One of the mechanics in Epic Spell Wars (due out in February) may be entirely new.
Generally I shy away from saying that about something I’ve designed. Yeah, I aim to design innovative games, but it’s often the case that people I don’t know about have enjoyed precisely the same thrill of innovation. Given the reach of the Internet, I expect that mentioning the Dead Wizard Deck from ESW as an innovation is going to be like casting Summon Previous Game Mechanic V!
Epic Spell Wars is a multiplayer game that awards ultimate victory to the first player to win two games. You win a game by being the last wizard standing after all other wizards have been knocked to 0 HP. When you are knocked out of a game, you wait around for the battle to be decided so that the next game can start. The games usually go quickly but you’re still likely to have to wait for several rounds.
In earlier designs I’ve kept all players involved in the game until it’s over for everyone, but in ESW I took a different approach. Each player who has been knocked out draws from the Dead Wizard Deck. You get a draw when you’re slain and another draw at the start of each round. Dead Wizard cards provide advantages in the next game. You might get +2 Hit Points next game, or a bonus Wild card in your starting hand, or even a draw from the Treasure deck.
The worse you lose, the stronger you are likely to be for the next game. You’ve already been hit by the stick; here, have a carrot! It’s a fun dynamic and it gives players who’ve been kicked around the usually-correct impression that they’re going to be more dangerous next time.
I can’t remember playing a tabletop game that uses a mechanic like this. Maybe it is new (Summon PGM V)! If it isn’t new, I’m curious to hear how other games have handled it. If the approach improves a game you’re playing or designing, I’m curious to hear that too.