Sunday, November 08, 2015

Monster Girl Card Game - Brainstorming II

More rambling notes and musings I'm jotting down here in the hope that they coalesce into something fun people would like to play.

While doing some research on the internet I remembered some articles Mark Rosewater wrote on game design a while back.  MaRo is the public face of the design and development teams for Magic: the Gathering and writes a regular column on game design.  He knows his stuff on this topic.

His Ten Things Every Game Needs articles are a good checklist to run every budding game idea against to see how it holds and identify possible weaknesses.

So let's try it here.

As a recap from the last post, my idea is for a game where the player takes on the role of a succubus-summoning warlock and uses their sexy minions to gain control of a kingdom behind the scenes.  Nothing about this is set in stone.  Rather than ye-olde-world-fantasy, the kingdom could just as easily be a corporation, or army invading hell-space, or even a college for warlocks.  The succubus minions could be intelligence agents.  You get the idea.  What I'm trying to do is think up a monster girl game that's slightly different from the usual path of smashing mons into each other (coz, I'm awkward like that! :) )

Let's run through MaRo's points and see if that helps to clarify things.

1) Goal
The player is a warlock capable of summoning demons and other monsters.  Their goal is to take over a kingdom (or other similar organisation) by gaining control of various key pieces.  The kingdom is represented by a deck of cards.

Having a central kingdom deck opens up possibilities for solo or collaborative play if the central deck is capable of defending itself.  The solo option in particular might be important.  I want to try and keep the sexy if possible, but there's a danger then that most players might find it too embarrassing to play with others.  Personally I'd prefer to aim at a niche audience than water everything down for a larger audience that probably wouldn't even notice it.

2) Rules
This is the mechanics.  From the rough concept we know each player is able to cast spells and summon monster girls to do their bidding.  These monster girls are then able to seduce and bring NPC characters under the player's controls.  The rule system should determine how and when the cards can be played and captured, and also enable players' to interact with each other.

3) Interaction
And the first warning flag.

One problem with the concept is it might not lead to interaction between players.  They could end up working their plans in isolation, with the winner randomly determined by which kingdom cards get turned over during the game.  To get around this the game will need plenty of cards that can disrupt an opponent's strategy (but not so many it becomes overwhelming) and the game should force conflicts over the various kingdom deck cards.

4) Catch-up feature
A lot of games suffer from a snowballing problems.  That's when an early advantage for one player increases their chance of further advantages later on to the point where the game is effectively decided in the first few turns and the rest is an annoying grind to a foregone result.

With the concept's theme, a player with more puppets has more influence and is closer to a goal of total domination.  But they're also more visible to authorities trying to weed out corruption.  Assuming the kingdom deck contains random negative effects (e.g. witchfinders and paladin heroes), having these disproportionately affect the leading player will give the other player(s) chances to catch up.

5) Inertia
The pull to get the game finished.

As MaRo says in his article, in Magic the power level of the cards ramps up as more mana is available to the player until something will go unanswered and end the game (dragons cost more to summon than goblins, but they typically end the game in short order if they're allowed to stay in play).  There's also an alternate loss condition where a player runs out of library, so even long games will end eventually.

I probably want a resource system - start with low-level succubi and spells, but open up access to much more powerful demons and magic in later turns.

The easiest termination condition is have the game last a set number of turns.

A more complex condition (and one I'd like to make work) is for it to be provided by the kings in the central deck.  For that condition to work there needs to be reasonably fast cycling through the central deck to make sure the relevant win conditions make it into play before everyone gets bored.

6) Surprise
Cards are good for this.  Players need access to 'trick' cards to surprise the opponent.  That means we'll need spells as well as succubi.  The central kingdom deck can also be a source of surprise factor if seeded with cards that have interesting impacts on the game whenever they're turned over.  Having a random deck of cards determine these events also adds to replayability as the game should play out differently depending on what order the kingdom cards are turned over in.

7) Strategy
Different factions in the kingdom deck.  Different factions of monster girls available to the player.  They should play differently and open up different routes to the end-goal.  For example - succubi might be good at seduction and temporary charms, other monster girls might favour taking pieces off the board entirely (e.g. carnivorous plant girls eating them), an angel faction might favour disruption by making it harder for kingdom NPCs to be seduced.

8) Fun
Playing a warlock with a harem of hawt monster girls.  Sound fun? ;)

The last two points are easier for this concept.  It's a top-down concept, in as much as I have the background and flavour first, and I'm trying to come up with game mechanics to get that across.

9) Flavour
Sexy monster girls.  I'm also trying to reinforce the sex being important by making the game about seduction and corruption rather than fighting.

One question of flavour is where to turn the dial in terms of atmosphere.  Cute monster girls or sensual-but-deadly femme fatales?  Crude sexual humour or gothic elegance?  Light and fluffy, or total grimdark?

10) Hook
Also easy.  A fun, sexy monster girl card game for an audience that likes things like my stories, Kenkou Cross's Monster Girl Encyclopedia and Monster Girl Quest.  Here's where I might need to rein in some of my own grimdark predilections so as not to scare everyone off! ;)

Still very vague and general.  I'll see if I can start throwing out more concrete mechanics in future brainstorming posts.

Thoughts and suggestions in the comments appreciated!


  1. Some ideas about the kingdom deck:

    1. Make the players built it. Each player includes a set number of characters in his/her deckbuilding process. Start the game having both players laying out the kingdom. That would also introduce another aspect of strategy.

    2. Make it a republic. Instead of having a king with a set successor, make the "kingdom" into a republic. Something like a 15th century Italian city state, where numerous powerful families battle for control. It could be a pyramid of power, and when one character dies (by event or by player interaction) another steps up the "ladder" to replace.

    2. There could be a risk of characters dying when they are influenced (the succubus takes too much and slurps him all up). This could be represented by having two values for each character, one for how much sex is needed to influence him and one for how much he can take before being killed. Each turn a succubus deals a number of "sex tokens" and each turn the character recovers an amount of life force. One must be careful not to assign a too strong succubus to a fragile victim. Unless you are aiming to kill him, or course, perhaps to make the character beneath him advance to power.

    1. 1. Yep, I thought the players should have an influence here.
      a) Divide the deck in half and have each player remove X cards that are unknown to the other.
      b) Have a common core then have each player add X cards.
      Both methods allow the player to tweak the kingdom deck depending on their strategy without knowing how it's tweaked.

      2) I was planning to have kings be the top rank of various houses (eg Pope, Chancellor, King, General, etc). The ladder system sounds interesting. The computer game Mordor did something like that with the orc warbands. This might not be the right game for it.

      3. I was thinking the mana system could be based around how much energy the succubi drain from their seduced thralls. This could be a steady amount or the player might choose to sacrifice a thrall for one shot boost to their mana. I like the idea of more powerful succubi sometimes "accidentally" killing their thrall. Mechanically representing this random element could be awkward - using dice or even coin flips in card games nearly always sucks. What could be cool is if the energy harvesting ties in with card draw. Could have a system where the player draws X cards and if they exceed a certain value it means the succubus has drained her thrall to death. That could create a lot of interesting decisions on play and deck building (and be a very easy excuse to throw in some sexy pics/animations if I implement this as a computer game).
      Another thing I was thinking was that the player could also have their succubus drain them at some point - give some kind of boost, but also incur a penalty on actions.

    2. 1. Sounds like a sound concept, not really too much I can think of. Though maybe, to represent different physical locations of the kingdom, have they're be different piles of cards representing an area and the people who live / work there [a market pile for merchants and thieves etc., ( basically everyone you'd normally find in medieval marketplace,) a slums pile with the peasants and serfs and such,] and controlling the pile means you control that physical area and could use that area to influence anyone who'd have connections to those in the area (like merchants knowing the other merchants in the kingdom, maybe seducing one card gives you the chance to use that to find another card of the same type in another area/ card pile.)

      2. An adjustment that could make the republic system work could be to have most of the cards move up in rank... except for the royals. Maybe have a limited version there, where the prince could move up to king if the original king dies, but with no more princes, no more replacement kings.

      3. A thought I had - I remember playing several trading card games as a kid, but one that stuck in my mind was Yu-Gi-Oh! One of the primary ways of getting powerful monsters there was to sacrifice a few weaker monsters for one stronger monster. Maybe a similar mechanic could be done here; if you're in a though spot and need another monster and can't draw any but have some eligible seduced cards, you sacrifice a seduced card to summon a monster girl / transform a seduced card into a monster girl. Drawbacks for doing this though would likely be a loss of influence ( maybe twice what the seduced card was worth?,) and maybe other penalties like possible exposure of your presence to the kingdom, resulting in immediate retaliation.

      Not sure, getting late here, ideas aren't coming anymore. Ugh. Night all.

  2. Mr.Hydra before you start. I advise you to get your card game ideal copyright. or don't post anymore ideals. It sounds like a good ideal. That why you should be careful,before somebody try to steal it.
    Oh before i go wouldn't be easier if you make one player the warlock and the other King? For example say your the warlock. Your goal is to corrupt the kingdom. An if I was playing as the King my goal is to capture you.

    1. I'm not too worried about that. It's hard to protect game mechanics in any case.

      Netrunner took the asymmetric approach with hackers vs. corp. Could work, but I suspect most people might want to be on team monster girl for this one. I might think of ways of boosting the kingdom deck for solo play if the mechanics look sound.

  3. The easiest catch-up feature is discontent among your...underlings.

    The more "puppets" your underlings charm, the weaker their control over them -> "puppets" desert.

    The more "underlings" you have, the more jealous they grow -> they desert.

    The more turns you spend with an "underling" in a "time out" (amidst the gunny sacks, cough cough), the less likely to desert and stronger she grows -> leaves player the option to build one very strong, loyal succubus-girlfriend, or an army of fickle, weakly, may-desert-at-any-moment henchm---girls.

    1. Could work. Might be hard to implement in a card game.

      I was thinking more of policing it through the kingdom deck. Could have a variety of heroes that come up as negative effects to hamper whichever player is leading - eg Paladin that looks to challenge highest rank succubi in play. Or inquisitors that punish the player with the most monster girls in play.

  4. I had written this yesterday, but for some resaon, it didn't show up...

    Some idea that I had when I read through the post and the comments:

    Give the players the chance to kill (kingdom-)characters already controlled by the other player (of course they would need a pretty strong monster girl for that and whatever other requirements make sense).
    In turn it could become harder, to convert the remaining characters ("Could I be the next one to be killed?") for all players. Or even lose control over characters where you just have the minimum requirements to control them.
    I think this could increase the strategic as well as the competition aspect of the game.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Blogspot is bad at swallowing comments for some reason. I got it in my email, but it didn't show up here for some reason.

      Stealing/Killing characters are definitely mechanics I want. Although probably rare enough that it doesn't take over the game.