Hey everyone! It’s Francesco Rugerfred Sedda and Alexio Schneeberger with another design diary (You can check out the first four here, here, here, and here). During the game’s first design iteration, we really wanted to represent conflict in a way that properly represents the variety of options that is present with the setting. Guns and other weapons used by gangs are only a starting point, but we know there’s more to just guns in a fight when you’re in Night City. Quickhacks and Cyberware were absolutely mandatory.
This was how the Combat cards came about. We wanted a dynamic conflict system and cards were perfect, component-wise. They allowed for bluffing, where opponents never know which tool of destruction you’ll bring to the fight, and an arsenal can be managed as a hand of options.
So, what does a Combat card consist of? Each card has a Firepower value, which basically represents how much destruction it brings to the fight. There’s also a condition that, if satisfied, will grant you Street Cred, basically representing that you did something really cool and with style during the firefight. In addition, Combat Upgrade cards also have an effect that will be triggered during the Firefight and that may grant you perks, change firefight rules, and more depending on the card.
Each player starts with the same 4 starting Combat cards. During the game, they can upgrade their cards by accessing the Combat Upgrade deck. Not only is each upgrade card unique and kept secret until you use it, but it permanently replaces a card in your hand with something better. Upgrading your combat cards will allow you to personalize your arsenal and change how your gang approaches Firefights. There’s also a nice element of surprise the first time an upgraded card gets used in combat!
Gameplay-wise, the upgrade system might remind you of deckbuilding mechanics, but we want to be clear that this is not a deckbuilding game. It is simply a mechanic we wanted to fit within our mechanical ecosystem and ended up with a streamlined sort of “upgrade your cards by replacing them” system.
You will also never deal with shuffling your Combat deck. When you use a Combat card, it is placed face up in your public discard area. When you play your last Combat card, you take them all back into your hand.
The Firefight itself will also have two types of outcomes at the same time: killing opposing units and gaining Street Cred. One can happen without the other and you don’t need to be the victor for either to happen for you. This makes each conflict unique not only in approach, but in what you want to achieve. Finally, we can assure you that the entire conflict system is both fast to resolve and adaptable to multiple situations, from gang-versus-gang conflicts to multiple free-for-all chaotic fights.
We revamped the Firefight rules and components multiple times during development, ending up with a system that not only works for 1v1 and free-for-all conflicts, but also does not require additional complex math. There’s no “add numbers from here and here,” “multiply by this,” or “subtract this from that and then divide, rounded down,” etc.
We are confident that the unique conflict system we’ve created for Cyberpunk 2077: Gangs of Night City is a smooth and dynamic one. You and the other gangs may start off with the same tools, but you will build a unique set of Combat cards through the game, giving you an approach to conflict that is completely unique to you.