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NR's future: Block Play? Ban/Limit Cards? What do YOU think?


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#1 Venthrac

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 09:15 AM

My wife and I have been playing Netrunner since we purchased it at GenCon last year. Since then, we've roped many of our friends into the game and now there's a small but active group that's been playing almost since the beginning here in Maryland. We've bought every expansion, in my case right when they come out, and have built many, many decks and tried many strategies.

 

When Honor and Profit was announced, we all scrutinized the cards and considered them. This led to a discussion wherein we compared our thoughts and mentioned some of our favorites thus far, but in each case, we admitted that, while some of the new cards looked interesting, few if any of them was going to replace what we consider to be some of our mainstay deck builds and strategies.

 

This has been the case all throughout the Spin Cycle, as well. With a few rare exceptions (Jackson Howard comes to mind), not many cards have been released that kicked out an existing card in a deck build. The runner decks, for example, all tend to use the same core set of icebreakers (generally Mimic, Yog, Gordian Blade, Corroder, maybe also a Femme and/or Ninja) supplemented by Datasuckers, the economy cards rarely deviate much from Sure Gambles & Kati Jones as the backbone. When people play criminals, they play Andromeda . When they play Anarchs, it's Noise, Kate for Shapers, and HB, Weyland and NBN are almost always using Engineering the Future, Building a Better World and Making News, respectively. We experiment sometimes with other builds and concepts, but when someone wants to win, we all know what kinds of deck archetypes that person is going to play and what cards we're going to see in it.

 

Now maybe we're just a boring, conservative group of Netrunner players, but reading the recent Plugged-In Tour reports would seem to suggest that we are not alone in how we view the game. My reaction was to say "Hey, look, everyone else is playing the same stuff we are." I wasn't surprised, but it was telling.

 

The upshot of all this, and the general feeling of the players in my local group, is that Netrunner would benefit from a Magic the Gathering-style card retirement concept, in which older sets are rotated out of competitive play in favor of occasional Core Set reprints that might exclude cards that seem like auto-adds because they're so good. I realize that will cause some pain for those with limited resources, but I would deem it worthwhile for the overall health and perpetuation of the game.

 

Another option would be to limit or ban cards outright, although I think in the latter case that's a bit extreme. This strategy has served FFG well in past LCGs, but as of this writing, we have yet to see a limited card list for Netrunner.

 

I'm sure this has been discussed previously, and I was hoping to gauge the wider community's thoughts on the future of the game and whether FFG should take any steps to address the strong trends that suggest certain cards are perhaps too good for their cost. Or, do folks generally feel like the game is in great shape, and the way forward is to simply continue offering cards that add more diversity and new options, without removing or limiting any existing cards?

 

I'm in a bit of a bubble in that I interact and discuss the game with a small group locally, but I rarely go to Netrunner forums and see what the online opinions and discussions look like. I'm genuinely curious to hear what you guys have to say.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read my rambling. Now it's your turn. What do you think the future of Netrunner should be?



#2 Grimwalker

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 10:37 AM

The first principle of the Living Card Game is that chunks of your collection aren't going to just "die." It's *not* designed to penalize people for having limited resources. A Game of Thrones has a Core set, six deluxe sets, and fifty-nine chapter packs and every one of them is legal for play.

To ensure deckbuilding innovation, some cards are put on a "Restricted" list. You can have a full playset of your restricted card, but your decklist can't have more than one title from the list. So, maybe we'll see a day when Andromeda is Restricted, and so it can't be in the same deck as Account Siphon. Maybe. Maaaaaaybe. The Restricted list is generally used to break up degenerate combos by making key pieces mutually exclusive, and we haven't seen something really dominate the meta just yet, not to the scale of "Martell Maesters" or "The Long Voyage."

 

I'm sure that when AGOT only had 1.5 pack cycles out and one deluxe set, that every faction had only one or two builds that were clearly dominant, with the same top-flight cards showing up over and over again.

 

Right now the card pool is too young to say what's really going to need to be reined in long term. We're coming out of a tournament season where really, most factions had 2 choices for identity, so it's no surprise that one of them is perceptively better than the other. Whizzard and Reina Roja builds are showing up more and more, the Professor is becoming quite impressive, and even Cerebral Imaging decks are starting to see play. Lots of new cards are boosting Replicating Perfection, and Weyland GRNDL cut a swath through players in the challenge decks.

 

I wouldn't go so far as to call anyone "boring and conservative," but there are a lot of people out there driven to innovate, and the good builds will be found.


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#3 frybender

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 11:11 AM

In my opinion this is the blessing and the curse of LCGs. For bertter or for worse they will never be MtG.

 

You're right that a lot of cards from the Core Set are very good (the breakers, data suckers, account siphons) in order for different cards to force them out of your deck there would have to be a power creep that I don't think anyone wants to see. However just having a core set of cards does not mean that the meta is not evolving. In the last year alone for the runners it went from Noise shop pre C&C, to Katman right after, to Andy account datasuckers. And just because one deck is dominating doesn't mean the other ones aren't capable of winning tournaments. In the plugged-in tour in the middle of all the Andys and Kates there was a Whizzard deck that won. For the corp it's even more diverse as there are a number of different deck archetypes form HB FA to Weyland Tag-n-Bag to NBN never advance and let's not forget that this year's Gencon winner was Jinteki. So I think it's pretty clear that all kinds of different decks are capable of winning tournaments. And just because a particular deck is more popular then another one doesn't mean that it is absolutely stronger.

 

As far as replacing cards I disagree with you that every data pack has to have all 20 new cards to replace my old deck. In every data pack to date there have always been 1 or 2 different cards that I have gladly made room for in my decks. They enhanced my deck without fundamentally changing it which is what I think it should do. Slowly evolve a deck. As far as H&P is concerned I guarantee you that most Jinteki decks are going to want Mushin No Shin and Plan B, and you can definitely build a deck around chairman Hiro. And this is obviously just the tip of the iceberg. So again I think FFG is doing a great job of giving us more cards to play with without any crazy power creep where you have to keep buying data packs in order to keep up.

 

So back to my original statement that LCGs will never become MtG. The whole design of MtG is around making money. And I don't mean to be cynical about it. That's just the way it's built and people who participate in it know it and anticipate it. The fact that MtG is such a cash cow is not a bad thing either. The more profitable it is the more it allows WotC (and SCG and other smaller stores) to make bigger prize pools which creates much greater competition, which creates a proffesional scene, which means more tournaments, more content and just a much greater scene in general. This will never be the case for LCGs. There will never be enough money in it to sustain a professional circuit. Forcing the player base to buy a new core set every year or two would not alleviate this problem. Because it would still not make it nearly profitable enough to sustain the type of community that MtG has and it would turn most people off who started playing LCGs to not have to spend thousand of dollars to be competitive.

 

There is another problem with LCGs. In a couple of years when the entire card pool is a couple of thousand cards and in order for a new player to get in to it it will cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars it will become a barrier. But that's where the keeping the core set strong comes back in. This will allow a new player to start the game and be competitive from the get go without having to buy the entire card pool. They will be able to buy the core set, a deluxe expansion for the factions of their choice and a couple of data packs that have truly essential cards (Opening moves for the JH etc...) and be able to be competitive for ~$150 right away. That's why I love LCGs.

 

Sorry for the wall of text and the rambling. But I've thought about this a lot in the past and this seemed like a good place to post it.


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#4 Venthrac

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 02:42 PM

Hey, no need to apologize, Frybender. You have some good insights there. I hadn't thought about the stregnth of the Core set being a deliberate design choice to facilitate new player competitiveness, but it can certainly do that. I think that's a great credit to the game. When you talk about jumping into a mature LCG, I know exactly what you mean; I (mostly) like the Game of Thrones LCG, but there is no way I'm going to buy all of the cards. That's just too large an investment for me to take.
 
I do think, however, with regard to the comment that the point of MtG is to make money, that it's no less true to say the whole point of Android: Netrunner is also to make money, I mean, at the end of the day, we're talking about a product being sold by a business that wants to turn a profit. My assumption is that Fantasy Flight went away from the CCG model not out of a desire to be generous to gamers, but because they could not compete with MtG. Now, certainly there are benefits to the players - the lack of randomization being foremost among them in my judgement.
 
I do agree with you wholehartedly that power creep is bad for the game, as I think it is for any game of this nature. However, I'm curious to see whether the Andromeda/Weyland Scorch decks currently favored in the meta (some would say dominating it, and I would not argue that) are still in that position a year from now. If they are, it might suggest that some restriction could be in order for, I don't know, Account Siphon, maybe Scorched Earth (though people will howl for blood if that happens). My hope is, those will fade in favor of new strategies and we really will see the game evolve as GoT has.
 
Incidentally, a small point of order for you, Grimwalker, but I spotted this:
 
 
So I think your assertion that no card in GoT has ever been banned would be incorrect, assuming that is based on official FFG rulings.
 
Anyway, thanks for the thoughtful and interesting replies. There is much to consider here, and definitely some aspects I had not considered.


#5 frybender

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 03:37 PM

What I meant to say that the whole point of MtG is to make money is not that ANR is somehow designed as a charity (and it's core set card make-up surely shows that they are shrewed bussiness people) but that at it's very essence WotC designs the cards, the tournament rules, and controls  it's supply, as a way to not only make money for itself, but also to support the SCGs of the world. No store in the world would be able to live off of selling nothing but FFG's LCGs (let alone nothing but ANR products) but there are plenty of stores out there who deal in nothing but magic cards and they do just fine. You are of course correct that FFG started an LCG model as a way to find a different niche then have to compete with MtG for the money of CCGers but because of that they now have to live by that model. This means no banning entire cycles purely because it's been out for a couple of years. No forcing people to re-buy cards just because there is a new name for a card that does the same thing etc... Otherwise all what that will accomplish is alienate the people that want something different then another money hole ala MtG.

 

As far as banning Account Siphons and Scorched Earths (or any other overpowered card) I would certainly agree with you that they should ban (or restrict) cards that are in actuality overpowered, but I'd disagree that AS and SE is overpowered. Yes AS is strong but I would argue it is nowhere near even the strongest card in the game (Hedge fund/Sure Gamble and JH are much stronger as far as simple 3of autoincludes in every deck goes and no one would argue they are overpowered or need to be restricted). I think people hate AS, and to a lesser extent SE, more because it is just not very fun to play against especially when you're siphoned 4 or 5 times during a game or. But honestly, nowadays it's not very hard to protect yourself against AS and even easier to recover from it with all the great economy that the corp keeps getting so I really think balance-wise the card is not bad at all. Same goes for SE yeah it's not very fun to play against a corp that doesn't care what you do as the runner and whose turns pretty much consist of nothing but playing every transaction they have and doing nothing but drawing until they have their 2 SEs and a SEA source in hand and kill you with no interaction during the game whatsoever. But again including a couple of Plascretes in your deck and there goes that strategy.

 

I think the jury is still out on whether Andy needs to "suffer from an accident"  or not (side note: if FFG does decide to ban her you know that's how they're going to do it. Probably claim she "forgot to turn off her spinal modem while taking a bath or something like that but we'll all know the Cleaners finally got to her). Sure there are a lot of tournaments being won by Andy right now but I wonder how much of that is just the criminal being strong in general and not Andy specific. If they were to restrict Andy, who is to say that Gabe won't make a return and be just as prevalent as Andy? Plus I think some of it is a chicken or the egg sort of thing. A lot of people think that Andy is strong so a lot of people play as Andy so Andy wins a lot so a lot of people think Andy is strong. Don't get me wrong I certainly agree that Andy has an extremely strong abilty, but who is to say that if the next big tournament is won by a strong player who decided to bring a Reina deck instead that that wouldn't cause  for the next couple of month for nothing but Reinas to win tournaments.



#6 Lilikin

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 05:28 PM

A lot of good points here. If I can throw in my two pennies. I am just starting ANR and if it were a CCG wouldn't touch it with a bazooka. I will never be pro etc but the idea that a guy that buys a £55k black lotus (that only gives you free mana) card off eBay because its an epic card will have an advantage over me would turn me off the game forever and I would feel the game was already closed to me. These cards aren't cheap but I think I can at least have a deck that could compete with the best at a reasonable price.

there is something good about being able to still buy any card I want at RRP or cheaper that makes me as a married man with limited resources understand the cost and compete with someone who has considerably more money than me for cards.
Wait lassie what's that noise? A few people telling FFG on a forum how to make their own games, well lassie that told them

I have three more ships than you so my opinion is twice as valid!!

#7 Grimwalker

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 10:50 PM

Incidentally, a small point of order for you, Grimwalker, but I spotted this:

 
 
So I think your assertion that no card in GoT has ever been banned would be incorrect, assuming that is based on official FFG rulings.

 

No, what I said was accurate:  every one of them is legal for play.  In the most recent release of the Clash of Arms pack cycle, the banned cards received printed errata and are no longer banned. And in any case, the cards which were banned are a special case unique to AGOT. The first chapter pack cycle for that game consisted of cards designed for its CCG incarnation, which had a much higher power level overall, they were not balanced for the new meta. So, it's not applicable to ANR.

Here is what the developers had to say about the nature of the Restricted list when it was first implemented. (Note: at the time, AGOT was on its fifth chapter pack cycle with three deluxe boxes in print. Eight out of the initial 12 restricted cards were from the aforementioned Clash of Arms cycle and had been autoincludes since their release.) Coincidentally, I was listening to an interview with Damon Stone at Gen Con last summer, and he talked about this article, so I googled it and saw that it addressed many of your concerns rather directly.

 

http://www.fantasyfl...s.asp?eidn=2138

 

So, yes, your concerns are absolutely shared by the developers. But if the past is any guide, my personal feeling is that they'll be letting the meta develop for at least another year or so, (if not the three years they waited for AGOT) before they start tinkering with the game balance. In the interview from this past summer, Damon specifically said that there is nothing in the current meta that you can't tech against, and that the archetypes currently dominating are the easiest to learn, and quite naturally proliferate because it's still early days and the other archetypes take more skill. Here's that interview, it's quite good and directly addresses a lot of your points.

 

cheers  :)



#8 Venthrac

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 08:37 AM

All fair points, and I stand corrected on the banned cards. It's great that FFG reprinted them with errata. I love that they do that. I seem to recall there was a card in Invasion, something about a High Elf artillery that could do a lot of indirect damage, which I think they did the same thing for.

 

I'll have to watch that interview when I get a chance. I think it does make good sense to let a little more time pass before they start on a Restricted list, but I also think there are some clear early candidates for that list emerging now. Time will tell how it plays out.



#9 Sully4071

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:13 AM

I like the fact that power creep doesn't seem prevalent.  I also like how some cards seem awful, yet you know that the card is just waiting for its companion down the road.

 

I thought the caissa pieces were fairly boring, until knight and deep red came around.  I am now waiting to see if the King and Queen will make the deck powerful and not simply viable.

 

In the plugged in tour, I played a milling Andy deck and different take on HB fast advance.  My corporation won every game but one, and the weird Andy deck, while catching people by surprise, just didn't have the clout to win more than two games.  One of which was a miracle victory.

 

Atman, a new card, ruled the roost for the blink of an eye, but it seems to have been quickly cut down by the Swordsman; which I think is great.  Restricting Atman would of been like tossing it in the garbage.  The creation of a hard counter means that Atman decks have to either hope its not played or work around it, if the decks want to continue being successful.



#10 etherial

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:31 AM

I thought the caissa pieces were fairly boring, until knight and deep red came around.  I am now waiting to see if the King and Queen will make the deck powerful and not simply viable.

 

Deep Red is the King and Reina Roja is the Queen.



#11 Sully4071

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:52 AM

 

I thought the caissa pieces were fairly boring, until knight and deep red came around.  I am now waiting to see if the King and Queen will make the deck powerful and not simply viable.

 

Deep Red is the King and Reina Roja is the Queen.

 

 

I didn't realize that.  I know there is a card called Queen's Gambit, just figured it was a move that Reina was doing, as opposed to herself being the Queen.

 

Is it pointed out in the books or lore somewhere that I missed?



#12 etherial

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:53 AM

 

 

I thought the caissa pieces were fairly boring, until knight and deep red came around.  I am now waiting to see if the King and Queen will make the deck powerful and not simply viable.

 

Deep Red is the King and Reina Roja is the Queen.

 

 

I didn't realize that.  I know there is a card called Queen's Gambit, just figured it was a move that Reina was doing, as opposed to herself being the Queen.

 

Is it pointed out in the books or lore somewhere that I missed?

 

Her name is "Red Queen" in Spanish.



#13 Venthrac

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 03:01 PM

Yeah, my local crew has not been terribly impressed with the Caissa-style deck thus far, but we assume there are King and Queen programs coming that might bring in a little more synergy and help tie it all together.

 

But a specific criticism of a deck archetype is a topic for another thread.

 

I will say, though, that I completely agree with the sentiment that the game does not suffer form dreaded power creep. I think we can all be grateful for that. Rather than introduce cards which are more powerful, the devs are adding more variety in the strategies. I think that's absolutely the right move.



#14 Grimwalker

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 08:45 AM

I think Caissa decks have to be played somewhat differently...I can't put my finger on it, but it's just intuition. I think if you play Caissa straightforwardly, it's going to be lackluster. Suffice it to say I'm waiting for someone to grok it and share with the rest of us.



#15 Sully4071

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 09:24 AM

I think Caissa decks have to be played somewhat differently...I can't put my finger on it, but it's just intuition. I think if you play Caissa straightforwardly, it's going to be lackluster. Suffice it to say I'm waiting for someone to grok it and share with the rest of us.

 

Last night... My friend had to pay 10 credits to rezz his archer, 7 to rezz his caduceus.  I kept Weyland poor with my Caissa deck, and my friend plays a very nice Tag and Bag.  The game went long, but I was able to consistently have more credits while he held Sea Source and 2 Scorch Earth in hand.

 

But to be more on topic...

 

I think Netrunner does a phenomenal job of create diversity and stopping really good cards.  I dislike Power Shutdown, because it now creates an "I Win" button of a combo.  It isn't one of those, 'The sky is falling, the game is ruined' sort of combinations, but it is really deadly all the same.  Combined with Advanced Diagnostics and Jackson Howard, it is going to hold open a door to any operation fueled combination in the future.

 

If I was asked how to solve that problem, a bit of errata on power shutdown that says, "X cannot be higher than the highest cost program or hardware in play" would fix it.  There might be a better solution too, but I just hate to complain about a problem and not provide a solution.

 

Plus, we have not had the time to see if the Weyland combo tag and bag is as deadly as it seems to be in the small sample size I've examined.

 

That card is probably the only complaint I've had about new cards.

 

I do like how Swordsman shut down the rampant Atman meta.  Atman is still deadly, unless you run face first into a deck that has 3 Swordsman, and even then you can focus on parasites, etc.  But the swordsman are definitely going to slow the deck down.

 

The two FFG employees that I met at the plug-in tour were great guys.  Lukas, I believe that is how he spells it, my apologies if I gt it wrong, was a great guy, super friendly and it felt like he really loved to play the game.  The other individual, whose name escapes me, was the one who was in charge of the entire game night ball of wax.  He also seemed to have a real passion for what he does, which I think is fantastic.

 

My friends and I are actually looking forward to another 6 hour drive to Team Covenant to play in the Chronos Tournament, unless of course we can somehow manage to get our little venue on the Tournament radar.



#16 Grimwalker

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 03:12 PM

Well, Chronos Protocol is Europe-only, so TC won't be running one. But Store Championships and Regionals, why not?



#17 Zorajit

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 07:10 PM

I would be happy to see a Block Play format introduced in the future, and I don't think that's counter-intuitive to the LCG model. Magic is prohibitivly expsenive because tournemant level constructed decks require the secondary market to sell chase rares (and the odd uncommon) or to have the resources to buy multiple boxes of each expansion. But, AGoT still has the issue of requiring a significant buy-in to get up to competitive play, and a very, very high price tag if you wanted to have everything. Block play would mean that new players could jump right into the tourney scene. It also means that the developers could explore new mechanics, and the players have new mechanics to both play with and play against; without those being dominated by older cards.

 

Now, let me say right up front, that I don't think the game NEEDS this right now. It's barely a year old, and despite its meteoric rise, that still means a very limited card pool -- to the point that a player can be reasonably expected to own a play set of every card. But in two years, sure, I'd like to see a Block Format. However, I also think that the upcoming Draft format will go a long way to counter this, since if the whole goal is to keep players using different cards, then limited formats can provide that niche.

 

I also wouldn't mind seeing a Banned / Restricted list. Admittedly, this is anecdotal, but the prevelance of Account Siphon and Jackson Howard suggest that those cards are problematic. I have no doubt that they're on the "Watch List" mentioned in the developer interview posted earlier. And while it's unreasonable to expect an exactly even mix of strategies among top-tier decks, when seven out of eight players run Andromeda, and nineteen out of thirty games go to the Runner then that isn't just a dominant strategy, it's becoming an oppressive one.



#18 etherial

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 10:51 AM

I would be happy to see a Block Play format introduced in the future, and I don't think that's counter-intuitive to the LCG model. Magic is prohibitivly expsenive because tournemant level constructed decks require the secondary market to sell chase rares (and the odd uncommon) or to have the resources to buy multiple boxes of each expansion. But, AGoT still has the issue of requiring a significant buy-in to get up to competitive play, and a very, very high price tag if you wanted to have everything. Block play would mean that new players could jump right into the tourney scene. It also means that the developers could explore new mechanics, and the players have new mechanics to both play with and play against; without those being dominated by older cards.

Is there any *CG other than MTG that used "block play"? VTES was in print (more or less) for 15 years and didn't need to ban old cards to make the game easy for new people to pick up.


Edited by etherial, 23 December 2013 - 10:52 AM.


#19 Hans Chung-Otterson

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 06:35 PM

I am ALL for Netrunner having a block play format. It makes the game easier for new players to get into, as well as freeing up some design space. It would probably be very tricky to implement unless the devs had this in mind while designing the core set.
 

Contrary to what some people seem to think, also, a block format does not a CCG make. We could have rotating cards and it would still be an LCG. The thing that would make it a CCG would be expansions sold as randomized packs. 



#20 skwizzle

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 12:39 AM

I am ALL for Netrunner having a block play format. It makes the game easier for new players to get into, as well as freeing up some design space. It would probably be very tricky to implement unless the devs had this in mind while designing the core set.
 

Contrary to what some people seem to think, also, a block format does not a CCG make. We could have rotating cards and it would still be an LCG. The thing that would make it a CCG would be expansions sold as randomized packs. 

First, I think that it's important to acknowledge that what we're talking about is a problem which may occur in the future. It may not. I don't think that this is an issue with any of the other LCGs. Sure, people talk about how Cthulhu and Invasion have declining popularity. That's not because of all the expansions, though. AGoT has as many, or more, than either of those two, and it's still popular.

Block play would be interesting, but I don't think that it should replace the current tournament format. It could be an alternative format, like draft. I'm completely against rotating out cards in the standard tournaments, though (e.g. regionals). The primary format should allow all cards. No player should be turned away because they don't have the latest packs. I don't think that there's any official spec for LCGs that I could point to that disallows rotating blocks out. I'd just implicitly accepted that part of the concept was that cards would never expire. That's part of the problem with MtG, L5R, and lots of other CCGs. I have a ton of old Magic and L5R cards, but because they're old, I couldn't play them against modern decks.

Expiration dates are a good idea for food. Not for games.






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