Card keywords and other

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I find some wordings a bit awkward, or downright confusing/vague. I've been meaning to write about it for a bit, so here it goes. An important part of card games is for players to be able to easily tell what a card does, and how it interacts with other cards; especially for a roguelike, not being sure what a card does usually means you just won't add it to your deck, since it's a big risk.

Many of these might just be me being pedantic, though. I will start from the basic rule that each turn you draw 5 cards, then spend actions to play those cards, as stated in the tutorial.

- Anything that makes the "spend actions to play a card" rule not apply should be the first thing in the card text. This is mainly aimed at "Unplayable", "Autoplay", and to a lesser extent, "Evoke". And on that note, the three have mildly incongruous descriptions:

  • "Unplayable" says "this card cannot be played", which sometimes is meant to say that it has no on-play effect (e.g. Solid Point), and sometimes to say that it does, but can't be played normally (e.g. Resilience). 
  • "Autoplay" says "this card cannot be played, and resolves automatically at the end of the turn"; it often appears on the same cards as "Unplayable", which is redundant (e.g. Bleed, Winded, with the doubly redundant "at the end of your turn" afterwards), and more importantly they do trigger "when you play a card" effects, even though they explicitly say the card isn't played.
  • "Evoke" says "play this card from your hand or draw pile for free when the requirements are met", but almost always comes with the "Unplayable" keyword. You can intuitively tell that the "evoke" wording is more specific than the "unplayable" one, so it takes precedence, but it's still a bit odd to have a card that both says you can't play it, and tells you to play it. Maybe it would be better if "Evoke" resolved the card, instead of playing it, the way "Autoplay" does?

- Card text should be extremely clear about which parts are related to their on-play effect, and which ones aren't. The on-play effect should come first (only "unplayable", "autoplay" or "evoke" should go before), everything else should come after, separated by a line-break, and ideally some extra spacing.

  • As a notable example of the problem: Bile grenade starts by describing an end-of-turn effect, then the actual on-play effect, and finally another end of turn effect (sticky). It would be more natural if it read like: "Hits all enemies. Expend. <linebreak> Sticky. At the end of your turn, [etc]".
  • "Expend" is particularly bad about it, because it's always at the end of the card, for some reason. The tooltip says "remove this card for the rest of the battle", but when the keyword appears by itself, there is an implicit "when you play this card" before it. This is easy to understand when the keyword appears next to the on-play effect, but feels really awkward, or even confusing, when there is extra stuff between the on-play effect and the keyword, or when "expend" is the full extent of the on-play effect (e.g. Lumin Burn, Bad deal, or Reputation Preceding). All this also applies to Destroy, but it's more rare (e.g. Spooked, Coward)

- Status card longevity needs to be a lot more transparent. Some status cards only stay for one fight (e.g. Injury), some stay for a day (e.g. reputation cards), some stay until you sleep (e.g. Bloated), some stay until you Destroy them (e.g. Well fed, Ulcer?). And in fact, some depend on how you got the card (e.g. Tipsy from drinking, instead of from the Merchant attack)! While you can mostly see this information when looking at your deck, this is not available during combat or negotiation. This info should be clearly displayed on the card itself.


If it were up to me, I would give status cards "charges", like items do, but remove one charge after every encounter of the relevant type, instead of after every time you play them. It would make it immediately clear how much longer you will need to put up with each status card.

- I've mentioned it before, but temporary cards (e.g. Flash blade, among a very long list) should be clearly indicated as such. Cards that are always temporary are easy enough to remember, but some cards are made temporary by other effects, like Replicator. If, say, I replicate a Robone, I want to know which one of the two versions I can use "for free" because I will lose it at the end of the fight anyway. Either temporary cards should have a keyword added to them to identify them as such, or their card back should look different, or something along those lines.

- "Improvise" tooltip says "Choose cards from a random pool to put into your hand". By default, the number of choices offered is 3 (this info should either appear on the tooltip or on card texts, btw), except when you improvise from your discard, when you can choose any card. This should be explicitly stated (e.g. "improvise ANY card from your discards")

- Some other minor things (will update if I remember anything else)

  • It's not clear whether "Igniting" a Toxic fume counts as playing it, and in particular whether it expends it or not.
  • "Destroy after N uses" in items card text is largely redundant now that we always have charges clearly indicated. Adding a tutorial for items would allow you to remove that line from their text, making them feel significantly less cramped.
  • The starting resolve of Arguments should be indicated in the tooltip of the card generating that argument.
  • Day shift / Night shift don't specify where the cards have to be to trigger. If it can be from anywhere (draw deck, hand, discard), it should specify so; if it's only from draw deck or hand, it should use the "Evoke" keyword. Conversely, Dangerous doesn't specify that it only triggers while it's in your hand. IIRC, it also doesn't trigger if drawn as part of your initial handsize, which seems like a bug to me.
  • Not a wording thing, but please make the animation for cards like "Size up" (i.e. cards that do things depending on what you draw) clearer. In particular, it goes so fast that it's impossible to tell what happened when cards with "replenish" are involved; you don't know which of the new cards you suddenly have in your hand interacted with Size up, and which ones were drawn "normally" because of replenish.


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