Product of another sleepless night. Tentatively entitled ‘Monstrosity’. This is for a deck of 18 cards, which depict 1–6 of either velociraptors, shoggoths or zombies. The idea is that you’re a mad scientist who’s breeding these creatures up in your lab: except sometimes enemy scientists interfere, and they get loose and eat each other. I’ve tred it for two players, and I think it’d be worth trying for 3 as well (although with less cards to play it might turn out to be trivial, longer-term balance tactics might become more of a factor. Hmm, we’ll see.)
So you deal out all 18 cards between the players, who pick them up as a hand of 9 cards. Each player chooses one card and puts it face down in front of them. The cerature depicted on this card is their favourite kind of creature, which they will score more for at the end.
Play alternates. On your turn you must play a card from your hand, either (a) onto a face-up stack that accumulates in front of you, or (b) onto your opponent’s similar face-up stack. In either case you should place it so it covers the existing stack (so there is a memory element involved).
After all cards have been played from hand, you score. Each player spreads out their stack and adds up the total of each monster type. So you might have in your stack eg. 3V, 4S, 1Z, 4Z, 6V, 5V, 2S, 1S. That’s a total of 14V, 7S and 5Z. Reveal your face-down card, which hopefully was something like 1V. So your basic score is: your total for your favourite monster [14V in this case] minus (the difference between the other two [7S – 5Z = 2]) = 12.
(The thematic idea of this is: your favourite monsters are temporarily protected, so the other two kinds eat each other 1:1. Then any that are left eat some of your favourite monsters 1:1 before being eaten themselves.)
The slight wrinkle that I’m not sure about is: as well as the card you’ve placed face down designating your favourite kind of monster, its number could also designate a card that you’re allowed to ignore. So in this case, because you had a 1V stashed, you could ignore the 1S card, giving you a score of 13 rather than 12. The tactics element to this is that if you stash a large-valued card, it has more chance of rescuing a bad result, if you need a big swing. But as you don’t score for the stashed card, it’s removing more creatures of your favourite type from your total if you stash a big one. I’m not sure if this is really tactical depth: need to play it a lot to find out. Also, I don’t have a thematic explanation for this mechanism.
The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that this game could be played with ordinary playing-cards rather than monsters. But where’s the fun in that? (Where by ‘fun’ I mean ‘marketing value’.)