This article originally appeared as a guest feature on continue-play.com
What if a card game like Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone had no luck? Would it be playable? Exciting? Balanced? Skill-testing? When I ask people this question, most of them seem to think that it would introduce a huge number of problems, crippling the experience for players. But I’m here to make a bold counter-claim: If done right, removing randomness can actually make a card game better.
My justification for this statement is effectively a case in point. For many years, I’ve been working on a game called Prismata with a group of friends from MIT. Prismata is, effectively, an online competitive card game without randomness—a seemingly impossible game that shouldn’t exist. In reality, Prismata borrows a lot of ideas from real-time strategy games and tabletop board games to make the concept work. However, blending these ideas in a usable way was no simple task; Prismata required years of testing and iteration, and the entire project was scrapped and restarted from scratch over a dozen times.