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Balancing Costs & Cards

Started by 3XXXDDD, March 04, 2012, 08:57:17 AM

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Currently in the process of creating a CCG and I was wondering how I should go about creating costs for card effects.

I think if I was to apply a relative value to every potential secondary resource in the game and add that on to a base cost of 1.

For example, in this game your secondary resources would be
- Yourself/Your Life
- Your Hand
- Your field (further split into your various individual units)
- Your deck
- Your discard pile

Quantity is a problem too, if a card discards another card, sure doesn't have to cost too much but if one card discard 3 cards, it's cost would have to be X by 3 at the very least to balance it.

Then there is also valuing Player Vs Player. Eg. Assume you have a card that costs 2 that lets you draw. 1 for a base cost, 1 for extra cost because it affects you.

Now let's take a similar idea but instead of you drawing a card, your opponent discards one, now because your reducing your opponents resources I'd imagine to up the cost of the card at least by 1 because instead of cycling your resources in hand, your limiting your opponent's options.

The card themselves however are a straight 1 (the card activated) for 1 (the card drawn as replacement by you or the card discarded by your opponent to even it out).

So is this how some of you would suggest going on about handling a Cost V Resource scenario? It's pretty hard to create a balanced CCG especially thanks to the ever slowly creeping power rise they tend to fall to.

All and any replies welcome!


Good thinking. However, most of this depends on what your game goals are (destroy life, decking, etc.)

First of all, I assume card draw always cost 1 at sorcery speed.

Why, because this card lets you get a new resource (cost 1) however, it will also bring you closer to mill yourself, and running out of cards to draw.

How, having your enemy discarding a card and having you to draw, would cost 2 in my case. 1 for the draw, see above, and 1 for having your enemy discard a secondary resource (of his choice). If this would be random, the cost would be upped as damage couldn't be minimized in the enemy's case.

Well, a lot depends on how the resources are going to be utilized.


I've been struggling a lot with balancing and costing in my own game, but these are some things I learned along the way.

For my own game, I established a cost for the basic value of a card just as you did. Then I looked at the different card types and worked out some base values for each of those depending on how they were played in the game. I'm still working on balancing effects and sometimes I have to go back and revalue my card types.

It's good to have a scale to use for costing, but you can't rely on it by itself to make a balanced game. I believe that you have to look at how a card actually performs in playtesting before you know if it's balanced.

I've found it tough to balance single use and reusable effects. My current system is to work out about how many times a reusable effect will be used and balance around that.

Also, for cards that have a drawback as part of their costing for a powerful effect, I have found that you have to compensate for playing around the drawback. For example, I use a card that says: Each player discards 5 cards. Except I knew that I was going to use that card so I intentionally used up my hand so I don't lose anything but you lose everything.

Quite often there are cards that can't easily be costed because they affect an ambiguous area of the game like tempo or card filtering effects. I guess you just have to play with them in order to work out how much they should cost.


My friend came up with the best system I can image called "SCA" or Single Card Analysis.

What he did was in our set of cards found 5-10 of the most basic armies (creatures, in mtg speak), and plotted the cost vs the base stats of the cards. What this did was determine a formula we could plot for the "base" value of a card.

For example, there are 3 stats each army has in our game, attack, armor, strength. The formula we came up with was

Atk + Arm + 2*Strength = combat effectiveness
Combat Effectiveness / 4 =~= converted cost (which is the same as CMC in mtg, but adjusted for our resource system)

Then you adjust for keywords based on feel.

Now this works for our game because it's combat focused game and armies are pretty easy to compare.

Now the question in your game is to determine some cards you feel "cost about right" and then attempt to build a formula based on those cards and balance from there.

I think if you try to start with a formula and work back to a card design it wont work I don't think. So my honest advice from having done this with my own game is "throw the dart a few times" and then see what feels right and fair from a few testing rounds and then balance from that.

It's vital to remember that you are not balancing to some external value. You are balancing the cards unto the card pool. So whatever baseline you pick, so long as the cards fall within a range of value from that point it will feel correct so long as it is self consistent.