The Deck Building Mechanic

Today I’m writing about the deck building mechanic of Witches & Warlocks. If you’re already familiar with the core concept of a deck building game you can skip the next section. Everyone else might be thinking,

What The Heck is a Deck Building Mechanic?

In a traditional trading/collectible card game players spend time building a deck of cards before playing the game. So, each player starts the game with radically different, pre-built decks of cards. However, in a “deck building game” all players typically start a game with a small number of identical cards. During the game players improve their decks by acquiring various new, more powerful cards, and possibly removing old cards. This mechanic was first popularized by Dominion, an award winning table-top card game that relied heavily on the mechanic.

The Advantages

The most interesting advantage of this mechanic is the players’ increased ability to react to an opponent’s strategy. Here’s a quick example: you notice that your opponent has acquired some powerful “armor piercing” cards, and they are attacking you. Until now, you were planning to acquire some strong “armor” cards for defense. However, now you know this would be futile; you instead pick up some “evasion” cards which should be more effective against their attacks. Imagine how this would have played out in a traditional card game: you brought a deck that was heavy in armor, and your opponent brought a deck that destroys armor. The outcome of the game is almost assuredly predetermined; before you played your first card, you lost.

Introducing The Vault

Witches & Warlocks takes an interesting approach to deck building that retains the advantages of the mechanic while still giving the player some control over their decks before the game begins. Every player begins with the same ten cards: seven Energy cards, and three simple spell cards. The energy cards are used to start acquiring more interesting cards from the Vault. The vault contains a combination of common cards that all players share (the Library), and unique cards that players bring to the game before they start (the Grimoire).

The Library

This area is comprised of common cards that every player can acquire. Basic runes, spells, and scrolls are acuired by spending their energy cost. All cards in the Library are available to all players.

The Grimoire

Before the game, players preselect a range of cards to acuire during the game. These cards will typically be more nuanced than the common cards in the Library. They are grouped by energy cost and stacked face-down in the Vault to form the Grimoire. Each round, a card is drawn from each stack and presented to the player. Just like the common cards in the Library, the player can spend energy cards to acquire cards from the Grimoire. However, every player’s Grimoire cards are private, and can only be acquired by that player.