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Gameplay vs Deckbuilding - Does deckbuilding even matters?


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#1 SiCK_Boy

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:26 AM

I must state I only played using the Core set pre-built decks yet.

I did give a go to building custom decks yesterday (using 2 Core sets) and I'm not sure how I feel about the experience.

Picking the right objective sets is quite the balancing act. You need to determine which cards you really want, sometimes being forced in using less desirable cards that come along with a given set. You need to make sure you have enough resource production (in the right affiliation), a good balance of cards to use in edge battle and enough units to be able to build up your army.

All that while picking only 5 objective sets (well, you can pick more, but then you are dilluting your deck's focus).

Compare to a game like Netrunner, where you pretty much pick 15 card sets to play (3 copy of each cards), or even Magic where you pick 8 to 10 sets (4 copy of each cards, plus a bunch of lands). I feel like the deckbuilding mechanism in Star Wars severely limits your options. I'm just not sure how good or bad of a thing that is.

My impression is that it will mean that gameplay (and luck of the draw) will be much more critical to success than actual deckbuilding. Although it also means you can build quite a few different decks (not just based on affiliation, but also thematically speaking as well), which may not be such a bad thing (assuming a number of decks are of equivalent strength… I have to presume here that they did their job correctly as designers). Or maybe we'll just end up with a bunch of rock-paper-cissor type of decks (where you can't have a single deck beating all others consistenly).

What are your thoughts on this? Do you see deckbuilding as a crucial element of this game or can you just pretty much throw in any 5 objective sets in 2-of and have a fair chance of winning? (I know, I know… not just any 5, but I'm sure you get what I mean here).



#2 MarthWMaster

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:13 AM

To answer the primary topic question, I believe that deckbuilding does indeed matter. As for the secondary question, yes it should. Ideally all CCGs should be built around a combination of deckbuilding skill and play skill. In SWLCG, deckbuilding is a HUGE part of the game. It's just a type of deckbuilding players has ever required players to include cards they don't want to use, so that now it's a matter of comparing objective sets as a whole, rather than individually. I think your post suggests that you understand this well, even if you aren't consciously aware of it. Here, it's about finding synergy between cards of different objective sets. As has been stated by the design team, your decisions per deck are fewer, but each of those decisions has drastic impact on the makeup of the deck, so that while throwing random objective sets from the same affiliation will produce a playable deck, it won't necessarily be a competitive one. If you look closely at each affiliation's existing options, you will notice that they tend towards different themes in the Core Set. Sith is about hand advantage and milling, but it is also about board control through unit destruction. You can mix these together (and indeed must, if you've not bought two Core Sets and are building pure Sith), but once the card pool expands beyond these basic options, choices more relevant to a deck's consistency will become available, and I think it should become more and more obvious down the road that deckbuilding does matter.



#3 Xenu's Paradox

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 07:50 AM

I think FFG's found a good balance between deckbuilding and playing, with every one of your decisions carrying great consequences. Want to run a copy of It Could Be Worse? Well, you're stuck with 2 Rebel Sympathizers and a Common Ground. Hm. You were going to go mono Rebellion, but maybe now you ought to throw in some Jedi and/or Smugglers so that you aren't wasting 3/5 of that pod. Thinking about dropping that Emperor into play this turn? Well, you could drop a Royal Guard and Boba Fett instead, and save Palpatine for the Edge battle.



#4 MasterJediAdam

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 08:23 AM

Spot reserved for response after playing a few games, but I am excited about the idea of a "pod" of cards. It would seem that there is some skill in this, but it could run the risk of becoming a P/R/S scenario later in game development without also further "pod" development …


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#5 Kordos

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 08:28 AM

I love the deck building in his game, feels much more strategic having to work around options you may not really want or unavoidable drawbacks if you want a certian pod



#6 Toqtamish

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:23 AM

Deckbuilding is very imporant in this game. It may be alot easier and require fewer decisions but each of those decisions has a lot more importance as you have to take the cards as a whole objective set, the good and the not so good.



#7 Ravncat

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 01:28 PM

I actually think that deckbuilding in SW:lcg is A. more versatile than in Magic, and B. the play is less prone to luck of the draw than other deckbuilding card games. This probably needs some explanation on my part, as I doubt that this will be a popular opinion. I agree that deckbuilding in Star Wars is more constrained than in other card games, giving the appearance of less choices, but as stated by others above, the weight of your choices is now increased as you're looking at objective sets as a whole and must value the whole objective set (pod). I think our experience from other card games is giving us a hampering bias with this system.

(Added in - Sorry this became a wall of text below)

(a) In a clever way, the designers have created a system where we are more likely to see "not so great" cards (Like Magic's crap rares) hit play more often. These "poor cards" have yet to really be isolated from something that's useful, as none of the pods are terrible. As more pods are released, we'll be thinking about those cards we don't like in those pods that we like to use more often. I suspect synergies between pods are going to become far more important than the individual pods. So we have fewer card choices, but more weighty pod choices, that will lead to a greater variety of cards in a deck - and more interesting choices and interactions in the future.

Competative Magic tends not to do so well as you dilute your individual cards - and as you said you tend to play 8-10 sets and land for probabilities sake. Generally - those choices are constrained by what you want to do with combos and color, and the land choices fall out mathematically based on what you have - but if you're thinking about which 8-10 cards, that's not a whole lot more decisions than 5-10 for which objective sets. I'd say the real lack of choices in star wars are for how the different decks work (Weenie, Control, Agro), but that's a function of the game being in it's core state with relatively few extra mechanics. I think we'll see some interesting new deck archtypes for SW in the future - like Fate decks, or Balance Decks. (You have prototypes of those now with people running multi twists of fate, and people running things that take advantage of the balance of the force) We just have fewer options to choose from - those magic card choices don't have to be sets of 4 of course, and you have thousands of cards to choose from, as opposed to about 36 pods.

Our number of choices will increase as the game goes on. I like to believe we'll see competative Star Wars decks in more variations than we will in Magic, because of the pod viability. Competative magic, in the popular type 2 format, tends to have 2 or 3 competative decks, the top deck, the deck that beats the top deck, and the deck that beats that, but loses to the top deck - with variations and rogues. I'm not so sure we'll see that happen because of the Pods - I think we would see that happen if we could choose any 10 objectives, and any cards we wanted as sets of 4 in star wars. (Darth Vader, Force lighting, Force Choke, and thinking about how those strong cards have lots of force Icons… ) Magic also has cards that are strictly better than other cards - why would you play a 1/1 lion for 1, when you could play a 1/2 lion for 1? Why would you play shatter over shattering pulse? I don't think we will see a pod that is "strictly" better than another - even if we see cards that are strictly better within the pods, because of the surrounding cards!

 

(B) Second, Magic and many other card games have to create some kind of card drawing engine, but in SW, we have one built in, we can fairly easily cycle through 6 cards per turn, with 50 cards in the objective deck, we're capable of seeing just about our whole deck in 8 turns, without extra card drawing. - Compare this to 1/4th of our deck in magic without extra drawing. This means we're about as likely to get to a single Vader as we are to get 1 of 4 of a set of key cards in magic, in a simmilar number of turns! Coupled with the edge battle system, we never really have fully dead cards in SW. Suddenly multiples of a "legendary card" are always useful - or even those not so great cards - they always have a place in the important edge battles!

This leads me to think that we will see decks that go over the basic 10 objective minimum, as we get more card draw abilities - or need to splash in some higher force Icon cards - diluting the deck may not matter as much, unless we are looking to play specific combo's like the leia, fall back tricks we see. When we go to overall deck synergy, and fast drawing - Diluting may not matter as much - if we are diluting with good synergy… I'm more likely to use single objective sets, than limiting myself to 5 sets (sure there's a place for doubles, especially with just the core available!) I feel more free to push 11 or 12 objective sets than I do to go above 60 in Magic. It's the combination of the drawing mechanic and the idea of pods that lead me to think we'll see more variance in what people play - and more variance in what is viable from a much more limited card pool than magic.

 

TL;DR - not so limited in choices, not stuck to luck of the draw as might appear

 

 

 

 



#8 Darik

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:46 PM

Deckbuilding in this game seems to be about making a small number of very important choices. Every little decision matters a whole lot more in the outcome of the entire deck than it does in a game where you can switch out cards willy-nilly. I have found that is generally true in the gameplay arena as well. In our first game, the decision to commit a Tie Fighter to the Force (for the Balance of the Force battle) on the DS player's first turn was HUGE in the overall outcome of the game. I liked that the presence of ONE LONE TIE Fighter on a secret mission (or what have you) mattered several turns later. 

I think I'm going to enjoy the game very much and I like that every seemingly innocent decision can be very important.



#9 Harry S Truman

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 03:49 PM

Deckbuilding in this game is like Fantasy Football: a small number of very important decisions.  By contrast, deckbuilding in Magic is more like Fantasy Baseball: large number of less important decisions.  I enjoy both Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Football, and I enjoy both Magic and SW:LCG.  Nonetheless, I find the decisions in Fantasy Football tougher and, therefore, more interesting.  So far I'm finding the same with this card game: tough decisions are good!



#10 MasterJediAdam

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 05:07 PM

Harry S Truman said:

Deckbuilding in this game is like Fantasy Football: a small number of very important decisions.  By contrast, deckbuilding in Magic is more like Fantasy Baseball: large number of less important decisions.  I enjoy both Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Football, and I enjoy both Magic and SW:LCG.  Nonetheless, I find the decisions in Fantasy Football tougher and, therefore, more interesting.  So far I'm finding the same with this card game: tough decisions are good!

Well stated. Though I haven't built any decks yet, I hope that this is true, and not that the game eventually becomes an R/P/S game.


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#11 rogue_lead

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:32 PM

"Fewer but more important".  Absolutely agree.

Having played several games with constructed decks out of 2 core sets, I will say that deckbuilding becomes more important on a macro level since every choice has 6-cards' worth of significance (10% of a deck).  A poor choice means an inefficient objective and 5 dead cards in hand which do not interact well with the other cards.  A more well thought-out deck will also consider uses for what may be deemed sub-par cards, whether they be for Edge battles or to support a secondary theme in the overall strategy.

I'm already starting to sense a rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock hierarchy in the way the various factions engage with each other and when you throw in the neutral pods, there is actually a tremendous amount of variation between various builds, which did not seem apparent to my play group initially.  Some tools are great against certain decks, but may be useless against others but you'd still want to pack it in there to be safe.  But that means you'd have to take everything else in that pod.  So knowing your meta and what's available to the other side becomes more important, since you don't have such a flexible approach to dealing with all possible threats.



#12 MasterJediAdam

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 04:01 PM

rogue_lead said:

"Fewer but more important".  Absolutely agree.

Having played several games with constructed decks out of 2 core sets, I will say that deckbuilding becomes more important on a macro level since every choice has 6-cards' worth of significance (10% of a deck).  A poor choice means an inefficient objective and 5 dead cards in hand which do not interact well with the other cards.  A more well thought-out deck will also consider uses for what may be deemed sub-par cards, whether they be for Edge battles or to support a secondary theme in the overall strategy.

I'm already starting to sense a rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock hierarchy in the way the various factions engage with each other and when you throw in the neutral pods, there is actually a tremendous amount of variation between various builds, which did not seem apparent to my play group initially.  Some tools are great against certain decks, but may be useless against others but you'd still want to pack it in there to be safe.  But that means you'd have to take everything else in that pod.  So knowing your meta and what's available to the other side becomes more important, since you don't have such a flexible approach to dealing with all possible threats.

 

It is because of this I wonder how the company will deal with this. It might be as simple as a "re" release of certain cards in pods, or game text that allows certain cards to see play; though I suspect the former before the latter.


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#13 spalanzani

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 02:05 AM

With just the core set available, I've not found much importance to deckbuilding yet, I have to say. There are some very small choices when you get the second core set bundled in, putting in 2x A Hero's Journey so you get two Lukes, or whatever, but the core set pods do seem to have been designed to work well enough with themselves, so the swapping out of one pod to include 2x of another still isn't that big a deal right now. I imagine, though, that by the time of the end of the Hoth cycle, when we should hopefully have two deluxe boxes and six Force packs' worth of pods to choose from, it will be a lot more of an issue. 


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#14 agnos

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 04:09 AM

Both aspects are very important. Right now there's still a decent amount of luck in the game. In general, good deckbuilding and good luck will net wins. 



#15 geki

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 05:15 AM

agnos said:

Both aspects are very important. Right now there's still a decent amount of luck in the game. In general, good deckbuilding and good luck will net wins. 

 

I think you're underestimating in game skill



#16 dbmeboy

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 07:49 AM

geki said:

agnos said:

Both aspects are very important. Right now there's still a decent amount of luck in the game. In general, good deckbuilding and good luck will net wins. 

 

I think you're underestimating in game skill

In game skill is huge in this game. The game play is so tactical… Just last night I won 2 games I probably shouldn't have due to slight misplays by my opponent.

#17 agnos

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 09:07 AM

I'm not saying good play won't win games. In general, I think all other things being equal play skill wins out. That said, I've experienced a number of games where play skill was mostly irrelevant. I played probably 20 games last night with a friend who I would consider as good or better. We essentially split games. That said, it was obvious a number of times where sheer luck had a far greater impact. Eg random discard of Han turn 1, a mostly flat board into an empy off the top (only drawing 2), turn 1 interrogation nabbing a resource generator, Motti off the top to negate a Jedi mind trick, 3 of 4 splash objectives getting flipped resource choking a deck, flipping into a key objective after losing one, etc. In my experience, the swinginess of the game can tend to trump gameplay. 

 

That said I've lost 3 games to making a single mistake and won at least 6 due to outplaying my opponent. 



#18 MasterJediAdam

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 10:32 AM

I don't thing agnostic is underestimating the in game skill, but rather that there is definitely something to be said for deckbuilding and luck with a limited card pool that is further limited by pods and factions. 


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