May 25, 2017

Nevera Wars Final Design Changes

In this post I will be describing the final changes I made to the card game Nevera Wars.

Removing Player Life Count
Possibly the biggest change has been to remove player life totals entirely. In previous versions of the game players had a total of 20 life points which could be targeted once they had no minions in play, and the victory condition was when one player was reduced to zero life points. However consistent feedback was that this element felt disconnected from the rest of play and when one player had no minions in play then they had practically lost the game already.

In light of this feedback and experience, life totals have been removed from players entirely and the new victory condition is that when one player has destroyed eight of their opponents' minions then they are victorious. This feels much more thematically consistent with the rest of the game, reduces the number of mechanics in the game, and also speeds up the game time. The number eight however might rise or fall depending on future play testing.

Lowering Minion Life Totals
Also regarding life totals, in order to reduce the game time length, I had to either increase the amount of damage minions could inflict, or reduce the life totals of the minions. After some deliberation I decided to reduce the life totals of some of the minions, so that tier one minions have a life total of 20, tier two minions have a life total of 35, and tier three minions have a life total of 50, (previously it was 20, 40, 60).

This effectively reduced the game time length to a much more enjoyable margin without having a large impact on the balance of the game. This change also had a great interaction with the new victory condition (see above), because more powerful minions are worth more victory points to the opponent once destroyed and now have lower life totals than in previous versions, making them more risky to put into play.  

Changing Energy Cost Design
One new piece of feedback based on the near final minion card design is that having several energy symbols next to an ability can be confusing to the eye, especially once there are more than four of the symbol. It is not easy for the human eye to quickly determine a number of objects larger than four, especially on a card that already has great deal of information on it.

For this reason the card layout was changed so that if an ability costs a number of energy to trigger, it simply shows a number and one of the energy symbols. This also freed up some more space on the card to give different elements more breathing room and gave an overall less crowded appearance.

Chance Ramping Steps
Some play testers had an aversion to the way risk had been implemented into some of the abilities. In previous versions the scaling of offensive ability costs and risks looked like this:

Cheap Cost Ability: Has 50% chance to target one of your minions instead.
Medium Cost Ability: Has 50% chance of doing nothing (not triggering).
Expensive Cost Ability: Has 100% chance of succeeding (triggering).

However this caused many players to avoid using the risky but cheap abilities at all, and so after a great deal of redesigning and contemplating, I changed the risk scaling to look like this, which greatly improved the players' motivation to use different abilities during play:

Cheap Cost Ability: Has 50% chance of doing nothing (not triggering).
Medium Cost Ability: Has 50% of inflicting a small amount of damage instead of triggering.
Expensive Cost Ability: Has 100% chance of succeeding (triggering).

Turn Variance
Although the above change improved the appeal of using different kinds of abilities and thereby increasing turn variance, there was still room for more variance to make the game more interesting and tactical. Some players still chose to using only direct damage abilities for most of or all of the game, which some admitted is their general strategy for any game they play, but I was still unfulfilled by the lack of  tactics and options being used by players. In order to amend this, I assessed each non-damaging ability to increase its usefulness in the game or replace it entirely if it was never deemed useful.

For example, there was an ability called Misfortune which forced an opponent's minion to re-roll a successful D6 roll, which was never used by players as it was never seen to be as useful as everything else the card had to offer. Essentially too under-powered. This ability was replaced to read "Target's abilities all trigger only on a D6 roll of 4, 5, or 6." Essentially this inexpensive ability now means that all of the target's abilities have a 50% chance of failing to trigger. The ability Misfortune now has far more potential game states to be useful and gives and also increases tension when it is used.

You can read much more about my attempts to balance abilities here.

1 comment:

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