What I’m Aiming at with “Danger at the Walls”

Danger at the Walls, Main Deck Back, June 2014When I first started Danger at the Walls this past January, I wanted a quick-playing, 2-player battle game that just used cards.

Initially it was going to be 2 small decks — 1 for Red, 1 for Blue. Take your deck, shuffle, and try to capture enough of your opponent’s cards to win. Both players had ways to build their own walls, tear down the other’s walls, and capture the other’s cards. Since the decks were small, there was a lot of cycling through the cards in a way that didn’t require more shuffling. A sort of deck-depleter (as opposed to a deck-builder) with room for some clever power card combos. But, it didn’t really work. I mean, it worked mathematically, but there wasn’t much “there” there. So I actually decided to put it on hold sometime in April.

Then, in May, I had an idea pop into my head … Danger at the Walls, Castle Sketch, June 2014instead of a my-deck-vs-your-deck, castle-vs-castle game, what if there was just a single castle with 1 defender and 1 attacker? And, what if most of the cards were in a shared main deck with each player getting just a few special cards of their own?

I grew up on traditional card games, like Canasta, Cribbage, Sheepshead, Hearts, Uno, etc. I really like how quickly those games flow, and I wanted this game to have that sort of feel to it. But I also like games that allow for some sort of clever “gotcha” play — a special card, or combination of cards that changes the meaning of things in the game. I also wanted that to happen in this game as well.

So, the end result: A lighter, quicker, head-to-head filler game. There’s a lot of back-and-forth, take-that, and having to change your focus around to which of the 5 walls you are trying to have an impact on. I think it fits well sitting side-by-side with King of Danger, the light trick-taker I just released a couple months ago. And sits far across the room from the first Land of Danger game: Castle Danger, which is a heavier, perfect information, abstract strategy game.

Danger at the Walls, Prototype Card Examples, June 2014The cards in Danger at the Walls include Archers (basic weaker massed attack units) and Cannons (stronger, 1-per-wall, attack units) that have strength values. The player with the higher total strength values at a wall control it. There are also Attacks from both the Archers and Cannons that will remove your opponent’s cards. And, finally, each player has a unique set of 4 Leader cards to use. These cards have special abilities that allow the player to move cards around, change how strength is calculated at a wall, or have a negative impact on the opponent’s side of the wall.

In the print-and-play I specify what sort of feedback I’m looking for from those who have printed out the game and are testing it right now:

  1. Do each of the individual Leader cards work as-is? Are they balanced, or is one of them particularly useless or overly powerful?
  2. Is there a definite Blue or Red advantage? Does one set of 4 Leaders give a player an extreme advantage over the other?
  3. Does the end-game trigger work? Is there a distinct last-player advantage? Is being the first play to “go out” too strong so that the other player’s final turn is usually meaningless?

I’m trying to avoid “the big flaw” and make sure that each player has an equally likely chance to win, while providing a subtly different feel to playing as each of the sides.

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