Wording/Templating

One issue when making a game is how to word card text in a consistent way. Magic: the Gathering has a card that says, “Target player draws three cards.” Some people find that confusing. What’s a target?

I used the target template for early versions of Crazier Eights, but I decided that it was more confusing than it needed to be. Now I say things like “A player of your choice draws three cards.” However, another option is to simplify things a bit more. The card could just say “A player draws three cards.” The “of your choice” way of phrasing things might not be necessary and can make the wording a little less elegant. Which way of phrasing cards do you prefer?

Here are examples of how cards can be phrased:

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Edit: A friend suggested that Tempest should be worded as “Choose a permanent and a player. Put that permanent in that player’s hand.” That is another option.

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4 thoughts on “Wording/Templating

  1. In popular strategic card games such as Bang, Flux, or Dominion, they use symbols and short keywords rather than prosaic phrases to describe effects. You could feasibly have a symbol that represents drawing cards, and then ad “+3” to that symbol to represent a player drawing 3 cards. I think this is a good way of doing it, so that you can recognize what a card does visually without having to read it or memorize the ability.

    • That might work, but I am pretty happy with how things are overall. Part of the idea of the game is also to have cards that do whatever I can imagine in my head, so I don’t want to restrict what the possible card effects are too much.

      • I agree, but having shorthand would be good for the simpler cards, at the very least to differentiate them from the more complicated ones visually. This is also the case in dominion; some cards have simple effects like “+3 cards”, while yet others have text that takes up the entire text box. I think simplicity where it counts will allow the complexity to be easier to handle intuitively, and thus increase the complexity ceiling of the game. You don’t want people to be expending cognitive load on reading / understanding even the simplest cards.

      • It is an option, but it might also require the rules to be explained in more detail. I might end up just using four two sided cards for the rules. I have to explain that Tempest doesn’t work for cards in hand and so forth.

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