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Card Balancing Issues

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Tbone
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Joined: 02/18/2013
Economy Card
Watchtower

For Pillars: of Civilization, I have a main card mechanic that gives each card a certain amount of options on it determined by the cards "Power". This creates the balancing scheme "stronger (power) cards have less options while weaker cards have more options."

Though this may sound like an interesting take, it makes the game feel fixed at times. You will almost never want to use a lower power card when conquering unless the card you are using gives you a desired effect because conquering favors higher powered cards.

This to me is not intuitive. Players will then just wait to draw a 5 power card and win everytime or wait for a card that gives you a powerful conquering effect. This is not what I want it to be like!

Then I start to think..."is a power value even needed?" Since this system was developed to balance more option cards vs less options cards, I could make the options on cards with 3 or 4 options cost more than they would on a card with 1 or 2.

The unfortunate thung about doing this is that power also is a way to track and score Civilization Points, which is how you win the game. Yes I could easily bring cubes or another form of tracking but I want to make this game just card based.

There are many other areas in which cards can be used in (investing in other players, buildings, resources, etc.) But the power value makes it extremely awkward.

Does anyone have any suggestions. I am stuck...

Orangebeard
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Joined: 10/13/2011
Power options

Maybe offset the high power conquer option with a low power economic or social option?

For example, a card with a conquering option that assures victory might only work in a very specific conquering situation whereas the other options on the card may pertain to social or economic elements of the game and are both easily playable and useful all of the time.

So the player could hold onto the high power conquering card, but by doing so, they are missing the chance to play the card and gain immediate benefit in another area.

joelfinch
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Joined: 06/17/2015
If your balance is between

If your balance is between low-value cards with many options, and high-value cards with fewer options, then you need something to add urgency to prevent players from waiting for the high power cards - some reason to try conquering with the low power cards immediately rather than waiting.

Zag24
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Joined: 03/02/2014
decision tension

In order to make the game fun, you need decision tension. If there's only one good way to play a card, then it creates no tension and isn't fun. Even a very powerful, very specialized card still needs to have more than one way to use it.

You can create tension over time-delayed actions: Maybe your very specialized conquer card can be saved and converted to a powerful economic card, IF the player manages to get the right conversion operation card. This still means the high-power card is less flexible, because it requires a delay plus another special action to use it in any other capacity.

Presumably there are other ways to score Civilization Points, so the game doesn't come down to who gets lucky and draws the most high-powered cards. You want different strategies to make sense, with different ways to apply skill in putting together combos, etc.

JohnMichaelThomas
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Joined: 05/30/2015
Try to think of some kind of cost for playing high powered cards

In games where you have to acquire and manage resources, the extra cost requires both more preparation and more expense for playing the high powered card. Without that, there's no reason not to play a high powered card.

I agree that you can add a sense of urgency for delaying, but that also ultimately comes down to making it cost something (in this case it costs to NOT play a card).

So what kind of cost can you implement to make playing a powerful card less of a no-brainer?

For example, what if you're allowed to play a high powered card, but you have to discard a number of other cards to do it? What if you have to discard other cards with power equal to the high-powered card to do it?

Example: Assuming players hold 4 cards in their hands. If I want to play a power 5 card, then I first have to discard other cards with a total power of 5 - maybe 1xP3 and 1xP2, or 1xP4 and 1xP1, or 2xP2 and 1xP1. Even after getting the P5 card, I might need to spend a round or two to get enough other cards to be able to play the card. And even then, I might draw another high powered card I want to keep. This would both force me to spend more effort before I can play the card, and to make more decisions when I play it, both of which I think are what you're looking for.

Of course this is just a simple example and might not work at all for your game. But anything that adds an escalating cost to playing the card will probably work.

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