CCGaDay Day 18: Favorite game mechanic

This one might be the easiest thus far - if there's a single mechanic that is brilliant and could only be done in CCGs, And I mentioned it back in day 10. Even though I played so little of either of the games it was used in, my favorite CCG mechanic is easily the Force mechanic from Star Wars (and later just WARS).

Here's how it worked: Take your draw deck. When you get mana/energy/credits/whatevs, move that many cards from the top of your deck to an active pile. When you spend it, move it from the active pile to the used pile. Used pile goes back under your deck, and at the end of your turn you can draw whatever is left in the active pile to your hand, or leave it there as banked for next turn. Your used pile goes back under the deck. When you take damage, cards get taken out of the circulation into a separate dead pile (and when you gained life, you pulled cards back out of that pile). If you run out of cards, you're dead.

What I love about it is that it's simultaneous a life counter, a mana counter, and a draw mechanic. Your deck is literally your life. Your play and draw mechanics are effectively tied together (or if you prefer, you have an end of turn "pay 1 to draw a card" mechanic). You're constantly working through your deck, and if you're tricksy enough you can manipulate your card draws by being fussy about how much you activate and spend in a turn. And best of all, there's zero book-keeping to go with it. Your life is the number of cards you have in circulation. Your "mana" is how many cards are in that pile. And damage hurts in a visceral way, as parts of your deck get knocked out of rotation. (I'm glossing over some details on how you determine how much energy you get, and taking damage, but I think you could run this mechanic a few different ways besides the way Wars did it, and it's largely incidental to the core mechanic). The only drawback to this mechanic is that since your deck is literally your life total, deck sizes have to be strictly locked down.

Now, flavor-wise this is perfect for Star Wars (the force flows through us and so on), but I've always thought it would work well in a lot of different games (and the current trend/fad of "deck building games" would tend to support that theory). So, don't be surprised if I appropriate some version of it for a game some day...

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