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Nobody cares what the rules are?


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#1 .Zephyr.

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 10:59 AM

 I'm finding FFGs support for rule problems appalling.

Their not ignoring this concern. There are FAQs, rule discussion forums and even a link to post rule questions so its not that bad.

But explaining a client how the game works doesn't seem to be anywhere near top priority. You get a pack of cards, sometimes with really complicated interactions and get nothing inside to help you understand them. Even stories in Core Set are not explained in any details, and it seems me, my frieds and other ppl were playing story card wrong…
(see: http://www.cardgamed...ime/#entry10073)
and if you do want to get rules right you can:

 - use the FAQ. It is updated, and has answers to most question but it doesn't seem like anyone is maintaining it so it actually helps non-veteran players with ruling problems. It seems more like a storehouse where you put answers nad can look them up if you forgot them. But you don't really care how hard it is to find anything for new player. A paragraph about some legacy CCG mechanics that does not exist in LCG era is still there, the order is random and doesn't seem to follow any logic, and this makes finding anything really hard, especially as some explanations of similar things are in completely different places. And why does the "main" FAQ weight 16MB and has graphics that are completely useless, srsly its a FAQ not an art show. Hopefully there is a printer friendly version, that is also much more friendly to anyone that wants to find a ruling. And plain HTML with minimalistic but esthethic CSS would be even better.

 - ask at forum. Its ok, but no official FFG support here, just players who happen to use the forum. It looks general purpose and has no support for explaining anything. No integrated card base, no way to search for answers regarding particular card. If you keep following the threads you should eventually get the rules (at least i hope so, thats the main reason i'm still writing) but its nowhere near a convenient way to get rules

 - mail a designer. First - the mail is invisible in a footnote of some page; if i haven't heard about it here i would never have found it Second - the designer is not a customer service guy - he has other more important things to do, shouldn't be expected to have enough patience to replay to the same questions over and over again, Third - he knows the game so much all new players problems will seem obvious to him, and it will be really hard to answer in a way that explains the rules for not experienced player. Its like sending a math professor to teach kids at kindergarten… and you cant use previous ruling answers unless they end up in FAQ, and including all questions would make document unreadable

Are there really so little players that care about playing the game right that it really doesnt pay off to put more effort into rule education?
Are those problems only my (i don't think so, some ruling discussions show its not clear even for experienced players)?
With more one time games i guess its not that big of a deal, but with LCG deckbuilding - where environment is so competitive and rulings can break your deck ideas or decide who wins a game…

I really don't understand it. 



#2 HilariousPete

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 12:17 PM

I think FFG is not doing that bad. I definitely prefer a 15 pages FAQ over a nearly 200 pages Magic tournament rules book. For rules help on a card-by-card basis like you suggested elsewhere, I think that FFG's budget just doesn't allow this. I don't know how much money they create by 1 of their LCGs, but I doubt that it's as much as WotC creates with Magic, so some official database with rules (like the Gatherer) isn't easy. I think one should always consider the money aspect or just the company size when judging their efforts.

BTW, there actually IS a printer friendly version of the FAQ, I think you'll find it as helpful as I do :-) It's on the support page, just below the FAQ with graphics, 447 kB.

I've also been asking myself if the "look in the FAQ or ask the designer" strategy by FFG is efficient. I'd think updating the FAQ would be more efficient. But I have no clue how many questions are arriving. If the amount would be overwhelming, I guess FFG would disable submitting rules questions or update the FAQ faster or insert rule clarifications in the packs or electronically. Sometimes they already do that, this article here defines how to interpret the term "have each player do X". But the forum software is not good, especially the search function. It's pretty hard to find what you're looking for if the search term includes more than 1 single word… here FFG could do more with probably not so big costs.

And to relieve you: No, you are not the only one with rule issues ;-) I also have them, and I'm reading the threads here and especially the FAQ to get a better understanding of the rules and the game mechanics, although it takes a lot of time…



#3 .Zephyr.

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 01:33 PM

If this articles intention is really to provide ruling aid i think somebody is doing his job really wrong, as the most important factor here is how easy is to find a ruling. Article seems nice though, especially suggestion of intended power balance of human vs monster.

About FAQ - I know, but still is there anyone who finds this big file any better? Its a FAQ - its not even printed and watching this art in pdf reader like Adobes reader is not a great experience. And you use this document to find rulings, why put effort for the document to have nice graphics if it makes it worse at helping to find rulings when you can spend time you lost decorating document with graphics that hurt rearranging order and bringing more logic so its easier to understand rules. And if they have more amazing art just set up a slide show. Like:
http://us.battle.net...ork-starcraft02
i'd spend some time watching cthulhu art and fanart if it was available. And the cost is not big - just use some gallery script and maybe have someone to upload fans pictures.

About ruling and cost, I really cant see how expensive is writing a few sentences about more complicated cards and posting it online. You pay an artist to do a drawing for every card, and designers spend hours testing every card, spending additional 5 mins so new players now what the card is intended to do doesn't seem that expensive. And many people ware playing STORY CARD wrong, srsly cant go much worse than that. Why spend much time balancing when players play different game…

Also on per card FAQ and size of FAQ. It took me 3-4 days of not that intensive copy pasting to get FAQ uploaded on cardgamedb. It really is not an expensive thing to do if you create right tools… Especially if you design the site with support for fan work - they can do much quality work for free just because they like your game, but they can do so much more with right tools and some support. Think about what shattered ascension is doing for twilight imperium, my friends will not play the game without some of the fan proposed changes. Why not support it so its officially supported and easily accessible  fan contribution.

I'm not suggesting FFG immediately writes explanation of 1000+ cards in the pool. But consider doing it for core set cards, latest story cards and newly released expansions as they are released. And then eventually adding support for most misunderstood cards. This doesn't sound impossible and would help a ton as far as understanding what cards do is considered.

The only reason not to do it would be its too expensive. But i really cant see how expensive would it be, they are resolving all those problems and have made a nice detailed timing structure to solve problems. They just fail really hard at delivering it to players in an accessible form.

When i play with new players they often ask "does it work like this or like that" if FAQ is the only thing to help them out they would need really insane motivation to get some things straight. I do think this is one of the factors limitting player base. (Other major factor being no way to limit cost by buying certain fractions only; when someone wants to even try deckbuilding he needs like 2xCore + Secrets, and this is not that little when you dont know if you even like the game, and then if you want to play only one fraction APs card distribution doesn't give you much support; i really love LCGs idea of fixed cards, but trying to squeeze more money by stuff like no x3 or no way to concentrate on single fraction just discourages new players; and ppl who buy all would still buy all if it was more accessible to others, switching to x3 for all games seems to support this intuition)

Im just a fan so maybe real game producing business works difrently, but i do naively believe better product will sell better.



#4 jhaelen

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 08:58 PM

.Zephyr. said:

Im just a fan so maybe real game producing business works difrently, but i do naively believe better product will sell better.

Well, aside from the fact that good support is not a decisive factor whether a product sells well or not, imho, FFG is doing an excellent job in supporting their games. That their rules are often (needlessly) complicated is true, though, particularly for the LCGs. But then again: Aren't all CCGs incredibly tricky because of the uncountable ways in which thousands of cards might interact?

It is really up to the fans to set up a database with extensive clarifications - that's not within the scope of what a customer might reasonably expect from a publisher. For all of the previous CCGs I've played have such inofficial FAQs showed up on the internet at some point, and they're often several hundred pages long and thus not really something useful for new players.

Imho, it's the major obstacle that keeps LCGs from actually having main-stream appeal to casual players. Even if everything else seems to make it easy to get into the game, the rules require an amount of dedication that is detrimental to that goal.



#5 .Zephyr.

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 02:18 AM

I know that interaction makes rules hard to get, but I see not much support on my initiatives to make this games ruling more accessible.

Its really crazy how hard it is to find explanation when the card can't trigger and when part of effect is ignored. To the point of playing story cards wrong.

I wanted to clean up the FAQ but no one seemed to care much. And i do need help to get the rulings right. I cant really rewrite FAQ when i don't understand it in the first place and I don't feel much motivated when no one seems to care.

This card comments idea, just try yourself to do such comments for latest pack. When i tried to do it it turned out all 8 first cards had basic interactions i didn't understand… and i did put really much effort in understanding this games rules. I really think that with that complicated cards designs you need to inform players better or they will be playing a different game.

I think its not really lack of support as in "we dont care". Its lack of support as in we do give you rulings, but its such a mess its insanely hard to understand what we mean. They just put this effort in an as non effective way as possible. When i mailed Damon he did respond to my question, but his reply was in tone of "its all in FAQ, don't make assupmtions, read FAQ" and this is simply utopian to think that that complicated document is the good way to educate ppl, and this document does make many assuptions that are obvious to designer and not to new player - in an explanatory document you should write as many words as nesesary to make things clear, even stating the obvious.

Look at magicks FAQ:
http://www.wizards.c...agic/rules/faqs
 - plaintext HTML/DOC there is no need to have formatting, its a FAQ…
 - even basic interaction that can be deduced are explained; 
http://www.wizards.c...x?x=mtg/faq/m13
exalted explanation does mention many facts that are a consequence of wording - and not without purpose - it does clear things up considerably
 - per card answers; CoC is making general rules to solve problems with a tiny amount of cards… and doesn't just list the cards

I don't really see how big of a problem would per card FAQ be… its definitely better than answering the same problems over and over again.

And there are two ways to navigate such FAQ - use browser search, pretty basic all ppl who use internet often should eventually learn that. Or make some search interface - split documents to cycles and sort by nr for example.

Doing it for all cards is impossible, but just pasting an entry when someone mails a question in the per card FAQ instead of mail and responding with a set of links to newly added entries is not really much more work then just responding if interfaces are not totally butchered.



#6 AUCodeMonkey

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 05:13 AM

Damon has always been quick to get back to me (often within a half day) with a detailed explanation. I've found him to be receptive and pleasant to talk to as long as you're not a ****. I think the FFG support of talking to a game designer is quite nice, and I've been nothing but pleased.

That being said…

I don't think that a per-card FAQ is necessary. There are some sweeping generalizations that can be applied to most cards that are currently done. In fact, definitions, timing structure, and examples of specific card interactions are spelled out in the FAQ already, broken out into their respective sections, so it's easy to find. The fact that you take issue with the structure of the FAQ reflects on personal taste. That doesn't make FFG a company with poor customer relations. They may not have great customer relations in other regards, but this is not one of those areas.

We, as a player base, could probably do more to boost internet visibility of the game. That could happen from a purported per-card FAQ set up by users. But it'd have to come from the users. MTG has a much larger production base, as WotC has a much larger staff and has been doing CCGs for ~20 years. So your problem should be with us lazy (re: personally busy) fans, NOT FFG themselves. WotC didn't do what they did overnight; it came from fan implementation and later absorption from WotC.



#7 HilariousPete

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 06:10 AM

AUCodeMonkey said:

 

Damon has always been quick to get back to me (often within a half day) with a detailed explanation. I've found him to be receptive and pleasant to talk to as long as you're not a ****. I think the FFG support of talking to a game designer is quite nice, and I've been nothing but pleased.

 …

We, as a player base, could probably do more to boost internet visibility of the game. That could happen from a purported per-card FAQ set up by users. But it'd have to come from the users.

 

Totally agree to your experiences with rules questions!

That suggestion sounds reasonable… I'll add my received rulings to cardgamedb as comments. If enough people do this also (e.g. I have just seen an entry from Zephyr :-), it will serve well as the per-card-reference.



#8 .Zephyr.

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 08:08 AM

Try to see it from a perspective of a new player with no CoC community already established. How hard is it to know the rules?

Im playing with ppl who played in CCG era and still we make loads of mistakes regarding rules.

I tried to do sth about it, re read FAQ many times…

And still don't know so much.

I mailed Damon, my mail had too much frustration, but still he replied with rulings. But for me its still not enough as i have much more rule problems, and I cant just send 20 rule questions a day to a designer - even if he did patiently answer all of them it would be a waste of his time… Especially as with new AP i would ask about pretty much all cards…

And there are so many rule problems and no way for new player to do it efficiently in this game.

As of FAQ, are we talking about the same document…

1) Errata, this part is good. It should contain previous wording though so its clear whats changed. But its not that important. Sorted nicely by expansion and card number.

2) Then rules clarification. Good its here, but there is so much room for improvement.

a) dont be afraid to repeat rulebook; if its more clear that way. Digital paper costs 0$.

b) ordering:
http://students.mimu...62570/order.txt
(i did just get it from faq)
compare to:
http://students.mimu...aqPlaintext.htm

this order makes completely no sense, cost is split in multiple parts; parts about "then" "if able" "targetting" etc are all over the document, there is no logic, with 3 column layout it makes searching online a pain; printed should be a bit easier but still not ideal

c) explanatory approach; this document does have rules but doesn't really try to guide player to how ruling works

it says:

a is ok

b is ok

c is not

d is ok

instead of

Regarding stuff that happens when you do Z a,b,d are ok, but things like c are not

this fragmentation and no logic makes it really hard to grasp; especially as in real rule problem multiple of those rules interact

this hurts so much when you dont know what card can be played and what parts of effects are cancelled.

3) timing - this part is really nice IMO, its hard matter but is explained quite nicely; it should state stronger that passives have more tricky timing; it lacks some examples of situations where timing matters with detailed explanation; but overall its nice

4) questions about cards - good it explains some cards. Bad it doesn't give enough of an explanation on why it works like that, and order is random (the order rulings got into FAQ) This part is so much better uploaded on cardDB.



#9 .Zephyr.

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 08:19 AM

 You thin magic would do per card faq if it was a waste of time?

It helps new players a ton. Your problem is how X interacts with Y. When you're new you don even know what rules to look for… Not mentioning some cards depend on really wierd wording/timing/etc like Small Price to Pay depends on invulnerable + T/willpower + targetting + "then". Its insanely difficult to grasp if you just got into CoC… and this is one of the more usefull Core set card and does not have any wording prone to missinterpretation, just complex basic rules it invokes.

edit: Hmm now that i think of it. It still breaks my rule understanding… what happens when invulnerable/T/willpower characters are chosen? Can you play the card for no effect. If you cant trigger it whats the then for? Can you make one char insane and fail to wound invulnerable on your side?



#10 jhaelen

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 08:48 PM

.Zephyr. said:

 You thin magic would do per card faq if it was a waste of time?

Dude, you're comparing an ant to an elephant!

Magic has bazillions of players, so they can afford to provide an elaborate FAQ or develop a neat iPhone app. Considering the small CoC player base these things are just out of reach.

Judging from your posts you're really overthinking things. Damon's right: Don't make assumptions, look for FAQ entries to base your interpretation on facts.

If you have trouble finding the right rule to apply, ask the question in the forum, and if noone can answer your question, forward it to Damon. As mentioned, he's very quick to answer questions, particularly, if you've already done your homework and get right down to the point by asking precise questions.

Building a fan-based, per-card FAQ takes dedication, time and effort. Personally, I just don't have the time (and to be honest, I also don't have the dedication, since it's just a game and also just one of several games, I enjoy).



#11 .Zephyr.

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 02:28 AM

 Ok where is this huge time component, because i seem to be blind to it.

 - when someone asks Damon a question get answer posted on site with cards database like cardgameDB

 - when you publish new AP look at the cards and write a few sentences about the more complicated ones

it is a small amount of time more then you already are doing, both of the above are done, they're just not published for everyone…

 

I would like to do it, the problem is that I don't get how those cards work in the first place. Observing some discussions I'm not sure anyone does… only Penfold comes to mind.

 

Example question:

How does >Small Price< to pay work.

Regarding: invulnerability, T/willpower, wound cancel, insanity cancel, insanity replacement (Dexter Ward), wound replacement (expandible muscle), targets fleing (brass)



#12 Penfold

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 07:28 AM

 I'm failing to see what the problem is with Small Price to Pay.

"Action: Choose a character you control and a character an opponent controls. Choose one of those characters to go insane, then wound the other character."

You cannot choose an invulnerable character to be wounded. A character with Terror or Willpower cannot be chosen to go insane. If you chose one card with invulnerability and one with Teror or Willpower, you must drive the invulnerable one insane since you can't choose to drive a character with terror or willpower. If the Invulnerable character also had willpower or terror then neither character could be chosen to fulfill the first effect so the card would just fizzle.

All of this is spelled out very clearly in the Rulebook (regarding what cannot be done) and reinforced with entries in the FAQ (which tells you what happens after you've tried and failed).

How many hours do you think it would take to redesign the FAQ from scratch the way you suggest? How long do you think it would take to right additional rules for each card that comes out as well for each card that exists? Damon is one person. Your expectations have no basis in reality at all. I'd rather get a new asylum pack every month (or new faction box every four months) than have gaps created by Damon working on periphial stuff. The rules are there. It is my responsibility to learn them and abide them if it is important to me. It isn't like I can't figure this stuff out if I take the time. If I can figure it out anyone can. I just refer to the FAQ every time I have a question. Rarely is there something that does not have some sort of precedent in there. When there isn't it is because ti is a new mechanic, and shortly after release a FAQ comes out explaining things. If I can't wait I'll send in an email.

FFG produces quality games, at an affordable price, that I get a lot of repeat play value out of. If I wanted something that was easier to play or easier to understand I'd play Dominion or Ascension. Both fine games which I really enjoy, but I play Call of Cthulhu and A Game of Thrones because I like the complexity. If the game is too hard for you then it is just the wrong kind of game for you. There is nothing wrong with that. But if you keep tilting at this windmill you are going to very shortly be the boy who cried wolf. People will just stop responding.

And that is damn near where I'm at now. I mean this seems like a vendetta for you and borders on trolling.They are not going to suddenly hire an extra three or four people to work on this game. This game almost certainly does not generate enough money to justify that. Magic is where it is now because it has tens of thousands of players. It didn't do this overnight either. It was a good decade or so being one of the top 3 CCG best sellers (usually holding that top spot) before it got to the point where it is now. When we can make this games profits hit the tens of thousands of dollars in a quarter for a couple years in a row, I'm willing to bet they'll put more money into the game. Not likely to be a moment before that though.

At some point you just need to accept it or move on.



#13 .Zephyr.

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 11:18 AM

I'm blowing this out of proportion, but this is a result of my frustration trying to get those rules. I try to be constructive and think of solutions.

 

The main reason I'm suggesting this is because I believe it saves time in the long run. Unless you don't really care are rules understood by players you will have to answer all those different questions over and over. Doing it once saves your time. And with per card FAQ you have an opportunity to help to understand any more complicated situation you've designed.

You still need general rules, so the FAQ is needed. One of the steps i think would help with and without per card FAQ is cleaning up FAQs general section. Currently rulebook is not enough to solve rule questions. New, better rulebook is the FAQ, the problem is it doesn't look like a rulebook at all, rulings on similar things are all over the place, i think it would be great to fix that and rewrite FAQ information so it is rulebook like - more accessible.

 

I expect to either:

 -  see it is not possible or doesn't make sense

 - find ppl who agree that's the problem

If I find ppl who agree its a problem I would like them to help find the solution. Involving FFG or not. Even me writing stuff and someone checking does this game work like that would help a ton.

Currently I see it as "there is a big problem of players not understanding rules but noone seems to care or do sth with it".

 

Now back to Small price i have two main general problems:

1) when exactly card effect cannot be triggered (and how to resolve this)

2) some timings; especially stuff like passives that change or replace parts of effects, often worded in a way that makes me really confused about their intended timing, some disrupts and forced responses might have similar problems

You cant trigger Khopesh on Invulnerable because it would try to wound Invulnerable? right?

And with small price, say i have char with invulnerability A and opponent has blank char B.

Can i drive B insane and then try to wound A and fail? Is it effect that "seeks to specifically wound a character with Invulnerability" and cannot be triggered? Or is this "try to wound invulnerable as a consequence of many choices" not simple enough to stop me from triggering Small price, just ignore wounding part?

This is what i'm talking about.

What happens if i use expandable muscle to go insane, is the other character still wounded… (replacement vs then)

What when both chosen characters have willpower. I cant trigger the effect or it just does nothing?



#14 Penfold

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 07:58 AM

You are WAY over thinking all of this.

Can an effect be played? What is the immediate effect targeting? Is it  a legal target at the time of initiation?

A card that says choose a player or choose two characters or what have you is able to have legal targets so it is playable. What comes next is the effect that will try to resolve after some level of choices are made. Now those may or may not be legally targeted for the specific action trying to be executed. If there is a legal choice to make you must make that one. If both choices are illegal the effect fails. This is stated directly in the FAQ.

So I must choose a character to be made insane. I must choose a target that can legally be made insane. After that has been successful (not canceled by Unground Asylum for instance), the "then" effect seeks to resolve. If that effect would not have a legal target it then fizzles.

Your confusion has to do with understand what parts of an effect are requirements in order to play a card and then how to handle the effects after the initiation if something at a later point turns out to be illegal. The answer is also in the FAQ. You attempt to do as much of an effect as you can. ANything that is contingent on a previous effect must have that effect resolve successfully to even be attempted. So it only is considered by the games checks on targets and requirements once we know it is going to need to be resolved also. If that target turns out to be illegal then the conditional effect fails.

Khopesh cannot be used on a character with invulnerability because you cannot attempt to wound such a character (cannot in this game is absolute, it essentially means do not even try). Because it is a single effect that does the wounding of both characters not being able to trigger the effect just stops everything. Khopesh says specifically to wound the attached character as part of that single effect, so you are not allowed to even attempt to trigger it let alone attempt to resolve it. If it said wound all characters in play, or all characters you control, that would have been a general effect and it would have been perfectly legal. 






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