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  • each student needs an 8-sided die (or 8 tokens) to track health and starts with four random characters and three random items – just shuffle a bunch together for this purpose (for 16 students, that's 64 character cards and 48 item cards) but leave most stacked up in piles for the design exercise
  • this game is good to demo with two students doing a duel as the instructor explains how to play:
    • shuffle your seven cards, draw two
    • two actions per turn (except on the first turn, the first player gets one action to nullify first-mover advantage) – actions are draw a card, play a card into one of three "lanes" between the players (first card always goes in middle lane), or use a card special ability
    • after actions, attacking is automatic, kids go into combat, attacking the opposing kid in a lane – unless they were played that turn, in which case they have "summoning sickness"
    • if attack >= defense, defending kid dies and is removed; attacks are simultaneous so both kids can kill each other at once this way; if there's no defending kid, attack amount is applied to opponent's HP die/tokens
    • first HP lowered to 1 loses; or, if both players take no actions on a turn and cause no damage, game ends and player with higher HP wins
  • after the demo everyone duels a partner with their random cards
  • now, the assignment: in pairs, students must come up with a costing scheme for all the cards in the game. they fill out the blank sheets with cards listed in the left column, and have to arrive at a final "point cost" for each card. For deck design (as opposed to random decks) players must have exactly seven cards and no more than 100 points. How many points on average per card, you might ask them? (100 divided by 7 is around 14.3)
  • what might they consider in costing cards?
    • which cards are more powerful
    • which have more broadly applicable heuristics ("useful in more situations" vs "special-casey / situational")
    • deck design principles – what kind of mix of cards do you think is good?
    • "broken" decks – are there combos of cards that are too good or too weak? how would you set point costs to prevent them?
  • show how you might use excel for this game, creating a table with stats for multiple cards
    • which cards can usefully be compared to each other?
    • why to use excel: easy to add up, find averages, count how many cards of a certain kind or over/under a certain range
  • after they cost their decks, discuss how we might test the decks to see if they're balanced
    • against a vanilla deck? what would be in that deck?
    • recording data? what would you record?
  • each pair plays against another pair – the catch: they use the other group's costing scheme to try and design a winning deck. Then battle.
  • after everyone has done one duel, discuss whether there were "exploitable" costing schemes, whether anyone found "loopholes" or unexpected strategies, etc.

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