Author Topic: Help with ideas for a resource system (again)  (Read 1166 times)

Typherion

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Help with ideas for a resource system (again)
« on: July 14, 2012, 12:28:27 AM »
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

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Re: Help with ideas for a resource system (again)
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2012, 03:39:15 AM »
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

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Re: Help with ideas for a resource system (again)
« Reply #2 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.

Typherion

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Re: Help with ideas for a resource system (again)
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2012, 05:51:01 AM »
Thanks for your responses.
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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.

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.
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

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Re: Help with ideas for a resource system (again)
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2012, 09:39:20 AM »
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.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2012, 09:49:47 AM by ialsoagree »

Typherion

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Re: Help with ideas for a resource system (again)
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2012, 11:35:07 AM »
Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

I don't think I understand your command chain idea completely, but basically, you generate points at the start of each turn based on how many low level creatures you control, and those points are temporarily used to play stronger creatures.

The main issue that I can see is that killing your opponent's low level creatures basically becomes what land destruction is in Magic. But I understand the reasoning in rewarding players for taking desirable actions in the game.

Originally, the system I described above under the First Attempt heading tried to do this by having players gain 1 energy for playing a level I. But if you get a bad hand, it basically punishes players by not letting them play anything. It can create "mana screw" situations. That was why I shifted the system to just generating energy at the start of each turn.

However, I think the idea of having some kind of a limit to the level of creatures you can have in play at any one time has a lot of potential!

This probably won't work well as written, but for example, maybe you could only control creatures with a combined total level of 5 or less at any one time. This could be any combination of level I, II or III so long as the total of levels in play is 5 or less.

I like the idea of a negative resource system like this. You get resources based on how much you don't have in play. If you are dominating the field with tons of creatures then you get less or even nothing.

Flavour-wise this could represent the difficulty Summoners have with keeping control over creatures. It's more difficult to maintain the summoning of multiple creatures, especially powerful ones.

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?).

This is basically how spells work in Yugioh. They are free so you want to play them, but they also reduce the number of creatures you draw. Indications from that game suggest it is a workable system.

Also, I think you might have a point with the ratio of creature levels...perhaps a ratio of around 10:8:6 might be better...

Kevashim

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Re: Help with ideas for a resource system (again)
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2012, 05:43:43 PM »
Players have 3 pools of energy, 1 for each level of creature.

Players start the game with 3 resources in the level 1 pool.

Each turn a player gets 1 point they can spend or store.

It costs 1 point to buy a resource in the level 1 pool, 2 points to buy a resource in the level 2 pool, and 3 points for one in the level 3 pool.

Resources in pools are permanently spent in order to summon.
OR
Total number of creatures of each level you may have in play at any one time is equal to the resources in each pool.

Typherion

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Re: Help with ideas for a resource system (again)
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2012, 11:47:48 AM »
I think your first suggestion is functionally similar to the system I described under the Second Attempt heading. Your second idea seems quite a bit different, though. So on your first turn you can control up to three level I's, then you slowly gain points that allow you to control one level II by turn 3, or one level III by turn 4, etc. I think it has potential but might need to be simplified.

Last night I had some more ideas about creating a negative resource system:
  • You can spend up to 5 energy each turn.
  • Spells cost 1-3 energy to cast.
  • Creatures cost 1-3 energy to summon, but also cost 1 energy each to maintain every turn.

This means you can easily summon big creatures at the start of the game, but the more creatures you have, the more limited you become. It's kind of the opposite of a resource curve. If it's designed well, you will want to use a mix of cheap and expensive cards.

For example:
Turn 1: pay 3 energy to summon a level III, then pay 2 more energy to summon a level II.
Turn 2: pay 2 energy as upkeep, then summon another level III.
Turn 3: pay 3 energy as upkeep, then pay 2 energy to cast a level II spell.

As written, this probably encourages players to stack their decks with expensive spells and creatures, but I think the underlying concept is good.

Maybe it would work better if creatures have an upkeep cost 1 point less than their summoning cost...that might let players have as many level I creatures as they want in play and stop them from overloading on high levels.

Or maybe I'm overthinking things and it's better to just have summon cost = upkeep cost

Dragoon

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Re: Help with ideas for a resource system (again)
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2012, 02:26:43 PM »
I like the last idea, however, you should give each creature a summon/upkeep cost. This would allow for some strange shenegians, such as a cost 1/upkeep 3 guy :)

3XXXDDD

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Re: Help with ideas for a resource system (again)
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2012, 06:18:52 PM »
Thinking back to your banishing (exiling) smaller creatures from the grave for bigger ones might be a good idea and here is why; It means your actually required to lose some base resources (ie cards) to play a big one, so essentially, more stuff that has died on you, means you get to play more powerful stuff. This means, that in a way, a player losing (or psuedo-losing) has the ability to come back with the bigger creatures.

Similar to Counterblast in Vanguard (Paying for effects with the damage you've taken) or Levels in Weib Schwarz (After taking 7 damage, you go up a level and can play higher leveled cards).

gwago

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Re: Help with ideas for a resource system (again)
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2012, 07:43:46 PM »
I was going to suggest a hierarchical system, where Level 1 creatures are free, Level 2 creatures require three Level 1 creatures in play, and Level 3 creatures require two Level 2 creatures in play. I think this is the simplest and most elegant way to do this, but as stated above this obviously turns creature kill into land destruction. I don't know how long you intend to have creatures stick around, but you could fix this by:

-having creatures be much more resilient than other games, whereas creature kill is extremely rare and a creature losing combat would cause its controller to lose life instead of killing the creature, for example.

-having a system like VS where creatures don't immediately die upon receiving lethal damage; they become stunned, and each player gets to save one of their stunned creatures at end of turn while the others die off.

-having dead creatures flip over; they're still present but don't act like live creatures (maybe they can be revived later on?).

Another way to treat this would be to have free Level 1 creatures simply give add one energy to your permanent pool when you play them, which you can use to play Level 2 creatures. These guys would give you another type of energy used to play Level 3 creatures, under the same ratios listed above.

I think a little more info on the game's flavour would help us iron out a system... what kinds of creatures are these?

Typherion

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Re: Help with ideas for a resource system (again)
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2012, 01:09:22 AM »
Thinking back to your banishing (exiling) smaller creatures from the grave for bigger ones might be a good idea and here is why; It means your actually required to lose some base resources (ie cards) to play a big one, so essentially, more stuff that has died on you, means you get to play more powerful stuff. This means, that in a way, a player losing (or psuedo-losing) has the ability to come back with the bigger creatures.

I think that you are right that this kind of system can create good gameplay, but the mechanics also have to support the flavour. If possible, I would like a resource system that lets players summon big creatures as early as turn 1, but I still want smaller creatures to be played more frequently.

I was going to suggest a hierarchical system, where Level 1 creatures are free, Level 2 creatures require three Level 1 creatures in play, and Level 3 creatures require two Level 2 creatures in play. I think this is the simplest and most elegant way to do this, but as stated above this obviously turns creature kill into land destruction.
I think a little more info on the game's flavour would help us iron out a system... what kinds of creatures are these?

I am not very keen about using a resource system based on having X creatures in play for quite a few reasons, including the negative effect on resources:
  • It can create a problem of lengthy "resource screw" if you don't draw the right cards, leaving you with cards in your hand that you never have the chance to play;
  • It doesn't really support the flavour - why do summoners need to have X creatures of Y level in play? Do they need them to establish a strong enough connection to some other realm? Do they need to practice a bit before they can call up a big boss creature?
  • It also discourages players from trying to attack their opponent directly because it's probably better to attack the creatures in order to deprive them of resources as previously mentioned.
Flavour
I'll briefly give some more details about the flavour of creatures and my intentions for creature removal and the creature combat system.

The flavour of the game is fairly generic fantasy stuff. Creatures come in 4 types: Beasts, Mystics, Spirits and Warriors. The only major point about creatures is that they are not natural beings. There are no humans, no animals - nothing from the real world.

All creatures are composed of magical energy. Perhaps the act of summoning brings the creature into existence from the mind of the summoner, or maybe it just transports them into this world from some primal plane of energy. Summoners then command their creatures and support them directly with spells.

For example, I have plans for a deck of Warrior creatures based on minotaurs. I would not use the word "minotaur" but give each creature a name such as "Bloodhorn Berserker". They would have effects related to creatures being wounded or destroyed in battle, such as gaining an Attack boost while wounded.

Removal
Almost all removal in the game will be damage based. This is to make bigger creatures more difficult to remove than smaller ones. It is also to allow players to protect their creatures from removal by playing spells that absorb damage in response. Non-damage based removal will be narrow and require certain conditions. Eg: The spell "Word of Death" destroys one target wounded creature, but can't be used on a creature with full Health.

Combat
Combat in the game will focus on attacking and defending with creatures. Creatures can perform 1 action each turn: either attacking, defending, or activating an effect.

If you don't have any creatures on defense, you can be attacked directly. Dealing damage to the player is the victory condition of the game. This makes it important for players to have multiple creatures in play to both attack and defend effectively.


Typherion

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Re: Help with ideas for a resource system (again)
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2012, 04:39:27 AM »
Just had an idea for a time and zone based resource mechanic:
  • You can have up to 3 creatures in play at any time
  • You have 3 summoning circles which you use to summon creatures
  • You can use each circle to summon once per turn
  • Level I creatures are summoned instantly from a circle
  • Level II creatures are summoned after one turn in a circle
  • Level III creatures are summoned after two turns in a circle

This system lets you summon up to 3 creatures in a single turn, but bigger creatures take longer to finish summoning. This probably creates gameplay issues but I'm just trying to come up with more ideas to open up potential design space.

3XXXDDD

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Re: Help with ideas for a resource system (again)
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2012, 05:06:34 AM »
What about

Level 1 = Take up one Circle
Level 2 = Take up two Circles
Level 3 = Take up Three Circles

?

Typherion

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Re: Help with ideas for a resource system (again)
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2012, 09:07:45 AM »
    What about

    Level 1 = Take up one Circle
    Level 2 = Take up two Circles
    Level 3 = Take up Three Circles
    Sure, that might work too. It's also the same as saying:
    • Players can summon up to 3 levels of creatures each turn.
    This may be the simplest and most elegant resource mechanic of them all so far. My only concern is that without further restrictions it could encourage players to stack their decks with level III creatures to consistently utilise maximum resources while using only 1 card per turn on summoning and then backing them up with free spells. However, the ability to put multiple cheap level I attackers and defenders into play at the same time might balance this out.

    I think this has the potential to work very well. Although I really wanted the mechanics to focus on creatures, I may end up having to make a compromise and put spells on the same resource system for balance reasons. I'll think more about this, plot out what kind of behaviour it encourages and try to draw some conclusions.

    Thanks for your comment which really got me back to thinking in simpler terms.