Kingdoms of Immacus: Player Elimination Vs. Victory Points
When I started making Kingdoms of Immacus, it was a pretty standard card game with some fun extra elements added in. The "Hero" acted as the damageable player, and once a Hero was destroyed, the player lost. The Hero was also able to cast spells and influence the battlefield, which made them an active participant of the game. The problem I found in the early play test sessions is that players would just wipe the board clean and then target the Hero without any real threat from it as it didn't have an active attack stat. Hero spells weren't really used, and the Hero played like an afterthought.
I made some changes to the Hero, which made it too involved. After looking at what was going on in the game I realized it wasn't so much the Hero that needed to be altered, but the win goal of the game. I decided to ditch player elimination and move to the Euro style board game concept of victory points. With the extra mechanics in my game, the victory points blended beautifully. I personally have never played a card game with victory points, but it just works so well. All the players have the opportunity to make a comeback and I themed the victory points to play into the mechanisms in the game. The primary complaint I've read about them is they seem arbitrary and can feel superficial. With that being said, My victory points are called Dominance Tokens, and they represent a Kingdom reaching a level of dominance that forces a rival Kingdom to concede. Players need 15 to win with a max of five of a particular type. Each one plays into mechanics in the game so players feel rewarded for exploring the game mechanics.
Brutality tokens are obtained by killing the opponent's Hero or silver rarity followers. Players are awarded four Brutality Tokens for killing a Hero and one token for killing a silver rarity follower. This encourages a player to go for the Hero and rare mobs that can cause trouble in mid to late game.
Calamity Tokens are awarded for destroying an opponent's buildings. Two Calamity Tokens are given for each building destroyed. These encourage a player to attack buildings and not let their abilities run amok on the battlefield.
Expandability Tokens are awarded for building an eligible building. Since they are the easiest to get, they award one token per eligible building built. These encourage players to explore buildings and their versatility of effects on the battlefield.
Ingenuity Tokens are awarded by turning in five storable resource with a limit of one per turn. Each turn in awards one token. This allows for resource savvy players to cash in on proper resource management.
These are awarded for conquering a player's Principality (resource generating cards). Players are able to place their followers on Principalities in an attempt to conquer them. If the opposing player does not kill the follower by the end of their turn, a disloyalty point is placed on the Principality. Once the Principality has its max disloyalty points on it, the Principality then belongs to the conqueror along with Sovereignty Tokens equal to disloyalty tokens on it (common Principalities award three tokens). This encourages players to gain control of additional resource producing cards and cripple an opponent since Principalities are finite at a current max of nine. It is also a nice way to change the way creatures interact with the battlefield with smaller followers able to do greater damage to a player than by attacking them.
So this is the crux of my game, and so far it has withstood play testing over and over again. Players seem to be engaged in each mechanism the Dominance Points target, and players are never trapped into one strategy. If building destruction seems out of reach, players can swap to a resource or sovereignty strategy. I'm happy I made the change from player elimination to victory points and I hope it continues to play well.