I don't know how many people who have commented so far have actually played Warhammer Online, but this seems to be fairly well tied in (not that they couldn't break away). The set-up that FFG is describing is exactly how the MMO works: Empire, High Elves, and Dwarves vs. Chaos, Dark Elves, and Orcs. I'm guessing that they will tie in to the MMO which I feel will definitely be a positive.
I noticed this too -- even some of the art appears to be WAR concept art, particularly the capital cities. I'm sure the intention is to build a game that the MMO players will want to pick up, in addition to the requisite fans of the IP itself. And I'm not ashamed to admit that in my case, it's already working.
Yeah, I had the same reaction with the WoW minis, and before that the City of Heroes CCG. Tying in to an IP is great, but when you can shadow the actual feel of the game, bring in what's familiar even if you have to change it, it really helps to bring home the experience. FFG did the same thing with both the WoW board games too.
But that's exactly my point, I agree that technically you could start anywhere, but where do you start? My own unfamiliarity with it combined with the fact that I usually trailblaze new games so my friends know what to buy means that it makes me hesitant to buy, as much as I love Cthulhu and Game of Thrones. Now say I've never really done a CCG or LCG and my playgroup is also all new; Other than just all deciding on a story to pick on, where do we start for chapter packs? I think one of the strong points to CCG's is when they do have a current play environment and that environment is easy to explain.
For example, though there is no symbol, it's fairly easy with just a bit of knowledge to know what is Magic Type 2 legal (well along with the gigantic list of errata, restrictions, and bannings usually). For L5R, it's extremely easy: if it's bugged, it's legal for that environment. The only tricky part is if you have old cards, knowing which have been reprinted and what the most recent printing (MRP) is.
I would love to see something similar in an LCG. Say the last 3 "story lines" or whatever you want to call them are legal. That means that the furthest you have to go back is a year (going along with monthly release x4 = story line x3 = 12 months = 1 year). While I imagine it would be easier for FFG to go back to press on Chapter packs, it's still hard to tell exactly when something's going to sell like hot cakes and be hard to find. Along those same lines, I imagine it's hard to know when going back to press will be profitable. Going back more than a year is usually the painful point in most CCG's, both price-wise and even just trying to find the stuff.
Obviously the big sets like the base set stay until the new one comes out. This may seem like superfluous, but what I'm looking at is not the price of maintaining, which is very modest even if you want a playset of everything. I'm looking at buying into the game 6 months to 2 to 3 years later.
Say you introduce a friend to the game 2 years down the line, he loves it and wants all possible build options. Just for one year, a complete playset of everything would cost you $360 (assuming the current 3x per card in a deck, allowing multiple unique cards, and current chapter pack setup). Now I've dropped more than that on base sets of some CCG's, so it's definitely more economical.
Let's go with a more realistic 1 per chapter pack and only needing half of them. For two years, you're still looking at $120, but for one year you either get one of each or 2 of half of the chapter packs for the same amount. Adding in the base set (assuming once again that the price point is the same), you're looking at $160 to buy in potentially at a tourney level a year in the game. You have to drop $160 for most ccg expansions if you want to make sure you're going to have the playset of what you need.
My own impressions from playing CCG's are that it's also best if you have a regular cycling out of cards. It's nice to have a familiar game that has an entirely new environment to it, and I imagine this would be much easier to keep up with in an LCG for players. And of course you can always have legacy formats.
Wow this kind of went off the rails, but I still feel that it stays on topic enough. I wish everything would go to an LCG format, it would let me buy more FFG boardgames! ^^ Seriously though, I think if they just added some kind of stated cycle and/or bug for legality this would be my favorite style of game: regular infusions of new option, both more frequently and non-randomly. It also definitely helps to at least build interest in those turned off by collectibles (read: just about everyone). I think the only thing that keeps the current collectible games alive is just brand recognition, longevity, and/or strength of the game itself.
The only other thing I might suggest is making uniques actually one per deck. For those casually playing it means there is a flat $10/month to keep up to date, and for people like me who make multiple decks it still ranges from $10-$30. Just guessing, but I'd honestly be surprised if this changed how the chapter packs are currently purchased. I could be wrong though...
As far as the chaos vs. chaos, I think they'd have to allow it unless they make it like the old Star Wars CCG, where you actually HAD to have 2 different decks, which seems to go against everything we've seen.
*Edit: cut out a lot of the quote