Game Development - Spar Redux Part 2

Things I Learned from Version 3.0
There certainly feels like there is more thinking involved. When you start getting closer to the Chi Level and have multiple options to play, you'll start trying to play the lowest card possible without going over since it will force the other player to waste one of their high cards (if they have one) or take the hit (you get a point).

An issue I'm facing is that it's still the best strategy to play the highest cards available as long as the Chi Level is low enough.

Version 4.0 (v105)
I was considering changing the amount of Chi Level, but I don't think that'd effectively fix the issue since you'd still have opportunities to use the "high card strategy" until you get to (Chi Level - Highest Value Card + 1).

I'm thinking of changing Chi Level's purpose a little bit. Players can basically play ANY card that they want. However, if you play a card that's less than the current card in play, then you take the difference and subtract it from the Chi Level. So if the current card in play is a 5 and you play a 3, then you take 2 from the Chi Level. Whoever makes the Chi Level reach 0 or below will take a hit.

They still have to play pairs if Double Fist has been enabled.

This doesn't completely solve the "always play high cards" strategy, but it certainly provides more opportunities for a player to counter if they don't have a high card to play. The definition of a "bad hand" is less unbalanced.

Another thing I may try is that instead of a global Chi Level, each player has one. Whenever you have to play a card that's less than the current value, the difference is applied to your Chi Level. If your Chi Level hits 0, then you take the hit and the opponent scores the point and everything resets. I'd probably need to keep that Chi Level low though. Like a 7.

Things I Learned from V4.0
I couldn't figure out why someone would decide to lower the Chi Level vs discarding cards. In the case where a player didn't take a hit for lowering the Chi Level, why wouldn't a player just always do that when the opponent played a high card? In the case of taking a hit by either lowering the Chi Level or discarding cards, why would a player ever discard cards? It almost felt like a positive since they likely only got to that situation because they didn't have high cards to begin with.

Version 5.0 (v106)
I'm thinking of removing the Discard ability altogether. Players always play a card or pairs. Anytime a player plays a card that's lower than the current card in play, they take the hit, they discard card(s), and the Chi Level is lowered. For thematic purposes, I'm going to rename "Chi Level" to something like "World Integrity". You know how in Dragonball Z or the Superman reboot where they basically destroy the world because their fighting is so powerful? That's what that is supposed to be. Keep fighting until the world explodes. When the world explodes you tally up your points.

I'm also putting back in the 1 card being the only card higher than the 7.

Does this curb the playing the highest card strategy? Maybe the points score from a hit is equal to the difference. So if the player plays a 7 and the opponent plays a 5, the player scores 2 points and the Level Integrity suffers 2 points of damage.

Version 5.0b (v106)
Scratch that. The game is tacking on "innovative rules" to tackle the issues I'm seeing with the game.

- There is no real risk playing high cards as your strategy because not only is there a higher chance of it being successful, you still get to draw another card after you play it. While that card may not be the same, you still have a chance to replenish your high card with another.
- A player who has to pass has now communicated that they can't beat the card that was just played. The opponent now knows they can keep playing cards of that value to score points and the player has no real opportunity to fix that. Having the player draw new cards when they get hit (i.e. pass) can help this somewhat, but the opponent is also drawing cards every time they play one. Again, this isn't a 1:1 relation, but risk is mitigated for the opponent once the weakness of the player is exposed. The same applies the other way around.
- I still think having the cards keep their value (i.e. a 7 really is better than a 5) is important. I just want it to have some kind of averse affect so you can't bulldoze another player with a high card strategy.

Then it makes me ask the question:
- How do you encourage a player to even want to play low cards? They're just trash cards that take up space in your hand.

That's when I thought about games I enjoy like Uno and Deuces. The point of those games is to get rid of all of your cards to win. Perhaps this would fix some of the issues I see.

Old rules I'm keeping:
- Players are given 5 cards for their hand.
- Players can only play a card if it's equal to or higher than the current card in play.
- A 1 is the only card that can beat a 7 (or whatever the highest card is).
- Double Fist rules still apply.

New rules:
- A player does not draw a new card after they play a valid one.
- A player only draws a card if they pass and cannot play a valid card. That's their turn.
- A player scores a point if they discard all of their cards.

Now to code this up!