Game Design Rules #7: Randomness is Good, and Also Bad (Part 2)


As I explained in the previous post, I had to divide the resources in 2 groups to control the amount of randomness “Industrial Revolution!” had, but I was not done with my anti-randomness crusade.

I had a single deck of cards at that point, and that also created some problems of their own, making the game feel unfair in some cases.

I Had Bad Cards

Cards are the most important aspect of the game, and I spent a lot of time making sure all of them were really useful and powerful. When people said, “that’s overpowered”, the card was working well. And yet, many players had the feeling they had bad luck with them.
It wasn’t uncommon to see somebody win the game while you had cards in your hand that you couldn’t use. This is a big problem in a “Take that” game, as you can still have fun even if you lose, if you had the option to annoy the other players during the game.

Industrial Revolution!” has many different cards, but they can roughly be categorized into offensive cards (harming your opponents in many ways) and beneficial cards (usually defensive, or movement cards… though in many cases they can also be used to harm opponents, if you are cunning enough).

The problem was, as usual with random, that I couldn’t control how many of each type would be drawn, and it was common to get too many of a certain card type during a certain period.

Too many of the offensive cards in play, and it was impossible to win, as everybody was destroying all the other players, making games last too long. Too many of the beneficial cards in play, and it was impossible to stop somebody about to win, making games last too little.


Solomonic Solution

As players have to draw 2 cards at the start of their turn, the solution was obvious. I divided the cards in 2 decks, and one of each deck had to be drawn.

Other elements of the game allow players to draw extra cards, and those can be drawn from any deck the players want, allowing them to choose their strategy, but with the new main drawing mechanic, I can be sure there will always be a mix of both types of cards in all player’s hands.

After the change, people stopped complaining about their cards (well, most of them… there’s always THAT guy…), and games were much more balanced, both in duration and in opportunities to use the cards for all players.

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