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Threshold Effect on Gameplay

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jonathanflike
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I am making a card game, and in my card game, you can spend resources on cards from your hand, (spells, creatures, etc.) and buildings from a separate pile. The buildings can be played as though they are from your hand, which spreads the resources a little thin from what I have been noticing during the play test sessions. The players are often forced to choose between playing cards from their hand, which can be more important in the immediacy of the game, or buildings, which help more or less in the meta game. It doesn't seem so much as a choice to players, but as a restriction. Both playing from your hand and this separate pile are important, so the reaction isn't that great when players feel like they aren't empowered to do both. It seems like the strategy element of the game shouldn't be being able to pick or choose where to play (the hand or side pile), but what cards from there to play.

Therefore, I was thinking about adding a tweaked threshold mechanic to the buildings themselves. They would no longer have a casting cost associated with them, instead, as long as the player had X principalities (land) they could bring out a building that has X threshold or above (only 1 building can be played each turn). All the buildings are able to be upgraded, so I'm thinking it would free up more resources for upgrading and doing other play mechanics, and it would also make the buildings flow with the curve of the game. That's my theory, but I have never played a game with a threshold mechanic, and I'm not sure how they naturally affect a game.

I was wondering if anyone else had any experiences with threshold mechanics, both in their own games or games they have played, and how it affected their views of them on game play. I've tried to find information on this elsewhere, but internet doesn't seem to be helping much. Looking for the pluses and minuses of this mechanic, thank you all in advanced.

Best,
-Jonathan Flike

Daggaz
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I think actually that the

I think actually that the difference of buildings vs cards is very interesting and perhaps somewhat novel compared to the standard fare of resource systems.

I cant comment much on your threshold mechanics without a fuller understanding of your complete system, but you sound like you are setting up a "free to play one resource per turn once you reach the threshold" situation which is pretty straight-forward. The effects that would have on your game-play depend on the entirety of your system however, and the difference between the old system, so you would just have to play test it and feel it out (always play test changes like that, extensively).

But on the face of it... I think that sounds less interesting. You are removing a choice from the player and replacing it with a no-brainer (I have a free resource option vs I have to decide between playing buildings or cards). From a design perspective, this is the opposite direction that you generally want to go in.

Instead, if the choice between resources feels restrictive, then spice it up a bit. A good choice is one which challenges the players because both options are potentially powerful, but contain their own set of drawbacks as well. The player should struggle a bit with this choice if they don't have an over-arching strategic plan, and if they do have a plan, this choice should make an important impact on their plan. But no matter what, it should be a real choice and never an obvious no-brainer, where one option is clearly optimal.

jonathanflike
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Thanks :)

Daggaz wrote:
I think actually that the difference of buildings vs cards is very interesting and perhaps somewhat novel compared to the standard fare of resource systems.

I cant comment much on your threshold mechanics without a fuller understanding of your complete system, but you sound like you are setting up a "free to play one resource per turn once you reach the threshold" situation which is pretty straight-forward. The effects that would have on your game-play depend on the entirety of your system however, and the difference between the old system, so you would just have to play test it and feel it out (always play test changes like that, extensively).

But on the face of it... I think that sounds less interesting. You are removing a choice from the player and replacing it with a no-brainer (I have a free resource option vs I have to decide between playing buildings or cards). From a design perspective, this is the opposite direction that you generally want to go in.

Instead, if the choice between resources feels restrictive, then spice it up a bit. A good choice is one which challenges the players because both options are potentially powerful, but contain their own set of drawbacks as well. The player should struggle a bit with this choice if they don't have an over-arching strategic plan, and if they do have a plan, this choice should make an important impact on their plan. But no matter what, it should be a real choice and never an obvious no-brainer, where one option is clearly optimal.


The resource system is pretty much a 1 resource per turn that accumulates over time (a tweaked Hearthstone/MtG hybrid resource system), but I agree, perhaps things need to be spiced up a bit. Players are more likely to play from their hand, because that's more interesting even if the buildings are necessary in a lot of ways. I'll try this threshold thing in play testing just to see how it works, but I'm more interested now in making the buildings more impactful, giving the players a real choice. Thanks for the feedback Daggaz, it was just what I needed to hear :)

Daggaz
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No problem man, let us know

No problem man, let us know how it works out =)

X3M
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Threshold (= very deterministic)

Sorry for double post.

X3M
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Threshold (= very deterministic)

jonathanflike wrote:
I was wondering if anyone else had any experiences with threshold mechanics, both in their own games or games they have played, and how it affected their views of them on game play.

Well, I have had some experience. But a bad one.

I once tried to get a card game going based on my board game. And the keystone in my board game is an "infinite" RPS system.
Tracking health would have been abandoned for the card game. And you would simply add up all the inflicted damage and compare with the armor of the target. Henceforth the threshold mechanic. It worked like MtG regarding the vanilla combat.

If you saved up enough damage, the target would be destroyed.
Infantry against tanks are almost 100% balanced for my board game. But with the threshold, it didn't work this way.
Tanks had waaay easier time destroying infantry then the other way around. And the infantry never could exceed the number needed for destroying a tank when the games just started.

I tried 2 solutions together:
1- Cards would not represent one unit, but counters where placed to indicate the number of these units. Thus 1 card placement would be somewhere between 1 and 100.
2- Since armor was hard to overcome by lower weapons, I simply changed the RPS effect of squared armor = €² into triangle armor = (€²+€)/2
A tank with armor 25 would be 15, and 36 armor would be 21 armor. etc.
Infantry remained 1 each.

It didn't matter if damage was adjusted or not. The problem with threshold here was that in a normal game with health. Health is tracked and damages units. In the cardgame, once you reached the quotum, the target was immidiately destroyed, without returning damage.

I suspect, that I should have changed the game entirely into linear. Thus armor = €
But then I was left with MtG. And the RPS system wouldn't exist any more.

Even with dice, it was very certain how every game would resolve. Simply due to the fact of the imbalance that threshold offered. I could say that this imbalance was a game breaker.

Now you have an example of how it didn't work for me. But this was regarding combat resolution.

All I can say now is; let us know how it worked for you.

jonathanflike
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Thanks for your Insight

X3M wrote:
jonathanflike wrote:
I was wondering if anyone else had any experiences with threshold mechanics, both in their own games or games they have played, and how it affected their views of them on game play.

Well, I have had some experience. But a bad one.

I once tried to get a card game going based on my board game. And the keystone in my board game is an "infinite" RPS system.
Tracking health would have been abandoned for the card game. And you would simply add up all the inflicted damage and compare with the armor of the target. Henceforth the threshold mechanic. It worked like MtG regarding the vanilla combat.

If you saved up enough damage, the target would be destroyed.
Infantry against tanks are almost 100% balanced for my board game. But with the threshold, it didn't work this way.
Tanks had waaay easier time destroying infantry then the other way around. And the infantry never could exceed the number needed for destroying a tank when the games just started.

I tried 2 solutions together:
1- Cards would not represent one unit, but counters where placed to indicate the number of these units. Thus 1 card placement would be somewhere between 1 and 100.
2- Since armor was hard to overcome by lower weapons, I simply changed the RPS effect of squared armor = €² into triangle armor = (€²+€)/2
A tank with armor 25 would be 15, and 36 armor would be 21 armor. etc.
Infantry remained 1 each.

It didn't matter if damage was adjusted or not. The problem with threshold here was that in a normal game with health. Health is tracked and damages units. In the cardgame, once you reached the quotum, the target was immidiately destroyed, without returning damage.

I suspect, that I should have changed the game entirely into linear. Thus armor = €
But then I was left with MtG. And the RPS system wouldn't exist any more.

Even with dice, it was very certain how every game would resolve. Simply due to the fact of the imbalance that threshold offered. I could say that this imbalance was a game breaker.

Now you have an example of how it didn't work for me. But this was regarding combat resolution.

All I can say now is; let us know how it worked for you.

Yeah pulling away from MtG oftentimes has us returning to it lol. Thanks for sharing your experience with it. Yeah I'm going to go ahead and give it a go. Seeing that there isn't much information on the subject from what I can find, maybe I'll write something up about it once I play test it a bit and share my findings.

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