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Eric Pietrocupo
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By area of effect, I mean the possible effect that can be applied to the game. Which gives the potential list of special abilities applicable to a card. As for example, magic the gathering has a huge area of effect as they designed thousands of cards and did not run out of possibilities.

I want to design a kind of 2 player microgame similar to microcosm where each player has 18 cards + 9 cards shared by both players.

I am looking for guidelines to keep my area of effect large and allow various abilities. I know a few ways to enlarge the area of effect which has been used so far, but I am looking for new ideas.

- Increase the amount of components: Games with a lot of components has a larger area of effect. But in my case that cannot be used since I want it to be a semi-microgame.

- Multiple uses: Giving cards multiple uses or allowing them to be played in different areas can make some abilities triger those specific areas. Ex: "destroy a card in the battle or mana zone". The same card can be played in any of those zones, but the effect target one of them.

- Categories or Types: Giving various categories and sub categories allow the design of special abilities that target those categories specifically. Ex: "Destroy a building" (a card of category building)

- Various status: Allow various game status, like for example "tapping" is a form of status a card can receive. If there are multiple status like "stun", "weak", etc then the area of effect is larger.



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PJ Cunningham
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Re: How to keep a large area of effect for abilities in card games?
- Combos: Card abilities may change depending on other/multiple cards played at the same time, etc.

Also, your description of Multiple Uses sounds like the additional abilities are triggered based on location played. Multiple Uses could also be represented by the orientation/side of the card played (e.g. double sided cards, cards with different abilities on each edge, etc), or by multiple choices listed on the card (e.g. Do simple effect A and keep this card, or do powerful effect B and discard it, or do amazing effect C and give it to your opponent...).
 
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Eric Pietrocupo
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Re: How to keep a large area of effect for abilities in card games?
Hmm! combo is interesting, but not always easy to define.

There seems to be implicit combo which are subtle to balance where a card for example could give you more gold, and another card requires gold to activate, so both can potentially be used together.

Else there are explicit combo, like if you play card X and card Y is in play, bonus effect happens. You can combo a specific type or a specific category for additional bonus effects. When the combination is too precise, it reduce flexibility and prevent a combo from beign made with other cards.

So yes combo is worth some thoughts
 
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Greg Porter
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Re: How to keep a large area of effect for abilities in card games?
I forget which one, but one of the deckbuilding games allowed you to "chain" specific cards rather than doing a generic "+1 action" sort of thing. I believe there were color coded circles in the upper left? corner. I'm sure someone will know which game I am referring to, but it is another way to do interesting things (i.e. you can play Y, but Y is more powerful if you play X first).
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Jeremy Lennert
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Re: How to keep a large area of effect for abilities in card games?
That's probably not the best term to use. The phrase "area of effect" usually refers to the blast radius of a specific ability. Like, a fireball has a large area of effect because it explodes and applies its effect to all the pieces in a large area of the board.

What you're asking about, I might refer to as the "conceptual space" or "possibility space" of the game. But I think it is actually dictated mostly by the game's glossary.

The major limitation in creating a game with modular abilities is that the abilities can't refer to each other directly; for instance, in Dominion, you don't want the Village card to refer to the Smithy card by name. There's way too many cards to refer to a significant percentage of them one at a time, and there's also no way to anticipate the names of future cards that haven't been released yet, so it's just impractical.

And yet, Village & Smithy still interact and work together to form a combo, despite the fact that neither card "knows" that the other even exists. How? They interact indirectly through the game's core systems.

Dominion has a resource called "actions" that is used to play cards. Without the kingdom cards, "actions" don't actually do anything (they can't be converted directly to other resources, and none of the core cards interact with them in any way). But because they exist as a concept, Village can generate actions and Smithy can consume them, allowing those cards to work together without ever referring to each other directly. If Dominion hadn't defined the concept of "actions" up-front, it wouldn't have been able to create those cards later, because without that concept the cards don't make sense.

Every game with modular abilities defines (implicitly or explicitly) a suite of concepts or mechanisms those abilities can interact with. That suite is your alphabet; it contains the building blocks you can use to assemble abilities. The richer and more powerful the concepts in that suite, the greater the variety of abilities you can make.

Dominion has several resources (actions, buys, coins), a bunch of locations that cards can move between (draw pile, discard pile, hand, play area, supply, trash), and various keywords that attach to cards so you can interact with them as a class instead of as an individual card (action, treasure, victory, attack, reaction). And a big part of the reason they can have so many expansions is because the expansions keep introducing new mechanisms for the cards to interact with--like durations in seaside, potions in alchemy, victory point chips in prosperity, play mats that define new locations to put things (native village, island, etc.).

If you're running out of ideas for new abilities, try adding a new mechanism for them to interact with. For instance, in the second edition of Darkest Night, I created 3 new abilities for each of the 29 characters in the game; that could have been a daunting task, but I made it much easier because I also introduced a new resource called "sparks" into the game, which let me easily create a bunch of new abilities that either create sparks (under various conditions) or consume sparks (to produce various other effects). That increased the conceptual space of the game, making it easy to invent many new abilities.

So if you want to have a lot of room to write modular abilities for your game, you should focus on designing the core systems those abilities are going to interact with.
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Carl Frodge
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Re: How to keep a large area of effect for abilities in card games?
I feel like for every 2 mechanics the game has, there's at least 5 different ways those mechnics can interact with each other and be manipulated. So however complex your game is, the possibilities become endless.


 
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Sanhueza at GAME-O-GAMI
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Re: How to keep a large area of effect for abilities in card games?
BTRC wrote:
I forget which one, but one of the deckbuilding games allowed you to "chain" specific cards rather than doing a generic "+1 action" sort of thing. I believe there were color coded circles in the upper left? corner. I'm sure someone will know which game I am referring to, but it is another way to do interesting things (i.e. you can play Y, but Y is more powerful if you play X first).


I think the game you're thinking of might be Nightfall.

 
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Eric Pietrocupo
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Re: How to keep a large area of effect for abilities in card games?
Quote:
I feel like for every 2 mechanics the game has, there's at least 5 different ways those mechnics can interact with each other and be manipulated. So however complex your game is, the possibilities become endless.


It happened multiple times that in games too simple, finding unique special abilities becomes very hard.
 
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Eric Pietrocupo
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Re: How to keep a large area of effect for abilities in card games?
Quote:
What you're asking about, I might refer to as the "conceptual space" or "possibility space" of the game. But I think it is actually dictated mostly by the game's glossary.


Well, that is the term I have defined due to the lack of popular definition. But I am willing to change my vocabulary. "Possibility space" could be nice.

Quote:
And yet, Village & Smithy still interact and work together to form a combo, despite the fact that neither card "knows" that the other even exists. How? They interact indirectly through the game's core systems.


Since my game is not a deck building game, I'll have to prebuild any desired combo into the deck. The player would chose 2 groups of 9 cards at the start of the game and play with those 18 cards. I could see how I could create synergies between packs of 9 cards.

I like the idea behind star realms combo system as it seems simple to play with and simple to design. I might not be able to use something like that in my game, but I could think of something, maybe there is an openning somewhere.
 
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patrick mullen
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Re: How to keep a large area of effect for abilities in card games?
Yeah area of effect deffinitely is a standardized term generally used for things like fireballs that hit multiple targets at once.

Possibility space on the other hand is often used in analysis of games like go or chess, to determine the complexity of the game. Go and chess are interesting examples: The go game state only has 3 possible tokens for each space on the board (white, black, or empty), while there are many more possibilities per space on a chess board (white and black, across pawn, rook, knight, bishop, king, and queen). A superficial analysis would think of chess (at least on a similarly sized board as go can be played on variable sizes) as the more complicated game. However the possibility space of go is many many factors larger than it is for chess (so much so that our modern computers are still not powerful to compute it).

I think this applies very much to what you are asking. There are certainly card games (ccgs even) which have many many compontents and rules... but the possibility space is actually fairly small. Certain set-ups of dominion can actually fall into this, for instance if you don't have a card that increases actions it can prevent some of the complexity from showing up.

By the way, while your game isn't a deckbuilding game it functions in a similar way: you are not playing with all of the cards in a single game, but only with a subset. The combo of Village & Smithy doesn't always come up - but village and smithy do useful things on their own as well. In the same way, your 9-card decks could have combos with each other even if that combo doesn't always come up.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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Re: How to keep a large area of effect for abilities in card games?
saluk wrote:
Possibility space on the other hand is often used in analysis of games like go or chess, to determine the complexity of the game. Go and chess are interesting examples: The go game state only has 3 possible tokens for each space on the board (white, black, or empty), while there are many more possibilities per space on a chess board (white and black, across pawn, rook, knight, bishop, king, and queen). A superficial analysis would think of chess (at least on a similarly sized board as go can be played on variable sizes) as the more complicated game. However the possibility space of go is many many factors larger than it is for chess (so much so that our modern computers are still not powerful to compute it).

I think this applies very much to what you are asking. There are certainly card games (ccgs even) which have many many compontents and rules... but the possibility space is actually fairly small. Certain set-ups of dominion can actually fall into this, for instance if you don't have a card that increases actions it can prevent some of the complexity from showing up.

I think you may be confusing a few different concepts here.


One concept is the total number of states the game can be in; this might be called the "state space" of the game, or its "entropy" (in the information theoretic sense). On an 8x8 board, Chess does have a larger state space than Go (especially if you ignore the normal limits on the number of pieces, like the each player normally can't have more than 2 rooks). But Go is traditionally played on a 19x19 board, which is more than 5 times as big, so that probably puts it a little ahead.

If you can exhaustively search the entire state space of a game, you can "solve" the game and determine the absolute best possible move for any position. This is relatively easy to do for Tic-Tac-Toe, but both Chess and Go have state spaces that are far too large to search exhaustively, even with modern supercomputers. Neither game has been solved, and neither of them are going to be solved in the foreseeable future.


Another concept is what's usually called the "branching factor"--the number of legal moves available at one time. This depends on the exact position you're in, but a typical chess midgame position has around three dozen legal moves (limited by the number of pieces and their allowed movement directions), while Go lets you play on any empty space, and so a half-full board has a much higher 19*19/2 = ~180 legal moves. This is one key reason that it's easier for a computer to play Chess than Go.


Another concept is what you might call the strategic subtlety or "depth" of a game. How difficult it is to tell the difference between good moves and bad moves (or between good moves and great moves). As far as I know, no one has figured out a way to put this concept on mathematically rigorous footing, but it's still pretty important in game design. (And it's another reason that computers are better at Chess than at Go: the strategy in Chess is more short-term, while in Go it's more long-term.)

It's not obvious that a Dominion set with no +actions has a significantly smaller state space OR a significantly smaller branching factor, but the strategy space is definitely constrained. Conversely, a Dominion set with no +buys probably has a similar reduction in state space and an even greater reduction in branching factor, but it doesn't constrain your strategy as much, because +buys just aren't as important as +actions.


And I would argue that none of those are the same as the "possibility space" that dictates what modular abilities you can or can't write for the game. (And I'm not really sure if "possibility space" is even the best name for it.)
 
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Eric Pietrocupo
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Re: How to keep a large area of effect for abilities in card games?
The way I saw this concept is looking at the ability text from a reverse point of view.

Instead of saying

"What ability will I give to my cards"

you say

"What is the list of possible ability permutation, then I'll chose from the list"

If you can dress up the list, or estimate the size of the list, then you know if you are going to run out of possibility.

So the idea of possibility space, is somewhat related as you analyze all the possible abilities that can be designed. It's much more precise than "area of effect".

I don't want to use the expression "Rule Space" because I am using it for another concept ... but which could still probably be renamed.

 
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