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Some help with wording.

11 replies [Last post]
Adam Leamey
Joined: 02/23/2017
empowered healing2 explanation.png

So I am trying to cut down the wording in some of my cards in particular I have the following problem.

I have a card that has the following text.

One player heals 8 damage
Discard 2 cards: heal 4 more damage.

I am wondering if this wording is ok and makes sense.

BHFuturist's picture
Joined: 11/01/2008
Good question

This is a good question, one that could probably be better answered by a pro graphic designer that does layout work for card games.

As the person designing the core of the game you might try just focusing on the mechanics and flow of the game, before worrying too much about how the information will be presented in the final game.

Don't get me wrong, you should try to make the early prototypes clear and easy to understand, but if that means not worrying about making the text short/brief, so be it. You might try, just writing out the full description of what the card effect is, how it changes or influences play, and how you want it to work in the game. You can always reduce the information down to icons and brief text later. It is more important early on that everyone playing the game understand what each card does with out needing to look back at the rules all the time.

Most if not all of the big card based games on the market are made by large teams of designers, artists, and graphic designers. I am not saying that one person can't do such a card game alone, but the task would be very difficult.

As to your question:

The main problem I see are the phrases:

"One player"


"4 More"

You might try making the wording targeted. Who is the one player and how do we pick what player gets to be that one player. Is it the person playing the card? Is it the player of your choice and the one that played the card gets to pick?

Note: If the target of an action card is the player who played it the target can be implied with just: "Heal 8" or with a heart icon with the number inside the icon.

This also works in reverse for damage to an opponent. The target of an attack is implied by the use by one player against another player. "Deal 8 damage" or a combat icon with the number inside the icon.

If this is an action card the player is using like a healing potion and then they have the option to Discard 2 cards from their hand to gain a bonus that brings the total health gain to 12. You might consider and "or".

When played: Gain 8 (hearts) or discard 2 cards & gain 12 (hearts).

The main thing is to develop a list of terms, phases, and icons that will be use the same way across all cards:

Will, Must, May, Can, Pay, Use, Activate, Expend, Tap, Each Player, All Players, Active Player, The Player of your Choice.

Having a good clear set of Icons for the commonly modified statistics can give players an easier time of playing once they have learned all the icons. However, too many icons can make the game harder to learn and understand until players finish learning them.

I recommend making a list of all the things that could be made into icons on the cards and then rank that list by most used and then most important. The less and icon would be used, the less the icon is truly needed for that item on the list. Make the first few at the top of the list into icons and see how it plays and see how easy it is for people to understand what the icons mean.

This type of icon and text wording, becomes more important during blind play testing and the final version of the game. For your first draft it just needs to be clear and descriptive. The cards just need to function based on the mechanics they modify in the game.

Take a look at the following game & a short article that I think did a good job with card text & explaining these issues.

Mage Knight

Overcoding Article

This is all just my opinion but I hope it helps in some way,


Rick L
Rick L's picture
Joined: 08/22/2016
Lots of great advice there

Lots of great advice there from BH! Not much to add, other than that your ambiguous use of the term "one player heals 8" gives me the impression that this is a cooperative or team based game. Is it?

Oh wait, it's for your power rangers game, right? If so, it makes sense. But is discarding 2 cards to heal 4 extra an option, or required?

Adam Leamey
Joined: 02/23/2017
Thank you for the valuable

Thank you for the valuable input you are right that it's difficult doing everything yourself as that's what I'm doing. I'm on the 6th version and the last playtesting the large amount of text was a put of so I'm trying to simplify the wording and formatting.

You have given me some useful info and I will check out the links as I am currently working on icons so finding a balance will help not make my game a text nightmare.

Adam Leamey
Joined: 02/23/2017
Yes this is for my co

Yes this is for my co operative game themed after power rangers. I wanted cards that could either heal yourself or an ally but it makes more sense to say target player than one player. Some of the cards do just say heal x for when only the player using the card gets the benefit.

radioactivemouse's picture
Joined: 07/08/2013
I agree

I agree with BHFuturist on maybe using some icons for your cards.

Have an icon represent "any player" (like a pawn)
and have an icon represent "optional power" (like a big plus sign)
or have an icon represent "discard card" and then put a value to indicate the amount needed
or have an icon represent "heal".

There's many ways to do this, which will cut down on your wording. You will need to decide what to make as an icon, however your text as it appears seems ok. You will need to test that with audiences to be sure.

I know that card real estate is limited, so putting clear and concise instructions is vital. A lot of card companies (coughBushiRoadcough) tend to just lower the font size to accommodate the text, which ends up being way too small for the player to read...then again, those asian languages tend to communicate more in fewer characters.

Adam Leamey
Joined: 02/23/2017
Taking in the comments given

Taking in the comments given I have created a prototype card at the top of the post is an image of the card in question. I would like some opinions on the card.

Here is an explanation of the individual components of the card.

The player icon is so players know what deck the card belongs to.

The card name I intend to try and be a bit goofy with my card names to try and make the game feel a bit laid back and try to capture the goofiness of the special abilities the Sentai use.

Action cost, each turn players have a limited pool of actions to work with this card in particular costs 2 actions to use. The lightning icon is used to represent actions

Card Type determines when the card can be used in this case as its a support card it can only be used on the players turn. Also as its a support card players have to choose what option to activate when they play the card.

Option 1 Main Effect will always happen in this case this option will always heal 8 damage.The green heart icon is to show that the card heals damage.

Option 2 Sub Effect is optional but it gives the player the further option of discarding 2 cards to increase the healing given to 12 instead of 8.

Option 2 Main Effect is similar to option 1 except it heals 5 damage and removes a status effect the little virus symbol is a icon i use to represent status effects to save on text space.

Option 2 Sub Effect is again optional but allows a player to discard 2 cards to heal 6 damage and remove 2 status effects instead.

I would like some opinions on the card design.

Option 2 Sub Effect like the previous sub effect

BHFuturist's picture
Joined: 11/01/2008

I am quite sure most if not all players will understand that card setup, so great progress! :)

I am not sure the word instead is needed...

My only large critique is to move the cost to the upper left corner and the deck type (player icon) to the upper right. This is a "right-handed bias" but still very standard to have Cost on that side for fanning the cards out in your hand, as an easy reference.

Check out this great little article by one of our other forum members Unknown Depths: HERE

Keep it up, one man shows are a tough gig!


Adam Leamey
Joined: 02/23/2017
Ty for the link didn't think

Ty for the link didn't think that a lot of card games I've played have had the cost to the right but the left does make sense. I will probably be using similar layouts for my other cards so it's good to know this card is understandable I'll try swapping the cost and icons around as you suggested.

BHFuturist's picture
Joined: 11/01/2008
Well, maybe I should not have

Well, maybe I should not have said it is standard but that it is becoming more common and I think will be a standard in the future...


Daggaz's picture
Joined: 12/19/2016
Wait what? I'm right handed

Wait what?

I'm right handed and if I spread a hand out it is the right corners that are visible.

Wouldn't you want the cost there?

EDIT nevermind I'm also retarded apparently

BHFuturist's picture
Joined: 11/01/2008

LOL, don't feel bad... I had to grab some cards and make sure, and even after I made sure, I checked that article.

And from the other players perspectives you would not have been wrong... and that gives me a whole new mechanic idea... crap got to go write that down in my notebook...


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