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[Devlog] Knights (card game)

A topic by Alamantus GameDev created Jan 05, 2016 Views: 428 Replies: 6
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Submitted (Edited 7 times) (+2)

Ok, I'm making a rules for a standard deck of 54 playing cards for this jam. I thought up the rules a couple days ago, wrote them down yesterday, and finally got to playtest with a friend today and I'm actually changing enough things that I might actually be able to write a devlog after all!

Knights logo

So this game is a battle card game. You build a knight out of 4 cards, and each suit has a strength and a weakness: Spades > Clubs > Hearts > Diamonds > Spades. The logic behind that is Spades = Bladed weapons, Clubs = Blunt weapons, Hearts = Belief/Knowledge, and Diamonds = Magic. Kinda makes sense, right? Anyway, the total value of your knight's armor is your HP for the game.

Anyway, you build your knight and then you take turns attacking each other's knight with cards. You can attack with as many cards of one suit as you want from your hand—the goal is to attack with a number higher than your opponent's knight's card of the weaker suit (so if you opponent has a 4 of clubs, you want to attack with 5+ of spades to do damage). But your opponent can also defend if they happen to have a card with the suit stronger than the one you're attacking with to take the edge off your attack before it reaches their armor (so in the previous example, they could defend with a diamond card). After attacking (only attacking, not defending), you discard any played cards and draw one card from the deck.

It's a pretty simple idea (even if it's a little complicated to execute), but there are a bunch of caveats for certain situations to help mix things up. For example:

  • A knight can't have more than 1 Face card.
    • To prevent knights that are too strong.
  • Attackers can heal instead of attack if they have any Hearts in their hand.
    • An interesting power dynamic for one suit.
  • If the defending cards' total value is higher than the attacking cards' value, the defender can choose to take as many of the attacking cards as there are defending cards if they want to.
    • So if the attacker plays 3 cards, defender plays 2 and it's more than the attacking cards, defender can take 2 cards. If the attacker plays 1 card, defender plays 2 and it's more than attacking cards, defender can take the 1 attacking card, and so on.
  • The defender can use a Joker to block any attack regardless of its suit or value
    • But they can't steal cards with it—it acts as an equal value and can only be played alone.

Among other things.

Anyway, I have the game page up here where I'll be keeping the rulebooks, and I'll update here when I make more changes after playtesting!


Oh yeah, so changes I've made already that help with the pacing of the game:

  • Not only can you not have more than one face card in your knight, your knight must also total 10 or more!
    • Because having a knight with all 2s or aces sucks! I may increase this at some point, because having all 3s would suck too!
  • You can attack with a Joker now!
    • Instead of dealing damage, you can swap armor cards of one suit with your opponent. HP remains the same though, so you've got to keep track of that.
  • If you have aces in your knight's armor, you get an attack bonus to compensate for being so weak.
    • Add 1 to your attack total for each ace in your armor!
Plus I added some optional rules that help speed up the game if you're in a rush to play:
  • If you choose not to attack on your turn and just draw a card, you take 1 damage!
  • After the deck has run out of cards and you re-shuffle the discard pile, hearts no longer heal!
Yay! Now I just have to playtest again tomorrow (my friend and I took an hour just going over the first set of rules!) and see how these additions work!

I was able to play 2 rounds with my friend today, and the rules I added yesterday definitely work! Notes from today's games:

  • The minimum knight HP needs to change to 13 (greater than 12) instead of 10.
    • That way you only way you can be killed on the first turn is if you are very unlucky and have no armor in one suit and your opponent plays a King or if your opponent is very lucky and gets all the face cards in their first hand.
    • Side note: The reason for this is that I played a knight with 10 HP for the first game and was killed on the first turn with a high attack. XD
  • Attacking with a Joker was a really cool optional mechanic. If you're at a disadvantage, it can really help turn the tables.
  • It's hard to remember your attack bonus when you have Aces in your armor, but I think it's still a good rule. That way if you remember, you really benefit, but it doesn't harm much if you forget.
  • We tried a new way to calculate HP that involved drawing more cards and that total was your HP, but that came out ridiculously unbalanced—I had 46 while he had 15!
    • He won anyway because he had a Joker the first turn and blocked my instakill move! XD That was amazing
All I'm changing about the rules today is this:
  1. Draw 10 cards as your hand during setup and pick your 4 cards to build your knight from those. The remaining 6 cards is your first hand
    • This is better because you have more cards to choose from while building your knight, plus you don't have to draw more cards.
  2. Your knight must have more than 12 HP.
We didn't play with the speed rules, but I'm pretty sure they're good as they are.

Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow after our next playtest! :D


Wow! This is a really unique approach to this game jam. It's really neat to see you creating a game with just rules and iterating with play testing! I'm learning about the Playcentric approach to creating games from Game Design Workshop so this is really relevant. I'm keeping an eye on this devlog and hope to play your game when it's finished. :D


Hey thanks! I figured I'd do something a little less ambitious for this jam since I work full time and don't have much time to actually develop stuff using software. I've never done it this way before, but iterating with playtesting has been a lot of fun! It turns out that it's a good way to make sure your game is fun and works well, too. :)

I hope you enjoy it when it's done! :D


Woo! So the rules work great! The only takeaway is that Aces are just plain awful to have in your hand.

Because of this, I'm changing some rules surrounding low cards:

  • instead of hearts healing you, the cards valued 1–3 heal you double their value. So Aces would heal 2, 2s would heal 4, and 3s would heal 6.
    • You can play multiples of the same suit as usual per turn (i.e., no combining suits for healing).
    • If you happen to have Ace–3 of the same suit and play all of them, you can double the total again, giving you 24 HP total!
    • This removes the power imbalance that Hearts had by making all suits viable healers instead of just one suit.
  • To follow the healing logic, I'm toying with the idea of giving Ace–3s an attack bonus in the armor as well, instead of just Aces, and instead of a universal attack bonus, it'd only power up attacks matching that suit.
    • 3s would give 1 attack bonus, 2s would give 2, Aces would give 3, and no armor for a suit would give 4, because not having armor for a suit really sucks a lot!
    • This has an unintended consequence of nerfing the Joker attack, because now instead of just swapping for potentially stronger armor, you could also swap for weaker armor just to get an attack bonus.
I have no idea if this will be good or bad, but we'll find out when I playtest again tomorrow! I'm afraid that these will change the game a lot and adds a lot that you need to remember as a player, but I think it changes things for the better because it adds another level of strategy and makes low cards useful.

I'll check back in tomorrow!


Alright, I've reached an exciting point in developing this game—it's "stable"!

My friend and I tested the changes I made yesterday, and all the rules work out really well! Giving the low cards a bonus plus making them heal provides a really interesting power balance. If you happen to have Ace–3 of one suit, that's great, but it goes to waste if your HP isn't low enough, but every turn that you're holding them prevents you from getting a super strong attack saved up!

I also specifically tested out the attack bonus on the low armor, and it works pretty well too. It's not too great an advantage that it breaks the game, but it really feels better knowing that you have compensation for having low/no armor if you're lucky enough to have the proper suit to use it while at the same time being a truly disadvantageous enough situation that (most) players wouldn't actively forego having armor just for the attack bonus.

My friend and I are going to try to play the game with some other friends over the weekend to see how the rules hold up against other people, but other than that, I'm calling this game done! I won't submit it until after we've been able to play a few more times, but I don't plan on making any more big changes—maybe just occasional little tweaks to improve situations we might have missed earlier.

Anyway, yeah! I do have the game page up at least, so if you're interested in checking it out in all its iterations before I submit it, here it is! :D