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What's the problem with Agency?


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#1 Danigral

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 05:51 AM

So after reading Tom's report, and seeing his comment about how "he wasn't that concerned about Agency," it starting me wondering why. It seems to have some of the best answers for monsters and villainous characters, and provide some relatively cheap answers to a few, big, dudes.

An example is Nathaniel Elton, a 3-cost heroic character with willpower that allows you to exhaust a heroic character to exhaust a villainous character, which can help kneel out Glaaki, Nug, or any other bad ancient one (except Y'Glonac). They have pretty cheap heroic characters as well. Another example is Paranormal Specialist, which can bounce a big ancient one. Sure, it has to be day, but there are a couple of support answers for that in Beneath the Burning Sun and The Rays of Dawn (the latter reducing the potency of monsters significantly), and if you're scared of support destruction there is The Daydreamer. Combining these with enough domains seems to create enough of a rush/stall strategy to take on a deck like Yog-Shub at least with a chance of success, no?

Agency is one faction that I've never really explored because they seem to have the most "vanilla" (i.e. straightforward) cards, and I have typically been drawn to the more interesting interactions of Yog and Syndicate. However, the well-rounded character base also seems to be a strength.

Any thoughts about Agency for tournament viability?



#2 COCLCG

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 10:39 AM

Oh. Agency is a threat all right. I took a very rough version of the below deck to the Australian Nationals (only had 1 week to build it and decided to severely handicap myself with a list of no go characters and factions) and but for a bit of bad drawing and 1 wrong card choice, could have easily taken the tournament (yes, that old drum). Made a couple of changes and now it beats Tom's and most other decks consistantly enough for me to be happy with it. Of course if you don't win the title, nobody around here seems interested with your efforts and innovation though, as it's had over 250 views and not a single comment on the deck.

The problem with Agency that I see is that to make full use of them it needs to be DAY, which kinda sucks a bit with all the support destruction around and I hope they change this with the expansion. But yeah. I like Agency. I think they're very competative at the tier 1 level, with the right choices, and have the damn best low cost events in the business. You do need to protect yourself against the ONE CARD WONDER that is NODENS, but it's doable. I'm loathe to use such unimaginative, talentless and blatantly overpowered cards, but there are many who aren't (and others who just plain need to for them to have a chance). If you want a full write up on the tournament it's in the Organised Play Forum under My Aus. Nationals report.

 

THE VEIL IS THIN

*Paul Lemond x 3

Agency Bodyguard x 3

Faceless Abductor x 3

*The Sleepwalker x 3

Undercover Security x 3

*Marshall Greene x 3

*Nathaniel Elton x 2

*Descendent of Eibon x 2

Constricting Elder Thing x 3

Fishers from Outside x 2

Many Angled Thing x 2

Stalking Hound x 3

 

Behind Bars x 3

Working a Hunch x 3

Casting off the Skin x 3

Twilight Gate x 3

Pushed into the Beyond x 3

Shotgun Blast x 3



#3 dboeren

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 04:00 PM

For me, Agency is one of the less attractive forums because they seem a little dull both thematically (being more or less just normal people with very little supernaturalness about them) and being too straightforward.  I like some tricks and unexpectedness and they're more of the "I shoot you dead" sort of faction.

COCLCG's example deck is of course not pure Agency, it's an Agency/Yog.  I haven't really found a mono-Agency deck that I like yet but they work just fine in dual-faction decks as long as you avoid mixing Heroic and Villainous of course.  Then you can use the other faction to provide whatever you feel Agency is lacking for your playstyle and create a little more unexpectedness.

They definately do benefit significantly from Day cards.  If it's true that the Dreamlands are being reprinted soon that may actually be a slight ding for them because there might be more other factions contesting the time of day and playing their own Night cards, etc…  We'll just have to see how that works out, but right now cards like Beneath the Burning Sun are really good if your characters are mostly Agency.



#4 GrahamM

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 06:58 AM

One of the problems with me for Agency is that they really don't get any interesting cards anymore. Almost all of Agency's really solid cards came out in Dreamlands or before (look at the cards in COCLCG's deck!)--these days they just get even more ways to retrieve/find attachments (which aren't all that great) or expensive characters with lots of combat/investigation and not much else. Agency late game gets really hard against all sorts of decks, considering lack of arcane and  expensive characters with nothing to offer besides more combat and investigation. I can appreciate what dboeren said about Agency being dull--but I think that's a product of the cards that are currently being made for Agency, which don't really offer much interaction potential with one another, and are really just variations on a theme of doing the same thing over and over again. If I had my way the next box set would definitely be Agency, no questions asked, and it would give them more exciting things to do in the late game (put icon boosters on characters, make attachment cards that are actually worth playing, introduce some cost reduction, give Agency a new way to deal with opposing characters that doesn't involve wounding, maybe make resource destruction a thing)

That being said, Agency has a small group of really good cheap/rush-y/rush-finisher cards, like Government Exorcist, Undercover Security, Marshall Greene, and Nathaniel Elton. But that's annoying too because essentially any mono-agency or dual faction deck with Agency is going to feature pretty much identical Agency cards.



#5 COCLCG

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 09:59 AM

GrahamM said:

Almost all of Agency's really solid cards came out in Dreamlands or before (look at the cards in COCLCG's deck

Haha. Thats another reason I love this deck. it is so old school !!

CORE: 14 / DREAMLANDS : 11 / SUMMONS : 8 / SILVER SERIES : 11 / YUGGOTH : 3 / REVELATIONS : 3



#6 Hybrid

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 07:21 PM

Has this 'Agency' deck beat Toms' deck with Tom playing it? burla



#7 dboeren

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 03:56 AM

I never really pay attention to what set cards came from and I don't sort my own cards that way so it's hard to comment on that part.

I think the Government theme works well for them, they've got a cost reducer for Government characters and most of them have Willpower so they're effective against decks with Terror and out-Combat just about anything else.  I know two people locally who like playing these sort of Agency decks.

I see that part of their theme is to use more attachments, mainly in the form of weapons, and I'm OK with that - that's why they get cards to find/retrieve attachments.  But, I'd like to see their attachments  branch out more.  They've got plenty of ones that buff combat, but maybe we could see some that buff other things or allow for interesting abilities.  For instance, maybe they could get a radio that they can use to call for support - letting them move one character from another story to the story of the attached character?  Some stuff more like that that still fits into the detective theme.



#8 COCLCG

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:48 AM

Hybrid said:

 

Has this 'Agency' deck beat Toms' deck with Tom playing it? burla

 

Seeing as we live on 2 different continents its a bit hard to organise that one, but I probably dont see him as a big threat like some seem to. Sure, he's got 4 'World' titles, but let's face it, 2 were with a broken combo that is now banned and the last was in a little 12 person tournament when the Aus. Nationals fielded 16 and the Euro's had 26 players. Being the best of a small bunch in a country that love's it's 'WORLD CHAMPION' titles doesn't impress me, especially when using decks that can be built by putting banana stickers on all the most powerful cards in the meta and giving the pool to a chimpanzee. Build a deck that forego's all the cool kids and mainstream strategies, do well with it, and then you'll have my respect.

I played 4 games against him on lackey when I still had less than 30 games under my belt (a long while ago with different decks each time) and after improving each game until by the 4th I had him on the ropes, I never saw him again.

I'm still a bit suspicious about it all as we spoke about my Regionals Yog/Shub deck and it's strategies on skype during that period when he was using Yog/Hastur in his Regionals. During the interval before Nationals I'd been refining, changing and updating with new AP's that same Yog/shub deck on Lackey until in its various forms was almost a carbon copy of the 'Worlds deck', then before I get to use it at my Nationals, there it appears (hence the 1 week build and unrefined original VEIL IS THIN).

BACK TO TOPIC (after answering that little swipe) 

As for the Government theme, that's probably my biggest gripe about Agency, in that Special Agent Clarkson is LOYAL, so if you want to make any sort of use with it it's pretty much gotta be mono.



#9 Danigral

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:11 PM

COCLCG said:

Hybrid said:

 

Has this 'Agency' deck beat Toms' deck with Tom playing it? burla

 

Seeing as we live on 2 different continents its a bit hard to organise that one, but I probably dont see him as a big threat like some seem to. Sure, he's got 4 'World' titles, but let's face it, 2 were with a broken combo that is now banned and the last was in a little 12 person tournament when the Aus. Nationals fielded 16 and the Euro's had 26 players. Being the best of a small bunch in a country that love's it's 'WORLD CHAMPION' titles doesn't impress me, especially when using decks that can be built by putting banana stickers on all the most powerful cards in the meta and giving the pool to a chimpanzee. Build a deck that forego's all the cool kids and mainstream strategies, do well with it, and then you'll have my respect.

I played 4 games against him on lackey when I still had less than 30 games under my belt (a long while ago with different decks each time) and after improving each game until by the 4th I had him on the ropes, I never saw him again.

I'm still a bit suspicious about it all as we spoke about my Regionals Yog/Shub deck and it's strategies on skype during that period when he was using Yog/Hastur in his Regionals. During the interval before Nationals I'd been refining, changing and updating with new AP's that same Yog/shub deck on Lackey until in its various forms was almost a carbon copy of the 'Worlds deck', then before I get to use it at my Nationals, there it appears (hence the 1 week build and unrefined original VEIL IS THIN).

BACK TO TOPIC (after answering that little swipe) 

As for the Government theme, that's probably my biggest gripe about Agency, in that Special Agent Clarkson is LOYAL, so if you want to make any sort of use with it it's pretty much gotta be mono.

Man, it's pretty easy to troll COCLCG… :P

I was thinking of a mono-Agency government deck, obviously because of the new Company card in the SoK box. Lot of great 3-cost characters with willpower, some answers to ancient ones, and some good events, Their weakness is arcane, and that wounding doesn't work on invulnerable.

My gripe with all the human factions is that they have no easy way to put in their big dudes; relatively nothing compared to the effects putting ancient ones into play.



#10 COCLCG

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:43 PM

Yeah, it's a character flaw. I just don't suffer fools and tools who have nothing to contribute to the conversation but snide little remarks with emoticons.

Can't say that I've built a mono but the neutral card MILITARY ADVISOR has always struck me as something I might include if I did.

It's something I've also found extremely strange in that the factions that really need some text box blanking to defend against, are the ones that have those cards. It seems to be a theme that I've discovered, in that the best defence against many of the popular strategies are contained within the factions that these strategies employ. Interesting.



#11 jhaelen

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 09:27 PM

Danigral said:

I was thinking of a mono-Agency government deck, obviously because of the new Company card in the SoK box. Lot of great 3-cost characters with willpower, some answers to ancient ones, and some good events, Their weakness is arcane, and that wounding doesn't work on invulnerable.

Agreed. I've recently played an Agency/Cthulhu deck in a tournament and the main weakness was the lack of Arcane icons (hence my inclusion of Cthulhu). Still, Agency has some very nice cards to contribute to rush decks.

Before Agency gets its Deluxe expansion I hope to see a Syndicate expansion, though. They're even more in need of a power-boost. While Agency's focus on a single thing (combat) is boring, it's at least consistent. Syndicate in the meantime completely lost its focus (exhaustion) and got cards of very dubious benefit (mostly about deck trickery, revealing cards, etc.) until most recently their focus seemed to shift towards the skill struggle.

 



#12 GrahamM

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:45 AM

Maybe this is just me, but I find Syndicate a much more fun faction to play with than Agency--I don't know about raw competitiveness but there's at least a lot of fun/small interesting combo potential to be had with Syndicate. With Agency you're basically choosing between rush or Government-Day. Syndicate gives me fun ideas anyway, whereas Agency it's basically "What if I tried an Agency-(insert faction here) rush deck?'



#13 dboeren

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:20 AM

I agree w/ GrahamM.  Whether you think they're underpowered or not, I find Syndicate a lot more fun to play than Agency.  Not only do they have more trickery, but they also seem to have more unexplored ground.  I often seem to notice some odd Syndicate card that does something interesting and a lot of their stuff doesn't seem to see play that often so people are caught by surprise with it.

Right now two of the main Syndicate themes are exhaustion (and the somewhat related uncommit effects) and skill manipulation which has been on the rise since Mr. David Pan hit the scene a year and a half ago.

I don't have a listing handy, but a couple weeks ago I was trying out a fun Syndicate deck that was doing OK combining exhaustion, some uncommit effects, and a high-combat emphasis - on the theory that if they had few characters that could go to stories I might as well threaten to kill those too, as well as provide a disincentive to bringing guys with Arcane to combat my exhaustion or Investigation to try to out-token me.  Anyway, it was a fairly casual deck but I'm sure it could be tuned up and it was fun to bring some less commonly seen guys along for instance James Crusher.  High skill, good combat, or if straight up kill isn't working out he can convert into a Kidnapping 101 on that story.

It's hard to go back and add new subtypes later, but I'm hoping that whenever the Syndicate box comes out it will give us some new ones.  Gambler for instance seems like it would fit nicely.  By themselves, subtypes do nothing of course, but they open up more design space for other cards to do something and can be used to give incentives to use different cards than the ones which have become "standard" because you can write new cards that buff the replacement (with a different subtype) without also buffing the standard card.



#14 HilariousPete

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:43 AM

For me the problem is that Agency focuses on wounding and combat struggles. This may be good in a rush deck, but I can't see how to deal with invulnerable characters. E. g. Shotgun, Shotgun Blast or Prize Pistol are very nice, but they're futile against Nyarlathotep, Carl Stanford, Y'Golonac or Flying Polyps. And those 4-cost characters can pop into the game pretty fast, see Tom Capor's recent deck. Nug + Under the Porch increase that problem further. Luckily, Agency also has some decent exhaustion / anti-committing cards (e.g. Behind Bars, Nathaniel Elton or Trial Judge), but the main theme (guns and combat and wounding) isn't successful enough, IMO. Perhaps if FFG released an event with wich a target character loses invulnerability… or a character or support that replaces invulnerability with toughness +3, then things would change.



#15 AUCodeMonkey

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:20 AM

There is nothing wrong with Agency. Sure, it's a great support faction. THE END. It used to be a great main faction, but it's not that anymore. I have a great Agency/Silver Twilight deck that competes very well. Tom's Worlds deck has a lot of things to thwart what are seen as Agency's new tricks (OMG ATTACHMENTS!) but there are some cards from the Core Set that are still extremely powerful and are great cards to this day: A Small Price to Pay, Paul Lemond, and Shotgun Blast stand out quite a bit. My favorite OMG card is Intervention, and it's Agency.

The TL;DR version - What's the problem with Agency? People don't know how to use it :-P



#16 GrahamM

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:55 AM

You don't think that constitutes a problem, AUCodeMonkey? The fact that Agency hasn't gotten a really useful card for like three sets and is essentially limited to being a rush support faction? I think it's pretty dumb that an entire faction has been relegated to that capacity. I'd be interested to see your Silver Twilight Agency deck, too--if the cards in it are much different at all from the ones in COCLCG's Yog-Agency deck or the Hastur-Agency deck I have I'd be pretty surprised.

I don't mean to sound snarky hear--I just played Agency basically throughout all of blackborder and the fact that nothing interesting has happened to the faction for years is a little annoying to me.



#17 Carioz

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:20 PM

Problems with Agency:

Structural

1) Utter lack of 2-1s in the low cost bracket (the closest thing is Government Exorcist, admittedly one of the top efficient characters in the game).

2) Low displacement ability due to lack of terror (under usual circumstances can displace only 1 character per story without using additional cards by winning the C struggle) hinders rush.

These two points exacerbate each other to the situation where, if one player uses agency, he just keeps losing steam in prolonged games.

Situational

3) Current metagame is chockfull of cards which hose the top agency choices really well.

Good things in Agency:

1) Excellent low cost character selection

2) Great metagame tools: there are few points during the year when current cardpool almost dictate to use agency. Too bad that by the time big tourneys roll around it becomes always a second string choice.



#18 Magnus Arcanis

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:34 AM

One thing we have to remember is that this game is always in flux. Some factions will be at the top, others will be at the bottom. For the first 2 years of LCG Agency was undeniably the top overall faction. By year 3, it was regulated to mid-range, possibly top end of the mid-range. Now, it’s towards the bottom.

Agency’s strength was its’ versatility in that could deal with nearly any threat, rather inefficiently at times but capable none the less. Now, it’s that same inefficiency is what is bringing it down. To further explain, very few of Agency’s cards aren’t 1 for 1+. Aka, my opponent loses/I get 1 card for 1 or more of my cards. Take “A Small Price to Pay.” This was/is a staple for Agency. I have to drain 1 for it, send one of my guys insane (or wound) to deal just 1 wound (or send one guy insane). While it is cheap, it’s not efficient in terms of card advantage. Based on today’s speed, just being cheap isn’t enough anymore to make up for its’ inefficiency.

The above is common throughout Agency’s card pool.

Now, as far as my concern for it at worlds. 1) I’m not the only person to figure out than Agency’s versatility isn’t worth as much as it used to be. So, I predicted that I was unlikely to see any Agency decks. 2) There are, maybe, a handful cards that are even a threat to my deck and they all do a poor job of actually stopping the deck I played. 3) My guys were bigger, I was playing them much faster, and I had answers for the problem cards.

Agency was an easier matchup for the deck I used.  Simple as that. Arguably… in terms of mono-matchups, it was probably my easiest matchup.

Having said all of that. Agency is still very much a threat. It still has answers to many situations and is still competitive. It isn’t top dog anymore, but that doesn’t mean it can’t win.



#19 Jan

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 04:49 AM

What about that conspiracy from the core set for text box blanking?




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