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What do you think of asymmetrical LCG designs?


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#1 dboeren

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 07:15 AM

Both of the last two LCGs, Netrunner and Star Wars are asymmetical.  Netrunner is much more so than Star Wars, but both games have their factions split into two halves that can never mix, at least some rules that are different for each side, and although the tournament rules for Star Wars are not out yet I expect both will want players to bring two decks and each match will consist of two games with the scores added together to determine a winner.

Thematically, an asymmetical game can have benefits - especially if the two sides are significantly different.  But from a practical point of view it takes twice as long to play matches and with Netrunner I've seen a surprising number of posts about players who only want to play one side.  In casual play these people can usually be accommodated but it would keep them out of tournaments and honestly I think it doesn't do much for the game's reputation.  Someone who only likes one half of the game is unlikely to become a proponent of the game overall.

 

What do you guys think?  Do you want to see more asymmetical designs or would you rather see the next LCG go back to a more conventional approach with symmetrical player roles?

If you like asymmetrical games, are there specific themes that you think would work really well?



#2 SiCK_Boy

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 07:52 PM

I don't have anything against asymetrical games, nor do I think they are necessarily good either.

However, I can see a lot of advantages from a design pespective with doing this. You limit the card pool for each side (since the overall game card pool remains similar to what is seen in other LCG). Less cards means you limit the risk of something broken slipping through. This is probably important to FFG, considering the limited amount of playtesting that seems to be happening with their games.

It also means a slower release pace, something they want to be careful with in the LCG model.

However, I agree there are major cons, especially in a game like Netrunner where both sides play so differently (each side has its own card types, etc.). Star Wars isn't so bad; both sides play the same type of cards, following the same rules, so it's much easier to switch from LS to DS.



#3 Toqtamish

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 12:18 AM

Both of the current asymmetrical LCGs are two of my favorite card games, ever. So I really like  them. They are different and challenging and in a way especially Netrunner, feels like two games in one when you play both sides. I have played a LOT of card games but these two are my first asymetrical and both are fantastic.



#4 dboeren

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 03:54 AM

I like the fact that in a game where the sides are very different like Netrunner, you effectively get two games in one.  If there are more asymmetrical LCGs coming down the pike, I think I'd prefer for them to be of this sort rather than Star Wars where both sides are about the same and the division is mainy just there for thematic reasons.  It's not asymmetrical, but Warhammer: Invasion seems to me a little similar in that the factions are divided into Order/Chaos or whatever but it seems purely for theme - there's no actual rules reason they need to be separate.  If there is one though, let me know as I haven't played it - mainly just watched the tutorial video.

Honestly, I'm still not convinced on Star Wars, but for reasons that have nothing to do with it being asymmetrical.  I may still pick it up but I want to see how the first couple packs develop to get more feel for the direction the game is moving in.

 

I was trying to come up with some good asymmetrical themes, perhaps you guys can think of more:

Dungeon keeper vs. adventuring party

Suvivors vs. zombies (or whatever other attacking entity you want)

Hunter vs. Prey (this could be Alien vs. Nostromo, the Predator movie, Lions vs. Gazelles, basically anything where something stalks something else)

Turn most any co-op boardgame theme into an LCG (ie - Pandemic LCG, etc…)

Assassin vs. target (this is really just a specific case of Hunter vs. Prey, but possibly license the Assassin's Creed name?)

 



#5 Saturnine

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 08:20 PM

I can see both pros and cons for asymmetrical games, but I personally am very intrigued by the concept. I love Netrunner. Not sure I'd categorize SW as asymmetrical -- the victory conditions are asymmetrical, but the gameplay is largely symmetrical.

What I'd be interesting in seeing is a asymmetrical multiplayer game (maybe 3 players) -- though I imagine it would be a balancing nightmare.

Also, I'm wondering about the viability of an asymmetrical co-op game, e.g. you play as different crew members of a star ship (pilot, engineer, weapons, etc.), each with their own cards and mechanical contributions against a scenario/encounter deck (think Lord of the Rings LCG).



#6 dboeren

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:15 AM

Hmm, the starship crew idea sounds interesting.  But, too many roles may create some issues I think.  Netrunner and Star Wars require a player to have 2 decks ready in order to play.

If there are 3 asymmetrical sides then you need 3 decks.  It also may mean that you need to play 3 rounds in a tournament?  Not sure about that one, how you'd score such a thing.

Or, you can design FACTIONS that are asmmetrical while leaving the gameplay itself symmetrical.  Sort of like Starcraft did. I never played it, but a friend of mine told me about the old Alien vs. Predator CCG which had 3 factions that each played pretty differently - not just playstyle but each one having its own unique rules and such.   Basically in such a game there are not 3 sides, there are 2 sides and each side has 3 possibilities of who's on it with each one having unique rules that come into effect if that faction is in play.

So, imagine for instance a game where Faction A has land cards, can play as many actions as he can pay for, and draws 1 card per turn.  Faction B has an income in money, has X actions to spend each turn, and pays an action to draw.  Faction C gets 2 draws per turn, can use any card as a resource, and is limited in actions by how many resource piles he has.  Maybe some sides can play events on the opponent's turn and some can only take actions on their own turn?  It would be a royal pain to design & balance, and hard at times to design cards that will "work" against any sort of opponent ("I play an event that makes you lose 5 money".  "Um, my side doesn't use money…"), but it would be interesting to see.



#7 Saturnine

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:05 PM

dboeren said:

Hmm, the starship crew idea sounds interesting.  But, too many roles may create some issues I think. Netrunner and Star Wars require a player to have 2 decks ready in order to play.

If there are 3 asymmetrical sides then you need 3 decks.  It also may mean that you need to play 3 rounds in a tournament?  Not sure about that one, how you'd score such a thing.

That was my idea for a co-operative game, so I don't really see it as a tournament game (much like how LOTR does not have a working tournament format). Still, I do agree that having too many distinct roles can potentially lead a bunch of issues, both with regards to organized play and just mechanically in general.



#8 sharoth

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 02:23 AM

I really like the asymetrical gameplay in Netrunner. Star Wars isn´t in my opinion that asymetrical, both sides have the same base rules just diffrent winning requierments.

Though I like the way Netrunner is played, I think there shouldn´t be many asymetrical games. It requieres rather complex rules and that limits the player base. Also there aren´t a lot of themes that would benefit from a asymetrical playing stile, all the "combat" based games work best if both sides have the same rule set.



#9 Saturnine

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 09:36 PM

sharoth said:

Though I like the way Netrunner is played, I think there shouldn´t be many asymetrical games. It requieres rather complex rules and that limits the player base. Also there aren´t a lot of themes that would benefit from a asymetrical playing stile, all the "combat" based games work best if both sides have the same rule set.

I'm not sure I agree on rule complexity limiting the player base -- at least Netrunner enjoys a tremendous amount of popularity at the moment. To be fair, at least Netrunner is not really that complex compared to other, more complex games (even some symmetrical games). I do however agree that one needs to be careful not to develop asymmetrical games for asymmetry's sake. The reason it works to well for Netrunner is that it integrates so well with the theme. The narrative of a computer hacker infiltrating the servers of a megacorporation is inherently asymmetrical, and it is reflected in the gameplay mechanics.



#10 dboeren

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 04:51 AM

I was talking with a friend the other day about this topic and we were trying to come up with good asymmetrical themes.  It wasn't easy to find good ones where both sides would have equally interesting things to do.  Most of them ended up with one side sounding a lot richer and more interesting than the other.  Then again, maybe "putting up walls against hackers" didn't sound so exciting at first either.

On the plus side though, the theming part seems to work really well - asymmetry appears to automatically give your game a narrative of sorts that's inherently more interesting than the usual symmetrical game of "I play dudes to beat you up, then you play dudes to beat me up."  OK, so that's an oversimplification, but hopefully the point makes sense.



#11 sharoth

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 06:26 AM

Well Netrunner is more complex in the way that it bassicly has two diffrent rulesets than moast other card games. It takes me always around one hour to explain the game to a new player when compared to games like magic I would need 5 to 10 minutes. It also has a pretty steep learning curve, it takes a good amount of training to win on a regular basis.

 

to deboeren:

Sure asymmetry gives you a nice narration through the game, but as you said its hard to come up with a theme that really works. Even if you found a really interessting theme asymmetrical games are way harder to balance than symmetrical games. Thats in my opinion a big reason why there are so few asymmetriacl games out there and why I think we won´t see a lot of them in the future. (But to be honest I don´t see FFG releasing a new LCG in the until late 2014/2015 anyway).






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