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Manchu

Following Disney's Example

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I've given in to justifying why I should be allowed to discuss the topic rather than just discussing it. So I'm going skip past nailing down terms that have already proven unhelpful and try to get back on topic.

 

Fortunately, we can cut this whole tangent short with the reasonable assumption that any change that FFG makes to the established L5R setting will have a point. If it helps, I can add that any change will have a point from FFG's perspective. Even so, the point of a change is separate from (although not totally unrelated to) whether customers like or understand it. Furthermore, any prospective change worth talking about ITT will have a point that we can understand regardless of whether we like it.

 

We can also reasonably assume that (a) FFG bought this IP because they think the brand is strong enough to appeal to a wider audience than it does in its current form  and (b) the overarching point of any change FFG makes will be to broaden the customer base. From there, the question becomes what is the best approach to change?

 

Here's the main dilemma: The dense if convoluted storyline of L5R has certainly contributed to its brand strength. But it has also contributed to the insularity of its customer base. How can FFG preserve the advantages of 20+ years of development while also shedding the disadvantages?

Edited by Manchu

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Here's the main dilemma: The dense if convoluted storyline of L5R has certainly contributed to its brand strength. But it has also contributed to the insularity of its customer base. How can FFG preserve the advantages of 20+ years of development while also shedding the disadvantages?

 

Pffffft, the storyline is the EASY part to get people up to speed on. No, seriously. Yeah, twenty years of story are out there, but the broad strokes can be summed up in about... I'll lean on the "excited so you share awesome moments" side and say half an hour. I mean, yeah, some of us like to carp about Yoritomo/Daigotsu/Kisada/Mizuhiko and how they won all the time/always got sold short/weren't around long enough/were around too long, but that makes L5R no more insular than ANY fandom.

What FFG can (and almost assuredly will) do is make the card game itself less difficult to figure out and teach to new players. And they can make it plain that new players aren;t going to be chasing rares 'cause say hey and by the way, it's an LCG!

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Here's the main dilemma: The dense if convoluted storyline of L5R has certainly contributed to its brand strength. But it has also contributed to the insularity of its customer base. How can FFG preserve the advantages of 20+ years of development while also shedding the disadvantages?

 

"We're gonna do what we need to do. Assume the stuff you like is still around unless we contradict it. Assume the stuff you don't is gone until we include it."

 

Which I realize doesn't answer the "Reboot to Clan Wars," "Continue on with Onyx," or "Jump Ahead 1000 Years and Gloss Over Everything" debate, but it's probably most easily applied to the thousand year jump option.

 

Me, I'm in favor of a whole different approach, which is to make the LCG story jump around the timeline like Star Wars, or (I think?) AGoT 1.0. You can hit great moments in history (pre Clan War), cool stories as yet untold in the future, and if desired, even revisit some major storylines with or without revision (though given such arcs would probably only be a deluxe box + a cycle of packs at most, it would certainly be with some major editing). This might create some problems with some factions (Spider vs. Shadowlands Horde, Minor Clans vs. Mantis) but they aren't insoluble by any means.

 

To me, Rokugan has always been kind of timeless (a bit like Star Wars, actually :P ). Alliances come and go. Emperors come and go. But Rokugan 2,000 notwithstanding, you could project the setting 1,000, 2,000, or 10,000 years into the future, unchanged, without straining credibility too much.

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Jumping around a time line is a terrible idea in a game where the emphasis was on continuation of a story. Settings like Star Wars or aGoT work because people generally already know the story through watching the source material and through popular culture.

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Jumping around a time line is a terrible idea in a game where the emphasis was on continuation of a story.

 

It's implied that the emphasis would change in this model. I believe Lord of the Rings and Cthulhu both work(ed) under a model where narrative arcs are (were) self-contained within cycles, and those are original stories in existing settings. As L5R would be under this model. It's hardly unheard of.

 

The bloody minded continuation of the L5R story is, IMO, part of what destroyed it and made the continuity increasingly inaccessible. It shouldn't be about "the story." It should be about a setting in which many stories can be told. It *is* a setting in which many stories can be told.

 

I expect many existing players won't like it, but well...*shrug* I think some would be excited about the possibilities, and new players wouldn't miss continuity from cycle to cycle if they never knew the ccg's ongoing story model. For FFG's player base it would be completely normal.

Edited by BD Flory

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I think the idea of having a "Modern Arc" storyline set, ending with a major interactive Storyline impact, followed by a "Historic Arc" storyline set would be a good business model. Remember, it takes development time for the story, art, and flavor text to reflect major changes in the game.

 

See: The Rise of Onyx - AEG openly stated that it did not matter which Heir (Seiken or Shibatsu) inherited the Throne, the story outcome would be the same. Now, would Shibatsu have shamed Kanpeki in front of the other Champions? Maybe not. But Kanpeki would still have betrayed the Empire to unleash Jigoku.

 

This was not a highlight of the interactive story model. In many ways, the blind influence of Kotei 2014's Bushido Virtue picks impacting which Heir inherited, followed by the reveal at the end of Winter Court 4, poisoned that well pretty heavily in some cases.

 

A better example? Look at the Second Day of Thunder, and how the Time of the Void lead into the Scorpion Clan Coup. The Scorpion Clan Coup was a prequel arc, and the start of the Hidden Emperor was not until June 1998. Without significant playtesting and in-house printing, it is not hard to crank out 52 cards in under a year. And even then? There are only two pieces of artwork and three pieces of flavor text in Hidden Emperor 1 which clearly detail who won the Second Day of Thunder.

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Jumping around a time line is a terrible idea in a game where the emphasis was on continuation of a story.

 

It's implied that the emphasis would change in this model. I believe Lord of the Rings and Cthulhu both work(ed) under a model where narrative arcs are (were) self-contained within cycles, and those are original stories in existing settings. As L5R would be under this model. It's hardly unheard of.

 

The bloody minded continuation of the L5R story is, IMO, part of what destroyed it and made the continuity increasingly inaccessible. It shouldn't be about "the story." It should be about a setting in which many stories can be told. It *is* a setting in which many stories can be told.

 

I expect many existing players won't like it, but well...*shrug* I think some would be excited about the possibilities, and new players wouldn't miss continuity from cycle to cycle if they never knew the ccg's ongoing story model. For FFG's player base it would be completely normal.

 

 

LotR does have that pop culture influence where you can easily throw the player into whatever and they'd be usually fine unless they did something bizarre. It's similar to other brands like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Star Trek, and so on. Comparing two brands like LotR and L5R isn't a road to travel on and require vastly different approaches.

 

What hurt the "story" for L5R was not necessary the story itself but the tournament structure and prizes associated. Constant shifts in the game itself could even been seen as helping or hurting depending on who you ask.

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In the end, I trust FFG to do whatever will work best. I think the only thing I didn't immediately care for was how the Star Wars game is set up with the Death Star dial escalation. That's just not a mechanic I particularly care for in the game, instead wanting a more traditional gameplay feel along the lines of MtG, the old SW game, AGOT, etc.

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LotR does have that pop culture influence where you can easily throw the player into whatever and they'd be usually fine unless they did something bizarre. It's similar to other brands like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Star Trek, and so on. Comparing two brands like LotR and L5R isn't a road to travel on and require vastly different approaches.

 

 

Game of Thrones doesn't work on this model because it's a setting in which many people are invested in the lore. It works because, "When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die." It's incredibly accessible on that level, and the backstory is irrelevant when you sit down to play the game, but there if you want to learn more. Likewise, in Conquest? "What I'm I doing?" "Dude, the game's called Conquest. There are planets. Work it out." "Check. I'm in."

 

FFG's task is to achieve the same with L5R. I love the Honor is Stronger than Steel line, but I'm not sure it's the right one to lead with -- there would have to be something acknowledging the core struggle of the game, which is for domination over Rokugan. And probably also a tagline that doesn't explicitly claim one path to victory is better than the other. ;)

 

That being said, it's really not that hard to say, "The Clans struggle for dominance over Rokugan. Go." The rest can be picked up along the way, if well executed. As I said, the core setting is actually pretty timeless. Characters and stories come and go, but the Clans (or most of them, at any rate; hopefully FFG settles on a static number) endure. The Emerald Empire endures.

 

With the assumption of a timeless Rokugan (and a creation myth shrouded in a distant past), jumping around timelines actually doesn't matter. All that would matter to a specific product group's story (cycle, box, or some combination thereof) would be what's happening in that story. Backstory would matter to the extent its woven into those specific cards with flavor text and so forth, but wouldn't be something that would need to be acknowledged if it wasn't directly relevant to the story at hand.

 

Better still, whoever winds up with those duties can tell a tight, punchy story across 120 cards or 55 cards, or 175 cards, or whatever a story cycle winds up being, with a beginning, middle and end. The cycles even allow for a narrative hook, rising action over 2 or 3 packs, climax, falling action and denoument sharing 1 or 2 packs. None of this dragging a story out over 2+ years nonsense.

 

I think that timeless approach with clear internal narrative structure would serve the game well, allowing story to be cool and concise without being a distraction or hindrance to making a great game. Hell, it even fits the general feel of the game's title -- legends tend to be somewhat unmoored in time, simply taking place in an unspecified distant past, with their actual truth in doubt. I'd love for the new game's story to capture that feel.

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I think having a "current" story only supported every other set or so, with "historical" sets mixed in is a solid idea.

"Cool, now that we know who won what and who's going where, we need time to work the results into the cards.Meanwhile, here's a set based around a time that's already covered- the gameplay is awesome, the art is awesome, and now, here, have fun playing as Iuchiban's Bloodpseakers on their first go-around."

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I actually think "Honor is Stronger than Steel" is a great line if you have a centralized victory condition, being "Honor", with a variety of means to achieve it.

 

Yep! Totally agree it could work great with some game engine revision. 

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I actually think "Honor is Stronger than Steel" is a great line if you have a centralized victory condition, being "Honor", with a variety of means to achieve it.

 

The tagline and discussion brings up an interesting point:  how does "honor" become the unifying victory condition when the very definition of honor differs between factions?  Again, until we know the frame of the game, the line is catchy, but ultimately reveals nothing about what the game should entail.  It is interesting that once you take a step back from the CCG, one begins to see how the CCG and its framework (Clans fighting one another) had very little to do with the ongoing story (often an external threat to all of the Clans).  While certain arcs did break that mold, I would find it intriguing if the storyline focused far more heavily on the interactions between the factions and less on external threats, particularly in the event of a reduced storyline/player interaction.

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@Osmo -

I actually mentioned this in another thread, but the best way I could see doing this would be printing a Stronghold for each Great Clan / Faction, then a Sensei for each "path" to victory you want to include. Right Hand of the Emperor for gaining Honor through military victories, Left Hand of the Emperor for courtly shenanigans, the Underhand for causing honor losses, and the Voice for playing Elemental Rings. Opens up design space for a Black Heart of the Empire for a Shadowlands Horde with a different victory condition, and an Imperial Treasurer or the like for an economic victory or something.

 

Having a single central "victory" condition with multiple, modular paths to achieving it would also make the game more playable in multi-player.

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@Osmo -

I actually mentioned this in another thread, but the best way I could see doing this would be printing a Stronghold for each Great Clan / Faction, then a Sensei for each "path" to victory you want to include. Right Hand of the Emperor for gaining Honor through military victories, Left Hand of the Emperor for courtly shenanigans, the Underhand for causing honor losses, and the Voice for playing Elemental Rings. Opens up design space for a Black Heart of the Empire for a Shadowlands Horde with a different victory condition, and an Imperial Treasurer or the like for an economic victory or something.

 

Having a single central "victory" condition with multiple, modular paths to achieving it would also make the game more playable in multi-player.

 

There was a while there where it seemed like the cards getting attached to your stronghold were getting a bit out of hand, IMO. :)

 

Off all game elements, "winning" seems like the one that should be included in the basic foundations of the game.

 

Also from a philosophical standpoint, I'd rather have achieving enlightenment be the "master" win condition, if there is one, with honor, military and dishonor each potentially feeding into that. (There's an older thread with what I think this could look like, but there are many ways to do it.)

 

Nits and picks though. Sounds like we're of similar mind in the generalities of unifying win conditions in some way.

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@Osmo -

I actually mentioned this in another thread, but the best way I could see doing this would be printing a Stronghold for each Great Clan / Faction, then a Sensei for each "path" to victory you want to include. Right Hand of the Emperor for gaining Honor through military victories, Left Hand of the Emperor for courtly shenanigans, the Underhand for causing honor losses, and the Voice for playing Elemental Rings. Opens up design space for a Black Heart of the Empire for a Shadowlands Horde with a different victory condition, and an Imperial Treasurer or the like for an economic victory or something.

 

Having a single central "victory" condition with multiple, modular paths to achieving it would also make the game more playable in multi-player.

 

There was a while there where it seemed like the cards getting attached to your stronghold were getting a bit out of hand, IMO. :)

 

Off all game elements, "winning" seems like the one that should be included in the basic foundations of the game.

 

Also from a philosophical standpoint, I'd rather have achieving enlightenment be the "master" win condition, if there is one, with honor, military and dishonor each potentially feeding into that. (There's an older thread with what I think this could look like, but there are many ways to do it.)

 

Nits and picks though. Sounds like we're of similar mind in the generalities of unifying win conditions in some way.

 

 

I think both responses illustrate the major problem with the CCG reboot.  To me, the only way to look at where FFG intends to take the card game is to imagine a simple card template with a spot for art.  In other words, we should expect nothing to carry over from the previous game.  Certain things will come back, likely in different forms altogether, while others will be jettisoned for a more streamlined engine.  But in the end, I don't expect the game to look much at all like it did before, which I completely support, because the game was in desperate need of a mechanical reboot.

 

The story and setting will likely look more akin to AEG's versions, but again, I imagine significant changes across both to unify them more with the vision that FFG intends to implement across the various games for brand.  Again, this move is the most reasonable one because having a strong, cohesive brand across all of the products will likely entice buyers to purchase more than one.  In order to achieve cohesion, though, FFG is going to have to undertake massive, often terrifying levels of revision to the game.  But at the end of the day, if their choices bring L5R back to prominence, we all ultimately win.

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I think both responses illustrate the major problem with the CCG reboot.  To me, the only way to look at where FFG intends to take the card game is to imagine a simple card template with a spot for art.  In other words, we should expect nothing to carry over from the previous game.  Certain things will come back, likely in different forms altogether, while others will be jettisoned for a more streamlined engine.  But in the end, I don't expect the game to look much at all like it did before, which I completely support, because the game was in desperate need of a mechanical reboot.

 

The story and setting will likely look more akin to AEG's versions, but again, I imagine significant changes across both to unify them more with the vision that FFG intends to implement across the various games for brand.  Again, this move is the most reasonable one because having a strong, cohesive brand across all of the products will likely entice buyers to purchase more than one.  In order to achieve cohesion, though, FFG is going to have to undertake massive, often terrifying levels of revision to the game.  But at the end of the day, if their choices bring L5R back to prominence, we all ultimately win.

 

 

Eh, I think just about anything said re: game or story, or any combination thereof, doesn't rise above the level of wild speculation at this point. I'm not sure I agree with your analysis that one or the other is likely to look more similar to AEG's version. FFG's take on the setting could wind up being wildly different from AEG's, but still be cohesive across its own products. All we can really say is that in both areas, it's probably going to look more like an FFG game than an AEG game. Which could mean any number of things, or almost nothing.

 

But wild speculation is fun. :)

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AEG did say this much:

you are probably wondering what will happen to our upcoming events, including the Fall Kotei Season and the European Championships. All of these events currently scheduled will go on as planned, as CCG events. We’ll continue collecting the results, and will add those to our list of all currently outstanding tournament and event results. All of this will be provided to FFG, who will do their best to incorporate it into L5R and its setting once they’ve relaunched the Brand.

Which is where my belief that they will keep the existing story, if perhaps a bit streamlined for accessibility's sake, comes from. Edited by MarthWMaster

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I rather expect that's something that's going to turn out to be AEG speaking out of turn on FFG's behalf, perhaps even based on something FFG said behind closed doors that wasn't meant to be taken literally. As in, "Are you going to use our Kotei results?" *shrug* "We'll take them. We'll do our best..."

 

If I'm not mistaken, that quote even came from a post that was *before* the big "turn over the keys" meeting Laderoute mentioned.

 

Could be wrong on all counts, though. *shrug*

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Enlightenment does have a problem with the idea that it comes from within, which can be troublesome in a game that requires more than one player. The ccg 'solved' this by having some of the rings potentially rely on the other player to get them into play. I do wonder what the designers will do with that potential win condition.

 

 

 

@Osmo -

I actually mentioned this in another thread, but the best way I could see doing this would be printing a Stronghold for each Great Clan / Faction, then a Sensei for each "path" to victory you want to include. Right Hand of the Emperor for gaining Honor through military victories, Left Hand of the Emperor for courtly shenanigans, the Underhand for causing honor losses, and the Voice for playing Elemental Rings. Opens up design space for a Black Heart of the Empire for a Shadowlands Horde with a different victory condition, and an Imperial Treasurer or the like for an economic victory or something.

 

Having a single central "victory" condition with multiple, modular paths to achieving it would also make the game more playable in multi-player.

 

There was a while there where it seemed like the cards getting attached to your stronghold were getting a bit out of hand, IMO. :)

 

Off all game elements, "winning" seems like the one that should be included in the basic foundations of the game.

 

Also from a philosophical standpoint, I'd rather have achieving enlightenment be the "master" win condition, if there is one, with honor, military and dishonor each potentially feeding into that. (There's an older thread with what I think this could look like, but there are many ways to do it.)

 

Nits and picks though. Sounds like we're of similar mind in the generalities of unifying win conditions in some way.

 

 

I think both responses illustrate the major problem with the CCG reboot.  To me, the only way to look at where FFG intends to take the card game is to imagine a simple card template with a spot for art.  In other words, we should expect nothing to carry over from the previous game.  Certain things will come back, likely in different forms altogether, while others will be jettisoned for a more streamlined engine.  But in the end, I don't expect the game to look much at all like it did before, which I completely support, because the game was in desperate need of a mechanical reboot.

 

The story and setting will likely look more akin to AEG's versions, but again, I imagine significant changes across both to unify them more with the vision that FFG intends to implement across the various games for brand.  Again, this move is the most reasonable one because having a strong, cohesive brand across all of the products will likely entice buyers to purchase more than one.  In order to achieve cohesion, though, FFG is going to have to undertake massive, often terrifying levels of revision to the game.  But at the end of the day, if their choices bring L5R back to prominence, we all ultimately win.

 

 

FFG really hasn't done a bad job with any of its games and that's saying something in the industry. Hell, it makes better Warhammer and Warhammer 40k games than its parent company does!

Edited by Kubernes

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Enlightenment has always been treated as a goofy, gimmicky side mechanic to the game. I have only ever seen one style of "tournament winning" enlightenment deck, and that was during Jade's domination of Finding the Harmony. Everyone packs the Rings for their ability. Not for enlightenment.

 

I would like to see Enlightenment finally get treated as a fully possible victory condition, equal to Military, Honor-running, and Dishonor. And I would like to see it hard coded into the game that dirty politics (like the Otomo and the Scorpion) which were formerly dishonor, were made into a viable victory condition, rather than have it just be Military or Honor running.

 

This is easiest done with the centralized victory mechanic and multiple means of achieving it.

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