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Is it time for rotation? (The card pool and other thoughts)


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#1 Dobbler

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 09:09 AM

 I've been thinking about this for a while, and the discussion in the CCG thread prompted me to finally post about it...

 

Is it time for FFG to consider rotation, despite promises to not do that in the LCG era?

 

Lets look at some statistics

 

Currently there are 7 completely chapter pack cycles available.  If you want to have a full playset of cards, you will need to buy 3x each of the Clash of Arms and Time of Ravens Chapters packs (assuming you can find them) and 1x each of the King's Landing, Defenders of the North, Brotherhood, Secrets of Oldtown and Tale of Champions cycles.

Assuming you get them at retail price and disregard sales tax, this will cost you $810 and will net you 840 different cards.

 

There is also the Core Set and 6 house specific expansions available.  Again, if you want to own a complete playset, you will need to buy 3x the Core set and 1x each of the house specific expansions.  

 

Assuming you get them at retail price and disregard sales tax, this will cost you $300 and net you 538 different cards (although some income locations are found in multiple boxes...same card but different "identification number")

 

So in total, you will spend $1100 and have 1378 different cards and a playset of everything.

 

During the CCG era, Base sets normally had 220-240 different cards.  Expansion sets normally had 120-140 new cards.  And its largest, the CCG card pool had three base sets and two expansions for each each base set, including a few promo cards and specialty cards found in Starter decks and Legacy packs.

 

So 720 (base set x3) + 840 (expansions sets X6) = 1560 total cards.  And I think I have estimated pretty high.  We are very nearly at the same point the CCG product would be "rotating out" a base set.

 

So, if FFG decided to rotate out Clash of Arms or Time of Ravens, how would you feel?  Do you think it would be good for the game or bad for the game?



#2 michaelius

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 09:14 AM

Reprint those two cycles as x3 and the cost goes down by 180$



#3 playgroundpsychotic

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 09:33 AM

Dobbler said:

So, if FFG decided to rotate out Clash of Arms or Time of Ravens, how would you feel?  Do you think it would be good for the game or bad for the game?

Bad. Cards currently reference older chapter packs all the time. They still make season cards or cards that are useful with season-like effects (ex Old Bear's Crow). They still make Military Battles, Power Struggles and Intrigue Gambits even though the majority of the cards that reference those traits are in Clash of Arms.

What happens if you start to rotate out more sets? There are plenty of shadow cards but they become less useful if you don't have the King's Landing cycle.

Finally, you're under no requirement to have a full playset. You can pick and choose what you want or you can share cards with friends and family.

 



#4 AceManUSC

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 09:36 AM

When you say, "rotate out," does that mean make them illegal to play? If that is the case, I would be pretty irritated. I adopted this game less than a year ago and jumped with 2 feet in. I bought every chapter pack and deluxe expansion there is, plus 3 cores. I haven't even been able to use them for a year and 12 chapters would be "phased out?" That would be a some BS.



#5 Staton

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 09:37 AM

 Yeah but the number of cards stays the same. You rotate out sets not only as a cost factor for new players, but also as a way of balancing the game and avoiding power creep to a certain degree. That being said, I don't think they should rotate out those cards, at least not without doing something else to compensate. There have been quite a few new players in the past year or so, and a straight rotation might leave a pretty bad taste in their mouth. That's what happened when they started rotation in the CCG as well. I think the way to do it would be to print a new deluxe expansion that included a majority of the cards from those two sets and anything that wasn't reprinted was considered non-legal. You could still use the version of those cards from those chapter packs if you wanted, so that way you wouldn't HAVE to buy the new expansion if you didn't need those cards.

 

@AcemanUS: Yeah rotated out would mean those cards wouldn't be legal to play in tournaments. You could play however you wanted in your local play though.



#6 jack merridew

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 09:44 AM

Just say no to rotation

just because you start playing a game there is no reason to think that you need all the cards, get the cycles that interest you. If FFG did rotate out a cycle i would feel burned by them tbh



#7 ShivesMcShivers

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 09:46 AM

 I recently got 25 chapterpacks and 3 of premier boxes (whatever they are called, house specific boxes) for 250 from a place call PFC games.  I don't think we are at a point where you can argue for rotation from a cost standpoint.  The LCG has accomplished all of its intended goals from that standpoint.  You would likely spend $800 for a single deck in the current iteration of magic standard.



#8 Dobbler

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 09:55 AM

 Ok, you guys are making the argument that you don't "need" all the cards.  And from a "friendly" level of play standpoint, you are absolutely correct.  From a tournament level standpoint, I think you are fairly wrong.  Any consistent tournament player will tell you that you operate from a disadvantage if you do not have a full playset of everything.  And the idea of "rotation" is a concept that affects tournament level play only.  Nobody can ever tell you what cards you can't and can use when playing with your friends.  So if you are not a tournament player, rotation does not affect you.



#9 mason240

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 10:05 AM

I think the older chapter pack cycles should be rereleased as one cheaper set. Instead of new players buying the a cycle for $90 (6x$15) just sell it in one box for $40. 

They have already sold CPs to all the established players who are going to buy them, and no one is going to wait 5 years to save 57% on cards. It would make it way easier to turn the interest from the tv show into new players.

As far as rotation, I don't think the structure of the game's cardpool was set up very well to just rotate out chapter packs. In hindsight, it might have been best to put major cards that they wanted to be mainstays of  the game (like most of agendas, plots like Building Season) and put them into deluxe boxes, never to be rotated. The support cards would in CPs with only 6 CPs active at one time.

City of Shadows stays, Venomous Blade and the City plots eventually get rotated out. Winter/Summer agendas stay, but their support cards are always coming in and rotating out. Some of the more 'gimmicky' themes (Brotherhood, Bouncing Boltons, Maesters) could just come in for a while and then get rotated out.

Hindsight is 20/20,but it is kind of suprising that they didn't implement a better "just in case" plan when they rebooted the game. Granted, they didn't know there would be a huge influx of players from an HBO show, but if you are going to reboot a CCG I can't imagine not planning for rotation. 



#10 playgroundpsychotic

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 10:14 AM

Dobbler said:

Any consistent tournament player will tell you that you operate from a disadvantage if you do not have a full playset of everything. 

Why is that? I would assume that not every single chapter pack is completely worthwhile for a tournament level deck. If you do a lot of casual play with silly theme decks on top of tournament play then I could see it. But at that point you're on obsessive compulsive collector so the money doesn't matter anymore.



#11 Ruvion

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 10:24 AM

 I hope FFG reprints the A Clash of Arms cycle finally in white borders as a triplicate distribution for us obsessive compulsive collectors! 

Anyways, rotation or no rotation, I still think the first two CP cycles need to be reprinted for the boardgaming completionists out there.



#12 imrahil327

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 10:26 AM

Dobbler said:

 

Ok, you guys are making the argument that you don't "need" all the cards. And from a "friendly" level of play standpoint, you are absolutely correct. From a tournament level standpoint, I think you are fairly wrong. Any consistent tournament player will tell you that you operate from a disadvantage if you do not have a full playset of everything. And the idea of "rotation" is a concept that affects tournament level play only. Nobody can ever tell you what cards you can't and can use when playing with your friends. So if you are not a tournament player, rotation does not affect you.

 

 

Agreed on all points. Honestly I think it was a little short-sighted (although a 'nice' gesture) to announce no rotation for the LCG. I agree that it would be somewhat frustrating/upsetting to people who had recently bought in and spent money on cards that weren't legal, but I have seen other games switch from a no-rotation policy to rotation and survive. From a design perspective, a lack of rotation requires a lot more effort, and often hamstrings what would otherwise be well-designed cards and sets. Ktom alluded to this in the other thread, when he said that he was concerned more with potential power creep we are beginning to see more than sets not being available. When the ONLY means of changing the environment is adding cards to that, the cards will (for the most part) inherently be either better or worse than cards that have been printed previously, and the designers' job is to ensure that the majority of those cards fall under the 'better' category so that people will continue to be interested in buying new product.

With rotation in place, designers are allowed to selectively replace cards that were removed from the meta, giving them creative alternatives rather than forcing them to make cards better. For example: If the Clash of Arms cycle rotated out, we'd lose Pyromancer's Cache and the Fury plots, along with a few other good cards. Thus, a space would open up for the designers to fill the hole left in the "Lannister heavy draw" category in a different way, and perhaps to re-do the fury plots so that their game text was more equally useful, and the stats were not so overwhelming that they go in every deck unless restricted.

I just started playing 7 months ago, so the card pool isn't 'stale' to me by any means, and I'm still finding cards from Clash of Arms that I didn't know about (I just found the "banner for the x" characters the other day, for instance), but I don't think I'd be TOO mad if they announced rotation at some point, assuming they refilled properly- meaning, if they rotated the Seasons cycle, they would almost immediately refill with cards that created seasons, but perhaps in a different way, so the cards printed later that deal with them aren't obsoleted.

playgroundpsychotic said:

 

Dobbler said:

 

Any consistent tournament player will tell you that you operate from a disadvantage if you do not have a full playset of everything. 

 

 

Why is that? I would assume that not every single chapter pack is completely worthwhile for a tournament level deck. If you do a lot of casual play with silly theme decks on top of tournament play then I could see it. But at that point you're on obsessive compulsive collector so the money doesn't matter anymore.

 

 

Because you do not have all options available to you.  Certainly not every pack is chock-full of tournament worthy cards, but I can't think of a single pack that has NO cards you'd play in a tournament setting.  And if you don't have Card X, and think that Deck Y that contains Card X is the best deck in the format, you are playing at a known disadvantage if you are forced to play a different card in its place.  The impact of such a play is not always immediately obvious, nor is it always equal, but when you are a serious tournament player, you want to play with (your opinion of) the 60 best cards- that's the point of tournaments, for Jaime players at least.  For a long while I didn't have the King's Landing cycle, so I was without Varys, Distinguished Boatswains (so I could not effectively play Greyjoy), The Red Keep (so I could not effectively play Targ Burn), and a couple others that I can't remember.  If I didn't have a group of friends who I borrowed those cards from, I would have been starting a tournament at a disadvantage, which is distasteful at best and wasteful at worst.



#13 Rave

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 10:28 AM

I think one solution might be to just errata Black and White Raven to be hit by non-raven cards, and stop the future support for the summer and winter mechanics.

This way you can have an effective $ driven summer or winter deck and still have a balanced field. Carrion birds will act as recursion for you, and it's not going to force everyone to run ill-tidings, tin/copper link, or carrion birds to compete with you. 



#14 Dobbler

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 10:30 AM

playgroundpsychotic said:

 

Dobbler said:

 

Any consistent tournament player will tell you that you operate from a disadvantage if you do not have a full playset of everything. 

 

 

Why is that? I would assume that not every single chapter pack is completely worthwhile for a tournament level deck. If you do a lot of casual play with silly theme decks on top of tournament play then I could see it. But at that point you're on obsessive compulsive collector so the money doesn't matter anymore.

 

 

 

Its never about the money for the high level tournament player, its about the "options".  You want a full playset of the cards so you always have every option of deck building at your disposal.



#15 playgroundpsychotic

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 10:42 AM

Dobbler said:

 

Its never about the money for the high level tournament player, its about the "options".  You want a full playset of the cards so you always have every option of deck building at your disposal.

Are you that genuinely diverse in your tournament decks though? I sometimes read some of the European forums as well as U.S. forums and even amongst those players who play different deck types there isn't too much branching out. Some players seem almost entirely mono-house. Is there a style of play that you genuinely dislike that you would never play it?

 



#16 Kennon

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 11:06 AM

Dobbler, another factor for "tournament players" is deck and tournament reporting and analysis. If there was a vibrant AGOT discussion on these topics in a regular and widespread fashion, it's much easier for people who want to become "tournament players" to actually do so because they're able to get a better feel for what is playable and what to tech against. When combined with some of the great deckbuilding/ card searching tools that we already have, this allows players to pick and choose the relevant cards and packs for the strategy or deck that they choose rather than going out of their way to get a playset of Campfire Lights and Observation Points.



#17 imrahil327

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 11:08 AM

 

playgroundpsychotic said:

Dobbler said:

 

 

Its never about the money for the high level tournament player, its about the "options".  You want a full playset of the cards so you always have every option of deck building at your disposal.

 

 

Are you that genuinely diverse in your tournament decks though? I sometimes read some of the European forums as well as U.S. forums and even amongst those players who play different deck types there isn't too much branching out. Some players seem almost entirely mono-house. Is there a style of play that you genuinely dislike that you would never play it?

 

 

I'm not sure what you mean by 'not much branching out'... I guess I AM that diverse, maybe?  There is at least one build from every house that I would at least consider testing for Regionals, and two for some.  The way I understand it, Europeans are much more 'house-loyal'- they will play the best deck from their house (or houses, if they are okay with 2 of them).  For me, and I assume other tournament players here in the US, we are looking for the best deck regardless of house.  In all fairness, it is a known fact of CCGs that regardless of the card pool, the percentage of cards that is 'tournament-worthy' is significantly smaller than the overall pool- I don't know the numbers, but sometimes it's as low as 10%, although for AGOT I think that's low.



#18 Twn2dn

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 11:53 AM

Let me start out by saying I agree with Dobbler that rotation might become necessary in the next year or two (if that is indeed what he is advocating). I disagree somewhat with his logic, but ultimately come to the same conclusion. Here's my thinking...

--Issue: Is price a barrier to entry that affects competitive players? I really don't know how true this is. I don't mean to say that price isn't a factor, but the extra $300 a competitive player might have to spend given the larger card pool is a drop in the bucket compared to the travel expenses associated with attending tourneys. Also, if these costs can be mitigated by sharing cards (and they can), a lot of competitive players will share with meta-mates to reduce the costs, even while they fork out wads of cash for airfare and meals away from home. I'd be surprised if this is really an issue at the moment. The costs of the LCG are already significantly less than they were in the CCG (considering rare chasing, etc.), but I don't remember many people complaining a lot back then. Three years from now it could be an issue though...there's definitely a line somewhere.

--Issue: Rotation affects competitive players only? Agree with Dobbler that rotation first and foremost affects tourney-goers, but disagree wholeheartedly that it ONLY affects them. Rotation, or any ruling/FAQ, transcends the competitive environment to affect many casual players. In large part, this is because the "official" ruling is often assumed to be the "right way" of doing things. So if there's an errata to a seemingly overpowered card, casual players can ignore it, but I strongly suspect that most casual players adhere. Here's a test: How many casual players have you met? Now how many of them regularly play Jaquan, which is probably *the best* casual card in terms of being fun, powerful, and banned? Extending this logic further, and I think it is appropriate to do so, suggests that many casual players will similarly adhere to other legality rules, even if they never play in tournaments. Part of this could be that their meta-mates or friends play competitively and don't want to build "casual decks" with different rules. But mostly, I think it has to do with players assuming that there's a reason for errata/ban/restriction or even set rotation. Anecdotally, I find that my metamates who never attend tourneys (which is about 1/2 of them) still all follow legality issues.

--Issue: Rotation would make a lot of currently useable cards unusable (ie the "seasons deck problem")? I think this may be overstated. Obviously seasons builds would change significantly, and not all houses would be equally equipped to deal with them. That's true with any house and/or mechanic...shadows, knights, etc. On the other hand, this would free up new slots for decks as well. Some old cards that are not particularly useful now would be much more useful. For example, rotating Venomous Blade would make all kinds of 2-STR characters much more attractive. Or to use a card not currently on the restricted list, rotating Game of Cyvasse would free up another slot for one of the many great Martell events that never sees play (many fail to make the cut even with very powerful effects). 

--Issue: Would rotation add more variety or less? This is where I think the primary debate should be. After all, if we can increase diversity without printing cards (by doing the opposite, in fact) then we should explore this option. Before people post gut reactions about how "removing cards removes options," let me explain. There are certain cards that when played in combination with each other become environment defining. Wintertime Marauders + winter in GJ is one of those...other archetypes include Targ burn, Lanni kneel and Martell control effects (including Venomous Blades). In fact, many people complain that design has favored "control" decks over "aggro" since the transition to LCG. Rotation presents one possible option for a sort of environment cardpool "soft reset" that might plausibly add balance and variety to the environment. (I don't mean to say the environment needs rebalancing...that's a different discussion. All I'm saying is that it is possible under certain situations to expand diversity by restricting the cardpool.) The bottom-line question then, I believe, is would the competitive environment be more diverse (and thus likely more fun) with fewer cards in the card pool?

I don't know the answer to this last question, but my gut feeling as that at some point in the next two years we'll reach a point where power creep (even if only because more cards that compliment each other, ie "synergize," are printed) begins to reduce deck building variety at competitive levels. At that point, some restriction on the card pool (beyond specific card "restrictions") will add diversity. I don't think we've reached that point quite yet, but when we do it would be a bad idea to rotate immediately. I believe the best approach could be to give players 1 or 2 years notice in advance that X cards will be rotating out. It's much easier to stomach a rotation announcement if it's 1.5 years down the road. I could be wrong about the need for rotation...but either way I think the main criterion should be about creative deckbuilding and environmental diversity, not dollars.

 



#19 imrahil327

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 12:08 PM

Good stuff!  This discussion is interesting and somewhat refreshing :)   My only question would be this: You say that season decks would 'change'...wouldn't they just not exist?  I guess you could technically still play the 3 crowns, but those are so unreliable compared to the birds as to be nearly not worth mentioning, and you wouldn't have the agenda if the season packs rotated either.  I am not intending to make a judgment as to whether that is good or bad, just trying to get at what you are saying in that section.



#20 Tomdidiot

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 12:11 PM

I started playing almost 2 years ago, and I'd be strongly in favour of rotation.  As much pain as itis for experienced players, rotation helps keep the game fresh and intersting, and givse new players a way into the game without having to spend $800 in one go - while Magic refugees won't generally have a problem with that, it can be duanting to those who haven't played  card games before might - it's a heck of a lot of money, especially for board gaming completists (like myself).

The other thing is from a game blanace perspective - it's clear that there is now obvious pwoer creep in the cards-  Almost nothing is still played from Clash of Arm or the Winter cycle (bar the ravens and the flank), and the cards in the Core Set and first two deluxe expansions are getting played less andless. Also, cardsthat were designed to be "blaanced" in a limited card pool are no longer as balanced: Shadows Bob was balanced and hardly used when everyone was playing shadows, and Lanny Shadows kneel was huge.  Similarly, Summer wasn't nearly as big when every Stark and Greyjoy deck was playing Winter.

I don't think that rotation should be done yet, and I tihnk that it's important for FFG to be a "gentle" with it as possible- give, say, 6-12 months or so notice before rotation, with key cards in the cycle being reprinted in a deluxe expansion for retention in the environment.  I think the Core,deluxe expnasions + 6-8 cycles should be ideal.

 






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