Nathan Hansen Games

I was showing my game Draftcar to some kids at Strategicon (Gamex) this weekend, and one of them asked me what it actually means for a game to be a drafting game, since he played in or was going to play in a Magic tournament which was a drafting tournament and didn't see how drafting there was anything like drafting in my game. I'm not sure if my explanation actually made sense to him or not, but basically, I said something along the lines of "drafting is basically anytime you have to make a selection from a limited subset."


This got me thinking a bit about my approach to the design of Draftcar, which was originally titled "Drafting, the drafting game." With the original title, it seems unfortunate that I focused so heavily on one type of drafting mechanic. Don't get me wrong, I think the game is great as is and don't plan on revisiting that design, but I think it may be worth revisiting the concept of drafting to see if I can combine various types of drafting into one game.

I bounced some ideas around today, and I think I've come up with a nice set of core mechanisms to use as the skeleton for a game. I'm not going to try to stick to the drafting as a theme aspect of this like I did with Draftcar per se, but I easily could.

The game I envision has the players playing a law firm (although if I wanted to stick to the drafting theme it could just as easily be an architect business). At the beginning of the game as part of the setup, players would draft partner characters that give them certain advantages. Particularly icons that allow them to use the abilities on other cards, but maybe something unique on some of them as well. This draft would take the form of laying out a number of cards and players taking turns selecting characters to add to their firm. Once each player has 3 characters, the remaining characters are return to the box.

The remaining cards would fall into two categories and be part of the same deck. The categories are Action cards and Case cards (again, this could easily be plan cards if we stuck to drafting as a theme). The Action cards would have symbols on them followed by some kind of ability. If the player has a character with that same icon they may carry out the ability. The Case cards are how you actually win. They have two important pieces of information; a point value and a cost given by a set of icons. When you play out a Case, you must pay for it by discarding a number of Action cards you've already played in front of you. So, you have to sacrifice abilities to gain points.

The game would play as a kind of hybrid between 7 Wonders drafting and Ticket to Ride drafting. A turn would basically function like this; each player's select either a revealed card or a random card, then play a card in front of them, before finally passing their hand to the player on their left. With the game ending after the players play a card on the turn that the last card in the draw deck is drawn.

Here is the skeleton in a more conventional semi-rule format:

Victory

The player with the most points after the hand in which the last card in the draw pile is drawn is the winner.

Setup

  1. Shuffle the Action/Case cards and make a draw deck.
  2. Reveal a number of cards from the draw deck equal to the number of players minus one.
  3. Choose a player and give them the Starting Player card.
  4. Shuffle the Character cards and deal four per player.
  5. Starting with the Starting Player and continuing clockwise, each player selects one character and places it in front of them until each player has 3 characters. All unselected character cards are returned to the box.
  6. Deal each player four cards from the draw deck.

Sequence of Play

  1. Starting with the Starting Player and continuing clockwise, each player must either; A) Select one of the Revealed Action/Case cards and add it to their hand replacing it with a card from the draw deck, or B) Draw a random card from the draw deck.
  2. Each player chooses a card from their hand to play in front of them and reveal simultaneously.
  3. Each player passes their hand to the player on their left.
Obviously, the bulk of the design for this idea is going to be the specific values on the cards and how they interact with each other, but I think this lays out the mechanisms well enough.

Written by Nathan Hansen — May 31, 2016

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