Goncharov Card Game Concepting

I am tired and my brain hurts and I am exhausted as I try try try to make graphic work for Bloodwork happen. The website is down and up and down again and that’s maddening as hell, and the dog is weird and the dishwasher’s replaced and aaaaaa so what I decided to was exorcise a brain worm about a Goncharov card game.

At the moment the prototype starts with an ordinary deck of playing cards, face cards removed. Face cards are your character, which get played face down in front of you, and we’ll get into what that means. At the start of the game, you deal everyone a face down character card from the available options, and your character determines what you value, and the kind of scenes you want to have.

Then you shuffle the numbers, every player draws one card, and you start the drafting.

The gameplay loop goes:

  • You draw two cards.
  • From two of the three cards in your hand, you shuffle, then pick one to present to another player face down, one face up.
  • You’re going to get to do this to every single player once each round – so you get to make choices that way.
  • That player picks one of the cards, face down or face up, and adds them to the set in front of them, in columns to represent each player who’s given them a choice.
  • You get the other card, in a corresponding column.
  • Once you have a card in your column, you can look at it!
  • During this period, you can talk about what you shared and why, and you can even lie about what you were handed.

You’re trying to collect different kind of scenes with different people – Icepick Joe wants to have a violent scene with everyone, Andrei wants to try and share romance and violence with Goncharov and gets no points for scenes with Katya, but can make mileage out of scenes with Sofia.

That’s the basic engine. Next question:

How big is this game?

If there are fifteen cards in the deck, then you get to give every player a round of sending drafts, but they don’t get a round of receiving each. At the minimum play experience, for five players, one round of drafting fully means that each player should have 2x the number of players cards, meaning that the minimum card pool gets bigger quick. In five players, each player gets 8 cards, plus one extra, per round, so that’s 45 cards to start with.

That means a normal deck of cards is just barely big enough to have everyone have a scene with everyone else, but also, everyone gets two scenes with everyone.

There’s also a matter of information leakage. There’s a reason players are goin to want to hoover up cards of a particular type. Also, this could be made Fantasy Realms style, or Tussie Mussie style where every card has a simple mechanic on it that makes other cards better, with your character card represents a single big advantage – Goncharov may get a bonus point for each suit he can collect, Katya may get bonuses for every heart she has, Mario may want diamonds, that kind of thing.

Similarly, cards can be character specific, and therefore, you might have a reason to want to keep something in hand. Like hey, this card says Katya and Sofia get 2 points? Well, maybe that stays in your hand because you’re playing Icepick Joe. But maybe you could offer it to someone else when you see the players you think are Katya and Sofia are in last place, and therefore bum them with a dead draft.

That’s the basic idea.

Now here’s the funniest thing here:

With 45 cards at base, and 7 cards for characters, the game gets to look like a 52 card deck of cards, and a maximum of 5 players. So the mechanical limits for a very simple draft game are right there in a standard deck size.

The problem is:How do I get art for this.

There’s a ton of cool as fuck fanart for Goncharov. There’s definitely an aesthetic for it too! It’s so mangled and weird and ostensibly uncreated, there’s a case to be made for using stock art for it, maybe. Or a particular film aesthetic, maybe, and instead abstracting everything. But there are some symbols that are seen as very important to Goncharov, like the clocks.

One of the things I love about Goncharov as a memeplex is that the artistic representation of these intense scenes deserve to be platformed. I want people to see them and enjoy them and I think it’d be amazing to make a card game that looked like them.

But also: I can’t print cards for free! I can’t make this game and distribute physical copies of it for free (like, literally, I can’t afford it). And the overlap of Goncharov fans and card game fans? Probably not necessarily huge! And you can’t go to a fanartist ‘hey can I pay you for the rights to your fanart’ when it’s not really fanart, it’s original art that just happens to somehow all have a shared corpus of inspiration. What’s more the most iconic piece of Goncharov art is something the artist has more or less said ‘go nuts’ about, but it’s transformative art of a bunch of other posters so I’m not sure how far it gets me from the actual generative art discussion!

At the same time, man, man, it seems so close to attainable. The Goncharov poster style, the entirely arbitary name of the game, the lore and fiction, it’s already meant to be an homage to the greatest mafia movie ever made, rather than anything that anyone could actually account for.

Am I going to get sued by a bootleg shoe company?And if I ignore the inspiration, what’s left? An interesting emotionally complex mafia movie kind of game generator, but it somehow feels so much more artificial to imagine I’m a fan of any of those that I’m not actually that into. Mafia movies aren’t my thing, I don’t think.

But I do love Goncharov.