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Cost of Action Cards

5 replies [Last post]
Joined: 08/05/2008

I have a couple of mechanics that work very well.
Its a solid and interesting engine that builds up over time.

However i have added "action cards" for a couple of reasons.

They add a layer of randomness to break the regular cycle and situations that force you to adapt your strategy.

This makes it a bit more unpredictable, and adds replayability value.

The cards focus around board, deck and hand control, by manipulating and twisting the core rules.

For example: you are only allowed to draw one card per turn, a action card could make you draw Three cards instead.

Now to the thing i would like to hear your input on.

The action cards in its current state doesnt "cost" anything to play.

I see that as a weakness from a strategy point of view.
Knowing when to play what and prioritize adds further to the strategy.

If you are familiar with games like MTG, you know the boring feeling of getting "mana screwed".

I would like to find a way to add weight to the selection of what card to play and when, without adding another game currency like "mana" or "action Points".

The first thing that came to my mind is to restrict the number of cards you may play each turn.
Downside to this is that i "kill" the ability to see special combinations of cards that could form satisfying combos and also add to the replayability.

My other thought was that you can play as many cards as other cards you discard.
The upside is that i dont introduce any new currencies (cards themselves become a currency).

Are there more ways that i havent thought of?
What would you do, and why?

All input appreciated.

Joined: 01/30/2012
Opportunity cost and sequential actions

Action cards don't always need costs, and I totally get what you mean by trying to add weight to decision. Why choose card A over card B if card B is always superior - you have to have an in-game reason that makes them both good choices.

First, playing a particular card does always have an invisible cost in the form of its opportunity cost, though if you allow someone to play as many cards as he/she wants, that cost doesn't matter. I think restricting the number of action cards is a fine idea, as it makes a player think hard about what card(s) are best played right this turn versus saving them for later.

Second, you could implement a bonus for actions that follow certain other actions as a way to increase the interesting decisions in your game. For example, give every action card a certain color or tag. This could be very similar to a suite in a normal deck of playing cards. All actions cards have a normal effect, and then an enhanced effect. The enhanced effect only kicks in if you follow suit of the card played by your opponent. Right away, you've introduced a whole new dimension to action cards and you didn't change their cost at all.

Well, you did actually increase the mental cost associated with playing one card over another, but it sounds like you are wanting that. Now a player has to weigh the cost of playing a powerful red card against weaker blue card. Without the enhanced sequential effect, the player should always go with the red card. However, if the player knows that the stronger red will likely give the opponent an enhanced effect that would really help them win, that leads the player to go with the weaker blue card.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Using Action Points (APs)

Firstly I think you need to better evaluate your design. If you can draw and play combos (multiple cards) ... Well then you SHOULD consider an AP system.

Say 3 APs per turn, allows you to BOTH DRAW and PLAY cards. So you could Draw 3 cards or Play 3 cards at most. Then what follows is variation on the cards (2 vs. 1)...

You need to evaluate what works best. But to me it appears like your game could benefit from Action Points (APs)


Rick-Holzgrafe's picture
Joined: 07/22/2008
Action points

I think questccg has a good point, in the previous post. I realize that you don't want to introduce new currencies, but giving each card a cost to play makes decisions more poignant and interesting.

Action points can be particularly nice since you don't need to add any counters or tokens to the game. Each player gets some number of action points per turn, and if they're not spent on that turn, they're lost: they can't be hoarded.

Action points also give you a balancing mechanism: stronger cards cost more action points to play.

And it gives you another aspect to your engine building: offer a way to increase the number of action points a player gets each turn, and this enables longer, stronger combos. You can add to this by imposing a hand limit, and providing a way to increase your hand limit.

Another way to make the cards more interesting is to offer two actions on each card. When you play a card, you choose just one of those actions, thus giving up the chance to use the other one. Sometimes the best choice will be obvious, but with a good range of actions, players will sometimes have a difficult and interesting time deciding which action to use, and when to use it.

To minimize "mana screw", lay out (say) three action cards face-up from the shuffled deck. It costs 1 AP to take a card into your hand, and you can choose any of the face-up cards, or risk taking a blind draw from the deck.

Ristora's picture
Joined: 11/05/2013
Hi Candika,I don't know much

Hi Candika,

I don't know much about your game, but I'm going to put forward an idea just in case it might be helpful.

If you don't want your action cards to have a cost and you don't want an action point system, then perhaps you could add a strategic element to playing action cards in a different way.

You mention combos, so I gather you want to be able to string cards together for greater effect. What about building the potential for combos into your cards themselves?

One way I can think of doing this would be adding some properties to your action cards. Perhaps you could add 2 properties.

The first property could be a Sequence Restriction value. The value of the sequence restriction property could be one that tells you at what point a card may be played in a sequence of card plays. Each action card might have a numerical value that indicates if it can be played at any point in your sequence of actions card plays, or if it must be played as the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd card (or later, maybe) etc. in your sequence--or a combination thereof.

The second property could be an Effect Chaining value. The value of the effect chaining property could be on that tells you what kind of cards may follow or build upon another.
For example, (and forgive the simplicity and linearity of this) suppose you have the following 4 action cards that you want to string together: 'Fireball', 'Ignite', 'Persistence', and 'Sear'.

Thematically speaking, the ultimate combo I’m envisioning here is casting a fireball to cause damage (Fireball), causing something flammable to catch fire and take additional damage (Ignite), increasing the duration of the effect (Persistence), and as a result of ‘Persistence’ being played, the flammable object (I assume a creature) takes extra burn damage (Sear).

Fireball could have sequence value of 1 (allowing it to be cast at the beginning of a chain of actions) and an effect chaining value of ‘burn’ (perhaps associated with a red flame icon or something like that).

Ignite could have a sequence value of 2 (it must be cast as the second card, or later, in a sequence) and similarly, based on theme, it could have a effect chaining value of ‘burn’ meaning it can only be played in a chain with similar ‘burn’ cards.

Persistence could have a sequence value of 1 or more (allowing it to be played after cards like ‘Fireball’ to increase the effect of another card), but have a neutral effect chaining property so that it could be played not only after fireball, but other similar cards like an ‘Ice Ray’ or ‘Lightning Bolt’.
Sear could have a sequence value of 3, and, again, an effect chaining value of burn.

Fireball (1 damage)
Fireball (1 damage) -> Persistence (x2 Damage, 2 total)
Fireball (1 damage) -> Ignite (2 damage)
Fireball (1 damage) -> Ignite (2 damage) -> Persistence (x2 Damage, 6 total)
Fireball (1 damage) -> Ignite (2 damage) -> Persistence (x 2 damage) -> Sear (3 Damage, 12 total with the other 3 cards played.
In the last combo, persistence applies to all damage done in the entire chain.

Good luck with your game!

Joined: 08/05/2008
ThinkBuildPlay: I think like

ThinkBuildPlay: I think like you regarding the invisible cost and regarding how to make choices more interesting.

questccg: I definately consider some kind of AP system like you suggest, my ambition is to have some kind of less "visible" cost than the "standard" Mana/AP systems that im familiar with.
Thats where im struggling right now.

Rick-Holzgrafe: I like your idea of cards with double use, as a matter of fact i already have a couple of cards of that type in the game. I should maybe consider making all cards have a dual purpose. It could lead to both reduced production costs and add weight to decision making.

Ristora: Very interesting concept with card-strings. In fact gave me ideas for another game! This design im discussing now is not that "combo-heavy" and use mostly two card combos and som three card combos. But the three card combo is rare in my present design.

Thank you all, for your valuable input!

I really love this forum, great help for someone like me that live in a small town in a small country and dont have the opportunity to discuss game design with fellow designers.

Still struggling with what is the best way to implement "AP-like" behaviour without addding a in game currency, but i have got some really good pointers and insights!

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