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Considering a Switch to a Different LCG—any advice?

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#1 Twn2dn



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Posted 24 January 2013 - 05:29 AM


I have played A Game of Thrones since 2005, and my enthusiasm for this game has never been lower. Here is the dilemma: I love this game first and foremost for the community. I have met many of my closest friends through this game, and have many wonderful memories. In terms of game mechanics, I find AGOT is as good or better than anything out there; in terms of flavor, it’s just as good as anything else I’ve encountered (I like Star Wars, but not any more than AGOT).

The problem is three-fold. First, the environment feels staler than ever. Maybe it’s the delay of the next cycle, or maybe it’s that in any given deck, one can predict what 3/4 of the cards will be. Even in Bruno’s winning Targ deck, nobody was surprised to see 90% of the cards he ran. Or perhaps it’s that the same cards that were strong 1-2 years ago remain strong today. The LCG model just doesn’t result in the same sort of evolutionary innovation now as it did when first introduced.

Second, growing an AGOT community is extremely tough, and growing other communities (namely, Star Wars and Netrunner) tends to be much easier. This means that the time investment for me to play AGOT is much steeper, assuming I want to play competitively. I’m now reaching the point where life-card balance is becoming more difficult, and I’d like to spend what little time I have playing cards rather than fighting an uphill battle marketing for events, etc.

Third, as my friends become interested in other card games—namely Star Wars and Netrunner—I’m drawn to those games as well. The primary reason I play these games is because of the people. If they move to another game, so will I, eventually. I don’t think this is inevitable, but given the staleness of the environment and the difficulty we have growing a meta (compared with other LCGs), it isn’t impossible to imagine a day a year from now where I forego buying Game of Thrones cards for Star Wars.

#2 ktom



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Posted 24 January 2013 - 05:38 AM

Sheik and I are in a similar place. We're gravitating toward Star Wars over Netrunner.

#3 Twn2dn



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Posted 24 January 2013 - 05:46 AM

I want to share a related (but slightly separate) note about the stale environment. The NYC play group has been experimenting with an alternate format for its league play. The rules adhere to the normal rules for standard competitive play, except that deck building is also restricted to the following.

You may include in your deck any cards from:

  1. Core Set
  2. Current chapter pack cycle (In our case, the Song of Sea chapter pack cycle, when it comes out)
  3. Any other 3 chapter pack cycles or Deluxe Expansions. (You may choose to run cards from three different chapter pack cycles, but then you will be unable to use cards from house deluxe expansions.)

*Deckbuilding restrictions apply to plot decks as well.

**Agendas are exempt. For example, you may run the Knights of the Realm agenda without choosing the House Baratheon Deluxe Expansion as one of your three sets.

Unsurprisingly, I have observed that most games run a little longer—and challenge-phase game play tends to be a bit more interactive than it is in standard play.

However, to my surprise, I also have observed that the games themselves don’t feel any more fun or “fair” (no less “NPE” than standard games can feel). With a limited cardpool, powerful cards feel much more powerful when deckbuilding restrictions prevent opponents from using common answers. One example is location removal—there just isn’t enough in the environment, and even less so when additional deckbuilding restrictions exist. Similarly, it is difficult to have the “right answer” to a powerful character, such as The Red Viper or Meera, with deckbuilding restrictions in place.

I raise this case study as an example of an approach that the NYC meta experimented with because I had originally thought that such a deckbuilding restriction would mix up the environment while maintaining relative balance. I now believe that the only way to achieve better balance is rotation or a much more liberal use of the restricted list.

#4 dcdennis



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Posted 24 January 2013 - 06:00 AM

Netrunner I hate, SW is fun to play but i treat it like Ascension, just a casual romp. For me aGoT is where it's at. No other game that I have found offers the deep strategy and challenge. Only thing i dont like is how rock-paper-scissors/ish it has become lately, but I think that is soemthign that can be fixed with good design. Im definitely not as into the game as I once was, but I think it will always hook me in once regionals ramps up.

#5 Ire



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Posted 24 January 2013 - 06:09 AM

I actually feel the same way of the current meta as you. I will probably later go into more detail, but I completely agree on bigger use of the restricted list. For the argument that people will just move to the next powerfulest thing, well those things either already are in the same deck as the "powerful card" or if they are not. Well there is a reason why they are not played as heavily and it is the fact that they are far more vulnerable or less flexible as cards. Atleast my view has been that some of the most flexible cards each house has should be taken a careful look at and maybe added to the list, something is wrong when one card can do several things better than cards that have only specialiced for one thing. 

The restricted sets model does have the problem you stated. When sets are restricted like this way then some of the cards powerlevel really peeks up, seasons when your opponent is less likely to run any answer for it? probably the best two agendas in that kind of environment.

Overall this meta feels stale.

#6 -Istaril



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Posted 24 January 2013 - 06:54 AM

There have been a couple of similar discussions raised recently… and I think the problems compound themselves;

-> The local meta (playerbase) isn't being shaken up, because it's hard to recruit new players to AGOT. The main reason for this isn't that AGOT is very hard to get in to (it's probably comparable to Magic, which does fine), but that it has a much higher barrier of entry (financial and burden of knowledge) than the two "new" games with a similar distribution model. Without new players, the game feel stale.

-> The card pool has not increased as rapidly (absolute numbers) as it has in the past - we've had a larger delay between CPs, and no Deluxe Expansions in the last 12 months.

-> As the card pool increases in size, each new release of cards is an addition of a smaller "% change in the cardpool". When Netrunner released it's new CP, it introduced 20 new cards - a very large %change in the total number of available cards. When Song of the Sea comes out, we're talking a ~1% change in the card pool.

All that said, I think regionals season and an influx of new cards will alleviate these problems, and given the low financial cost to "stay" up to date in the game, I think that we'll have quite a few people come back during regionals. AGOT is still my game of choice by a longshot, and OCTGN gives me a wide variety of opponents to test play with. However, I'm introducing new players to Netrunner & SW, because they're easier to get in to. I'm a big fan of the self-restricted cardpool you describe for the NY meta, but it doesn't help the entry barrier for new players all that much.

In the long run, though, I think something drastic (rotation, restriction lists, type 2 format? etc) has to happen to keep AGOT attracting new players.

#7 Bomb


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Posted 24 January 2013 - 07:09 AM

This may not be all that related, but I believe that they should stop releasing chapter packs where 70% of the pack is full of useless cards.  Adding a vanilla character just because they have a trait just seems like a waste.  Adding cards that are useless without the entirety of the whole cycle is also a waste. 

To me, what is stale is waiting for cards in a pack to become useful for 4-5 months.  I think it's also a mistake if they don't release more deluxe boxes or core set sized expansions.  It is a rush to receive several new cards at one time that might be able to help you produce several new deck themes.

It is stale that everyone should be able to predict cards in your deck if your deck is of a competitive build.  The location Noyne can be a wonderful effect for you if there was less predictability.

Card effects like the above should be something that is more seriously considered as part of your deck, but because you already know what most decks contain, it's generally useless to most people.

There are also strict formulas that some players use for deck building.  These formulas are used to determine resources, card types, card efficiency, what card is good/bad, etc.  In a LCG, this formula should be more dynamic, otherwise every deck built feels the same.  It should be possible to modify the formula to allow you to build a competitive deck with different card type ratios etc so that deck building can be perceived more dynamically.

There are also too many cards with conditional effects.  A lot of these cards are not considered because of their inability to be useful when you do not reach the condition. For example, the Selhorys Customs Officer has an ability that I would consider to be generally useless in a large number of games.

This is because if there is not a high probability of an opponent paying gold outside of the marshaling phase, then they are a boring inefficient card.  You also should be able to use that gold you receive a very high percentage of the time.  Great they have the Learned crest, but that's only great if you plan on using it for something.

Don't even let me get started on the creation of new attachment cards with their stigma of fragility.  All attachments should have outstanding effects for a reasonable cost.  If all attachments were game breaking in some way, then they can be more carefully considered to be part of your deck with a risk versus reward attitude.  Those without the Setup keyword are even worse because they are against the Setup effiency strategy.  When you have attachments that can help you win the game after they are discarded(like Taste of Blood because who gives a **** if it's discarded if it already grabbed you 3 power?) and ones that are worthless unless some miracle happens that makes it effective(like Outthought where it can be useless each and every round) and they cost the same amount in gold, then there is some serious lack of card pool consideration when designing new cards.  Great, some attachments try to make up for being pieces of **** because they let you draw a card to replace them.  Laaaa deeee freakin' da!

So, what would rejuvenate any of my lost interest in this game?  How about when new stuff is released, 80% of it isn't useless crap, where 40% of those isn't only contextually useful when cards 4-5 months from now are released?  They should release cards that can be potentially immediately useful.  Several of the cards in new packs I probably never touch… and I'm not privy to any particular house as long as I can build a deck that I might enjoy.

#8 dcdennis



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Posted 24 January 2013 - 07:24 AM

I know its only January, but I'm nominating this as quote of the year.


"Great, some attachments try to make up for being pieces of **** because they let you draw a card to replace them.  Laaaa deeee freakin' da!"

#9 WWDrakey



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Posted 24 January 2013 - 07:25 AM

Although I'm trying to keep my optimism up for the game taking a turn for the better, I'm quite solidly on that same Warship

I've been growing a new meta here in Finland since late Spring 2012 and I pretty much have to sign everything Twn2dn said. To make the situation worse, it's problematic from both the point-of-view of new players and old ones. 

For new players:

The game is really hard to get new players into at this point, and the Restricted list just isn't doing enough of a job in curbing down the power creep from a bloated cardpool. The amount of cards you would have to buy to make a decent deck is just getting way out of hand.

To make things worse, the Core Set doesn't seem to be working as an ideal starting point for the game, since at least around here new players have been wanting to start off just by playing with a single House… so a good portion of our players have actually started off just by buying a Deluxe-expansion for a House and borrowing/proxying House cards and Valars into those. Essentially making them work like 'House Starters'. Oh, we've also been doing splittings of Core Sets, to help with this, but that takes quite a bit of coordination.

Once our new players have started to realize the sheer amount of cards both available and needed to create a suitably competitive deck, it has seemed to put a damper into their enthusiasm with the game. 

So, in order to balance things out, we've been running a League with a cardpool of only the previous two cycles (and all Deluxe Expansions). The results there have given pretty similar results to what Twn2dn mentioned. If anything, the 'power' cards tend to shine out even more (you know, Manning the City Walls with Viper's Bannermen and all that jazz). 

For old players:

As the cardpool has grown, the meta has started to become almost glacially slow, so you're looking at the exact same builds that have been around for several years by now. Seeing those very same power cards time and time again has really turned me off the whole competitive side of AGoT, really. I just can't force myself to build yet another deck with that 'best of' cast of cards, or include all of the tech I'd need to have in order to even have a chance of standing toe-to-toe with certain competitive builds. That's just… so boring, right now. 

So, while I'm having a decent time playing odd Shagga-like builds with cards of days gone past (gotta love the good ole' King's Landing Cycle), mainly fuelled by House of Dreams providing some decent support for thematic builds… I'm pretty disillusioned with the game as a whole and expecting the next Cycle to just bring a few more power cards to existing decks, while not containing enough support to make the new themes really viable.

Star Wars vs. Netrunner

Star Wars just fits my feeling of what is 'fun' much better than Android. And there's some really nice design decisions in there, like the way you're not forced to hunt for card advantage like in N+1 other card games or actually having incentives to run sub-optimal cards. I can see myself really getting into the game once the cardpool starts expanding a bit.

What I think could be done to keep the game interesting?

The game really needs a shakeup. One way or another.

As the first solution I would prefer some really heavy handed restricting of power cards. I mean 'gloves off' style restricting of many of the staples and auto-includes of competitive decks, like Twn2dn suggested earlier already. From Kings of Winter/Summer to Tin Link, Hatchling's Feast, Melisandre, Knight of Flowers, Manning the City Walls, Wintertime Marauders, Meera, Refugees, Distinguished Boatswain, Long Lances, Maester Wendamyr, Threat from the North, Rule By Decree, The Power of Blood, Golden Tooth Mines, Retaliation!, Game of Cyvasse, Knights of the Realm, Meraxes, Valyrian Steel Link… etc. The most important thing is that we hit all houses and all powerful competitive builds. Then we can let the meta start stabilizing and see what happens.

NOTE: The list I provided is not a suggestion, just an example of what level of restricting I'm talking about.

Then, if that isn't enough, then we'd have to start thinking about rotation.

And yeah, I have a feeling that looking at rotation would still probably be necessary.

#10 ccgtrader99



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Posted 24 January 2013 - 08:20 AM

My advice? Take a break, find something else that is fun for awhile. In my experience a competitive AGot player will find himself back here when they are ready. I too felt a little burnt out and sick of this meta (sorry HOD does not excuse a 3 month lapse in packs) after Gencon and I am trying to find my way back.

I will say that I have been harping a little bit on the issue, but if we had 1 new pack with a 2nd on the way, perhaps these types of posts might not be as common. As it is now things feel stale and the LCG model for AGOT is hurting as much as helping. This has been discussed to death so I'l just go back to what I said before; have fun with your friends and hope to see you in a few months.

#11 Venryk



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Posted 24 January 2013 - 08:30 AM

I left AGoT shortly after Gencon for much of the same reasons (still play casually now and then). I was going to pick up Netrunner but then playtested Star Wars at Gencon and was hooked. I bypassed Netrunner and have been playing a lot of Star Wars since its release and I really love that game.

Take a break from Thrones and have some fun with something else.

#12 Ratatoskr



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Posted 24 January 2013 - 09:23 AM

All the frustration expressed in this thread really makes me sad. I understand what all of you are saying, but I just don't feel the same way. I'm as excited for the game as I ever was. I think the game is in a fine place competitively, with all houses (well, except for Bara maybe) having competitive builds. I don't see the predictability you've been talking about - tournament results generally seem to be quite different from what people predicted beforehand.

As for the two new kids on the block, I haven't played them enough to really have an opinion yet. I think A:NR might be more innovative, but SW might be more up my alley. Not sure if it's really different enough to make me jump ship, though.

#13 playgroundpsychotic



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Posted 24 January 2013 - 09:44 AM

I still think GoT is the best card game. Its not the only game I play however. I play other card games (CCG, LCG, deckbuilders, etc) as well as board games. I think Netrunner and Star Wars look fine but neither have multiplayer options which I think are huge flaws. It could be that because I play a variety of games helps keep from getting bored. Still GoT remains a favourite. Its joust format is good and has multiple multi-player variants without requiring any contortions to the cards themself. Hell, with Star Wars the only thing I'm looking forward to is the asymetric multi-player that's supposed to come out with the first expansion. I think perhaps the only thing GoT truly needs is a solid expansion (not CP cycle) with some additional game variants.

PS Are you not enthralled with the Black Sails? Yeah, it might be better left with a full expansion but there will still be a tonne of naval cards in the early CP's.

#14 Shikaku



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Posted 24 January 2013 - 03:26 PM

The problem with trying to limit the cardpool by saying the last X chapter packs, or only one Deluxe Expansion and some other stuff is, the pool isn't balanced for that.

If they really wanted to reduce the cardpool size (which from the reprinting of Clash of Arms cycle it appears not), then all they would have to do is make the decision to rotate sets and start developing cards that would balance when the rotation goes into effect.

In other words, calling for a rotation to take effect immediately would cause all kinds of cardpool interaction/balance problems; they would have to build into future chapter cycles the kinds of balance cards needed for that kind of environment first, then pull the trigger.

Whether they do that doesn't matter.. the current meta or state of the game will stay just as stagnant as it ever was unless something is done.

The upside of SW and Netrunner is for the next few years they will have a much steeper % of cardpool increases (as Istaril mentioned), which spurs a level of evolution to those games AGOT just cannot match.

There is a bigger problem though.

SWCCG was just as stagnant of a game before they released Special Edition and implemented a new type of card (objectives) which revolutionized how the game was played and it brought in a whole new generations of players, invigorated the player base and made the game fun again.

The only thing close to that in AGOT was the creation of Agendas.. way back when this was still a CCG.

The game is stagnant because there are no new ideas to shake up how we play the game today. Sure they release new Agendas but really, it's all the same thing dressed in a different way.

Someone in Design and Development needs to come up with something big to really knock the game out of the same rut it has been in for years.

Yes the game is fun. But it's the same game it was 5 years ago. If you don't evolve you die.

And let's not kid ourselves.. SWCCG died years ago, the player committee keeps the life support machine running because they can't come to grips with saying goodbye. Great game, one of my favorites, but again, nothing new.. nothing revolutionary.. very boring (and a bit poorly handled imo since they have put so much emphasis on combat that it's no longer a balanced game).

Bottome line, pick the game you are going to enjoy playing the most.. it will be easier getting new players for SW and NR for all of the reasons mentioned, easier access to product/less of it to buy.

And in a few years, be ready to jump to the next game because with FFG's track record of how they develop their games once they are created.. I am not expecting any miracles with AGOT, or for that matter Star Wars down the road.. they are just too stuborn or short-sighted to plan for the long run if a game is successful.

#15 Toqtamish



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Posted 25 January 2013 - 08:43 AM

playgroundpsychotic said:

 I think Netrunner and Star Wars look fine but neither have multiplayer options which I think are huge flaws.


Star Wars is geting multi player support in an expansion called The Balance of the Force, 2-3 Light Side players against one Dark Side player.

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#16 ASoIaFfan



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Posted 26 January 2013 - 02:08 PM

I agree with much of what Twn2dn says. In fact, I lost competitive interest in the game even before world's last year. I attended the event, but not because I was looking forward to the event, but mostly just to say goodbye to folks I had gotten to know over the last few years of competitive play.

At heart, I'm just not into the competitive scene. I got into it in the beginning because of a desire to just play the game, and it was so hard to find people to play with back then. I joined my first tournament by accident. By this, I mean I showed up to the store hoping to find someone to play with and was told, "hey, there's a tournament today for AGoT. Wanna join?" I replied that if it let me play the game, I was in. So I paid my money and jumped in. The rest is history. I used to give demos and taught the game to new people all the time, trying to build the player base. It was always a labor of love though, and I don't regret that.

Over the years, my interest has waned. There have always been fluctuations in the past, but new deluxe expansions and CP cycles would always stoke those fires of interest again. However, the upcoming cycle was the first one announced since I started playing that did nothing for me. This is no slight to Damon or anyone else on the design team. I'm sure they are doing their best to make the game fun and interesting. It's just not working for me. I have zero interest in the new naval mechanic or anything else in the cycle that's been previewed so far, and this is the first time I can say this about any AGoT card game product since I started playing the game in the 2004/2005 time frame.

As for new LCG's to transition to…not sure what to recommend. I tried both NR and SW and was not impressed by either. Again, no slights intended to anyone involved in their development - they just did not grab me the way AGoT once did. They were just "OK" for me. In fact, I have a copy of SW that I received as part of my pre-reg for worlds that I'm looking to sell.

I think we're kinda in the same boat, Twn2dn. I'd love to see FFG get hold of the Marvel and/or DC license and make a new superhero LCG. I think I could really get into that (used to love the VS. system). Otherwise, I'm not aware of anything currently on the market that captures my interest enough to recommend to anyone else.

A bit off topic, but I'll just throw out there that my new hobby of choice is actually heroclix. It's not a LCG, but I find it entertaining and enjoy playing it a lot, whenever I can.

Perhaps as someone else said, maybe we just need to step away from the game for a while and see if we are drawn back to it in time. I could say a lot more, but think I'll stop here.

#17 ccgtrader99



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Posted 26 January 2013 - 04:25 PM

Wanted to touch on what you said, fan. My group faced a choice; worlds or heroclix. We chose clix. Fun and different but i will say it is over the top expensive if youre a collector. Casual play is fun, but knowing what i know i dont regret it. I will say that when agot is in full swing there is no question that will be my main game again.

#18 KLT



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Posted 28 January 2013 - 04:51 AM

I, too, am experiencing this feeling.  Perhaps it is a function of the fact that I dislike building decks, or that the competitive environment is getting a bit stale.  At heart, I am a "limited" (draft and sealed) player rather than a constructed player.

One interesting alternative would be to build a "cube" of selected cards and draft them.  Each player would get a selection of basic locations and plots to make these draft decks workable (similar to what ktom did at the draft event at last year's Chicago Regionals).  I like the idea of trying to build decks "on the fly" and also using cards that I normally would not ever consider playing with in constructed decks.  The real issue is deciding which cards to include in a cube. 


#19 KLT



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Posted 28 January 2013 - 04:51 AM

By the way, if anyone has experimented with any limited formats for AGoT, I would be very interested in hearing about them.


#20 Toqtamish



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Posted 28 January 2013 - 05:08 AM

My recommendation is going to be Star Wars. I really enjoyed Netrunner when it first came out but it has quickly faded for me. Now that could be due to me being a huge SW fan since I was a little kid and the movies were still new or it could be due to the fact that Netrunner is more complicated than Star Wars is. But Star Wars makes a great second LCG, it's deckbuilding is much quicker and more streamlined with less but more important decisions in the choices you make to put in your deck. Also it's playstyle is different enough from AGoT that it can give you that break that it sounds like you need from AGoT. Netrunner and AGoT are more similar complexity wise so I don't think they compliment each other as well as AGoT and SW do. Star Wars plays much faster so is a good pickup game for when you don't have as much time as a game of AGoT or Netrunner can, and often does, take.

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