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What do you think of the game's accessibility?


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#1 richsabre

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 01:23 PM

i know this is a controversial debate, but im interested in other's thoughts on this (sorry for the long post, but try and stay with me ;) )

 

so this is an lcg, and as i understand, the living card game format allows players to buy as what packs they like, in pretty much any order, with no 'random' aspect unlike ccgs.

 

in another thread i was writing about how difficult it is to get the balance between challenge for old gamers and accessibility for new players and that got me thinking-

 

do you think this game is accessible to new gamers? at what point in the game would you say 'no, do not buy these packs until you have these other ones'? .....can any game ever be both fully accessible whilst still posing a challenge for old gamers?

 

my personal thoughts on this are that no game can ever achieve this balance without resorting to some sort of logical chronological order- ie. black riders is harder than hiers of numenor which is harder than khazad dum.

 

becauase of the card pool's inevitable power increase over time the quests must therefore increase to pose any sort of challenge, however this in itself means that the game automatically loses some of its accessiblity - the higher you go the less able newcomers are to buy them without resorting to following the chronological line i spoke about before

 

of course this means nothing if players are happy to buy quests they will find very difficult. however i think that the majority of the player base would agree that most new players will neither have the ability to win later quests with a core-set card pool, or want to keep losing until they have bought more packs- hence the advice i always give- go in order!

 

i dont particularly see a problem with this. in my eyes this game should, in general, be played in order. in this i mean more 'cycle by cycle' rather than 'pack by pack'. the idea of increase in difficulty is only really visible as cycles increase, not individual packs.

 

in addition to the above, i pose the question - what would you rather have?

 

1. the game follow a chronological, steady difficulty increase as the cycles progress, with varying difficulty within each cycle, therefore new players usually need to buy older packs first

2. the cycles vary in difficulty, allowing new players to skip much of the previous card pool and buy later cycles

 

i see good and bad in each.

 

the first option allows a natural way to challenge current gamers, whilst new players naturally buy the packs mostly in order. ..however is this breaking the lcg format? which is a higher priority- attracting new gamers or keeping the ones you have?

 

the second option allows new players to access the game anywhere and ffg may end up attracting more new players. the older gamers may end up tiring of the easier cycles.

 

personally i would rather go for 1- the steady increase, but thats only becuase i have played from the release and have all the packs. then again, i also like easier quests i can take theme decks against, so option 2 has its attractions as well...is an inbetween possible :)?

 

i would be interested to hear new gamer's thoughts

 

so, as at the start of the post, i think it comes to a balance between prioritising attracting new players, and keeping the current player base happy with new releases.

 

thoughts?

rich

PS- completely forgot to say in the post that i actually think ffg are doing a great job of balancing the quest's difficulty increase with the card's power increase


Edited by richsabre, 20 October 2013 - 05:01 PM.

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#2 GrandSpleen

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 03:15 PM

This is my first (and still, my only) card game, so I can't compare it to others.  But I'll say I'm happy with the way FFG seems to be considering new players as well as veterans like -- with just a Core, one could buy the Heirs of Numenor + Steward's Fear to make a very viable deck type (Outlands -- don't really need  Heirs, but can't play the SF quest without it).  Same goes for the Hobbit boxes and making a Dwarf deck, or the Black Riders and Hobbits.  Some of the quests are still going to be pretty hard with just the Core plus the pack you need to build a good deck, but doable.

 

Personally I like having the quests vary in difficulty from pack to pack rather than simply get harder all the time.  That would lead to insane power creep in terms of the player cards they would need to release.  I think they have done a good job thus far avoiding that trap-- Core and Mirkwood cards are still relevant, and even if some have become more or less obsolete, they still have a place in certain deck types (like Gleowine).



#3 richsabre

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 03:33 PM

thanks for the thoughts grandspleen. i also think ffg have done an excellent job of the balance (forgot to say that in my initial post). i can still lose mirkwood quests. i think one of the most balanced quests that has kept its bite is journey down the anduin, ironically the 2nd of all quests.

 

perhaps i am also underestimating the packs such as stewards fear, giving you an outlands deck right from the pack....these are a great way to help get the balance right (however personally i didnt like a pack centered on one faction...but more for personal reasons (i like my releases drawn out :) ))

 

rich


Edited by richsabre, 20 October 2013 - 03:39 PM.

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#4 camacazio

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 04:32 PM

I agree with grandspleen completely. FFG even does things like, for example, include the envoy in HoN. If all you have is core and HoN, you have a great card to help with multisphere decks. It doesn't entirely replace songs, but definitely doesn't leave you feeling like you need to go back to buy quests that may or may not be fun just for a player card. They really seem to put a lot of effort into making the deluxe expansion quests and card pools in a way that assumes all you have is the core set up to that point. Fun for everyone.

 

I like that they seem to do #2, and do #2 very well, and it makes it accessible. Going in order is not necessary.



#5 richsabre

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 04:44 PM

thanks for the thoughts camacazio. in addition to what you said ffg also do things like easy mode and nightmare mode which further makes packs accessible.

 

on the note of the songs, they have to be 4 of the cards i would chose as reasons to buy the mirkwood packs, especially for a solo player. however you are correct in that there are alernative ways..errand rider like you said, and also narvis belt and good harvest

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#6 Nickpes

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 10:29 PM

I too agree with GrandSpleen. 

 

Going in order is not necessary if you do not want too. What I believe is that having a deluxe box and then follow its AP (not in their release order),  makes the game fully playable.

 

So I believe that the key are the deluxe expansions, followed by their AP in any order. I do not believe that player needs to get the deluxe box in their chronological order though


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#7 DarthJalapeno

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 11:48 PM

2.

 

I feel like a sucker already with the existing difficulties. (Playing two-player-games.)



#8 Cunir

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 02:33 AM

maybe they could put together another core set.

when the next cycle comes up, instead of doing a 'little' expansion box like they normally do, maybe they could do a big core set instead (which would also kick off the next cycle), complete with loads of cards and counters and threat dials. a lot of the long time players will be happy to have the extra counters and dials anyway, and for all the newbies it will be alternative starting point for them, so they dont have to buy the original core set 

 

that means they can start off with a better hand of cards, because a lot of the cards in the old core set seem a little underpowered now.

maybe FFG could also use it as an opportunity to include the cards that were "missing" from the old set, to bring them up to the right number. so then the newbies would have the best of both worlds -- they'd be getting mainly new cards, plus some of the good original cards like feint, a test of will, quick strike, sneak attack, steward of gondor and unexpected courage. that would make it worth buying even for the longtime players

 

... and they could also include an updated rulebook too, complete with all the FAQs! that would make it worth buying too


Edited by Cunir, 21 October 2013 - 02:35 AM.


#9 richsabre

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 07:22 AM

thanks for all the thoughts. Cunir that is an excellent idea.....something for everyone in that idea. and i imagine it would only cost at most £10 more than a deluxe pack (which would be worth it)....of course the main problem is that a lot of older players would not be willing to spend more money (and on a pack they need in order to play the next cycle / collect all the packs) for a pack with core copies in / threat trackers....i especially see this being problematic for those who have already bought extra core sets.

 

i have an extra core set and am pleased i bought it. however if the hypothetical 'new' core set had the cards we only got 1 copy of per core set i would buy it. i suppose i would buy it anyways for completion.

 

again, i see it as a balance even within that pack. when i first wrote the post last night i was thinking more #1, however looking at the difficulty of the current packs i am pretty satisfied, and at the moment i see ffg sort of doing a mixture of #1 and #2. there is an overall increase in the entire game order, however every cycle has consistent easier quests. i think if this is kept as it is, then this is the best balance

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#10 Olorin93

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 09:27 AM

HoN is much tougher than the previous packs - I'm pretty sure I couldn't have beaten it without cards from Shadows of Mirkwood and Dwarrowdelf. On the other hand, Outlands seem pretty powerful when they work together, so - if new players are willing to play Outlands, I'd say they could beat HoN. I haven't read much about TBR, but it seems really exciting!



#11 richsabre

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 09:30 AM

HoN is much tougher than the previous packs - I'm pretty sure I couldn't have beaten it without cards from Shadows of Mirkwood and Dwarrowdelf. On the other hand, Outlands seem pretty powerful when they work together, so - if new players are willing to play Outlands, I'd say they could beat HoN. I haven't read much about TBR, but it seems really exciting!

i wont spoil anything of black rider for you, but it does follow the pattern of increasing difficulty. there are some very unique situations come up that no previous packs have

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#12 camacazio

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 10:01 AM

Black rider, though it doesn't give a whole lot for multisphere, did a great job with the Hobbitses. My friend picked up a core set and black rider, and I was surprised to find that his Hobbit deck was definitely the key to victory with just that card pool (though also, the dagger on my Dunhere is pretty nice). Similarly I feel like HoN quests require someone to have Beregond, but lo; they give you everything you need to make him really effective and then more in the very first pack beyond it. You sometimes just have to make a specialized deck to tackle a set of quests, but I've always liked this deck building crap so I see that as a strength.



#13 koriakin97

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 12:56 PM

Black Riders include enough cards to play hobbit deck, but it might be hard to play with 2 or 3 players-there are hardly enough cards and none of us enjoys using power of the earth. So playing HoN or BR multiplayer needs different expansions, but you don't need all of them-if you have HoN and its cycle you can build strong enough decks for 3 players to beat most of its quests.

#14 spalanzani

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 03:21 AM

I think that FFG actually started this game with option 1 in mind, but then realised it would perhaps be a mistake so went to option 2 with HoN. My rationale being that Dwarrowdelf quests are generally more difficult than Mirkwood ones, and Shadow ones have reverted to a more accessible level. I was going to say easy, but that would be perhaps clouding the issue.

Of course, the relative ease of Mirkwood may be explained by the game's then-newness, with Dwarrowdelf having more to build on etc. FFG have said (somewhere) the Shadow quests are intended as a jumping-in point for new players, so perhaps this indicates that the Ringmaker quests will be correspondingly more difficult, as Dwarrowdelf is to Mirkwood. Time will tell on that, I suppose.

I would like to see a more inclusive approach remain with future cycles, though. Rather than end up with cycle 7 being torture and playable exclusively by veterans who own everything including three core sets, I would like to see the six packs have a varying difficulty, with story/adventure quests taking equal place with the more beat-em-up quests we get. Keeping that sort of pace would be inclusive for new players, and if they can get nightmare mode out more regularly that would perhaps mitigate any glaurung-esque feelings (sorry, glaurung!)

That, though, might cause folks to feel a bit cheated by having to buy two products to play how they want. Hm. Well, how about instead they move to a distribution of the deluxe box having 2 quests but more player cards, then the packs having less player cards but more encounter cards to allow for their removal in easy mode...

I'm just thinking aloud now, anyway...

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#15 richsabre

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 06:22 AM

thanks for the thoughts spalanzani. i agree on the point that using nightmare mode as a 'difficult' level in itself would feel like those who need a challenge need to buy them

 

i think that a good idea is scaleable difficulty. i see many people saying assault on osgilliath is too easy, however i feel (and posted a thread about it) that this is a quest that has scaleable difficulty where you can pick you starting cards. want it easy go far the west gate (or is it east?) and the phalanx. want it hard....go for a immune location and the haradrim leader! :)

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#16 Cunir

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 01:57 PM

i think for future cycles they might make them all reasonably hard, but also include "easy mode" instructions in the box so useless people (like me) can take cards out and make it a bit easier. that way they can try to please everyone at once.



#17 faith_star83

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 04:08 AM

Actually this is an interesting question...and hints imo at a dangerous weakness of FFGs effort to drive sales globally. What I am trying to say is that there should not even exist a thread like this. Instead it should be clear to every single player of this game how to proceed when faced with continued purchases of lotr lcg product.

 

Also for new players there should be an offical "path" made visible by ffg showing how to gradually imerse in this new gameplay experience. I am not sure if ffg even has a strategy when it comes to future development and new player acquisition, but I think introducing new features such as easy/nightmare mode and campaign mode are good examples.

 

Also there should be a small pamphlet introducing these features and the various ways on how to get the most "bang for the buck" when buying additional sets to the core set included in every core set. And it should be updated with every new print cycle. People don't buy when they're hesitating. Plus, the sales personal at the Game Stores should be informed as well and able to help. And know about exact dates for future releases so new players know what they can expect.

 

The sheer number of threads like "Where to start" / "What to buy first" shows that ffg can probably drive sales significantly by adressing these issues. Newsletters, official guides and such are not so expensive (i.e. don't take up that much work time) to produce and can make a huge difference. Also supply/stock is crucial. Around here it is impossible to get anything from the Mirkwood/Dwarrowdelf cycles...for close to a year now! Nowadays there are so many other games / dsitractions coming out constantly that people will quickly change to other things when they 1) don't know what to buy next or 2) cannot buy what they want next.

 

As is right now, the game becomes less accessible by the month for new players and a lot of acquisition potential is lost. It mainly caters to hardcore players who already know/own the game or are lotr/lcg fans willing enough to get active and spend considerable time on research before purchase.



#18 richsabre

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 06:48 AM

thanks for the thoughts faith star,

 

you make an interesting point about 'where to start' leaflets and so on. i think they would be a great idea, and im sure there are players here who would gladly help ffg out on that (i certainly would).

 

also an idea i had a few months ago, and one others have also had, is to 'sticky' the important threads at the top. that way we have a first port of call for newcomers

 

i also asked if the forum would be interested in an 'introduce yourself section' and given only one person replied i take that as a no :)

 

i still think it is a good idea though

rich


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#19 GrandSpleen

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 08:55 PM

Well I'm sure if you start one, rich, people will post!  It is very much a 'Field of Dreams' situation...



#20 richsabre

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 03:32 AM

Well I'm sure if you start one, rich, people will post!  It is very much a 'Field of Dreams' situation...

i suppose so :) i did have one a year or so back so may revive that when the forum seems to have a surge of posters

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