Card games

I’m feeling card-game-ish today. Or perhaps small board-game-ish. You see, I had an idea.

It’s a game about time travel… specifically, about a duel between (or amongst) time travellers. How, specifically, it works is uncertain, but it will share some elements with the perennial shootout game Bang!, and some with the time-travelling finance game Khronos, and it will look a little like this:

Ticks in a Row

What you see here are five time units that represent the time the duel takes place in. Not sure how long this is, but let’s call it a tick for now. They sit in front of you, and illustrate the timeline of the game. The game takes place over, say, five of them, but because you are time travellers, turns and ticks need not be related directly… that is to say, you may play cards all along this line and, in turn, have them played upon you, with damage or other changes rippling forward. For instance, let us say that you are the Tan player, and the Gold player attacks you twice, once at the second tick and once at the fourth.

Attacked twice, moment 2 and 4.

Your play area looks like this… you get a wound in tick two, and that wound ripples forward to the remaining cards. Then at turn four you get another, that ripples to five. Two wounds is bad news because if you acquire to many, you lose and die. What to do?

Defended, in the past

Defend yourself, of course. A defensive card laid on tick two effectively counters the attack, and removes the wound and all its ripples… you still have the attack at four, but you’re in better shape.

Obviously, wounds are only one of a number of conditions you can have rippling forward. You could have chits for being stunned (ripples once, then clears) or poisoned (each ripple adds an additional token). Cards you lay on a tick stay attached to it, but they can be moved later… you might move your defense to another tick, to avoid a poison attack, but re-open your regular wound.

You could even die on tick four, in which case you can’t play cards there or later, but you can still resolve things so that you un-die.

As for how the game is played, my gut suggests this: each player has a deck of forty cards or so, divided into five piles, each one attached to a tick. First tick has the most, subsequent ones get less and less. On a given turn, he or she may take one, and either use its cards on the tick its attached to, or trade it forward to the next tick. Of course, ideally, there would be more to it than merely attacking and defending… the real money maneuvers would be charged actions and potential paradoxes.

Making and sending

Here, the player needed an attack usable in tick two (to attack another player’s second tick, of course). She had no such card, and might have been out of attacks altogether, BUT has a card in tick three that charges an action… in this case, creates an attack in the next tick down the line. In tick four, she has a pop-back… send a card from her hand to any earlier tick. Thus, using both of those, she generates an attack in tick two. Nice! But oh no!


Her opponent uses a negation card, that interferes with a card’s usage! So, the attack generation card is currently useless, so there’s nothing popped back, and so the attack that she’s using in tick two came from nowhere! PARADOX! A paradox token is dropped on the tick and the card, and that’s WORSE than mere wound by far. Really, you want your opponents to paradox, because that locks an entire tick down as Temporally Unstable, unless she finds some other way to remedy that (by finding another attack somewhere and useing the pop-back, perhaps, or using a negation of her own to negate the negation).

You win when your opponent is overwhelmed with paradox, or if he is killed and unable to un-die (by being killed on the first tick, perhaps) which is itself a form of paradox, if we assume that these time travellers are altering their performance after the fact.

Of course this is all terribly generic right now and I have a bevy of thematic questions (are these individual time travellers acting in spare seconds of a fight, or societies fighting over several years, with time travel), but that’s something down the pipe. I should maybe try and get a workable prototype into the world this month… force someone to playtest with me, see if this feels at all playable first.


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