When researching development for this game, trying to answer the question why there are no great point-based deck building card games, we came across an interesting article – Untapped Potential in Card Games: Deck-Building Point Costs
While we had a notion of what the challenges of a point based deck building card game would entail, this article provided a lot of insight from a professional game designer. One key quote from the article:
“So why don’t card battlers use point-based deckbuilding? There’s actually a pretty good reason. When both players start with all their units on the field, both players are guaranteed access to all of their squad points. In a card battler like hearthstone where you draw only a portion of your deck each game, investing most of your points in a few stronger cards would produce massively swingy games. Asking players to pay a cost upon playing the card, as most card battlers do, solves this issue. You only pay for what you play.”Dan Felder – https://danfelder.net/2017/03/09/untapped-potential-in-card-games-deck-building-point-costs/
This makes a lot of sense – in Warhammer Fantasy one can field at the start of the game 5 units of goblins, or 1 unit of Black Orcs (generalization). You get access to all your units, all at once. However in a card game, not only do you have to churn through your deck to try and get units, you also have a set number of actions to play your cards.
So, a deck of 10 high-powered units @ 100 points each, vs. a deck of 20 low powered units @ 50 points each – all else being equal, odds are the deck of 10 high powered units will win every time.
There are a few game mechanics we’ll explore to counteract this in-balance.
- In-game balance
- Supply limit. A player can have more weak units on the board than strong units. (Edit: Though as pointed out in the comments below, this likely defeats the purpose of a points based deck builder)
- Bonuses for weak units. Example: 2 weak units together become stronger. (Like two goblin units in Warhammer working together)
- Deck creation
- Like Warhammer, constraints forcing mins and maxes for your deck to contain set percentages of unit/card types.
- Set min-deck size depending on deck points.
- Point values of cards and units
- Max number of same card in deck
- Unit abilities – cheap units have unique abilities (draw card when played, no action cost to play, etc.)
- Deck churn – players can churn through their deck during a game.
In future posts we’ll go over testing these game mechanics (and more) to see what works, what doesn’t, and what is fun!