Cards are a great way to add randomness to a game, they’re incredibly flexible in terms of what you can do with them. You can fix a deck, or part of a deck. You can add things to it without consulting what they are. You can view a few cards and get rid of a few of them selectively. You can put new (or previously used) cards into a deck and they can go on the top, bottom or be shuffled somewhere in between. Cards are magic.
Let’s play a game, your score is secret so don’t tell me what it is, but you don’t start with any points. You get five points. Now you get another three. Ha ha! You’ve lost a point. Your score is seven – but how did I know that? Because I’m a wizard!
There was an interesting article doing the rounds last week entitled “Chess is not an RPG: The Illusion of Game Balance“. It’s worth the read if you haven’t already seen it, but if you fancy a summary the core argument is that balance is not desirable in RPGs because the structures/rules that are needed to obtain game balance either do not contribute to or directly oppose the core purpose of RPGs. This got me thinking about the structures that are necessary for game balance and how often they do or do not contribute to player’s enjoyment of the games. What is game balance? Which games benefit from it? Which games are better off without it?
So lately I’ve been taking a break from serious gaming and trying out some new things, among them is a gem called Cube Quest. This is a game in which, broadly speaking, you roll dice in an attempt to eliminate your opponents pieces. I say “broadly speaking” because by “roll” I mean “flick across the table at your opponents dice army” and by “eliminate” I mean “wildly scatter from the table causing them to become lost in a sea of unsorted game parts”.