What does card game development look like?

That’s almost 300 cards.

It looks like this.

Here are the very first shots of Upgrade War. This is what prototyping and play testing looks like when it gets into my hands. Three hours of printing, cutting, folding and inserting into plastic card condoms.  This follows a pretty rapid development cycle.

Sometimes, you search and curse, and cast about for that creative inspiration you need to make an idea work for you. Others, you are almost bodily hit over the head with a cool idea. Sometimes, when things work out just right, you’re in a place and time where you can sit down at that moment and start working on it. This was one of those lucky times.

Upgrade wars came to me as a simple idea to make a game with as few moving parts as possible, but which would encompass some relatively deep strategy, with the bulk of the game relying on skill with just a touch of luck. This is a tactical combat deck builder. Deck building is perhaps 50% of the game, the other 50% is combat. Specifically, giant killer robot combat. And right now, this prototype is ugly as sin, but functional and fully playable.

Just one of the ‘cards’ (folded, packages paper) available in the game.

The game consists of 220 cards (22 sets of 10) for the main game and 4 starter decks consisting of 13 cards each. That’s 272 cards total. All told it’s been through about 8 solid hours of development and writing. The rule book is roughly put together but mostly complete. The mechanics look to be solid, fun and even just a touch innovative. The game play itself… so far reports are good! I’ve only had a few limited games myself, the next few days will be the real test for me. I also know some of the numbers will need to be adjusted – at the moment things may be too easy or too hard.

I’m still working through play testing this initial Alpha release. I’ve only released the files to two other people, Brent and Jonathan who you know here from their position as editors and podcasters.

I hope once I’ve worked out a few outstanding issues and adjusted the numbers, that I can talk a bit more about how the game works. My real hope is that this will be my first real foray into the world of board and card games.

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