As I mentioned a while ago, I’ve been playing a lot of Card Hunter, by Blue Manchu games.   The most recent episode of Three Moves Ahead (237) had John Chey of Blue Manchu on the show to talk about it with Rob Zacny and Julian Murdoch.  The discussion got me thinking of about space games again, and how something like the Card Hunter system may be a wonderful fit for the 4X genre.  I posted the short blurb over on the Idle Thumbs forum, but figured the idea was worth fleshing out in greater detail here.

This would be a Space Combat Game with a 4X wrapper.  The balance would be along the lines of XCOM, where there are some real strategic decision to make about the direction of your development, and about your Fleet composition, but these decisions would be fairly quick to make, and take a back seat to the turn-based tactical battles.

A ship in this game would be a collection of components, and each component would add a certain number of cards to the “deck” allotted to that ship.  A ship could be as big or as small as the player desires.   In theory, all of them could be allocated to a single mega-ship.  Total fleet size would be regulated by the number of components available to that player in their library.

The maximum size of one’s library would be determined by some economic constraint – space stations, worlds, or whatever.  Components, and thus cards, would be added by research.  Different races would have different components available for research, and some wildcard components might be found through exploration.  Should one have researched or otherwise acquired more components than can be supported, these unused components would be stored, available for use later.

Every so often, a war will take place, either between players or between a player and some NPC fleet.  Each war is a turn based battle, between the full fleet of each side.  The player will take turns moving their fleets around and battling each other, using the move and attack cards available to each ship.    Damage is done to the enemy deck, representing system damage.  If an enemy ship runs out of cards, it is destroyed.  Each turn, players will use up the hand available to their ships, and pass when finished.  The war ends when one side is totally defeated, or when both players are willing to declare a draw.  Depending on the relative forces remaining, and the possession of victory points around the map, a level of victory will be declared, and spoils granted accordingly.

The war takes place on the full map, divided into little squares or hexes.  Various space hazards are present on the map – radiation belts, magnetic fields, dust clouds, asteroids, gravity, etc.  Many cards and components allow ships to deal with these hazards, or use them to their advantage.