My company, Secret Cow Level, is currently developing the digital version of the collectible card game from the 90’s: Doomtrooper. Doomtrooper was a competitor for Magic the Gathering that had worldwide success with a base set plus 6 expansions in multiple languages. My friends and I loved the game and through some luck I was introduced to Cabinet Entertainment and got the opportunity to make this dream a reality. But I’ll tell that story later…
Earlier this year, we had the honor of traveling to Wisconsin to spend a week with Mr. Bryan Winter, designer of the game. We spent a week locked in a basement with every Doomtrooper card ever made, pads of paper and a whiteboard (and a really great cat named Lucky).
We knew starting out that although we loved the game it had some flaws and we saw this as our chance to try and fix them. Most of the first few updates I post for you guys will relate to the changes we’ve made so that we can get feedback. Nothing is set in stone and community feedback is very important to us at Secret Cow Level so I look forward to chatting with you guys about it in our Discord chat room. If you’re not on Discord, click the link below and come say hello!
The first change Bryan suggested was the card types. In the 90’s it was important to introduce a new card type every time an expansion came out. This made players excited to get something new and cool but it caused a little bit of “card bloat” and “cognitive fatigue” where the player had A LOT of rules to keep up with. Personally this was most evident to me in the need to have a NOTED COLLECTOR in play to even use a RELIC card from Inquisition (and why it was dropped in a later edition of the rules).
He had some ideas and he ran them by us and we discussed it at great length and realized we could simplify the card types in a way that made it easier for players to understand the game. I’ll let Bryan explain in his own words:
The rebirth of Doomtrooper provided us with a unique opportunity to visit every aspect of the game with a critical eye. The original evolution of Doomtrooper was an organic process. New card types were added to embrace the thematic concepts of expansions. At the same time, existing card types shifted in purpose, or expanded in scope.
It was clear that the game suffered from “card type bloat.” Many types of cards were effectively the same, but with only subtle thematic and mechanical differences. For example, Art, Dark Symmetry, and Ki cards were basically the same, with only slight mechanical variations based on when and how they were played. Instead of having three sets of nearly-identical rules, we decided to merge them into a new card type: Powers. One set of rules with a few variations based on faction and keyword.
In the end, the various Doomtrooper cards and types were reorganized into the following logical categories:
Warriors: combatants on the battlefield
Attachments: cards that are given to warriors (Equipment, Conditions)
Support: cards that are attached to the battlefield itself (Fortifications, Vehicles), and cards that represent the forces the affect the battle (Influences)
Powers: cards that represent mystical effects (Art, Dark Symmetry, Ki)
Fate: card effects that don’t fit the above categories, such as combat modifiers and special events.
In making these adjustments, we were able to streamline the rules while at the same time open the game up to new thematic shifts without having to add new rules and card types. Fewer, more generic categories allow us more freedom to design.
And the fruit of these labors? Easy. The game has never been better.
We’ve done some playtesting with the new set of rules in physical form as well as early builds of our alpha and very much agree with Bryan’s assessment. The game is easier to understand and more approachable for new players to learn.
What about your favorite card types that aren’t shown above like Relics, Warzones and Missions? Don’t worry, they’re all on the whiteboard as well but I’ll have to save something for a future blog post. :)
We have a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Discord Chat Room setup. It really helps us to get followers on social media! And you get to be first to hear about new developments on the game. And if you haven’t already, be sure to visit our website to sign up for our mailing list for future beta access.
I’d love to know what you think! Until next time, friends!