Game Design #4: Kaiju – Deck Destruction

Kaiju literally translates to strange beast—so Wikipedia tells me—and generally refers to the genre of giant monster movies. Examples include: Godzilla, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Gamera, and Mothra. 

The world needs more Kaiju games.

When I started development of Kaiju: Deck Destruction in February of 2014 there was King of Tokyo, a Godzilla IP game, and that was pretty much it. In these enlightened times we have a few more to choose from, including a game about Kaiju having a tea party. But when compared to the glut of zombie, cthulhu, or dungeon crawling games there is a lot of room to grow.

Kaiju was my first exploration of the deckbuilding mechanic.  You destroyed(bought) buildings and attacked each other’s decks. But that wasn’t enough. I wanted the game to be innovative, and I thought the best way to do that was to fix a problem. 

The biggest complaint about deckbuilding games is how often you have to reshuffle. I was blissfully ignorant of the solutions offered by games like Puzzle Strike and Quarriors, so I kept attempting to solve the problem with cards and I kept failing. It wasn’t until recently that I was able to come up with a solution that I’m proud of.

Artwork ©Copyright Benjamin Raynal 2014One problem with not reshuffling is that players can stack the deck. My solution is to encourage them to do just that. I’ve reduced the number of types of cards that go into to the deck and have very explicit rules about how and when to discard. So players can stack the deck as they see fit without any negative impact on the game play. And players can simply flip over there discard when they need more cards.

Is it innovative? Maybe it is; I don’t really care. These days I worry less about being innovative and more about making games that are fun.

Something else I’ve remedied that never made sense was that buildings were shuffled into the deck. Why? A giant monster destroys buildings and moves on. It makes much more sense for the buildings to give a one time bonus and go into a scoring pile.

Look at me solving problems and being insightful. But that’s present me. What about past me? Past me, how are you doing?


Artwork ©Copyright Benjamin RaynalTo be even more innovative, the cards formed a board that players moved their Kaiju around. Players could move from stack to stack destroying the top card of each. This provided a lot of options but limited the subset for each player at any given time. I still think this is an interesting space to explore, but there were just too many ideas.

Also, I added variable player powers; I don’t dream small.

I was filled with this sense of urgency, because I couldn’t believe no one had designed a Kaiju deckbuilding game. I was afraid if I didn’t get it done someone else would beat me to it. This fear drove me to do irrational things. Don’t let fear drive your decision making process. Fear is the mind killer.

It wasn’t just fear, though. There was also the sense that I had failed enough. It was time for success. But real life doesn’t work that way. Slot_machineI was like that poor sap at the slot machine, pulling the arm over and over day in and day out, thinking: This next one’s gonna be it, it’s just gotta.

By the beginning of April I had signed an artist. By June I had contacted a publisher and entered the game into the Tabletop Deathmatch. By July I had printed prototypes through a print on demand service online. And by August I was ready to playtest at GenCon and meet with a publisher.

At least, I thought I was ready.

Next up, The World Premiere of Kaiju: Deck Destruction at GenCon 2014…


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