The initial makings of this game were in 2003 - I since don't have any pictures of the development of this instructable and so I will be using representative graphics.
Please find a parallel game https://www.instructables.com/id/MuzzleFlash-An-expandable-customisable-card-game that was developed around the same time.
A while ago, I used to create custom card games.
Here is the process I used to create the game "Dragon Tournament Fighter", a customisable combat card game with some light comedy elements.
You will also find a complete download of all the cards for this game here too.
Step 1: The Theme
For "Dragon Tournament Fighter" (DTF) I wanted a martial arts style game.
I made a list of features that I wanted:
Quick to play
Easy to learn
Simple game mechanics
Game rules on card
"Energy Storage" for attacks or defence
With this list as a guide, I started thinking about how the game would work
Step 2: Under the Hood
I started by initially making punches and kicks and the blocks for each, but I quickly realised that this would NOT be a simple game mechanic and involved too many rules (and too much to work out in a turn!)
I discarded this idea, then I fell upon the "street fighter" style idea of light, medium and heavy attacks. This game me flexibility in having the different styles of attacks, and allowed me to only have to worry about a single blocking mechanism!
So with a bunch of Light, Medium and Hard attack cards and a bunch of Block cards, I started refining how the game would play.
Step 3: Tinkering a Bit
Especially if you had too small or too big a deck to play from. Much of the game was also down to random chance (and using the heavy attack cards).
We decided to limit the number of cards in a deck to 40 and a lower number of 20
This made for games that didn't drag on for ages, but wern't too quick.
However, the damage cards were not balanced and it was a rush to play the big card (or stacking as many as you could into a deck!) So, we introduced the strategic discard rules for the attacks.
Light attacks were "free", Medium attacks "cost" one card from you deck and Hard attacks "cost" 2 cards from your deck.
This made a HUGE difference to the game! Strategy had been injected into a boring game and deck construction now became much more important.
at this time, we developed a new style of blocking attacks as a single block card stopping all of the attacks got very old very quickly and usually ended up with the game being a draw (which isn't very satisfactory!)
Step 4: Blocking It Out
after some more discussion, we settled on a simple but effective system.
in an attack turn where there are multiple attacks (combo) a block is STARTED by a block card, but then you can use whatever cards you have in your hand upto the number of card in the opponents combo
it sounds more complicated written down than it is in practice! With this little modification, we went back to play testing....
Success! The game was flowing quite well now, but it didn't allow for much variety in the gameplay... Time to expand it!
Step 5: Storage
Mainly because it was (so I thought) a simple add on. I quickly created a small stack of "power" cards and added them into our decks.
Initially I had 10 power card in each deck (after increasing the "maximum and minimum" number of cards in a deck), but once again after doing some basic draw tests (drawing a hand of seven cards) we quickly realised that 10 was too many and that a maximum of 5 power cards should be observed.
next we had to decide on the rules for these new cards....
We decided that they could be played any time onto the table at no penalty to the player and they would stay there until used. They could be used for both attack and defence boosters and added one point of dammage or defence per card.
back to play testing and the new additions added another layer of strategy to the game. They also brought about some very interesting a decisive victories!
The game was working well, but after adding the Power cards, if you had a good hand of cards, you could do some really serious damage to your opponent and they couldn't really respond or stop these monster attacks, correspondingly once you had used your cards in your hand, you were unable to block anything from your opponent in the next turn!
Thus the Counter card was born!
Step 6: Countering
We decided that three counter cards would add enough variability, but not get "old" or in the way of the gameplay.
The counter rule was simple in idea, but in practice could end up being a bit complicated!
A player plays an attack combo.
Before anyone starts discarding cards, the other player plays a counter.
this player then lays an attack in the opponents turn.
resolve damage as normal.
This worked great in playtesting, until I played a counter to a counter! There was no problem in doing it (appart from you run out of cards in your hand pretty quick!) but it can get very confusing if you forget who's turn it is. So we added a coin counter which is moved between players each turn, so we know who started the attack!
The counter cards added a small poker like feel to the game and stopped the gargantuan attacks as you didn't know if your oppnent had a counter!
It was all running quite smoothly now but it needed some more "oomph"....
Step 7: Special Moves
Inspired by "Street Fighter" I decided to implement this by activating the special move cards by a series of other cards to produce the special move effects.
at this time, the comedy elements started working their way into the game.... after all, we had been at this for nearly 10 hours straight! The caffine imps and the pizza fairys had invaded our brains and thus some of the special move cards reflect that.
Special moves are activated by a combination of three cards, this gives plenty of variety of combos for expanding the game at a later time and the card combination can be reused if required.
We first started by adding the card "Great Escape" (it happened to be on TV at the time!), then "Take that you fiend". After that, the others rolled along quite quickly.
Great care was taken when making these special techniques so they didn't end up being the "uber" card in anyone's deck (unlike top trumps). They affect the game, but not too heavily as deck design is a very important part of the strategy.
More play testing!
We discovered that too many special techniques in a deck was just a bad choice - as you couldn't pull them off, so you ended up with a "dud" card you couldn't play, and it just ended up as part of a block string, so being careful when builing the deck was a good start. Also, we made each special technique unique in-so-far that you could only have one of each in your deck.
Step 8: Putting It Together
it was quick to play, enjoyable (even after hours of grinding away at it!) and tactical.
Now I had a bunch of roughly scribbled on paper to try and turn into something that you could actually play with!
I fired up my trusty design package and grabbed a rule and measured the dimensions of a "Magic: The Gathering" (M:TG)card and drafted these onto an A4 template.
I can get nine cards on sheet (I think it's the same for US Letter but I'm not sure)
I mocked up a card template roughly based on M:TG with an image space at the top and text at the bottom
I then started filling out each card in the template with text we had written down and clarified the rules for each card in their simplest forms.
I'm not much of an artist, so I decided that the "images" would be somewhat remiscent of the 1960's Batman TV show and comic books - so onomatopoeia was used (a word to describe a sound)!
After creating each card, I found some good cardstock that my printer could feed (260GSM) and printed the cards out. I carefully used a scalpel to cut them all to size. (kids, get an adult to help with this bit! Use scissors or a paper guillotine if available!)
I then put all the cards into the plastic protectors to keep them nice - it also hides any inconsistencies in your trimming!
Step 9: Final Game
I would love to get this game produced onto "real" playing cards, but the printing costs are prohibitive from local printers and I would have to be able to sell them as a product to try and pay for it!
As I can't afford to do this, I am presenting the cards here for free, with the simple rule sheet. Please enjoy the game and leave any feedback in the comments. Ideas for more special techniques are greatfully received and I could always add them in as an expansion. The images in this instructable ARE the full sized images that I created and if you print them at the size they are, they SHOULD print the correct size. Import them into your favorite package! (Try Inkscape if you are after something free!)
Dragon Tournament Fighter - Rule Sheet
The Deck must have no more than 50 cards.
The Deck must have at least 30 cards.
Any combination of Attack or Block cards may be included in the deck.
Limited Cards have the maximum number of cards that may be included in a deck (you don't have to have the maximum number in your deck though!).
Start by flipping a coin to see who will go first.
Each player draws 7 cards. This is the hand.
After each action (either attack or defence), the player draws 3 cards.
The player may lay any power cards at any time, these can be "stored" face up on the table.
The player may attack by using any number of attack cards in a combo.
The Attacker should observe any rules on the each card everytime (s)he lays one in an attack sequence.
The Defender should observe any rules on the LEAD card during a defence sequence.
When playing a counter card, make sure you keep a note on who actually started that turn! It can be very easy to lose track of who started that move (especially if the opponent counters, and you counter again!)
When attacking, the player should lay the cards out in the play area.
This should be in the form of a line, so the defending player can see what attack is first.
The Defending player may then either choose to take the damage (refer to rules on the cards) or defend.
When defending, the defence starts from the first card of the combo. You CANNOT start defending partway through a combo.
The winner is the player that still has Cards left to draw from their deck.
If both players get Knocked out (run out of cards) then the game is a draw and should be replayed.
Special Technique Cards
These can be included in a combo, and require a combo to be activated.
to be activated, you are required to do the following attack pattern:- Light, Medium, Hard
you take the penalty from playing the medium and hard cards, however, the opponent loses all of the cards he currently holds