There have been three different incarnations of “the Combat Deck” - it is now a central part of Colossal Kaiju Combat: The Collectible Card Game. But because there is still a lot of information floating around out there about the old incarnations, we're providing a history here for those that like to read about such things.
At the end of 2012, Sunstone Games ran a successful kickstarter which included, among other things, the opportunity for 50 people to develop original monsters with Matt Frank and Simon Strange. This was by far our most popular reward, and the 50 slots filled up quickly. People loved the monsters being revealed on “Monster Mondays” - and many people wanted to participate in the process!
But these collaborations took a long time, more than a year for those first 50. So we knew that it wasn't feasible or possible to accommodate everybody. But it was such a popular idea that we decided to at least give the opportunity to a few people. Our idea was to have a community vote - selecting ~7 monsters from those submitted. We figured we could hold a vote every 6-9 months, and in that way bring on about 15 people a year, which we figured was a sustainable rate.
But something crazy happened in that first round of submissions - we had nearly One Thousand people submit monster ideas! It was far, far too many people for 7 winners to feel like any sort of real success. But we knew that accepting more than that would just bury us under an unending mountain of character collaborations. (Which would be great if that were our business, but we were hoping to get at least a little time to make this video game that we'd promised…)
So we came up with an intermediary solution - Monster Trading Cards! We could have ~50 winners instead of 7, and then have a second vote to choose 7 winners (which we later increased to 9) from those initial 50. That made the odds of winning much higher, and gave people more hope. The community loved this idea, and we hired an artist (The amazing Frankie B. Washington) to get started on the set.
As the cards were in production, we got a lot of questions about them. One of the frequent questions was “can we play with them?” Which wasn't part of our original concept, but once it had been suggested we saw right away how the character cards could be used to play a simple kaiju-on-kaiju card game. Excitingly, it was also an opportunity for us to reinforce some of the key concepts & terms from the video game, like Attack types, dodge types, etc. And thus the Combat Deck was born.
The first Combat Deck went on sale at G-Fest 2013, along side our first set of Trading Cards (SPN1). It was a self-contained game, with 64 cards, 4 characters, and a rulebook. Players would each select a Kaiju from our Trading Cards, then battle in a quick 8-minute game. There wasn't much strategy - basically both players would swing and try to deal as much damage as possible in the 9 rounds. The winner was the character with the least damage at the end of the fight.
It was a great idea, but it turns out there was a bit too much math & “bookkeeping” to really hold player's attentions. It was also missing a few key ideas, like grappling, defense, etc.
So we went back to the drawing board, and came up with a new Combat Deck. Although similar mechanically, we added icons & streamlined text, to make card effects more clear. We also cleaned up keywords, and added on-card rules text for things like dodges. We also gave players more strategic options for their turn (Grapple, Dodge, Brace, Roar, Attack, Poke…) and grounded the whole thing with a Building Card that gave players a simple board to move around on. We also supported team games and up to 4 players. (Though you needed a second deck to support 3 or 4 player games.)
This addressed the mechanical issues nicely, and made the game much easier to understand strategically. Folks really had a lot of fun with it. But we still weren't satisfied - because although people really enjoyed the game, they didn't feel like they needed to play it over and over. Folks would buy it, play it 6 times or so, and then put it away.
The problem, we decided, was that with a fixed deck of attacks, the game just wasn't that different when you played as a new character or team of characters. There was plenty of moment-to-moment decision making and surprises, but each gave overall had a similar flow to it. Also, we couldn't really expand on the game very well since it was a fixed deck.
People really wanted the game to be a Collectible Card Game, where players would assemble a deck from a growing collection of cards. We're big fans of those sort of games, so we went to work on making a third version of the game. One version to rule them all!
It took a year of work, but in January of 2015 we finally released our Collectible Card Game. The cards were sold in randomized packs - a mix of monsters, combat cards, and team cards. We also produced and sold “starter decks” which held enough combat cards for 2 players to build decks from.
The game used both a combat deck and an optional “planning deck” - which didn't yet exist! But as we work on SPN5, we'll keep expanding our list of products, to help get everyone up to speed.