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Cost Balance for Abilities

3 replies [Last post]
Joined: 12/29/2013

Hi all,

I am compiling a list of abilities and their cost to activate for a card game.

The closest analogy would be Pokemon cards, where the designers have a big library of abilities they can assign to the monster cards and do their best to balance them.

For example, my base cost is that 1 energy = 3 damage (or attack, if you prefer).
This scales easily to
2 energy = 6 damage, and then
3 energy = 9 damage, and so on...

The challenge I have now if working out if getting to draw an extra card is worth 2, 3 or 4 energy in the context of the game. And if looking at the next card in your library is worth 1, 2 or 3 energy. And if 1 energy would equal 4 damage if you also inflict 1 damage to yourself… and so on.

Is there a proper name for this endeavor, or is it just called balance?
And is there anything I can do to make sure I am as successful as possible with it, in addition to play-testing the absolute balls off of it?

radioactivemouse's picture
Joined: 07/08/2013
Can't tell with the information given

To be honest, you can calculate the crap out of what numbers to use, but you'll never know for sure until you build a prototype and play test. THEN you'll know what numbers to use.

Just place a number you think it appropriate and take notes when you play test.

That's all I have to say.

adversitygames's picture
Joined: 09/02/2014
I plug a bunch of numbers

I plug a bunch of numbers into a spreadsheet.

For example, for one of my prototypes (Arachnida, an area control game) I have:
Insect harvest rate
Insect growth rate
Movement cost
Web laying cost
Web maintenance cost
Danger chance
Estimated distance between harvest sites

and I ran a calculation on these (and a few others) to approximate the overall growth economy (to make sure you could reliably get a positive result, but not too much, as otherwise the players get stuck and can't make progress or they find it too easy and get bored)

Overall I'd say: try to predict how how the players would behave for a few rounds and make calculations on that to determine how much progress is being made. The important question is: Is the victory condition being moved towards? (which from the sound of it, is something like "is it reasonable to cause damage faster than you can recover from it")

But it's still just an approximation. I think it made my first prototype much more playable than it would have been otherwise. But didn't reveal the exploits, the special cases or give me any sense of how fun it would be.

Squinshee's picture
Joined: 10/17/2012

danielbishop56 wrote:
play-testing the absolute balls off of it

The more you playtest, the more you'll understand the value of your in-game actions/currencies. Creating benchmarks can be helpful, like:

10 Damage ≈ Poison status ≈ Draw card ≈ Opponent discards a card

20 Damage ≈ Burn status ≈ Draw two cards then discard a card ≈ Opponent discards a card at random

All made up, but I think you get the picture.

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