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Panzer!

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Panzer!

Post by Wallace on Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:13 pm

My previous attempt at a forum-based CCG ground to a halt as I tried to come up with mechanics to make the game work. It had become an entanglement of rules that made it impractical to play. Simplicity is the key to success for the modern CCG like Hearthstone and Gwent. So here's my next iteration.

Panzer! is a WWII based game of strategy. Each player takes the role of a great general and leads his troops to victory. The battlefield is a 5x5 squares with several objectives. Controlling all Victory Points or destroying your opponent's forces wins you the game.

Each general has a unique battle advantage: e.g. Rommel, the Desert Fox, gives his units an advantage in desert combat; Guderian, der Schnelle Heinz, allows his armored units to take an action on the turn that they're played; General Patton doesn't require as much resources to deploy armored units.
Before their first turn, each player draws 10 cards from their deck of 30 units and can mulligan as many as they want but only once. They will not draw any cards after that. Each turn a player can play only one card but each card in play can make an action, either moving or attacking. They cannot occupy the same square and can only attack adjacent squares.
Each unit is one of three types and has one attack value for each type: soft, hard, or air. Soft units are infantry, artillery, anti-tank, flak guns and the likes. Hard units are armored units such as tanks, tank destroyers, etc. Air units are flying units like bombers, fighters, and so forth. Each unit also has a Strength score which resembles how much damage they can take. When taking damage, a unit receives damage counters and is lost when they have no Strength left.
Combat is straightforward with each unit doing damage equal to the attack value that corresponds with the opposing unit's type, i.e. hard attack against a tank. This attack value is never more than the unit's remaining strength and can be lowered by types of combat. If one of the two units is in a desert, both use 1 less soft attack. In mountains they would lose 1 hard attack and in cities they would lose 1 air attack.
To deploy a unit in the row of squares closest to you, you must pay an equivalent in resources to its strength. A Sherman tank has 6 strength so costs 6 metal. Manpower for soft units is gained from cities; metal for hard units from mountains; and fuel from deserts is for air units. By spending 1 fuel, a motorized, hard or air unit may move 2 squares instead of 1.
The battlefield furthermore has some impassable terrain like rivers and three squares are designated as victory points. These are probably going to be pre-arranged scenarios or might involve some player decisions prior to the game.

That is the whole of the ruleset. Making cards should not be hard as it's easy to research all types of units from WWII just using wikipedia alone. Hopefully, by the end of the week I will have made some sample cards and show you what the game looks like when being played on the forum.

Post below if you would like to help with playtesting the game. I'll need at least two players but more is better.

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Re: Panzer!

Post by Rhoon on Mon Jun 08, 2015 9:59 am

Wallace wrote:Before their first turn, each player draws 10 cards from their deck of 30 units and can mulligan as many as they want but only once.

If I can mulligan as many times as I want, why not just let me select the 10 cards I want from the start? I'll make sure I pull my most powerful and useful units all the time, so I can win everytime.

Believe it may be better to allow a small number of exchanges at the front. In Gwent in Witcher 3, you get 2 exchanges, which helps limit this issue. There have been games where I pulled all my strong cards and still got annihilated by the computer because he had a better deck, but I've played the same person several times and they pull a bad hand and I can beat them. Mostly when they limit their "Spy", Scorch and Hero cards.

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Re: Panzer!

Post by Wallace on Mon Jun 08, 2015 1:02 pm

Rhoon wrote:
Wallace wrote:Before their first turn, each player draws 10 cards from their deck of 30 units and can mulligan as many as they want but only once.

If I can mulligan as many times as I want, why not just let me select the 10 cards I want from the start? I'll make sure I pull my most powerful and useful units all the time, so I can win everytime.

You misread, you can only mulligan once but you can mulligan all 10 cards if you want. The difference with Gwent is that in Gwent you play more than 1 round and cards have only 2 statistics when you boil it down to the bare minimum so the impact of a bad hand is significantly lower than you would in this game.

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Re: Panzer!

Post by Wallace on Mon Jun 08, 2015 3:58 pm

Already making some changes to the rules.

Attack values will not be capped by the Strength of a unit. In certain roles, some units should have a high attack value despite being more vulnerable. I'm still thinking of a way to have reduced combat effectiveness for damaged units without making things too complicated.

A third action is possible for each unit besides moving or attacking: replenishment. Spending 1 resource of a corresponding type to the unit removes a damage counter. This allows for units to remain on the field longer and focusing on the limited resource of cards to be maintained by having objective control.

I made a mistake when I wrote up the initial post regarding urban, desert and mountain warfare. It should not be -1 but +1 attack. Infantry are vulnerable in the desert due to heat and open terrain so +1 soft attack; tanks have a hard time navigating mountainous terrain so +1 hard attack; and planes don't have much of a role in urban warfare besides carpet bombing so they have a hard defending themselves over rooftops, +1 air attack there.

Working on some units now, will have more tomorrow or maybe later tonight.

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Re: Panzer!

Post by Himo on Wed Jun 10, 2015 2:13 am

Wallace wrote:Already making some changes to the rules.

Attack values will not be capped by the Strength of a unit. In certain roles, some units should have a high attack value despite being more vulnerable. I'm still thinking of a way to have reduced combat effectiveness for damaged units without making things too complicated.

If you already have damage counters, why not Strength - Damage counter? This could display the level of exertion on a unit.

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Re: Panzer!

Post by Wallace on Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:59 pm

Wallace wrote:Each unit also has a Strength score which resembles how much damage they can take. When taking damage, a unit receives damage counters and is lost when they have no Strength left.

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Re: Panzer!

Post by Wallace on Wed Jun 10, 2015 5:54 pm

More progress! Last night I spent some time putting together the German army and over the past few days I've been figuring out how to best make the cards look. Here's a sneak preview at a handful of them. These are provisional and are still works in progress, everything from their text and image to the their existence in the game is still up for debate. That said, here they are:


As you can see they're all German units, I haven't started on the opposing faction yet. That will be the UK as the first expansion is called the Afrika Korps and their cards will be a slight reddish-brown color. Later expansions will have new factions and new generals and each expansion's name will be alphabetical, so I can already tease that the next expansion starts with a B...

The cards themselves are square because they'll be used on a battlefield grid, making them rectangular would make it look a little wonky. As such, fitting everything on the card was a bit of a puzzle but this configuration actually left me with more space than I initially thought. The only drawback is the square picture which makes it quite difficult to fit something on their, especially aircraft. On the topic of pictures, I try to keep as much iconography out.

Most of the stuff on the cards then are self-explanatory and I think that is what makes them so great. Name at the top, where else? Picture below it and in the middle with to the left the card's statistics: soft, hard and air attack and its default strength; and to the right are from top to bottom the card type (and the resource it costs), its "class" or faction if you will, its rarity and the expansion, in this the Afrika Korps. At the bottom there is the card text which usually exists of one or two abilities that the card has. These abilities generally revolve around the focal points of interaction within the game: deployment, battlefields and actions.

Rarity is denoted in a military style: X = brigade, XX = division, XXX = corps with more X's meaning you can have more copies of that card in your deck (thinking at the moment 2 for brigades, 3 for divisions and 4 for corps cards), and in the future certain unique cards called prototypes that can be won exlucively through tournaments, play-testing and other special occassions will be awarded. These will be one-off cards that nobody else will be able to obtain and you can both show them off as a badge of honor and give your opponent a reason to scratch their head.

I'll just go into a bit of detail on the cards I previewed here.
* The Me262 Schwalbe was a late-war air superiority fighter. It was a fantastic fighter but suffered from its dependency on fuel which the Germans didn't have much of towards the latter part of the war. Nothing could beat it in the air but as long as it didn't go up it was vulnerable on the ground. In game terms, the Schwalbe is a fighter that can be deployed early to dominate the air if your opponent lacks the required answers to it allowing an air-focused deck with access to fuel the air superiority needed to dominate the battlefield. It lacks any punch to ground units and should be followed up with deployment of bombers to make use of that air superiority.
* The Panzer I was a useless piece of shit in the early part of the war but the Germans managed to use it to fantastic effect. It was a light tank with little armor and only a pair of machine guns (not even a proper gun!) Within the game, a player will want to look to bring out the Panzer I early if the opponent is playing infantry. Most early infantry have a hard time dealing with hard units and the Panzer I can shred them up for troops that are following behind. It's a weak unit to deploy later on in the game so using it to gain quick access to the necessary resources is vital.
* Volksgrenadier divisions were formed in 1944 when Army Group Central was almost entirely obliterated. Its remnants were formed quickly into new divisions and the use of the term Volksgrenadier was used to speak to the nationalist sentiments of the troops. Although formed quite ad hoc, these troops did not lack the punch that they packed before. Game-wise, we see here one of the most interesting mechanics I've come up with so far: irregular troops. These type of troops can essentially be played at any time in the game which makes them great all-round cards to have but their tactical advantages have to be carefully weighed. Playing them for cheap early on means you are very likely to run over any opposition but also means that the unit's low strength makes it vulnerable and its loss to an artillery shot could be devastating. Playing the unit in the late-game with few damage counters means you get less value for your buck than most other average units of the same strength.

Let me know what you think of these units!

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Re: Panzer!

Post by Wallace on Sun Jun 14, 2015 9:08 am

Haven't posted an update in a while. Things are moving along as I've just about finished the German side of things. All units have been decided on (two of the ones previewed above did not make the cut) and stats have been balanced for them. Also figured out the 3 generals for the Germans: Rommel, Kesselring and Böttcher. Each will have a starter's pack with 30 cards for players to begin with. Further generals and cards have to be earned by winning.

Generals will have special card text which applies at all times during the scenario. Rommel's card text, for example, reads: "The Desert Fox: +1 attack values in desert combat, +1 metal from desert tiles". Desert tiles usually produce only 1 fuel to deploy aircraft with but Rommel's ability with desert warfare and mobile troops allow him to focus his efforts on the desert and armored units. The drawback of playing Rommel is that your opponent is going to protect the deserts at all costs.

As well as card text, each general starts with a different resource supply. Rommel has 2 manpower, 3 metal and 1 fuel. This gives him access to a bit more armor at the start but he has to take the fight to the mountains or deserts to keep up the pressure.

I might preview what the general cards will look like later today if I have some time to spend on it.

The next step is to create and balance the British army which might take about a week. After that, it's just a few more steps of creating the board and the cards before playtesting can commence.

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Re: Panzer!

Post by Wallace on Sat Aug 01, 2015 8:37 am

Ok, so I'm coming back to this again with some new ideas. At some point I lost the file that had literally everything in it but it was also where I paused development because the game was turning from a CCG into a board game.

I'm coming into this with some fresh ideas again regarding game mechanics.

First of, the board will be different. There will be sides, much like traditional CCGs such as Hearthstone, Magic and Gwent. The board I was going for last time was just too much work for players to update from turn to turn.
Attacking players will get to take their turn first but defending players will get to decide where the battle takes place, picking from one of three "scenarios". For now, the three choices will have either 3, 4, or 5 columns. Each side has a frontline and a support line. Units will be classed not only by their type (soft, hard, air, navy) but also their role (frontline or support). Each column has a terrain type which gives certain combat modifiers. For the Afrika Korps expansion they will be Coast, City, Mountain and Desert with the scenarios having different combinations of each.

Secondly, I'm taking a new look at Generals and their role. They are as close as you can get to classes in Hearthstone, for example, but a deck can be built from any units that the player desires from within the same faction. (For AK that means either Germany or UK with more factions to be released in the first few expansions.)
As there will be admirals as well as generals focused on air units I will not be using the term General. Each Commander has a set of doctrines and each unit has a doctrine. If they match, then the unit's doctrine is enabled in play. Rommel, for example, might have the Spearhead doctrine which enables the card text of any unit with the Spearhead doctrine. A Panzer I which has the Spearhead doctrine has the text: "Can attack the turn it is deployed." So if Rommel plays a Panzer I, then it is allowed to attack that same turn. However, if Rommel plays a Volksturm which has the Human Wave doctrine and reads "Return this unit to your reserves upon destruction." it will not enable this card text meaning the unit is destroyed permanently.
Commanders further have a role in resource allocation. Each unit has a cost and only one unit can be played per turn. Each Commander has a limit for each type of unit and the added cost of units played cannot go over these limits. So if Rommel has a Soft Unit limit of 5 and a Wehrmacht on the board costing 3, he cannot play another Wehrmacht but could play a Volksturm costing 2.

Combat is the third thing I'm looking at. Frontline troops are going to be high-strength and low-damage troops able to take the brunt of attacks while support line troops provide firepower and utility. Units can only attack the same column providing damage to frontline first, support second and the enemy player's logistics third.

Lastly, a new look at starting hands. With a deck of 30, players should be able to play at least half their deck. Players are going to draw 12 cards at random, they select 3 of them to go into their reserves with the other 9 as starting hands. They then select any 3 cards from the non-drawn deck to go into the reserves as well. Once the starting hand of 9 is empty, the player uses his reserves as the follow-up hand. This allows randomisation to play a part in setting up strategy for the player while at the same time allowing a degree of certainty in the end-game.

For overal deck-building this changes a few things as well. Commanders with the Human Wave doctrine will have cards that will typically allow them to play soft units cheaply and quickly and try to overwhelm their opponents in the early game. On the other hand, Commanders with the Superior Firepower doctrine are looking to take control as quickly as possible and not let the enemy accumulate their forces. This allows each deck to have its good and bad match-ups and each unit to be decent in different decks for different reasons.

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