Marinealver

Don't Throw Away Your Genesis and Spin Cycle Just yet...

32 posts in this topic

15 hours ago, Grimwalker said:

What I sense from this is that the primary impetus is not a healthy game or a creative game or even a game which is friendly to people who don’t own all the cards. What I sense is an impulse to push back against the specter of rotation and to keep playing with the cards people already own. 

There is certainly truth in what you write.  I want to play with the cards I purchased.

For the most part, though, my impetus comes from wanting a format where it is not requisite that you possess the entire card catalog to play.  I want to design a format where I, with my old set, can play against others with newer sets, and we can both compete and have fun.  Was the game so terrible when it was just the Core+Genesis+Spin Cycle?  I can't imagine it was so bad because lots of people got into the game at that time.  Certainly there are cards that I'd want to see removed from the card pool for health and diversity reasons.  Desperado and Jackson Howard are two that come to mind.  But Do you think that ALL the cards are so wildly poor designs that two entire cycles should have never been printed?  Are there cards rotating that are worth keeping in an extended card pool?

 

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1 hour ago, Mathom1 said:

There is certainly truth in what you write.  I want to play with the cards I purchased.

Like I said, I certainly understand. It was what drew me to the LCG model in the first place, given how fast Magic shovels cards into the truly pay-to-win formats. But, I prioritize a healthy metagame over use of cards in perpetuity. YMMV.

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For the most part, though, my impetus comes from wanting a format where it is not requisite that you possess the entire card catalog to play.  I want to design a format where I, with my old set, can play against others with newer sets, and we can both compete and have fun. 

I think you're fighting against the card pool on that one, as the cards now in the pipeline are designed to never interact with cards that have rotated. And again, a format that's cheaper to play but less healthy and prone to power imbalance or degenerate interactions is not a good idea in my estimation.

And, in the final analysis,  expecting parity with players who continue to invest in the game while others want to stay relevant without any further investment is not a view I have very much sympathy for. If I'm keeping up with new purchases and you never buy anything new, there is no reason you should be on a level playing field with me. What am I paying for? We're not talking five-figure pay-to-win decks either: fifteen dollars every five or six weeks to help your FLGS keep the lights on is not a burdensome thing to ask. 

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Was the game so terrible when it was just the Core+Genesis+Spin Cycle?  I can't imagine it was so bad because lots of people got into the game at that time.  But Do you think that ALL the cards are so wildly poor designs that two entire cycles should have never been printed? 

Where did I remotely say anything like this? All? God, no. The learning curve of card design cuts both ways. There were some OP cards in C/G/S era but equally if not more stuff that were interesting ideas but in practice, basically garbage. But bad cards aren't what make a game unhealthy, by and large. Lemuria Codecracker has never ruined anyone's day. And it's not that C/G/S was wildly unhealthy in and of itself with certain notable exceptions. The problem comes as the card pool expands and possible card interactions keep ramifying. Keyhole didn't become abusive until DDOS and Hyperdriver came out. DLR was a curiosity without Wireless Net Pavilion and Paparazzi. What concerns me are the interactions that we can't even anticipate at all because they're excluded from playtesting. If Yog.0 exists, then low strength Code Gates are simply invalidated. If Account Siphon exists, it can be paired with Mining Accident for a miserable experience.  And so it goes.

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Are there cards rotating that are worth keeping in an extended card pool?

Sure. They're in the Revised Core Set for the most part.

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Certainly there are cards that I'd want to see removed from the card pool for health and diversity reasons. 

Cards I am glad to have go away forever and don't ever want to play with or against:

Parasite
Yog.0
Account Siphon
Desperado
Kate "Mac" McCaffrey (I'm just so bored with her)
Haas-Bioroid: Engineering the Future (again, bored, and just strictly better than every other ID.)
Astroscript Pilot Program 
Breaking News 
SanSan City Grid
Scorched Earth
Midseason Replacements
Vamp
Whizzard: Master Gamer (bored AF)
Data Leak Reversal
Andromeda: Dispossessed Ristie (bored)
Accelerated Diagnostics
Shock! (broken in a meta that also has Breached Dome)
Caprice Nisei
Jackson Howard
NAPD Contract
Keyhole
Blackmail

 

Edited by Grimwalker

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15 hours ago, Grimwalker said:

I think you're fighting against the card pool on that one, as the cards now in the pipeline are designed to never interact with cards that have rotated. And again, a format that's cheaper to play but less healthy and prone to power imbalance or degenerate interactions is not a good idea in my estimation.

And, in the final analysis,  expecting parity with players who continue to invest in the game while others want to stay relevant without any further investment is not a view I have very much sympathy for. If I'm keeping up with new purchases and you never buy anything new, there is no reason you should be on a level playing field with me. What am I paying for? We're not talking five-figure pay-to-win decks either: fifteen dollars every five or six weeks to help your FLGS keep the lights on is not a burdensome thing to ask. 

I'm not really thinking about a format like Vintage where any combination of cards is legal.  Clearly new cards are not going to account for older card designs.  That is why a Cache Refresh-like format is intriguing to me.  It imposed a restriction on what cards could be played together at the deckbuilding level, and it did so simply and elegantly.  When you are restricted to a card pool of an entire cycle instead of all cards in existence, new deck-types are possible because you aren't always going to have access to the strictly-best card for a certain role.  You instead have to choose, "Do I grab the best economy and take less powerful breakers, or do I go for the most efficient breakers and accept a slower economy?"

As for what you get by buying new product while I get to keep playing without buying, you get flexibility and choice of different decks.  You get to try all the new strategies and I get to continue to play, providing you with someone to play against.  Otherwise, if I can't keep up with the continual purchases, I have to stop playing and you have to hope that you can convince someone else to come play with you--someone who is willing to shell out for all the new cards and keep up with purchasing new content.  Burn through players like this and eventually you deplete all players in an area except for a few, hard-core people who become a sort of ingrown fan-base--a very closed, very small "in"-group that just makes it that much harder to attract new players.  In densely populated urban areas, this might take a long time and so is not felt immediately, but in little towns (like where I live) this defection is rapid and leads to a swift and total decline in the player-base.

What is burdensome or not depends on your situation in life.  You are not me and I am not you, nor am I anyone else.  $15 every month for new content isn't burdensome to you.  When home, family, and work responsibilities have me struggling to get in a game once every couple of months, those $15 dollar purchases begin to generate questions like "Why am I investing in a game that I'm not sure I'm going to be ABLE to play next time I have the opportunity?"  If there is a format where I know I can continue to get my one game every couple of months and know that I have a place at the table, I can continue to support the company and those players whose life constraints allow them greater access to the game.

As for why having old players who aren't buying lots of new product is good for the health of Netrunner (and, by extension, FFG), I will take as analogy Magics eternal formats.    Eternal formats in M:tG provide a natural progression for players.  Most start as new players in Standard, but then find they can't keep up with rotation.  In order to continue to play, they look to transition into an eternal format.  And they find that there is a huge group of like-minded players they can engage with.  I remember once reading that players stopped engaging regularly with Magic after 4-6 years, but that many of those players would return to the game after a short hiatus.  They would start in some eternal format that let them play with the cards they owned.  They would regain their fire for the game and they would again begin buying into the newer formats and newer cards.  This happens over and over again and is certainly a contributing factor as to why, in spite of design fumbles and pay-to-win business model, Magic continues to grow and sell.  Rotation was the right step for FFG to help ease player acquisition, but they also need to put some thought into figuring out how to ease player retention.  And they can't assume just publishing new cards is going to do it.

Edited by Mathom1

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3 hours ago, Mathom1 said:

Rotation was the right step for FFG to help ease player acquisition, but they also need to put some thought into figuring out how to ease player retention.  And they can't assume just publishing new cards is going to do it.

Real talk: every indication we have is that FFG will NEVER support vintage or eternal formats. We are starting off in the realm of fan-supported/fan-organized events at best and wishful thinking at worst. It goes against everything the LCG format stands for: all legal cards are available to all players. You simply can't do that with out-of-print cards. They could change their minds in the future, but present decisions by FFG put C/G/S completely hors de combat.

Your pseudo-Cache-Refresh format solves some problems but not all. From Kitara cycle onward, assets are costed for an environment where Whizzard doesn't exist. Ice is balanced around Yog/Parasite not existing. Tag insurance cards are built around Midseason Replacements not existing; tagging cards are assuming that New Angeles City Hall is gone. My damage cards are presumed not to have to overcome Plascrete Carapace. It's not just what broken combos I could or couldn't put in my deck, it's about interactions between my deck and yours because our cards were never supposed to meet in the wild. 

And, you have a fundamental misconception. The point of alternate formats is not player retention. That's all well and good, but the quality of the game and the organized play is about customer retention, and that's not entirely the same thing. You also missed the point when you painted it as "$15 every month for new content." For one thing, if you can't afford or aren't inclined to keep up with a LIVING card game, maybe it's just not for you. There's nothing wrong with that admission, and there's not anything wrong with playing your collection as a boxed game, but you shouldn't expect to be catered to on a continuing basis if you're no longer a customer. 

But what I actually said is that you should spend money on your FLGS to keep them in business. If you want stores and play groups to keep supporting Netrunner, not charging you table fees, ordering GNKs, and running events, then Netrunner has to be a good enough seller to justify that. If all you ever want do do is play your old cards, not buy anything new, and expect there to be formats which support your niche, then you are not a customer. You are a parasite. 

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You make a lot of good points and I would agree that the goal is customer retention and not just player retention. Let me make the case for why supporting an eternal format is NOT against the living card game model, how it might support local game stores, and how it might help with customer retention.

I would argue that the core of the living card game model is not that all cards are available to all players, but that there is no randomization in the cards you purchase.  Creating an eternal format doesn't change the randomization factor at all.  If I understand the true heart of your argument, it would be that a Vintage-like format where any card can be played with any other card would naturally favor early-adopters that have access to a larger card pool.  So lets take that off the table right now.  It isn't a format that would really work competitively.  Instead, is there a format where older cards could be played against newer cards by setting restrictions on what cards can be played together in a deck, be it through some sort of "block"-type cycle restriction or something else? 

Future design doesn't need to be balanced against past, out-of-print design.  You just have to make sure that you design your power curve between cycles to be flat so that there is no definitively best cycle or best faction, which FFG should be doing anyway.  Then we have created a system where interactions between my deck and your deck may favor me, but interactions between my deck and the next players deck may favor him, and interactions between his deck and your deck favor you.  Now we have a situation where there is no best deck in the format, only best decks at a given tournament, which is the definition of a healthy, evolving metagame.  So there is no increased design burden.  Is there an increased burden through supporting another format?  I would argue that it doesn't have to be much of an increase.  Play support doesn't have to be much more than what FFG is already doing.  Just publishing a rules set for such the format and allowing it to be a legal format for FFG-sponsored tournaments would be enough.  The largest burden would be in maintaining a MWL for the format, which would mean tracking statistics of tournaments and keeping an eye on player feedback.  They don't need to and, I would argue, shouldn't design for an eternal format. They, instead, need to monitor and adjust the rules (through MWL) to account for interactions between old and new designs.

So if it isn't against the living card game model and it has a modest increase in work for Organized Play, why might it be worth the effort of supporting an eternal format?  Because it creates a market space that does not currently exist.

You talked about customer retention and supporting your local game store.  The thing that allows a small town like mine to support 4 local game stores is the secondary market, which Netrunner currently doesn't have.  This is why in all four stores the LCGs get a small rack in some unregarded corner while the majority of the sales space is devoted to displays of Magic, Force of Will, Star Wars Destiny, and Pokemon.  These stores live in the margins of the secondary market.  With rotation, competitive LCGs suddenly have an opportunity to create a secondary market without resorting to randomization (which would go against the LCG model).  All cards rotating will be useless cardboard for the competitive Netrunner player.  She might as well throw them away.  But what if she could sell her rotating cards to a local game store who purchased them in the knowledge that there was a market for selling those older cards. Now players who want to keep up with the current format can support the store with their monthly $15 and recoup some of their cost by selling rotating sets back to the store for a modest $5.  Players of the eternal format support the store with their occasional $10 purchase as they pick up new cards for existing decks or try out other decks.  Both players see that the game is being played and continue to be customers because they know that there will always be someone they can play against and a format to play in.  And eternal players wouldn't always be older "retiring" players.  A new player who wants to try out the game competitively is going to be more likely enticed by a $100 purchase of rotated cards plus a core set than by the $720+ purchase of every set in the current format.

I would argue that your point about non-purchasing customers being parasites is short-sighted and erroneous.  Their presence maintains a space for the game.  They perpetuate interest and visibility for it.  And they always have the potential to become paying-customers at any moment.  It is why the "free-to-play" model works in digital games.  Various companies saw that charging players up front to play their game made them revenue for a time, but that their games died quickly as some new thing came along, old players left, and new players were unwilling to invest in an old and possibly dead game.  But by making the barrier to entry nothing, new players were always willing to try the game out because there was theoretically no risk, older players could leave and come back to the game because there was always someone to play against, and both groups, once in the game, became a captive audience for the company to sell things to.  Now the "free-to-play" model has lots of flaws that are irrelevant for this discussion, but the idea of maintaining a space in which the game is played is of concrete benefit to both local games stores and to game companies.  It is why two local game stores in my town hold weekly board game nights, even though players could arguably never buy another game and/or expansion.  Both store's owners know that players come to their store to play games that are being played and once they've got the players in their store, they have appreciably increased the likelihood that those players will buy something from them.

To be clear, I am not arguing for the creation of a format where I can play oppressive NBN fast advance or Noise recursion mill.  Instead, I'm arguing for the creation of a space where older cards could remain valid and where aging players, whose life has pulled them away from the competitive scene for a time, still have a place at the table.  I'd also like to see if card pool restrictions could revitalize (rehabilitate?) some of these identities and strategies that we've come to loath.  What if Noise were MWL Restricted, so that you could play him, but you didn't get Parasite, Clone Chip, or Aesop?  Could that be competitive and fun without being overpowered? Would we find that in such a format a more balanced identity is better because they would work with a variety of cards within a cycle, rather than needing a specific set of cards across different cycles? These are questions that have never been explored by the player base because they've always been allowed any card combination (within influence restrictions).  We might find that your first reaction is the correct one and that this first rotation has nothing worth salvaging.  Or we might find out some interesting and unintuitive conclusions instead.  And what about the next rotation?  At some point, there are going to be interesting strategies rotating that don't get reintroduced in a "revised"-type product.  What do we do then?  I'd love it if we had a space to explore these ideas.

Edited by Mathom1

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I also consider it key to the LCG concept that there is no aftermarket. That’s part & parcel of all legal cards being equally available to all players, in addition to there being no randomization. I don’t want there to be an aftermarket, ever. The very idea is offensive to me.

All you’ve done is peremptorily dismiss the arguments about the fundamentals of the LCG model and insert happy fantasies about the prospect of negative card interactions. So sorry, no, I don’t accept your attempts to beg the question on those points. 

You’ve arbitrarily decided that FFG OP can take on even more work when they’re clearly having difficulty successfully managing their existing workload. 

I also don’t buy for a second your arguments about enticing customers by creating a space and a scene for the game. It reminds me of nothing so much as all the freeloaders trying to get artists and designers to do stuff for free because think of the exposure. That doesn’t fly because generating interest already has worked: you’re interested, you want there to be a scene, you just don’t want to have to pay anything into it, you want other people to pay. 

So no, I have no sympathy for non-customers and I see no reason why everyone and their mother needs to go out of their way to accommodate and enable parasites. 

Edited by Grimwalker

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Actually there is an aftermarket, it just happens to be small because the player base is small. If the player base ever grows to the size of X-Wing, which is a miniature's version of an LCG, then you could easily find any card you wanted on ebay like you can for X-Wing right now rather than every once in a while. I truly hope some day there will be a healthy aftermarket for netrunner as it would mean the game is successful. Buying single cards be it for X-Wing or an LCG isn't terribly different than buying used, or barrow cards. I am not sure it matters how one come about their cards just they are friendly people to play with.

I will say you simply can't compare an CCG to an LCG or their respective aftermarkets. The card values are very different. When buying singles for an LCG you are really paying for the service for someone to split the card packs up and sell them as singles. The LCG cards aren't collectables with a limited print run nor do they come in random packs. Also LCG are far cheaper than CCG, once one gets over the huge buy in. A $15 pack once is month is nothing compared to CCGs. This holds back any kind of aftermarket as well. There isn't a huge demand for it, outside of lost/damage cards or new players putting decks together.

I don't see a need for an eternal format. They tend to be broken in other games and broken games aren't fun. They finally got netrunner to a point where it isn't so broken, no need to revisit it.

I will agree any exposure is good exposure which would be why jinteki hasn't been served. FFG does need to do more to make their LCGs more accessible to new players. The buy in is a huge barrier for most people. Eternal formats won't do anything to help that nor dumping banned cards are new players. That actually would do a lot of damage. FFG coming out with a value product of their older products still in rotation would help. Sadly once a card is out of the game, it really has no more value. I'm not tossing any of the banned cards but they shouldn't be played. They are gone for a reason.

As for the parasite freeloaders, you find them on jinteki.

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