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GamingNerd's picture
Joined: 03/26/2012

My game has "spells" which are intended to give players an advantage in moving around the board quicker. Development Cards in Settlers come to mind.

In trying to refine this system I have a few questions that I'm not sure how to approach:

1.) how many spells should be in the deck (they don't get re-shuffled after use so there's no recycling). Right now I have 48 and we never come close to making it through the deck, and some spells never come up.

2.) how many of each type of spells should there be? Right now there's 4 of each type of spell. But maybe we should make more of the straight up Victory Points and less of the Defensive ones?

3.) should the spells be more or less balanced, or is it ok to put a few very powerful spells in there (using Settlers again I think of the Build 2 Roads and Monopoly card which allows you to take all of a chosen resource).

- Andrew

MarkKreitler's picture
Joined: 11/12/2008
What are your design goals?

Hey Nerd,

The answers to your questions depend on your larger design goals.

1) It's fine if you don't get through all spells in a single game, provided you want games to vary widely from session to session. This will be harder to balance and make outcomes more disparate. That's a good thing if you want variety over predicability. Conversely, the smaller the deck -- and the more times you complete it during a single game -- the more homogeneous the game experience, and the easier to balance.

2) This relates to the situation in #1: the more you repeat spells, the more homogenous the experience, and the more "balanceable" the system. Also, the more duplicates, the less the system feels like "magic" and the more it feels like "science," with repeatable results.

3) How much do you want luck to factor into victory? The more unbalanced the cards, the more of a factor it becomes.

Beware of the synergy between 2 & 3. Having many repeated, unbalanced cards can throw your game into wild oscillations. As an extreme example, consider Risk and its card trade-in system. I've seen several games where the "clear winner" gets defeated by an underdog who turns in cards during the end game. While everyone likes to cheer for the underdog, Risk takes it to ridiculous extremes.

Based on the things I've read about your game, it sounds like you're safe from those dangers, but it's always good to keep an eye out for those interactions.

Hope you'll post again when you make your decision!

BlueRift's picture
Joined: 04/01/2012
Branch Out

I wouldn't be afraid of trying something unique. Maybe each player starts out with one of each spell and can use them at any point throughout the game. That would be both balanced and interesting in that you could count who's using what and when to use which spells.

Or maybe you can have the cards in different stacks and players can chose which deck to draw from. If you find players generally find that one is better than the others, make it more costly to use.

I'm just saying don't be afraid to branch out.

GamingNerd's picture
Joined: 03/26/2012
Those are great ideas

Those are great ideas BlueRift. I've been pushing for us to do a playtest where everyone gets one of each spell, but perhaps it's better to split them into piles and see which one people are more willing to spend tokens on.

The deck can only be completed once, there's no reshuffling of it. The general idea was that spells would mostly help someone clear the board quicker (which doesn't always mean win) although there a few spells that are just points.

I pulled out the Settlers development cards and looked at their distribution, and it gave me an idea. They have a lot of Knights cards, then a few of the others. I created a new spell, useful and common but not super powerful that we'll put into the deck somewhat disproportionately. I butchered the rest of the spells, removing some combining two into one in one instance where it made sense, and reducing the numbers greatly. Time for another play test! :)

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