This applies to every kind of game as balance is worth having in every medium. Yes, balance again.
Once your new game gets into the public domain the gaming masses will do their level best to break and exploit it. You can be sure of that. If there are loopholes, they will be found. In an ideal world, the relative power of different sides would be as you intended it: generally equal. However, a number of things get in the way of that aim.
What came home to me earlier this year when I was working on a new tabletop fantasy game, was that a fair part of this was in my hands to control. I’m not talking about the maths here, but the mindset with which I set out on the task.
I was making a new game with 10 different armies. Each army needed to be balanced against the others, yet all needed to be distinct and characterful with a unique “feel” (incidentally, I don’t see the point in duplicating armies within a set – might as well do a better job of less if you can’t think of new ones).
Anyway, it struck me that part of the problem with overly powerful (“broken”) armies I’ve encountered in the past has been that they tend to be developed by passionate fans. Now there’s nothing wrong with having favourites normally, but when it comes to taking a professional stance and developing a commercial product perhaps you need to behave differently. To this end I deliberately spent a great deal of time focussing on each of the armies in turn, getting into their character and defining for myself what was cool and exciting about each in turn. Learning to love each in turn, foibles and all. All of them are my favourite, in a way. On a professional level, I think this has helped me to write a game that has a great deal of character and variety, but which remains balanced. Sure, some armies have a steeper learning curve than others and certain combinations test your skills more than others, but there are no armies I wouldn’t happily put on the tabletop and think I had a fair chance of winning with.
On a personal note there is a down side. As I love them all in equal measure, I can’t now decide which one I want to collect first. I want them all 🙂