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Help with ideas for a resource system (again)

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Typherion:
Hello all, I've been trying to work on my card game called Summoner, but I keep running into a wall - the resource system for summoning creatures.

I've asked for help with this before, and I thought I had it solved, but it wasn't to be. Any comments or ideas will be much appreciated.

The Basics
Players in the game have two kinds of cards: creatures and spells.

* Spells don't cost anything to play except the cards they are printed on.

* Creatures are meant to be the focus of the game. They have Attack scores and Health scores and combat works similar to the WoW TCG where damage is simultaneous and permanent.The problem is that there are 3 different levels of creatures, and I want level I to be the most common in decks, followed by level II, and only have a few level III's. If level I's are the grunts, then level II's are the elites, and level III's are the commanders. The ideal ratio for me is something like:

Level I: 12 per deck (stats about 3/3 plus an effect)
Level II: 6 per deck (stats about 5/5 plus an effect)
Level III: 3 per deck (stats about 7/7 plus an effect)
Spells: 20 per deck

First Attempt
I thought I had discovered a good mechanic by having players spend energy points they accumulated each turn to summon once each turn.

* Level I creatures were free and so you could play one each turn while saving up energy.

* Level II creatures cost 2 energy, and level III creatures cost 3 energy.The big flaw with this mechanic was that it put level II and level III creatures in direct competition for spending energy. The more level II's you had the fewer level III's you could play effectively and vice versa. But at least it encouraged a large number of level I's and some number of higher levels.

Second Attempt
Next I came up with a system that just put creatures of all levels in competition for spending energy on, but allowed players the option to rest to regain energy faster.

* Players would start with 3 energy and regain 1 energy at the start of each turn.

* Creatures would cost energy equal to their level, either 1, 2 or 3.

* Players could rest instead of summoning to regain 1 additional energy on their turn.
But the problem with this system is that players are meant to play spell cards, too. It will probably be more efficient to just play spells and level III's while resting every other turn. Removing the resting mechanic would make it impossible to play many cards in a game that lasts around 10 turns.

Alternatives?
I'm looking for ideas for a system that doesn't involve playing resource cards, and that encourages playing mostly level I creatures but also some higher levels together with spells.

Is the problem that I keep trying to create cyclical resource systems rather than ramping ones?

Should spells be put on the same resource system as creatures?

Maybe some sort of time delay mechanic like suspend in Magic could work?

I'm really running empty on this and it's driving me crazy!

3XXXDDD:
Why not try an evolution style system? Such as Evolution in Pokemon, Grading in Cardfight!! Vanguard or this really interesting Level System in Weib Schwarzz.

I assume you understand the Pokemon one well.

Vanguard is similar except you only need to "evolve" your main Guy and everyone else can come out a level equal or lower than him.

Weib Schwarz has this really odd System, where after you take 7 Points of damage, you move 6 to the discard pile and then the other to your Level Zone to see you've gone up a level.

Summoning does often follow a hierachy in many mythologies, so I feel maybe after enough of your level 1 creatures have been done away with, your creatures feel like your having a hard enough time and need to bring out the higher level 2 creatures.

Or, partly taken from my transmutation game, after you have called enough Level 1 creatures, you could transmute (discard pile) to summon bigger ones.

Another thing you could do is use the Player health as a resource system (flavourful, often pacts require blood or souls) so the bigger the guy you summon, the less life or resources you have in general.

Hope this helps.

Dragoon:
Despite Magi Nation lacking in the other area's, it had one of the best resource systems I have seen in a card game.

Generally it did the following:

You start with a number of energy (say 5) and would gain a number of energy each turn (2). You could use this energy to cast monster/spells/artifacts/etc. However, your energy was also your life total, meaning casting a huge beasty was a risky tactic early game, because it reduced your life total to almost 0.

Typherion:
Thanks for your responses.

--- Quote from: 3XXXDDD on July 14, 2012, 03:39:15 AM ---Vanguard is similar except you only need to "evolve" your main Guy and everyone else can come out a level equal or lower than him.
--- End quote ---

Actually, I understand the Vanguard system much better than I do Pokemon. But the way the Vanguard system works is that your main guy can't be destroyed because he represents you. This lets you keep ranking him up. But there's nothing like that in my game so it probably wouldn't work.

Any mechanic that involves sacrificing creatures or consolidating multiple creatures into a single bigger one also won't work because players need to keep as many creatures on the field as they can for defense.

I also want to avoid systems that give you resources based on the number of cards you have in play. This kind of mechanic would make it almost impossible to come back from a weak position.


--- Quote from: 3XXXDDD on July 14, 2012, 03:39:15 AM ---Summoning does often follow a hierachy in many mythologies, so I feel maybe after enough of your level 1 creatures have been done away with, your creatures feel like your having a hard enough time and need to bring out the higher level 2 creatures.

Or, partly taken from my transmutation game, after you have called enough Level 1 creatures, you could transmute (discard pile) to summon bigger ones.

--- End quote ---

One of the ideas I've been considering is removing cards from the discard pile to pay for the cost of summoning higher level creatures, similar to what you mentioned.

Yugioh uses this mechanic as a condition for summoning chaos monsters, which specifically require removing both light and dark creatures from your graveyard in order to summon them.

Summoner Wars also uses a similar mechanic by having players discard from their hand to put cards into a Magic pile that is then used to pay for costs.

The only problem I have with this kind of mechanic is flavour. Why is using up your dead creatures necessary for summoning more powerful ones? I'd prefer that the ability to summon bigger creatures be something the summoner can do because of their own power. But this system is probably one of the better alternatives.


--- Quote from: 3XXXDDD on July 14, 2012, 03:39:15 AM ---Another thing you could do is use the Player health as a resource system (flavourful, often pacts require blood or souls) so the bigger the guy you summon, the less life or resources you have in general.
--- End quote ---
Using player health as a resource isn't a very attractive option to me. It can encourage players to only play the most powerful cards possible and win or lose instantly because the only point of health that matters is the last one.


--- Quote from: Dragoon on July 14, 2012, 05:19:35 AM ---Despite Magi Nation lacking in the other area's, it had one of the best resource systems I have seen in a card game.

Generally it did the following:

You start with a number of energy (say 5) and would gain a number of energy each turn (2). You could use this energy to cast monster/spells/artifacts/etc. However, your energy was also your life total, meaning casting a huge beasty was a risky tactic early game, because it reduced your life total to almost 0.

--- End quote ---
This system sounds pretty crazy to me! So if you play a big card on turn 1 you can be killed instantly before turn 2? Sounds interesting but I'm not sure I could handle it.

So far it seems like the "removing cards from discard pile" is the strongest option. But I have this feeling that it might be possible to do something cool with a time delay mechanic.

Is anyone aware of any cool mechanics that involve using time as a resource?

ialsoagree:
Rather than time, why don't you use what you intend people to do as the resource for doing it?

Allow me to clarify. I know you stated you don't want to use cards as a resource and I don't think that this is doing that directly, although you may disagree.

You could introduce a "Command Chain" mechanic, or call it something else if you prefer. Each level 1 creature that a player plays adds x to their command chain at the start of their turn - this becomes another way to balance level 1 creatures, some could be very strong, but add very little to the command chain, and others could be very weak but add a lot to the command chain. Each level 2 and level 3 creature could require a certain amount of command chain points to be played, and when played, they reduce your command chain points by that amount each turn.

So, to play a level 2 creature, you'd have to get out 2-3 level 1 creatures, and to play a level 3 creature, you'd have to get out 4 or 5 level 1. Based on the numbers you presented earlier, with only ~3 level 3's per deck a player isn't guaranteed to see one every game (unless it's easy to draw cards and you never deck out). This type of system would allow players to stock up on lots of level 3 creatures to guarantee a draw, but in 10 rounds they're not likely to be able to play more than 2 of them so it wouldn't be cost effective deck building to do that (you'd wind up with a lot of useless cards in your hand, and potentially nothing to do on some turns).

Edit: Just to note though, this type of system would make killing your opponent's level 2's and 3's less effective, as it would free up command points for them so they could replace those creatures. Also, you'd have to address a situation where a player's command points become negative - do they have to discard level 2's or 3's in play? If they did, that would make attacking level 1's the most efficient thing to do because they're easier to kill AND you'd be killing their stronger level 2's and 3's at the same time.

That would be mitigated if the defender chooses who is attacked (rather than the attacker) or otherwise gets to assign the damage from the attacker (and the attacker would need to assign damage from the defender, assuming the attacker's creatures are damaged too).

Edit 2: I'm personally kind of wary of free-resource cards, if there's no other types of limits on them. I'm not sure exactly how your spell cards will work, or what effects they will have, but I'd encourage you to keep a close eye on them, and potentially introduce a limit per turn on how many you can play (unless you're already doing that?).

Something that might be harder to balance without such a limit is whether a player can play 2-4 spells in a row that, when combined, have a consequence that's far greater than the individual effects themselves, and was never intended in the first place. I know if I were going to play your CCG, if there's no limits on spells, that would be the first place I would go to see if there's any synergies that could make a particular spell combo far more powerful than any creatures you could play, even if the individual spells are far weaker.

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