This week I thought I’d give some insight into the points cost of each card, and card balancing in general.
There are three ways we use points in Combat Cards:
1 – You have a certain amount of points, and as you increase your Rank through upgrading cards, you get additional points to spend.
2 – Each Warlord costs you a certain amount of points, immediately dictating how many you have to spend on the rest of your deck.
3 – And all non-Warlord ‘bodyguard’ cards cost an amount of points to include in your deck.
That all seems obvious enough, but what you might not know is that points costs are one of the primary game balancing methods we use in Combat Cards.
Let’s imagine we’re talking about a card game that doesn’t have a license like Warhammer 40,000 to work with. In that game if we find a particular card is too weak or too powerful we can simply just adjust its stats, making it stronger or tougher, for example.
But because Combat Cards IS a 40K game, fans already ‘know’ how strong or tough a given card is, and we don’t want to let them down.
For example, fans know that a T’au Fire Warrior is roughly as powerful as a T’au Breacher, so if we find that in Combat Cards the Breacher is underperforming, we can’t just bump its stats up, making it more powerful than the Fire Warrior. That wouldn’t reflect what we expect as 40K fans, weakening the authenticity of the Combat Cards ‘experience’.
Instead, we can adjust the points cost of over or underperforming cards, bringing them into line with other cards which fight that effectively.
Of course, it’s not simply a matter of saying ‘card X is bad’. As with ‘tabletop’ 40K, it depends on how that particular unit fits into the entire game ecosystem. Cards with seemingly poor stats can dramatically overperform in certain decks, with their abilities making up for weaknesses or reinforcing certain tactics.
In addition, cards can change their effectiveness as they’re upgraded, so we have to balance a card’s current ‘power’ and what it will be like when fully upgraded.
That’s why we don’t immediately adjust cards that seem to underpowered. The long term success of a card game like Combat Cards depends on a healthy, ‘revolving’ metagame.
Hang on, a healthy, revolving whatagame?
A big part of the fun of deck-building games is looking for the ‘perfect’, unbeatable team. But as a developer, our problem is that if players ever find that a single team just can’t be beaten, then everyone either has to use that team or be defeated, and neither of those is healthy for a community.
This means that players must always be able to build a team that can defeat the current ‘best’ team, which, in turn, means that seemingly weak cards can suddenly become ‘must includes’ because they defeat the current bests. Well, at least until the community works out how to beat THAT new team, and the cycle continues.
That said, we’re only human so it’s inevitable that we will make mistakes, and over time you may find that a card’s points shift up or down as we correct them. But hopefully now you can see that it’s vital for the long-term health of Combat Cards, and that we’re not just doing it for fun!