Resource generation in CCGs
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Play the big card and win the game! But if you can play the big card right away, the game would be no fun. That means you'll have to wait, putting together the resources necessary to play the big cards. But how do different CCGs handle resource generation, if they have such a thing at all?

I am interested in seeing how the other CCGs do resource generation, and how their system affects the tempo and the strategy of play. Is it a slow buildup to a creschendo of big cards or a slow steady churn of gears? What do you like or not like about the system? How flexible is it?

One thing I am particularly interested is this: Is the resource generation dependent on how well you play? In other words, does the better player enjoy better resources, or is it not dependent on that at all. Is there a "rich gets richer" issue? A game that gives you a set amount of resources per turn would be an example of a game where the resources are not dependent on the game. A game that gives resources to you based on how many fights you won or how many creatures you have could mean that once you start losing, you won't come back.

Also please note that these are CCGs, so everything written below will have exceptions where certain cards change things. The descriptions should be about how things work in general.

Here's the template I am using - see the examples below for usage:

Resource:

Generation:

Deployment:

Accumulation:

Flexibility:

Comments:
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1. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:122]
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Resource: 5 colors of mana

Generation: Land cards generate mana when they are tapped, color depends on the land type, so there are various types of land too. They are not used for anything else.

Deployment: Every turn, a maximum of one land may be played. If you have a land, you can play it, so resource generation isn't tied to how well you are playing.

Accumulation: Mana that is generated by tapping doesn't carry over to subsequent turns. In fact, unused mana will cause damage. All lands are untapped at the beginning of next turn, ready to generate mana again.

Flexibility: In MtG, there are many other ways of generating mana faster than once per turn, through other cards (creatures, artifacts, spells) that generate mana as well, but lands are the primary mechanic. Most of the time, you are at the mercy of drawing just the right mix and amount of land cards. Land cards are drawn from the deck along with other cards, which means a player may not have one when they need to play one, or they may have too many. These two events have now become famous as the terms "mana screw" and "mana flood" are commonly known. These events can cause many games not to be fun/competitive and impacts gameplay significantly.

Comments: How quickly mana can be generated determines the make up of the decks, affecting the focus on quick kills vs prolonged fights. I find the whole mana system rather inflexible and I never know if the land cards will get out my way of having a good struggle against my opponent(s). Even the supporting cards that generate mana are problematic, as they often don't do anything else very well and you can draw too many of those and not enough of the actual fighting cards. On the other hand, some lands do interesting things in addition to generating mana, so that helps when you draw too many of those. Still, most decks will not contain a lot of nonbasic lands.

The game can be either a buildup to a large rare coming and winning the game or a weenie deck swarming the opponent quickly. So the game can work in various ways unless one player hits the two problems (mana scre or flood), in which case it's really an aborted game and not a good fight.
 
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2. Board Game: Maelstrom [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:2700]
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Oxford
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Resource: Output and energy

Generation: Output is generated by Strongholds. Energy is generated by killing a creature then moving onto its space. Energy can be used to add output to a stronghold (1 per 1 basis). All creatures must be summoned next to the stronghold whose output is paying for the creatures' cost.

Deployment: Each player starts with a number of strongholds and can pay their cost to build additional ones. Energy is generated directly by killing enemy creatures. Your play does have an impact on how well you generate the resources, through your killing of enemies and defensing of your strongholds.

Accumulation: Unused Energy accumulates to subsequent turns (there are markers for them), unused output does not.

Flexibility: The cost of the creatures and spells do not vary a good deal (unlike, for example, magic where the costs can wary between 1 and 10 or so), so the strongholds you have and get can be managed to provide you what you need most of the time. Starting strongholds will also get you a decent way into the game, so you won't be lacking for resources for the routine cards.

Comments: In order to play big creatures, multiple strongholds must be built adjacent to each other so they can combine to pay for the cost of the creature, which must be placed touching all paying strongholds. Vortex is a game where tiles move around, so the placing of these strongholds is important.

There may be a runaway leader issue with this system where the stronger you get, the more output and energy you can generate, which will lead to being more stronger. The need to place the stronghold tiles adjacent to each other can mitigate this somewhat, as it's not easy creating masses of strongholds that don't get in the way of the creatures after they are summoned. Obviously, the stronger your creatures are, the more they'll kill and collect the energy left behind by the dead enemy, which means more resources. I haven't played enough to know if this is a real issue. You can also lose your strongholds with poor play.
 
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3. Board Game: Middle-Earth [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:685]
C.A.
United States
Oxford
Mississippi
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Resources: Influence is used for recruiting follower. Hazards are used for playing bad guys on your opponent.

Generation: Each player starts with a certain amount of Influence, which is partly used to recruit the characters you begin the game with. The influence left along witht he influence of the characters themselves, is used to recruit more. Hazards are generated when the other player moves about the landscape.

Accumulation: Influence is an attribute that you sum, it's not generated as in the other games, so it doesn't accumulate, it's just a stat. Hazard does not accumulate (I think) and you summon the bad guys that you have hazard for (as long as you have the bad guy cards in hand) .

Comments: The cards that you'd like to bring into the game have requirements in addition to resources (influence), such as the party being in a particular location and having prerequisite items/creatures in play. This means the party has to move around the map, gathering the pieces necessary and going to the required locations. So you can't just win in turn two.

Flexibility: This is not a "resource" dependent game as in the others, since what you need to do is to take your party to the locations where the cards you have in your hand can be played. Resource wise, there's not much issue. I traded this game away because I think the deck plays you, dictating pretty much every step of what you should be doing next.
 
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4. Board Game: Blue Moon [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:617]
C.A.
United States
Oxford
Mississippi
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Resource: None

Generation: happens by itself

Deployment: automatic

Accumulation: none

Flexibility: Not being resource dependent, you have unlimited flexibility to play whatever you have.

Comments: You can play any card you have, even the big boys, but you are limited to one character card per turn plus some limited support cards. So you can win a battle in turn one (which moves trophy dragons around), but in order to win the game you need multiple dragons. So playing your biggest cards right away while your opponent saves his cards may mean you are only going to lose the trophies you collected in the subsequent battles. So you try to win with other cards you have, trying to catch the other player at a bad spot, prudently using up your big cards.
 
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5. Board Game: Deadlands: Doomtown [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:1072]
Davido
United States
California
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Ghost Rock. You have Deeds that can generate income.
Strikes-out of town locations that are the source of Ghost Rock and generate 1 to 10 Ghost Rock per turn (1 to 3 is typical, 5+ less so)

In Town Deeds-businesses that can generate 1-3+ Ghost Rock per turn.

Each Outfit (faction) starts w/ an allotment of Ghost Rock (usually 16-24) to form a basic posse (each Dude has starting cost and per turn upkeep).

After starting costs are paid, leftover Ghost Rock can be used to purchase other goodies, but usually an income producing deed/strike is de riguer for starters to get an economic engine going. The game is one when one has Control Points greater than the other player(s) Influence Points. So the Ghost rock can either buy Dudes w/ influence (prevent another player from winning or to go take the other player's deeds or remove other player's influence) or control points (usually deeds with control point values, some can also produce Ghost Rock as well.)

Some Dudes (e.g. Collegium's Susan Franklin) can generate income as well. There are also events and other cards that allow one to generate Ghost Rock or steal other player's Ghost Rock as well.

Generally, it is slow to build up Ghost Rock
 
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6. Board Game: Star Wars Customizable Card Game [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1216]
Nate Rethorn
United States
Perrysburg
Ohio
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Resource: Force (as in Living, The)

Generation: Force is generated by playing locations. Each location generates a certain number of Force--both for your side and your opponent's, as determined by the number of red- and blue- colored lightsabers on the location card (Force Icons).

Deployment: Locations are free to deploy and persistent in their Force generation. There are Light Side and Dark Side copies of many locations, and there cannot be two copies of a location at the same time (e.g., the Light Side's copy of the Kessel system replaces the Dark Side's copy already in play).

Accumulation: You are free to activate up to as much Force as the total number given on all in-play locations (plus one additional Force, to ensure that you always get at least 1 Force to work with). Activated Force is drawn off the top of the Reserve deck and placed off to the side in a Force Pile. Used Force is tapped and placed in a third pile, to be later put under the Reserve deck. Unused Force does not harm the player, and may be carried over to the next turn.

Comments: The Force numbers printed on location cards not only determine the total resources available to you at the start of the turn, but are also used to hurt you or your opponent. If you control a location (definition on that term is a bit complicated, so I'll skip over that), then your opponent may Force Drain you each turn by the amount of Force you would otherwise generate.

Here's an example:



Every turn, Corulag gives the Dark Side player 2 Force and the Light Side player 1. However, let's assume that the Light Side player has deployed an X-Wing, but the Dark Side has nothing. On the Light Side Player's turn, he may choose to Force Drain the Dark Side player for 1 Force (normally it would be 2, but the text for the Light Side player subtracts 1). The Dark Side player must immediately place a card (from his hand or any of his Used, Reserve, or Force piles) in his Lost Pile.

The goal of the SWCCG is to deck your opponent. There are many ways to achieve your goal, but the two most common are through Force Draining and battling. Force Draining is a really efficient way to force your opponent to lose cards, and this concept adds quite a bit of subtlety to the game.

After all, the more Force that your opponent activates each turn, the more quickly he's able to deploy the cards in his hand. But if he doesn't control those Force-generating locations (and you do), you can deck him rather quickly. There's a balance between wanting to generate more Force for yourself while running the risk of getting Force Drained. Managing those two concepts well is key to winning the game.

(Apologies for the length and any possible errors. I haven't played this game in several years, although it's still one of my favorites).

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7. Board Game: Firestorm [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:5918]
Davido
United States
California
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Resources-a generic unit that one uses to acquire stuff in the game, pay for Heroes, Ships, upgrades, etc.

Each of the 4 races starts w/ a certain number of Resources-you use these to purchase starting planets, which can generate, yep, Resources eac turn. There are also Fate cards that give you resources (e.g. Concentrated Effort, Hidden Resources, etc.) so again, seeding the deck helps ramp up initial production.

Overall, I like the wide variety of things you can do in the game, and it has a space opera feel to it which is unusual in a non-licensed CCG. That said, the different parts are a bit clunky in their interactions-it works, but not as smoothly as Doomtown.
 
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8. Board Game: Magi-Nation [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:2595]
Jeff Wiles
United States
Macon
Georgia
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The Magi you have in play generates a fixed amount of energy every turn. There are no land/location/lesson/energy cards and subsequently no energy flood/screw. The constant generation rate makes it easier to plan ahead, and there aren't any resource cards diluting out your deck. Now if there were only some interesting card to put in your deck.

I like the Magi-Nation energy system and turn structure; I just don't get excited about specific cards in this game the way I do in Magic, SWCCG, Harry Potter, etc.

 
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9. Board Game: The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:1120]
Steven Canning
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Resource: Shadow

Players alternate playing the Free People and Shadow sides. On the Free People's turn, cards played generally generate shadow tokens. The Shadow player then uses these tokens to pay for his cards.

This resource system is unrelated to how well you play, though managing it is important to good play. One common strategy is "choke," whereby you play as few Free Peoples cards as possible, limiting the options for the Shadow. The beefier the fellowship, the larger the shadow force it must face.
 
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10. Board Game: Perry Rhodan Sammelkartenspiel [Average Rating:7.11 Unranked]
Bernd Altmann
Germany
Augsburg
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Resources: Everything but the action cards is called resource cards. They are used as prerequisites for playing other cards. Example: To play Roboter der Venusfestung you need Venus and Positronik. Positronik needs Venus, Venus needs Terra, which can be played without prerequisite. After all you need at least three cards in play before you can play Roboter der Venusfestung.

Deployment: You can play one planet every turn. The more planets you have in play, the more other resource cards you can play.

Generation: Just play the resource card.

Accumulation: There is no tapping for playing cards, so every card you have in play helps to play better cards in the future - as long as it isn't destroyed by the opponent, of course.

Flexibility: You have to follow the game story - after all the game is based on the first 72 Perry Rhodan pulp novels and you get victory points for reaching some significant story points. You replay the main Perry Rhodan story and because of that the flexibility is limited someway.
 
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11. Board Game: Call of Cthulhu: Collectible Card Game [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1468]
Andreas Johansson
Sweden
Linköping
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Any card can be played as a resource instead of as its basic type (character, support, or event). Each resource is attached to one of your three 'domains' - exhausting a domain allows you to pay for a card or effect with a cost up to the number resources attached to it. When playing new cards you also have to make a 'resource match', meaning at least one of the resources must be of the same colour as the card paid for. Note that you can't pay for bigger cards or effects by exhausting multipe domains. Exhausted domains refresh at the beggining of your next turn.

You can only play one card as a resource per turn, but each of your domains start the game with one resource on it already. Slight complications arise in that some cards can give you additional domains, and that some cards have special effects when used as resources.

The system works quite well - you are never starved for resources, but always have to make decisions which cards you use as resources and which you play for their effects. There's also strategic choices to be made in how you build up your domains - do you build up one big domain to be able to play your heavy hitters as soon as possible, or do you build them up more evenly to be able to play a larger number of cheaper cards?
 
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12. Board Game: Babylon 5 Collectible Card Game [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:2384]
Nathan Morse
United States
Powell
Ohio
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Resource: Influence

Generation: Influence, like mana in Magic: The Gathering, refreshes each turn, so as you build your influence, each turn, you have more available. Similarly, losses in influence can hinder you.

Deployment: Everyone starts with a few influence. Each player's faction has an inner circle of characters they've made key. One of the actions an inner circle character can take is to generate influence, at least up to a certain point. Otherwise, you gain influence by playing actions, winning conflicts (well, usually by winning them), and such.

Accumulation: As with Magic: The Gathering, you typically can't save unused influence for a subsequent turn.

Flexibility: As mentioned in Deployment, there are various ways to gain (or lose!) influence. It's an inherently flexible system; however, conflicts are - by design - often quite challenging to win. Picking a fight is easy....

Comments: B5 CCG strives, rather successfully, to simulate the diplomatic, moral, social, and military struggles of the television series, Babylon 5. In fact a character that is eliminated from play isn't typically dead. Instead, they've been rendered diplomatically ineffective, shamed into irrelevance, had their leadership undermined - this sort of thing.
 
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13. Board Game: MapleStory iTrading Card Game [Average Rating:6.64 Unranked]
Drew Spencer
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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Resource: Levels.

Generation: Each turn you can take any card from your hand and slip it under your character card. This gets you +10 levels and +20 hp.

Deployment: In addition to adding +10 levels, each card also has either an instant, which you can do once that turn, or a new ability. If you are the appropriate level of the appropriate class, you can now do that ability once per turn, which includes playing spells, deploying monsters, and adding items.

Accumulation: You get to keep your levels the whole game, but you can only perform each ability once.

Flexibility: Every single card, whether its a monster, item, or spell, can be used as a level-up card instead. There is never a problem of not getting enough resources, though you might not draw the specific abilities you want.

Comments: I really like this system. It means that every single card is two things, but you'll only be able to use one of them, which makes both deck construction and strategy play very interesting. It's generally a good idea to level up whenever you can, but if you don't have enough exploration (draw a card) abilities, you'll find your hand going down to one card per turn.


Three tactics (spell) cards. Their level-up information is on the bottom
 
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