Maximum Throwdown Design Diary: Card Throwing 101

Designer Jason Tagmire has kindly provided us with a look into the creation of Maximum Throwdown.

The game was simple but the challenge was fun

Maximum Throwdown started with a deck of standard playing cards. One night I started tossing playing cards one by one onto my dining room table, trying to see if they could land on each other. Within a few seconds it evolved into a mini-game where I would try to get the cards to cover the suit icons of the cards that were already on the table. And then within a few minutes the deck was split into 4 suits and I was playing a solo 4-player game of “cover the other players suits”. Each suit that was 100% uncovered gained a point at the end of the game.

The game was simple, but the challenge was fun. I never really threw playing cards with a destination in mind before. It felt somewhat natural from years of dealing cards out to other players in games, but also very different in that I was trying to land on a specific location.

I spent the next few hours mocking up my own deck of cards, heavily modeled after standard playing cards. The first big difference was that all of the suits were the same shape… a circle. They needed to be the same shape so that one didn’t have an advantage over the others. In playing with playing cards, Diamonds were harder to hit than hearts because the icon took up less space on the card, and it was hard to tell if the little tail on the spades was covered sometimes. With circles, everyone is even. Also, everyone is fully aware when a circle is partially covered as you can see that the circle is incomplete.

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The second big difference was that I gave the circle icons a few different abilities. Some were worth points, and others would allow players to draw or throw more cards. Some allowed players to steal cards from other players. And some allowed a player to break away from the group of cards and start to form a new pile.

At this point the game was starting to take shape. I ordered a print on demand version (since tossing paper prototypes is no fun) and sat and waited. I also needed a name, so I temporarily called it Toss Up, which coincidentally reminded me too much of AEG’s Smash Up… a game that it would eventually cross paths with.

About the Designer

Jason Tagmire

Jason Tagmire is a game designer from South Jersey. He is best known for reducing our 16th president to 16-bits in his card game / video game, Pixel Lincoln. He was also co-set designer on Quarriors: Quest of the Qladiator, co-creator of the pop-culture site Fruitless Pursuits, and the Kickstarter curator for the Philadelphia chapter of the International Game Design Association.

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