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Are there any card game mechanics you loathe?

11 replies [Last post]
Joined: 04/03/2009

First off, hello everyone, i posted twice in 2009, then kinda forgot about this place. Hope to be more of a regular now, at least not fall off the face of the planet again, this is an awesome resource.

I'm focusing on TCG/CCG/LCG style games here, but any sort of mechanic involving cards could do. Are there any mechanics you really don't like to see? Or perhaps something that is simply overdone in your opinion. Of course, make sure to say why, and it's ok both if it's something really common or something that rarely happens. This could be a useful discussion, not just for me.

Joined: 01/20/2011
two things

I'm no a fan of card games where you steal cards from other players or get to peak at their hand. I'm not a TCG/CCG/LCG player so I'm not familiar with how much "take that" exist in these games but both peaking and stealing really annoy me.

Meldryn's picture
Joined: 07/15/2011
Card Mechanics

I used to play Magic: The Gathering a lot. The most infuriating thing to me in that game were "unstoppable" or infinite card combinations, in which you're given the ability to infinitely perform an action because of the mechanics of two or more cards, or you're able to replicate actions so that their benefits become exponential. It's been several years since I played, so I can't think of any specific examples, but I seem to recall combos like: Card 1 allows a player to generate massive amounts of mana, Card 2 allows the player to turn that mana into a massive number of week, type-specific creature "tokens", and Card 3 is as tough and/or powerful as all of the creatures of the aforementioned type combined...then an artifact would invariably be placed on this pumped-up creature to make them unstoppable. It's not that these types of combos are unfair or even that they're not clever on the behalf of the person using them, it's that the abundance of combinations like this seemed, to me, to make the game more about finding the right combo, rather than strategically or cleverly defeating your opponent. I guess, really, my complaint is that in such games there shouldn't be a way to deliver a massive, game-ending coup de grâce simply by winding up with the right cards...

Mike Young
Joined: 07/18/2011
A number of "beer & pretzels"

A number of "beer & pretzels" card games include cards which force other players to lose their turns. I hate that.

ilta's picture
Joined: 12/05/2008
I agree with Mike --

I agree with Mike -- mechanics that annihilate your turn, either by making you skip it, or forcing you to discard a whole hand that took several turns to build, or other such things are really annoying. If the gameplay is quick enough it's not so bad, but if I spent the last 15 minutes carefully managing my hand, only to lose it because of one card someone else played, I'm annoyed.

More general point: I played Magic but ultimately I came to believe that CCGs are just a way to reward whoever spends the most. It was a formative experience as a gameplayer (wow, card games are more than abstract bicycle playing card games?) but I'd never play one again. That said, the big ones (Magic, Yugiyo, Pokemon) remain very popular. The others, of course, are about as useful as paper coasters.

Three's picture
Joined: 08/31/2011
Field Wiping.

Simply put, cards that wipe the entire field. Even worse cards that only wipe the opponents side of the field.

File13Games's picture
Joined: 07/11/2009
Loathsome mechanics not necessarily the enemy

All of this of course, is just one dork's opinion, but having played a sunk a lot of time and money into these sorts of games in my younger years (I won't touch them outside LCG format now) I feel like I have two mana to throw in.

You can't please all of the people all of the time. While you may get some duplicate responses on here, it'll be difficult to find a general consensus on the 'worst mechanics of all time' because TCG/CCG/LCG style games all may have common elements but are their own animals, and in each style of game there will be different mechanics that will be particularly bothersome.

That being said, there are still general things I think to avoid, but they're not pinned down by individual mechanics.

1) Dead Cards in Hand
If you find yourself holding a lot of cards or even a type of card or specific card unable to use it, or to see any possible use for it, that tends to be a point of aggravation. Sometimes this is the fault of the person who has built the deck, because they've put something that hasn't fit for one reason or another, but sometimes it just means it's a bad card. Despite Mark Rosewater's opinion on the subject ("Bad cards need to exist so people have the option not to use them.") I don't think it's something to be okay with. If it fits with the game, a possible solution is to have all or some or many or whatever cards be dual use. As an example, the WH40K card game-- all the cards were units and the like, but during different phases of the game you flipped your hand over and they had a bar along the bottom that had an alternate use.

2) Downtime
Cards, combos, or strings that cause excessive downtime tend to make people lose interest in the game at hand. This seems to be more of a problem with people who are not typically big gamers than the rank-and-file players, but if you want to appeal to a wider audience, downtime is something to be addressed. In two player games this isn't so much a problem, but if your game is capable of multiplayer it can bog things down something terrible. Dominion, as an example, as much as my wife and I love the game, usually is an offender in this regard in some games. If I get into a long string of +card +action and end up dropping seven or eight cards, and then there are long strings all the way around the table, by the time it gets back to my wife, she's already paying attention to something else. She's basically out of the game-- having not paid attention to a whole go around the table and has to re-engage with her hand and the board position.

3) Pacing (re: Discard/Destruction/Board Wiping)
I'm going to address this as it's been touched on by previous posts. Nobody likes to have their cards plucked out of their hand, particularly at random. Nobody likes to have the cards that they've decided to put onto the board knocked into the discard pile, especially if it's their resources by which all other cards are put into play and actions are taken. Nobody likes to see the game basically reset, especially if they're on the winning side. I personally feel that this is a matter of your game's pacing and structure. If your game builds up quickly and easily, Discard/Destroy/Wipe mechanics may be just fine, in fact, depending on how quickly it moves, you may deem them necessary. Discard doesn't mean much if you draw back to your maximum hand size every turn, for example. Destruction isn't too much a concern if you're using a resource-free system where cards just hit the table and it's more what you do with them in play than how you play them. Board wipes will always be a touchy subject. A slower pacing however means that much more care should be taken into account when and how often these are going to be part of your game, lest things get into point 4--

4) Futility
I used to play a CCG, once upon a time, that had a wonderful story, beautiful artwork, neat mechanics, and a nice array of variation. It was very popular and the players were very die hard, devoted, and on the whole, extremely friendly. I'm not sure if it was wide eyed youth that made me blind to this fact early on, or if the game had changed so much that this had become a new thing, but it came to a point where I could see the end of the game... usually two or three full turns before it happened. But short of topdecking or a mistake on mine or my opponent's part, it would go pretty much as I figured it would, but we were still left to go through the motions of completing the game just the same. A player who feels they are playing to no real end will quickly lose interest.

I'm sure there's more I could throw down on here but it's late for me, and I need to sleep before I get to doing too much rambling (too late for that, I know.)

Hope this is helpful in some way, though it's not precisely what you asked for.

Dralius's picture
Joined: 07/26/2008
Loath is a strong term but I

Loath is a strong term but I shy away from anything that looks, sounds or smells like a TCG/CCG/LCG.

When they were popular I played them until I burnt out and even 10 years later I have very little desire for any game with 300 different cards that I need to learn to play. Doesn’t seem worth the effort when there are plenty of great games I can learn in just one or two plays.

infocorn's picture
Joined: 07/30/2008
Hate Songs for CCGs

First off, the Millionaire's Club that most are is the single biggest turn off to me EVER. EV.ER. It's the primary reason I got out of Magic in the first place (and was proven to have made the right choice when my jerkweed brother-in-law turned up, as he's EVERYTHING wrong with Magic). If you're planning TCG/CCG models, do yourself a favor and make everything accessable to every player. I like how YuGiOh offers various versions of the same card-- silver letters vs. various foils.

Also, take a page from the sports card sewer: screw "special" cards. That's way dumb.

As for actual gameplay mechanics, heavy control is always lame. If I take the time to build a deck, I want to play with the damn thing, so having someone have the option to countermand EVERYTHING I put into play at no penalty to them is always a huge turn-off. Magic's terrible for that; YuGi can be, but it's a little less annoying.

I really dislike any alternate victory condition that triggers automatically, like the card combo goes too fast for any kind of response; YuGi's SPIRIT message mechanic bugs the heck out of me. Alt Victories for various combos is a risky way to build a deck, but I think it takes guts so just balance it.

Specific-Card combos can go either way. Again, it affects your deckbuild so it can be risky, but if there's enough flex to the required pieces and a decent enough pay off, it works. A good example is the Yu Gi Oh Elemental/Destiny Hero fusion cards; a crappier one is MtG's Spirit of the Night special summon. This is actually a place where I really dislike YuGiOh, as it seems like a TON of stuff is very "type-of-deck" specific.

Overall, when i think CCG/TCG, I really like the deckbuild aspect, but hate the collectable side. I think if you make the game-- all of it, even the more powerful cards-- available to ANYONE who wants to play, you're best off. My ideal is a full set of a release being available in a box of boosters and either print-on-demand or print-to-order duplicates. With POD getting cheaper, I think this will be the way more games will go.

Just my thoughts..

Traz's picture
Joined: 04/06/2009
sucks to be you

The only thing I hate about CCGs is the getting resource hosed. It makes me crazy. I can have a fist full of cards, but can't do anything with them because I can't get the freaking mana out of the deck. I've got 24 resource cards in a 60 card deck, but manage to draw 15 non-resources cards in a row. It's the ultimate anuerism.

I understand the concept of luck-of-the-draw, but that's insane.

I used to play BATTLETECH and had this problem all the time. I solved it by creating 'DUAL STOCKPILE RULES'. All your resource cards go in one library, all your other cards go in a different library. Not only does it allow you to control the pace of your resources, it allows you to make many more tactical moves. It OPENS UP options - not reduce them.

infocorn's picture
Joined: 07/30/2008
Resource Lock

One side-step I've seen games use is the concept of Chimera cards: One card that can be instant-play, permanent-play, or resource-play. It was done well with World of Warcraft as it really makes you think about holding that 7-point card you get in your opening hand vs. tossing it for a weenie summon. I like how Hecatomb did this too, but I DIDN'T like that there was no-such-thing as a land/holding/mission/etc. in Hecatomb...I think.

There's a guy somewhere freelancing a Clone Wars cartoon CCG using this concept REALLY well. I wish I knew where/how to point you.

Joined: 04/03/2009
So what i read here

So what i read here is;
1.Don't make a deck automatically better because the cards in it are more expensive (and better yet, use a distribution system that favors equal collections for all).

-I think this is great advice, though a hobbyist like me has little to worry about here, someone more professional (and who knows, perhaps me someday) would do well to heed this.

2.Don't indulge in effects that can wipe the playing field (both universally and just the enemy side), unless the game is very fast paced and easy to rebound in.

-I completely agree, it really can make a game feel far less strategic. In my book, a hard-fought loss is much more fun than a cheap victory. There are rare cases where this does make sense, but not in the abundance that it takes place in most TCGs.

3.No one likes 'dead hands', try to create a resource system that avoids such a situation whenever possible.

-Some of the more complex games can't avoid this all the time, but i think that almost all TCGs I've played could do better in this respect. And the only game I've played that utilized 'chimera' cards did it in a very simple manner, the Call Of Cthulhu TCG. Every turn you had the option of putting down one card from your hand into one of your 'domains (resource piles, usually 3 except for certain cases)', and now it was a resource of it's type, no longer whatever it was. This meant that you almost always had resources, and usually had a card that's playable. Of course, it also meant making sacrifices, but that's befitting in a game about cults summoning monster gods. For a new TCG, having a fluid resource system (and if none at all, then a system where you can always play something) could easily be a selling point.
And a more intigrated 'chimera' system where a card could be numerous things at once has room for innovation. A monster-type card that can be played as a powerful spell for less cost but is then discarded, or used up to produce __ energy, or that can assist a different monster like a tool, or whatever else you could dream up? There's definite possibility there.

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