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TCG Card Stats: How Many is Too Many?

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I'm working on a TCG, and I'm having trouble deciding how many stats my Character cards should have. I'm wavering somewhere between 2 and 4 stats. I know that forcing players to keep track of too much stuff makes a game less fun, but I'm trying to get away from the standard Attack/Defense * Power/Toughness mechanic that a lot of games use for combat. Also, I'm hoping the interaction between the stats will lead to more innovative strategies. Since the game has only a very limited version of spell/magic cards, I'm also hoping to keep it interesting.



Currently, the set-up I'm leaning towards is Skill/Endurance/Loyalty/Confidence. For every round of consecutive combat, a Character loses 1 Endurance and they also lose one Confidence if they lose the round, + the less Skilled Character loses Endurance equal to the difference between their Skill and the opposing Character's Skill. If the total loss of Endurance is greater than their Confidence, or their Confidence drops below their Loyalty, the Character retreats from battle, unless they reach 0 Endurance that turn, in which case they die and are removed from play. A Character regenerates one Endurance per turn.

Generally, I try to avoid a lot of counters, but it seems like Doubt counters and Fatigue would be a good way to measure lost Confidence and Endurance respectively.

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I don't think having 4 stats is too many, but 4 different counters being incremented and decremented repeatedly for every single unit every single turn seems a bit ridiculous. Then again if this is all being done on a computer then keeping track of those kinds of things is no different than keeping track of something like health bars for units in an RTS which can fluctuate constantly, but don't need to be physically counted repeatedly by the player.

So I guess the first question to ask is will this all be programmed, or are you making actual cards? The reason I ask is because I believe people make card games here, though it isn't too common from what I have seen.

If you are using physical cards, 4 different stats to keep track of is too many. If they are simply stats that wouldn't constantly fluctuate (think Magic: The Gathering if you have played that, where the power and toughness get reset each turn, so counters aren't repeatedly required and changing) then 4 stats may not be too bad. It really comes down to what their purpose is (which you seemed to cover a bit, but I already mentioned the problems I feel it has) as well as how they would function.

If it is programmed, then I'd imagine it wouldn't be bad at all. As long as there is a good visual representation for each of the stats, and the purpose of each is clearly explained then I can't see it being any more complex than keeping track of spell caster units in wc3 or something to that affect.

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I'm not a huge TCG player but I used to be in to them years ago. Personally, I wouldn't want too many stats but it depends on how they work. Like you said, more stats can lead to more interesting strategies though. Whatever makes it fun I guess :)

If I was to make a TCG then I would probably avoid making stats too complicated. I would probably go for a system where there is strategy in where you place the cards on the table. Cards would have certain effects to the ones around them which could produce some interesting situations. If you implemented something like this with an interesting stat system, you could get a lot of gameplay variety even with a limited number of cards. Also, good luck with this, TCG can be a bit tough to balance at times. I think it would be best to find a complex system that feels simple as it might just balance itself. Well that's my opinion anyways...I've never made a TCG game ;)

EDIT: BTW a system that even appears simple but is actually complex would work best if this is a video game, not a physical TCG

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Well, Skill and Loyalty don't use counters. They stay the same unless you apply a card effect. But unless it's some form of equipment, then they reset at the end of the turn, just like Power/Toughness in Magic. Only Endurance and Confidence increment and decrement.


Preferably, this would end up as a physical card game. But, since it's much more expensive to develop and playtest a physical TCG, it'd probably start programmed.


I play tons of Magic, and I used to play a lot of Yugioh and Pokemon. I've dabbled in Digimon, Civilizations(not a TCG) and Harry Potter, but Digimon TCG was stupid, and Harry Potter died off pretty quick.
While working on this game, I've also looked into Star Wars, Naruto, WoW and Chaotic for traditional TCGs, and I looked at several Free Online TCGs. I do prefer the more traditional ones, though, which is why I would prefer not to make a game that couldn't be done with physical cards.



Ignoring the logistics of the stat system, how does it seem from a player perspective? Does it make sense? Does it seem different enough from standard P/T or A/D stat systems to feel fresh?

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In Magic: the Gathering creatures have no counters by default; sometimes they get standardized +1/+1 or -1/-1 Power/Toughness counters (never both, they cancel out) that modify characteristics permanently, and much more rarely they get counters of special types (e.g. level, age, time counters) or legacy P/T counters (9 cards use +1/+0 counters and 7 use +0/+1 counters). As already noted, damage is healed at the end of every turn and its only effect is binary (survive or die): it doesn't need counters because reconstructing events that took place in the same turn to add up damage from multiple sources is easy enough.

This restraint with counter variety means that creatures are, by design, very unlikely to have more than one type of counter on them: out of 546 "current" (Standard tournament-legal) creatures, only 2 rare and rarely played ones (Djinn of Wishes and Ludevic's Test Subject), plus 2 cards of other types that can become creatures temporarily (Gideon Jura and Chimeric Mass) use counters other than +1/+1 or -1/-1 and can thus end up with two counter types on them in reasonable scenarios that involve getting P/T counters from other sources.

I can assure you that tracking one counter type is an error-prone nuisance and tracking two is horrible: you need clearly distinguishable dice (unlikely) or dice for one counter type and discrete stones and tokens for the other (even more unlikely). You have to worry about logistics, unless the core mechanic of your game is bickering about, and cheating with, large numbers of dice obscuring card text.:)

I suggest tracking stats of the main cards by counting ancillary cards: if Characters are important enough to deserve several stats, they should have a proportionally large budget of physical tabletop space and cards that are attached to them.
You could have piles of generic face down cards spread on the Endurance side and the Confidence side of Character cards; when stats change, add or remove the appropriate number of "counter" cards.
There has to be a pool of insignificant cards that can be used as counters (e.g. the bottom of a shuffled deck, if it is unlikely to be reached), or perhaps an interaction with the normal card lifecycle (e.g. choose cards to remove from the discard pile, if the discard pile is going to shuffled back into the deck or otherwise recycled; or draw the counter cards when they are removed as damage, if damage is a big deal and card drawing is a scarce resource).

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In Magic: the Gathering creatures have no counters by default; sometimes they get standardized +1/+1 or -1/-1 Power/Toughness counters (never both, they cancel out) that modify characteristics permanently, and much more rarely they get counters of special types (e.g. level, age, time counters) or legacy P/T counters (9 cards use +1/+0 counters and 7 use +0/+1 counters). As already noted, damage is healed at the end of every turn and its only effect is binary (survive or die): it doesn't need counters because reconstructing events that took place in the same turn to add up damage from multiple sources is easy enough.

This restraint with counter variety means that creatures are, by design, very unlikely to have more than one type of counter on them: out of 546 "current" (Standard tournament-legal) creatures, only 2 rare and rarely played ones (Djinn of Wishes and Ludevic's Test Subject), plus 2 cards of other types that can become creatures temporarily (Gideon Jura and Chimeric Mass) use counters other than +1/+1 or -1/-1 and can thus end up with two counter types on them in reasonable scenarios that involve getting P/T counters from other sources.

I can assure you that tracking one counter type is an error-prone nuisance and tracking two is horrible: you need clearly distinguishable dice (unlikely) or dice for one counter type and discrete stones and tokens for the other (even more unlikely). You have to worry about logistics, unless the core mechanic of your game is bickering about, and cheating with, large numbers of dice obscuring card text.:)

I suggest tracking stats of the main cards by counting ancillary cards: if Characters are important enough to deserve several stats, they should have a proportionally large budget of physical tabletop space and cards that are attached to them.
You could have piles of generic face down cards spread on the Endurance side and the Confidence side of Character cards; when stats change, add or remove the appropriate number of "counter" cards.
There has to be a pool of insignificant cards that can be used as counters (e.g. the bottom of a shuffled deck, if it is unlikely to be reached), or perhaps an interaction with the normal card lifecycle (e.g. choose cards to remove from the discard pile, if the discard pile is going to shuffled back into the deck or otherwise recycled; or draw the counter cards when they are removed as damage, if damage is a big deal and card drawing is a scarce resource).




Yeah, I've decided to drop "Confidence" as a stat. The concept might survive in some active keywords, but I agree that keeping track of two dynamic stats would be a hassle, and the confidence stat has too much overhead for only being useful in a specific situation. I appreciate the feedback. :)

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