This morning I was looking over some of the card powers I’d come up with for Norvendae, and while working on a “defender” keyword power, I started to wonder about the redundancy in my wording of certain powers. Part of making the game playable is making it easy to understand, and the more consistent the wording of the game’s effects, the easier they are to interpret. Straightforward, right?

Here are some power iterations I went through:

v.1: Defender (While reserved, block all powers that target this card.)

v.2: Defender (While reserved, this card can’t be the target of opponents’ powers.)

v.3: Defend n (While reserved, block the first +n powers that target this card. Refreshes at the start of your turn.)

v.4: Defend n (Quick; each turn while reserved, you may block up to +n powers that target this card.)

The first version of the card power, as written, “blocks” everything that targets the card, even potentially beneficial powers. This resembles the Shroud keyword ability from Magic: the Gathering, in that it makes the card unable to be targeted while in the Reserves. “Blocks” is another term that would need defining, though, in order to understand this power, and there’s potential for powers to be “unblockable.”

The second version of this power resembles the Hexproof keyword ability from the most recent edition of Magic. It’s probably the most powerful version of this power on the list, there, simply because it prevents the card from being targeted by anything the moment it enters the Reserves. Its reserving player and allies can still target it with powers, but those powers are more than likely to be beneficial.

The third iteration of this card power reads more like a Dungeons & Dragons ability, and brings back the “block” term, but also introduces the concepts of “first power” and “refreshes.” There are three different rules on this card, and all of them would need to be defined before the card power could be utilized properly.

The fourth iteration of this card power reads even more like a Dungeons & Dragons ability, including the timing and usage. It gives the player more choice in its application (it doesn’t denote “first power that targets,” so it can be used whenever) but can only be used on an opponent’s turn because it’s a reaction (“Quick”). It has the advantage of allowing good powers through, but can only block one power per opponent’s turn.

Now, from a design perspective and from a roleplaying perspective, I prefer keywords that can be “leveled up,” like the third and fourth versions of this power. I like fewer restrictions to the use of powers, therefore the fourth version of the power appeals to me more than the third, even if I can only use it as a reaction.

For the simplicity of a card game, though, and to better function in accordance with some of the other powers I’ve devised (like attachment, for instance), the first two versions of this power make much better keywords, since they’re more absolute in their usage. I think they’re interpreted more easily, and are therefore better.