Finally managed to have a couple of run throughs of my RPG card game with Andrew at lunch and came up with some interesting updates from merely talking about it, but then some greater tweaks after playing through 10 or so games.
1) Simultaneous play: While going through the initial concept I was a little confuzed at whether attack and defense cards are played face down and then flipped for simultaneous play, or whether it was played as a single card and a response. The idea of simultaneous play sounded like what it ended up being, but looking back at the document later I recalled that the defender played first and the attacker had cause to respond. This gave the advantage to the attacker at each turn rather than to the defender, but I liked the idea of simultaneous play even more. After further discussion we fleshed it out to playing BOTH attack and defense cards at the same time face down, and then exposing both for a single round of combat. Sometimes felt a little rushed, but I guess that's a good thing because the game needed a little pepping up. Might have a play through with defender leading like I originally thought just to see if there's anything extra strategically I'm missing out on in going to simultaneous play.
The great thing about simultaneous play is that it enhances the metagame. You may have a good idea on what the opponent has in hand by simply counting cards, but you may not know whether they will play a strong card for you to counter, or a weak card expecting your strong counter. Yomi (knowing the mind of the opponent) at it's finest. Unfortunately out of the 10 or so games I played there wasn't too many times when I needed to think this way as I knew I was behind on most matchups (playing monster) and had a high cycle time for the stronger moves. We'll see what happens tomorrow when we play again with a more limited deck.
2) 7 card attack/defense deck: One of the things noted was that even after stacking 5 treasure cards into his deck, Andrew could still beat a monster deck 1 level below his. it took a long while to gain those 5 cards using the tradeup strategy of the original game, so it certainly wasn't expected that you'd play an hour or so and still be in on the same level. reducing the amount of cards inn your deck to 7 allows treasure cards to carry much more risk per card as it combines and dilutes the player's deck.
Another pondering I had on the original design was that calculating your level (average of your card's face values) was harder at 13 cards than if it were at something like 10 cards. Dropping the attack/defense deck to 7 allows the total cards making up the character (including life) to 10. Nice and simple to find out your level, add the face values and divide by 10.
3) Challenge dungeon has battles on the way out: One of Andrew's ideas as the "Hero" was that it seemed odd being able to skip out of a dungeon once you know you had what you were looking for. To change this the challenge dungeon could be made up of a number of rooms per level, and the further you wen in the more battles you had to face on the way out. This way it made the choice to turn around that much more earlier as you needed to think of getting out with a decent amount of loot.
There was also a distinct advantage of the hero over the monster at a level below (mainly due to 6 life compared to 9), so the monsters could be made up of the integer component of the player's level (New start of player's level gives 2.9, therefore the monsters start at 2, but entering at 3.1 would have level 3 mosters). Hopefully this would give rise to deeper dives to skip past low-rated parts of level advancement.
4) Treasure is back to additive: Once you get back out of a dungeon, you can purchase anything that you have a combination of cards for. Even though this ramps up quite quickly to getting 10's and face cards, the total number of games should be playable in a session of an hour or 2 for a challenge, so at 3 minutes a game, 20 games in total to get someone up to the top tiers. Going 3 deep into a dungeon would be 5 games per run, so ~ 4 runs per hour. First run should nett ~4 treasure cards and ~10 points to gain taking them to level 4, 4 at level 4 would be ~18 points, or nearly level 6, ~24 points to level 8. By this stage they should have a number of custom cards and access to the end-game content. Another dive would take them to ~level 9 because of doubleup and cards not able to be traded in for unique deck cards. maybe there wouldn't need to be much deeper than that to keep the face cards somewhat special.
Treasure also has a new rule in that if you draw a treasure card that you already have, you can combine it and the one you have for a next-higher-ranked treasure card. Eg: You already have a 3 of diamons and you draw another, you can trade them both in for a 4 diamonds, keeping the dilution the same as before, but better value. This also allows higher rated cards to be chosen than what the dungeon monsters provide.
I'm still leaning toward having scenario dungeons, but at the moment there might be a couple more lunchtimes to tweak out the basics before setting up a monster loadout.