A downloadable game

This is my jam submission to PIGSquad as part of their hosting their community in Global Game Jam 2022. Due to GGJ's decision to take a stance of agnosticism toward the rampant current tech scams, I have decided to rescind my direct participation in GGJ and deregistered from their site and will no longer host future jam projects there; but as PIGSquad is an excellent and kind community, I still want to participate in jams with them, so hosting my project here and sharing it directly with them seemed my best option. Hopefully GGJ will change their weak stance (or rather lack of stance) on the matter and I'll feel comfortable directly participating again in the future.

This game was designed over a handful of hours over two days as the jam was coming to a close; so it hasn't been thoroughly tested for balance and functionality, it was just what seemed a good idea in my head that I've had only had one opportunity to play out so far.

You can watch an exceptionally long video (warning: some infrequent profanity) of that very first play session in the attached youtube video; we played according to the rules as described below, however, some missed but necessary rules as well as many initial design issues (most notably our difficulty in reaching an end state for either player) were discovered through our first playtest. My friend and I came to the conclusion that the base idea is solid and fun to play -- we played for more than an hour and half without realizing how much time had passed, and only stopped because the current ruleset felt like it would be nearly impossible to break out of the stalemate we seemed to be in. With some additional work, this game could be, dare I say, good!

What follows are the initial rules as written before the first play session (seen in the accompanying video). Below these rules, I will add the additional rules we discovered would be necessary as we played, even if we didn't immediately incorporate those rules for game in-progress. When I feel the ruleset has been adjusted and improved enough, I will clean up all the rules as written here.

Initial (first draft) Rules:

The game uses a standard deck of playing cards (Jokers included) and works as follows:

  • separate cards into respective suits (if you are using a brand new deck of cards they already come ordered this way).
  • set aside the A, K, Q, and J from each suit set.
  • using the (red) Ace of Diamonds and the (black) Ace of Spades, have one player shuffle these two cards and the other player randomly select one -- this determines each players color.
  • each player takes all their respective cards, still keeping the suits separated, and the player using red cards will also take the empty deck box -- the box indicates which player is the aggressor (explained below) and it may transfer between players over the course of the game.
  • setup the play field as follows:
    • using the (red) Hearts, place the A, K, Q, and J in a face-up row closer to the player using red.
    • shuffle the remaining numbered (red) Hearts and randomly remove one, placing it face-up off to the side.
    • with the remaining (red) Heart cards, place them face-down in two rows of four cards each above the (red) Heart face cards.
    • using the (red) Diamonds, place the A, K, Q, and J in a face-down row above the previous two rows and closer to the player using black.
    • using the (black) Clubs, place the A, K, Q, and J face-up and directly on top of (i.e. covering) the (red) Diamonds just previously placed face-down.
    • shuffle the remaining numbered (black) Clubs and randomly remove one, placing it face-up off to the side.
    • with the remaining (black) Club cards, place them face-down and directly on top of (i.e. covering) the already face-down (red) numbered cards.
    • finally, using the (black) Spades, place the A, K, Q, and J face-down and directly underneath (i.e. being covered by) the (red) A, K, Q, and J of Hearts.
    • you should have a four by four grid of cards, with each spot containing two cards, one on top of the other.
    • try to spread the grid out as much as tablespace will allow, but no further than a card's (placed in the same orientation) distance from each other.
  • player's will then setup their play decks as follows:
    • the player using red will be playing (i.e. tossing) the (red) Diamond cards on to the play field.
    • the player using black will be playing (i.e. tossing) the (black) Spade cards on to the play field.
    • each player should remove from their suited set the matching number as the previously set aside numbered (red) Heart and (black) Club; if these two numbers match, just remove that single matching number.
    • each player will then shuffle their remaining suited set, and randomly remove one additional card; set this card aside face-down without viewing it.
    • if the (red) Heart and (black) Club were matching, each player will also randomly remove one more card, setting it aside face-down without viewing it.
    • at this stage each player should have removed three cards from their respective play decks; at least one, if not two, of which are unknown.
    • finally, each player should insert one Joker card into their play deck and shuffle.
    • each player draws one card to begin the game.
  • game play happens as follows:
    • each player draws a card at the beginning of a round -- before tossing a player should have two cards in hand.
    • each player privately selects which one of their two cards they will toss this round.
    • once each player has selected their toss card, the aggressor (player possessing the empty deck box) tosses first; the other player is considered the defender.
    • when tossing a player may toss in any manner of motion so long as their hand does not breech the edge of the table.
    • when tossing a player may attempt to keep their tossed card face down or face up at their own discretion and dexterity.
    • a player's toss must land on the table and on top of at least one card in the play field to be considered valid; the players may jointly agree how to handle invalid tosses (e.g. loss of turn, limited mulligans, repeat tosses until always valid, etc.).
    • once both tosses have occurred, each player determines which card stack on the play field the majority of their tossed card is touching; in the case majority cannot easily be determined, the tossing player may choose between the touched stacks.
    • both players now reveal their tossed cards.
    • the aggressor will adjust (i.e. flip) stacks based on their tossed card first; the defender will adjust (i.e. flip) stacks based on their tossed card second.
    • once all affected stacks have been flipped appropriately, field control is determined by who was the greater number of stacks face-up in their color; the empty box is held by whichever player has control, or the previous aggressor unless their tossed card has been killed (explained below).
    • if either player has gained total field control -- all stacks face-up in their color -- or a player has had all of the numbered cards from their play deck killed (explained below), the game ends; the player with total control or cards remaining in their play deck is the winner.
    • if neither player has reached an end state, a new round begins.
  • tossed cards interact with other cards as follows:
    • in the early game, the two middle rows of face-down cards are considered neutral; either player landing their tossed card on any one of these, may flip the neutral stack to their own color (placing their respective color from within the stack on top and face-up, and the opponent's color underneath and face-down).
    • before flipping any stacks, determine if the defending player's tossed card is touching or on the same stack as the aggressor's tossed card; if so, these two tossed cards interact directly.
      • whichever player's tossed card is of lower value is killed -- placed aside with the other cards already removed from that player's play deck.
      • the surviving card then flips the stack these cards were on top of and all adjacent stacks to that player's color if not already.
    • if the each player's tossed card is determined to be on unique stacks, the following interactions occur:
      • if a player's tossed card lands on a card of their own color, they add up the total of their tossed card and their field card they are on top of -- the face cards (A, K, Q, and J) all have a value of 1 -- to determine their total power.
      • the aggressor moves across the field first by selecting an adjacent stack not of their own color, deducting the value of that card from their total power, and then flipping the stack to their color; a player may not flip a stack if it would reduce their total power below zero.
      • once a player's total player has been reduced to zero, the player flips that final stack and ends their interactions.
      • a neutral space always reduces a player's total power to zero.
      • the defender then moves across the field in a similar manner and may flip back any stacks flipped by the aggressor.
      • if a player's tossed card lands on a field card of the opposing player, the field card deducts its value from the player's total power.
        • if the field card does not reduce the player's total power to zero or below, the field card is flipped and the player may continue across the field as previously defined.
        • if the field card reduces the player's total power to exactly zero, the field card is flipped but tossed card is killed.
        • if the field card reduces the player's total power below zero, the tossed card is killed and the field card does not flip.
    • if a player has tossed their Joker, they may shuffle all their removed/killed cards and randomly select one to return to game; before viewing the selected card the player may choose to add the card to their deck or immediately play the card in the same position as the tossed Joker.
      • if the player viewed the card before deciding, the opponent makes the choice for them.
      • after the decision is made the Joker is then returned to the player's deck and it is reshuffled.

Discovered Rule Changes:

  • players should be made aware aware during setup that the neutral cards are intended to be randomized and specifically start with the reds as the bottom cards with the black cards on top. When a player first takes control of a neutral spot, they should only be revealing the card of their color and keeping the other face-down and secret as they position their own face-up on top.
  • the aggressor should select their toss card from their hand and toss first before the defender is asked to select, giving the defender a chance to make a more informed decision.
  • after each player's card has been tossed, then both cards are turned face-up and the aggressor completes all actions and decisions before the defender needs to take any actions or make any decisions (this is important for the joker ability).
  • when tossed cards are "moving across the play field" that player should physically move their card stack by stack, making sure to leave it on top of the final stack until it is time to discard the tossed cards.
  • the tossed cards may not move on to the stack occupied by the opposing tossed card.
  • once both players have completed their actions, each player removes their tossed card from the field and places in into a discard pile -- this is separate and different than the removed/killed pile.
  • when the joker has been tossed, if the player chooses to add the retrieved card directly to their deck, it should instead be placed directly to their discard pile; leave the joker on the field until it is time to discard the tossed cards.
  • when the joker has been tossed, if the player chooses to replace the joker with the retrieved card, the joker should be placed directly to their discard pile; leave the replacing card on the field until it is time to discard the tossed cards.
  • when the two tossed cards touch, the battle interaction between them always takes precedence, no matter if each card has been determined to be on different stacks; the aggressor moves their tossed card to the stack the defender's tossed card is determined to be on.
  • when a tossed battle interaction takes place, the field card adds its value to the corresponding tossed card; in the event of a tie, the player with the field advantage wins.

Considered Rule Changes:

  • home rows (A, K, Q, and J) perhaps should always act similarly to neutral stacks and immediately reduce a player's total power to zero.
  • players perhaps allowed to move diagonally to increase rate of stack flipping and decrease chances of landing in "dead zones".
  • perhaps a way to fully remove a player's card from game; decrease joker return rate.

Progress updates to come....

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