I spent most of last week working out the fundamentals of a Zombie CCG. Next week is CCG Week, but it's admittedly light on specifics of a Zombie CCG. In light of that, I thought I'd share some big picture ideas of my concept to tide you over. Yesterday, I talked about game elements and what I'd like some of them to do. Today, I'm talking about some problems those approaches bring up.
Reaction/Items: So if you draw a new hand (basically) whenever you go to a location, then what do you do about the zombies you draw? If anything, an opponent drawing and/or playing zombies should be the result of your going to a new location. I’ve thought about a dedicated “Zombie Phase” where players can either draw and play zombies or just play zombies before all of the turn’s zombie attacks are totaled. Maybe even letting them check out their top X cards for zombies and play one, where is the thing for their opponent’s location. It wouldn’t forbid keeping zombies in your hand and playing them more tactically, but it would make sure the zombie quotient is kept high without clogging up your hand.
Alternate Win Conditions/Competitive Play: So if I can get a win by letting the zombies kill Major Rhodes and my opponent can win if his zombies kill a Military guy, then win-win; next round of the tournament please. However alternative, degree-based, or point-oriented the system is, there should be a clear winner regardless of the situation. That might be hard to balance out, but I think that a varied point system that’s conducive to doing stuff would help even that out.
Inconvenient Survivor Locations: If you’re playing your own survivors, then why are you ever going to play them into an insecure playground surrounded by hungry undead? It’s either a point-objective for playing the playground or the child, or your opponent has a hand in how you deploy your survivors. Sounds interesting. In fact, it might be possible for your opponent to “queue” zombies on the board so that they’re ready to pounce whenever you turn up something interesting. Granted, you still have concerns about other survivors that you are trying to rescue starting in locations other than where you are, but it’s something to look at. If you keyword it and force survivors to be played on certain key worded locations, then you’re making some cards dead in your hand. On the other hand, you could just institute a ‘reduced karma’ for playing those survivors into keyword location. It still might be a damned if you do, damned if you don’t moment of play, which means I’d like to work on it more, but it’s something to go on at least.
The Best Part of Waking Up: If there is a phase of pre-realization play, what is it? Can you score points for going into work in the morning despite the masses of dead walking the street? Can you play and win an entire game without your survivor ever becoming aware, a ‘Magoo’ deck or some sort?
The Solo Campaign. A lot of my assumptions here are based on the concept of one starting survivor (which I’m not a fan of in any case) meeting with a bunch of other survivors. But what if a player wants to have a solo deck. It’s very dangerous to go alone, and I’d be hardpressed to think of a good piece of equipment to take along that would be better for someone going along (though some ‘collateral damage’ type of effects might be interesting). What’s more, additional survivors do act as ‘extra lives’ once your first character dies. Without that, a player can get removed. I can see a solo/zombie archetype deck, or even a sidekick deck where it’s one main character who only rounds up one survivor at a time to be a meat shield(Jubilee/Robin joke here). In combat (which I haven’t really worked on yet), can the opponent pick which survivor is killed by zombies, or does the survivors’ player? Random?
Victory? While I’d like for there to be some victory cards, I point out next week why I don’t like them. Having cards that define game rules is a tricky proposition; if you want to play a certain way you have to wait for the card, then you might even get a rules card whenever you really wanted a different card. I think the best way to deal with that is to do what I wanted to do with zombies; simply roll point values and victory conditions into other cards. Doing certain things with certain zombie hordes, survivors, locations, or even equipment can win you the game. Having a rooftop of a location that can support a helicopter might have a built-in helicopter escape victory clause. On the other hand, it might be a very dangerous place indeed, gain you a lot of Karma, or even Claimed by the Military. Would it be great if pistols held a 5 point Suicide victory condition? Or utterly tacky? Unbalancing?