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Cantor

Release Schedule

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Does anyone else feel anxiety when they announce that the Elemental Cycle is coming out six packs in six weeks again?

I was perfectly willing to accept the release schedule of the Imperial Cycle to increase the available card pool, but I found myself feeling anxious as the weeks went on. I felt compelled to pick up the pack every week, as soon as I could, so that my FLGSs would have stock. Many stores near me either don't carry the game at all because of lack of players, and some only stock a few copies of the packs. One store expressed difficulty even getting them at all. 

I expected the next cycle to come out one pack per month, like Netrunner. I am curious about what the players think the reason for this schedule is?

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That's a good question.  The first time around FFG framed it as a one time event to kick start the game.  That makes sense since for this game the core set card pool was extremely limited.  Why do 6 in 6 again?  What are the virtues and flaws of this system.

For virtues FFG clears out their warehouse inventory quicker which is nice for them so maybe it was primarily an economic concern.  I think there are some benefits to the community though. 

In the old system the drip feed of cards can get a bit unexciting.  That's my experience and I've heard this over the years on boards and podcasts about mature LCGs.  There is no violent turn over of the meta.  It's a slow gradual process.  So instead of a slow drizzle of the meta evolving this 6 in 6 style will be thunder storm of change therefore generating more excitement.  A cycle release doesn't generate anywhere near the buzz a big box release did.  This is why I also think role selection is a good thing for this game.  Anything that can shake up the meta once this game is established is a good thing to keep it from feeling stale.

Another thing to consider is that we'll get the set all at the same time relatively (as they were play tested) so we don't have any of the normal awkwardness of receiving an incomplete picture of the design.  That was definitely a thing in other LCGs.  This card didn't make sense until we saw two more cards later in the cycle.  That card is OP until taking in context of the entire set.  So hopefully this will be a better thing for game balance at any given point during the cycle.

For flaws I think that's been widely covered.  The old system definitely did a good job of maintaining hype because you were getting articles at a consistent pace (unless there were production gaps) and it gets you in the store at least once a month.  That constant engagement with the community is a definite virtue.  It keeps players feeling like their game is healthy and supported.  Also it gave players a constant stream of topics to discuss in the various social outlets online, which again gave the game the feeling of being healthy and vibrant.  A once a month schedule also gave the players a predictable budget for the game.  If this is FFG's new approach for this game going forward they need to say that because I think people like to plan economically for hobby card games like this one.

Edited by phillos

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The main beef I have with the 6 packs 6 weeks schedule is the huge gap between products. There was a months-long gap between the Imperial cycle and Disciples of the Void, and now there'll be another months-long gap between Disciples of the Void and the Balance of the Elements cycle. Such gaps are dangerous for the player base, especially without news to keep players interested.

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2 hours ago, Cantor said:

 I found myself feeling anxious as the weeks went on. I felt compelled to pick up the pack every week, as soon as I could, so that my FLGSs would have stock. Many stores near me either don't carry the game at all because of lack of players, and some only stock a few copies of the packs. One store expressed difficulty even getting them at all.

 

To get around this issue I managed to find online a webstore selling the whole cycle as big pre order and shipping you each pack separately as soon as it gets available. There are a non negligeable number of websites that are offering this kind of solution. That guaranties you won;t miss any pack

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Well I don't think you need a constant release of cards for a card game to be healthy.  CCGs certainly don't do the drip feed LCGs were doing.  They do dumps of cards like this system more or less.  I do think they need a constant stream of something to engage the player base though and give the social outlets something to talk about.  That keeps the discussion alive and gets you that same sense of health and vibrancy.  I'm not sure what the minimum needs to be, but I think we just lived through a gap that was too long with nothing really engaging being added to the discussion.  So clearly something more frequent than that :)

Edited by phillos

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I'm not sure what the cause is but it seems as though the two "huge" games that FFG released last year, L5R and Runewars, have both suffered from a serious gap in product/information release that has seriously hurt both games in my local community.

We are currently trying to get through the Battle for the Stronghold kit and are having issues with anyone showing up due to lack of interest.  Sadly, I'm one of the two people that has shown up for the weekly game night and I am a casual player at best.  I love the artwork and dig the setting, but I am not "into" all of the material from the former games so without a constant stream of releases or something to keep me engaged L5R easily slides off my radar.

I think that the 6x6 release schedule is great for getting out a set quickly, but without something to supplement it players like myself will not be engaged much beyond those 6 weeks.

As for the argument that CCG's use this type of a release model, this is true, but they also have a much larger card pool to draw from during the gaps between releases.  I play Dragon just because I think the clan sounds cool, but there appears to be only a single "good" deck with the current card pool and there are themes that just don't work due to lack of cards for those themes.  This is technically an issue I've had with all of the LCG's so far.  I always feel like there are tools (cards) that I should have to make a theme work that just aren't there.

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2 hours ago, phillos said:

CCGs certainly don't do the drip feed LCGs were doing.

The thing with CCGs is that a)their card pool is larger and b) you’re certainly not getting all the cards with just one purchase. You go and buy a few boosters, build a deck around that, then you go and buy some more... and months after release you’re still buying packs with the hope of getting that rare/mythic card. Even with the online market, it’s very difficult to have all the cards, unlike with the LCGs. 

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Yeah but most of a CCGs' card pool is deck filler and binder fodder.  Yeah you personally don't have access to the entire card pool all at once, but it's there and available so people can still theory craft, proxy and get to the same spot we get to in a LCG.  Also having access to the entire card pool means you can play a much larger variety of decks in this game than you ever could in a CCG.  I haven't built all the competitive decks for this game yet and learned how to play them.  I also don't play this game like it's a part time job though and I know some people do.

I think people are overreacting to change.  I may not totally agree with this move, but I respect FFG for experimenting with the release models for their LCGs.  Who knows.  Maybe this will be better long term for the game's health.  They won't know unless they try.  I just wish they were more upfront with this change so people wouldn't feel ambushed by it.

Edited by phillos

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I think they realise some clans will not use many cards of the phoenix pack and this way they can raise the deckbuilding options for everyone.

About the themes that dont work yet like Dragon-monks I hope they give a new stronghold for each clan (except phx) in this next 6 packs...

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2 hours ago, L5RBr said:

I think they realise some clans will not use many cards of the phoenix pack and this way they can raise the deckbuilding options for everyone.

About the themes that dont work yet like Dragon-monks I hope they give a new stronghold for each clan (except phx) in this next 6 packs...

As of today, I'm only using one card from DotV, but if I decide to splash Phoenix, that will definitely change.

But I disagree about getting new strongholds out in this cycle, I'd rather wait on the clan packs and maybe this new stronghold in the Elemental Cycle will be Neutral.

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15 hours ago, phillos said:

That's a good question.  The first time around FFG framed it as a one time event to kick start the game.  That makes sense since for this game the core set card pool was extremely limited. 

To be fair (and I could be wrong about this) I think FFG never "framed it" in any way. They announced it that way and we all made educated guesses as for their rationale. Obviously, we were wrong.

Now, we can make even more educated guesses: 1) The original 6-in-6 worked well enough for them. 2) This seems is going to be the release model for the game going forward.

While I personally see more cons than pros after the original cycle; the pros are still there: an stable pool to explore for around 6 month, as opposed to a gradually expanding pool. The cons are the 4-5 months void of no releases and almost no news could (and did) sometimes feel soul-crushing...

On the other hand, I see again people claiming this is the end, dropping the game, play groups disbanded, dogs and cats lying together... While I have no doubt some of these claims are factual, they are nevertheless anecdotal. Let's face it, attrition is always going to happen; for some ``people the release schedule is going to trigger it; but most times it was going to happen anyway. I honestly don't wan't to diminish their reasons, but they were already on the fence if something like this makes them leave the game. When FFG bought the IP, they wanted a competitive game  (and in light of that the 6-in-6/stable meta scenario makes sense) and a commited player audience: these will keep buying the 6-in-6 cycles (some happily, some grudgingly, some indifferent either way),; as long as that core audience keeps buying and playing, losing a small (even if vocal) minority has little bearing. What is important is that recruiting trumps attrition, and as long as that recruiting targets the core audience of competitive, commited players, the game is healthy.

In any case, if this is going to be the release model and if somebody is listening, I suggest they make sure they make better use of fiction in the intervining gaps. For the first cycle, the fiction was closely tied to the pack releases (filling the gaps between chapter fiction), but then nothing for months. Using it instead to fill those months would keep us more involved, speculating about the plot and future cards is what made AEG's game to keep the audience engaged even if there was nothing new at the shelf between releases.  Or even, something like the Phoenix novella, with a couple of preview cards, around February, would have done lots to fill that void and served as a preview to the Phoenix Pack.

Edited by Mon no Oni

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5 hours ago, Mon no Oni said:

To be fair (and I could be wrong about this) I think FFG never "framed it" in any way. They announced it that way and we all made educated guesses as for their rationale. Obviously, we were wrong.


You are wrong, dude. This is from the FFG website, under 'Living Card Games' (https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/more/living-card-games/): 

 

Quote

While the LCG Core Sets provide a fantastic stand-alone game experience, those that wish to can expand even further! Monthly installments of expansion packs, each with a full playset of fixed cards, provide ongoing and regular additions to the available card pool. These expansion packs add customization, variety, and an ongoing sense of theme to your experiences with the game, while evolving the play environment in exciting new ways.


I'm pretty sure that the early L5RLives and the original preview articles also made mention of monthly releases. I'm actually okay with the deviation, but it absolutely needed to communicated better, and I understand why some people feel angry and/or misled.

 

Edited by Hinomura

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From my personal experience (just me) I gave up buying the Arkham Horror card game for L5R. Not because I didn't like it or anything like that. Without realizing until now, I think it was the slow drip. I still read the articles and check out the previews, but I think if it had been a six in six, I would have more likely continued to purchase the products (I got the entire first cycle and both deluxe boxes). Just an observation I'm sharing. 

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I do think this better for the competitive audience, and it will definitely make the excitement meter more dynamic for the game, which will help combat the sort of malaise that LCGs can settle into that HirumaShigure describes.  I do worry how this will  affect the local scene and new player adoption.  I really hope they introduce a product like the AGOT starter decks for LCG so we have a cheap single purchase entry point for curious people in the game store.  That would help SO MUCH to sell this game to new people, and this is still the flaw that the LCG model struggles with in either incarnation of the release schedule for the products.  I sort of wish the clan packs for actual functional decks and could function as that starter pack product.  I think that would have been a much smarter idea.

Yeah my big issue is they need to communicate that they have a clear plan for the game.  I know FFG likes to hold onto information to spring it on audiences as an exciting surprise, but if they can learn anything from GW's mistakes it's that keeping your audience in the dark is not good for the long term health of your relationship with your audience.  If this is an experiment in the ways LCGs are delivered maybe talk about it in an article discussing the though process for this decision.  Being so tight lipped is just going to make people think they are disorganized or don't have a plan.  Also it will make them feel betrayed when they thought they were getting one thing and now they are getting another. 

Also it's a bit too late for this now but they really needed to communicate what the release schedule would look like at launch so people wouldn't feel ambushed liked some people clearly do now.

Edited by phillos

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Perhaps the game does not make them enough money so they have decided to invest minimal resources in it. 1 Cycle and 1 clan pack is a pretty meager amount of content for a new LCG in its first 12 months (yes its possible they are saving it all up for q4. 2 cycles and 2 clan packs would be more typical. **** they have already announced more new content for their oldest LCG then L5R is getting it would seem.  This is particularly puzzling considering the hype and the fact that the release event had 700 players ,their biggest event ever. I think they are ether planning something big that they are not telling us about , which is odd as they tend to telegraph their addons to existing products 3-6 months in advance to generate hype.  The alternative is not very positive. Also the fact that Mantis are coming has been known about for months so i suspect this cycle was developed before the games release.Very disappointing and i for one don't see  fiction, mats and other support products as enough but i dont certainly this early in the games development. But hey perhaps they will release an L5R version of destiny or another L5R card game at this year Gencon which they are willing to support.

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I think @Mon no Oni hit the nail on the head, that regular release of fictions could very well be enough to keep interest and excitement levels high during the release gaps. Even if it was every 2 weeks. I think FFG has forgotten that it's the story of Rokugan that draws many of us to the IP just as much as cool mechanics and beautiful art.

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16 hours ago, HirumaShigure said:

From my personal experience (just me) I gave up buying the Arkham Horror card game for L5R. Not because I didn't like it or anything like that. Without realizing until now, I think it was the slow drip. I still read the articles and check out the previews, but I think if it had been a six in six, I would have more likely continued to purchase the products (I got the entire first cycle and both deluxe boxes). Just an observation I'm sharing. 

To be honest, I think 6p6w would make more sense for Arkham Horror than other LCGs. Scenarios in a campaign are tied together much more meaningfully than packs in a cycle. And in a coop game, there would be less pressure to buy the packs as soon as they come out if you want to pace your spending.

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After a little reflection over the weekend, I think I have an idea of what FFG is doing.

L5R seems to be very story-driven, more so than the other LCG's.  As such, instead of releasing cards on a regular cycle, could it be possible that FFG is releasing cards based on the storyline only?  Is that why we only got the Phoenix clan pack and now the new Elemental cycle...because that is what comes next in the story and they don't want to release anything out of order?

Seems a little, silly perhaps, but you know, stranger things and all...

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On 4/6/2018 at 1:28 PM, Hellvlad said:

 

To get around this issue I managed to find online a webstore selling the whole cycle as big pre order and shipping you each pack separately as soon as it gets available. There are a non negligeable number of websites that are offering this kind of solution. That guaranties you won;t miss any pack

I live in Canada. Shipping is prohibitive. It often costs as much (or more) as the cards themselves to have a pack shipped to me. It's not feasible. I pretty much have to make sure that I'm supporting as many FLGSs as I can to ensure I can get cards for anything approaching a reasonable price. 

If that works for you (sounds like it does) then that's awesome. 

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I used to play Privateer Press's miniatures games, and they had what I thought was an ideal release schedule. Twice per month, a few new models would come out. If you played more than one faction, there was a good chance that something you were interested in would be released once each month. It was pretty great. You never felt compelled to grab every release, and you were excited when something for your faction came out. 

Since the makeup of each pack of cards doesn't guarantee that there will be great cards for every player in each pack, maybe releasing once per month isn't enough, but I think releasing packs in a flurry and then ignoring us for four months is not the answer either. 

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I wonder if FFG is just a little uncomfortable with the pacing right now. Each release advances the timeline of a universe that they also need to make relevant via tournaments. Maybe they misjudged their timeline based on their regular tournament schedule, and just can't release at a faster pace?

 

To be honest, I expected to hear more about tournament choices and results by now. There have been several koteis, but I haven't heard of any decisions besides that Honor/Duty choice. Is that intentional, or have they just run into creative blocks/delays?

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8 hours ago, AradonTemplar said:

To be honest, I expected to hear more about tournament choices and results by now. There have been several koteis, but I haven't heard of any decisions besides that Honor/Duty choice. Is that intentional, or have they just run into creative blocks/delays?

I think the only player-driven story choices, at least this year, will be the annual decision at Worlds, and who owns Toshi Ranbo at the end of the season, which is based in store tournaments results.

Don’t know if this will change, but I don’t remember anything saying that Koteis will impact the story. 

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