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Tips on creating a win condition for card game?

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jedite1000's picture
Joined: 02/18/2017

As the title reads, what are some good win conditions and some bad win conditions in card games?

would like to hear your opinion

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Let's start with BAD...

Anything with Life going to 0 or below is BAD. Too many games with duels do this ... it is way to COMMON. Hearthstone, Magic, Pokemon, and those are the POPULAR ones... Star Realms, Hero Realms are both from White Wizard Games and they too rely on tracking life to 0 or below... Sorcerer is different in that you must control 2 out of 3 battlegrounds to win...

If you want to do a DUEL game you need to be more creative.

For example, my work-in-progress "Second Edition of Quest Adventure Cards(tm)" (Quest v2) requires players to "complete" three (3) quests. Each quest has a varying score limit such that you need 15, 20 and 25 Victory Points to win the game. This is to vary the difficulty and force players to be more creative with their decks instead of just using the SAME cards for all three (3) quests!

This is one of my works, another is "Crystal Heroes" (CH) where I just recently changed the goals to be a SEQUENCE of Resources that need to be collected. You now need to collect nine (9) Resources according to each Lord/Lady that you use as your Avatar. In addition, there is a secondary method by which to win which is collected three (3) "Chaos Gems". First player to complete their sequence or collects the Chaos Gems WINS.

So you see, you need to be a bit CREATIVE if you expect your game to be sufficiently DIFFERENT from other games "out-there". But my guess is that you had already figured this out and wanted some other examples about how to do things in another manner.

As far as my two (2) WIPs are concerned ... They offer very creative mechanics and are very different from what you normally see.

"Quest v2" uses Hand Management, Set Collection, Engine Building and Worker Placement. "CH" uses Tile Placement, Area Control, Set Collection and Optimal Movement. Both use Set Collection for different reasons. "Quest v2" uses it as a internal mechanic that allows for mini games and "quest-like" objectives/requirements. Whereas "CH" uses Set Collection for a Victory Condition for accumulating the correct sequence of Resources (Pattern Building).

You should think about your games in terms of mechanics and it will allow you to see if your game offers interesting MECHANICS in terms of play. If you want as partial (but pretty decent) list of mechanics take a look at this BGG list:

Have fun taking a look at that list and see what your ideas have in terms of mechanics and maybe see what you can ADD or IMPROVE upon to get a more distinctive feeling for your game.


Note #1: Both games are "deterministic" in that they don't use dice for RNG (Random Number Generation) or randomized play. The only randomization is the Deck (in both games) and in CH the randomized selection of Crystals to be available to be collected (As you blindly pick from the bag of crystals).

That's also something you might want to consider: using DICE in a very original manner such that even if the game is NOT fully "deterministic" the dice are good for the "feel" of the game! Obviously this means custom dice in some shape or manner.

Sorcerer uses "Custom" dice. Maybe you could use my "Dual Dice" and try to see how you can implement different rolling strategies or patterns. IDK. Just an idea. I'll be making the Dice "public" and available to buy in the middle of November (next month). You should check them out... It's not just a shameless plug... I'm pretty certain you can INVENT some COOL gaming ideas/concepts from these dice.

Here is the Link/URL for the pre-campaign:

Again I'm not pushing you to use these dice... Just if you want to have a look and see what you can create with them. See that's something to consider using a "component" and seeing where and how it can fit into a design. It may seem likes a "restriction" (I am using custom dice) ... But with the multiple probabilities and compatibility with NORMAL six-sided dice... I'm sure you could think up ways to increase the popularity of how your game uses the dice!

Just an idea...

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
What I used to LOVE about Civilization on PC was...

Okay let's look at something COOL and a real gem for a win Condition. If you are making a SUPER HERO card game... Like that is what you said you were working on designing (as per my knowledge ... If I am wrong please disregard this comment).

Maybe do a "sophistic" kind of "tech tree" where the GOAL is to BUILD A TEAM OF "Super Heroes"!

You goals could be to amass a TEAM of five (5) Heroes. But each hero requires a "collection" of equipment required for them. So not only do you RECRUIT them... You ALSO CONFIGURE and sort-of TRAIN THEM.

Let me explain a bit... Just to make it more understandable I will use some well known Super Heroes.

So say your FIRST "Super Hero" is BATMAN. To complete a SET of items that BATMAN can use his "RPS-5" stat is TECH. Meaning that equipment cards with the TECH ability like "The Batmobile" or "Batmerang" could be "TECH" classes but some could have MULTIPLE classes.

The idea is that you are COLLECTING and trying to COMPLETE "Super Heroes" and their abilities ...

So say CAPTAIN AMERICA has a special Shield ... So a ARMOR SHIELD could be both TECH and MIGHT. Which means BATMAN, SUPERMAN and CAPTAIN AMERICA can all use the item.

And then SUPERMAN has a cape that he can wear. BUT the CAPE is a MIGHT and PSYONICS classes. Meaning that both SUPERMAN and DR. STRANGE can wear the Magical Cape...

The goal would be to EQUIP five (5) SUPER HEROES by completing three (3) different classes of items PER HERO. So that means in order to WIN, you will need to ACCUMULATE and COMPLETE your Tableau with fifteen (15) ability cards.

Yes this is basic "Set Collection" Mechanic ... But it can use an RPS-5 with different CLASSES of Heroes: TECH, MIGHT, PSYONIC, etc...

And how does this LINK to Civilization on the PC is because if you would do really GOOD ... You would get possibility of adding a item of influence to the King's Collection of artifacts...

This is just an example about thinking OUT-OF-THE-BOX and going with something different than mere BATTLING or DUALING. Obviously these are some IDEAS ... They are incomplete because how do you "interact" with the OPPONENT and such has not yet been defined. You only wanted a "Win Condition" and so I offered you the GOAL of putting together a SUPER HERO TEAM! (Could also be a SUPER VILLAIN TEAM too...!)


Note #1: "Collecting" & "Configuring" is ANOTHER SORT of Victory/Win Condition. The REAL issue is to figure out how to COMBINE some kind of interaction with the opponent(s).

Again the WIN condition is SIMPLE. But you can create SCENARIOS and EVENTS that put the SUPER HEROES in harms way ... Sort of like MISSIONS which allow you to EARN more "abilities"/equipment, and that could be where all the players either contribute to doing a GOOD DEED or being on the VILLAINOUS SIDE and doing a BAD DEED... And somehow you need to figure out who is the winner of the "Event". That could be your CONFRONTATION mechanic (think dueling or versus gameplay)

These are some ideas you can use, re-work, re-think or ignore... Whatever suits your fancy.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
You could call the game...

"Heroes United"

The game where you goal is to become a TEAM of Super Heroes or Villains... The Choice is yours. Each decision will affect your REPUTATION and the Public's Perception of the TEAM you are building.

Reputation of the TEAM goes from:

  1. Paragon
  2. Noble
  3. Honorable
  4. Mercenary
  5. Neutral
  6. Anarchist
  7. Corrupt
  8. Outlaw
  9. Diabolic

This could be very cool and affect the outcome of "Events" and "Missions"... And the interaction between the player's TEAMS.

Again just ideas for you to work from. I know this is in a completely different direction... At the same time I am TRYING to HELP you NOT design ANOTHER BORING "Duel Game" in-which there are so many of those games...

Note #1: I too had a bit of a Super Hero game in mind. But I never really worked on it... Just trying to give you some of my ideas in order to help inspire you. Again these are just IDEAS... The TEAM concept is NEW, the REPUTATION list was from a while back. The name is also OLD ("Heroes United") ... But I never went further exploring the concept.

Note #2: Another name could be: Hero Corp. That's all that I have ATM...

Note #3: The concept may be similar to "Heroes Incorporated". You can BGG search for that game and see how you can make your own very different. But it's pretty old at 2004. So maybe that game can provide you with ideas considering yours is a CARD GAME and not a "Board Game".

Note #4: If you want to design a DUEL game ... Well one player can be the Heroes and the other player can be the Villains! This kind of dynamic could be interesting depending on HOW you design "Events" and "Missions"...

jedite1000's picture
Joined: 02/18/2017
wow, i really like those

wow, i really like those ideas, but i think it is too much in a different direction for where i want my game to go, however, it is a good idea for a future project, ill keep it in mind

I had an idea for my game, might add a mechanic called hero agency, the agency is a special card that gives your heroes on you side of the field (agency) certain buffs depending on the hero agency, I am happy with the duel aspect of my game so i would like to keep that in, i was thinking the agency card is the life of the player with 5 hearts or whatever, and if there are no heroes on your side defending your agency, your rival is free to attack it, however each heart destroyed increases the agency buff, so lets say as an example, my deck is full of fire heroes and my agency specialises on fire heroes, so at 5 hearts, every fire hero on my side gain a power buff, like 1 extra power, and everytime you lose a heart, on 4 hearts your fire heroes power increased by 2, then at 3 hearts increase by 3 etc, so the more hearts you lose, the stronger you get. the buff is only just an example.

I also came up a with a lore for my game, your hero agency wants to be the best hero agency in the world, but you want to destroy your rival angecies, so in a way, all hero agencies are corrupt and just want to get rid of the competition, they are not really heroes at all

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
TL;DR = How about something more in-line with your average duel

Maybe the winner of the DUEL is the player who UNLOCKS the secret to the opponent's SUPER POWERS! Such that you discover the Hero's WEAKNESS and makes him a mere mortal (Human).

Like take SUPERMAN, it's easy you need only to have KRYPTONITE Amulet that you place around his neck and "voila" that Hero is DEFEATED...

But say to build it you need to gather the "Resources" required to make the Amulet: Steel Chain + Gold Plating + Kryptonite Crystal.

So in order to DEFEAT each SUPER HERO ... There is a COMBINATION of "things" you must collect to defeat him/her.

That's a mechanic of "Set Collection" and instead of reducing Health (or HP) to zero (0) ... You would have to collect the elements required for DEFEATING the Hero or Villain you are facing.

So no HEALTH POINTS (HP) just that you must collect like "3" Resources which together combine to form the Item required to DEFEAT the Hero or Villain. Therefore it is a RACE to "collect" the right elements (think resources) to build the "article".

Furthermore, EACH HERO comes with the THREE (3) cards needed to DEFEAT HIM. Since this is a Deck Builder Card Game... You exchange THREE (3) Cards with your opponent (the elements required to build the opposing Resource). Again so it's a bit like a RACE... See SUPER HEROES and VILLAINS cannot be defeated by NORMAL means ... You must reach their WEAKNESS.

Therefore instead of EARNING "Health" why not earn HERO POINTS, these would be points to a score like 1500 vs. 1200 for final scoring... And you earn these points by attacking or dueling. Think of instead of LOSING HP you GAIN HERO POINTS (HP)...! Not too bad, eh???

But ultimately much like Pandemic... It is a race to collect the THREE (3) elements required to build the device that targets the opponent's weakness.

Ok let's review a bit ... Because I introduced a bunch of new things that could WORK with your "average" DUEL game.

  1. Each Player has THREE (3) Cards which are components used to build a device that targets the player's weakness. At the beginning of a game, players exchange these three cards with each other. This will add a HUGE amount of TENSION in the game as players race to get the three (3) cards first.

  2. No Health Points (HPs) ONLY "Hero Points" (HPs). Think of these points as a sort of SCORE: 1000 HP, 2250 HP, 4500 HP, etc. You earn this by battling your opponent and using the cards in your deck as tactics (instead of losing HP).

  3. You RACE to get the three (3) cards and try to amass a better end-game SCORE.

  4. There is a "Hero Point" (HP) minimum which is a balancing mechanism to counter Decks which are HEAVY in HP production (run-away leader condition).

Does this sound CLOSER to a more "traditional" DUEL card game??? Let me know what you think!

AND in order to WIN, you MUST have the "3" Elements cards to defeat the opponent and have a HERO POINT (HP) score HIGHER than the opponent! Both act as triggers for the Win Condition:

Minimum Hero Points reached OR Higher Hero Points than the opponent AND 3 elements

Does this sound cool??? So while you may have the 3rd element, if you are behind in the SCORE... You will need to try to deal more damage and score more points in order to PLAY that 3rd element to Win.

Again all this can be applied in your AVERAGE Duel game.

Note #1: There will ALWAYS be a winner. If players bitch too much about the randomness of the "3" element cards, you can have a simple order in which you play them into a deck: 1 on top, 1 on bottom and 1 in the middle. Then you shuffle the decks as long as desired.

Remember the HP (Hero Points) ... They act as a BALANCING mechanism. Because if you have the 3rd element and only have a score of 100 HP versus someone who has 300 HP... The opponent may not have WON... But two (2) outcomes can happen:

A> Either the opponent (300 HP) finally gets his 3rd element and WINS... or

B> The player with (100 HP) manages to score over the HP of his opponent to play that 3rd element and WIN the game.

I think this is SUPER EXCITING and compatible with Deck Builders. It's a different way of WINNING and SCORING. It's not boring, in that there will be TENSION during the game... To score more Hero Points and to collect all "3" elements.

Tell me what you think???...

Note #2: When you PLAYTEST the game... You can determine the "Minimum Hero Points" required to WIN the game. What I mean... Say your opponent has dealt 4500 HP and you have 3200 HP... If the "minimum" was say 3000 HP ... That means if you get the 3rd Element first, even if your HP is lower, it is above the minimum amount and you can defeat your opponent by collecting the 3rd element FIRST.

This also serves as a balancing mechanism... Just in case it is really HARD to catch-up to a player who focuses on Hero Point Heavy Deck Construction.

By reaching the minimum, you can still WIN the game.

So each SUPER HERO or SUPER VILLAIN has three (3) cards to collect. Those elements are on the "Hero/Villain" card. In addition each one has a "minimum" Hero Point score which varies per Hero/Villain. That too should be on the "Hero/Villain" card as well.

Note #3: Why I think it's better to EXCHANGE "3" cards is to avoid cheating. Your opponent can't stack his deck with additional Items or elements that he can use ... because the Opponent is the OWNER of the cards. That exchanging at the START ensure there is no cheating.

I also thought you could have "3" cards which are GENERIC but then there could be cheating... And it's not as COOL either!

IMHO I personally feeling exchanging the "3" cards avoids cheating and is MORE "thematic" than something more generic. Think about it and let me know...

Cheers mate!

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011

Fisherman's Net + Electric Charger + Harpoon.

Launch this electrically charged net to trap Batman inside it and blow out all of his gadgets to high-heaven given a powerful electrical surcharge!

Hero Point (Limit) = 2,500 HPs.

This is just another example ... Just to give some further insight to what you need to ADD and how little it is to make an exciting and FUN game with an interesting WIN condition!

Cheers again.

Juzek's picture
Joined: 06/19/2017
I've always been a fan of the

I've always been a fan of the two goals:

King of Tokyo's Last one standing OR get 20 points
Unspeakable words: Last one sane OR get 100 points

Of course they don't have to be negative and positive, they could both be positive such as: First to defeat 5 villain's, or get the Mayor's endorsement.

Having multiple paths is nice, and allows players to go for something in a way that can be countered by the opponent, and still allow the player to pivot to a different method.

All that being said, please just don't have a game with more than 2 people where people slowly loose and have to wait around for their friends to finish playing. a game where someone leaves the table for more than the time it takes to get a drink isn't great. If you do knock players out, make sure it is a really quick game, or that they have a method of continuing to participate.

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