Combat system: A deep dive

1 month ago

9tales combat system mixes strategy and bluff in a perfect blend

General presentation

In our first “One vs One” mode, the combat system is one of the most important and unique parts of our game design.

Generally, in card games combats happen in turns. In one of the turns you attack, and on the next turn you have to defend. This is different in 9tales!

But before jumping into details of the combat system, let’s take a look at the game board:

Game board early design

Here is what our game board looks like, this is still not the final design but it is closer to what you will be playing on in the alpha version. Now, let’s focus on the core elements of the game

Core elements of the game board

Here is the game board without any design elements. We see that there are multiple zones: A play zone, a battle zone, players hands, a cemetery on the right and your deck on the left.

The game plays in turns, each turn you starts by drawing a card. You then play cards from your hand, alternating with your opponent. Once this is done, there is a battle phase. This is what we will focus on in this article.

Simultaneous combats

By taking a closer look at the battle zone we notice that there are 4 sub zones. There is the players (your) attack zone, on the left, which faces the opponent’s defence zone. On the flip side, there is the player defence zone which faces the opponent’s attack zone.

At the beginning of combat, both players choose their attackers. In order to do so, they can move active cards from their play zone to their attack zone. Each player can have a maximum of eight active cards in his play zone, and up to four cards can attack on each turn. Once both players have chosen their attackers, the cards are revealed. At this point both players can choose their defenders, each attacker can be faced by at most one defender.

Example of a battle phase (temporary game board and card styles)

For instance, in the above picture, the player attacked with one card (the orc card on the left). The opponent did not defend against that, but he attacked with his own card (the other orc card on the top right). The player defends against this card with a human card.

Once both players have chosen their attackers and defenders the combat starts. Each attacking card that has no defender will directly attack the health points of the opposing player. Cards that have a defender in front of them will attack this defender, in that case the defender deals his attack point to the attacker and vice versa. A card with zero or fewer health points at the end of combat is destroyed and goes to the cemetery.

Strategy considerations

This new combat system allows the players to make important and strategic choices. Since both players will have to choose their attackers at the same time, there is a simple but primordial question that is asked: “Should I attack with all my strength, or keep some cards for defence?”.

The answer to this question is what will determine great players, and it is an answer that forces you to get into the mind of your opponent. Will he decide to attack? Or will he defend too? Does my opponent think that I will give everything this turn?

A large part of the game will be decided by how well you can anticipate your opponent’s moves, not only during the play phase, but more so during battles. This aspect is new and unique to 9tales, and it comes as an addition to more “traditional” aspects in card games such as card and damage counting. Add to this the effects of spells, some of which can be used during combat, and you get an explosive, strategic, and extremely fun combat mechanic.

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