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Syd

In Response to Concerns over the "Staleness" of Thrones

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There are more problems with rotating than it seems at first glance.

1) Cardpool

I come from WotC Standard (which rotates) and the cardpool from Game of Thrones is with 1240 cards smaller than 2 cycles (~1594). And this even counts the plot, house and agenda cards. A smaller cardpool is hampering the playable decks. To make things worse, we have 6 different houses which are very hard to mix, even with cards specially made for that. The cardpool for a certain house is therefore very small and will get smaller with fewer sets.

2) Unneeded cards:

This isn't a problem when you want to play all/most houses with all strategys. And this is also not a problem with a slow changing meta, where you can play for example Maesters for years.

But newcommers and younger players often start playing one house intensivly and with a rotation of sets the metagame would shift very rapidly. They can't afford paying for at least 2 core sets, 6 house packs and all upcomming chapter packs, and playing only one house (which newcommers tent to do) gives them only 2/7 of potentially usable cards. The number decreases with weak cards. This is an actual problem in my meta.

3) The "wow" effect.

In Magic, the best thing to get someone involved in the card game is buying them a prebuild deck and play with him with another prebuild deck. For 10 bucks they get a complete play ready deck with a key card and cards centered around a theme, that are pretty balanced. In GoT you have to buy a Core set for 25 bucks. Don't understand me wrong, the deal is good, but people want to start small. Furthermore the decks in just one core set alone feel a little bit slugish and underpowered in Joust. The frantic fun kicked in as I buyed the second core set and a house expansion, which costed me 70 bucks. This 70 bucks is a more difficult investment in an environment where cards get playable/unplayable at very small time frames.

 

So first I thought that you need something to make more cards accessable for people that only invest in one house. There are two possibilitys I found: Having something like a dual house card like the banned in the CCG or reducing the amount of houses. The second one sounds radical, but combining the Starks and Baratheon, Targ and Martell, Lannisters and Bolton to have 4 houses. This makes it also easier to split chapter packs into only having 2 houses.

Furthermore I am a fan of having pre build starter decks with a good amount of power and also related to the upcomming cycle(s). This starter decks would contain cards from previous cycles (that weren't in the rotation before) and they would pretty much replace the buying of the core set and the house packs. Such a deck would be published between two cycles for every house and veterans wouldn't have to buy it, because the cards were all printed in the past.

 

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You may be right Ignithis, that the card pool is currently too small for the cycling of chapter pack legality. But what about in one more year, or two more years, after 3-5 more cycles have been released?

After thinking on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that the reason some of us see the card pool as a bit stale may be because the card pool is stale independent of its size. I mean, really great cards seem to come out very rarely. Too many chapter packs are opened with a lackluster sense of excitment. There seems to be a big pool, but so much of it is populated with redundancies. I mean, how many legal Robert Baratheon's are there? 4? I would rather see, maybe two versions of major unique characters be the standard, and open up room for exploring many other characters that have never seen cardboard (in the LCG era or otherwise).

Things I would like to see the designers explore…

ie; Dance of the Dragons, Robert's Rebellion, Aegon's Conquest, The Age of Heroes, The Long Night, Children of the Forest vs. Others, even a set exploring the different Faiths and Gods of the World. Hell, Dunk and Egg! We need more creativity around the sets, along with exciting card design to back up the themes.

Who says AGoT the game has to fit into a certain timespan? The rules of the game allow for such blatant (but still fun!) thematic inconsistencies, I don't think you can argue anymore that it would not be a fitting representation of Martin's saga. Once we got Balerion, I thought the flood gates would open on characters from the early history of Westeros and beyond. Sadly, we seem to be getting a lot of uninspiring characters/cards, or re-hashes of the same character. All card games, CCG or LCG, must thrive on the new.

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Ignithas said:

There are more problems with rotating than it seems at first glance.

1) Cardpool

I come from WotC Standard (which rotates) and the cardpool from Game of Thrones is with 1240 cards smaller than 2 cycles (~1594). And this even counts the plot, house and agenda cards. A smaller cardpool is hampering the playable decks. To make things worse, we have 6 different houses which are very hard to mix, even with cards specially made for that. The cardpool for a certain house is therefore very small and will get smaller with fewer sets.

I really enjoyed this perspective.  It's a very valid point that the card pool can be split up 6 ways(let's just ignore neutral for now).  If you are dedicated to building decks for 1 or 2 houses, "your" card pool is very limited.  If you like variety(like I do), your card pool is the 1240 cards(accurate?) and it is easily overwhelming.

Being a deck builder of only 1 or 2 houses, the burden of knowledge remains the same where you need to take into consideration what you will be facing.  However, for deck building purposes, you can easily be relatively underwhelmed by the limited number of playable cards you have for your house.  Not only that, but changes to your deck come at a significantly slower pace.  Chapter packs released will only have 1 - 5 cards you would be adding to "your" card pool.  Most of the time these cards are not game changers either.

I think that coming from the perspective of a 1 or 2 house player, rotation could really be a detriment to my interest in the game.

Instead, I think that the above point is one of the reasons deluxe expansions(even a chapter pack sized box for a house would suffice) should be seriously considered to be added to the card pool on a regular basis.  If they are too much of a project on their own, then mini-expansions could really go a long way.  25-30 card packs for $20 perhaps.

Fun!

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Syd said:

There seems to be a big pool, but so much of it is populated with redundancies. I mean, how many legal Robert Baratheon's are there? 4? I would rather see, maybe two versions of major unique characters be the standard, and open up room for exploring many other characters that have never seen cardboard (in the LCG era or otherwise).

Thats a dangerous path, because most uniques end up being slightly more cost efficient or have a better ability than nonuniques in the same costbraket,

and often become autoincludes: for example Penny or Missandei

Without any rotation this will probably lead to decks of the same house having even more similar cards. Just my 0.02$

 

I do really like the idea of house starters with pre-biuld decks, that are focused and faster compared to the coreset. It sounds like it works really well in Magic.

 

 

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The 1240 number of cards is incorrect, there are (at least extrapolating from this old thread) 1505 different cards in the card pool now (1507 if you include the two banned cards) not including House Cards and titles.

Magic ebbs and flows (as cycles complete) from ~1200 - ~1700 cards at any given time.

While the numbers aren't directly comparable for card pool playability because of plots, agendas, unique characters, restricted lists, having 6 houses instead of 5 colours, they ARE comparable for the burden-of-knowledge of a new player. We're certainly in the same ballpark as Magic, and with the current distribution model, that number will only increase.

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The number of "competitive" cards is much lower than that. The vast majority of cards arent playable competiively, or at lest not consistently so. This begs the question, does printing more cards help if it doesn't increase variety and real play decisions?

I heard a suggestion that maybe we just scrap competitive melee, which is controversial at best and a laughing stock of a competitive format at worst, and replace it with a restricted format like MTG's Type 2. The overall winner of a big tournament would thus be the person who scored best in both the "legacy" format (what is currently standard joust) and the restricted format (which might include the past 2-3 blocks…basically newer stuff). That way, FFG can both mix up the card pool with regular rotation for those who want that format and keep things as is for those who like it as is.

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It's true that what we would actually need is to somehow widen the active cardpool in AGoT, since quite a large chunk of it is completely unusable in competitive play. While that's (in a roundabout way) the target of any cardpool rotation as well, it would be much better to accomplish this somehow by using the cards we already have.

There's two things that quickly come to mind, that the current environment has a bit skewed and are thus leaving huge swathes of dead cardboard behind them.

  1. There are ~175 cards worth of attachments in the cardpool (over 10% of it in total), and over half of those are positive attachments**. Now, how many attachments actually see play in the game? And how many of those are positive ones (that don't say Chain :P)?
  2. Outside of Knights, Maesters and Wildlings trait-synergy effects are comparatively weak in AGoT. Because of this, the relative value of cards does not change between different decks, and the optimal weenie (character/event/etc.) for one build ends up being the optimal weenie for all builds (think Distinguished Boatswain). The same effect pretty much gets repeated, regardless of cardtype,

For AgoT to have fallen into the first one is a bit of an embarassing mistake, since it's history (from MTG) repeating itself all over again. Cards with a double-negative (can be removed by themselves, or by removing the card they are attached to) need to be balanced by design or protected by rules. If you want to see a game that has those kinds of cards, but hasn't fallen into that same mudpit, look at L5R (kill abilities/events often say "without attachments" and certain types of attachments automatically help protect from some abilities). 

However, there are still ways of making the attachments already printed somehow semi-viable. One way would be mitigating the direct hate on attachments (Tin Link, I'm looking at you). Another way would be to somehow have attachments confer some kind of protection on the rules side, but this would have to be carefully executed.

The second issue is a bit more bothersome… the obvious connecting piece for the synergies that work are Agendas, and I think finite's idea of just flooding the environment with new theme-centric agendas had some real merits. Oh, it would need careful balancing beforehand and something OP would probably still arise, but that's what errata/restriction is for. Now, the fun thing is that House of Dreams already partly mitigates this (think about a Dothraki deck with Vaes Dothrak), so all we really would need to do was publish some 3-5 gold strong locations that tie into specific traits, so that they could be run via HoD to create tribal theme-decks, where we would actually see the likes of Riverrun Messenger suddenly see play. This would probably bring a larger percentage (at least of characters, but the same could be done for locations or attachments with traits as well, like a Weapon deck) of the cardpool into competitive use. 

EDIT: A similar approach could be used on the 'weaker' keywords as well, for example, think about a unique location that gives Infamy characters some protection/boost if they have power, or another one that let's you draw a card whenevery you play a Stalwart character. 

**Completely unchecked "fact", feel free to call me on this.

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WWDrakey said:

It's true that what we would actually need is to somehow widen the active cardpool in AGoT, since quite a large chunk of it is completely unusable in competitive play. While that's (in a roundabout way) the target of any cardpool rotation as well, it would be much better to accomplish this somehow by using the cards we already have.

There's two things that quickly come to mind, that the current environment has a bit skewed and are thus leaving huge swathes of dead cardboard behind them.

  1. There are ~175 cards worth of attachments in the cardpool (over 10% of it in total), and over half of those are positive attachments**. Now, how many attachments actually see play in the game? And how many of those are positive ones (that don't say Chain :P)?
  2. Outside of Knights, Maesters and Wildlings trait-synergy effects are comparatively weak in AGoT. Because of this, the relative value of cards does not change between different decks, and the optimal weenie (character/event/etc.) for one build ends up being the optimal weenie for all builds (think Distinguished Boatswain). The same effect pretty much gets repeated, regardless of cardtype,

For AgoT to have fallen into the first one is a bit of an embarassing mistake, since it's history (from MTG) repeating itself all over again. Cards with a double-negative (can be removed by qthemselves, or by removing the card they are attached to) need to be balanced by design or protected by rules. If you want to see a game that has those kinds of cards, but hasn't fallen into that same mudpit, look at L5R (kill abilities/events often say "without attachments" and certain types of attachments automatically help protect from some abilities). 

However, there are still ways of making the attachments already printed somehow semi-viable. One way would be mitigating the direct hate on attachments (Tin Link, I'm looking at you). Another way would be to somehow have attachments confer some kind of protection on the rules side, but this would have to be carefully executed.

The second issue is a bit more bothersome… the obvious connecting piece for the synergies that work are Agendas, and I think finite's idea of just flooding the environment with new theme-centric agendas had some real merits. Oh, it would need careful balancing beforehand and something OP would probably still arise, but that's what errata/restriction is for. Now, the fun thing is that House of Dreams already partly mitigates this (think about a Dothraki deck with Vaes Dothrak), so all we really would need to do was publish some 3-5 gold strong locations that tie into specific traits, so that they could be run via HoD to create tribal theme-decks, where we would actually see the likes of Riverrun Messenger suddenly see play. This would probably bring a larger percentage (at least of characters, but the same could be done for locations or attachments with traits as well, like a Weapon deck) of the cardpool into competitive use. 

EDIT: A similar approach could be used on the 'weaker' keywords as well, for example, think about a unique location that gives Infamy characters some protection/boost if they have power, or another one that let's you draw a card whenevery you play a Stalwart character. 

**Completely unchecked "fact", feel free to call me on this.

+1

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Moneylender said:

Syd said:

 

There seems to be a big pool, but so much of it is populated with redundancies. I mean, how many legal Robert Baratheon's are there? 4? I would rather see, maybe two versions of major unique characters be the standard, and open up room for exploring many other characters that have never seen cardboard (in the LCG era or otherwise).

 

 

Thats a dangerous path, because most uniques end up being slightly more cost efficient or have a better ability than nonuniques in the same costbraket,

and often become autoincludes: for example Penny or Missandei

Without any rotation this will probably lead to decks of the same house having even more similar cards. Just my 0.02$

 

 

I think that perspecive is limited in our current system of an ever-expanding cardpool, but I see your point. In an ideal design space, both uniques and non-uniques would all be very viable pieces in a variety of competetive builds. If this was the design philosophy, then given enough time (as the frequency of competetively playable cards increases the time would decrease) players would be forced to make very difficult and deck-defining decisions. If a stereotypical competetive deck has somewhere between 28-32 Characters, with a large cardpool of playable, competetive characters (both in-house and neutral/Unique and non-unique) some very playable/competetive cards will not be in that deck, due to basic slot availability.

I think the key is recognizing what our pool landscape is made up, and designing cards to augment and extend it is meaningful ways.

For instance, I think the thematic idea behind the River plots is cool. BUT, from a design perspective it fails. In comparison to the existing pool of available plots, I can see little to no reason to run a cycle of River plots in a competetive deck. So what we are left with are cards that are wasting away on the shelf. Now, how to fix it? I think River plots can be viable, if other cards are created to play off of them and are augmented by having a River traited plot revealed. It is possible these things are in the works, but even if they are, they are too late in coming. They should have been in the cycle that introduced the River plots, injecting new competetive avenues for the metas.

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Twn2dn said:

Though I have no data to support my own convictions, I suspect that FFG is compromising its bottom line just to minimize a bit of risk. (There's always risk when you ask an employee to communicate with customers online on the company's behalf.)

Wanted to point this out as companies that directly communicate with their player base on a daily basis:

League of Legends Dev Tracker (They allow them to post about game material and random stuff. Look for posts from a user by the name of Morello (the game's founder) or Xypherous (one of the game's core gameplay designers) for examples of their direct communication.)

http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/devtracker.php?g=Riot

Blizzard Blue Tracker (I don't know who to look for here. I haven't played World of Warcraft in ages.)

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/blizztracker/

Suffice to say you could literally check these every day and see new posts by employees of the company direct to the community. I would even guess that Riot Games (League of Legends) is the same size as FFG, though that's pure conjecture. Obviously Blizzard is one of the largest and most successful PC game studios on the planet.

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