Combat Cards

Real Life Rules Change by docboffin
8 +00002009-02-15T21:59:49+00:00282009b+00:00Sun, 15 Feb 2009 21:59:49 +0000 2006, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Balancing, Code, Doc Boffin, Game Design, Printable Card Game, Update

A couple of weeks ago, Joh pointed out that the Second Life version of Combat Cards didn’t allow cards requiring a single point of energy to be played when you have 2 points of energy available. I hadn’t thought about this – the switch from groups to resources was supposed to just make the real life game easier to play, not change the game in any way.

The reason the Second Life version didn’t allow the play was that behind the scenes it runs the same group conditions code that it did in 1.5, but sure enough, the way the real life rules are written, what Joh was describing should be legal.

I quickly hacked in some code to make it possible in the Second Life version and Mich and I tried it out: with disasterous results. If you can play a card requiring one resource when you have 2 available, you can sit 1 turn away from finishing a 3 turn combo indefinitely, which makes it impossible for your opponent to anticipate when the combo will end and makes 3 turn attacks much more powerful, unbalancing the game.

So, instead of adjusting the Second Life game to match the real life rules, I’ve instead tweaked the real life instructions to match the old behaviour: if a card has a consume resources condition you must have exactly that number of resources available, no more no less. A nice side effect is that we can add a version of consume resources as Joh imagined it working to new cards in the future.

The updated rules can be freely downloaded in the print and play version of combat cards here.

Skeleton Crew by docboffin
8 +00002008-06-07T22:57:51+00:00302008b+00:00Sat, 07 Jun 2008 22:57:51 +0000 2006, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Balancing, Doc Boffin, Game Design, New Cards

Built up to a 3 turn combo, but worried that your opponent will block, dodge or copy it? Play Skeleton Crew to get 25 health with no way for you opponent to stop it.

Refresh by docboffin
8 +00002008-06-07T22:56:26+00:00302008b+00:00Sat, 07 Jun 2008 22:56:26 +0000 2006, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Balancing, Doc Boffin, Game Design, New Cards

Built up to a 3 turn combo, but worried that your opponent will block, dodge or copy it? Play refresh to get 3 new cards with no way for you opponent to stop it.

Renaissance by docboffin
8 +00002008-06-07T22:54:34+00:00302008b+00:00Sat, 07 Jun 2008 22:54:34 +0000 2006, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Balancing, Doc Boffin, Game Design, New Cards

Draw a bad opening hand? Realise your opponent’s hand is better than yours? What you need is a Renaissance.

Scared Of Spiders Again by docboffin
8 +00002008-04-15T21:04:22+00:00302008b+00:00Tue, 15 Apr 2008 21:04:22 +0000 2006, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Balancing, Doc Boffin, Game Design, New Cards

Here’s a second and hopefully more balanced attempt at Arachnophobia. In this version, the card does 24 damage, which is still does a lot of damage for a 2 turn attack. It’s much more of a gamble though: when played against a card that blocks the mid or high location the only negative effect is that the card discards itself. When played against a low block the heal self effect is reduced and so no longer cancels out the damage self 20 uncontested effect. When played against a card that blocks low and attacks the high or mid location the new Expose modifier adds 14 damage to the damage inflicted. Expose adds 14 damage whether the attacking card deals 1 or 30 damage, making single turn attacks particularly effective for turning the tables on this gamble.

Where’s The Risk? by docboffin
8 +00002008-03-31T22:29:12+00:00312008b+00:00Mon, 31 Mar 2008 22:29:12 +0000 2006, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Balancing, Doc Boffin, Game Design

Mich gave me some great feedback about the new horror beta cards recently. He thinks that the cards are far too powerful, because they will only be used when players know that their heal effect won’t be blocked and so will cancel out their large unconditional sacrifice effect.

The cards are supposed to be a gamble: if the heal is blocked, the sacrifice causes the player to lose a lot of health when they play the cards. In reality, Mich think’s there’s little gamble involved: good players will just learn their opponent’s hand and only play the beta cards when they know it’s safe.

This cuts to the core of how the current Combat Cards have been balanced. The cards are mostly balanced if players play cards randomly. When played in this way attacks will be unblocks 2/3rds of the time, while blocks will block attacks 1/3rd of the time. This explains why horror cards are often considered weaker than fantasy cards: they have slighty stronger attacks and so have considerably reduced blocks to compensate: each 1 point of attack is worth 2 points of blocking using the current balancing system.

If Mich is right then this balancing approach doesn’t work as good players don’t play randomly, they play cards at exactly the right moment having learned their opponent’s hand and guessed correctly what’s coming next. Good players also look for cards that are as flexible as possible, so will pick fantasy cards that can be used as blocks and attacks over horror cards that are attack biased. When a good player knows where the next attack will target, they want to be able to use that information by having a strong block to put in its way.

Of course when playing a good opponent it then pays to not be too predictable. Playing completely randomly should always be punished, but appearing to be predictable and then deviating just when your opponent thinks they know what you’re up to creates a lot of the interest and tension in the game. Cards should reward you correctly predicting your opponent’s move, risky cards should require you to predict exactly what you opponent will play and punish you heavily when you get it wrong.

The current horror beta cards like don’t do that, they just require that a single location will not be heavily blocked: chances are that it won’t be. To make it a real risk, a real gamble, they should require that you guess exactly what your opponents card will be and punish you heavily if you get it even slightly wrong.

Long Odds by docboffin
8 +00002008-02-28T22:30:01+00:00292008b+00:00Thu, 28 Feb 2008 22:30:01 +0000 2006, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Balancing, Doc Boffin, Game Design, New Cards

A big fantasy gamble. Up to 40 damage for a 2 turn combo. Up to 28 health loss if you lose. Lose the card whatever happens. A definite game changer.


Tails I Win by docboffin
8 +00002008-02-27T23:26:42+00:00292008b+00:00Wed, 27 Feb 2008 23:26:42 +0000 2006, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Balancing, Doc Boffin, Game Design, New Cards

Another fantasy gamble. You pay a hefty price: 20 health and the current card, but if you’re lucky you cause your opponent to discard their current card and 2 others. Play it at the correct point in your opponent’s one big combo to mess up their hand and swing the game in your favour despite the sacrifice.


Heads You Lose by docboffin
8 +00002008-02-27T22:03:48+00:00292008b+00:00Wed, 27 Feb 2008 22:03:48 +0000 2006, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Balancing, Doc Boffin, Game Design, New Cards

A fantasy big gamble card and the stakes are even higher: you always lose 20 health and the current card when you play it, but the payoff if it goes right is huge: 36 damage to your opponent for a 2 card combo. It’s risky though, although you can do 36 damage, because the damage is spread over 2 effects, your opponent only needs an 18 block to reduce the damage to 0.


Tainted Love by docboffin
8 +00002008-02-22T01:44:03+00:00292008b+00:00Fri, 22 Feb 2008 01:44:03 +0000 2006, 1:44 am
Filed under: Balancing, Doc Boffin, Game Design

What happens when Cupid becomes horrific? What happens when love goes bad? Tainted Love: your opponent loses health but you lose more. When love goes wrong, everybody loses.


Tactically this card is a no brainer: if you have more health than your opponent, you can play this card repeatedly to end the game quickly and there is very little your opponent can do about it as the damage is unblockable. Strategically Tainted Love is more complicated: can you afford room in your deck for a card that combines with no others and is only useful when you’re already winning?