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Does MTG has the best combat mechanic in the CCG world?

11 replies [Last post]
Joined: 07/28/2011

I am designing a ccg and have come across a problem, MTG combat mechanic seems to be the very best in the CCG world. I have been trying to come up with a more strategic and fun method of implementing combat so that it is has lots of depth and feels different from MTG. So far I am still unsuccessful.

The first thing I thought is WOWTCG. Instead of the defending player choosing which creature to block with, the attacker is the one who chooses which creature to attack. Although this combat mechanic makes things flow smoother (as compared to MTG where the game can reach a stalemate and the game becomes a race for top decking that killer card to break the stalemate), people are saying that it is too simple. By the way, there are also claims that the WOWTCG feels similar to MTG, and I don't understand why is it that they feel this way. Another problem with this mechanic is that it has to use damage counters, which can cause logistic problems, making it not-so-portable.

I have also looked at the combat mechanics of Battletech CCG.Battletech CCG was praised to be some of the few CCGs that focus more on tactics than those that are focused on killer combos. This is something that I would like to emulate in my game. However, there seems to be too many things to consider. Your unit can attack almost anything. There are so many different things to keep track of like counters on construction site, damage counters on mech, the units have too many different stats, unit speed, defending sites.... This mechanic is just too overwhelming, and I would prefer a more simple yet elegant mechanic.

I have also looked into games like Magination. The combat in Magination is interesting, however, there are very few surprises and bluffing. Plus, the use of lots of counters makes me want to stay away from it.

So, do you guys think that MTG combat style and its other clones (Duel Masters is similar to mtg) is the best way to implement combat? Are there other CCGs with interesting combat mechanics that are simple yet deep which I have overlooked? Thanks.

JaffetC's picture
Joined: 09/19/2011
Card Fight!! Vanguard, Weiss/

Card Fight!! Vanguard, Weiss/ Schwartz, if you are just looking into american published games, then you are missing out in the slew of Spanish and japanese based combat games.

Lycee was HUGE before it went by the way side heres the translation for combat in that game ( any who, something to consider is "What do you want your players to attack"

for instance, Magic's combat is based that, YOU are the magician summoning creatures to do your bidding. Hence forth you can also command your creatures to defend you. If you choose for them not to defend you, then you will take the damage from the oncoming assault.

in Duel masters however, as a player you never had this option to block. instead you had to play "defenders" that would defend for you.

Naruto's Team Combat, is also something interesting to look at. In that game you are the chief of the village and you put together "raiding" parties. If the defender choose not to send out any parties to defend their village then their village will receive damage from the raid.

Warhammer LCG, you control 3 area, these area if delt too much damage can be destroyed. The options are basically do I attack X area and defend with my creatures that are there, or should i let them damage that particular area.

Vanguard!! Card Fight, is all about living through 6 damage. and the damage you only receive when the vanguard (your avatar) is delt damage. Players can choose to attack it, however in this game you can defend with card from your hand and from units with the "intercept" mechanic. This game is ALL creatures in a deck.

Livid Visage, It has 5 character slots, if you control no characters you lose the game. so basically in this game you the player have to build a strategy to best get rid of all the characters the opponent controls. Because of this, the defender doesn't choose who to defend with, instead players declare attack onto other characters in play.

Weiss / Schwartz, this game is actually interesting, the goal of the game is to not level up. As you take damage (increments of 7) you go up a level. While being at a higher level means playing stronger cards, you are actually being put on tilt in order to defend from your life being really low. Its actually really fun.

I have not played Monster Collection, Victory Sparks, or some of the other games that Bushiroad is releasing. However these games do have strong followings in Asia.

Vs System (marvel, Dc, Hellboy, etc...) this game was about reducing the opponents life total fro 50 to 0. however the tricky part was that, you had to attack specific heroes in play, and as heroes were stunned the owner of the hero would receive damage from that. This game still has a following considering that Upper Deck lost all rights to the game now... (however dont quote me on this)

Edge Ent. Has made a game called Even the Gods have fallen (dont recall the name exactly) however in this game, you and your opponent are both gods calling up your followers to do your bidding in attacking your opposing god. This game is really cool because it uses a "link" system. where you play creatures and continue playing as long as you can link up. each creature also has 4 areas in which they attack with. consider them always 1 point. however when the defender defends if they do, the opponent takes damage from any area that was not defended.

that would mean 1 damage, because one of the X had no block. and this is 1 to 1 creature.

The Spoils, This game was pretty cool too, Basically you are a faction and the opponents goal is to reduce your total faction point. In this game combat was resolved using "speed" so in addition to attack and defense, characters had a speed number. and highest always resolved first. so a 3 speed character had the potential of killing a speed 2 or 1 if its power was stronger than the defenders defense.

Pokemon, This game besides you being a Trainer and getting all your Pokemon knocked out also had an alternative way of winning. At the start of the game both of you set aside 10 prizes i believe, and as you knock out pokemon you win one of those prizes. if you won all 10 you won the game. OR if you knocked out all pokemon from the opponents active zone and Bench (held 5 additional pokemon) you were considered victory by K.O.

Epic, was an interesting game. it has similar mechanics to Magic, however it used an odd Resource based system that from my understand got out of control too quickly. the game only lasted 1 release, but it had a strong following for a while. considering it was created by a few MTG pro's youd figure they would have gotten it "right" or kept going. but alas it didnt.

Legend of the 5 rings, this is a game i've yet to play. and i really want to, it used a very interesting way of fighting out games. it uses 2 decks.... but i cant tell you more about it because i have not sat down to play a game. maybe when i move ill find somebody that can teach me.

Phase, was a WIP (work in progress) game from Alderac, they haven't completed it but the previews looked promising. To be honest Alderacs biggest property is Lotfr... so i doubt they will do anything with Phase for a long while...

Battlespirits was also another interesting game. I managed to play a bit, in this game you used "cores" these cores if lost ment points lost on your end. It was a simple and quick game and again you choose what to attack. because the creatures them selves had Cores.

Im pretty sure that by now i've gotten my point across when i states "what do you want the players to attack"... there is A TON of stuff out there. and dont fear in making your style of combat... if people say, it feels like something else, consider it a compliment. that means 1. they have played said other popular game. and 2. they understand your game well enough that they might get interested in playing for a much longer term.

Joined: 07/28/2011
Thanks for your long list of

Thanks for your long list of suggestions. Really appreciate them.

However, combat mechanic in Duel Masters and Battle Spirits TCG is similar to MTG. It has about the same feel, even though slightly different.

As for your question about what the players of my game is attacking......
My card game is a war between nations(theme not fixed), so units will either attack other units or the nation itself.

By the way, can you recall what was the game created by Edge Ent.? I am interested in checking out this game and the so called link system.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Quote:in Duel masters

in Duel masters however, as a player you never had this option to block. instead you had to play "defenders" that would defend for you.

I really liked the duel masters system because you were always open toe attacks. In MTG, players can band together to build up a defence, so if the enemy has a lot of monsters, it will intimidate you and you will not attack because you will probably lose since player could group all his unit together and kill your very strong unit.

In duel masters, you can target unit, it's not the defender who selects the target unless he has a blocker unit. But you can only target tapped unit. So if you attack, or use the ability of a unit, you make it vulnerable to attacks.

So all these rules make sure that if you have many creatures and I have a few strong, I could be advantaged, you will not be able to destroy my creatures easily since you cannot group all your weak creatures together.

But on the other hand, to win the game the strength of the creature does not matter, Each creature destroy a shield whatever it's strength, when 6 creatures pass, you win the game.

So this creates a nice balance where small creatures which does not cost much are going to die more easily vs stronger creature but are still as efficient to attack player. This is what creates a nice balance in this game.

Joined: 12/12/2011
I'm greatly intrigued by

I'm greatly intrigued by Livid Visage's system that was mentioned, but other than that, to answer the OP.

I don't think MTG has the best combat system by a long shot. It's just the most popular card game in general, and that is because the basis rules are simple and it was the first of its kind.

L5R is, IMO, one of the better card games out there. Its rules are more complicated than most people wish to learn. It's combat system is wonderful.

The left of your two decks represents your characters, gold producers, and a few other types of things. The right deck is called the Fate Deck iirc. The fate deck holds ability cards, allies, items, etc.

What makes this game even more interesting is that you don't have a 'life' total. Instead you start the game with 4 provinces, which also act as your drawing hand for the left deck. One card is placed face up in each province slot. So as you lose provinces, you have less resources from that deck.

You attach allies to your characters, and they create armies. Characters can still challenge each other to duels, ignoring all attached allies.

Combat is brutal but well done. I'd suggest looking up a PDF rather than having me try to explain it here. If your card game is based on nation fighting nation, then L5R's rules are definitely worth reading through.

For new card games however, I think the simpler the combat system (in terms of resolution calculation), the better. My favorite combat system recently is that of Blue Moon. The entire game is only combat really, but it works. I'm trying to make a CCG currently that is inspired by that system.

Also, in my CCG thread I got a good tidbit of advice that I will paraphrase here. If you're purposely trying to make a game 'different than MTG' you will fail. Instead, focus on just making the game. Ignore MTG, forget what you know about it, focus on what you're trying to convey in your game, and think of alternatives to the preset, already ingrained combat systems that are so common in the CCG world.

Good Luck!

Cogentesque's picture
Joined: 08/17/2011
Jaffet - that was an AMAZING

Jaffet - that was an AMAZING post man, pro CCG right there! :D

In order to respond to the original question, I would (unhelpfully) ask that you reconcider the questions: "Does Magic have the best combat in the world?" well, I could ask "Does Catan have th ebest use of dice in the world" or "does Mansions of Madness have the best components in the world" - it is very subject and moreover it is a debating question.

If you are after "Is there a better combat system that I could use for my nations CCG than MtG" then I would have answered you over when you posted this originally on BGG :P

n.b. you should totally cal it "Nations" thats cool.

I would say that whenever you make a game "in the image" of another game, then all you are doing is making that game. This is NEARLY impossible to avoid. I think that the best way you can make a novel and fun CCG is by starting with your own Awesome things from your own mind and not taking inspiration from, or copying, or trying to imrpove anything else.

eg: No one else but magci is magic. know one else can be magic. you want to make a ccg? You are limited by only 1 thing: the game must have be "card based" and have lots of cards. Thats it.

I think as soon as you decide that you send out minions who can fight enemies minions or the enemy player (who is essentially a bigger minion) you have already dug yourself into a hole.

I mean, the possibilities are endless: you could even take what I just said literally: the enemy player is a minion. So kill the big bad enemy minion to win the game. You could then change "big bad enemey minion" to "lots of little minioons" so the goal then would be "kill the starting 5 minions that the enemy employs to win" and you could change kill to "bribe". Bang you have a ccg about money grabbing waring nations, seedy underhanded bribes going every way, (from the limited knowledge I have a bout ccgs), the first CCG to contain money (each game would need money chits!) to "pay off" gangs and officials, and mafia bosses, and un resolutions POW.

But as soon as you go "ok the enemy player has 20 helath, how can I add 1 flavored resource from something OTHer than tapping a land card ... hmm..." you have already "lost" the game :*( I DONT WANT YOU TO LOSE MAN!

I want you to WIN, so I would answer "Does it have the best combat system? Based on how many players it enjoys: it has the best combat, the best resource, evolution, devolution, progression, entertainment, player piece, and the best emergant gameplay of any CCG ever in the world ever"
Based on my personal idea of a "combat system within a boardgame" probably not no.

break free from Magic shackles! lol

Best of luck mate :)


JaffetC's picture
Joined: 09/19/2011
Guilty Gods, look for it on

Guilty Gods, look for it on Edge ent. website or BGG. its really good, I did a translation for it for those that dont know spanish.

Joined: 07/28/2011
JaffetC wrote:Guilty Gods,

JaffetC wrote:
Guilty Gods, look for it on Edge ent. website or BGG. its really good, I did a translation for it for those that dont know spanish.

Where can I find the rules translated in english? Did you provide card scans with english translation?

JaffetC's picture
Joined: 09/19/2011

i posted a quick translation and the link to the PDF... even as a "quick translation" i reread the rules to make sure it translated correctly.

The rule book it self has pictures of the cards and how combat works. :)

Joined: 07/28/2011
Can you tell me when will

Can you tell me when will Guilty Gods be released in English?

JaffetC's picture
Joined: 09/19/2011
i doubt itll make it as an

i doubt itll make it as an english release anytime soon... however I would pick it up in a heart beat. Hell id pick it up if i can find a copy of it in spanish.

Joined: 02/24/2012
I actually find that the MTG

I actually find that the MTG combat mechanics are, for the most part, rather bland. What I mean by that is that a small little creature is on par with a big one, preventing all damage and just sacrificing the little creature in the end. Sure there can be a little more to it than that, but on the whole I find the idea of a 'weenie block' to be rather boring. There's no risk in the game, in my opinion.

I actually feel that, as far as a combat mechanics look, L5R has a better system. From the different phases of assigning combat (Infantry phase then cavalry phase) to the different use of mechanics in combat (Reconnaissance, Naval) to even different traits (Tactician) the combat provides a lot of excitement.

Why I feel the game offers more risk is that you only have, essentially, 4 life. If all 4 of your provinces are crushed, then its game over for you. So, you are left having to either lower the attackers strength to just low enough to not hit your province when you assign a blocker. The cavalry mechanic allows for good bluffing, and just in general I feel that the combat is more sophisticated and well-thought out then MTG.

Does that make MTG combat worse? Nah, not at all. I think that in one part the simplicity of the games combat is part of its charm, but if you want an interesting combat mechanic I feel that it can be too simple. As for Magi-Nation, good god that brings back memories. I loved that game when I was in High School, and could play it for hour after hour. The mechanics for that was very good, actually. I found it to be very interesting and a kind of mechanic that I am looking to try in a future game somehow.

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