Previously, I mentioned that I had a ridiculously low quantity of common cards that play into the “token” theme, yet thought I was right on the money. How could I have been so off-track??
If you look at the roadmap for mechanics I gave in the last article, you’ll see that my new target is 38 cards that are part of the “tokens” theme. I also said that I figure roughly 60% of the cards in a theme should be at common. (In this case, I’m actually going with 55% at common.)
Tokens: 38 cards
Target: 55% of these at common
Total target for common cards in theme: 21 cards
How many did I actually have at common?
18 cards instead of 21 – not bad for having worked without a plan, right? And yet something went wrong – we never had enough tokens in our games to use the cool effects that relate to tokens…And I had to dig a bit deeper to find out why:
Tokens theme: 18 cards (yay!)
Cards that generate tokens: 5 (doh!)
Cards that punish tokens: 8 (double-doh!)
Cards that leverage/reward tokens: 5
So my roadmap has to contain more detail than just “qty of cards with mechanic X”. I actually have to identify – for each mechanic – how many cards have the mechanic; how many punish/prevent it; and how many reward/leverage it. And figure out (through trial and error) what makes for a good balance in these categories (generate/punish/reward).
Instead of having 13 common cards that generate tokens, I had only 5! Not only that: instead of a mere 3 that punish (i.e. destroy) tokens, I had 8! Ouch!
I hope this is of some use to somebody out there. I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into my set already, and now I have a bunch more ahead of me to shape it into what I really want it to be. If I’d planned better up front, I would be much further along now.
(Having said all that, I had to go through a certain amount of brainstorming-type design simply to hit on mechanics/themes that I liked enough to build a set around. But I should have switched to “planning” mode way earlier on…)