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Mana, CLicks and Summons

Updated: Oct 21, 2017

(This was a older post from a blog I ran awhile ago which I quite liked)

In this post I will be talking about how card games have implemented systems to affect the pace of play. I will be looking at three different card games available, Magic the Gathering, Yu-gi-oh and Android: Netrunner. I will be looking at these as I have more knowledge of these titles then other card games.

Lets start by looking at the different pacing systems and how they are implemented. Each system we will look at here has something in common, they are all economies in which the player must spend to use cards within the game. Mtg (Magic the Gathering) uses Mana, this is needed to both play cards and activate abilities in the game. Land produces this mana and is a card type that needs to be included into the deck itself. Yu-gi-oh on the other hand limits the number of summons that a player can do per turn, this is one normal summon and one special summon, this allows for players to gain monsters quickly and is shown in how quick it is played. Android: Netrunner uses a in built system like Yu-gi-oh called clicks, both players have a slightly different amount and they determine how many actions a player can do a turn. 

Mtg’s system of mana is very well thought out, with different colours needed for different cards and the fact that the land is limited to one per turn. This as well as the fact that the land cards themselves must be placed in the deck allows for a much more strategic game. The amount of lands will change from deck to deck and the addition of land cards with abilities means that there can be a much more interesting pool of resources to chose from when deck building. This affects the pacing for each deck in a different way and I think this is great design, if you play a very fast paced deck then you are likely to get to the mana needed for you to play all your cards very quickly while a slower paced deck will have to take time but will pack more of a punch when the mana requirement is met. This accommodates for many different play styles which in turn allows more people to enjoy. There are some problems though with the system which is more to do with balance, this will also effect most of these games, but I personally feel that this is more widespread in Mtg because it is older and has many different formats of play.

Yu-gi-oh takes a different approach with its pacing system being as its inbuilt into the game. Normal and special summons allow players to play creatures, there is no cap on cards that aren’t creatures though so the game is much faster paced then magic. I personally am not the biggest fan of this but I can understand why you would be, games are generally quite quick allowing for some one to play ten games a hour unlike Mtg where you might play two or three. There is no limiting factor to the deck either in Yu-gi-oh like Mtg with colours, allowing players to create any deck they like with the cards they have. Similarly to thought there are cards that effect the amount of summons a player can have per turn, I personally think this isn’t handled as well as Mtg’s system as this can put one player at a general disadvantage.

Lastly Netrunner, this game is similar to Yu-gi-oh in how the game has a built in system to deal with pace in the form of clicks. Unlike Yu-gi-oh though clicks affect all cards played, this means that each turn is always a set length. This is in my opinion, a better way of dealing with a set pacing system , although it still has its downsides. For one there are other systems that deal with both economy and player information. These systems although good confuse a new player and can make teaching or playing for the first time quite a rough experience as the player must juggle different systems to play one card or do an action.

I hoped this was a interesting look at three ways in which games deal with pacing for the player, whether its set by the game or players themselves. Each game has both positives and negatives attached to how they deal with there structure and the game that is created from these simple systems.