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Designing for the future

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questccg
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Every time I design a CCG/TCG/LCG I always have the same problem: what kind of INSTANT cards do I design???

This may sound stupid, however I usually manage to create interesting mechanics in the various phases of the game. And sometime end up with a "decent" result.

However my question is this: "How do you design for the future (expandability)?"

I struggle with most games finding 20 cards to match my mechanics... How do games such as Magic: the Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh! design SO MANY cards???!!!

What is their secret??? How do I get my games to be so expandable??? Anybody have any answers? Or tricks to follow?

questccg
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Compartmentalizing

questccg wrote:
How do games such as Magic: the Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh! design SO MANY cards???!!!

I think it may have something to do with "compartmentalizing" (Yes - it's a word!) For example my current card game has an RPS 3 system used during combat. It divides "units" into three (3) distinct categories: melee, flight and ranged. So one aspect for "expandability" is creating more "units" for each category.

Another example is the RPS 5 system also used in combat. It divides "units" into five (5) spheres: light, death, earth, fire and water. So another aspect for "expandability" is to create more "units" for each one of those categories...

So from a "unit" perpective... I think my game is "expandable". In Yu-Gi-Oh! many cards are "monsters". But that is only PART of the equation.

The NEXT part is INSTANT/TRAP/SPELL cards. This is where I have NOT mastered the ART of card creation.

Kirioni
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Though not a stickly card based system

The current game I am working on, the key was to create a balanced frame work which would handle future expandability. As I believe I read in Brian Tinsman's book on game design, how large expandable games work is by having core rules that span everything you create, and then having specific cards break the rules in different ways.

In the game I am working on, I had to get a solid base game, and am now working on factions that break the core game in predictable, and balanced ways. All the best in your endeavor.

questccg
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Can you provide any details?

Kirioni wrote:
The current game I am working on, the key was to create a balanced frame work which would handle future expandability.

My game has the proper elements, it's just missing ONE part. The part that makes random events interesting during game play.

When you say have "core rules" are you talking about the mechanics of your game? Sounds interesting... but I'm not certain I understand.

Can you explain further...?

questccg
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Miracles happen

questccg wrote:
My game has the proper elements, it's just missing ONE part. The part that makes random events interesting during game play.

That's not to say there are not OTHER random elements to the game. For example my RPS 5 system is 100% random (well there are still odds - just a few to many to calculate imho). And this system decides if a player score a bonus (Unit's special ability) which is different from one unit to another.

But I know there is the missing INSTANT/TRAP/SPELL cards that are to be played "JUST IN TIME" (when you are about to LOSE a battle - and all that you have is that one MIRACLE card to win you the battle...) ;)

questccg
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You all know those cards...

"I'm going to LOSE... Oh cr@p! Wait a sec... BOOM I'll play THIS... Take that, I WIN! YESSSS!!"

Okay so that's how some of the more EPIC battles might go down... ;)

questccg
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Rethink, refine, retry

questccg wrote:
Okay so that's how some of the more EPIC battles might go down... ;)

I have modified my game's design to facilitate the creation of INSTANT/TRAP/SPELL cards (or my take on them).

BUT my earlier question still stands: "How do they design card games with SO MANY cards???" Anyone have any tips or tricks?

Kirioni
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In my game the core rules are

In my game the core rules are govern how buildings are placed, how cards are purchased, how battles are resolved,and basically how a building type is "balanced" against all the other buildings.

And to break the rules... a Snipe Tower, as an example can pay one more energy to shoot over buildings (breaking the core rule of attacks hitting the first building first). So by establishing the core rules I can expand and expand by bending and breaking the rules with (I hope) interesting building concepts.

Hope this helps explain.

Yamahako
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Instants etc. cards have

Instants etc. cards have about as much design space as mechanics you have in your game.

Usually, when I start with how I want the outline of the game to play - I pick out components of that game. I do this by zone, and part of the game.

A game I'm working on is like this:

Game Components
Hand of cards - mechanics: Drawing, Discarding
Party - mechanics: Adding, Subtracting, Interaction with the elements
Circle - mechanics: Adding, Subtracting, Interaction with the elements
Line - mechanics: Adding, Subtracting, Interaction with the elements
Hero Deck - mechanics: Drawing, Searching Shuffling
Special Deck - mechanics: Drawing, Searching Shuffling

Parts of the Turn
Play Cards - mechanics: quantity of plays,
Take Hero - mechanics: quantity of heroes taken
Draw Cards - mechanics: quantity of cards drawn

Rules
Breaking restrictions

So that's the design space, its best if you stick with those elements as they will feel more natural. I usually try to define ranges for these things. For example - I want people to have a hand of 5 cards. The smallest hand people could have is 0 cards, and let's say the largest hand I want people to deal with is a potential 12 cards. So I could create a card that let's people have an additional 7 cards. Or have 7 stackable cards available that let people have an additional card. The rules for the game exist outside of the bounds of the game - and if you plan on having expansions you want to define (and play test with) those bounds. Expansions typically want to have bigger, better, more powerful cards so you want to have room to expand those as well. But for this early testing (before deciding inclusion) you'll want to test cards that reach all the bounds for every mechanical element, and break all the restrictions on your rules. Depending on the depth and complexity of the game, this could be an inordinate amount of cards.

This is if you don't have an idea of what you want the cards to do. You can then focus and refine the design down to what makes the game the most interesting. Typically focusing on just a few elements of the game, rather than the whole thing, so that you have room to expand and grow (even possibly keeping some interesting elements back for later.)

questccg
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From my own experience

I have seen MtG cards and even have installed the Magic Set Editor to learn more about them. The thing is that MtG cards do not have that many elements to them... The cards are pretty simple, yet somehow they manage to create all kinds of cards.

My take on "expandability" is having a lot of "small parts" that can vary from card to card. For example, I have defined for my cards the unit's ALIGNMENT (Good/Neutral/Evil). By adding this "small part" it has opened up new possibilities for instant cards based on this value. Now I can have instant cards for Good, Neutral or Evil (or any combination).

So in my game a unit has: its alignment, battle style, pentagram (color), attribute and archetype (optional). With this many "small parts", I can create a multitude of creatures, each different from one and another.

From an instant ability point of view, I can reuse the same "small parts" defined for units to determine what units can be affected by what card. This answers the question of "Who?" Next comes figuring out the "What?" This is still a somewhat difficult process (imho).

Yamahako
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MtG cards don't have that

MtG cards don't have that many elements to them... but the GAME has a huge number of elements. More parts on a card don't necessarily lead to expandability.

Lets think about that game for a moment:

Phases of a turn (cards can effect all of these)
Untap
Upkeep
Draw
Pre-combat Main
Combat
Post-combat Main
End of Turn
Clean up

And that's a distillation.

Now the components are all cards, but there are a large number of types of cards
Land
Artifacts
Creatures
Enchantments
Planeswalkers
Instants
Sorceries

And each of those have different forms. Cards (instants) can affect ANY of those sections in multiple ways - I'll give an example how that technique could apply to your game in a moment.

In your explanation of the "small parts" I am worried that you are adding complexity without depth. What do the alignments do? Are you incorporating them just because you want to have more card options? If two creatures are "different" but don't interact with the game in an appreciable way, then it doesn't necessarily add features - just cost. If you have Good creature X, and Bad creature X - and they are the same aside from their alignment. And they can each only cast good or bad cards, but all the good and bad cards are the same aside from their alignment - have you really doubled your card amount? Or have you just "skinned" the game. Assuming you provide distinctions between good and bad cards (ie not create functionally identical cards), then you'll have the same amount of cards you would have had if you hadn't made good and bad, but you've made deck construction more complicated. This is not BAD, but it sounds like you're approaching it from the wrong angle.

Adding components because you want to increase complexity is good. Addition components because you want to increase diversity is not necessarily good.

But still to understand what "Instants" should be able to do in your game - you need to define all the parts of the game. I know you have creature choice, bidding, antes and antes. From there you should be able to approach a starting list:

Change you creature to a different card,
change your opponents creature to a different card,
look at your opponents card <- from my understanding, these are all of the ways to interact with creature choice. Now you can vary these in some ways (this is something magic excels at). If you employ a discard pile, maybe some of those cards go back in the deck instead of the discard, or maybe they go back to your hand, maybe they get removed from the game, and maybe they go into an opponents hand, deck, discard pile after played. And maybe each of these gives that option a different cost. That's 21 potential cards - just based on playing a card, and then what happens after the card has been played. That's without going into even more detail about changing the creature card - is it one in your hand, discard, or deck? Or in your opponents? So just with that one element of your game (Choosing a creature to attack with, by placing it face down) we have over 100 (I think the number is 105 without possible messing around with how you look through your library). And that's without adding elements and components. Will all of these be GOOD cards? No, and lets not forget the idea of balancing the cards about the internal workings of your game - do they cost something to play? Etc.

Some of the ability to do things like that come from experience, designing a lot of stuff - and from permutation and repetition - and also from playing a lot of games. Magic looks like it has a TON of cards, but how many are exactly the same card but with a different name, or a different color? How many were wrong choices? How many come from expanding the game rules to include more features? A lot. Most I'd say. This isn't bad, it add diversity. But it isn't the same as depth and complexity. I have play a LOT (a lot... oh so much...) of Magic. But it isn't the best game to emulate, I think, for early design work. You can eke so much out of so little in game design - that unless you're getting something really good out of it - its better to l eave it out.

But all that is coming from the perspective that elegance is the ultimate design goal...

questccg wrote:
I have seen MtG cards and even have installed the Magic Set Editor to learn more about them. The thing is that MtG cards do not have that many elements to them... The cards are pretty simple, yet somehow they manage to create all kinds of cards.

My take on "expandability" is having a lot of "small parts" that can vary from card to card. For example, I have defined for my cards the unit's ALIGNMENT (Good/Neutral/Evil). By adding this "small part" it has opened up new possibilities for instant cards based on this value. Now I can have instant cards for Good, Neutral or Evil (or any combination).

So in my game a unit has: its alignment, battle style, pentagram (color), attribute and archetype (optional). With this many "small parts", I can create a multitude of creatures, each different from one and another.

From an instant ability point of view, I can reuse the same "small parts" defined for units to determine what units can be affected by what card. This answers the question of "Who?" Next comes figuring out the "What?" This is still a somewhat difficult process (imho).

questccg
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Take-that and "Area of effect"

Yamahako wrote:
Adding components because you want to increase complexity is good. Addition components because you want to increase diversity is not necessarily good.

Well in my "example" of alignment, I added mostly for future expandability. BUT there are two (2) out of twenty (20), so 10%, of the cards that use the attribute to define the "Area of effect".

One example is the card entitled "Honor amongst theives". This card will only affect "Evil" players (those that have played an "Evil" unit during the combat phase) and what it does is SHARE the pot amongst those players! Pretty sneaky... Too bad for the good players, they get NOTHING. That (imho) is a DAMN GOOD card (Take-that)! ;)

If I did not have the "alignment" well then it could have been "divided amongst each player in combat". But the "Evil" attribute adds another dimension. And for sure I can create combinations/permutations of this card (Good/Evil/Neutral/Good-Neutral/Good-Evil/Neutral-Evil/All). Like you said, maybe not all permutations will be "valid" cards...

Yamahako
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That does sound like an

That does sound like an interesting concept for a card. (Does it negate combat resolution?) I didn't say there wasn't a good reason to add extra mechanics - or even that it was bad to do it - just you want to do it for those reasons and not "Oh I can have 1 bad Dragon, and 1 good Dragon that's twice as many cards with barely any work!" :-) I've seen a lot of games (especially CCGs) that work that way.

Just curious - any reason in particular this has to be a CCG instead of a stand alone card game?

questccg wrote:
Yamahako wrote:
Adding components because you want to increase complexity is good. Addition components because you want to increase diversity is not necessarily good.

Well in my "example" of alignment, I added mostly for future expandability. BUT there are two (2) out of twenty (20), so 10%, of the cards that use the attribute to define the "Area of effect".

One example is the card entitled "Honor amongst theives". This card will only affect "Evil" players (those that have played an "Evil" unit during the combat phase) and what it does is SHARE the pot amongst those players! Pretty sneaky... Too bad for the good players, they get NOTHING. That (imho) is a DAMN GOOD card (Take-that)! ;)

If I did not have the "alignment" well then it could have been "divided amongst each player in combat". But the "Evil" attribute adds another dimension. And for sure I can create combinations/permutations of this card (Good/Evil/Neutral/Good-Neutral/Good-Evil/Neutral-Evil/All). Like you said, maybe not all permutations will be "valid" cards...

questccg
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Not a CCG

Yamahako wrote:
That does sound like an interesting concept for a card. (Does it negate combat resolution?)

Of course!

Quote:
Just curious - any reason in particular this has to be a CCG instead of a stand alone card game?

I have not decided on the format - yet. I know it will NOT be a CCG. I don't want to invest time trying to think up which cards are RARE and which ones are common, etc.

So it will either be a card game (in itself) or something expandable (like an LCG)...

samuelsun
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Hi,

Cards have really much many designs, you can get ideas by Google search .. this is the best method

questccg
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Any examples?

samuelsun wrote:
Cards have really much many designs, you can get ideas by Google search .. this is the best method

What exactly should I try Googling??? You need to be a little more specific if you want to do an Internet search...

Am I searching for "Card games", "Card game design", "Card design", etc.???

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