of the environment deck is played (the environment deck depends on the map, so a haunted mansion would have a bunch of ghosts everywhere for example). the top card of the environment deck is always face-up, so you have time to prepare for this (the environment deck isn't strictly necessary, but i think it will be good for variety)

after the environment turn, everyone takes "fatigue" damage equal to half the current round (rounding down), just to prevent games going on forever.

right now, i don't have enough characters made to prototype it (each character has a fixed deck of 40 cards + a character card with their stats, abilities and any special rules they might have, which is quite a bit to design), but i'm happy with the concept and system, and i have a couple characters done that i'm happy enough with to show off:

Adven is a damage dealer with a lot of interesting individual cards and not much of a central "gimmick", other than maybe his "level up" card letting him scale up a lot over the course of the game. (thematically, he's pretty messy, but i don't know how to remedy that at this stage) Google Doc | Downloadable .txt file (the .txt file should be more readable than the google doc)

The Game Master has a bit more going on, with a discarding gimmick and lots of ways to copy other characters cards, but should still be relatively simple. Google Doc
| Downloadable .txt file

something else i should probably mention is the overall theme, which is... well, whatever i want, really. there isn't really much of a "central theme" other than D&D boxing + occasional weird stuff, like a half-goddess movie director and stuff like that, but i can pretty much add whatever i want to it.

anyway, thoughts? (also, do the downloadable .txts work? and did i write this post well? i'm really new to all of this)


5 characters on a team each with their own hand sounds like a great way to increase the on-board complexity!

A lot of cards to design and learn as you said 😬 How many characters total are you going for?

What about if all characters shared the same deck? And/or does there need to be 40 cards each deck? With greater on-board complexity maybe the deckbuilding dimension of the complexity could come down. E.g. What about 10 cards per deck? 10’s a nice round number!


Staff member
I think on complexity this looks pretty good. I am a little concerned about the general lack of hidden information. I feel like even just with the 10 characters on a grid plus 2 hands of open cards, I feel like taking a single turn would be a lot of calculation. Fatigue damage is good, I like that it's moving toward a conclusion.

Also I think I am a little bit skeptical of the goal you have, of just killing each other's stuff. Like you mentioned D&D boxing, which I don't think is a problem really thematically speaking, but I do think that's kind of a problem if that's what the gameplay is. So I think this is a good place to work from, but from here I would advise starting to think about what a core mechanism could look like. I don't think it can just be a bunch of actors beating each other up in a box.
@richy i can't tell if your first line is sarcastic or not? as to the rest of your post, i'm aiming for ~21 characters (may fluctuate), but each individual card should be pretty simple, some even identical (your basic "deal some damage" "regain some hp" "draw some cards" ect.), so i'm not really worried about designing and learning everything (besides, i'm most focused on making the best game i possibly can for people willing to dedicate themselves to it)

@keithburgun in case my original post wasn't clear enough, the cards characters draw at the end of their turn are from a face-down deck, meaning that new information is being revealed every turn. also, there are so many cards your opponent will have that i think it might create a sort of "soft" information horizon, where you can calculate for the worst possibilities (i wanna get my double leveled-up adven out of melee range of the game master so he doesn't ban hammer me, i want to get my squishy character out of adven's LOS so his charged shot doesn't hit them, ect.), but it's unreasonable and probably not super relevant to calculate all of the little, lower-impact cards and their consequences.

as to your second point, i don't know of a way to improve this? even then, i think that, with on-point content design, the idea could still work? (and i'm more confident in my content design than my systems design) also note that i'm only 14, so i have a bit over 3 years before i can even publish the game on my own, which is probably plenty of time to tune the content just right.

(P.S. am i making sense? i'm not much of a writer i feel)
@richy i can't tell if your first line is sarcastic or not?
Haha no I meant it in a good way. I'm the one that should try to write more clearly! There was a bit of chat a while ago about whether 2 hands vs 2 hands could work and I liked the sound of that then. So 5 hands vs 5 hands would be even better!

The rest of what I said was kind of the counterpoint to the first line though. I.e. If the board has 5 times (at least) more scope for spatial relationships to create complexity than a typical CCG, then other dimensions of complexity might decrease by a factor of 5 and end up with a similarly-complex game overall. And for me one dimension of complexity where card games can be very bloated is the number of different cards - I know lots of players do like that though.

I guess one thing worth asking would be what parts of currently available, similar, games are you looking to improve on?
I guess one thing worth asking would be what parts of currently available, similar, games are you looking to improve on?
the basis which the game was built off of was "sentinels of the multiverse" (particularly played solo), because 1: it was the one game that held my attention the longest by far (~6 months in comparison to the average of ~1-2 weeks), and 2: the game was horribly flawed in SO MANY ways! most of them relating to the content design rather than the systems design. (the biggest one is how "swingy" the game is; the villain could get a free 2 damage to all your heroes out of dumb luck, the hero "legacy" could draw either a huge, permanent damage increase to your entire team for the rest of the game (inspiring presence) or "deal 4 damage" (back-fist strike))

i always really liked the dynamics of being 1 player controlling 3-5 heroes, having to plan between them and make sure your plan works for as many possible villain plays as possible (replicated here by preparing for as many enemy cards as possible), and i also liked how fixed decks enabled lots of weird and fun gimmicks the heroes could have (ooh, this one is 4 heroes in one! oh, but this one can change sizes! oh, and this one has a number from 1-4 on all her cards!?) and, with having both fixed decks and a dedicated section on character cards for special rules, i could have even more weird gimmicks!

now, obviously, my game is very different from sentinels: it's competitive, it has a hex grid, you can generally see what will happen a full round ahead, ect. but it's still a basis which i can work off of.

(note: i feel like i have more to say on this, but i can't think of what it is right now. i might elaborate later)