Monday, 12 August 2013

Progenitor - Synopsis

As outlined in my previous post, Progenitor is a deck-building card game.  This post will be a simple primer on it, so that when I write about design and balance decisions people will know what I'm talking about.

The basics are quite simple: in any given game there will be a several different stacks of cards in the middle of the table.  You will be trying to acquire these cards, to add them to your deck in order to improve it and allow you to win.

The resource used is called Energy: each of the available cards has an Energy Requirement which must be met in order to prime (read: buy) it from the table and add to your deck.  At the start of the game your deck is made up of a few copies of the most basic card in the game: a simple +1 Energy card with no other ability.  Energy Requirements for the cards on the table range from 1 to 3, with more expensive cards being more powerful.

On any given turn you may do one of three things:
  1. You may draw a card, taking the top card from your draw pile and adding it to your hand.
  2. You may play a card, taking it from your hand and putting it onto the table in front of you.
  3. You may purge, which is the buy action; you take what you can afford, then destroy (put in your discard pile) all the cards you have in play.
The cards you are buying get added to your deck, so you will, in time, draw into them, then play them.  Some cards will have an ability which happens when they are played, and some have an ability which happens when they are purged.  Cards may also do something as long as they are sitting on the table in front of you (for example, they might give you extra primes, allowing you to buy more than one card when you purge).

Thus play goes around the table, with players typically drawing or playing a card, until they have accrued enough Energy on cards on the table in front of them to afford the card(s) they want.  For example, if I play the basic +1 Energy card on one turn, and then play another the next turn, I will have 2 Energy.  On the following turn I could purge in order to take a card from the table with an Energy Requirement of 2 or less, or I could play another +1 Energy card and so be able to afford a 3 Energy Requirement card on my next turn.


The design goal is to have a game which has minimal down-time, and lots of interaction.  In Progenitor, most turns are players either drawing or playing one card, and so play progresses quickly round the table.  The abilities which cards have can be roughly divided into three different types: offensive, defensive, and economy. The cards you play will either let you try to disrupt the other players (typically by destroying the cards they have in play before they can purge them), fend off other players from messing with your own cards, or increase the rate you acquire cards.  Interaction is high!

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