Triggered Effects, Part 2

The Story So Far…

Triggered card effects all fit under a general “when TRIGGER occurs, do EVENT” template. They can make a card situationally powerful.  They can give cardsets a mechanical theme.  They can create opportunities for counterplay.

Part one of this series identified six categories of trigger–Entrance, Tap/Untap, Exit, Acquisition, Revelation, and Damage to the Card.  I also pointed out that any of these effects could use the opponent as the trigger rather than the card holder.

I also challenged readers to identify any triggers I missed.


My Awesome Readers

Several astute readers took on my challenge, identified missing triggers, and shared them in the comments section.

ConspiratorJacob Titus Sanders pointed out that while I had discussed damage dealt to a card, I had completely overlooked damage dealt by the card.

studio228 suggested critical mass effects of the form “if you have 6 or more cards in your graveyard…,” or “if you’ve played three or more actions this turn…,” or  “if either player deals 12 damage in a single turn…”

Readers Rob and willbanalog pointed to resolution mechanisms–the “stack” for triggered effects found in M:tG and the immediacy of triggered effects in Marvel Dice Masters.

Regular reader, frequent contributor, and all-around spiffy dude Carl Klutzke remarked that triggered effects could be used to clean up otherwise wordy card effects.  Carl, we’d love to see a few specific examples from you.

Granite OniCarl also noticed that I’d completely omitted start/end of turn effects which is tragic when you consider how frequently such effects appear in the Sentinels of the Multiverse card game.  Reflecting on such effects, I might still leave them off the list however.  So many games which include start/end of turn that phases are commonly reserved for just this purpose whereas what I was hoping to address in this series are effects which are not so evident.  Of course, I did include tap/untap so maybe start/end of turn should be these as well.  there’s certainly something there to think about…


Approaching Effects

Triggered card effects fit under the “when TRIGGER occurs, do EVENT” umbrella.  Having taken a revised look at the variety of triggers that exist, we now begin a take on the other half–effects.


Victory Points

Many games keep score with victory points of one kind or another.  The simplest and most obvious effects then would say things like

“…gain 3VP.”

“…all opponents lose 2 VP.”

“…all opponents must give you 1 VP.”



If your game has an economic element in which items must be bought or sole, currency is another obvious effect.  Overt currency effects tend to say things like

“…you have 5 extra silvers this turn.”

“…each opponent must give you 1 coin.”

“…all your Shekels count double this turn.”



Venerable MonkMost Constructed Deck Games (CDGs) are dedicated to survival.  Players of these games generally think highly of any mechanism which extend life.  Because some CDGs use the deck itself as a measure of life while others track life separately and the daddy of them all M:tG does both, these effects may be overt or covert and say things like

“…gain 2 life.”

“…all opponents lose 1 life.”

“…target opponent loses X life and you gain X life.”

“…shuffle your discard pile into your deck.”



warehouseFor many card games, the cards are a currency in and of themselves.  Gaining or losing cards can then be quite important.  Effects of this type might read like

“…draw a card.”

“…all opponents must discard a card.”

“…all opponents must discard the top card of their deck.”

“…draw a card at random from each opponent’s hand and add it to your own.”


Additional Cardplay

Sometimes it is not so much how many cards you have but how many cards you can play.  In these games, players would be quite enthusiastic about effects which give the opportunity to play more cards.  Cardplay effects read like

“…+1 Action.”

“…gain 3 green mana.”

These are the first five card effect categories in our look at the “when TRIGGER occurs, do EVENT” formula.  Next time, we go after the rest.  See you Monday!

What effects did I leave out?  If so, what were they?  What game triggers do you find most interesting?  What made you like it so much?  What game triggers do you dislike?  What keeps it from being more enjoyable?   Share with your fellow readers in the comments below.  And if you’re enjoying what you’re reading, create an account with WordPress and follow this blog.  You keep reading. I’ll keep writing.