Having just returned to the game, my perspective comes with a grain of salt.
That being said, one of the reasons I didn't come back sooner was because the card pool is so large. Getting my hands on everything is not exactly a one stop shopping experience at my local brick and mortar. As it has been pointed out there are certain CPs that have sold out and are completely unavailable.
However, the frequency product does come out, and for the price point, it was worth making the switch from a traditional CCG product.
During the mid-cycle of their rotation, Company A puts out 4 expansions a year + a direct to player set you have to buy from them. If you want to get a playset of all relevant cards and a decent shot at the majority of “rare” cards, you have to buy a box of boosters and each of the starters (usually three different ones) for each expansion. That’s roughly $150 per expansion (if you buy your product through an online distributor and not a brick and mortar, it would be close to double that if you paid MSRP at the brick and mortar). Then the Direct to Player set from Company A costs $120 (after shipping).
At the end of the year you paid close to $750 to get roughly 800 different cards
With AGoT you pay $180 to get about 240 different cards over the course of the same time frame. One top of that, each house is only really seeing maybe 40 new cards to add to their decks over the course of a year.
Obviously, the extra 560 cards in the pool will have a much bigger impact on Company A’s game. But you are shelling out a lot more money for that impact.
Under the current model, the meta of AGoT will continue to be sluggish unless design/development makes bold direction changes to the way cards interact, and can implement that in a way the results in an immediate impact.
Some of that can be done in what cards are chosen for each individual chapter pack.
For example, right now every house gets something in every CP, so every month there is, perhaps, a minor tweak here and there with a players deck. If the CP was house specific, the impact of the 20 (or so) cards would be much greater; but the wait to get another “infusion” of new cards would be longer per house.
In other words, you get a more spiky flow as opposed to a smooth trickle. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. Two distinct themes/archetypes (call them what you will) can be played with over the course of 5 months as you wait for your turn to come around again.. though that is still a bit long.
Another option is to increase the release time to bi-weekly. Instead of 12 installments you get 24 per year.
That doubles the cost, but increases the card pool. Combined with the previous option of releasing house based CPs players would only have to wait a few months before they got their next influx of cards to play with.
Jan – Stark & Greyjoy
Feb – Baratheon & Martell
Mar – Lannister & Targaryen
They still have to put the unaligned/generic/non-house specific cards in each of the CPs so you still have to buy them if you want to get that stuff.
A third option is to take a hard look at what they want to do with each house and how they can design them to have multiple archetypes within them.
Company A has many different factions, each of those factions has 4 distinct archetypes. 1 or 2 of those are heavily (but not fully) supported up front in their cycle rotation and as the cycle progresses towards its end, the other archetypes catch up and by the end of it you have a vibrant and dynamic environment.
The problem with this is two-fold. One, they have a rotation cycle and AGoT does not. Two they are releasing cards at a rate 4 times the speed AGoT does so they can actually support each faction having 4 archetypes to begin with.
However, the second of those issues could be resolved by following the previous options of increasing the production/release of CPs and making them house specific. Each house could get 4 CPs per year which could support up to 4 archetypes (though I wouldn’t push it past 3 based on the small number of cards released per CP).
The question then becomes does rotation make sense, and it is a question that every single game eventually has to address or it dies.
If you don’t rotate the available card pool you may develop problems attracting new players. As older product dries up, and becomes unavailable, players get frustrated that some of their peers have access to stuff they don’t (especially if the company doesn’t reprint those cards).
You could also, eventually, run into an issue of too many options for competitive players.
Most competitive players are min-maxers, they will always look for the most efficient way to achieve their victory condition. If new cards coming out are not competitive in that aspect then the new cards may as well be coasters, for all the competitive players care.
But not everyone is a competitive player, so there has to be something thematic in the new cards to satisfy those players (we are getting back to Ned, Jaime, and who was that last guy?)
From what others are describing in the posts above, it sounds like: with only 120 cards in each Chapter, which are then divided down into a fraction of which any one house could play, the odds that enough of them are making a competitive play impact are slim.
Perhaps I am not gauging the situation correctly, but that’s the impression I am getting.
I haven’t been back long enough to know if it’s a design/development issue where they are ultra conservative with the cards they create; or if they just need to do a better job distributing the ones they do.
But I do know that there are likely many factors that go into why they are doing things the way they are. Is it possible they could implement any or all of the options I laid out? Sure. But there may be valid, if not strong, reasons why they can’t or shouldn’t.
Either way, Ktom did the right thing by starting this post.
He made his frustration known, gave the community an opportunity to weigh in on the topic and send a message to FFG about what the players, at least here on the forums, are experiencing and would like to see.
That always has been the first step in seeing changes to this game.
For me, I am not interested in dropping $750 a year to play a game a few times a week. I can handle $180/year, I could even handle $360/year, but I think that would be the most at this point based on what you get for that $$.