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BD Flory

Impact of FFG's Release Model (No holds barred!)

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So, something that came up in another thread (and actually has a few times now) is the difference between AEG and FFG's release and legality models.

 

AEG released cards for L5R that were block legal. This took a few different forms over the years, with varying lengths of time and bridge sets and so forth, but the upshot is that cards tended to be legal for 2-3 years (IIRC).

 

FFG's LCG's take a very different approach. Core boxes and deluxe expansions are legal for the life of the game (barring FAQ restrictions or whatever), whereas their 6 pack cycles of 120 cards are eventually cycled out...but not for a long time. 5+ years, likely more like 7 or 8, determined by how many cycles are in the environment. Once the cap comes, when a cycle releases the oldest cycle drops out of legality.

 

Obviously, this is going to have huge impacts on the way FFG's version of L5R engages with not only mechanics, but story, theme and setting as well.

 

So go crazy! Speculate! What's this model mean for L5R? Characters killed in story may remain legal for many years. Their actions will echo in the format as action/event/strategy/whatever cards. Major events separated by centuries could occur in the same game -- a specific character might be born, get married and die in a single turn (We'll call him Hida Gurundi), with whatever mechanical effect that implies.

 

Will cycles focus on geographic regions? Eras? Will there be a giant ongoing story that never concludes, and simply rolls through cycle after cycle the same way the format does? Or will it be a story per cycle of packs, perhaps laser focused on the personal journey of a single samurai, or the conflict between two houses and the butterfly effect their political maneuvers and open warfare have on Rokugan as a whole, but without regard to the way the cycle meshes with other legal card cycles?

 

Which two clans should face off in Deluxe boxes, which tend to be dual clan focused? Remember, these boxes are going to be legal forever. Will they each focus on an iconic struggle from the history of the empire, narrowing the scope to as short a period as a few months? Or should they take the long view of an ancestral hatred between clans, with the cards in the box tracking it down through the ages from the dawn of the empire to the present day?

 

How does the interactive story mesh with all this? Is it okay to make choices without necessarily knowing the context of those choices? (One clan will be visited by its Kami in cycle 7. Which one will it be?) Would you prefer they landed in a clearer context (i.e. We're doing a Crane v. Lion box., you can choose what sparks the conflict! Probably from a menu)? Something else?

 

Weeeeeelll...I know I said no holds barred up top, but let's all assume that FFG's release model is going to remain unchanged for L5R compared to its other extant LCGs. So, Core box, then alternating between themed cycles of 6 packs (120 cards featuring all factions) and 2-faction focused Deluxe boxes (55 cards featuring those 2 factions, with a smattering of support for each remaining faction).

 

Yeah, you knew there'd be a catch. :P

 

What do you want? What do you expect?

Edited by BD Flory

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The way FFG does rotation is that there are between 5 and 7 legal full cycles. When there are 7 full cycles and a new pack (the packs are named differently for the various games) comes out that would open a new cycle, the oldest 2 cycles are dropped out. The theoretical rhythm is a pack every month, but there are often breaks between cycles (to make room for a deluxe expansion, usually). The theoretical life expectancy for a given pack is 3.5 to 4 years. If we assume an extra month between cycles, the maximum is slightly under 5 years (56 months). If we assume 2 months, it is slightly over that (64 months). It would be 6 years only if the breaks were 3 months (I hope it won't ever happen, and I don't think it'll happen more than occasionally). 7 or 8 years are right out.

 

The progression of the legal pool is as follows:

Semester 1: cycle 1

Semester 2: cycles 1-2

Semester 3: cycles 1-3

Semester 4: cycles 1-4

Semester 5: cycles 1-5

Semester 6: cycles 1-6

Semester 7: cycles 1-7

Semester 8: cycles 3-8

Semester 9: cycles 3-9

Semester 10: cycles 5-10

...

 

It should be noted that rotation has not yet affected any of FFG's games (AGoT 1st ed wasn't scheduled for it, getting a reboot instead, WHI was stopped before the announcement, CoC had no more packs scheduled and is now going to stop, LotR was excluded; the others are ANR with 4 cycles, SW with 3 cycles, Conquest with 1 cycle and AGoT 2nd ed with only the Core Set).

Edited by Khudzlin

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I personally think that the release model of the LCG may be exactly what L5R needs right now. Admittedly, the LCG model is very similar to the historically bad Rolling Thunder model that hurt the game severely. I feel, however, that had more to do with the time it was released and the fact that it was a blind buying method. If people know what they are getting, they are more likely to make the monthly spending on it.

 

I think that FFG would be smart to cash in on the story-driven aspect of Legend of the Five Rings. Make each Deluxe Box either the start of a story, or its own self-contained story. Each Chapter Pack should further the current story, whether that story is in the "present" of Rokugan or a "historic" Rokugan. Actually, that might be the best way of handling the story line, by alternating Modern Rokugan story lines and Historic Rokugan story lines. Provide Fiction in each Chapter Pack, and you have the means of an interactive storyline.

 

The Interactive Story would need to be far less awards than what AEG had, but those awards would need a more visible impact. Few distinct choices with strong impact, over many small choices with slight impact. More like Day of Thunder, Race to Volturnum, the Race for the Throne. If you are going to give story interaction? Make it big. With the 2 year development cycle, you can easily build to a the BIG choice, then do a "Historical" cycle before showing the impact of the big choice in fiction, art, and flavor text.

 

As for playing with Personalities who have been dead for years? That is nothing new for an L5R player.

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It's not just rotation that is important, I think. Amount of unique cards is hugely important. One of the reasons I stopped playing Star Wars was that it took so long for the meta to shift, and that can fall squarely on an extremely thin card pool for the first year.

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I don't think it will have any more impact on story than, say, several of the major characters in the Thrones 2E Core Set dying in the first book. Just an odd quirk of the game that admittedly crept up quite often under AEG. Hida Kuon was a dead man walking throughout Celestial Edition, for example.

 

As for the deluxe boxes, here are the pairings I would like to see:

Crab vs. Spider

Crane vs. Scorpion

Dragon vs. Phoenix 

Lion vs. Unicorn

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I'll post what I have in similar threads:

Core Set 240 cards (a guesstimate)

-Every Card appears only a single time (thus necessitating 3 Cores for a full play set)
-30 cards per faction, 7 factions in the box and 30 neutral cards

-However, that may not allow 2 players to play a game together with a single box, something FFG like doing with their core sets. I am not too familiar with L5R 2 40 card deck construction, so someone with more experience would have an idea how many neutral/faction cards tend to be in both decks. So I can't speculate too much on how the core set would be formed.

 

Cycle 1 - 120 x 3 cards boosting options for each of the 7 factions and neutral cards.
Big Box - Introduce 40 x 3 cards for the Spider Clan and the other 15 cards in the set are split between neutral and the other clans. You could have each cycle ramp up a current storyline, culminating in the appearance of Spider.
 

Cylce 2 - 120 cards for 8 factions and neutral

Big Box 2 - 25 cards for one faction, 25 cards for another and 5 neutral cards. Have the cycle lead up to 2 clans confronting each other over a particular issue.

Cycle 3 - 120 cards for 8 factions and neutral

Big Box 3 - 25 cards for one faction, 25 cards for another and 5 neutral cards.

 

It's the big boxes that could be the most crucial aspect of the game after 18 months on the market. If you host a demo of the game, imagine if you could simply tell a new player:

"Hey, did you enjoy playing as Crab or Lion in that demo?"

"Lion Clan looked great!"

"Cool, I would suggest buying the Lion Vs Unicorn big box expansion if you wanted your own deck. You get 75 cards for Lion and a few neutrals which will build you an okay deck. There's also the core set, which is currently out of stock. I would also recommend these 2 packs from the first cycle to really give your Lion Clan deck some cool things to do. We meet once a week at..."

 

-I've had that conversation for Doomtown and Netrunner with various people, who have then joined the local player base. Sure, they lacked Core Set cards at first, but they are pretty much able to jump in with both games.

 

It's not just rotation that is important, I think. Amount of unique cards is hugely important. One of the reasons I stopped playing Star Wars was that it took so long for the meta to shift, and that can fall squarely on an extremely thin card pool for the first year.

 

OFF TOPIC STAR WARS LCG RANT:
That's because Star Wars was so dependant on Objective Sets. Which meant that no matter the release, Rebels were almost always shoving Han into decks and Sith players always had Vader and Palpatine in their decks. That was 30 cards you were always seeing in tournaments and things like the Hoth Cycle really failed to diversify decks. Hell, Scum and Villainy decks rarely worked as a result of their 'capture a card' gimmick.s

No idea about the state of the game now, but Star Wars' player base died in Scotland around the time Edge of Darkness came out due to the lack of diversity/lack of releases*. I think the game is still popular enough in the States thanks to the Star Wars license, but it simply could not hold a candle to far better games like MtG, Netrunner and last year's reboot of Doomtown.

 

Or hell, the simple fact that X-Wing miniatures was a far more popular use of the Star Wars license that was a far easier sell to UK Star Wars audiences.

*There was also an odd gap 6 month gap between EoD and other cycle announcements, things like that which helped kill it. SWLCG and Netrunner were released very close together, yet Netrunner is an entire cycle (6 months) ahead of Star Wars and both games are about to get their fourth DX box.

Edited by Internutt

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The thing about the Core starter decks, is that they don't necessarily have the tournament legal minimum. I do think the number of cards needed in the two decks will be tweaked. 

 

Also, I think it is far too hopeful to hope that FFG makes the core full of singletons. So, it will continue the trend of multiple Cores having diminishing returns. 2 Cores will likely be all the majority of players will need, giving you a playset of the majority of cards. Everything I have seen from FFG has been them reiterating that they feel having some redunancies in the core decks makes for a better learning experience. 

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I don't see the story vs legality of characters being an issue.  There have literally been characters printed who died in the story before they became playable.  If anything I think it opens up some opportunities to tell newer players "Akodo Joe there died while fending off a dozen or so Scorpion assassins." or "Hida John crushed an oni skull with his bare hands before they both died."  It shows that Rokugan is a dangerous place where cool characters can die, and sometimes a good death is the best thing you can ask for.

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Going by Doomtown Reloaded experience. Characters gained Experienced 1 cards to show that they were still alive in the game's universe. Characters have died before their cards were released. Thus L5R could take a similar route.

Instead of having the awkwardness of AGoT where 5 cycles into the game you get a new Ned Stark card or another Joffrey or Khal Drogo with different mechanics.

 

Hell, there was this one poison attachment card in AGoT with the flavour text "My son is dead! -Cersei". Which kind of spoiled Joffrey's death before Season 4 aired for a few people.

 

In L5R, they could always have a location attachment (is that a thing in L5R) where the card art is a character's decapitated head on a battlement.

Edited by Internutt

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Questions, cause I know zero to nothing about LCGs:

 

Is this cycle period (7-8 years) something that is 'mandatory', so to speak? If so, why (I'm guessing amount of cards per release + period between releases)? 

Assuming my guess is correct, would a more frequent release schedule and/or larger amount of cards per release diminish this period? Is it even something FFG has the capacity (printing + personnel wise) for?

And finally, is a shorter cycle time something desirable, or at least manageable, for a LCG?

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1 pack per month is released

6 packs is a cycle, so 2 cycles are a year.

 

FFG will build the card pool up to 6 active cycles.

From there once the 1st pack from the 8th cycle is released, the first two cycles drop out of the card pool, so you get back to 6 active cycles.

 

Cards from packs will stay legal for roughly 3 years, and cards cycle out on yearly bases after 2020.

 

However LCGs have a bunch of evergreens from the starter set and the deluxe boxes. 

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Is this cycle period (7-8 years) something that is 'mandatory', so to speak? If so, why (I'm guessing amount of cards per release + period between releases)? 

Assuming my guess is correct, would a more frequent release schedule and/or larger amount of cards per release diminish this period? Is it even something FFG has the capacity (printing + personnel wise) for?

And finally, is a shorter cycle time something desirable, or at least manageable, for a LCG?

 

A cycle lasts 6 months. That is 120x3 cards released in 60 card packs (20x3).

So you get 20 new cards a month.

 

Core Set and Deluxe Boxes are always legal. In Netrunner's case, that means 343 x3 cards are always legal for tournament play.

 

The release schedule works out like this:

Core Set

month or 2 off

6 months for cycle 1

Big box the month after

month break

cycle 2

big box 2

 

 

So as you can imagine, on average the card game will get 350x3 (2 cycles + 2 big boxes) cards added to the cardpool over the span of a 12 month period.

When the card pool reaches around 1500 cards (In Netrunner's case, that process will take 6 years total, up to 2018) the first 2 cycles (240 cards) will be removed from retail and will cease to be tournament legal.

However, the 2 big boxes released at the end of those cycles will remain perfectly legal.

 

So 4 cycles into the game we will have:

 

123 x3 cards from the core set (using Netrunner as an example)

480 x3 cards from 24 small box expansions (costing £12 each)

220 x 3 cards from 4 Deluxe box expansions(costing £25 each)

Once cycling begins, 6 cycles will be active at any one time. So once cycle 8 starts, 1 and 2 are removed from sale and cycles 9 and 10 are released. Once 11 begins, 3-4 will be removed from sale, etc.

Edited by Internutt

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CoC Asylum packs were never retired/cycled out though, they were always perfectly legal. They just stopped making new cycles in favour of big boxes and kept the still legal Asylum packs in print.

Cycled out expansions WILL NOT be reprinted. Cycling is designed to lower the point of entry and make it easier for stores to keep stock since there isn't an ever growing list of expansions to order in.

So once cycled out, Jackson howard is not being reprinted. Keeping him in print completely deatroys the point of being cycled out.

Edited by Internutt

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CoC packs were never retired though. They were perfectly legal. They just stopped making new cycles in favour of big boxes.

Cycled out expansions WILL NOT be reprinted. Cycling is designed to lower the point of entry and make it easier for stores to keep stock.

So once cycled out, Jackson howard is not being reprinted. Keeping him in print completely deatroys the point of being cycled out.

 

You are misunderstanding my point. I am not saying things will be reprinted in new packs. I am saying that FFG will keep a stock of the old, retired packs available to sell. That they are using their PoD system for CoC just screams that they have plans for that once rotation finally starts hitting. They gave into demands for draft play, I don't see why the wouldn't at least have an option for those that want to do a legacy format. 

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CoC packs were never retired though. They were perfectly legal. They just stopped making new cycles in favour of big boxes.

Cycled out expansions WILL NOT be reprinted. Cycling is designed to lower the point of entry and make it easier for stores to keep stock.

So once cycled out, Jackson howard is not being reprinted. Keeping him in print completely deatroys the point of being cycled out.

 

You are misunderstanding my point. I am not saying things will be reprinted in new packs. I am saying that FFG will keep a stock of the old, retired packs available to sell. That they are using their PoD system for CoC just screams that they have plans for that once rotation finally starts hitting. They gave into demands for draft play, I don't see why the wouldn't at least have an option for those that want to do a legacy format. 

 

 

I think the question is whether it will be supported by official OP, and how much control over such events FFG actually exerts as a matter of policy and practicality. It hasn't mattered yet and won't for a while (2017 for Netrunner?), but I'm curious to see what happens if a specific venue decides they want to run some kind of open or legacy format rather than implementing cycling for their store championships. Venues could, of course, run all the events they wished in any crazy format they wish if they aren't using FFG OP kits and guidelines.

 

My only concern would be splitting local tournament scenes. Maybe Netrunner can afford that, being the biggest LCG, but my sense is that it could really hurt the smaller games to divide your audience. It's start as a small gap, of course, but it'll widen as more and more packs drop out of rotation.

 

In any event, at regional+ level, I imagine controls will be a bit more rigorous.

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It's not just rotation that is important, I think. Amount of unique cards is hugely important. One of the reasons I stopped playing Star Wars was that it took so long for the meta to shift, and that can fall squarely on an extremely thin card pool for the first year.

 

Lots of issues with Star Wars, yeah. I think another one is that it simply took them a while to figure out how to design pods well. A lot of the early pods in the Hoth Cycle don't see much play because resources were thin on the ground, IIRC. The force cycle improved this a lot, with many pods receiving resources of various kinds. I assume the same of the pilots cycle, but I've been on a break from the game.

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Is this cycle period (7-8 years) something that is 'mandatory', so to speak? If so, why (I'm guessing amount of cards per release + period between releases)? 

Assuming my guess is correct, would a more frequent release schedule and/or larger amount of cards per release diminish this period? Is it even something FFG has the capacity (printing + personnel wise) for?

And finally, is a shorter cycle time something desirable, or at least manageable, for a LCG?

 

As others have noted, I probably overestimated the time span covered by legal sets, but it's still quite a bit longer than an L5R block. I don't think any game gets 2 full cycles a year out. Off hand, I'd peg it at 1 and a half, and with product delays, maybe a little less.

 

As an example, it seems to be the case that Netrunner, the first game that will be affected by rotation, will be cycling out its first packs when the 8th cycle hits (per FFG's initial announcement; plans may have changed since). A new cycle seems to hit every 9 months or so, so that means late 2017 or early 2018, give or take. 5 years.

 

Still, quite a bit longer than L5R's rotations, and boxes are permanent fixtures.

 

As far as a shorter cycle, as Internutt points out, despite being a longer period of time, the resulting card pool will be smaller than a CCG block. I checked a magic deckbuilder the other day, and Standard Magic currently includes 1950 cards. Making FFG's cycles even smaller wouldn't be something I think many would want to see.

 

If you mean faster releases, so the same number of cards in rotation but cards coming faster, FFG seems to be about at capacity. Though they technically don't announce release dates, delays seem like a pretty regular occurrence. Probably not practical. Larger releases means altering something that's been a pretty solid fixture across all their LCGs, presumably because the business model works for FFG. Seems unlikely to change.

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So go crazy! Speculate! What's this model mean for L5R? Characters killed in story may remain legal for many years. Their actions will echo in the format as action/event/strategy/whatever cards. Major events separated by centuries could occur in the same game -- a specific character might be born, get married and die in a single turn (We'll call him Hida Gurundi), with whatever mechanical effect that implies.

 

L5R has had many arcs where Personalities already dead were part of playable decks, mostly from deluxe packs. Heroes of Rokugan in Gold Edition, Dawn of the Empire in Diamond (Kakita, Shosuro, Yogo...), Coils of Madness in Emperor Edition (Tsuruchi, Hantei XVI...) Clan War Thunders now in Twenty Festivals (Toturi, Otaku Kamoko, Hitomi, Yakamo...) Even we have played with personalities from an alternate realm altogether with "actual" samurai (1,000 Years of Darkness in Gold).

 

One thing is story, and another thing is playing cards. We, L5R players, are used to.

Edited by Oni no Pikachu

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The only real issue I can see here is after a timejump, but this can be easily solved using the "soûl of" keywords.

I mean, the core boxes must have more than one printing, right? After a timejump, they can "change"'the core box when doing a new printing. Same art, same abilities, different names for the personnalities with a " soul of" keywords added to make sure everyone knows this is technically the same card.

I also know some completists would buy three of these new core sets, even through they are not required. So It's potentially a good business move as well.

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Well either this or the Core Personalities are not really featured in the story, but are more a clear archetype what the clan has to offer. 

 

Or you simply say that on their Gempukku, they simply choose the name of one of their ancestors.

So Doji Sakura has the same name, art and abilities as Doji Sakura 300 years before her. 

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a really nice post

Thanks!

 

So, assuming a fixed release time period is maintained, the variables I can see changing (due to the nature of L5R, namely the number of clans) are card amount per core set, and card amount per big box. The 20x3 on the Card Packs seem like a safe bet to speculate on.

An unknown variable is also if the max cardpool will be kept at around 1500.

 

So, and again assuming the release schedule and card pack amount is maintained, I can see the following scenarios:

 

1) Same or similar number of cards per core and big box, same maximum cardpool: similar cycle period to Netrunner

2) Increased number of cards per core and big box, same maximum cardpool: cycling period  is greatly reduced (not probable, but not impossible)

3) Increased number of cards per core and big box, increased maximum cardpool: similar cycle period to Netrunner

4) Same or similar number of cards per core and big box, increased maximum cardpool: similar cycle period to Netrunner: increased cycle period (highly doubtful)

 

I'd say the odds are about 35% - 15% - 45% - 5%

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