Why Life Totals Matter!

  • Nifty129's Avatar
    415 821 Posts Joined 05/29/2020
    Posted 4 months, 3 weeks ago

    For a second I want to imagine that you're a card game designer, creating a design document that outlines the creation of a game.

    You start by listing out all of the different factors that might decide winning a match or losing, and then creating logical and relavent design decisions as a direct result.

    Scenario A: the person with the biggest number on one side wins.

    1. Will there be spells that can influence the math represented by a creatures attack - no?

    2. All spells effects will be integrated into creature text

    3. Cards get played at the same time

    4. There will be 3 locations which will provide a small degree of variance and decision making where none would exist otherwise

    So what this effectively means is that the decks that present the strongest one sided board states invariably win...period

    Scenario B: The person who goes from 20 to 0 life loses

    1. Well you can cast spells to decrease life, so you need healing and counter spells to compensate

    2. You have creatures, but you also must be able to block attacks so you don't die

    3. You have buffs that are temporary that can only be played at the moment of combat interaction, but also permanent buffs for tribal decks

    4. You can cast spells to kill units one at a time or all at once.

    5. You have special wincons that don't involve life manipulation

    You see the addition of a life total in a card game creates opportunities for spiraling design opportunities.

    Games that don't have life Totals are simple a matter of bigger number wins, and without the means of direct interaction there is never a reason to play a deck that presents lower numbers then bigger ones unless you're just locking the opponent down so they can't play.

    What you end up with is a dumb game by design, and it shouldn't be a surprise it was in the design document all along.

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