Posted by: markfender | November 12, 2014

LCG Rotation

Lots of internet angst over games.

a_game_of_thrones_lcg__08897So, Fantasy Flight Games announced rotation for their Living Card Games. And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Rotation is the concept in CCGs where old sets become illegal for tourney play as new sets are released. LCGs didn’t really worry about this because, well, I’m not really sure. I always thought it was a good idea, just to prevent the player base calcifying. For instance, if I wanted to jump into Game of Thrones LCG (which I should, because it is pretty cool), I’m looking at a huge backlog of cards to get. That prevents new people from getting into your game. Also, with cards never leaving the card pool, it just meant that you needed to be able to remember more and more cards and my brain only has so much room for that sort of information. That kind of limits your new players entering the fold. Not to mention when certain strategies become dominant, it can be difficult to nerf those strategies down if every card is still legal (the restricted list can only do so much).

I’m assuming FFG didn’t plan for such things because they weren’t sure that their LCG model would be sustainable. But, with the number of LCGs they’ve got going on now, I guess that turned out all right.

So, their rotation policy is pretty generous. Essentially, after six complete Cycles are out, previous Cycles start rotating out. That’s still a lot of cards, so it still can present a big obstacle when you first want to get into a game. Since we typically get a Cycle and a half each year, this means the cards aren’t rotating very fast. Certain of their games may experience more issues with rotation than others (I hate to see the runners/corps for Netrunner rotate out, but there’s probably a need to nerf some like Andromeda from dominating the meta) but I see it overall as a positive thing.

In line with that, they also announced Game of Thrones second edition. Since that was their second oldest game with the most cards, it probably needed a second edition. They’re getting rid of some CCG cruft that remained within that game’s rules (Goodbye timing rules. You will not be missed), which is good. Influence is also going away, as well as Crests (Why Crests weren’t just a damned trait from the very beginning I never understood). I also look forward to my faction actually being in the main box.

So, I’m seeing this rotation thing as a net positive. But that doesn’t seem to be the general reaction. Lots of people seem upset that their cards will go away (eventually…it’s still a few years away before the newer games even start rotating). Which is odd to me. People seem to have a different idea about what LCG means than what I thought it meant. For me, it meant the death of blind, randomized purchases. I know exactly what cards I’m getting in each pack, along with how many copies I’m getting. But, it’s still a CCG. There are going to be dud cards, strategies that dominate the meta, and “better” cards coming out. It never meant that I would play with all these cards forever.

It’s a form of planned obsolesce, which I don’t necessarily have a problem with. You converted your LPs to cassette, and then to CDs, before eventually putting everything in the cloud. You purchased 4th edition Shadowrun after 3rd edition ran its course. I don’t want to purchase a new iPhone every year, as that seems like too fast a turnaround. But we’re talking six years before old cards don’t work anymore. That doesn’t seem like a great burden to me.

Embrace the new! Winter is coming (or something)!


  1. […] FFG’s Living Card Games to Begin Rotating Out Old Cards […]

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