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Subject: Card stats design question rss

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Ryan Wakefield
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So I am struggling a little bit with one of the card games I want to design. I am struggling to figure out how to create attack/defense/health stats. Is there an easy way to do this? Is there a good ratio to use? Obviously I know that nothing will be perfect until play tested, but I can't do that until I have stats created.

Thanks for all the help.
 
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Your game has cards. Some (all?) of the cards have attack and/or defense and/or health. That's not really enough to offer any advice. What do these cards do? Do they attack each other? Do they attack something else? Do they prevent attacks against something? Mas detail, por favor.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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A lot of the details depend on the rules of your particular game, but a good starting point is generally

Overall Value = Rate of Output * Time in Play

That is, the total stuff that a given unit will accomplish is based on how fast it accomplishes stuff times how long you get to use it.

In a combat game, "accomplishing stuff" will usually primarily mean "dealing damage", so you can probably start with the average damage the unit does per turn.

(Though that's not a given. Maybe the unit's main job is healing, producing resources, scoring points, or something completely different. I'm talking about all the combined benefits of having that unit.)

Calculating how long it's going to be in play can be trickier, but in a 1-on-1 battle it's probably proportional to the total damage it can withstand before being destroyed. For example a unit with 20 health will probably survive twice as long as a unit with 10 health (whether the enemy is dealing 1 damage per turn or 10 damage per turn). So you can often start with an "effective health" score of the unit's actual health modified by its defense.

Sometimes that's easy: if a unit has 10 health, but its armor means that it only takes half damage, then it has an effective health of 20, because that's how much "raw" damage you need to destroy it.

Sometimes it's harder. If a unit has 10 health, but its armor subtracts 2 points of damage per hit, then you need to make some assumptions about how much damage the attacker is doing per hit in order to calculate its effective health.

Then you multiply average damage * effective health and get an estimated total value for the unit.


But all of that is just the first layer of effects. Instead of a 1-on-1 fight, suppose you've got a 2-on-2 fight? Now the length of time that you survive depends not only on your own stats, but also on your ally's stats.

If the defending side can choose how to distribute damage, then they can divide it so that both of their units survive until the very end, so their combined effectiveness is based on the sum of their offense times the sum of their defense (which is NOT the same as the sum of their individual 1-on-1 effectiveness).

On the other hand, if the attacking side can choose how to distribute damage, then they can kill the "glass cannon" first (the unit with the highest offense-to-defense ratio). So then the glass cannon basically gets its 1-on-1 effectiveness, and the (comparatively) sturdy unit gets a bonus based on its offense times the ally's defense.


And of course, there might be a lot of other complex effects depending on the rules of your particular game. Maybe you need to worry about distance, cover, healing, running out of ammo...it gets really hard to generalize.

And that's really a good thing: if it were easy to calculate perfectly balanced stats for your units, then it would probably be easy for players to see how the game is going to play out, and it would get boring. You don't need to calculate a perfect answer in advance, just get as close as practical and start playtesting from there.

In fact, even if you can't calculate any stats precisely, just understanding when a particular stat is valuable and when it's not will help a lot in interpreting your playtest results and figuring out smart changes to make in response.
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Rob Harper
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Wakedaddy87 wrote:
So I am struggling a little bit with one of the card games I want to design. I am struggling to figure out how to create attack/defense/health stats. Is there an easy way to do this? Is there a good ratio to use? Obviously I know that nothing will be perfect until play tested, but I can't do that until I have stats created.


There's some really good advice from Jeremy there, but what I would do as a first pass is simply guess.

What is best for your game depends massively on how the stats interact and what sort of feel you want to have for the game, so you haven't given nearly enough information for us to really answer the question.

If you just throw some numbers on, whether by generating randomly, trying to make plausible guesses, or having some algorithm to produce every possible permutation, then you can get the game playtested. Then you can start getting a feel for which cards seem over- or under-powered, which seem to be interesting, and so on. Once you get some information like that, you should be able to draw some conclusions and begin to figure out costings or ratios for the various stats.

As a further piece of advice: don't try building a "complete" game yet. If you think the game would end up having, say, 200 cards in its final version, just try a mini-version with, say, 30 or 40, so you can play a few turns against yourself and start getting a feel for it. Once you have a better idea of what is working, you can start thinking about a more complete playset.

Good luck!
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Terry Kirk
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For my card game I researched similar games, and created values based on what I believed to be balanced.

After the values are chosen I play tested and tweaked until I thought what I had was balanced enough.

My next stage will be to give the game to blind testers.
 
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