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What's missing from TCGs?

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IMO -- coming from years of MtG and a smattering of digital TCG's -- reduce the luck element. One of my favorite completely unrelated board games is called Dominant Species. It builds out a hex board as the game progresses and there are new cards laid out every round so every game is different, but neither the hexes nor the cards can really provide much of an advantage to any one player.

If you can break through the pattern of just hoping to draw the right cards at the right time, I would be excited to play that game.

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I completely agree! It either makes the game too reliant on luck- though some games like Vanguard cleverly use this as part of their brand- or too reliant on searchers- Yugioh! for example.


That said, players WILL abuse a "pick your own" style (nondeckbuilding) TCG, so it's near impossible to design cards in a way that would predict for broken rules. It would certainly require a banlist, which can be unpopular, money-driven, and reactionary.

This is a tough one...

What if players could select from a pool of cards each turn, where near half are visible and the rest aren't?

i.e. each turn the player selects 1 from the top 5 cards where the last 2 are always visible before the selection?

- This would still be luck based but give the player a potential safe option, like walking away with the money you have on a gameshow.

The rest of the cards would be shuffled into the deck, thus shuffling the deck each turn and removing the need for searchers.

- This is because to avoid dead draws or a stacked (players order the deck start to finish as desired, which might be fun as a format) game, you need some randomness. This would also reduce the need for searcher cards.


What do you think of that; does it make sense? :)

Thank you Tom and sorry, I'm new to the site. Won't happen again :) 

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There's a game out there called Spectromancer you may want to take a look at. It's not strictly a TCG; IIRC you always have access to the same pool of cards, but you do build a "deck" of sorts and always have access to your whole deck, then you play cards based on your resources.

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Shelving, I took a look at this and it’s a really interesting design! They really don’t have a hand or graveyard?


Tbh I think TCGs will have to evolve by hybridising (like when Conjure TCG added a movement element to the genre), just because of how restrictive the fundamental mechanics can be to both design and the framing device. 

Thats just an opinion though, I want to hear what you think :)

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There are several games out where you build your deck during play from the same pool as your opponent.

Dominion introduced the concept and there have been sequels and competitors since then.(these are no longer TRADING card games)

Eliminating luck, however, in traditional card-games, has always been the job of the deck-builder, often helped by having access to different-but-functionally-the-same cards, hybrid-cards(multiple functions, sometimes one has to be chosen) and search-cards.


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I always wanted cards that grow with the player. Most TCG games try a leveling system but having cards with a clear advantage over others is always a bad idea.


Maybe the cards gain abilities and traits that are equal to starter effects, something like that. Or they lose something when they gain something else.

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For deck building, I would be interested to see digital card games that draw from 'living card games' (LCG) like those that Fantasy Flight have been releasing. This makes the assumption that everyone has access to the same pool of cards during deck building. (They release 20 news cards in affordable packs twice a year, that everyone usually buys).

As for during the game, it's hard to eliminate randomness entirely due to the shuffle -> draw mechanic. 

23 hours ago, Dramolion said:

Eliminating luck, however, in traditional card-games, has always been the job of the deck-builder, often helped by having access to different-but-functionally-the-same cards, hybrid-cards(multiple functions, sometimes one has to be chosen) and search-cards.

I agree here that the deck building portion of games usually helps to mitigate the effects of (bad) luck, but they never quite eliminate it entirely, the deck is still shuffled and drawn.

Strategies to eliminate luck in the core mechanics might include giving all players access to actions relating to deck search and reordering of the draw pile, regardless of the deck they are playing. This would give players more control over what cards they got in their hand and perhaps move the game closer to perfect, albeit partial, information. 

Outside of those thoughts, opening up the mechanics to more hybrid-genre things as mentioned above could work.

Also, I find this of interesting on this topic: http://keithburgun.net/randomness-and-game-design/

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