Each main version of Crazier Eights is meant to have a different and unique feel. Crazier Eights: Olympus is designed around the powerful indestructible god cards as well as a system of risks and rewards. Let’s take a closer look at some of the cards and the design considerations that inspired them.
The god cards have powerful abilities and they are indestructible. The god cards would be unbalanced in my view without a drawback. The drawback to the god cards found in Crazier Eights: Olympus is that you can’t play one from your hand unless an opponent controls two (or more) assets (depending on the god in question).
Risks & Rewards
Perhaps the most important aspect of design for each card is that the ability matches the asset or event that it represents, but from the game play perspective, the drawback of the gods plays another role – it adds an element of risk. If you play two assets, there is the threat that the opponent can now play a god card. Asset cards are generally powerful and the god cards give you an incentive to play event cards instead, especially if you already have an asset. That way the opponent won’t be able to play a god card.
Moreover, there is at least one other card that can punish players for playing three or more assets – Circe. If an opponent controls three or more assets, she gives you the power to start taking assets from them. Additionally, the draw back and power level of god cards adds a catch-up mechanic. If an opponent has two assets and you are running behind, the god card can help you even out the power level a bit.
The added risks to playing assets could make players think twice about playing more than one asset. That is a good way to lock players out of playing their god cards. The problem is that the game isn’t as fun when players are refusing to play assets too much. That is what sparked the interest in having some cards provide additional rewards to playing asset cards. For example, Ambrosia says you may discard one additional card for each asset you control.
Two Other Mechanics
(1) Play the Top Card
One new mechanic that appears on a few event cards is “play the top card of the draw pile.” One reason this is useful is that you could play a god card from the top of the draw pile, even if opponents don’t control any assets. Another reason it is useful is that even when you try to just play event cards, sometimes there’s a chance you will get an asset from it. That makes it more difficult to avoid playing asset cards for those with an interest in doing so.
(2) Banishing Assets
There have always been multiple ways to deal with assets or protect them from being destroyed. Even so, the existence of indestructible gods was a reason to make sure to include a couple more cards that can stop them.
Wrath of Zeus is one example of that, which can put up to two assets on the bottom of the draw pile.
Card game development is more than designing individual card abilities. A consideration for overall balance and several possible issues can require a more holistic approach. I hope the consideration of various issues that I discussed here can help emphasize a bit about how such a thought process can be involved.