The release of the Call of Cthulhu LCG Core Set this fall will come with a simple rules change that has far reaching consequences in the realm of deck-building, game play, and the economics of buying in to and keeping up with the game. The new rule is that no more than three copies of any card, by title, will be allowed in a tournament legal Call of Cthulhu LCG deck. For those who are new to the CoC LCG, this is a reduction from the old maximum of four copies of a card, per deck.
I'm going to look at this change through the lens of our vision for the LCG format, which is to take the "fun" of the CCG, eliminate a number of the perceptions that work against such games in the eyes of most gamers, and bring these games to a wider audience. A big part of carrying out this plan involves finding ways to get the LCG to appeal to a more casual type of gamer. And that's essentially where the motivation for this rules change originated.
First, to clear up a misconception: a "casual" gamer does not in any way, shape, or form imply a gamer who is weaker at the game, or less intelligent than a "competitive" gamer. It simply implies that having fun with the game is more important to the player than winning, and that his investments in time and money might be more casual as well. Looking through the eyes of such a player, the rule change makes sense when we look at the decision as it affectseconomics, deck-building, and game-play. And while the change may seem shocking to the more competitive players at first, I'm thinking they may also find something to love under the new rule.
From an economic standpoint, everyone's a winner. The move simply drops the buy-in and upkeep cost of the game, from $40/month to $30/month for a complete playset. Or, if you only want to spend $10 a month and buy a single copy of each Asylum Pack, you will have a complete playset of half the cards in the entire cardpool, as 10 of the 20 new cards in each pack appear 3 times. Finally, for a new player who is looking for older cards, the acquisition of a playset of any older card just became that much easier.
From a deck-building standpoint, the biggest effect we're going to see is more variety in card choice. Those power cards that dominate the game aren't going to do so quite as often. Players will be forced to play with cards that, under the "4 per card" rule, would not have made the cut for their decks. In short, players will get to use more of their cards more often, and this is an appealing situation for the casual player who is not out to find the 13 cards that can win the game with the most consistency. Granted, the competitive player will, at least at first, feel that his ability to build a consistent deck has been thwarted, but keep in mind that consistency is a relative thing, and all the other competitive players will be facing the same obstacles you are. And keep in mind that we didn't strip all strategic consistency decisions out of the game, as we could have done if we wanted to go down to a "highlander" format.
More variety at the deck-building level will also lead to more unpredictable game-play. With more different cards in his deck, and more cards in yours, the tactical situations that arise over the table will be more difficult to anticipate, and players will be faced with a wider range of over-the-table decisions to make. So even if the casual player loses 5 games in a row to a more competitive deck, he'll have more "fun" in the process as he'll be faced with a wider range of tactical decisions in each loss. Again, we could have maximized this aspect of the game by going all the way down to a high-lander (1 copy of a card per deck) format, which is a lot of fun from time to time, but we felt that 3 copies of any card was the right mix of strategy and tactics for this game. And again, strong deck-builders may feel that their efforts are being thwarted with a nod to the more tactical player, but the game's strongest players will inevitably see the new rule as a new challenge, and figure out what it takes to dominate the new tourney scene. I'm looking forward to seeing who rises up to meet that challenge.