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Everything posted by Twn2dn

  1. Good points, Will. Also, you guys make an important contribution to the game and the community. Keep up the good work!
  2. By the way, interesting episode guys. Nice to have Greg on the show and hear different perspectives. (Bret is great too, but frequently when it's just Bret and Will you guys agree more than disagree, and the counter points made sometimes feel a bit like straw man arguments.)
  3. Re: creativity… Here's how I see it. Merriam-Webster defines creativity as "the quality of being creative," whereas creative is defined as "marked by the power or ability to create," and create is further defined as "to bring into existence" or "to invest with a new form." So it logically follows that any parameters that facilitate the "bringing into existence" or "investing with new forms" are boons to creativity. As applied to the competitive AGOT environment, inclusive of the meta game, creativity refers to that which stimulates new forms. In this case, I would personally add as clarification that "new forms" can refer both to new, competitive deck builds and new ways to play old cards, AKA innovative gameplay. I would make one final assumption: since we are talking about competitive play, I am assuming that the players are attempting to compete in order to win. This is not to say they will compete at all costs, but that they will make some sacrifices to win. In other words, the player I imagine will frquently opt to play a card that is popularly considered to be powerful above another card that has less versatility and is generally considered less powerful. (I realize we can debate whether popularity of a card makes it more powerful, and no doubt there are some hidden gems that are underplayed, but humor me on this point.) I suspect that this assumption is where Greg and I agree and Will and I disagree. In short, I believe competitive players on some level want to win and tailor their decks in order to do so. With all that said, the reason I believe that limits on card pool may lead to more creativity in the game is that new limits reduce the efficiency of decks. This (a) spurs the use of alternative cards or old cards played in new ways to substitute for the more efficient versions that were restricted, and (b) forces players to reevaluate the meta as a whole, thereby stimulating new strategies and tactics into existence. The old recipes are out, and for the time being, players search for the new "optimal builds." i freely admit that once new "optimal builds" ate discovered and shared (net-decked), creativity will plateau once again. But for the time being, and for the immediate and unforeseeable future, the restricted list is resulting in new ideas and innovation.
  4. Looking forward to this episode as well. Unfortunately I left work without my headphones
  5. BI's big drawback is the timing. Pretty much everything else (including deck building) can be worked around by a skilled player, except in the mirror match where an opponent's characters can't be targeted. Then the location is awful. But as I argued in another thread, evaluating the power level of restricted cards is useful only to the extent that we can agree they are (1) so powerful (or efficient) that they are extremely common, and (2) their ubiquity harms player choices/variety. Refugees are a good example… Not game breaking, but they have distorting effects on deck building that results in less variety and, frankly, thinking when deck building. BI basically plays itself… hit the best available target every round. Planning to Valar, may as well use it anyway. At least with No Quarter one needs to decide whether using the effect now vs later is more beneficial, though usually that decision is easy too (I'm glad that card was restricted). Even if we disagree on which cards are stronger, maybe we can agree that these cards are both resulting in less engaging gaming both during deck building and during game play.
  6. Interesting episode guys. I personally feel you are looking too narrowly at the restricted list. What, I think, you failed to see (or perhaps did but did not acknowledge sufficiently on the podcast) is that this restricted list is NOT intended to do the same thing as the original restricted list. To put it in more concrete terms, it frankly doesn't matter if the Orphan is as powerful as Meera. Restriction is no longer just about card or house balance, it has become much more than that. Restriction is the vehicle that keeps the competitive game dynamic, and by extension aims to keep organized play healthy and growing. In April, I made the case for such a use of the restricted list in a CardGameDB article http://www.cardgamedb.com/index.php/index.html/_/game-of-thrones/an-argument-for-more-frequent-use-of-the-restri-r126. My basic argument was that house balance is not enough to make this game fun. The game must incorporate flavor and, most importantly, real decisions. Whether you feel Bear's Island is overpowered, surely we can agree that it feels neither very flavorful nor results in meaningful choices in terms of which character you kill (at least 90+% of the time you pick the strongest legal target). The same is true of refugees, Hatchling Feast, and most of the other cards. But even if you disagree, i think you would agree that deck building had become stagnant. In other words real choices in competitive deck building were largely restricted to a fraction of the deck. By adding cards to the restricted list, one might say that FFG actually reduced the level of deck building restrictions by making it much less likely to be disadvantaged by refusing to play these staple cards. Two additional thoughts. First, I'm not claiming the exact composition is perfect, but the orientation (directionally) is good. Second, one might claim that an innovative player always had the option to create creative builds without restriction. In practice, however, this has meant that a few strong players at the top innovate, and everyone else copies. And even when they innovate, the vast majority of the cards in the deck are the same staples. This is just my two cents, but since the viewpoint wasn't represented, I thought I would share.
  7. I love the restriction of refugees. They have distorting effects on the game… No need to run more thematic, house-specific, low-cost characters (or not as many) when you run refugees. Mindless inclusions in decks are OK if they are resources, but auto-include characters that are most notable for how severely under-costed they are in my opinion do not improve the game. Soft ban on refugees is great.
  8. I just sent three consecutive emails to metamates, really great FAQ. I obviously don't have a good sense yet of whether the exact card mix of restricted is right, but as a whole the list seems very close if not right on. Well done. A special thanks and kudos to the well written and thoughtful communication by Damon and Nate. I really wish we heard more from them, but hearing from them when we really need to is a big improvement already. Really like the direction FFG is headed.
  9. Just saw the FFG post about the discoloration of the alternate art cards. Wish this could have been avoided, but in the end a minor thing. I appreciate the heads up. Very nice and timely communication. More of these, please.
  10. You are welcome to stay at my place for the NYC event, which I'll also point out wasn't the date we put in for. Apparently the local store took an interest this year and applied for a regionals of their own accord. (OK by us, but just as an FYI for anyone we had coordinated with in advance who was wondering about the date.)
  11. Warren12 said: ShivesMcShivers said: I wish Pentoshi Manor was unique +1 I will jump on this bandwagon….
  12. The number of "competitive" cards is much lower than that. The vast majority of cards arent playable competiively, or at lest not consistently so. This begs the question, does printing more cards help if it doesn't increase variety and real play decisions? I heard a suggestion that maybe we just scrap competitive melee, which is controversial at best and a laughing stock of a competitive format at worst, and replace it with a restricted format like MTG's Type 2. The overall winner of a big tournament would thus be the person who scored best in both the "legacy" format (what is currently standard joust) and the restricted format (which might include the past 2-3 blocks…basically newer stuff). That way, FFG can both mix up the card pool with regular rotation for those who want that format and keep things as is for those who like it as is.
  13. I think most of the discussion on this thread is splitting hairs. I think the point that most/all of us would agree with is that whether or not FFG has an obligation (this being a point of disagreement), there is a missed business opportunity to engage this community. Some of the posters are suggesting that maybe the business opportunity that exists is insignificant, and thus FFG is consciously opting not to engage the community more thoroughly via communications, including regular posts from designers, etc. Though I have no data to support my own convictions, I suspect that FFG is compromising its bottom line just to minimize a bit of risk. (There's always risk when you ask an employee to communicate with customers online on the company's behalf.) I suspect, and I'm fairly confident that recent research supports this, that investments into communications and customer engagement have a significantly higher return on investment (ROI) than straightforward marketing. This is not to say that marketing is passe, but rather than when complimentedy by effective communications strategy, marketing's ROI is much higher than it otherwise would be. Consider, FFG's marketing team has put out at least one big push for each chapter pack in the current cycle, none of which has been released. Rather than generating excitement for the products, however, with the delay of product and lack of direct communications from the company these marketing pushes have been somewhat counterproductive, as they repeatedly remind us of FFG's poor performance and failure to update this community of what's going on. Looking at it from the other side, an informed and engaged community can build brand loyalty, market share, and profits. Already, several AGoT players have posted on these forums that they follow communications from other game companies (Wizards of the Coast, etc.). Though I don't play Magic The Gathering, I was intrigued by endorsements that appeared on these forums. Consequently, I visited the linked websites, then clicked on their product pages and read about their approach to game design. As any retailer knows, one of the biggest challenges of selling product is simply getting it in front of the eyes of potential customers. Through good communications, Wizards of the Cost was able to create avid followers, who then recommended their products and provided easy access for a potential customer like me to get more information. All this was done NOT via marketing emails or banner ads, but through virtual word of mouth as customers became advocates for the gaming company. FFG already has a very loyal player base, at least when it comes to the A Game of Thrones LCG. Poor communication will probably not do much to disrupt this, but poor communication does significantly hamper the community's ability to grow. If all of us who are a part of this community were better empowered - not through support for organized play or league kits, but really given the tools we need to help recruit new players and sufficient communications that keeps them engaged - we could grow this community and increase profits for FFG. It would be win-win. The failure to seize this opportunity is not a surprise. FFG's communications strategy has been poor for years, if it has one at all (which I suspect it does not). And to some extent, this is understandable, but not forgivable. FFG originated as a boardgame company, and the profit margins on collectible card games are no doubt extremely slim. That said, FFG is no longer solely a board game company, and it continues to miss easy opportunites to engage this community; at times, FFG's efforts are counterproductive. For example, the switch to this forum software several years ago happened suddenly and much to the dismay of the community. The company also has failed to address original concerns related to poor personal messaging features, confusing editing capabilities, and sluggish load times. These are just minor issues, but they collectively call into question FFG's investment in this game and commitment to its players. It might be that none of these forum software issues, delays in product, etc. can be changed, but if that's the case, one would expect that FFG would at a minimum communicate with its customers and fans about their concerns.
  14. I felt like the banter was about par for the course. I'm rarely fond of radio banter (has to be done just right), but there's enough substance in the rest of your show that I continue to enjoy the podcast. Take my comments with a grain of salt though. I typically listen while washing dishes or commuting to/from work though, so I'm able to mentally space out during segments that I find less interesting (usually about 1/2 the podcast). I'm sure these less interesting segments are the most fun to create though, and if that's what keeps you making the podcasts, fine by me. One content-related note, I liked your (especially Greg's) discussion of FFG's poor communications with its playerbase on the last episode. Not that I feel that topic needs more discussion, but I appreciate hearing alternate views of broader trends or developments that are impactful to the game more generally. The narrower, forward-looking discussions of "what's going to happen" (at Moonboy, regionals, etc.) are much less interesting to me because it feels like the environment hasn't changed so substantially that you are adding much to the conversation. In cases where you do identify an interesting development, the new development feels more of a metagame adjustment than outright innovation. And when innovation happens, no doubt you will report on it after the fact…so the pre-reporting ends up feeling a little redundant. If you do look at deckbuilding, then you might take a slightly different approach. For example, "how to build an extremely flavorful deck to introduce new players to the game." After all, we can all netdeck the best decks, and competitive players who are listening have a good sense of what is going ot be competitive given the relatively slight shifts that occur with new chapter packs. There's much more unexplored territory related to how to make this game feel more like a game (more "fun").
  15. 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: Core Set Current chapter pack cycle (In our case, the Song of Sea chapter pack cycle, when it comes out) 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Put me in the camp of "Long Lances needs close looking at, but Street Waif is OK as is." If someone is able to use Street Waif's effect 6 times in a row, it requires significant setup. At a minimum, it's a 2-3 card combo on marshalling (depending whether you are outright playing Long Lances vs. using influence) and then a 3-4-card combo every phase after (Street Waif, Long Lances, ambush card + influence if not Khal Drogo). And the owner of the cards doesn't get to pick the card that is returned to hand. The gold/influence investment is 5+ on characters alone, and both Street Waif and Long Lances have negative traits. I'm not saying using Street Waif repeatedly isn't strong, but rather that if there is a problem, it has (a lot) more to do with Long Lances. In fact, the vast majority of the time, standing a maester with several chains is MUCH better any phase, while standing a high-STR character of any kind is often better during challenges than standing Street Waif. I would hate to reach a point where cards like Street Waif are avoided in the design phase. All that said, I think Long Lances is potentially overpowered. I'm not ready to push for restriction quite yet, but I suspect that in the end it will probably be needed. Separately, I think both Long Lances and Street Waif are good examples of why it's probably better to put powerful effects (and card advantage effects in particular) on unique cards rather than non-unique cards.
  18. Dennis (and Dan/other DC players)(, we should touch base on the DC regionals timing to ensure NYC doesn't conflict. Two years ago, we thought it'd be great if we stacked 3 consecutive weekends of regionals events. In retrospect, that was silly…resulted in lower turnout at each event. Last year seemed to work pretty well…20+ players at both DC and NYC. I suspect we can get more this year, but want to ensure the timing works out.
  19. I've had the same experience as Dennis for the past several weeks it seems. I used to check this forum more regularly on short walks to the subway, between tasks at work, etc. It's getting much harder to do so, and sometimes I just don't bother. I find that the forums are usually pretty smooth in the morning though. For example, they came up pretty quickly as I accessed this thread.
  20. As Totalgit mentioned, unique characters (named characters from the book) tend to be stronger. If you like Stannis, Robb Stark, Tyrion, etc. then you're likely to be able to build a deck in which those characters perform very well. Three caveats. First, this is true for some houses more than others. Baratheon is great in that you can build a deck with most of your favorite characters that is competitive. Stark is pretty good too, though certain less prominent characters (Meera, in particular, but also Shaggydog, Reek, etc), are stronger cards than what one would normally consider the important characters (Arya, Eddard, etc.). Lannister is similar to Stark in this respect, whereas Greyjoy, Martell and Targaryen all tend to be quite a bit different. You won't see many competitive decks built around a single character from the books, with perhaps the exception of The Red Viper, which is one of the best characters in the game (from any house). The second caveat is that if you like Khal Drogo or Jon Snow, then chances are you like the dothraki or the Night's Watch themes. In general, thematic decks in this game are not competitive. So while Khal Drogo himself is a great card (and there are several different versions all worth experimenting with), a deck focused on dothraki more generally falls into the "fun but not realy competitive" category. Same is true for other houses…decks built around House Tully/Riverrun, House Dayne/Starfall, and even "Kingsguard" tend to be as uncompetitive as they are thematic. There are a few traits, such as Clansmen and Dragons, that show some promise and in certain cases may be very competitive. But as a general rule, the more cohesively thematic the deck is, the less competitive it is. Lastly, while you'll see a decent number of named (unique) characters in play, the non-unique characters (cards like IG86droids) still typically make up about half to 3/4 of character cards you play, or roughly 1/4 to 1/3 of the deck itself. Of course, this depends on the house or build of deck that you are playing. But in this game characters are constantly dying, and typically you need a good number of generic characters to fall on their swords throughout the game to keep your named characters alive. Each house has at least one non-unique card that seems overly powerful though, and at times it can be annoying if you're getting beat down by the generically named Wintertime Marauders or The Conclave. But overall, unique characters tend to be more powerful.
  21. I suspect they will need to be restricted. The ability is probably a tad too strong. Maybe an errata of "limit 2 times per round" would be better? We'll see how it goes with Missandrei though.
  22. If you are interested in only a couple of houses, I think you can buy house packs (all cards of a single house affiliation from a full block) from the Team Covenant guys for cheap. But really, if you're planning to play competitively, the cards are still only a small part of the overall expense of traveling to tournaments, etc.
  23. This is the best gaming community I have been part of. I have met many of my closest friends through this game. My wife and I are currently celebrating Christmas at a fellow AGOT player's home with his lovely family. The warmth and sense of community engendered in the people who play this game truly transcend gaming. Happy holidays everyone, and wishing you a happy new year!
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