Sunday, September 22, 2013

Game Design: Counter-Blasts, Soul-Blasts, and all the Little Things

1) Amount of Low Quality Advantage Generated:(x)=Amount of Counter-Blasts:(x)

2) Amount of High Quality Advantage Generated:(x)=Amount of Counter-Blasts:(x+1)

3) Amount of Counter-Blasts:(x)=Amount of Soul-Blasts:(2x)

4) x Soul=Reduce Base Power by x000

5) 10K Vanguard=2 skills, 11K Vanguard=1 Skill+Restriction

6) Limit Break=-1 Soul

7) A skill that specifically combos off another may pass on (part of) its cost to another skill


Okay, so I'm going to bring back the ol' grading scale, so let's get to it.

Essentially, this is going to be the new basis for the Card Review articles to base any of their claims off. Basically put, I can't just say if a card is 'overpowered', 'underpowered', or 'broken' without any evidence to back it up like some sort of self righteous idiot. Now, these rules aren't absolute in any way, nor may these be able to explain everything, but at least this way, they can provide a very real standard to scale cards to, and explain whether or not certain claims to a card's strengths are really credible. Of course, I guess I should start citing examples for everything, so here we go:

Amount of Low Quality Advantage Generated:(x)=Amount of Counter-Blasts:(x)

This is literally the most important part of this grading scale, because everything eventually comes back to it. Because cards are physical items that we can tangibly count, the simplest way to apply a cost to them is to make sure that any set amount defined can scale to exactly 1 card, for example:

x Counter-Blasts=1 card
Such that x is a whole number

Along with this, the fact remains that Counter-Blasts are an extremely limited resource for the greater majority of decks. The best way to work with this is to make sure that X is as low a number as possible, such as 1. Essentially, this means that:

1 Counter-Blast=1 card

Now, the important thing about this ruling is that a whole number of Counter-Blasts can scale to exactly 1 card in card advantage, as it is extremely necessary to lay the basic groundwork for trying to appropriate costs in a card game. If it were something like 1 Counter-Blast=3 cards, it'd be extremely clunky and hard to explain for any value that isn't 3 cards. This, at the very least, must be accepted. The second part of the ruling is simply to appeal to the limited nature of Counter-Blasts, which can be entirely subjective. However, at 1 Counter-Blast per card, this allows for as much card advantage to be generated as possible, abiding by the first half of the rule. This way, the game won't be very much botched down by 'expensive' skills that limit the game to only an extremely small amount of Card Advantage for either side to utilize.

Amount of High Quality Advantage Generated:(x)=Amount of Counter-Blasts:(x+1)

Abiding by the standards set by the first rule, where Card Advantage is easiest to be explained at the lowest positive integers possible, there must be a boundary set for qualitatively better card advantage.

Now I'm going to assume that a large chunk of this is actually self evident, but simply put, a Gold Paladin's random topcall is not the same as a Royal Paladin searching out for a specific unit to be called.

Anywho, once again the lowest positive integer will most likely be the best value to try to apply here, so 1 Counter-Blast is going to be the main difference between high-quality card advantage. In order to make sure that the game isn't once again dragged down to a boring crawl trying to reach for Counter-Blasts, this ruling should only be applied immediately after counting out the Card Advantage generated and should only be applied once, unless something extremely specific comes up.

Amount of Counter-Blasts:(X)=Amount of Soul:(2X)

And I'll be completely honest here, this ruling was made specifically so that 4 and 6 made a bit more sense.

Much like how rule 1 established that the costs must scale to exactly one card:

y Soul=1 card
Where y is a whole number

the assumption should similarly be made here so that it'd be easy to define card advantage to a minute level. Along with this, Soul must be able to directly translate to 1 Counter-Blast, so:

y Soul=x Counter-Blast

Realistically speaking, this is where the self evidence ends. Once again, Soul can almost literally be defined to whatever you like. While it can't be a completely absurd number, Counter-Blasts can directly feed Soul, meaning you wouldn't nearly be as limited in that regard, and can scale Soul to a much higher number than where Counter-Blasts must be as small as possible.

Because of this near universal application for Soul, I took the liberty of using it as a qualitative half-step of Counter-Blasts. The fact remains that sometimes, quality just isn't very hard to point out. Is Bouncing really high quality in and of itself? Should Vermillion be penalized even further because it 'may' scare the opponent from placing down power lanes? What really is the difference of just 1000 base power? Etc. Once again, this ruling was made only to convenience myself for guidelines to the rest of the rulings, and explaining extremely tiny details in a much more defined way.

x Soul=Reduce Base Power by x000

This ruling is entirely the product of ruling 3.

The short story is that 1K power is...tiny. Yes, an 8K vanilla intercept is strictly weaker than a 9K vanilla intercept just by its very nature, but when will it matter? Also, why should cards lose base power anyway? By specifically binding the base power to units, this can act as an extra cost and act as an extra pivot for trying to explain card advantage. By not being strictly about outright costs and more about a constant and overall effect on a card's performance, this allows for say, a CONT skill or an ACT or AUTO skill that can happen probably many times in the course of the match to have a qualitative influence over it, and not be restricted to bare costs. This also gives a real, tangible reason for cards to not be at the standard 5-7-9-11 base power, for any reason other than the next ruling:

10K Vanguard=2 skills, 11K Vanguard=1 Skill (+Restriction)

This is less of a ruling, and more of a pleasantly convenient explanation for a lot of things about Soul and base power while also being a somewhat easy to spot pattern for much of Vanguard's history. Now before I forget, this works in tandem with the last ruling. So if you have a 10K Vanguard Grade 3, it gets 2 skills and -1 Soul from the overall combined costs of its skills.

Okay, so I'm not going to start citing the myriad of examples from pre-BT09 sets so just take my word for this much.

Limit Break=-1 Soul

Once again the result of rule 3.

In short, Limit Break sounds more like a timing restraint than anything. At the same time, it vastly changes the way certain skills need to be approached, as a 15K Vanguard beater in the midgame has a drastically different effect on the game than a 15K Vanguard beater in the late game. Because of this clash of probably not making a difference to making a whole lot of difference in very specific situations, it's simply been left up as a qualitative half-step, 1 soul.

A skill that specifically combos off another may pass on (part of) its cost to another skill

There's a reason why this ruling is the most specific...

The final ruling is focused on multi-skilled units, or those that rely on an entirely different skill to happen first before they can activate.

First, the latter. Units like Dust Tail Unicorn, who specifically requires another (in this case) Lock in order to activate, should be viewed in tandem with the original Lock as one large 'macro'-skill. In other words, remember how rule 2 specifically states that the extra qualitative Counter-Blast should only be applied once? Because Dust Tail's skill is the same as the trigger required to allow it to activate, this would mean that Dust Tail shouldn't need to pay for that 1 qualitative Counter-Blast. This can be applied similarly to other cards for different aspects, but often that qualitative Counter-Blast is going to be the most obvious application.

On the other hand, there are some units with a glaringly obvious combination and/or order in their skills. This would be cards like Pellinore and Nebula Lord. The prior of which's secondary skill places it on the Vanguard zone which can line up with its Limit Break, but is ultra conditional. Meanwhile, Nebula's Limit Break will require its secondary skill to go off first. Interpretation can become a bit subjective, but any skill that ends up making combos with another should be allowed to pass off its cost to the other if the first is conditional, and/or requires the second to activate.


And this time, I based these off actual logic, rather than just examples and only examples, which can end up being subjected to debate. However, I would enjoy outside input for these sorts of things, so does anyone have any suggestions or recommendations?


  1. Damn. Awesome job. Keep up the good work. :)

  2. Great stuff. Do you mind if I use your game mechanics in my blog posts? I would credit you if I used it. But anyway great post, must have taken a hella lot of time to create haha. Cheers :)