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Game Theory, Power Creep and Game Design

Card games and game play follow certain design features. Abstracting the design features helps to understand reoccurring phenomena, optimizing strategies and builds up good basics for deckbuilding and card evaluation. My first thought was to write an article about some sort of Axiomatic Design (The distinction of a subject matter into: Attributes -> Requirements -> Design Parameters -> Variables) to talk about subjects like card design or any other fitting FoW related topic. However, I could not figure out how to apply it in a satisfactory way.

Nevertheless, thinking about the topic got me interested in an open dialogue. Therefore I will propose a few topics I think might have merits to Force of Will Players and its community. If you are interested in any of them and want to share ideas or pose any further interesting concepts to investigate, please let me know by using the comment section on the bottom of this article.

Game Theory

Knowledge about Game Theory should bring some advantage in card games, right? Game Theory may be applied in Force of Will as a decision-making tool. Decisions strongly depend on the state of information of both players. But, even without knowledge of the opponent’s information, a valid and very potent strategy is the ‘Minimizing of the Maximum Loss’. If you are interested in a short overview about Game Theory, feel free to check out this video with a quick summary:

Something I apply for myself and teach every beginner: with given uncertainties always choose the play lines with the least amount of possible harm to your game state. (Also try to identify as much information as possible, prior to your decisions.)

Power Creep

This topic is quite emotional and thoroughly discussed within the FoW Community. Power creep incorporates the steady rise of attributes (ATK/DEF), the impact of effects and spells, cost efficiency and the versatility of cards. This topic is delicate, because even though the power level of the new cards is one of the main selling points for a set company-wise, players want older cards to be viable as well. Set rotation is a tool to minimize the need for power creep, however history has shown that Force of Will card designers are more likely to ignore this aspect. Feel free to check out the inside perspective of power creep by a game designer:

I am ambivalent about this topic myself. I do think power creep is unavoidable and may be tolerated. However, it should at least be moderate. Also, I strongly advocate for a diverse meta with a wide spread of viable decks.

Game Design

To explore the game design aspect even further I want to highlight that Force of Will sometimes really shines in this particular area (apart from its power level). This becomes very clear, once we measure the aesthetics, lore, and overall design of Force of Will cards with Mark Rosewater’s holistic view on game design:

I am content with Force of Will even with its flaws. Also nonrelated: I love our community’s diversity. I you never had the chance to do so yet, then go visit a Grand Prix. You will meet the kindest and most interesting people.

That is all for today. There are more topics I deem important like Mindset, Training, Net Decking and so forth, but I might discuss them in another article, or shift focus depending on your input in the comment section below. If you have anything to share, feel free to leave a message there!

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About the author


My name is Heiko. I first started playing Force of Will after the games convention 'Spiel' in Essen 2016. I really enjoy the game mechanics and the artwork is stunning. My favourite ruler is Gill Alhama'at since it was the first Ruler I played fairly competitive. I love control decks and darkness is my favourite colour to play.