Upcoming Twitch Game Design Live Stream:
Wednesday at 10pm CEST, that’s 1 PM Pacific and 4 PM Eastern time
Last week we already discussed different attributes in strategy card games. We discussed the classic attributes like power, toughness, and mana cost. Then we also examined the less common attributes like Armor, HitPoints, Speed, Priority, Range, or Guard. And finally, we talked about some more unusual attributes like Honer, Age, Max Army Size, Combo symbols, or different Weaknesses. And although this already covers a large number of different attribute values, there is even more. Since some of you were so kind to send me additional attributes via email, I don’t want to deny them to the rest of the community and so I thought I’d do a second episode on this topic.
But before we start on the subject, I wanted to make a brief announcement. I think I mentioned before that I’m currently co-designing a Duelling Card Game with another designer. We’ve finished the rules and done a lot of playtests. We have tested many keywords, triggers, attributes and effects. Now we are at a point where we want to create a set of 50 cards as a final product. And we thought it would be fun if each of us designed a set of 50 cards and then we’ll see which of those cards are the best and then choose the final cards for our product.
Since many of you have given me feedback that you would like to learn more about my personal process and the games I am working on, I would like to take the opportunity to show you my personal approach of designing a set of cards live. Therefore I will have a small live session on Wednesday, August 5th at 10 pm CEST on Twitch. I will briefly explain the game and then start with a design skeleton and will hopefully end up with 50 finished cards. If any of you are interested to see how this will work I would be very happy if you come by. Start is Wednesday at 10 pm CEST, that’s 1 PM Pacific and 4 PM Eastern time.
Values & Attributes in Strategy Card Games
Attack, Thwart and Recovery in Marvel Champions
Marvel Champions is played over a series of rounds, and each round is broken into two phases: the Hero Phase and the Villain Phase.
During the Player Phase, players take turns playing cards from their hands and exhausting their identity card to use one of their basic powers:
Attack: Attack deals damage to the minions or the villain, and helps to bring the players closer to defeating the villain.
Thwart: Thwart is some form of countermeasure to what the villain tries to do. Due to various game effects, the villain puts threat counters on their scheme cards causing bad things to happen when a certain value is reached. By Thwarting, the players have a chance to remove a certain number of threat counters from scheme cards, preventing the villain from winning the game.
Recovery: And recovery heals damage from a player’s identity.
An interesting twist in Marvel champions also comes from the flip mechanic of the identity card. Each player plays a hero like Spider-Man or Iron Man, but they all have also their alter ego on the back of the card. Peter Parker or Tony Stark has other abilities than their superhero form. In the game, this is represented in the form that Attack and Thwart can only be used in hero form, whereas recovery can only be performed in alter-ego form.
I really like the combination of these stats. One for offense, one for tactical defensive aspects, and one for recovery. All of it is important during a game and it gives the players a chance to fulfill different roles in a game, which is super important in a co-op game.
Willpower in Lord of the Rings LCG
In Lord of the Rings LCG each character has a willpower strength that is used to advance the quest. Each enemy and location has a threat strength that is used to impede a character’s quest progress.
To resolve the quest, each character that is committed to the quest adds its willpower strength together to create a total willpower strength of all committed characters. Then, the threat strength of all enemies and locations in the staging area are added together to create a total threat strength. The players compare the total willpower strength to the total threat strength and determine the progress of their quest as follows:
Successful: The total willpower is greater than the total threat.
Unsuccessful: The total willpower is less than the total threat.
Neither: The total willpower is equal to the total threat.
The quest resolution determines if players gain progress tokens or increase their threat. If the quest resolution is neither successful nor unsuccessful, nothing happens.
If the quest is successful, a number of progress tokens equal to the difference between the total willpower strength and the total threat strength are placed on the currently revealed quest card. Each quest card has a number of quest points. When the number of progress tokens on the quest card is equal to or greater than the number of quest points, the players complete that stage of the quest.
When a quest is unsuccessful, increase each player’s threat dial by an amount equal to the difference between the total threat and the total willpower. If a player’s threat dial reaches “50,” that player is immediately eliminated from the game.
- Hero Cards:
- Starting health
- Elements (which are the resources to play attack cards, defensive cards and buff cards) Some of the elements have silver borders, which means they can only used once a turn and some have the superior gold border which means they can be used as often as a player wants.
- Buff Cards:
- Duration (marked in the top left corner of the card) If the corner has a circular rotation symbol the card is rotated during the buff phase. If the rotation symbol is edged, the card only rotates if their effect is triggered.
- Either way, if a rotating card either reach an empty corned or returns to its starting position, the buff is expired and is discarded. Corners with Xs mean to ignore the effect of that card this turn.
- The card corner stat is extremely interesting as it has a built-in time effect (you mentioned mechanics that would require counters to track a countdown), all while giving access to different effects based on the corner, with each corner being able to have a different effect (e.g., heal, deal damage, draw cards, rotate forward or backward, recover cards from discard, etc.). It also allows for interesting design where buffs can have 1, 2, 3, or 4 corners to trigger, or even no corners (in which case, they stay in play unless removed by the opponent).
- Item Cards:
- item weight: Each hero can only hold items worth up to 2 item weight points. The item points are another stat that is used on the item cards. Items have individual effects and also can come with additional elements that are added to the heroes available resources.
Master of Will
A second game that has interesting stats is Master of Wills. The interesting stat in this game is “influence” which describes how certain factions react to your choice of recruiting certain characters.
In Master of Wills, the setting is a cyberpunk-esque society, with different factions inhabiting the world. Your goal is to gain more influence than your opponent by recruiting people that belong to these factions. At the start of each turn, you choose a character to recruit from a central Neutral column and move them to a specified column on your side of the field. However, recruiting a character comes at a cost: some factions will be pleased with the choice and will be willing to be recruited as well, and others will be displeased and will want to work with your opponent. This is represented by a list of numbers and colors on the chosen character, each with a + or – sign. After choosing a character, you must move other characters of the specified colors towards your columns (the + numbers) or towards your opponent (the – numbers), indicating which factions were pleased with your recruitment and those which were not. It is like a track of factions that is influenced by the choices you make.
Energy is at the same time this game’s resource as well as the creature’s Power and Health indication. At the start of your turn, you draw 6 cards: 3 cards from your deck and 3 Energy cards. The next phase, the Energy phase, lets you place the Energy in piles on your field, with maximum placing size no greater than 3. You can add to pre-existing piles or create new ones, with no limit to the number of piles you can make. Once you are happy with the piles, you then proceed to the Main phase, where you can summon Creatures onto the Energy piles. The amount of Energy piled under the creature is both its Power and Health: when attacking, the creature deals damage to other creatures equal to its Energy, and takes damage equal to the defending Creature’s Energy, upon which you discard that amount of Energy from your Creature. If your creature has no Energy under it, it is discarded.
Card Stats of TCGs, CCGs and LCGs mentioned in this episode
The following stats and values are mentioned and described in this podcast episode:
- Part 1:
- Power / Toughness
- Resource (e.g. Mana, Crystals, etc.)
- Health Points
- Combo Icons
- Elemental Damage
- Part 2:
- Thwart, Attack and Recovery
- Starting Health
- Duration (in Form of rotating cards)
- Item Weight