Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Making alpha mutation decks through a card draft

The alpha mutation cards in Gamma World are a pretty fun. After every encounter, or if a player rolls a 1 on a d20, the player draws a new mutation card to replace the one in his hand (or had used). Other environmental effects can also cause a player to draw a new card. It can be a lot of fun using this mechanic, however the player is totally at the whim of cards in the GM deck. To get around this, a player could assemble his own personal deck of cards. This might be desired if a character is going after a certain theme of mutations for RP reasons, or just prefers powers that would work off a specific stat.

I imagine WotC would then love the player to go out and purchase several booster card packs to create their own personal deck of cards. Good marketing there. An optional part of the game, but the diehard player may just decide to jump in an buy a ton of cards to get a little more control on his mutation draws. A workaround for this however is using a mechanic in many boardgames and other card games, a card draft.

Out of the box, Gamma World has 44 mutation cards (40 in the deck and 4 from an included booster pack). Staying with the 7 card minimum deck, you can have 6 players each having their own personal alpha mutation deck without having buy any additional booster packs. You generate these decks by dealing out all the cards, each player selects a card they want, passing the excess to another player.

As a step by step example:

1. Deal out all the cards - Some players will end up with extra cards, don’t worry about this. However you could always have all the players roll off, with the highest roll (resolving ties) being the first player dealt.

2. Each player selects a single card - Each player goes through all the cards in their hand, and selects one card they want to keep. They set that card aside for their deck.

3. Pass the remaining cards - Each player then passes the remaining cards to the player on their left.

Repeat steps 2-3 until a deck of 7 cards is made for each player.

Each player will eventually have 7 cards they have set aside. This is their deck for the night’s game. The remaining cards are given to the GM as his mutation deck.

I like having the excess cards given to the GM to allow for alpha flux mutations from other weird sources. If a player runs out of alpha cards in his deck he can draw from the GM deck. If you want a little more structured game, when a player runs out of cards allow them to reshuffle their discard pile and place it face down to make a new draw deck.

You can do a card draft for omega tech cards, but I prefer keeping them as a single GM deck. Yet instead of handing out a specified card to each player individually, deal the cards in a single pile face up on the table. Allow the players to barter, argue, or agree (boooooorrrring) on which card they will take. This way there is a little control the players have in choosing what tech card they want, but it is still a random draw. I like this better than giving the players a chance to draw from their own stacked omega tech deck.

If you have players complaining about the wildness of alpha mutation cards, and want to give them a little more control with the types they get, consider using a card draft. You get a pretty good selection right out of the box and can accommodate quite a few players at the table.