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Passive Card Mechanic

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Noimage's picture
Joined: 04/01/2015

Hey everyone! I have been working on this game concept with my friend recently and we came up with a mechanic for the game that we had a few questions about. First of all the game is sort of like an objective based dueling system. Essentially the game is kinda like a dueling game sort of like Yugioh or Pokemon but instead of directly going after the other player, both players are trying to achieve a similar goal while at the same time hindering each others progress. using their cards. Currently, cards will either be played as passive or active cards. Active cards immediately resolve their effect and are essentially discarded from the game. However, passive cards are laid out in a 3x3 grid where placement is highly important. Each passive card played will have arrows pointing in different directions from the cards. Each turn a player can choose to activate one of their passive cards which will in turn activate a sub ability on the cards with arrows pointing to them based on the original card played.

For Example: If a player activates a card in the center of a 3x3 grid and it has arrows pointing to the top and right of it, the main ability of the passive card chosen will be activated while the sub ability of the cards to the top and right of the activated card.

The two questions I have about this mechanic are 1) Has anyone encountered this sort of a mechanic in another game? and 2) Can anyone find any major downfalls in using a mechanic like this?

Thanks for your help,
Noimage and Friend

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Dominant Strategy Problems

This all sounds very interesting. Some responses for you.

1. Though I'm far from an authority or lexicon on the subject, no: I've not seen this kind of mechanic used before. Good on you. :)

2. I can foresee an "analysis paralysis" problem associated with this arrangement of cards and the way they work, as you describe it. To prevent players from agonizing over all the different permutations and interrelationships between the cards being placed on the grid, I'd suggest you only allow placement of a single card at a time into the grid, and realize only the most-recently-triggered effects. Tokens can be added to cards already placed and resolved so there's no confusion as to what cards need to be addressed on a specific turn.

I also see players becoming set in their ways when it comes to this interdependence on cards to trigger certain effects. A player will eventually find a "killer combination" for certain cards and work towards that arrangement each game. I would suggest you attempt to disable this as much as possible, as it potentially prevents long-term replayability and presents a massive separation between new players and seasoned ones. Here are a couple things to consider:
- Allow each player to play a single card into the grid, and then realize the major effect. Triggered/interdependent effects can be sequenced to happen after major effects are resolved.
- The placement of cards into the grid is set in a specific sequence/location, one player after the other, to minimize the tendency of players to "dominate" a region of the grid and thus developing a dominant strategy is more challenging.
- The player has a deck of cards from which they draw, and they have a limited hand size from which they may make their selection. This prevents the same cards from being played every single game in the same order.
- The position of next-cards-placed is dictated by the cards themselves, and/or must be adjacent in some manner to the card previously played.

As I'm envisioning it, there may be some parallels to tic-tac-toe/naughts n' crosses coming to mind. I may be barking up the wrong tree, since I've not seen any of the cards, abilities, etc. you're implementing. This may be where my concerns of dominant strategy are bubbling up from, so if you've already found a way to address this concern, then don't worry too much about it I guess.

Hope these off-the-cuff thoughts are useful. This kind of mechanic presents an interesting series of problems to be solved. Best of success to you on this. :)

Noimage's picture
Joined: 04/01/2015
Hey, thanks for replying to

Hey, thanks for replying to my questions. I know I was not too descriptive about how the game is played out in my original post but we have already come up with a way to prevent dominate strategies. There is currently a system in place that only allows a player to place one card on the grid per turn. We thought about analysis paralysis when first deciding on this concept and decided that using one card a turn would help players comprehend combinations more easily as they present themselves. Also, the goal of the game is to be a fairly strategic and in depth game so we don't mind that players may have to think of alot of stuff at once. On top of that there is also a system in place that makes it difficult for players to shoot for the same strategy each game they play.

Thanks again for your comments! They definately got some gears turning.

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