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TCG mechanics, limiting powerful cards

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Bokis
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Hey!

I am working on a TCG style game and was wondering if you have any tips on how to prevent overly powerful cards to be played too early. Pokemon uses energy cards and evolutions, Hearthstone has it's mana system and in Magic the Gathering you have to play land cards in order to summon the strongest creatures. So my question is basically what mechanics you have found to help solve this problem!

Thanks!

Rimmsolin
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Hearthstone is the best

Hearthstone is the best system IMO as its fluid, smooth, requires no major upkeep, doesn't rely on RNG, and has a perfect flow ending in a climax nearly every game.

A couple ideas in addition to the resource gate:
-Balance it: burn cards to play cards, so the more powerful can be played early, at the cost of shrinking your hand size and losing card advantage
-Pre-requisites: Must have a basic WATER type card before playing an Advanced water type card for instance.
-Leveling: Cards start at Level 1 and may be upgraded on the card itself using a token to represent tier, or swapped for a similar card type Warrior Lv1 >> Warrior Lv2.

questccg
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Hearthstone is so, eh...!

Rimmsolin wrote:
Hearthstone is the best system IMO as its fluid, smooth, requires no major upkeep, doesn't rely on RNG, and has a perfect flow ending in a climax nearly every game.

Personally I don't like "Hearthstone". I know it probably has the BEST system, but in Magic there can be games where you "dominate" your opponent and lose 0 Health Points. In "Hearthstone" this is very unlikely.

Rimmsolin wrote:
A couple ideas in addition to the resource gate:
-Balance it: burn cards to play cards, so the more powerful can be played early, at the cost of shrinking your hand size and losing card advantage
-Pre-requisites: Must have a basic WATER type card before playing an Advanced water type card for instance.
-Leveling: Cards start at Level 1 and may be upgraded on the card itself using a token to represent tier, or swapped for a similar card type Warrior Lv1 >> Warrior Lv2.

But these couple IDEAS are real GEMS. They could balance the possibility of playing more powerful cards given certain constraints. I really like these ideas... These are of course "absent" in "Hearthstone" right?

  • Basic -> Vs. Advanced looks to be a Pokemon concept which is cool.
  • Burning cards seems to be a Magic concept which again is pretty cool.
  • Leveling I have not seen before - this one must be an original idea.

Anyways those three (3) concepts lend well to allowing you to BREAK the "balance" in what is normally a balanced game.

ElKobold
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questccg wrote:Personally I

questccg wrote:

Personally I don't like "Hearthstone". I know it probably has the BEST system, but in Magic there can be games where you "dominate" your opponent and lose 0 Health Points. In "Hearthstone" this is very unlikely.

It's not unlikely. And it can be done. Depends on the decks and how you play them.

What is unlikely in HS is to have a ruined game, because you're manaflooded or manascrewed.

(HS is by no means a perfect game, but their mana system is simple and it works, without creating undesired side-effects)

Squinshee
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questccg wrote:Personally I

questccg wrote:
Personally I don't like "Hearthstone". I know it probably has the BEST system, but in Magic there can be games where you "dominate" your opponent and lose 0 Health Points. In "Hearthstone" this is very unlikely.

Seems like a reason why Hearthstone is superior, not inferior.

TwentyPercent
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RE: It's all about balance.

It all hinges on balancing the scales. If you want to play a creature that is proportionally powerful, something else has to give. Some ideas include:

-Give your opponent something useful (such as an extra turn, extra health, or a creature of their own)
-Penalize yourself, such as forcing you to skip a turn or damage yourself
-Limit the power of the creature in one way or another. Maybe it's got a strong attack and lots of health, but whenever it attacks your other creatures take one damage.

questccg
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Alternative ways of winning

ElKobold wrote:
...What is unlikely in HS is to have a ruined game, because you're manaflooded or manascrewed...

True - but I believe there is "less mystery" in a game of Hearthstone (HS) vs. a game of Magic: the Gathering (Magic).

Could be just me - but I still think Magic is the better game. Why is it that a game of Magic can have 0 Creatures and you can still beat your opponent? Because of the way the game was designed... You don't need to rely on creatures to defeat your opponent. A wiki page exists for Alternate Ways of winning a game (http://mtgsalvation.gamepedia.com/Alternate-win_card)...

Take for example Barren Glory (http://magiccards.info/query?q=%21Barren+Glory). I think the "richness" of Magic is far greater than the simpler "dual/combat-oriented" HS.

That is just my personal opinion... But again I think Magic is the "superior" game - because of it's questionable "balance" and alternative way of playing...

questccg
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Completeness

Squinshee wrote:
Seems like a reason why Hearthstone is superior, not inferior.

Well that's the point in Hearthstone (HS): you always have SOME mana which will allow you to play SOME Creatures... Maybe not always or maybe weaker Creatures, but it lends to almost ALWAYS allowing you to play some Creature or another and then use that Creature to fight your opponent.

Listen I'm not saying HS is BAD... I'm just saying I think Magic is the more complete game...

questccg
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Manascrewed in Magic

And IMHO being "Manascrewed" in Magic is another form of BALANCING... Just because you have the MOST POWERFUL Creature doesn't mean you will EVER get to play it...

In HS, if you wait long enough, you probably will get the option of playing it. But then it can be "transformed" into a sheep and get's killed on the next turn.

HS is FASTER in terms of play and is very "combat"-focused.

Magic is something else... IMHO.

Bokis
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RE: Hearthstone is the best

Rimmsolin wrote:
This is a quote with an attribution line.Hearthstone is the best system IMO as its fluid, smooth, requires no major upkeep, doesn't rely on RNG, and has a perfect flow ending in a climax nearly every game.

A couple ideas in addition to the resource gate: -Balance it: burn cards to play cards, so the more powerful can be played early, at the cost of shrinking your hand size and losing card advantage -Pre-requisites: Must have a basic WATER type card before playing an Advanced water type card for instance. -Leveling: Cards start at Level 1 and may be upgraded on the card itself using a token to represent tier, or swapped for a similar card type Warrior Lv1 >> Warrior Lv2.

Hearthstone's mana system enables some really fast paced games while still benefiting the two players equally, there's a reason why the game is so popular.

I really like the ideas you have! The level up concept sounds rather original and could probably be used to great effect in a game!

Thanks for the tips :)

let-off studios
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Leveling Up

Rimmsolin wrote:
[...]
-Leveling: Cards start at Level 1 and may be upgraded on the card itself using a token to represent tier, or swapped for a similar card type Warrior Lv1 >> Warrior Lv2.
This is a prominent feature in Thunderstone and I assume Thunderstone Advanced. Look into that game and how this system works should you be interested in it. I have the original Thunderstone and a few expansions, and still play it solo from time to time - I actually think it works quite well for solitaire play.

The game also includes a "trash" mechanic to rid oneself of cards no longer useful, and uses a purchasing system very similar to Dominion to acquire additional cards for a player deck.

Zanril
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Jot downs you can take

I'm assuming you are talking about being able to play high cost creatures/spells really early without expecting anything else

• Make the OP card rely on another card(s) either upon casting it or to make it persist
• Have it so it can only be activated after turn X (as a hard cap)
• Make it more expensive if played too early in the game (as a soft cap)

larienna
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Hmm!, That is something that

Hmm!, That is something that I have been meditating once. In almost all TCG style card games I have played, you start the game with weak characters and eventually end up with strong characters, or multiple weak characters.

But ... Does it have to be this way? What happens if a strong character is played early, if your opponent can do the same, does the game balance itself out?

I remember a game called Emmerlaus, which used a common deck of cards, but cards had no casting cost but were variable in power. So you could play very powerful card soons, but still this game was mainly direct attack games, so you never got stuck with a strong monster in play owning the battlefield.

Still in their game, to make your spell stronger you needed to equip rings, so even with a strong card at the beginning of the game, with no rings it will do little damage. For example, yes your spell made you roll D12 for damage, but with no rinsg you only rolled 1 D, so not that powerful.

That is one thing you can do, put permament into play that strength cards to make them efficient so that even if they are put at the beginning of the turn, they won't be much a threat.

Else another idea is to just balance the cards so that they all have the same value. Still perfect balance between cards could be harder to achieve.

How about if your opponent plays a strong cards, you can play a strong card too, so that your opponent will think twice before playing a strong card.

Maybe the amount of mana you have each turn is fixed, there could still be cards that pump up your mana, and maybe you could stack unused mana. If player plays a strong cards, you can reply with many weak monsters. It would allow players to save for stronger cards.

Maybe many weak monsters does not add up their cost together, you just compare values. But doing so would shrink you hand. An easy way to counter strong monster with many weak ones.

Anyways, these are just random ideas.

czarcastic
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Generals

Most TCGs have the player set as the ultimate target. How about setting the targets as certain powerful creatures that act as generals for your armies? These generals could be used to attack, but their primary purpose would be to summon weaker mobs to attack and defend for them. The generals could have limits on the types and numbers of minions they can control.

This would shake up a few of the common TCG mechanics: Player as target, start wimpy and build, external resource control.

The main difficulty in can see in a system like this is finding balanced deterrants to early rushes with the generals, to make it an extremely risky but still viable strategy.

*Edit: oops, got lost in thread and forgot the OP was asking how to prevent too powerful tool soon... Still, standing by my post because that question comes from sticking to the set convention.

radioactivemouse
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Powerful cards.

Powerful cards in card games, at least to me, need to be defined.

By powerful do you mean versatile? Magic has some cards that aren't "powerful" per se, but find themselves banned or restricted because of their versatility i.e. Dark Ritual, which was a 1 swamp magic that produced 3 swamp magic or lightning bolt, which was a 1 mountain magic for 3 direct damage to a player or creature...both of which weren't really game changing, but combo'ed with other cards, could be dangerous.

Or do you mean powerful as in the single card itself is just game-changing. The power of the card is such that, when played, can end the game.

Once you define that, you can determine how to mitigate the power and ultimately find a balance.

Restrictions are usually the go-to as far as balance. A single powerful card just needs more resources to bring out. It's that simple. As another person has said, a card may need a trigger condition or card in play in order to play the powerful card i.e. Exodia in Yu-Gi-Oh.

In the same way, you could think in terms of "gear" sets. One card itself is cheap, but when another card of the same "gear" comes out, the bonuses start to stack. Of course those bonuses will have to be spelled out on every card.

But what about alternative ways of bringing out a card? Maybe incorporate dice and have the card come out on a particular number? What if the games have a specific amount of rounds (i.e. 10 rounds in Small World) and a powerful card can only be brought out on a particular round? Maybe a card can come out in stasis, but the opponent has a chance to destroy it before it completely comes into play, forcing the opponent to redirect their strategy. Maybe both players obtain cards from a central deck, that way luck has a hand in who gets the powerful cards (Race for the Galaxy, Ascension, etc.)

larienna has a great point:

larienna wrote:

But ... Does it have to be this way? What happens if a strong character is played early, if your opponent can do the same, does the game balance itself out?

The card game Epic does this, with cards being either 1 or 0 resource to bring out, it encourages each player to bring out their biggest character early as to create a fast game.

A card game doesn't need to start with both players at their weakest and growth happens as the game goes along. A game can start off with two powerful characters where powerful cards are just par for the course.

I'm working on a game now that's a co-op where each player comes in with whatever weapons and gear they want (as it should) but is restricted by ammunition...each weapon requires a certain amount of ammunition to fire (and a chance for it to hit), but every player has to always keep their ammunition amount in mind throughout the game. Of course there are weapons that don't require bullets, but are restricted by range.

Maybe both players works with a specific amount of resources every round and the player chooses what to bring out. They could bring out the most powerful card, but they would only be able to bring out 1 card, conversely they could spend their resources on a bunch of smaller cards, giving the player the numbers advantage.

Ultimately, whenever you have powerful cards, you need to balance it out somehow. A powerful single card at a cheap price is too OP. I use the following:

Cheaper, Faster, Better. You can have two at the cost of the third. This works with all cards.

Cheap + Fast = not a very strong unit
Cheap + Better = comes out slow or takes time to bring out
Better + Faster = comes at a cost

The second example I talk about (in my first paragraph) lies in power by versatility. That is something you'll have to identify quickly and keep tabs on while you're play testing.

larienna
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I like your idea of generals

I like your idea of generals that are not powerful by themselves, but get stronger with units in play or make commanded units stronger while in play. These generals could cost more, but bringing them down sooner in the game does not break the game, because they are expensive due to their potential power instead of their initial power.

This means that you'll have to use something like Epic, where the cost to summon for all cards is the same, or very close (like 0 and 1) while the generals would cost more. You could used a fixed resource to spend each turn and it would work.

You could even restrict certain game play action according to if you have a general or not to command your units. Like many you cannot attack without a general.

I kind of like this idea.

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