Thursday, November 1, 2018

Drafting Pokemon #03: Revive

"Drafting Pokemon" is the blog post series chronicling the design of a Pokemon drafting card game. It was first started as a National Game Design Month project during November 2016. It wasn't completed. November 2018's #NaGaDeMon is a revival of this project.

Pokemon Origins

Two years is how often U.S. political elections occur. It's also how long it's been since I wrote an update about the Pokemon drafting card game project. Not coincidentally, the voting topic is related to this project dying off - the results of the last election had me feeling scared and super depressed, killing my enthusiasm for finishing the project.

It's November again, which means another National Game Design Month (NaGaDeMon, for short) challenge. Similar in purpose to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), participating in a NaGaDeMon means your goal is to design at least a game prototype and playtest it at least once with the motive of having the satisfaction of having completed a game design project.

Last year, I chose a Magic: The Gathering direction to tackle the design challenges for my four-colors-matters passion project. I also didn't complete this project, with this update being my latest one.

This year, I'm returning to the Pokemon drafting card game project.


Pokemon Origins

Some card games incorporate a style of gameplay called "drafting." This means you're looking at a stack of card choices and choosing a smaller subset, usually one, from the choices and then passing along the rest of the cards to a neighboring player while your other player is doing the same, passing their cards to you. Then you'll get to see new choices - and all the ones your neighbor decided to pass up. Tabletop games that employ drafting are 7 Wonders and Sushi Go. Also, one of Magic: The Gathering's most popular game formats is booster pack draft.

There is a Pokemon Trading Card Game - which plays differently from the Pokemon video games. Where this drafting project differs from the Pokemon TCG is that the gameplay aims to emulate the video games' battle system while also incorporating the drafting style during beginning part of a game session. You draft your pokemon and moves and then you build your team in much the same manner as the video games. Then y'all battle, where it'll feel like you're playing the handheld games.


Pokemon Origins

Where we last left off, the types of cards you would draft would include the pokemon themselves as well as their moves. Currently, I'm rethinking whether or not I want to leave out held items as a draftable card type. At this point, it's still up in the air.

Speaking of rethinking - in the first update of this series, I stated my goal was to do the original 151 pokemon only. The reasoning included only having pokemon folks are familiar with. With the audience I might be playtesting this game with, this is definitely not a concern. Another reason for limiting to 151 was to make clear which monsters to expect in a given card pool - I think this can be handled well if I include monsters outside of the 151.

Here's why I'm stating the above of rethinking: not including dark or steel in the first iteration was bold in that there would be admittedly an uphill climb in battling psychic pokemon. Psychic's weaknesses are bug and ghost, and those are either in low supply or super weak.

And now fairy type is a thing! I'd rather not exclude now-three pokemon types and instead include those types and the appropriate pokemon of those types to help contribute toward a well-rounded, balanced, and fair draft environment, no matter what types you choose to play with.


Pokemon Origins

One development of this project that didn't get chronicled from about a couple years ago - I did a draft of just the pokemon themselves, with my best friends.

It was using nearly-blank white notecards - only the names of pokemon were written down. There were randomized packs of these notecards, for three draft rounds for three of us. We each had to choose pokemon with the goal of forming a diverse team and to prioritize pursuing achieving evolutionary lines (for example, drafting both a Seel and a Dewgong).

The experiment showed that it was realistic to be able to obtain the full evolutionary line of pokemon. That it was possible to have that as a reasonable thing you can count on happening.

And that's where I'm at now. Next, I'll be fulfilling a years-long promise to figure out then write about how this drafting card game will approach the problem of dealing with percentage chance that is present in the pokemon video games.

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