Grand Illusion: The Drafting Mechanic
Today I continue with my open design for a game based on Victorian era magicians and illusionists. Two weeks ago I talked about the core mechanics of the game. I also mentioned the “currency” in the game being the different types of magic.
What this will ultimately boil down to is a set collection card game with a drafting mechanic and an inherent build up as players try to complete their secret Grand Illusion.
Note: I have not yet decided if I want each player’s Grand Illusion to be secret or not. If it is public then the drafting mechanic becomes more important as you can see what types of magic your neighbors may be working towards. And if you can see their magic types then you may want to take a sub-optimal card because it would have been a great card for them.
So let’s talk a bit about the drafting mechanic.
The Grand Illusion Drafting Mechanic
If you are unfamiliar with “drafting” here’s how it works:
- You are dealt a bunch of cards.
- You choose one card and keep it.
- You pass the rest of the cards to your neighbor.
- You receive the cards from your other neighbor.
- You choose one of these new cards and keep it.
- You pass the rest of the new cards to your neighbor.
Well, I’m not doing it quite like that. I want there to be a more random feel.
The struggle with making an awesome drafting mechanic is in the consideration of how you want players to feel throughout the process. I want the players to feel like magicians while playing this game. So how could my drafting mechanic incorporate that feeling?
I think there should be an element of sneakiness. Magicians utilize sleight of hand and I want an element similar to that. So I would want players to be able to have moments where choosing the right card was rewarding like a successful sleight of hand.
The question is: How do I accomplish that?
I would feel sneaky (or wise or clever) if:
- I put a bad card in someone else’s hand.
- I put a great card in a hand I knew I would receive.
- I was able to prevent another player from a great hand.
- I was able to craft a great hand for myself.
Those are a few things that would allow me to have a rewarding feeling and a feeling of accomplishment. Often, as a game designer, it is a challenge to take a concept of what you want and actually turn it into mechanics that meet that concept.
Concept to Mechanic
One way to accomplish this is to put out the Magic Trick cards on the table face up before the drafting occurs. This shows the players the types of tricks they have available to them that round. Then, once players have been dealt their cards, they will place one face up and one face down in front of them. Then:
- Pass to the left. Choose one card. Place face up on left neighbor’s pile.
- Pass to the left. Choose one card. Place face up on right neighbor’s pile.
- Pass to the left. Choose one card. Place face down on own pile.
What this creates is a magic hand of five cards. Three were chosen by you (one face up). One was chosen by each neighbor (face up). The other players may be able to remember what your final card was, but your first card will be a secret since you chose it before anyone passed their cards.
Now each player will have five cards in their hands. These cards will have the different currencies on them (the types of magic). In the middle of the table are the magic tricks that can be performed this round.
Players will use combinations of the magic types in their hands to fulfill as many magic tricks as they can. This fulfillment will be the topic of the next article on The Grand Illusion.
Hopefully this drafting mechanic will work to create an interesting dynamic between the cards one chooses to keep and the cards they choose to give to their neighbors.
Any thoughts about this? Remember, I would love to be designing this game with your feedback. Anything sound good, bad, or meh? Let me know.