Monday, May 5, 2008

Kongai: A Modest Proposal For Card Release

Right, this has been brewing for a while but it's finally time for me to rant and rave about the card release schedule - the order in which new cards are released to the body public which at the moment is limited to the weekly challenges. Which, if you've been a loyal reader of this blog (And if you're that one person besides my mom who's got this site bookmarked, thanks.) you'll know has been bothering me for some time.

Now, I remain convinced that, at release, the game will be best served with a troika of card acquisition systems. Something along the lines of the current challenge system, a slow but steady release of fixed cards to help draw in new players by getting them interested in the game (That is, after all, how I found out about Kongai. I visited the site, looking for a quick game to play, saw a card being offered and it caught my attention. I wanted it. I had to register and sign up and everything else to get it so I did. And once I had it I had to figure out what I could do with it and that led to diving deep into that card game, taking a flyer and signing up for the beta and coming back time and time again to get new cards. That's the kind of story that a robust challenge system is going to create over and over again - players lured into trying out the game who might otherwise have passed it by - and that's why it's important to get it right.). Something along the lines of the Bruce's proposed Balthazar Bucks system - a way of earning unlocked cards that allows players to customize their decks with a constant sensation of progression at their own pace. And some kind of RMT system where players can flat out purchase cards whether it's everything once or sold through separate packs which will be vital if the game is to develop a real competitive scene - allowing new players to buy in and ramp themselves up in rapid order so they can get on with the business of playing to learn and not learning to play. Each of which serves to support each other and the game itself by creating different paths to tread. But, honestly, I have no idea what the final way to earn cards is going to look like when the game is finally released.

What I do know is that the only way we have, at the moment, involves playing through a moderate challenge in a random flash game for a set card during a fixed timeframe. And that this method will be entirely insufficient for the continued health of the game. If, of course, it remains the only way to get new cards with. If, as I expect and hope, it's just one of many ways then it'll be just fine. To continue to drive the Guild Wars references into the increasingly unsteady ground, if there's a way of earning point to unlock, of building up and spending faction somehow, that lets players head to the market and pick out that brand new, shiny card they've had their eyes on (And, again, I think there should be) there's also a need for a system where the game hands out a card and says, "Here, use this." In other words, if player-choice unlocks are going to be Balthazar then challenges are skill quest rewards. Getting away from handing out specific skills for specific quests is, I think, one of the biggest mistakes the makers of Guild Wars ever made. Because what those rewards do is create a platform for those players who are new and uncertain to develop, to enrich their understanding of the game by slowly bleeding out new abilities instead of just tossing them into the strategic deep end and expecting them to learn how to swim for themselves. It's a form of tutorial - the best kind, because it's the one the players are writing themselves. But quest rewards require a lot of care and tending to makes sure that the skills being handed out are useful and the rate is slow enough that people actually care about each skill instead of just chucking it in their packs and immediately forgetting about it. It's a lot simpler - and faster - to just hand out unlock and let people get on with themselves which is why specific quest rewards went the way of the dodo.

But, fortunately, Kongai is no where near as complex as Guild Wars. There aren't six classes with dozens of skills each that players are going to fit together in strange and interesting ways. There are 46 cards, of which only the 20 characters are really important - the 26 items are nice boosts, that critical last piece of the puzzle but a good item on a bad character doesn't give you a good deck. It's a system that can work - should work - but in order for it to do so it requires the same attention to when and how those cards fall into their players hands.

In other words, it's all about the schedule. Which card follows which, what planned to be pushed out when, and everything that flows from deciding when, over the course of time, each of those 46 cards is going to hit the street.

Which, as far as I can tell, is currently determined by a dartboard after a night of binge drinking. I've looked for rhyme and reason in the way cards have been released but, so far, I haven't found it.

My deck, for example, which has been built since the beginning of the year is a mess. Throwing out the starter cards - which I picked when I had no idea what I was doing - I have 20 cards:

  • Onimaru
  • Rumiko
  • Higashi
  • Zina
  • Ambrosia
  • Vanessa Voss
  • Gem of Souls
  • Phylactery
  • Deadly Posion
  • Death Mask
  • Elusive Feather
  • Tiger's Claws
  • Quickening Powder
  • Herbal Remedy
  • Sacred Candle
  • Reinforced Breastplate
  • Valkyrie Charm
  • Ring of Curses
  • Healing Salve

That's, if you're not counting at home, 3 Ninja characters but no purple items to use with them. 4 Green items but not a single Amazon to slot them into. One lonely Villager who gets to stroll through a candy store with 6 items to pick from (All 5 of the set plus a general one). But at least two Necros who each get their own black-bordered item from an assortment of three. A single general item helps to fill the gaps but, as you can see, I've been gathering cards for over four months now and I'm still having trouble fielding a full 5-Card hand with fully itemed characters. And that's before considering whether those cards and items are any good at all (Yes, you can play and win at the moment with a sub-optimal hand. Good items on good characters is just that last little sliver of advantage that the competitive crave. But, again, people playing the game really, really suck at the moment. And I'm including myself in those ranks as well. Still, if you've got two players with the same cards and the same skill level facing off, you don't give the advantage to the one who's got items on his cards over the one who doesn't? Well, how's it any different having crappy items instead of good ones? That edge, that slight difference between otherwise nearly equals is all it takes to make the difference between finishing on top of the ladder and sinking out of the top. And if you think I care about anything but beating the best players out there then you're fooling yourself.).

Add in my starting Amaya, Healing Salve, and Girdle - yes, you can stop laughing now - and it doesn't get much better. I may have missed a challenge or two, especially towards the beginning but I've got nearly half the cards and I don't have anything like a viable deck. But if I had picked up a few different cards here or there, it might be. I know what those cards are now, I think, although obviously I didn't when picking out my starting three (Although, really, Amaya is a deceptively powerful card. When people start saying he's bad is when I start automatically downgrading their opinion making skills. And while the two general items might not be the best they're flexible. No matter what cards I get I can fit them into my deck - and I have to, at the moment, since I have precious little else.) but the challenge system is especially for those novice players who don't. While some people are going to pick good starter cards that will make the difference just as many won't.

It's up to the schedulers, it's up to the people picking out which cards to drop, who need to think about the impact of their scheme. Look, I don't know about how things worked in the original rotation but since the R1 set started to come out - which I believe started after the release of the Ring of Curses - here's the cards we've gotten:

  • Higashi
  • Onimaru
  • Rumiko
  • Deadly Poison
  • Death Mask
  • Elusive Feather
  • Quickening Powder
  • April Fool's Reinforced Breastplate
  • Herbal Remedy
  • Sacred Candle
  • Valkyrie's Charm
  • Ambrosia
  • Phylactery
  • Valentine's Day Gem of Souls
  • Healing Salve

Consider the case of players who started, from scratch, with the R1s. The Holiday cards are jokes, gifts, I don't care about them not slotting into the rotation well or existing solely for the sake of a good joke on the frontpage. But the rest? Players don't get a character to use until the 5th week. It takes another month before they get an item they can play on top of that card. Two months go by where, if they haven't used their starter picks on three characters they can't even play (I mean, there's Random(All) but that's rumored to be simply for testing purposes. Removed at release, leaving just what you have in your deck for you to work with. I can see the reasoning although I don't necessarily agree with it - I am RANDOM4LYFE, though.). And, let's face it, picking characters for your starting booster pack is suboptimal. It makes sense when you pick them but assuming you play long enough to unlock all the cards anyways, then they're nothing but useless duplicates. The same items, on the other hand, can be slotted into multiple characters so doubling up on an item or three makes more sense going forward. The game itself should be providing a safety net, a cushion for the truly hopeless to fall back upon when they make a wretched choice. Because if it doesn't, they're being pushed out the door when they might be able to learn and grow.

It's not working, though. It's a random muddle that might hype up the game and work well enough by coming along after the initial release and in a testing environment but new players need to have the tools to play.

As I see it there are a few ways to go that would make the release schedule better. The first is to recognize that cards need to be supported. Putting out a character without an item they can use is a waste. The opposite, putting out an item that no character can use is even worse since you can at least throw down with a character with no item. Items, then, need to follow the cards that are going to use them. The week(s) after a character is released should be followed with items that they might find useful. That means, in short order, players who have nothing else are going to find something to play with. Something to get excited about. They're going to become trained to look, to watch, for combinations and variations and that alone is going to help them learn how to construct a deck and play the game and everything else they need to transition out of that introductory phase.

Second is to recognize that there's variety in the cards. Pushing out similar cards is sub-optimal compared with delivering a cross-section of the game in a given timeframe. Different strategies, different cards, will appeal to different players, and the more diverse the rotation is the more likely they're going to stumble across one they like. At the same time, the more different cards and playstyles are being introduced into the game, the healthier it is overall - you don't want to bunch up, say, Helene and Oni and Ashi and Ambrosia and drop them in altogether because that's going to cause a swing in the metagame towards close-only bangers. If only because that's all a significant portion of the playerbase - the new ones - have to work with. That can warp the landscape and lead to a lot of whack-a-mole with balance - chasing problems that are only problems because everyone's using them instead of exploring their counters. The cards released will drive the playerbase and the schedule has to take that into account.

An ideal schedule, then, would be friendly to newcomers, letting them ramp up quickly. It would be interesting to established veterans (Those who haven't unlocked everything anyway. Those who have don't care about the new cards coming into newbie's hands. They do, however, care that those cards aren't going to upset the apple cart too much.) by potentially pushing something novel under their noses.

Here, take a look at how I'd shuffle up the cards and deal them out for R2:

  1. Yoshiro
  2. Caltrops
  3. General's Insignia
  4. Vanessa Voss
  5. Juju
  6. Deadly Poison
  7. Girdle of Iron Will
  8. Ring of Curses
  9. Andromeda
  10. Valkyrie's Charm
  11. Healing Salve
  12. Zina
  13. Ambrosia Thorn
  14. Blood Vial
  15. Mindreader's Chalice
  16. Tiger's Claws
  17. Rumiko
  18. Flash Powder
  19. Stoneheel Totem
  20. Phoebe
  21. Popo
  22. Death Mask
  23. Yellow Rock of Cowards
  24. Herbal Remedy
  25. Anex
  26. Sharpening Stone
  27. Amaya
  28. Scroll of Inner Focus
  29. Cain Solomon
  30. Gem of Souls
  31. Ubuntu
  32. Quickening Powder
  33. Onimaru
  34. Jade Figurine
  35. Helene
  36. Reinforced Breastplate
  37. Tafari
  38. Elusive Feather
  39. Marquis Le Morte
  40. Phylactery
  41. Ashi
  42. Sacred Candle
  43. Higashi
  44. Origami Crane
  45. Cornelius Constantine
  46. Necronomic Tomes

It's not ideal, by any stretch and would need some tweaking since I just threw it together ten minutes ago. But, if you can't see the pattern, well, the idea is that in any given month, a four week period, players will get at least one character and two items to use with them. And if you look at those blocks, you can see that a lot of characters get followed by items that make them happy. And those that don't have items that make previous cards even happier. And that's entirely unintentional because this list is more or less randomly generated.

What I did was this; There are 5 characters in each group to go along with 5 items and a further 6 general ones. I numbered each of them, going alphabetically, and then I started grouping them up. The basic unit is a three card block of a character followed by an item from their group, then a general item. One of those two is bound to be useful. These blocks rotate through the groups, starting with the purple Ninjas and through to the black-edged Necros before starting over again going in order from Ninja#1 with Purple#1 and General#1 to Villager#1 with Brown#1 and General#2 and so on (I reversed the order of a few where I thought it would look better - the Ninjas, for example, since I'd rather lead with the poster-child Yoshiro, the game's Ryu, instead of the more exacting Amaya.). And they're spaced out with what I call wildcards - all the cards that didn't get used up in those blocks used in reverse order - which also replace the general items once those are used up. So, really, the list looks like this:

Block 1
  • Ninja #1 - Yoshiro
  • Purple #1 - Caltrops
  • General #1 - General's Insignia
  • Wildcard #1 - Necro #5 - Vanessa Voss

Block 2
  • Villager #1 - Juju
  • Brown #1 - Deadly Poison
  • General #2 - Girdle of Iron Will
  • Wildcard #2 - Black #5 - Ring of Curses

Block 3
  • Amazon #1 - Andromeda
  • Green #1 - Valkyrie's Charm
  • General #3 - Healing Salve
  • Wildcard #3 - Villager #5 - Zina

Block 4
  • Necro #1 - Ambrosia Thorn
  • Black #1 - Blood Vial
  • General #4 - Mindreader's Chalice
  • Wildcard #4 - Brown #5 - Tiger's Claws

Block 5
  • Ninja #2 - Rumiko
  • Purple #2 - Flash Powder
  • General #5 - Stoneheel Totem
  • Wildcard #5 - Amazon #5 - Phoebe

Block 6
  • Villager #2 - Popo
  • Brown #2 - Death Mask
  • General #6 - Yellow Rock of Cowards
  • Wildcard #6 - Green #5 - Hebral Remedy

Block 7
  • Amazon #2 - Anex
  • Green #2 - Sharpening Stone
  • Wildcard #7 - Ninja #5 - Amaya
  • Wildcard #8 - Purple #5 - Scroll of Inner Focus

Block 8
  • Necro #2 - Cain Solomon
  • Black #2 - Gem of Souls
  • Wildcard #9 - Villager #4 - Ubuntu
  • Wildcard #10 - Brown #4 - Quickening Powder

Block 9
  • Ninja #3 - Onimaru
  • Purple #3 - Jade Figurine
  • Wildcard #11 - Amazon #4 - Helene
  • Wildcard #12 - Green #4 - Reinforced Breastplate

Block 10
  • Villager #3 - Tafari
  • Brown #3 - Elusive Feather
  • Wildcard #13 - Necro #4 - Marquis Le Morte
  • Wildcard #14 - Black #4 - Phylactery

Block 11
  • Amazon #3 - Ashi
  • Green #3 - Sacred Candle
  • Wildcard #15 - Ninja #4 - Higashi
  • Wildcard #16 - Purple #4 - Origami Crane

Block 12
  • Necro #3 - Cornelius Constantine
  • Black #3 - Necronomic Tomes

And you can mix it up easily by assigning different numbers to different cards or by jumbling up the blocks. If you wanted to spread the general items out over the course of the schedule instead of concentrating them at the beginning (something I've gone back and forth over) you could alternate blocks with a general and a wildcard with those with two wildcards. Say, drop the Girdle and Ring from the second block and swap them with a group of two like the Marquis and the Phylactery to help out Voss and so on down the line. Or, heck, just switch block 10 with block 2. Doesn't bother me in the least.

What matters is the interlocking, modular system of cards followed by items followed by something else. But while I've shuffled it a bit to avoid things like having Herbal Remedy follow Healing Salve or doubling up on releasing Amazons, if you look you can see that as the schedule develps that not only are cards within the blocks supported, so are previous blocks. The first wildcard, Voss, is a black card, but she gets a general item to slot (It's General's, though, which isn't optimal for her but, then, this is just a sketched out concept.) and another in a few weeks before the first black item drops. If you've been following around since week one or if you jump in somewhere in the middle, you'll be able to put together useful characters in short order and the longer you opt into the system the better your deck will be.

The reason for this is what I like to think of as deck progression. Putting aside issues of quality, what matters with your cards are your options. The number of different varieties and variations that you can put together - the more you have the more likely one of them is to be, in fact, good but, also, the more able you are to adapt your game to what others are doing. There aren't, after all, 20 character cards. There are 20 cards each of which has 11 variations from being paired with different items (Some of those are uselessly so like an Onimaru with a General's Insignia and some item pairings are demonstrably worse than others.). And what this proposed card release schedule does is to provide a fast, even progression where every card released quickly gains those variations.

Forget the card names, look at it like this where it goes (Ninja/Villager/Amazon/Necro - Purple/Brown/Green/Black/General)

  1. 1/0/0/0 - 0/0/0/0/0 <- 3 card w/starters
  2. 1/0/0/0 - 1/0/0/0/0
  3. 1/0/0/0 - 1/0/0/0/1
  4. 1/0/0/1 - 1/0/0/0/1 <- 5 card w/starters
  5. 1/1/0/1 - 1/0/0/0/1 <- 3 card w/out starters
  6. 1/1/0/1 - 1/1/0/0/1
  7. 1/1/0/1 - 1/1/0/0/2
  8. 1/1/0/1 - 1/1/0/1/2
  9. 1/1/1/1 - 1/1/0/1/2
  10. 1/1/1/1 - 1/1/1/1/2 <- 1 cards each / 3 options
  11. 1/1/1/1 - 1/1/1/1/3
  12. 1/2/1/1 - 1/1/1/1/3 <- 5 card
  13. 1/2/1/2 - 1/1/1/1/3
  14. 1/2/1/2 - 1/1/1/2/3
  15. 1/2/1/2 - 1/1/1/2/4
  16. 1/2/1/2 - 1/2/1/2/4
  17. 2/2/1/2 - 1/2/1/2/4
  18. 2/2/1/2 - 2/2/1/2/4
  19. 2/2/1/2 - 2/2/1/2/5
  20. 2/2/2/2 - 2/2/1/2/5 <- 2 each / 6+ options
  21. 2/3/2/2 - 2/2/1/2/5
  22. 2/3/2/2 - 2/3/1/2/5
  23. 2/3/2/2 - 2/3/1/2/6
  24. 2/3/2/2 - 2/3/2/2/6
  25. 2/3/3/2 - 2/3/2/2/6
  26. 2/3/3/2 - 2/3/3/2/6
  27. 3/3/3/2 - 2/3/3/2/6
  28. 3/3/3/2 - 3/3/3/2/6
  29. 3/3/3/3 - 3/3/3/2/6
  30. 3/3/3/3 - 3/3/3/3/6 <- 3 each / 9 options
  31. 3/4/3/3 - 3/3/3/3/6
  32. 3/4/3/3 - 3/4/3/3/6
  33. 4/4/3/3 - 3/4/3/3/6
  34. 4/4/3/3 - 4/4/3/3/6
  35. 4/4/4/3 - 4/4/3/3/6
  36. 4/4/4/3 - 4/4/4/3/6
  37. 4/5/4/3 - 4/4/4/3/6
  38. 4/5/4/3 - 4/5/4/3/6
  39. 4/5/4/4 - 4/5/4/3/6 <- 4 each / 9+ options
  40. 4/5/4/4 - 4/5/4/4/6
  41. 4/5/5/4 - 4/5/4/4/6
  42. 4/5/5/4 - 4/5/5/4/6
  43. 5/5/5/4 - 4/5/5/4/6
  44. 5/5/5/4 - 5/5/5/4/6
  45. 5/5/5/5 - 5/5/5/4/6
  46. 5/5/5/5 - 5/5/5/5/6 <- Full deck

And compare that with how it's gone since the start of the R1 releases

  1. 0/0/0/0 - 0/1/0/0/0 <- Deadly Poison
  2. 0/0/0/0 - 0/2/0/0/0 <- Death Mask + Holiday Bonus (Gem of Souls)
  3. 0/0/0/0 - 0/3/0/0/0 <- Elusive Feather
  4. 0/0/0/0 - 0/4/0/0/0 <- Quickening Powder
  5. 1/0/0/0 - 0/4/0/0/0 <- Onimaru with no items to use
  6. 1/0/0/0 - 0/4/0/1/0 <- Phylactery
  7. 2/0/0/0 - 0/4/0/1/0 <- Rumiko still with no items
  8. 2/0/0/0 - 0/4/1/1/0 <- Sacred Candle + Holiday Bonus (Breastplate)
  9. 2/0/0/0 - 0/4/1/1/1 <- Healing Salve for Rumi and Oni to fight over
  10. 3/0/0/0 - 0/4/1/1/1 <- Higashi
  11. 3/0/0/1 - 0/4/1/1/1 <- Ambrosia, 3-card possible
  12. 3/0/0/1 - 0/4/2/1/1 <- Herbal Remedy
  13. 3/0/0/1 - 0/4/3/1/1 <- Valkyrie's Charm

Add in the holiday cards and it's 3/0/0/1 - 0/4/4/2/1.

And it should be obvious that the progression is all over the place. The wrong items are being released for the wrong cards and at the wrong times.

Now, my proposed card release schedule is - like everything I do - needlessly complex. There are even simpler ways of going about it that could result in a better progression. I like my way because it's the most supportive of each individual card - no matter where you look in the schedule, somewhere close by are several items they can use - while cycling through the largest part of the overall deck. Another way to go would be to simply release each card group - Ninja/Purple, Villager/Brown, etc - in a row. Since that would create four blocks of ten cards, that can easily be spaced out by groups of general items.

Using the same numbering system I used above and pairing each item with a character that gives you a release list like so:

  1. Yoshiro
  2. Caltrops
  3. Rumiko
  4. Flash Powder
  5. Onimaru
  6. Jade Figurine
  7. Higashi
  8. Origami Crane
  9. Amaya
  10. Scroll of Inner Focus
  11. General's Insignia
  12. Girdle of Iron Will
  13. Juju
  14. Deadly Poison
  15. Popo
  16. Death Mask
  17. Tafari
  18. Elusive Feather
  19. Ubuntu
  20. Quickening Powder
  21. Zina
  22. Tiger's Claw
  23. Healing Salve
  24. Mindreader's Chalice
  25. Andromeda
  26. Valkyrie Charm
  27. Anex
  28. Sharpening Stone
  29. Ashi
  30. Sacred Candle
  31. Helene
  32. Reinforced Breastplate
  33. Phoebe
  34. Herbal Remedy
  35. Stoneheel Totem
  36. Yellow Rock of Cowards
  37. Ambrosia Thorn
  38. Blood Vial
  39. Cain Solomon
  40. Gem of Souls
  41. Cornelius Constantine
  42. Necronomic Tomes
  43. Marquis Le Morte
  44. Phylactery
  45. Vanessa Voss
  46. Ring of Curses

And the following progression:

  1. 1/0/0/0 - 0/0/0/0/0 <- 3 card w/starters
  2. 1/0/0/0 - 1/0/0/0/0
  3. 2/0/0/0 - 1/0/0/0/0 <- 5 card w/starters
  4. 2/0/0/0 - 2/0/0/0/0
  5. 3/0/0/0 - 2/0/0/0/0 <- 3 card
  6. 3/0/0/0 - 3/0/0/0/0
  7. 4/0/0/0 - 3/0/0/0/0
  8. 4/0/0/0 - 4/0/0/0/0
  9. 5/0/0/0 - 4/0/0/0/0 <- all 1st character, 5 card
  10. 5/0/0/0 - 5/0/0/0/0 <- all 1st group
  11. 5/0/0/0 - 5/0/0/0/1
  12. 5/0/0/0 - 5/0/0/0/2 <- 7 options
  13. 5/1/0/0 - 5/0/0/0/2
  14. 5/1/0/0 - 5/1/0/0/2
  15. 5/2/0/0 - 5/1/0/0/2
  16. 5/2/0/0 - 5/2/0/0/2
  17. 5/3/0/0 - 5/2/0/0/2
  18. 5/3/0/0 - 5/3/0/0/2
  19. 5/4/0/0 - 5/3/0/0/2
  20. 5/4/0/0 - 5/4/0/0/2
  21. 5/5/0/0 - 5/4/0/0/2 <- 2nd characters
  22. 5/5/0/0 - 5/5/0/0/2 <- 2nd group
  23. 5/5/0/0 - 5/5/0/0/3
  24. 5/5/0/0 - 5/5/0/0/4 <- 9 options
  25. 5/5/1/0 - 5/5/0/0/4
  26. 5/5/1/0 - 5/5/1/0/4
  27. 5/5/2/0 - 5/5/1/0/4
  28. 5/5/2/0 - 5/5/2/0/4
  29. 5/5/3/0 - 5/5/2/0/4
  30. 5/5/3/0 - 5/5/3/0/4
  31. 5/5/4/0 - 5/5/3/0/4
  32. 5/5/4/0 - 5/5/4/0/4
  33. 5/5/5/0 - 5/5/4/0/4 <- 3rd characters
  34. 5/5/5/0 - 5/5/5/0/4 <- 3rd group
  35. 5/5/5/0 - 5/5/5/0/5
  36. 5/5/5/0 - 5/5/5/0/6 <- all general, 11 options
  37. 5/5/5/1 - 5/5/5/0/6
  38. 5/5/5/1 - 5/5/5/1/6
  39. 5/5/5/2 - 5/5/5/1/6
  40. 5/5/5/2 - 5/5/5/2/6
  41. 5/5/5/3 - 5/5/5/2/6
  42. 5/5/5/3 - 5/5/5/3/6
  43. 5/5/5/4 - 5/5/5/3/6
  44. 5/5/5/4 - 5/5/5/4/6
  45. 5/5/5/5 - 5/5/5/4/6 <- all characters
  46. 5/5/5/5 - 5/5/5/5/6 <- full deck

The reason I don't like this is that if you miss out on cards from a certain group - say, by coming into the process once it's started rolling - then you've missed out until the next release cycle.

Another way of doing it would be to pair characters with items from their group and then rotate through the groups. You'd release Yoshiro and Caltrops, then Voss and Ring of Curses, then Juju and Deadly Poison, and then Andromeda and Valkyrie's say. That gives you five blocks of 8 cards which you can space out with the general items. But I'll leave a more detailed description to your imagination.

My point is that with a little thought, a little care, and a bit more planning, the cards released could be much more sensible. And that would be better for the overall health of the game.


FRAGM3NT said...

Wow a great deal of thought went into this post, I'm sure greg will take notice. I especially like your idea with the blocks. Not much I can really do to critique this it was thought out perfectly. Good Job

greg said...

You definitely put more thought into this than any of us ever did. I will certainly keep your ideas in mind. Thanks for typing this up!

Sausaletus Rex said...

Thanks, Fragm3nt. Like your site, by the way. Keep meaning to find an excuse to plug it but I never do.

And, thanks, too, Greg. I'm famed for putting way too much thought into things.

But, if there's anything I'd want people to take away from this post, it's the basic idea of having interchangeable blocks. I can think of four or five other ways of going about it that what I listed above - and, really, I just threw together the ones you see here after five or ten minutes of randomly assigning things around so I wouldn't take them as anything like finished products - but it's having that systemic framework that's the key. Because not only does it give you a roadmap, it gives you the flexibility to veer off course as circumstances demand. Obviously, you have less flexibility the further down the list you go but you'll always have *some* since you can move blocks around or move cards within those block.

After all, in the future, you might have to reshuffle the schedule in response to a change or even to push a card on the public. The release of set cards is a way to influence the metagame, after all. Say you have one card that's running rampant. It could be changed, patched, altered, and otherwise brought into line with a patch but it might not need to be since there's already a suitable counter out there. Players just aren't taking advantage of it (Say it's a card that makes Open Palm stunlock spam look like Andie Kicking away. But for whatever reason people aren't equipping the Girdle to combat it.). And while you could also push out a quick patch with a small tweak to say, "Hey, over here, look at me." you could just as easily whip up a challenge that hands out that card that you feel is being overlooked. It won't matter how good that card is if it's not in a lot of decks. But not only will it put that counter in a lot of hands and pump it into the system by giving it to new people it might also cause people who already have it to take a second look. It's almost as important a function as helping usher new players into the game.

A modular system gives you that flexibility to respond to the ongoing game environment without completely ravaging the rest of the schedule.