Summary: In the game of TCG, mana/resource are critical part of the game. Different TCG uses different mechanics. So how does Infinity Wars do?
What is resource?
I am 99.99% certain that anyone visit this site knows “mana” or “resource” but just for the completeness sake. Some of the cards in TCG are much stronger than the other, so if you have a choice, you’d rather cast/summon the stronger character. In order to avoid such in balance, each card has casting cost. So you have to spend your mana/resource to cast a character, spell/magic etc. Obviously, stronger the card, generally the cost is higher.
Because of this, in TCG managing resource is critical part of game play. In Magic the gathering, the resources are called “mana” and land card are used to represent mana. So just as other card, in Magic you cast a land (limited one per turn) and that’s how you build up your resource gradually as game progress.
Resource System in other games Pros & Cons
Mana screw/mana flood
With the approach Magic takes, there are potential of “mana screw” and “mana flood.” These terms refer to the conditions such that you got too few land cards in your hand or too many land cards in your hand. Obviously, people worked on the statistics to minimize such; however, due to pure luck, these condition still does occur even for pro players.
Simple sacrificial resource
Games like Shadow Era simplifies the mana system significantly. Rather than having dedicated “mana/resource” card, player can sacrifice any card at the beginning of the turn and that card is technically removed from the game and placed on the resource card pile. The number of cards in the resource card pile determines how many resource you have each turn.
This approach essentially takes away the issue of mana screw or mana flood as player can always place cards into resource each time if he/she so decides, and progressively increase resource.
This approach has its own issue, which is number of cards in your hand tends to go short really quickly. Because you are essentially using two cards every turn, but only drawing 1 card per turn. So generally speaking, players in Shadow Era always try to include card draw engine type of cards but even then, it is not too infrequent to see ones card go down to 1-2 at turn 4 or 5. This restrict potential game play due to hand restriction/shortage.
Furthermore, this approach essentially took away the mana specific card type itself i.e. lost one type of game play based on “land cards.” Magic even had a set dedicated to do fancy things with land such as land turns into creature etc.
Shards = Land + Sacrificial resource system
Personally, this is the best/biggest potential mana/resource implementation in TCGs I have seen so far. This system is used in the TCG called “Carte.” How this system work briefly is essentially mixture of the Magic’s extensibility i.e. dedicated resource type card, but with flexibility of sacrificial resource to avoid mana flood/screw. So you have resource card called Shard cards. When these cards are sacrified to build up resource, it triggers special effect. For instance, the most basic shard card allows you to draw a card. The net effect is you don’t lose your hand cards number. However if the event such as Mana screw (i.e. no Shard cards in hand) happens, you are not done or locked but instead you can sacrifice your creature instead to build up resource. The downside is you won’t get special effect from sacrificing it thus your hand goes down, but this is fair as you don’t have dedicated Shard card at that time.
So this implementation to me seems the best of both world. Because again, the existence of Shard card allows future expansions to build specific mechanics around Shard cards such as “Shard card allowing to create token creature etc.” But this existence of sacrifice non-shard card allows avoidance of mana screw obviously with a cost (losing a card from hand).
Resource system in Infinity Wars
With the long introduction above, which resource system does this upcoming TCG, Infinity Wars use? The answer is none of the above.
The system used by Infinity Wars is very simple. Each turn players get one more resource with cap of 10. There are ways to boost resource using character’s ability but no dedicated resource type card. Example of the resource boost character card (taken from official forum):
Wealthy Noble – 1
Atk – 1
HP – 1
At the start of your turn, if Wealthy Noble is deployed, you gain 1 extra resource.
Character – Human
It looks like the developers recognized the issue of mana flooding/screw in Magic the Gathering, which can potentially shun beginners of TCG. No decision making which card to sacrifice. No loss of hand due to resource building. Basically, this system allows players to cast many more spells, and characters as game is not resource bound. Generally speaking, players will feel they can spend more time focusing on actual play rather than resource/mana management.
Wishmour – resource card –
Remember “wishmour” is a combined term I came up with (wish + rumour) i.e. this is not even a prediction/speculation, but rather my wish and whether these things to be actually implemented on real game or not is at maximum the level of rumor.
In any event, I think Infinity Wars approach of non-resource bound resource system is not a bad idea. I would choose this approach over Shadow Era’s pure sacrificial system or even Magic’s land system. However, I still prefer flexibility and potential of Carte’s Shard system.
Given such robust system the Infinity Wars already have, I can only hope and wish that they would add “resource card system” in addition to existing system.
Here is an example how this can be implemented (in my opinion).
1. Only one resource card can be in play for each player. (Just like Location card)
2. Resource card deals with resource management.
3. Current resource system i.e. automatic +1 per turn with cap should not be changed.
*As this provides automatic resource management for beginners, and even for advanced players who are not focusing on resource management strategy.
Why resource card?
Adding another type of card rather than using existing mechanics (as in character, ability or perhaps location), there is potential for players to play more variety and gives a brag right to say, I got “resource deck.”
While books is in play, your resource maximum is decreased by 2 and you may draw a card from library at the beginning of each turn.
Comment: Idea here is basically, you have fortress/castle (which is what where the health point is really assigned to). The resources you have is decided to allocate to build a library within the fortress/castle, and in return you gain “fund of knowledge” which is also a resource. Name may confuse people with location card, but this does not represent geographic location and I’d rather not have these card take away potential use of location card.
(2) Fire Crystal
While fire crystal is in play, each turn you gain 2 extra resource which can only be used for Flame of Dawn cards.
Comment: Clearly, you can make this for every factions. Idea here is sort of like Ascension’s faction/affiliation specific resource boost. This acts similar to a location card “untapped wildeness.” But again this is “resource card” so should not interfere with location card. Plus, this is not as strong as the Untapped Wilderness as you only get -2 reduction only for the first card each turn.
While dearth is in play, all players decrease maximal available resource to the half.
Comment: Conceptually, the whole world now suddenly became scarce of resource. This card should be a good in “resource lock” deck or rush type deck as your deck runs with cheaper characters so by bounding yourself to low resource, you should still be fine; whereas, your opponent might not be so.
While Inflation is in play, all players maximal available resource is doubled.
Comment: Just the opposite of Dearth. This card does not increase resource instantaneously but simply increases the cap to 20 rather than 10.
(0) Igniting Crystal
Pay 1: You get 2 additional resources. This card will go to graveyard immediately after the use.
Comment: This is an example of short acting resource.
(2) Chest of Life
Pay X: At the beginning of next turn, add X/2 resources to your total resource for the turn. Decimal number is rounded down.
Comment: Again, conceptually you have just created a cash box in your castle or fortress which stores precious resource. This type of card can introduce counter card such as “thieve.” Unused resource the opponent is added to your resource at the beginning of next turn. The thieve only works for truly unused resources, so ones in the cashbox is something thieves cannot take away.
The resource system Infinity Wars currently have is very player friendly particularly for the TCG beginners. In fact, it may be the simplest resource management system out there. You can basically think as resource generation management is automatically taken care by the system. No compromise of number cards in hand as in Shadow Era’s sacrificial system. Players can enjoy and focus on the actual game play. So again, for beginners this is no doubt the best resource management system i.e. automatic.
However, for some oddballs like myself, or former Magic players who enjoyed playing with land cards as in Zendikar block, the current system may feel a bit restricted/less strategic at least in this aspect. Though given the degree of depth we have already see in the game of Infinity Wars, I actually have a hope that Lightmware developers may introduce something like “resource card” in the future. If not, I am certain at least they will do some clever ways to allow players to manipulate resources. Afterall, in the real world some wars are won because of resource management; hence, resource management is part of the battle tactics/strategy. (Chinese History)