automatic actions

card design in mabeopsa

After changing each elements to specialize in one resource, I noticed a problem: Earth, specializing in the discard pile, was very weak compared to the other elements. Wood, specializing in hands of cards, was also very strong compared to the other elements, and it played more aggressively than fire. Ideally, wood would be an aggressive set of cards, but fire should be the most.

The problem was automatically drawing cards. Since players can only play one card at a time, they frequently had a full hand. This also meant that the discard pile had a narrow window to be used most effectively—one turn—before becoming completely ineffective. At this time, players and teachers had an initial hand size of three cards, and decks only had five cards in them.

My first attempt just removed automatic card drawing…without adding any other mechanism to draw a card. Now every deck required wood cards to draw automatically, but most just ran out of cards and then couldn't do anything.

That wasn't an ideal solution, to say the least.

I already had a rest action, so the next attempt made resting draw one card in addition to restoring energy. Doing so made the game better as decks didn't become useless; however, it meant that players always rested twice in a row. The first time gave them a card; the second, a card that would hopefully let them play in elemental order to get a new card in the subsequent round. And then they'd have to rest again.

Having the rest action draw two cards helped alleviate this issue. It's not perfect as the game still involved a fair amount of resting. And while it weakened wood, earth wasn't doing much better.

The current solution increased the deck sizes to ten cards (four of the primary element, two of the adjacent elements, and one for the remaining elements). Now decks actually had the option to generate at least one complete cycle of cards, and the discard pile was more relevant throughout the game. And without automatic card drawing, the wood cards that depended on hand size also become more interesting to use.

Does this mean that Mabeopsa's cards are now perfectly balanced? Well…probably not, but they are interesting. And they're interesting enough at their current stage that I'll be releasing the game in the near future.