Card Design Studies 1 – ‘Legendary’ unique Cards.

In Magic and Hearthstone,  there are lots of Epic and Legendary cards that are very exciting. Exciting enough to get people all riled up before an expansion drops, and get them started on theory-crafting about all kinds of new decks to build.

These cards can be seen as the ‘core’ inspiration of a certain, fun deck that you may want to build. Upon reading their game text, you can tell that they were designed to be centerpieces of certain playstyle of the deck.

Malygos decks contain 4 spells that would boost up their damage each by 5, doing almost 32 damage to a foe in a turn and winning the game. In order to do this, you have to assemble the Exodia-like combo pieces. But Malygos is 9 Mana, and would most likely perish to a removal spell or their minions if left alone on the board for even a turn.

Yogg-Saron is so random and may not even help you win the game. You have to cast as many spells as possible before dropping Yogg-Saron in hope that you’ll win the game with the immediate effect he brings. Yogg Saron is a perfect example of an excellent card design that simply can only exist in digital card games.

Both of these cards have the power to form an idea of a deck around it and challenges its players to think carefully. It interacts with other previously built cards in such weird ways that it makes the game fresh.

These cards can be very fun to use in a TCG game like Hearthstone where you come in to play against an opponent with your pre-built deck since you have the freedom of how you’d like your deck to be before the game begins.

In the case of my Deck Building game, I realize that it’s a bit different.

Players buy cards from the “Wild deck” that consists of Pokemon and Item cards. These cards are the staples of your deck and when playtested, players only wanted to buy cards that would positively benefit their decks.

Whenever a card with too much randomness was introduced – unless the positive outcome was AMAZING, players would not dare touch the cards. In deck building games, randomness often hurts you. Afterall, one of the most priced ability in our game is the ability to destroy your own cards – this way you have more control over your deck.

Fairy decks in our game involve Coin Flips – but their Tails give normal effects while Heads give exceptional bonus abilities. This is why Fairy deck is played.

Control is the word when it comes to building your deck. Will this card fit into my deck and synergize with other cards?

  1. Would I buy this item if I was playing ____ deck?
  2. Is this item usable in an actual game?
  3. Does it have thematic Flavor? A game built around another popular Franchise, it must invoke Nostalgia and “Oooh I remember this” moments throughout the game.

In this case with Calcium, Zinc, and Carbos, yes, I would buy these items no matter what deck I’m playing. Their cost is placed at 35 BP, which is about the amount of 1 cheap, basic pokemon. If I didn’t have any better options, I may opt in or these cards. All 16 decks at least have 1 Battler, 1 Defense and several Kickoff Pokemon enough to make drawing into these cards worth it. Plus it cycles itself with “Draw 1 card”, which makes it so that you’re not losing anything if you draw into this card. However, the chance of you actually drawing this item along with your Battle, Defense or Kickoff Pokemon are very low! It Cards like Carbos can also some creative strategy and encourage players to try running a Swarm deck with Pokemon that haven’t evolved yet, since they will all gain 20 ATK.

In our game, I follow the belief that Items must work with most decks that players create. They must be able to cycle themselves because they’re there to support Pokemon and should not slow the game down. (If anything, every purchase should speed up the game. We’re aiming for 30-minute gameplay here, not 2 hours!)


Then here is this card, Never-melt Ice that is up for a debate. It would slow down the game for your opponent. But if they had a fire Pokemon or some Pokemon that can destroy this Ice down the line, they will be able to get rid of it and stop the avalanche from freezing their deck every time they Draw this card.

And it specifically favors Ice decks. Ice deck’s Battle checks for the top card of a foe’s deck. If it’s not a Pokemon, they gain ATK. So it’s got flavor.

And then here’s a more thought-provoking, Legendary like Item that I still need to think about.


You’re paying for a choice. When you draw this card, now you have the option to switch the Gym Leader. If you don’t, just draw another card.

Sometimes you’re left fighting a tough gym leader. Sometimes you don’t really want that gym leader in your deck. Sometimes you think there may be a better gym leader hiding behind this one.

So that’s when you would use Bicycle. On top of that, all of your opponents can potentially get hit by the upcoming Encounter of the new gym leader. It’s a gamble, and it’s a fun one.

Creating items is overall a really fun exercise. Though Adam and I have tons of cool ideas for Items, we think that giving Legendary Pokemon those abilities may be more appropriate, because they are optional and are not viable for gameplay. We may even create additional Game modes like opt-out on playing Legendary Pokemon or even starting your deck with 1 Legendary Pokemon like Commander in Magic.

Stay tuned for more! I’ll be creating items all day today.





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