The year was 1998 and I had stopped playing Magic the Gathering (MTG) because I had been going to college and didn’t have any spare money or time to be able to play. So I got rid of all of my cards (a ton of them) and then went back to my studies. But that was not good enough for me. I kept having this itching in the back of my brain that I could create a game that would be as fun as MTG and be able to appeal to the people I hung around the most–my church family. That was when the idea for Gospel The Game (GTG) was born.
The first iteration of the game was basically MTG with a Christian theme slapped on it. I had five colors (red, green, blue, yellow and orange) because that is what seemed to work for Magic (rules for this version, I think). I made prototype cards (only a very very small few had images) and played the game. And … it sucked. Big time. A total mess.
One of the things I added that made it “Christian” was scripture challenge cards. Essentially when you hit one of these, you would ask one of your opponents which section of the Bible they wanted (Old, New, either) and whether they wanted the reference or the verse. They had to give you the other one and if they were successful then they scored this card as a point of spirituality towards victory. Honestly it was a bit corny addition to the game. Might work as it’s own game, but definitely not here. This would hang around for several iterations before being pulled out.
So what did I do? I did what anyone would do, I went back to the drawing board. But this time I also asked God what to do. I knew that what I did was not right. So in prayer I began to see a different approach. Instead of all players against each other (and at least one player on the side of evil), I had the players fighting against the game itself. I moved the evil like cards into an Adversity deck which would be drawn from and cards played against the player. In addition, I thought of how to make the players have the ability to work together. It wasn’t completely cooperative as people still competed but I added this concept of a new “Fellowship” card which was played on an opponent players turn and helped them overcome the adversity/trial they were facing. I had to do a major revamping of all of the cards.
This version (rules here, I think) was a race in the sense that the first person to 33 spiritual points won the game. It was designed as a Customizable Card Game (CCG) with an expansion in mind. After I had felt that the game had matured to a descent level with playtesting and tweaking, I attempted to find people to back the game. In 2002-ish, the feel in the Christian market was that games were kids and that in addition they were not worth investing in. So the game sat.
Several years later, I decided to update the game with new graphics and a few tweaks (here are the updated rules). The cards above show the latest version which had more color and broke things down a bit more. The above cards were from that rendition. I attempted to get the game published again and again failed. It was after some time I archived everything. The final tweaked rules before archiving can be read here.
In the meantime, the tabletop game market started to boom a bit. I discovered a plethora of new games with new mechanics and expanded my love for board games and sitting around a table with a group of friends. Somewhere around 2010-2013, I pulled out the old game and began to work on an update version of the game that would be centered around a deck building concept. This was short lived because I ran into some design issues which pushed my own limited graphics ability and then I got sidetracked with life and the game went back to the shelf.
Fast forward to today. With kickstarter (I personally have backed like 80 projects) and the tabletop game renaissance including a large influx of Christian themed games and that while cleaning out Dropbox I happened upon the old cards and the templates for the new design, I thought maybe I would polish it out (because the core rules I think are fine just need a few tweaks to be a bit more modern) and either go print on demand or kickstarter depending on what interest level there is.
This new version will not use the CCG or deck building models but will keep many of the same core mechanics (players working against the game, players helping other players by playing fellowship cards, players having characters in play that help their spiritual growth) as well as some new mechanics (fully cooperative, countdown timers on trials, etc). I think this refreshing of the game will have a great impact and provide a new cool game that people could even play with non-Christians to maybe just maybe open a dialogue about Jesus and lead them to being saved.
Well, that is the long history of what is now being called “Warfare : A Tabletop Spiritual Battle of Biblical Proportions” (if you have a better name I am all ears).
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