Counter-Balance in One Thousand & One Nights

1001 counterbalanceWhen developing every version of Crazier Eights I want to make sure the set of cards is balanced. When you think of a card game’s balance, you might think of the balance of particular cards. Are any of them too strong? That is a concern, but a more important and interesting concern is the balance of the game overall as a whole, which is a bit more difficult to discuss and examine. Still, it is an incredibly important issue, and it is the issue I will focus on here. In particular, I will discuss a bit about how I tried to make sure Crazier Eights: One Thousand & One Nights is balanced through counter-balance.

What’s counter-balance?

p11 otherworldly wisdomCounter-balance is one strategy to try to make a game more balanced. Some cards can function to stop certain problems from happening.

For example, Crazier Eights is designed to have some counter-balance already by making card draw both a good and a bad thing. In some games card draw is almost exclusively a good thing, and this can lead to a win more problem. You do not want a game to get to the point that you know for sure who will win because they get too powerful.

By making drawing cards a mostly bad thing (because having zero cards in hand wins), card draw no longer leads to the win more problem. Even so, it can still help you. It can give you more options (and potential answers), a powerful card, and cards of the right color for discarding. Additionally, alternate win conditions can help a player who draws a lot of cards no longer face a drawback from having too many cards in hand. For example, having five assets in play on the table might be another way to win.

Balance for a game requires the inclusion of certain card abilities, and inclusion of abilities to the right degree. It also requires (1) that assets (i.e. cards that can be used every turn) or events (i.e. one shots) are not too powerful (or weak), (2) that there’s not too much card draw, and (3) that the game isn’t too fast. The right number of cards with certain abilities, and the right power level those abilities can be sufficient to bring balance to the game. However, counterbalance can also help with these issues:

  • Assets can be too powerful or abundant (and bog down the game), and you might need ways to stop them.
  • Too many ways to destroy assets can make assets too weak and you might need ways to protect assets from being destroyed.
  • Too many ways that stop players from winning can make the game last too long. Ways to speed the game up can include ways to discard additional cards.
  • Too many ways to get cards out of your hand can make the game too fast and luck-oriented. Ways to slow the game down can include card draw.

Abundant assets

One of the main concerns with Crazier Eights: One Thousand & One Nights was that assets could become too abundant and powerful. Too many assets can not only lead to a player becoming too powerful, but it could also just bog down the game with too much going on.

There are two main reasons why asset abundance become an issue. One, there is nothing that destroys all assets in the set. Two, I wanted some powerful assets that help you get more assets.

1001 assets

Counter-balancing abundance

There were two main types of solutions to counter-balance the issue of abundance:

(1) Each ace is a more powerful type of card that may only be played if an opponent has two or more assets.

1001 aces

(2) Some assets are powerful and become active when an opponent has too many assets. They tend to punish opponents for having too many assets.

1001 counterbalance

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