Designing cards for any game will always be a matter of art more than science (or math), but the basic maths do help a lot.
I’ve crunched the printed Character cards (so this excludes the combiner forms) and produced a look at the general specs of the bot cards in the game. I hope to expand the data crunch to include some more intel on number of keywords/traits, be able to bust things down by those (What’s the average Dinbobot hit points? What’s the average Car-mode offense?) but this should give some idea on how bots can be designed and balanced.
One element factored into the spreadsheet is Rarity; while I realize with custom designs there’s no production to be concerned about, a designer working on a proper set will want to balance the whole set out and that includes the rarities; there will be far more commons than rares, so designing every card as a rare hurts some of the variety the game can showcase.
Caveat; the numbers here are guidelines and give a picture of what a bot looks like, they’re not hard-and-fast “plug me in” numbers precisely. Always balance what you want out of the character against and be wary of pushing the card’s values to the upper limits on all stats. If you have a beefy character, go light on the offense and heavier on hit points or defense. If you have a bruiser, lean on the attack, if you have a speedster go light on hit points (fragile) but give them a bit of a defense boost (they’re fast!!).
LOW value characters are typically “Heads” and are much weaker by comparison; 4-5 star characters are often the drones or “allied” cards for Metroplex and Tyrpticon though there are some in the wild.
As an example for everyone, lets walk through one of our earliest spoiled cards; “Dinobot Slash.”
I started with an idea that I wanted a smaller bot, both as a reflection of the character and the toy (who is much smaller than her compatriots) as well as to round out the Dinobot team; most of the other bots are BIG, star count wise and every other metric that matters.
As a raptor, small and fast, we wanted a lower star count as well, and a chassis to go with it. While we need to finalize specs, I pegged her around 5 stars then. We wanted her moderately powerful for her bracket, so tagging her as Uncommon gives us a bit more “oomph” to work with than a common bot.
For her overall Hit Points, I wanted to push her to the upper limit; it gives her a little more life on the board and makes decent synergy with Sludge, who’ll soak up damage counters for her as well. On Offense, we don’t want a powerhouse; she’s intended to be small, fast, utility, so we hewed closer to average for her bot stats: 2 Offense, 1 Defense. On the flip side, her sneaky raptor form we went a little heavier on the Offense, 3, for the “quick sharp attack.” Otherwise, Dinobot Slash is a fairly middle-of-the-road bot; we have moderate offense, average defense, and heavier hit points. This doesn’t ultimately account for abilities, such as keywords, activated abilities, and the traits/factions, however, all of which can shape how effective a character is.