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DISCUSSION: What is the single biggest issue and what single change made do you think would help L5R as a whole?

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Posted (edited)

Hello all!

I posted this in the Facebook LCG group and on reddit so I figured I'd post here as well.

Simply put, there seems to be a lot of issues plaguing our game, and a lot of answers people have to fix it. Out of all these issues, what do you think is the single BIGGEST issue, and what one SINGLE change would you make to ensure L5R is a game that sticks around for years?

Some answers from the FB post:

-Attracting New Players

-Up Front Cost

-Balance

-Rotation Schedule

-Role Locking

Edited by Vutall

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 I think the biggest issue is attracting new players. I think the best way to address it would be to turn L5R into a multimedia franchise kind of like what GW did with Warhammer 40K. Not just novellas and spin-off board games, but a full animated series or at least a series of 5-10 minute animated web videos to get people invested in the setting and characters without making them buy anything. A few spin-off video games wouldn't hurt either, an L5R  skinned tower defense, maybe an RPG of some sort.

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Consistent, clear communication about what FFG intends to do with everything L5R related.

I really think it's time that each of the FFG properties has their own brand manager that can keep the community informed and hyped at all times.   Hearing from the designers and organized play and the story team are all well and good, but, there really needs to be one point of contact that can gather the communities questions, filter out the nonsense and then get us clear answers to our questions.

Ideally someone who is looped into the community enough that they get to a point where it feels like they are anticipating our questions and providing us up to date information on important topics before we turn into a frothing mob.

And if FFG is reading this, I'd gladly accept such a position if the pay was adequate.  You know how to get in touch with me.

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2 minutes ago, shineyorkboy said:

…….. an L5R  skinned tower defense......

In that same vein, I've wondered many times why Age of War (a samurai dice game that FFG owns) hasn't gotten a L5R skinned version of the game.  It's easy to learn, it's fun, it has some small level of strategy.  It could be incorporated into L5R side events, and/or used as prize support.  I already have a copy of the game in great condition and would gladly purchase a new copy if it was given a L5R facelift.  They could have special clan themed dice, alt art prizes.....custom dice cups/trays.  Turn it into a digital game.  There is a lot of room for exposure.  I would much rather break out my L5R themed copy of Age of War and then tell people about the card game, the rpg, the non-existent miniatures game, etc.  FFG should be looking to make this the go to samurai IP.  While it may not have as big of an audience as Star Wars, there are plenty of people that enjoy the east-Asian genre to want to expand the opportunities to get the IP out there.  When crappy movies like 47 Ronin and The Wall can get made, you know there are people that have crunched the numbers enough to identify that there is money to be made in that genre.

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Crucify me for saying it... but some anime alt art would probably do some good.

I'm looking to introduce some buddies who enjoy anime to the game as they are intrigued by the "samurai game" I've talked about. Give them some outright anime style cards and they would probably be hooked.

Speaking of - anybody have some intro deck lists? One pal I get the feeling would be a Lion type of guy, while the other... maybe dragon or phoenix. So a deck which newbies can get a grip on quickly enough while giving them a good "sense" of what the clan is generally about. Such a thing released as a starter for newbies would probably help, too.

Or to cover both cost & balance - maybe just implement a rule that all cards from the starter set (which seem to be the most degenerate) are limited to 1 copy per deck.

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What is an issue with the game? I see a lot of solutions in search of problems...


For me, the only issue with L5R is that it has long periods of no change, with dominant and boring playstyles. The long periods of no change is adjusting, so I'll see if that makes things better.

 

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I would change the way the void ring works: you can choose to do what it does already or choose a character and remove an attachment from that character. I think that would help to solve a lot of the attachment problems in the game, and bring the void ring more in line with the other ring designs, which have an A or B structure (except earth which has an A and B structure)

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1 hour ago, RafaelNN said:

I would change the way the void ring works: you can choose to do what it does already or choose a character and remove an attachment from that character. I think that would help to solve a lot of the attachment problems in the game, and bring the void ring more in line with the other ring designs, which have an A or B structure (except earth which has an A and B structure)

Isawa Kaede approves this message. 😂

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After following the facebook post since shortly after you having posted it, I have given the whole thing a lot of thought and I feel the urge to voice some of my ideas and concerns, so I'll probably go on a tangent. To satisfy your urge of picking JUST ONE thing, I'll give you my thoughts on one thing first. 

For context reasons: I've only ever been competitively active in one card game and that's been ages ago, though I'd like to try my hands on L5R. Right now I mostly collect the cards for the game and enjoy it somewhat casually because where I currently live I have at least 50 km of dead zone for almost any type of card-gaming. A good 100 for L5R. I stumbled into this game because I both enjoy FFG games (components/quality) and the old L5R CCG (setting/feel/complexity).

What irks me the most, from my casual standpoint is that the game often times feels extremely dominated by the competitive player base connected to it. (Which in turn can also feed into the problem of attracting new players.) The way cards are evaluated usually come down to it being 'trash' or 'god-tier' in a competitive light, and little thought, at least by the vocal parts of the community, seem to be going into how 'fun' something can be. To give it a tagline it would probably be something like 'Too much crunch, not enough jank.'
Now I do understand that most of this also derives itself from the way the game is set up. It is a complex game with a high skill ceiling that takes quite a bit of time to play with also a lot to consider when building your deck - oof, the roles at least during a time where you had to fight for them and the focus on larger and smaller tournaments all around. So this isn't necessarily something you can 'solve' in that sense. Perhaps getting the multi-player format more into the spotlight as a lighter variant or even having that Shadowlands VS all type of product might help in those regards though.
This also somewhat feeds back into the attraction of new players: if there seems to be little or no casual basis between the players, many probably won't want to jump into the game as well.

--

Concerning other points frequently brought up:

 

Attracting new player:
I have been wondering for a long time when that Championdeck from Erik Baalhuis is finally coming out (it seems more and more like FFG are waiting until this year's winter court) and why they wouldn't do one for each clan, or at least for the top 4 players. Those decks are a lot more complex than your typical starter decks so they maybe don't quite fit the bill for that, but together with the respective clan pack the would certainly give a new player some options to toy around with. Full on starter decks, one per clan, would surely need to be designed a little simpler. This would, theoretically, decrease the entry-cost into the game for an individual as well.
One counterpoint that's been brought up on FB a couple of times regarding starter decks that I entirely don't understand is that a product like this would be useless as they'd be unplayable in half a year (or so). Personally, I don't think you'd want to attend a tournament with a starter deck anyway, so....
What I can understand more is the problem with shelf-space for the retailer. This type of product feels a lot more specialized than the general core box FFG has put out so far, and honestly speaking, I got nothing on that. Perhaps make them print on demand, but that would leave the FLGS behind again as well, deepening the problem further. 

Getting back to the costs. I can only say, whilst the 90-something € to get the three core sets is somewhat expensive, maintaining this cardgame is so much cheaper than an traditional CCG or TCG. I can't complain about costs at all. Especially as you're getting a full play set of each card. I'm sure you'd be able to pay that amount of money for a single play-set of some 'mandatory' Magic card easily (for current decks).

The flipside of the LCG is the card pool that is expanding a lot slower than with a CCG. Partially because sets don't 'need' to be filled with chaff to a certain degree. Of course, in any game, not all cards are created equal, and neither should they be, but for CCG's there just are cards that are designed to be bad. I don't think this logic applies for LCG's as much.

 

Roles and role locked cards:
First off, perhaps an unpopular opinion, I like the idea behind the keeper/seeker elemental roles. In theory they force players to shift their attention to new cards as old roles rotated away from them and new ones become available. By having the playerbase vote on them you bind their attention to the competitive aspects of the game and give them the opportunity to have their choice affect the game at large. Also, having these powerful cards associated with each role that rotate in and out of graps of each clan could also prevent the need for having a restricted list. That sounds so nice...
In reality the discrepancies between the roles was probably too large from a get go. Having a full set of elementally locked cards for each clan to begin with (1 air, 1 earth, 1 fire and so on) or released in the first cycle could have maybe shored that up a bit better. Also as it stands right now, the way every clan can choose whatever they want, without the contention of before, it feels like we're heading towards peak-void (my insight into this is limited, so please correct me if I'm wrong). The void-provinces as they are now are still very strong and there seems to be little incentive for most of the clans to not want to have seeker of void. In other words - as it is now their selection feels more pointless than before. The old system would then see seeker of void be picked first in most circumstances, and a bottom of the barrel role would also come into existence - which probably could be shifted around by adding targeted neutral cards of the element (or keeper/seeker) in question 
Funnily enough I feel like if you'd errata or reprinted most of the currently restricted cards with an elemental role attached a lot of the discrepancies between roles could be treated. At the very least some clans would suddenly gain interest in roles they hadn't really looked at before. Niten Master sounds like a water card to me. Guest of Honor like earth. Charge like air or fire. Tadaka is also obviously an earth card.

 

And for a final point: communication:
FFG had a rough last two months with the spoilers. As somebody said over on FB, that were a good few marketing opportunities down the drain. (Shouldn't we also be seeing a first look or hint at the crab clan pack soon-ish?) All in all it feels awfully quiet at the moment, and I'm sure a thread like this is also mostly rooted in the silence experienced right now.
About availability... I find it hilarious that it took me two extra months to get my hands on the crane clan pack (collecting all my cards in English despite living in Germany) but I got my copy of For the Empire 2 1/2 weeks too early. This also screams borked internal communications to me. Or at least with the retailer.

 

There you go, my 20 cents on the matter. I know it's not exactly what you asked for, but please forgive me. 😉

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Posted (edited)

I'll hit the "Getting New Players In" button every time when asked this question. Unfortunately, LCGs tend to suffer from this problem. From the release of core to the early cycles is generally the cutting point of who will be playing this game years from now. If your group has a strong early foundation, you might be set up for the future. At least, that's assumption judging from the local Netrunner community. Very few players got in after a certain point.

Rotation is good for getting new players in but also a bane when it comes to designing starter product, which is even more true when lined up with the role locking process. Erik's deck could have been great but unfortunately illegal due to the role locking process and Restricted List (which I'd say that the latter is fully understandable...the former is debatable to this day). What would be my work around with the current structure as is? It would have to be some sort of role neutral, ever-green..potentially under-powered starter deck that will never make it to the RL. Unfortunately, this deck will lose 9 out of 10 times (potentially 10 out of 10 vs a competitive deck) but it does put a product in the market "start this game with playsets at the same price as a Magic starter". 

Even then, I feel something like this might be disingenuous or in vain. Supposedly, the Thrones starters did not inject new blood. .

TLDR: I don't have a good answer. 

Edited by Hordeoverseer

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Lots of good points and discussion brought up in here. I'm seeing a pattern between here, reddit, and facebook too. Keep it coming! I'll eventually put together a laundry list of things the community has brought up.

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Posted (edited)

For me, the biggest issue is the learning curve. When the game launched, I played seven games before I felt like I even had a chance of winning. I only kept playing because I enjoyed spending time with the friend who introduced me to L5R and appreciated the art and setting.

Now that I've climbed the initial learning curve, I have a different issue. Because they have so many moving parts, L5R games often feel like they're decided by who makes the fewest mistakes rather than rewarding players for taking calculated risks and outsmarting their opponent. For example, I got my first win at a tournament because my opponent played Talisman of the Sun before I attacked his stronghold rather than waiting until I'd declared the attack so Kisada could stop my Calling in Favors and he could move me to his fourth row province. While I had to get him to a point where that mistake mattered, it still took much of the satisfaction away from victory.

When I lose, I often find myself cataloging missed triggers and obvious misplays rather than considering my opponent's overall strategy or marveling at their best plays. For example, in my most recent game, I forgot that my opponent still had Lion's core stronghold available and played Banzai without the kicker when I had no other military buffs in hand. My opponent activated his stronghold to bring our totals to parity and claim a critical ring, which put him on the path of taking control of the game. He played well, but because the game hinged on that small mistake, I felt like an idiot.

It's hard for me to justify playing a game where I rarely take pride in my victories and feel like a fool when I'm defeated for its own sake, so I generally only play if I can turn the game into a social activity or I'm more interested in exploring a deck's strengths and weaknesses than winning. Usually, I have more fun watching better players duel and trying to understand why they do what they do. Good commentators can make this more fun and reignite my enthusiasm temporarily by showing how tense some of the mini-games–such as baiting out cancels, trying to turn off Voice of Honor, or playing around Noble Sacrifice–can be.

Edited by Thaliak

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Amathul said:

The way cards are evaluated usually come down to it being 'trash' or 'god-tier' in a competitive light, and little thought, at least by the vocal parts of the community, seem to be going into how 'fun' something can be.

This. So. Much. This. As a casual Netrunner player who did not buy everything there was, it was irritating to find similar comments on netrunnerdb. But with L5R I find the same kind of black and white pronouncement on Discord. It's especially funny when two people speak with the same level certainty but are at complete opposite as to what they claim is the best. I just shrug and move along.

It has to be said, LCGs are hybrid creatures. Built for competitive play, but layered with enough theme, flavor and overall production quality to attract non-competitive gamers. A weird outlier might be Arkham, because it's coop, but that might actually confirm the weird place "PvP" LCGs are at.

I therefore wish the casual gamer would find himself or herself more at home with these kinds of games. To me this means a broader support of related products and variants (such as multiplayer, which was mentioned by someone else).

I've always found idea behind the Terminal Directive box for Netrunner nothing short of awesome. L5R is so well suited for that. Just imagine a story around the fight for Hisu Mori Toride. Or Tadaka's journey to the Crab lands. Or whatever shenanigans we're expecting between Sotorii and Daisetsu. Those story-oriented boxes could come with basic deck themselves, I'd pay the extra for that.

 

Edited by Ascarel

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32 minutes ago, Thaliak said:

For me, the biggest issue is the learning curve. When the game launched, I played seven games before I felt like I even had a chance of winning. I only kept playing because I enjoyed spending time with the friend who introduced me to L5R and appreciated the art and setting.

Now that I've climbed the initial learning curve, I have a different issue. Because they have so many moving parts, L5R games often feel like they're decided by who makes the fewest mistakes rather than rewarding players for taking calculated risks and outsmarting their opponent. For example, I got my first win at a tournament because my opponent played Talisman of the Sun before I attacked his stronghold rather than waiting until I'd declared the attack so Kisada could stop my Calling in Favors and he could move me to his fourth row province. While I had to get him to a point where that mistake mattered, it still took much of the satisfaction away from victory.

When I lose, I often find myself cataloging missed triggers and obvious misplays rather than considering my opponent's overall strategy or marveling at their best plays. For example, in my most recent game, I forgot that my opponent still had Lion's core stronghold available and played Banzai without the kicker when I had no other military buffs in hand. My opponent activated his stronghold to bring our totals to parity and claim a critical ring, which put him on the path of taking control of the game. He played well, but because the game hinged on that small mistake, I felt like an idiot.

It's hard for me to justify playing a game where I rarely take pride in my victories and feel like a fool when I'm defeated for it's own sake, so I generally only play if I can turn the game into a social activity or I'm more interested in exploring a deck's strengths and weaknesses than winning. Usually, I have more fun watching better players duel and trying to understand why they do what they do. Good commentators can make this more fun and reignite my enthusiasm temporary by showing how tense some of the mini-games–such as baiting out cancels, trying to turn off Voice of Honor, or playing around Noble Sacrifice–can be.

If it's any comfort, when I went to my first tournament in the old L5R game, I lost the first match because I totally forgot there was a rule about seppukku. ;)

I do like that the latest L5R has less complexity, but it does still seem to have some counter-intuitive points. (like why 3 provinces before stronghold instead of all 4? the ring effects, the roles) Heck it took me several times reading through the rulebook before I found the explanation that the 2 conflicts you could declare had to be different types. 

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18 hours ago, Amathul said:

the game often times feels extremely dominated by the competitive player base connected to it. (Which in turn can also feed into the problem of attracting new players.) The way cards are evaluated usually come down to it being 'trash' or 'god-tier' in a competitive light, and little thought, at least by the vocal parts of the community, seem to be going into how 'fun' something can be. To give it a tagline it would probably be something like 'Too much crunch, not enough jank.'

Preach! 

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On ‎7‎/‎22‎/‎2019 at 10:49 PM, shineyorkboy said:

 I think the biggest issue is attracting new players. I think the best way to address it would be to turn L5R into a multimedia franchise kind of like what GW did with Warhammer 40K. Not just novellas and spin-off board games, but a full animated series or at least a series of 5-10 minute animated web videos to get people invested in the setting and characters without making them buy anything. A few spin-off video games wouldn't hurt either, an L5R  skinned tower defense, maybe an RPG of some sort.

....there is an RPG for L5R!

For me I'd remove the role locking to allow a full diversity of deck design. It would remove some of the predictability of deck builds for each clan and give the meta more fluidity. ****, we might even see Dragon, Lion or Unicorn win a major tournament! :P

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On 7/22/2019 at 2:51 PM, Ishi Tonu said:

Consistent, clear communication about what FFG intends to do with everything L5R related.

I really think it's time that each of the FFG properties has their own brand manager that can keep the community informed and hyped at all times.   Hearing from the designers and organized play and the story team are all well and good, but, there really needs to be one point of contact that can gather the communities questions, filter out the nonsense and then get us clear answers to our questions.

Ideally someone who is looped into the community enough that they get to a point where it feels like they are anticipating our questions and providing us up to date information on important topics before we turn into a frothing mob.

And if FFG is reading this, I'd gladly accept such a position if the pay was adequate.  You know how to get in touch with me.

I agree with you, but from what I've heard, I wouldn't bet on them paying anything close to a living wage.

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2 hours ago, Hinomura said:

Lion won the first World Championship. Dragon won multiple Koteis. Are those tournaments not major enough?

I stand corrected. They did...but what are your thoughts about role locking? I would like to see more deck archetypes in the environment before card retirement kicks in. I think role locking stifles this a bit.

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 Buy in cost is a wall for new players. Slows expanding to new player bases, and probably limits the game to very slow numerical decline as new players buy sets from players leaving the game rather than new. 

Also the game is story driven. The community needs weekly stories, whether there are new cars or not. Keeping that story stream is crucial to the lifespan of the game. 

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Initially I was pretty much against unlocking the roles.  I liked what it did for the game at the onset and thought it would be a neat way to give players something to play for besides swag, while keeping the cardpool fresh, without requiring a bunch of new card dumps.

However, I'm starting to come around the other side of this argument.  With the RL getting more additions and tournament dates occurring at times that do not mesh well with card releases, I'm seeing more instances where unlocked roles would be a benefit to the game.  I am probably 50/50 on it now.  I'm still fine on it either way, but, the more I have to sit through arguments on what role is best, get people to vote that way, and then have an RL update that completely nullifies the pick, or a new card that makes the role locked card you were trying to keep access too irrelevant, the more I feel like joining the #freetheroles movement.

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17 hours ago, The Steel Unicorn said:

I stand corrected. They did...but what are your thoughts about role locking? I would like to see more deck archetypes in the environment before card retirement kicks in. I think role locking stifles this a bit.

I'm relatively ambivalent to the topic. I will say that allowing players to shape the mechanics of deck building on such a scale is, to me, seriously cool and takes the baton of Old5R storyline choices then RUNS away with it. The concept absolutely blew me away when first announced.

I've said this many times before, but my ideal process would be that Top of Clan choose Roles twice a year (once in North America, once elsewhere), with the caveats that you can't take the same Role twice in a row and that no more than four Keeper or Seeker Roles can be selected. The three unchosen Roles become available to every Clan, meaning every Clan will always have access to both a Seeker and a Keeper.

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