Ideas on a card game combat system for Miniature Figure story games

edited September 2013 in Story Games
My work using action cards to spur story narration with Fairy Tale Assassin League has got me thinking about a variation on the system to play out combats quickly while retaining a focus on narration rather than numbers. Here is how I think it will work.

There is a deck of action cards (attacks and defenses - more defenses than attacks). Players have a hand of cards (3 for mooks, 5 for heroes). A player plays an attack and the other player throws down a defense. If they have no defense - they get hit. This might end a combat right there or give them a story effect - not certain on that. The players then roll 2d6, high roller wins, to see who gets to make the next attack. A melee can end when a player lands a hit or when one player wins 2 out of 3 rolls. In that case the lose retreats.

This should be fast and focus on figures while also relating back to the bigger story system (using the Fairy Tale action cards). This needs to be tested but in my mind it seems to work.

Chris Engle


  • Sounds like a good core; why incorporate a dice roll? Might there be some way to use stats on the cards so that you don't have to break the action to roll dice and do some math? I'm thinking that would make the game more tactical, in terms of decisions.
  • I agree with CarpeGuitarrem; adding dice breaks the flow. I'd suggest a mechanic in which each card had a number on it, which is your initiative for the next round. This would force you to choose between using a card for its effect, and using it for the chance to strike first next round.
  • I like the idea of the number on the card setting the next turns initiative. Maybe make attack cards give a low number because they knock you off balance and give defenses higher numbers - like a parry, which is followed by a counter-attack.

    And there is still room for additional modifiers based off of tactical information from the minis table.

  • edited September 2013
    And with that, you can keep uncertainty by forcing a simultaneous play scheme, perhaps. (Or on the other hand, if you use an "attacker plays, then defender" scheme, attack could be all about figuring out how to force your opponent into a hard decision, whereas defense is about making the right choice and seizing momentum at the right time.)
  • The idea of fast combat through cards is what lead me to the combat stances in "Ghost city raiders", you pick a single stance which covers attack and defence for the turn. You may focus high or low, you may go more defensive or more offensive. You just compare the stances for any openings left by your opponents and you happen to have aimed in one or more of those spots, you roll to see if you've damaged your opponent.
  • If people place cards across from one another like this...

    Player A Player B
    1st Card 1st Card
    2nd Card 2nd Card
    3rd Card 3rd Card

    It cuts down on time pulling cards back and shows who won the initiate each time. It literally could be slap a card down BOOM!

    The logic on initiative could go like this...

    Decisive attack - low initiative number - it throws you off balance
    Wounding attack - medium initiative number - it won't end the fight
    Feint attack - high initiative number - you are setting up for the next attack chasing also fits in here

    Desperate defense - low initiative number - you'll only do it if it is you last card - may be running away
    Standing your ground - medium initiative number - these would be standard fighting moves
    Sneaky defense - high initiative number - this sets you up to switch to the attack.

    I'm thinking that a hit/wound should reduce the player's hand size so it limits their choices but doesn't put them out. Hand sizes would be something like this...

    Mooks - 3 cards - may discard 1 card
    Heroes - 5 cards - may discard 2 cards
    Super heroes - 7 cards - may discard 3 cards

    This can be modified:

    Rear/flank attack +1
    Out numbered -1
    Superior position +1

    So the tactical elements are figured out before the card slapping down begins.

    I don't know how many rounds should be done before combat ends with one side pulling back but 3 to 5 sounds right.

    I'm thinking that cards can also have movement information on them so the figures still get moved around as the cards are played - a third player should do the moving so as to avoid breaking the flow of the card game.

    I can see this working for 1 on 1 fighting and for whole units fighting (though the cards will be different).

    On the surface it makes sense.
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