There's a very good chance I've just gone crazy. In fact, it hit me so hard I had to come here and write a blog about it.
I played my FIRST Praxis game ever with someone last night. The upside was that nothing broke, the downside was that I don't think my model worked. For a number of reasons, but I think I'm just going to rattle off my thoughts about the game we played.
#1 It was VERY apparent I didn't balance well at all. Praxis is kind of hard to balance at the moment, one in part because I have both a cost and a deployment timer (which says how many turns your unit is "inactive" before it's summoned). Originally I thought this was a benefit that allowed me to "fine tune" in cards, but in reality it's actually quite detrimental because I'm having trouble wrapping my head around how much an extra turn before you deploy costs. You can't scale it because a 5R 2DT unit would be super high in stats (which i'll get to in a minute why that's bad), and it can't be additive because a 1R 2DT unit gets bumped up very quickly. Right now I just changed it so that you add R+DT and from a lookup table that's the points allocation as a guideline. Hopefully this works out better.
#2 The attacker and defender's asymmetric goals make DT's a nightmare. An attacker, theoretically, wants its biggest and baddest units (AKA 5R 2DT) and it's worth it to wait for them, because full lane control isn't as important as getting damage through one. Every time a unit dies, the lane is "open" while the new unit replacing it waits for it's DT to click down (which is a turn-free attack for 1DT). Conversely, a defender really would love a deck full of 0DT chump units, where he can guard every lane because his buildings upgrade by not being attacked (and thus his win condition is don't let the buildings get attacked). Both of these feed each other in an terrible feedback loop.
#3 Morale (which I want to rename to be less cliche) needs to be a commodity used to really change the game in your favor. It needs to always be important to gain, and spending it really needs to be scary. Not sure if I want to tie a win condition to it anymore.
#4 The advantage wasn't as fun as I was hoping, and it's effects were minimal. I wanted advantage to be a BIG DEAL to win. This might be dependent more on cards though, as going first never made a big deal in our game.
#5 My friend was totally overwhelmed. Part of it is because the game wasn't explained and the controls are a bit wonky with no good AI, but another part is there's just a lot to digest. you're drawing tons of cards per turn, there's buildings and two rows of units and a distortion and everything going on.
Overall, there's just a lot to digest. I wanted every turn of Praxis to be like a BIG deal in terms of the game progression. I wanted the strategic planning, and a battle in itself during the attack, the dust clears and you go "ok jesus, now what's my plan?" or "yes! that worked!!". There's no windup, no stalling. We hit it hard, and we hit it fast.
SOMETHING needs to change. I think it's an issue with my win objectives. And DT's are already a bigger hindrance than help, although I might keep it at 1DT for 95% of cards and only state when it's not. I'm crazy enough to think about getting rid of the defender's units completely -- focus their energies on upgrading their buildings and setting up roadblocks. It's a stretch, but I think something drastic needs to be done. Need to sleep on it.