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Subject: What would attract you more (for card games) rss

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Would you like the prospect of having certain races, with strengths/weakness based upon that particular race.

For example: An Undead faction that has poor utilization of resources, but has a formidable army (tapping into the "graveyard" to raise additional units)

Or

Would you prefer everything to be more even-steven, where racial traits play a minimal role, and the cards that are used are the real winners.


The first one sort of pigeon-holes the way players play, the second option is kind of bland. I suppose a balance of the two would be nice, but just curious what are other peoples' thoughts on where they would lean.
 
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Scott Allen Czysz
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I'd lean towards the first: different races with distinct abilities. Ideally though, each player would have a choice, so for example 3 people could each be Undead, or 1 could be Undead, 1 Orc, and 1 Human. That's easy to do in a computer game, more difficult (expensive) in a physical card / cardboard game.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Here's the problem: I like "Variable Player Powers" (for example, special racial traits/abilities); but it is hard to find games that execute it well.
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Mike Esko
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I second the first. If myth was real then it seems more theme fitting. Goblins should be able to swarm, giants smash, and squirrels harvest.
 
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Michael Brettell
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Definitely the first. Adds a great deal of replayability, but ideally each race would be equally playable against each other race - in other words its okay if the Undead are playing the Goblins - you don't need to make sure the Druids (say) are involved to counter the Undead.

Requires more play-testing (if game design is where you're going).
 
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Grace McDermott
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I'm not sure how well it would work, but you could have some sort of "first player pick" method - say, the first player picks undead, then you look at a chart and see that that faction is best played against Orcs/Squirrels/Druids.

Or just balance everything as best as you can and let players figure it out, like Pokemon - air vs water type has a different strategy to air vs fire type and etc.
 
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Seth Brown
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Asymmetrical player powers are inherently more interesting/fun, but also inherently more difficult to balance correctly.
 
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Jim McCollum
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I think Smal World does an awesome job at doing unique faction powers. There are two important features in SW:

1. Each faction has a unique ability and is randomly paired with another ability. For example, Elves are good at staying alive, their faction ability, and could be paired with getting an advantage in a certain type of terrain, a random ability. This exponentially increases the number of options, and continually challenges players' power evaluation skills.

2. Players draft their faction + random ability pair from a common pool, with unpicked faction getting their cost adjusted. This helps balance the game because there are definitely stronger and weaker ability pairs.

Another feature, but less essential, is that you get to play with multiple factions over the course of a game.

A second game that could serve as inspiration is Smash Up. In that game, players select two unique faction decks and then just shuffle them up. The inspiration here is that if you have a pool of potential factions, players could draft two and then combine their powers in interesting ways.

Anyway, to answer your question specifically, I think asymmetrical powers are more interesting and better fulfill expectations. If I choose the Undead faction, the game sets me up to expect that they would have different abilities from the Goblins. If the factions are all pretty similar, then why do they look so different? This expectation problem is more prevalent in fantasy themed games. Sci-fi or other themes don't tend to have as much baggage associated with stereotyped factions.
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John
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Which works better (or whether a balance somewhere in between works better) will depend on lots of factors including the design of your game. A deck builder like Star Realms, a deck construction game like Magic: The Gathering, a fixed deck game like Blue Moon Legends* or a common deck game like Race for the Galaxy** will all have a different balance between how distinct the factions are and what percentage of cards are associated with a particular faction.

* I've not actually played any games with fixed decks.
** Yes, I know some of these games can be played in a way that moves them onto one of the other categories...
 
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mark dark
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Thanks for the opinions.
 
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