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Subject: Game Balance: Five Schools of Thought rss

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Brad Talton
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Since working on the Battle Connection Card Game, I've been thinking a lot about the process used to balance that game, and how that process and the ideas behind it relate to the balance in other games. I decided to pen down these thoughts for other game designers, for the benefit and discussion of the game development community as a whole--and perhaps for interested players as well.

What is Balance?

Game Balance is a tricky subject, and just about any developer will tell you that his game is 'balanced' by one definition or another. Understanding the schools of thought behind each balance philosophy and what motivates it is a foundation to discussing game balance. In this article, I'll be considering balance in terms of competitive games--one side against the other, or multiple sides against each other. Everyone has a preference, and there isn't a 'right way' to balance a game, or even a 'right definition' of what balance is, as we'll see below...

Local (Micro) Balance

"If all the decisions have equal merit, the game is balanced."

Suppose we are participating in a race. The race provides three choices for us: a bicycle, a helicopter, and a sportscar. The race's objective is to make it to Central Park in New York first. Depending on your proximity to central park, the best choice is fairly obvious. In this case, the decisions available do not provide an equivalent chance of winning. The game is not balanced on this scale. There is a school of thought that posits that for a game to be balanced, every individual option must be balanced against the others. Rock-Paper-Scissors is a good example. In a micro-balanced game, the sides are very often identical, or very close to one another in power. A white rook is balanced against a black rook, for example.

Most abstract games and cost-balanced games fall into this category.

Random Balance

"If all the players have equal odds to win, the game is balanced."

From Blackjack and Poker to Munchkin and Zombie Dice, random balance is common in games where the objective is not to test player skill, but to have fun or to gamble. It doesn't matter that a pair of kings beats a pair of 2's, because players aren't choosing the options. The game is randomly balanced--every player has equal access to the winning hand.

Now, you might say "Brad, you're missing the entire point of Poker," and I realize that. What I'm positing with these examples is that individual cards or components don't have to be balanced against each other: as long as every player has the same odds of getting winning cards, then every player has the same odds of winning. The player decisions usually have a little or no impact on the outcome of the hand or game.

Most large-group games and gambling games fall into this category.

Statistical (Macro) Balance

"If every side has a similar chance of winning, the game is balanced."

When most players and designers talk about balance, they're talking about statistical balance. This is the balance of entire strategies or differing option-sets against one another. In symmetric games, the Statistical Balance is derived from a local-scale balance sustained throughout the game. Consider:

All players have similar options -> All options are balanced -> all players are balanced


This is only a one-way relationship, however, as statistical balance can exist without the options being balanced:

All players have a limited set of options -> Each limited set is balanced -> all players are balanced


Games with this second idea at their core are called asymmetric games. It doesn't matter if the War elephant is better than the phalanx, as long as the Africans and the Southern Europeans are balanced against one another as a whole.

Most games designed with competitive play in mind fall into this category.

Skill Balance


"If the odds of winning are proportional to player skill or experience, then the game is balanced."


When playtesting and balancing a competitive game (especially one with few or no random factors), one of the things the designer might think about is "if I, as the creator, am losing, then the game is probably not balanced." This may seem like a conceited or self-centered point of view, but consider--You've played more games with this prototype, you've had more time to think about it, and you've had more influence in the design than anyone else. If you are playing to win and amateurs are beating you, the most skilled player in the world, then you may want to consider that the game is not balanced according to player skill.

Not all games are tests of player skill, but many are. The more a game favors highly skilled players, the more incentive there is to master it. By the same token, the more the game favors skill, the harder it is for new players to pick up and play the game with experienced players.

Sports or tournament-styled games usually fall into this category.

Limited or No Balance

"The game does not need to be balanced to be interesting."

Some games are intentionally unbalanced. If we're reenacting a historic battle between the Greeks and the Persians, there's no need to artificially guarantee that the sides are balanced--it wouldn't be historically accurate. If we're playing a basketball-themed board game, and one team has less skilled players, it would be silly to give that team unrealistic advantages to account for their weakness. While one side or the other might be favored, as long as the possibility for victory on either side exists, the game is still interesting. Plus, there's nothing quite like winning with the underdog.

There are some games for which balancing is impossible, or just doesn't make any sense. Consider Dixit, Pictionary, or Charades. There may be some points where these games could be balanced, but on the whole the exercise of trying to balance them is meaningless.

This category is not technically a kind of balance, but it is included here as a reminder that balance isn't necessary for a game to be fun or interesting. It's an option that developers have, if it suits their particular game.

Most simulations, storytelling, and wargames fall into this category.

Conclusion

Few games utilize just one of these schools of thought--many are balanced with several in mind, and there is a little bit of overlap between any set of them. There are plenty of great games, and plenty of player preferences. Each school of balancing provides enjoyment to a different kind of player, and is used by designers as a tool to provide a certain gaming experience.

Discussion


Can you identify games you know that are balanced according to each of the different schools of thought mentioned above (or to specific combinations of the schools)? Can you think of any other 'schools of thought' that might not have been mentioned? What idea do you have in mind for balance when creating a competitive game?

In the next article, I'll talk about degrees of symmetry, and how they affect the balance of a game...
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Calavera Despierta
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Thanks for the rather fascinating article!

It's interesting to me that I prefer games of either skill balance, or limited/no balance, and essentially eschew the other types when possible.
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Thomas Petty
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my favorite games usually fall into the euro-family style since, using your scale, they offer a heavily Micro-balanced experience with a nice helping of Skill Balance.

I was actually trying to think of a game where only ONE of these balancing types was used. And I can only think of Fluxx and CLR (two of the worst games ever created) which strictly balance themselves with randomness. But, then again, is "complete randomness" the same as "no balance"... probably yes.

Can a game use "no balance" as its balance? Please meditate while pondering this paradox.
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Philip Migas
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Not exactly a perfect match to this post but I would like to plug Ian Schreiber’s Game Balance Concepts at http://gamebalanceconcepts.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/level-1-...
 
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Kyokai wrote:
There are some games for which balancing is impossible, or just doesn't make any sense. Consider Dixit, Pictionary, or Charades.

Actually I would say these games DO have balancing, but most of them are inherent to the type of game. They are skill balanced-- Pictionary favors someone with artistic skills, Charades slightly favors someone with acting skills, and Dixit can actually heavily favor someone with a creative writing oriented mind. However I would place these games in the "Statistical (Macro) Balance" category, since they basically give each player an equal opportunity with the same set of options.
 
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Ken H.
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Kyokai wrote:
Skill Balance[/b]

"If the odds of winning are proportional to player skill or experience, then the game is balanced."

Interesting post. But, I'm not sure skill balance is a separate form of game balancing. I'm at a loss to see how a game could be "skill balanced" without also being micro and/or macro balanced. What is the frame of reference for micro/macro if not skill level?

In other words, all game balance questions necessarily assume players of equal skill. Equal skill means equal chance of winning. So, yes, unequal skill means unequal chance of winning (except in completely random games). But the point is, it's a function of the other game balance categories, rather than a separate category itself.

Hmm, well it's hard to explain what I mean. Let me try this metaphor: suppose you were listing ways to test physical balance on a scale. You might say (1) place items of equal weight at equal distance from center, or (2) use items of unequal weight but put the lighter further away. Those are both fine. However, suppose you then add (3) measure the weight of the items. Somebody is going to say, wait -- you already have to do that in the first two categories. It's part of the definition!


 
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Brad Talton
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Rubric wrote:
Kyokai wrote:
Skill Balance[/b]

"If the odds of winning are proportional to player skill or experience, then the game is balanced."

Interesting post. But, I'm not sure skill balance is a separate form of game balancing. I'm at a loss to see how a game could be "skill balanced" without also being micro and/or macro balanced. What is the frame of reference for micro/macro if not skill level?

In other words, all game balance questions necessarily assume players of equal skill. Equal skill means equal chance of winning. So, yes, unequal skill means unequal chance of winning (except in completely random games). But the point is, it's a function of the other game balance categories, rather than a separate category itself.

Hmm, well it's hard to explain what I mean. Let me try this metaphor: suppose you were listing ways to test physical balance on a scale. You might say (1) place items of equal weight at equal distance from center, or (2) use items of unequal weight but put the lighter further away. Those are both fine. However, suppose you then add (3) measure the weight of the items. Somebody is going to say, wait -- you already have to do that in the first two categories. It's part of the definition!



There's definitely a measure of overlap in these. To think in terms of skill balance (as I've defined it above), you have to think outside of the closed simulation of a board game. A good example would be basketball. The teams are not balanced against each other on a micro level (player to player) or even macro level (team to team statistical average). But we would still say that basketball is a balanced game. It's the symmetry in the rules that makes the game balanced, rather than the symmetry of the teams.

Conversely, a game like roulette is micro-balanced (all the plays have equal merit), and thus you're statistically likely to win equally on any play, relative to how much of the table you cover (macro-balance). However, your 'skill' at roulette doesn't affect how likely you are to win or lose.
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Patrick Leder
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Kyokai wrote:

Skill Balance


"If the odds of winning are proportional to player skill or experience, then the game is balanced."


When playtesting and balancing a competitive game (especially one with few or no random factors), one of the things the designer might think about is "if I, as the creator, am losing, then the game is probably not balanced." This may seem like a conceited or self-centered point of view, but consider--You've played more games with this prototype, you've had more time to think about it, and you've had more influence in the design than anyone else. If you are playing to win and amateurs are beating you, the most skilled player in the world, then you may want to consider that the game is not balanced according to player skill.

Not all games are tests of player skill, but many are. The more a game favors highly skilled players, the more incentive there is to master it. By the same token, the more the game favors skill, the harder it is for new players to pick up and play the game with experienced players.

Sports or tournament-styled games usually fall into this category.

I always get destroyed in my own games. I design something, think its going to work like this, and then my players find some way to drive me right off a cliff that I didn't see. Typically its when I'm trying to force players to play a balanced approach and someone exploits one way. So at least I learn something. Maybe this is the wrong hobby for me. laugh
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Andrew Foerster
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I really appreciate the article outlining a very broad (and, actually, ambiguous) term that's pretty fundamental to this site.

Balance requires a context, or a sense, in which it is applied.

People often claim that Dominion is "balanced". Well, in the sense that all players (generally) get the same access to all the cards, this is true. If card A is on the table and it's underpowered, everybody is equally able to ignore that card, but this is equivocating because often the discussion isn't about game balance ("hey, everybody has equal opportunity to kill their game with a Mine", say) but rather about card balance, and it's much easier to defend the openness of the purchasing decision than the non-openness of card pricing (especially for purists who resist breaking the game design to price cards to what they deem fair). A contextually appropriate (and often-used, though not necessarily "correct") response to an imbalanced card is that certain cards work better in certain conditions (i.e. they may be imbalanced in this setup, but overpowered in another set).

Note, of course, that these discussions are not limited to Dominion, but the nuances of the different types of "balance" are key to gameplay. As in, whether teams have identical units or not, identical opportunity, or objectives. It's relatively easy to make a game literally balanced with identical units, objective, and near identical opportunity (such as in Chess or Go), but in these cases the gameplay has to be fascinating and compelling. It's much harder to balance a game without players having an identical setup (oh, Twilight Struggle, say), but the balancing of the two or more sides on composition, objective, strategy then becomes the easy part, and you can likely be forgiven a bit if you have weaker gameplay (though better is, as always, better!).
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Richard Sampson
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One that I think you missed is meta-game balance.

That is the game may be unbalanced possibly by a lot, but the players collectively have a lot of control over the game's balance and therefore the meta-game has a major affect on the game. This particularly comes to mind for Cosmic Encounter where the alien powers very widely in terms of strength but the game is not as unbalanced as it seems, but it could really be applied to any game where multiple players can gang up on a leader or someone with an apparent advantage.
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Nate K
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ras2124 wrote:
One that I think you missed is meta-game balance.

That is the game may be unbalanced possibly by a lot, but the players collectively have a lot of control over the game's balance and therefore the meta-game has a major affect on the game. This particularly comes to mind for Cosmic Encounter where the alien powers very widely in terms of strength but the game is not as unbalanced as it seems, but it could really be applied to any game where multiple players can gang up on a leader or someone with an apparent advantage.

Indeed. I've seen this happen in Munchkin games. Someone gets a ridiculously good draw, becomes insanely powerful, and rockets to Level 9. Then everyone gangs up on him or her, gladly using any or all of the tricks up their sleeves to prevent this player from winning.
 
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I think a different slice of this which would be interesting to dissect would be, rather than *how* balance does and doesn't exist, rather *what* aspects of games can be balanced or not:

- Absolutely player order - Statistically, does the starting player have no more or less chance of winning than the second, third, or fourth player?

- Relative player order - Statistically, does being a person immediately before or after a strong or weak player change the odds of winning (the infamous Puerto Rico situation)?

- Resource Balance - Does the cost of all resources, cards, buildings, soldiers, whatever have an identical proportion towards their value to win, or are some game resources intentionally more or less valuable than others? (I see the pros/cons of this hotly debated in game design forums.)

...and so on.
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Chris Ferejohn
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Last two posts more or less made my point, but I'd add something like "social balance" - games in which the person who is ahead can be effectively spotted and thwarted by the other players. Cosmic Encounter, Small World, Nexus Ops, and Cyclades all come to mind as games where this is possible (and encouraged).
 
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Yes, checks and balances (so to speak) are a part of gameplay, but the "social" aspect would be more on the "checks" side (other players restricting a single player's ability to play), which I think is somewhat lazy design.

Sure, in many cases it is necessary and interesting (perhaps a core element of gameplay) and unavoidable (even the best "balanced" multiplayer game, if it is interactive enough, will be susceptible to losing players using the interactivity to gang up on the leader).

However, putting out a product that isn't mechanically balanced and relies on player checking to keep things competitive feels often like you don't even need the mechanics ... I mean, if the game is won and lost principally by social engineering then what does it matter if the mechanism to execute this social engineering is a die roll, the allocation of chits, trading of certain goods (or an embargo) or whatever. The core winning tactic is appearing less threatening and manipulating the group to consider somebody else to be more dangerous.

That being said, there are ways to introduce a checking system like this and keep the game mechanics core to gameplay as well. Something where the social element is acknowledged such that as a part of the engineering / kill the leader element, the gameplay does become fundamentally changed.

Examples that come to mind: multiplayer Risk (and I'd say SmallWorld) becomes an implicit (or explicit) understanding of who is winning and ganging up on him. When the leader is no longer the leader, there are no great consequences to being a conspirator. New alliances will form (including, likely, with that same former leader) to beat down on the newest leader. These series of negotiations pretty much become the game, with the die-rolling and chit placing almost becoming secondary.

Or perhaps Battlestar Galactica (to my understanding) in which the social engineering is brilliantly integrated into the game system (several reviews have noted that the non-social element can be a pretty boring process of adding / subtracting numbers to pass the relevant checks). In this case, alliances and social engineering do have significant consequences in the game system, primarily in group decisions to toss a potential Cylon, or human, into the brig. You could be impeding your opposition, or you could be fundamentally crippling your own chances at winning the game!

Or, I don't know, a system in which forming an alliance (say, attacking the same opponent for several turns, or not attacking certain opponents over several turns) will impede your ability to a certain resource. So you're all going to gang up on blue? Well, then you'll have limited access to iron over the next several turns.

I'm going on here, but my point is that a big part of my gaming (and why I'm willing to spend money on games) is for the system that I'm purchasing (sure, the cubes and chits and all are nice), and this is where designers can demonstrate how clever they are in introducing elements to make the game unique and balanced, especially in means of balancing the varied and significant social elements that my friends and I will bring to a game.
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Brad Talton
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mussels wrote:
I think a different slice of this which would be interesting to dissect would be, rather than *how* balance does and doesn't exist, rather *what* aspects of games can be balanced or not:

- Absolutely player order - Statistically, does the starting player have no more or less chance of winning than the second, third, or fourth player?

- Relative player order - Statistically, does being a person immediately before or after a strong or weak player change the odds of winning (the infamous Puerto Rico situation)?

- Resource Balance - Does the cost of all resources, cards, buildings, soldiers, whatever have an identical proportion towards their value to win, or are some game resources intentionally more or less valuable than others? (I see the pros/cons of this hotly debated in game design forums.)

...and so on.

That's actually something I'm working on another post for--how symmetry in a game affects the balance, and how much we can rely on it (or how much we can get away with without relying on it!). I hope to post it up in a few days.

ras2124 wrote:
One that I think you missed is meta-game balance.

That is the game may be unbalanced possibly by a lot, but the players collectively have a lot of control over the game's balance and therefore the meta-game has a major affect on the game. This particularly comes to mind for Cosmic Encounter where the alien powers very widely in terms of strength but the game is not as unbalanced as it seems, but it could really be applied to any game where multiple players can gang up on a leader or someone with an apparent advantage.

You're right--I didn't consider that angle in the original post, but it does seem like an important element to many games. The metagame or social game makes an important contribution to keeping any one player from running away with the victory.

I've seen this done well and done poorly in many different games. One of my own, Kill the Overlord actually relies pretty heavily on this idea or social balancing, so I feel kind of silly for overlooking it.
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This was a good read.

I would like to add something to this. It's kinda same as the mentioned social balance but I would call it self-balancing.

Self-balancing game is usually an auction type game where different things doesn't need to be balanced but through some mechanism (auction) game lets players decide what something is worth thus balancing the resources/money available.

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Richard thanks for posting about metagaming. I would have preferred the term “player balanced”. Metagaming is something that happens outside of the game. Player balance is something that happens as part of the game and is integral to the game. Ganging up on the leader is one example. I would also say that any bid mechanism is also another example. Like Amun Ra or Cyclades.

andrewfoerster wrote:
Yes, checks and balances (so to speak) are a part of gameplay, but the "social" aspect would be more on the "checks" side (other players restricting a single player's ability to play), which I think is somewhat lazy design.

Andrew, just because you don’t like something does not mean it should not be mentioned or discussed. My preference in games actually leans towards the social aspects of the game systems. You actually mentioned 2 of my favorite games as Risk and Small World. So I even though I understand that you don’t like the social aspects of games, it is still an important concept when discussing balanced games.
 
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pmigas wrote:
Richard thanks for posting about metagaming. I would have preferred the term “player balanced”. Metagaming is something that happens outside of the game. Player balance is something that happens as part of the game and is integral to the game.
While I agree with what you say, I was going for something a little more broader. People sometimes think that the mechanic I listed causes people to gang up on the leader, which is not always the case. What really happens is they gang up on the person they THINK is the leader or will become the leader. In many games (most of those listed in fact) manipulation of players outside of the game can significantly sway the game, and often this type of behavior is encouraged. This is why I referred to it as "meta game balance."

"Player balance" to me comes off as players make independent decisions, come to similar conclusions about who is winning, and balance the game. What tends to happen (at least in the games I play), is that the more manipulative players convince the other players of who is "winning" outside of the game sometimes even with tactics like, "he always wins." I am pretty sure it is impossible to play Risk without this sort of meta-game manipulation, but on the other hand I don't think it is listed in the rules either (though I have not read the rules in a long time).
 
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pmigas wrote:
Richard thanks for posting about metagaming. I would have preferred the term “player balanced”. Metagaming is something that happens outside of the game. Player balance is something that happens as part of the game and is integral to the game.
What exaclty do you mean by outside the game? I trying to convince a risk player to attack austrlia when its not your or his turn 'outside of the game'? Or is that integral to the game?
 
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Kyokai wrote:
I decided to pen down these thoughts for other game designers, for the benefit and discussion of the game development community as a whole--and perhaps for interested players as well.

Thanks for sparking this discussion and for framing it so well with your own thoughts!

Kyokai wrote:
Discussion
Can you identify games you know that are balanced according to each of the different schools of thought mentioned above (or to specific combinations of the schools)? Can you think of any other 'schools of thought' that might not have been mentioned? What idea do you have in mind for balance when creating a competitive game?

Here's a question for you:

Do you think Local/Micro Balance is (should be) the main factor behind games like Magic: The Gathering or A Game of Thrones or Deadlands: Doomtown or Babylon 5 Collectible Card Game?

In essence, I'm thinking of the almost trial-and-error process where the designer produces one set of cards for the game, watches the metagame to see what the players are (ab)using, and then produces an additional set designed to "combat" the prevailing metagame.

For example, in Doomtown, the Sweetrock faction was considered very powerful due to the synergy between their economic power and the game's method of earning victory (control) points. In later editions of the game, factions were introduced that had ways of battling that economic foundation (the Maze Rats, for example, would directly undermine the economic foundation by taking away Sweetrock's production locations). Even later editions went as far as changing the faction card itself.

The practice is more prevalent in many MMORPGs of today. A particular character class or pair of character class may prove to be so powerful that the players simply can't do without them. So the designers have to choose between reducing that class' power level; or increase/adjust the power level of all the other classes to compensate.



edit: Just read the post about Meta Game balance:
ras2124 wrote:
One that I think you missed is meta-game balance.

That is the game may be unbalanced possibly by a lot, but the players collectively have a lot of control over the game's balance and therefore the meta-game has a major affect on the game. This particularly comes to mind for Cosmic Encounter where the alien powers very widely in terms of strength but the game is not as unbalanced as it seems, but it could really be applied to any game where multiple players can gang up on a leader or someone with an apparent advantage.

Perhaps what I'm talking about is exactly that. Meta Game balance.
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I can't speak for the other CCGs, but I can speak for Magic, as I played a lot of that back in the day.

For Magic at least, there's a degree of Micro balancing (cost of the cards), but between the colors, this balance kind of fades away, because each color specializes in a certain strategy, and has access to that strategy at a different cost. The different sides are balanced on a statistical level (hopefully), even though Lightning Bolt (Red) is in general a better card than Giant Growth (Green).

This is more of a skill balance situation (like my basketball example above), where the individual cards aren't balanced, and not even the decks are statistically equally likely to win. Instead, each player has the potential to create the absolute best deck and bring it to the table. One player in a matchup is always favored (due to experience, rare collection, or whatnot), but the game is balanced in a sense that anyone could become just as skilled as anyone else if they're willing to invest the time and money.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Kyokai wrote:
...
This is more of a skill balance situation (like my basketball example above), where the individual cards aren't balanced, and not even the decks are statistically equally likely to win. Instead, each player has the potential to create the absolute best deck and bring it to the table. One player in a matchup is always favored (due to experience, rare collection, or whatnot), but the game is balanced in a sense that anyone could become just as skilled as anyone else if they're willing to invest the time and money.

Well, there's definitely a skill balance situation in M:tG. I agree with you there.


But don't you think there's something more to it when the designers / tournament organizer have constantly issued errata, rulings, changes to rulings, limitations on cards, and outright banned cards? These actions are essentially part of the designer/tournament-organizer's attempt to bring "balance" to the game.


To take it to your basketball analogy, it would be something like banning Michael Jordan ... or perhaps banning members of the "Dream Team".
 
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Eric Jome
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Stormtower wrote:
But don't you think there's something more to it when the designers / tournament organizer have constantly issued errata, rulings, changes to rulings, limitations on cards, and outright banned cards? These actions are essentially part of the designer/tournament-organizer's attempt to bring "balance" to the game.

Obviously, you haven't played Magic in a long time. There's been no banned or restricted cards in a long time. The errata issued is clarifications on how complicated game effects interact, not breaking new ground or changing the way things work.

Magic is almost entirely skill balanced. A stated goal of the game is not that card conform to any historic or abstract power level, only that player be given interesting tools and demonstrate their skill with the game in the play and in the metagame of deck construction and selection.
 
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Brad Talton
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Stormtower wrote:
Kyokai wrote:
...
This is more of a skill balance situation (like my basketball example above), where the individual cards aren't balanced, and not even the decks are statistically equally likely to win. Instead, each player has the potential to create the absolute best deck and bring it to the table. One player in a matchup is always favored (due to experience, rare collection, or whatnot), but the game is balanced in a sense that anyone could become just as skilled as anyone else if they're willing to invest the time and money.

Well, there's definitely a skill balance situation in M:tG. I agree with you there.


But don't you think there's something more to it when the designers / tournament organizer have constantly issued errata, rulings, changes to rulings, limitations on cards, and outright banned cards? These actions are essentially part of the designer/tournament-organizer's attempt to bring "balance" to the game.


To take it to your basketball analogy, it would be something like banning Michael Jordan ... or perhaps banning members of the "Dream Team".

As Eric mentions, they have gotten a lot better about that sort of thing in the past, and the type 2 phase-out means that even if a few cards are terribly broken, they don't have to be put up with forever.

So yeah, balancing the cards and rules is definitely something that a lot of time and energy goes into--they just do it pre-release instead of post-release these days.

That said, to correlate a good example in basketball, the zone defense was prohibited by the NBA (later allowed, but still with some restrictions). In another example, the shot clock was introduced in order to prevent attrition play. I'd say these adjustments are more like banning one of the options in Michael Jordan's repertoire, rather than banning the man himself.

Of course, most games are so dissimilar to one another that the analogy is difficult to maintain like that laugh each really can only be considered in terms of its own conventions, no matter how many correlations there are.
 
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Part 2 is now posted: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/636692/game-balance-symm...
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