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Back To The Drawing Board: Star Trek CCG

Preparing the last (haha!) game design iteration of Pinned Down prior to alpha release, I’m revisiting some older trading card games I’ve played. I was wondering: “What’s been so damn much fun about them?”

Take, for instance, the Star Trek Customizable Card Game by Decipher.

Star Trek CCG

Two players compete with each other for a simple goal: Gaining 100 points. They prepare the “board” in an initial seed phase by alternately placing missions on the table. These missions form the spaceline which will be traveled by both players’ ships, in order to solve these missions and score points. Missions are solved by bringing away teams with the matching skills. The opposition is made up by seeding dilemmas below opponent missions, trying to gain time.

Star Trek CCG Spaceline

When the game became more popular, new races (or affiliations) of the Star Trek universe were added, and so were new ways of winning the game. The Dominion tries to gain a foothold in the Alpha quadrant, while the Borg may assimilate full planets, for example.

Establish Dominion Foothold

If you’re interested in the deck lists, this is my Dominion tournament deck from about 10 years ago, and my fun Borg deck that challenged it. Guess who won? ;)

DOMINION BORG
Seed Deck Seed Deck
Dilemmas

Abandon Ship!
Ankari “Spirits”
Chula: The Chandra (x2)
Firestorm
Harvester Virus
Hyper-Aging
Implication
In The Pale Moonlight
Kazon Bomb
Lack of Preparation
Make Us Go
No Loose Ends
Primitive Culture
Shot In The Back
Subspace Fracture
“Subspace Seaweed”
Talosian Cage
Unscientific Method
Vole Infestation

Dilemmas

Aphasia Device
Balancing Act
Borg Ship
Crystalline Entity
Dangerous Liaisons
Dead End
Firestorm
Friendly Fire
Hippocratic Oath
Implication
Kazon Bomb (x2)
Lack of Preparation
Maglock
Navigational Hazards
Primitive Culture (x2)
Sabotaged Negotiations
Scout Encounter
Shot In The Back (x2)
Spatial Rift
Surprise Assault

Doorways

Battle Bridge Door
Q’s Tent
Spacedoor

Doorways

Transwarp Network Gateway

Events

Dominion War Efforts

Facilities

Primary Supply Depot
The Great Link

Facilities

Borg Outpost
Transwarp Hub

Incidents

Ultimatum

Missions

Betazed Invasion
Construct Depot
Impose Order
Intelligence Operation
Protect Shipment
Rescue Founder

Missions

Acquire Technology
Ambush Ship
Combat Training
Restock Supplies
Return Life-form
Study Interment Site

Objectives

Assign Support Personnel
HQ: Secure Homeworld
Establish Dominion Foothold

Objectives

Assimilate Counterpart
Assimilate Homeworld
Assimilate Planet
Assimilate Starship

Draw Deck  Draw Deck
Doorways

Bajoran Wormhole (x3)

Equipment

Kar’takin (x2)
Ketracel-White (x2)
Jem’Hadar Disruptor (x2)

Equipment

Borg Data Node

Events

Res-Q (x2)
The Traveler: Transcendence

Events

Activate Subcommands (x4)
Cranial Transceiver Implant
Retask

Incidents

Cortical Node Implant

Interrupts

Amanda Rogers
Deactivation
Disruptor Overload
Escape Pod
Full Planet Scan
Kevin Uxbridge
Nanoprobe Resuscitation (x3)
Palor Toff – Alien Trader (x3)
Scan
The Power

Interrupts

A Change of Plans (x2)
Adapt: Negate Obstruction (x3)
Awaken (x4)

Objectives

Defend Homeworld

Objectives

Assimilate Planet
Establish Gateway (x2)

Personnel

Amat’igan
Amet’alox
Arak’Taral
Bashir Founder
Borath
Eris (x3)
Founder (x2)
Founder Leader
Goran’Agar
Gurat’urak (x2)
Hanok
Keevan
Kilana
Kira Founder
Koret’alak
Leyton Founder
Lovok Founder
Limara’Son
Makla’Gor
Martok Founder
Meso’Clan
O’Brien Founder
Remata’Klan
Talak’talan
Temo’Zuma
Virak’kara
Weyoun
Yak’Talon

Personnel

Borg Queen
Eight of Fifteen
Eight of Nineteen
Eighteen of Nineteen
Eleven of Eighteen
Eleven of Nineteen (x4)
Eleven of Twelve
Fifth
Fifteen of Seventeen
First
Five of Eleven
Four of Eleven
Four of Nine
Nine of Eleven (x4)
Nine of Fifteen
Nine of Twelve
One of Eleven
Seventeen of Eighteen
Six of Eleven
Six of Nineteen
Six of Seventeen
Six of Thirteen
Six of Twelve
Sixteen of Nineteen
Ten of Nineteen
Third of Five
Three of Nineteen
Two of Eleven
Two of Nineteen
Two of Seventeen
Two of Twelve

Ships

Dominion Battleship

Ships

Borg Cube
Borg Scout Vessel
Borg Tactical Cube

Battle Bridge Side Deck

Attack Wing (x2)
Phased Polaron Beam (x3)
Target Engines (x2)

Q’s Tent Side Deck

75th Rule of Acquisition
Azet’izan
Dominion Padd
Invasive Beam-In
Jem’Hadar Disruptor
Jem’Hadar Disruptor Rifle
Jem’Hadar Sacrifice
Kar’Takin
Ketracel-White
Plasmadyne Relay
Remote Supply Depot
Temo’Zuma
Varat’idan

Pinned Down Relaunch

Hey everybody. Yeah, it’s me. You might remember me, from about three years ago. These three years have been full of ups and downs, in both personal and business ways. I’ve found the girl of my life, and lost her again. I’ve ascended to the Lead Programmer of Daedalic Entertainment, and left. I’ve co-founded the small games company Slash Games with Christian, and that’s still where I am.

However, if you’ve found your way here, chances are that you’re interested in the current state of Pinned Down, a cooperative trading card game I started developing back in 2011.

Yes, it’s still there. And no, it’s not finished yet ;) But don’t worry, I’m gonna put you back on track.

The development of the online version of Pinned Down is proceeding, more than ever. You might have seen the first gameplay video I shot a few months ago, and there’s a new one coming soon. I’ve shifted away from using the Unity engine for creating the game, building it in native C++ now. The reason for this is simply that I’m using Unity every single day, and I really felt that I wanted to close that gap in my programming skills, helping me to understand the technical details of games and game engines even better.

Pinned Down Client

And there’s been a relaunch of this site, as well. Apart from the new, fresh look, I’ve reviewed all previous posts, updating all dead links I could find. I’ve closed the forums for the moment. Oh, and I trashed like 1.5k spam comments and 400 e-mails, so if you’ve tried to get in touch with me, please don’t be angry – this won’t happen again!

But most importantly, there’s going to be a major gameplay update. Inspired by the simplicity of Blizzard’s Hearthstone, and referring to everything I’ve learned from game design books and experience in the past few years, I’m going to remove some rules, cards, and even card types, focusing even more on the very core of Pinned Down: Cooperative gameplay and interesting decisions. The new rules and cards will be live soon at the new Pinned Down Wiki.

Until I’m finished with that, the card list of the Premiere Edition has been removed from the site, and so have the card list and deck editor tools – but you can still access everything at GitHub. The revised cards will be revealed step by step, so stay tuned for future updates.

Glad to see you back! Merry Christmas :)

Playtesting Reloaded

Hey folks! While I’m still working on the first browser version of the game, there’s been another playtesting session recently.

As it turned out, the assignment rules are unnecessary complicated in case the number of enemy ships exceeds the number of player ships: Keeping in mind the possibility of enemies joining fights with the least total enemy power for all possible assignments is just not feasible… Now, the remaining enemy ships are assigned by the players, too, but they mustn’t be assigned to any fights the players are already overwhelmed in. This prevents them from just sacrificing one ship per turn in order to avoid all battles. I updated the rulebook accordingly.

Furthermore, it feels a little strange to attach all cards like Plasma Leak on the table to a single ship losing a fight. We decided that just of them is attached now per lost fight, player’s choice. Maybe I’m gonna find some fancy keyword for that.

Don’t forget to drop by at the forums whenever you have an idea for a similar improvement!

Pinned Down: Aftermath Announced!

Hey everybody! I really want to thank everybody that remained loyal to me in the past weeks. Having spent much time on the Google Ants AI Challenge and on my master thesis, a host of new ideas came to my mind, and fortunately I took the time to write them all down – for this very moment.

With the success of the Premiere Edition of Pinned Down, I’m proud to announce the second edition called Aftermath! In Aftermath, humanity managed to survive the relentless attacks and to find a save harbour to respire and regroup. Now it is time to prepare the fleet for striking back. Stay tuned for many new characters, starships and effects as well as interesting new gameplay mechanics:

  • New game mode. Face an enemy capital ship and concentrate your fire on its comm array, shield generators, weapon systens or reactor core.
  • Starfighters. Starships with fighter bays will be able to carry and launch Interceptors, Bombers and Space Superiority fighters.
  • Enemy patrols. Enemy starships that are flipped if the players exceed a certain threat value, increasing their power.
  • Captain’s Order. Unique effects, one per player.
  • Admiral’s Order. Unique effects, one per team.

Again, this is a lot of work, but I promise to keep you up-to-date on this one. Thank you once more folks – you’re great!

Deck Editor Released

Yay, I’ve finished the initial version of the Pinned Down Deck Editor! You can use that tool for constructing your own deck and displaying detailed information like the average card cost. The starter deck lists are included for your convenience.

Again, the initial version is a very basic one; more functions are to come in future releases:

  • remembering which file is currently being edited
  • undo and redo
  • printing deck lists

Now that everything is put in place, I’ll start planning the online version of Pinned Down! This is gonna take quite a while, but I’m gonna keep you up-to-date. Stay tuned!

To Jump Or Not To Jump

In a recent playtesting session one of the players pointed out that picking locations with higher distances has two benefits: First, you could be able to reach your destination in fewer turns – which makes the game easier, of course. Second, as location threat is added on a per-location basis, not depending on the distance of the locations, you even have to face less enemies in these turns!

This is most likely to be changed in a rules update soon, along with some timing rules that confused new players.

Premiere Edition Card List Live

The card list of the Premiere Edition is now live! Feel free to browse it and follow its links to the card images, or to download and open it with the Card List Editor. The list is included with the latest version of the editor for convenience.

Next I’m gonna write a tool that takes a given card list and enables you to build and customize your deck. Stay tuned for further updates on that!

Card List Editor Learned How To Sort

Having worked a bit with the Card List Editor, I found some annoying things that I definitely needed to fix: First, adding a new card or editing an existing one no longer causes the whole list to be refreshed. Second, even if the list has to be refreshed, i.e. you’re loading a new card list, a progress bar is shown indicating how long it’s gonna take. Third, the tool now provides a function for automatically sorting the list and assigning new indices to all cards.

Check out the forums for a full list of changes, and download version 1.1 now!

Pinned Down Forums Live

I’ve just finished setting up the Pinned Down forums! Feel free to share your experience immediately: Which cards seem to be over- or underpowered? Which decks run exceptionally well? Which features or mechanics do you miss? Are there any severe problems with the editor, or do you want to suggest some improvements?

Dive right in and help me out with finding a name for the enemy race and revamping the cloaking mechanism!

In order to allow you to customize and share your deck in an easier way, I want to write a tool that takes a given card list and enables you to build and customize your own deck next.