Why you don't need PokerStars Power Up card balance
A lot of people that give feedback for PokerStars Power Up often find problems with the unbalanced nature of the power cards themselves. What I want to discuss in today's article is whether these cards actually need to be balanced in the first place.
Firstly, let's look at some unbalanced power cards
The most obvious under powered card would be Clone. At the cost of 2 points, once Clone is used, you still have to pay the full point cost for the card you've cloned. Clone can be a good card, but only in very specific situation (example: Engineer and Clone combo in the late game is quite nice), which most of the time makes it feels like a dead weight in your hand.
On the opposite side of the spectrum - having a card like X-ray with the same point cost is of great help, as it is useful in many different scenarios. It is clearly better in the vast majority of occasions, to hold X-ray over Clone at the start of a new hand. The 2 are therefore unbalanced.
So, do power cards need to be balanced?
In poker we are dealt hands of a huge variety of hand strengths from AA-72o. The best players maximize their expected value with all hands along this spectrum so that they do better than their opponents in the long run, which hopefully after rake, translates into profit. As far as I can see, there is no reason why the same principle cannot be applied to the power cards. There is clearly a skill element currently going on in the game of essentially burning power cards for more useful ones or to get a better combination. The players, who are better at recognizing when to do this, will fare better in the long run than those who do not. This is great because it means the developers can pump out new power cards and don't have to worry too much about how under/over powered they are.
Right now in terms of power to points I would say that Intel is the strongest card per power points over most stack depths and Clone the worst. These are great baselines to create new power cards from. As long as they follow a similar spectrum strength as AA-72o, where any card has a chance of beating the best, then the game will still be a tactical game of incomplete information and, at it's core, still poker.
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