If you’re reading this, chances are you’re at least a casual board game fan and have spent many an evening playing cards, rolling dice, and generally enjoying the hobby. We don’t always get to see what goes in to designing the games we play, from the first sparks of an idea to the completed product on our table. Over a three-part series, we’ll be bringing you a look at the designers’ journals for the recently released Looterz. Looterz is an exciting, fast, strategic card game from CMON and Spaghetti Western Games. Looterz had a long journey before reaching US stores. Now, Marco Portugal and Fel Barros will give you a behind the scenes look at the entire design process.
Part I: The Beginning
Hello, my name is Marco Portugal I am one of the designers of Looterz, and I will tell you a little about the game's creation. Looterz was originally designed to be shown at a local game fair. I did a pencil and paper prototype, and after a couple of playtest sessions with my friends, an early version of the game was born. This was a very big deal for me because, as with most first timers, I usually have a lot of ideas that don’t get fully developed. Having the strong outline of a game was a step in the right direction. At the time, I had this lame generic name: "Battle of Gods."
Where did it come from?
I am a huge Magic: The Gathering (MTG) fan. I still play Legacy and older formats, and I love to look up stranger, fan-made formats in forums. One of them is called DC10, where players share a single pile of cards. The idea is very simple: You can play any card ignoring its costs, but you can only play one card per turn. Usually, the cards are very powerful, and you are able to make strong plays every time. With that in mind, “Battle of Gods” (did I mention the name is awful?) was born.
The goal was a small, simple, card game where you are able to do powerful effects and have a very rewarding experience.
Of course, the game was born with way more rules than it should have had. I had two types of cards, sorceries (which had a powerful one-time effect) and monsters (three stats, one for attacking, one for going after victory points, and one for their health). It differentiated itself from DC10 where you had the goal of being the last man standing. In this game, the goal was to reach 10 victory points. Some of the spells were reactions that had to be cast at certain times (later I realized how hard it is to make a game simple for non-MTG players with time restrictions). I used a simple dice system for different types of actions. I also followed the MTG system for attacking: You attack once per turn, and you can't attack the turn a card enters play.
The first few playtesting sessions went really well; not in the sense that people were enjoying it (usually close friends will be biased because they want to support your game), but I could see a working flow in the game. For me, it was only a matter of finding the right mix of cards.
It was around this point that I met Fel.
Hi, I’m Fel, and this the story of how I got involved with Looterz. I was demoing my first game, “Warzoo,” a simple card game. Marco showed up, played a couple of rounds and said he wanted to show me a game he created based on an MTG format. My first thought was "great, another derivative MTG game." Then I tried it.
The first design was completely broken. The game just wasn’t ready. However, I could see the potential, and I wanted in. There is something I learned from this: Sometimes you have to take a chance on a game. If you feel something has a good engine, but is not quite there, it’s worth sticking it out. Marco had all the pieces in place for a great game: simple ruleset, engaging experience, and a playtime that could be trimmed down. After some discussion, we were good to go.
I asked him to co-design, and we started a very nice partnership. One of the key points when working with someone else is to leave your ego out of it. Marco knew his 'baby' needed some trimming, and we agreed on the following directives:
Stay tuned to CMON.com for Part II of the Looterz Dev Diary series. As the game starts to take shape, the designers start to grapple with numbers and the abilities on the cards. The second installment will come out this Wednesday, October 19th.