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  1. #1
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    Great article on balance


    I especially like how he describes balancing across strategies, or across different player levels. Good to keep in mind when making a game.
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  2. #2
    It's an interesting article. I find that studying (and possibly playing) MtG gives a good feel for balance, I definitely recommend doing it. I wish I had been there to hear him talk.

    Comments on the article:

    • Viewing strategic-level balancing in terms of amounts of available/viable strategies is genius.
    • wtf man tic-tac-toe is a trivial game, you don't lose unless you have a brainfart.
    • Considering all levels of skill is important. I'm willing to bet that even though it's not mentioned in the article, he probably said something about how good balance automatically adjusts for skill level (seeing as how the article also points out that skill goes up logarithmically). Making a game where even a beginner can understand basic strategy and win because of that understanding is hard, but makes for a really great game!
    • When your game is released to that bunch of crazed lunatics that are fondly called "players", they will rip it to shreds regardless of the amount of testing you put in to make robust balance... so yes, keep an iterative process, update your game. The field is always the best test, including for balance.
    • Starting with an RPS structure, including "hosers" as he calls them (though that's more of a tactical concept than a strategic one) is a good idea. RPS itself is completely unbalanced, but that's because it's a tactical game of instawin, which strategy is not. You can beat spearmen with cavalry, you just have to have good tactics for that to happen, etc.
    • Speaking of hosers, having those ensures that gimmicks are less common. Another way to do that is to make sure it costs too much to run a gimmick. For example the article mentions flyers. You can "hose" that by using creatures with reach (non-flyers that can fight flyers) or spells that affect flyers, sure, but you can also ignore it and just go for beatdown since flyers in general cost more than non-flyers that can deal the same amount of damage.
    • Cost is a multidimensional concept. He mentions that in Magic they have mana as the main cost, but also that there are "other knobs". True: every resource in the game is an "other knob". Just imagine how many resources there are in GW1. (energy, energy cap (for exhaustion), health, health cap (paid when you add runes), time (fast casting!), hell even position can be a resource of sorts, all those transferable to each other in different ways... in other words that "main knob" can be really important to make sure that things don't get too confusing.)
    • There is one thing to think about... He says that "To mitigate a very powerful approach, make that approach useful under rare circumstances". I'd add, make sure to make sure that those circumstances really are rare, that is, that they can't be manufactured by players at will.

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