So back in March I wrote up an article talking about different aspects of the game that I thought could use improving. One of those aspects was a better defined Color Wheel to help balance the different Styles of the game more concretely. At the time, many readers seemed interested to know what I had to say about the Color Wheel, and what that could mean. I knew that topic would be a pretty daunting task to cover, so I decided to put it off for a while to gather my thoughts on the matter.
Well, since I’ve been rather absent of late on the blog, I thought now would be the perfect time to sit down and try to put into words my thoughts for what the Color Wheel could mean for this game (and really any game). There’s a lot to consider with something as important as this, as it establishes the baseline for each Style in the game, so it would be far too much to talk about in a single article.
Today’s article is going to discuss the concept of the Color Wheel in general, why it matters, and what it can help with during set design.
What is The Color Wheel?
To start, we should go over what this concept really means at its core.
The idea of the Color Wheel is a notion borrowed from Magic the Gathering’s “Color Pie”. In Magic, the Color Pie was established to represent each of the 5 colors in the game and how those colors interact with each other. Each different color is based on unique principles. Each color is placed in a particular spot on the Color Pie so that they are surrounded on each side by their “allied colors” or those which share similar beliefs, and across from their “enemy colors” or those which contradict their beliefs.
For example, the color White in Magic represents ideas like Law and Justice. Its allies are Blue (the color of Order and Logic) and Green (the color of Community and Harmony). White’s enemy colors are Black (the color of Selfishness and Greed) and Red (the color of Chaos and Emotion). Because these basic guidelines exist in the game, we have a clear idea on what to expect from each color in the game, and we are given a logical path to follow when it comes to our potential deck design. With Magic, a great starting point is to focus on Allied colors when building your first few decks, as these pairings tend to be more powerful than playing a single color, they give you options for playing multi-colored cards in your deck, and they likely have a similar path to victory with each other.
So from this system, we can learn how to create balance within any game that uses some sort of category to separate our different options. While DBZ does not allow for playing multiple colors in the same deck like Magic does, what an established Color Wheel can do for the game is inform its players on what to expect when looking at a Style, and to understand its strengths and weaknesses.
Why Does Having a Color Wheel Matter?
One of the biggest hurdles when creating a game is trying to present your players with a variety of options that are both unique and interesting. How do you create this uniqueness? With an established set of restrictions.
DBZ has a great thing going for it. The game is based around MPs and Masteries. Each Mastery represents one of the 6 Styles in the game, and presents its own unique spin on what that Style can do. Each player can only have one Mastery per deck, and because of this, must only use that Style of cards to construct their deck.
Immediately we see a divide for the game, and one of the major choices a player must decide on whenever they wish to build a deck. “What Style should I choose?” Because this is such a big decision, we have to make each choice an interesting one for the player. If each Style functions the same, than its no longer a matter of individual expression, but just the min-maxing of effect-to-cost in order to achieve victory.
Which game sounds more appealing to you? The one that allows you to freely express yourself to show what you are capable of achieving through creative thought, careful planning and quick decision-making; or the one where players have identical tools and the outcome is based solely on luck of the draw? Personally, I know which one I’d choose!
Because of this, it’s no surprise that each Style in the game focuses on different aspects. Some care more about Drills, while others care about anger, or Rejuvenation, or Allies. By giving players the ability to identify with the Style that best speaks to their interest, we give each player the opportunity to craft their own unique experience with the game.
How Does the Color Wheel Work?
The next article will cover this section in greater detail, but for now, the basics for how the Color Wheel works is that it divides each different aspect or effect in the game and tries to decide the best place to use them.
Back in my original article from March, I presented the idea of the 4 categories for effects: “Always Can”, “Sometime Can”, “Rarely Can” and “Never Can”. For each Style, we look at an ability or effect and decided which of these categories to place it in. Obviously, you might feel biased to place each effect into the “Always Can” category for your favorite style! But because a game is at its strongest when tough decision must be made, we want to keep each Style feeling distinct.
This is where the Color Wheel comes into use. By placing each Style onto the Wheel in a particular order, we can see where these effects can be best used, and how they can effect the Styles next to them.
Let’s use the example of Destroying Drills. Here we have an effect that could very well be useful for each Style to have access to. However, if we give it freely to each Style, all we really have done is told our players “Don’t play drills!” So what do we do? Well we use the Color Wheel!
Let’s say, for the sake of this example, that the Color Wheel is set up in the following way:
We can see here that there are clear guidelines to what Styles share similar ideas with the others around them, which ones share weaker similarities, and which Styles sits on the opposite end of the Wheel, completely opposing the Style across from it.
For our “Destroying Drills” example, let’s place the ability primarily in Saiyan (the bright Green wedge). Our logic here is that Saiyan is about fast-paced action; little planning with all its focus based on the battle itself. Since this means that Saiyan likely won’t have many Drills of its own in play, it makes sense that it would be opposed to giving its opponent the ability to capitalize on them.
So assuming this, we can safely say that Saiyan is firmly in the “Always Can” category for destroying drills. So then, using our 4 different categories, and the ideas that we’ve learn so far, we can further assume that since Namekian and Red are touching the Saiyan wedge they will fall into the “Sometimes Can” category. It might not be their major concern, like it is with Saiyan, but they have a good idea that keeping things off the board means less options for their opponent. Moving on, we see that Blue and Black are next to those, which would place them in the “Rarely Can” category for our example. Since these Styles often rely on Drills themselves, they can see the benefits of keeping them around, so they will keep their eyes open for particularly power drills to remover, but will think less about removing their opponent’s drills and more on the parts of the game that really concern them. Finally, since Orange is across from Saiyan for our example, they would fall into the “Never Can” category. Again, this makes sense, Orange is the style that focuses on Drills completely. It understands that drills are a vital part of the game, but also knows that its drills are far superior to any other styles. Because of this, its likely that Orange would care less about what its opponent’s drills are capable of, and more about keeping its drills safe and in play for as long as possible.
The Wheel of Fate is Turning…
So that brings us to the end of this part of the series.
Hopefully this has established a good baseline for why having something like the Color Wheel is important and what it can do for the game. The next article in the series will dive deeper into the actual construction of the Color Wheel, what placement can do to a Style’s identity, and what can be done to help strengthen each Style’s “Never Can” issues.
Until next time, FanZ Warriors!