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Game mechanism symbolic representation on cards - Are they oversimplification?

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fayinsky
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Joined: 08/02/2014
Virus Micro-War - Production Card Effect Example
Virus Micro-War - Attack Card Condition Example

I'm currently trying to use Adobe Illustrator to make a working prototype for my game "Virus Micro-War". There are two rules that will be applied to certain cards. And due to limited space available on cards to describe in-game effects of those cards, I would like to use just two separate icons and put them on cards serving as reminders that special rules are applied to these cards.

Here's my concern. Those two rules are not that simple even when putting into the rulebook, and one of them is quite complicated from my point of view. Will a simple icon do its job? You can find more details below. Thanks for the help.

Rule 1 - for certain production cards (the simpler one):
Each production card can be used at most once each round. Their in-game effect description follows the format of "resource requirement = final product". You fulfil the resource requirement, you can get the final product, once each round.

However, certain production cards have more flexibility. If you can fulfil resource requirement multiple times, you can get the final product more than once.

Right now I'm using a simple "refresh" token as illustrated in attached image #1. And the production card effect in that image can be interpreted as: When player decides to assemble some virions using this production card, he/she can spend m red cubes (genome), m black cubes (protein), and m yellow cubes (action point). As a result, he/she will get m virions assembled.

Rule 2 - for certain production/attack cards (the much more complicated one):
To trigger the effects of certain production/attack cards, there will be a minimum quantity requirement (n) of a single type of resource. When only n resources are spent, both card owner and his/her opponent will roll a d6. If card owner's result is no worse than opponent's, the card effect will be triggered. When n+1 resources are spent, card owner can roll two d6s instead of one, which brings the success rate of effect triggering from 58.33% to 74.53%. And, when no less than n+2 resources are spent, card effect will always be triggered.

As illustrated in attached image #2, I'm using a "fast forward" icon to represent the rule. It is interpreted as follows: In order to activate the attack card, player has 3 options: spend 1 black cube (1 protein) for a success rate of 58.33%, 2 for a success rate of 74.53%, or 3 for 100% success rate.

Desprez
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Joined: 12/01/2008
I don't think the issue is

I don't think the issue is whether or not icons become too over-simplified, as whether or not they are appropriate. They can be simple and still convey a great deal. But they can also be simple and not work at all.

The top image implies to me that you'd need all three colors to get Virons. You might consider putting slashes between the cubes or putting them in a separate visual space. (like separate boxes)
Unless all your cards are consistent in that all the inputs are always optional. If not, you need some way to designate what's optional and what isn't.

The refresh works fine as an indicator that you can do this multiple times.

In the second example, I'm not sure how the "1" fits in.
What about making three in-line groups:
one cube with one die
two grouped cubes with two grouped dice
and three grouped cubes with some kind of a success symbol?
And for consistency, they should be visually separated as to indicate that these are a choice.

Icons can be great, but if there's lots of possible ways for the mechanics to work, then you are effectively going to have to create a consistent symbolic language and syntax.
If it's just these two symbols and what they indicate is the same in every context, then you probably have a lot more leeway as they are just shorthand for "remember these two rules!"

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