Saturday, 17 January 2015

Card Games On Motorcycles

I was recently given the somewhat dubious privilege of arranging for a sealed deck style Yu-Gi-Oh tournament for a friends birthday. And, as is often the case when I end up being in charge of these things I like to come up with some special rules and features to make things a little more interesting for everybody. And this time around my major inspiration came from the fact that I'd been playing a LOT of Stardust Accelerator. For those of you who are unaware, that's a 5D's era game. So you know what that means, right?

Now, one of the major things to bare in mind here is that the rules for Turbo Duels in the game are SHITE. I mean, really, really, pointlessly bad. What's even worse is the fact that when I finally got around to watching some of the actual series I discovered that they were actually perfectly accurate. So rather than having normal spells you have speed spells which require speed counters to use. The basic upshot of which is that you simply don't bother with spells AT ALL and just use trap cards instead. It's not like any of the speed spells in the game are actually powerful enough to justify all the buggering about when you could just load up on Sakaretsu Armour and Dust Tornado.

So, yeah. Mechanically the implementation is deeply unsatisfying. But the idea of riding duels is still immensely appealing. Possibly because it's so inherently ridiculous.

The thing is, it's actually possible to make it work as a pretty fun variant of the game. So I'd  like to talk you through my Turbo Duels ruleset. Partly because I'm actually rather pleased with it, but mainly because this is my damn blog so I can do whatever I like AND YOU CAN'T STOP ME!!!

Anyway, obviously the first thing we're going to need is a track to race on. These is of course one simple and obvious solution to this problem: Heroscape.

It can also solve housing problems if you have enough.

Now, I admit that Heroscape is pretty dangerous stuff. There is no such thing as owning a reasonable amount. Even considering just how difficult to get some of it is nowadays thanks to WotC murdering it. Not that I'm bitter about that. Anyway, the point is that like most right thinking individuals I own far to much Heroscape terrain. And so with a little experimentation I game up with a track to play on.

Even more remarkable is the fact that, during testing this turned out to be pretty accurate in terms of game length for a regular duel. I.E. using the rules which I will discuss shortly one lap of this circuit lasted about 8000 life points of game. It's about 50 spaces or so should you want a rough guide for designing your own.

AS you can hopefully see from the picture the duelists will then need to form up on the starting line, using whatever miniatures or tokens seem appropriate. Obviously since you've got a whole bunch of Heroscape you could use those, but I personally find it more appropriate to use Yu-Gi-Oh mini figures.

Shadow Ghoul Takes The Lead! Probably because 5 legs are faster than 4.

The only real stumbling block here is the frankly shocking lack of actual models of Duel Runners available. You'd think there'd be some gashapons or something. Still, never mind eh? Maybe I can find some 15mm sci-fi bikers to paint for next time.

So, now that we're on the grid, how do we actually play? Brace yourself. Here come the rules.

All Duelists are considered to have INFINITE life points. The only way to win in a Turbo Duel is to cross the finish line. If you're bringing some alternative win condition deck then you're missing the whole point. If you run out of cards you still lose.

During a players Main Phase 1 or 2 they may spend any number of available Speed Counters to move 1 space for each counter spent. A Duelist may never have more than 12 Speed Counters. Duelists may only ever move forwards, never backwards. Each Duelist Must move at least 1 space during their turn if possible. Duelists may move through each other if they have enough Speed Counters to do so, but may not occupy the same space.

Duelists gain Speed Counters in the following fashion:
  • Gain 1 Speed Counter during EACH players Standby Phase.
  • Gain 1 Speed Counter whenever you draw cards.
  • Gain 1 Speed Counter every time you summon a monster
  • Gain 1 additional Speed Counter for each tribute required for a tribute summon.
  • Gain 1 additional Speed Counter when you summon from the extra deck
  • Gain 1 Speed Counter every time you activate a spell, trap or monster effect
  • Gain 1 Speed Counter whenever you destroy an opponents card  by battle or effect.
  • Gain 1 Speed Counter for every FULL 500 points of battle damage inflicted on an opponent.
  • Gain 1 Speed Counter each time you gain life points.
If a card requires a duelist to pay a cost in life points then they must discard 1 Speed Counter per 500 Life points required, or part thereof. I.E. 100 -500 LP = 1 Speed Counter, 600 -1000 LP = 2 Speed Counters and so on.

A Duelist may only target an opposing Duelist who is 1 place away from them on the track. I.E. The 1st place Duelist may only attack the 2nd place Duelist. The 2nd Place Duelist may attack either the 1st or 3rd place Duelist and the 3rd place Duelist may only attack the 2nd place Duelist.

When targeting the player in last place for attacks or effects you only gain HALF the usual amount of Speed Counters.

So, what do you think?

It's actually surprisingly good. Obviously the given track and ruleset is optimized for 3 players, since that's what we were using at the time. Things may need tweaking for different numbers of players. So let's go through the reasoning for the various design decisions so we can highlight any possible changes.

The basic philosophy is, obviously, to use the normal actions one performs in a duel to generate movement. More like the Turbo Duels in the Manga I suppose.

I see your card games on motorcycles, and raise you one card games on zombie horses.

The trick of course is to KEEP things moving and feeling like an actual race. One of the most important things I realized earlier on was that everyone needs to move foward every turn, and nobody should ever move backwards. One of the problems with the anime rules you quickly find when you actually try playing them in real life is that it soon becomes a case of the winning player being the only one whose actually able to do anything once he starts reducing the other players speed. This is something I wanted to avoid as it makes for a dull game. So your actions make make you go faster rather than slowing your opponent down. So there should always be opportunities for overtaking. This is also why attacking the last place player gives reduced rewards. The middle player needs more incentive to attack the one in first place rather than everyone driving backwards whilst beating on the softest target. We're trying to encourage comebacks and exiting reversals.

With more players it may necessary to extend the half Speed Tokens rule to attacks on any Duelist behind you. I'm actually inclined to introduce this to all levels of play, but want to test it out first as it may have to great a negative impact on the first place player. I'm also inclined to reduce the maximum Speed Counters to 10. The primary reason for using 12 was simply because that's what was used in the anime. But as we've discussed, those rules kinda suck so I don't see why we should be beholden to them in any fashion.

In the original version of the rules I didn't actually use Speed Counters, but rather had everyone move after completing actions. This worked alright, but did rather result in a lot of pile ups, where players weren't able to generate enough speed to overtake. It felt like a lot of potential movement was being wasted. The counters fixed that quite handily though, whilst also giving players more tactical flexibility in terms of planning attacks and overtaking. The overtaking rules here of course being largely predicated upon the fact that the track is only 1 space wide. I'd like to try a wider layout, where players must move around each other rather than through. This may then impact on the targeting rules somewhat as it would allow for multiple equidistant targets.  The main concern here though is one of space. You do need enough room on the table for the track AND the duelists. And duel mats aren't getting any smaller what with all this pendulum business nowadays.

Back in my day this was the only Pendulum Summon you needed.

However I guess we could always try limiting the spell & monster card zones down to 3 or something. Would be interesting to see how that worked out if nothing else.

There's plenty of room for flexibility here. You can easily tweak the required number of laps, Speed Counters earned and spaces moved per counter for different experiences. What I think is particularly interesting though is the potential for doing different things with the track. If you've got the room then you could try a circuit with multiple routes. You could put down some of the Rune tokens from Heroscape to use as bonus markers. Just for example there could be a slightly longer way around, but it has a booster to speed or maybe even allows an extra draw. And then of course there's the potential to apply different Field effects to different types of Heroscape terrain. So maybe there's a stretch of grass tiles that count as Sogen, Stone is Mountains, Sand is Wasteland etc. Could make for some interesting variations. Certainly something to look into anyway.