New Year, New Energy

New Year, New Energy

By February 17, 2016 Blog, Gameplay No Comments

New Year, New Energy

As many of you who have played Nova Blitz since the pre-alpha last January know, we have been constantly innovating and improving the game’s core systems. Tweaks to our combat system and main phase have moved the game towards the skill-based, quick, exciting realtime game you know it to be. The final area of the game we felt we could deliver a stronger experience was the resource system.

When we created the Energy card and “smart shuffler” system, we were striving for something that protected players from “mana flood” and “mana screw” while insuring they could still combine Aspects so that any one card in the game could be played in tandem with any other. That design accomplished those goals, but wasn’t perfect.

DC0136

Our problems with that system were the following:

  • The game got dull and less skill-based when players ran out their hands and went into topdeck mode. In addition, it was frustrating to draw Energy when you already had enough to play all the cards in your deck.
  • Playing Energy cards slowed the game down and was a barrier to entry for new players. We noticed how many new players struggled to get the concept of manually playing Energy when we demoed the game at PAX.
  • The need to balance Energy amounts and Aspects also made constructed deck building and drafting less comprehensible to new players.
  • If your opponent chose to stretch their deck into too many Aspects, the game became unbalanced for both of you. If they didn’t unlock all their Aspects in time, they couldn’t play their key cards. If they did, they had a deck with more and better combos than you had. This was especially significant in draft. Losing because you opponent got greedy and lucky isn’t very fun.
  • The more we tweaked the smart shuffler to accomplish our goals, the more obtuse its functions became. Advanced players want to know how the system works so they can optimize their decks, and we want to tell them, but it had become difficult to do that.
  • As you, our community of players, have pointed out, once you unlocked all your Aspects, the selection of Energy card you play doesn’t matter.
  • Energy cards felt somewhat like an archaic leftover from older TCGs. Even with a new spin like the smart shuffler, they still had a musty smell.

5-Energy-Spread

We brainstormed a lot of crazy ideas over the last few months to accomplish our original goals without all these side effects. The following are a few approaches that initially seemed promising but didn’t work out for one reason or another. They were either unbalanced, overly complex, hard to plan, or led to whoever curved out having an insurmountable advantage. All of them removed Energy from the deck.

  • Gain 1 energy per turn. All Aspects unlocked. The more Aspects you include in your deck, the larger it has to be.
  • Gain 1 energy per turn. All Aspects unlocked. The more Aspects you include in your deck, the fewer cards you start the game with.
  • Gain 1 energy and unlock one Aspect of your choice per turn. Some cards require multiple unlocks.
  • Gain 1 energy per turn, and unlock the Aspect of the first card you draw. Some cards require multiple unlocks.
  • Gain 1 energy per turn, and unlock Aspects based on what you play. Some cards require multiple unlocks.
  • Any “draw” effect might pull an automatically-determined Energy card out of thin air instead of taking your deck’s top card if you had unaffordable cards in your hand.

After being dissatisfied with all those, we settled on an elegant system that maintains the ability to combine Aspects in the simplest way while not pulling too much focus to itself. Without further ado:

Deck may contain cards from any two Aspects. Gain 1 energy per turn.

When you build your deck you will be able to include any card in the game from two Aspects of your choice. Each turn you will gain an energy automatically without needing to play a card.

In a lot of ways the best thing for a game like Nova Blitz is a system that’s almost invisible, letting the most fun parts of the game shine. Taking the Energy out of the deck makes the game feel less clunky and less random. It prevents “mana flood” and “mana screw” without the complexity of a custom shuffler while insuring you consistently draw useful cards in the late game. Letting you pick two Aspects still allows combining any two cards in the game, which leads to much more deck building variety than our biggest digital competitor.

DC0129Although part of us will miss 3+ Aspect decks, we know they aren’t super healthy for the game. You begin to see the same cards over and over when decks can pick and choose the best combos from over half the entire card pool. Thankfully, there are still 10 combinations of Aspects you can create. We will also be creating cards to encourage mono-Aspect decks and bring the total number of practical Aspect choices up to a true 15.

This system change has had huge repercussions in card balancing, draft, and deck size. And those changes are important enough that we will touch on them in the coming weeks. Thank you for following and supporting Nova Blitz from the very early stages. I hope you enjoy working with us as we build this exciting real time strategy card game.

 

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