Designing Microgames–Duel, Part 3

The Story So Far…

A new microgame is in development.  Duel supports two players, each with a deck of about 20 cards.  The game ends when a deck runs out.  The player controlling the majority of a 3×3 grid wins.


APE Games Introduction

Duel had undergone about a half dozen tests when Kevin Brusky–Mister APE Games–came by our Monday playtest session.  As the publisher of both duck! duck! GO! and Rolling Freight, we have an excellent working relationship. He was there to check on the progress of a game I’m developing for APE and to provide feedback on the other prototypes floating around the design group.

While he was there, I used the opportunity to give him a brief overview of the microgames I was developing.  This one stood out for him.  It could be sold at a low price point, was highly portable, and engaging.

Could it be expanded? Why yes, yes it could.  the current playtest set is entirely symmetrical but that was never its final intention.  The next logical step is to create even more sets, each of which has its own flavor but could be played against any other one.

We began brainstorming matchups that could go into a two pack–Pirates vs. Sea Monsters, Dungeon Crawl Characters vs. Fantasy Trope Monsters, Ninjas vs. Samurai, Aliens vs. Military, Zombies vs. Survivors, Werewolves vs. Vampires, Golden Age Superheroes vs. Supervillains, Kaiju vs. Giant Robots, historical wars like Hannibal vs. Rome or British vs. Zulu or Waterloo.  We also discussed a few others that might be fun to play with even if we didn’t yet know who to match them with–Chibi Anime Characters, Film Noir, 90s Action Movies.

news_rarrrIn the end, we decided to focus on archetypes which would be quickly recognizable and mechanisms which would support these archetypes.  Zombies vs. Survivors has seen plenty of coverage and I want to explore new ground so that pairing was set aside.  APE just released the RARRR!! Kaiju game so Kaiju vs. Giant Robots was also set aside.  The first deck sets selected to create would be Pirates vs. Sea Monsters and Kung Fu Masters vs. Shogunate Warriors.


Brainstorm: A New Action

Before diving into these new themed decks, there was a larger issue to tackle.  The game needed an extra dash of…something.  I wasn’t sure what yet.  Each time I’d played the game, a part of my mind was begging for another option, a new action which would give the game a bit more tactical depth.  A couple days of journaling identified a missing action–movement.

Here is the relevant journal excerpt: “As an option on your turn, you may move a [card] one space orthogonally.  With this rule, I can create units that can move further, move diagonally, jump, cannot move at all, etc.”

This change also opened up the endgame.  The new endgame rule became “if you have exhausted your deck and hold 3 (or fewer) cards at the beginning of your turn, you may declare the game over.”


A Shout Out For Microgames!

Boardgamegeek user Odd Hackwelder contacted me recently.  He runs the Microgames Facebook Group which I checked out and can say is pretty darned cool.  Those of you interested in Microgame design should direct your browser there and give it a look.


Next time, we look at how powers were created for the game and their implementation into the first set of themed decks.  See you Friday!


What’s your favorite Microgame?  What do you like best about it?  Have you written one? How did your players respond to it?  Share with your fellow readers in the comments below.  And if you’re enjoying what you’re reading, create an account with WordPress and follow this blog.  You keep reading. I’ll keep writing.