Living Card Games...I Don't Think I Love You Anymore

Ghost Whistler

Legendary Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2018
Messages
2,040
Reaction score
1,125
I enjoy ccg's. Or I used to as I don't play them anymore. I do play LCG's, which, given they include a solitaire component, should be a better proposition.

There aren't that many around, I'm really only referring to the three that FFG has put out. I don't include things like Sentinels fo the Multiverse because there's no deckbuilding and that's a vital component of what I like about card games such as these. There may be other games (Pathfinder for instance), but I haven't played them and at the very least Pathfinder looks a bland..

I used to enjoy them. Arkham, LotR and the recent Marvel game.

They all have great mechanics and are very thematic, for the most part. Not all the mechanics are great; for instance the chaos token system in AH is fucking awful. End of.

The main problem is that I dont like "screw you" mechanics. Unfortunately for these games to work that's waht they have to use. THey are cooperative and so you face an AI in the form of an encounter deck, usually built from a number of differently themed sets (Orcs, Spiders, Cthulhu, Waitresses). Unfortunately in order for the game to be a challenge they are almost all universally awful effects. So severe that they just break the game.

So essentially it boils down to either you have built the correct deck (if you can), or you lose. Alternatively you draw the right card at the right time, or you lose.

Marvel, for example, is horrifically swingy. It's either extremely easy or, if you play on 'expert' mode (with the 2 toughest iterations of the Villain you're facing, instead of the 2 lowest), it's extremely hard.

But it' snot difficult in a satisfying way. It's often pre decided. That's what I mean to having the correct deck and the correct card at the correct time. Draw badly from Ultron's encounter deck and you're facing more enemies than you can deal with, all buffed up by Ultron's abilities. Auto lose.

It's not satisfying to play like this IMO.

LotR and AH are the same. With the latter the chaos tokens just make it worse since it's a random element, like a dice roll, that's out of your control. You can commit resources, pitch cards and still completely fail regardless. LotR can also have some horrendously powerful effects that are so overbearing that it takes the fun out of the game. For example, if you play the saga expansions for the LotR storyline itself, you will (really) end up with Frodo getting his Morgul wound. It's thematic, but the effect of the card essentially stops you dead if any of your heroes in play takes a wound. That's enough to shut the game down.

Obviously YMMV. But for me these kinds of effects, necessary for these games to function as coop games, are just not fun at all.

Marvel is getting a lot of plaudits at the moment, but the recent Green Goblin expansion was pretty poor. The first scenario is ridiculously easy and tedious, while the second one just trades on throwing goblin minions at you endlessly. I just don't find that fun.

Wow, that was long winded. More fool you to be reading it! :grin:
 
Last edited:

Tommy Brownell

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2017
Messages
1,957
Reaction score
3,899
Well, getting the right card(s) at the right time is a pretty key component of most card games.

Playing the Steam version of LotR, I've had games swing both ways with the same decks, so I don't think it's JUST deck building that matters, though it certainly helps.
 

Ghost Whistler

Legendary Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2018
Messages
2,040
Reaction score
1,125
well of course not, that's just a personal preference.

But deckbuilding and drawing what you need are not entirely the same. You can still draw an encounter card you can't deal with and then, screwed
 

Skywalker

Legendary Member
Joined
May 3, 2017
Messages
762
Reaction score
1,229
I think this is an issue with Co-op games generally and seems to stem back from the successful formula of Shadows Over Camelot and Pandemic of having a bad thing happen every turn.

I don’t like it either as it often feels you can do little to manage or counteract the bad things as they arise and makes them feel relentless and monotonous.

There are Co-ops that do avoid this though. The recent Pandemic Fall of Rome adds options for managing the bad thing to that formula. Horrified is another example.

Better yet are games where there is no bad thing per round. Examples include Mysterium and Unicornus Knights. The latter is my personal favourite as it makes the bad things much more organic, acting on a longer scale than per turn, so you can interact with the adversity and plan around it.
 

Ghost Whistler

Legendary Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2018
Messages
2,040
Reaction score
1,125
I prefer coop games in a group. Or perhaps that's just my group.

games like Imperial Assault - 1v many - just don't work for me.

I don't know. I'm considering knocking Marvel on the head, selling it on before comitting further, but then in a few months time the game may be radically different and much more enjoyable. At the moment it's a little bland. The encounter deck doesn't really do anything interesting.
 

Skywalker

Legendary Member
Joined
May 3, 2017
Messages
762
Reaction score
1,229
We prefer co-ops too. But the ones that use the monotonous and relentless ‘bad thing every round’ that you mention here with LCGs are less interesting than those that don’t.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
13,419
Reaction score
30,749
I like Ani-Mayhem. It's not meaninglessly swingy - it's easy to lose and recover multiple times over the course of the game. It relies on base abilities and skills of the characters, so you don't need to draw the "right card at the right time". Players construct the opponents at the same time as their heroes, so in a properly built game Disasters and PCs compliment each other - you aren't garunteed to win, but there's no "auto-fail" or "auto-win" situations. It can be played solo, co-op, contested, or antagonistic, depending on tastes.

Great, fun little game that's incredibly rich, surprisingly funny, and introduced me to a number of anime series that I deeply love to this day.
 

Edgewise

Legendary Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2017
Messages
4,173
Reaction score
7,476
The main problem is that I dont like "screw you" mechanics.
I didn't even know there were many coop CGs. The only one I've played is Upper Deck's Aliens game. It was quite good and tense. It was definitely easy to lose, but I don't think I'd call it a "screw you" mechanic. I think the theme makes the difficulty more palatable, since dread and doom are part of the Aliens vibe.
So essentially it boils down to either you have built the correct deck (if you can), or you lose. Alternatively you draw the right card at the right time, or you lose.
I mean...that's sort of how you win these games, right?

It sounds like you are saying that these games suffer from the fact that you either have to be lucky or play a single optimized strategy. Is that what you mean?

To an extent, I think that's hard to avoid when you're making a co-op game. It's essentially a puzzle with randomization elements. Puzzles typically can only be solved one way. If you have a randomized puzzle, you're throwing in a luck factor. The alternative is to make the game easy, but that's no fun, either.

Competitive games have a much greater potential for variation since you're playing another human. Compare it to how difficult it is to have a dynamic AI in a video game - a co-op game is trying to do the same thing with cardboard. There are hard limits to what you can expect.

Of course, you're probably well-familiar with the downsides of competitive CGs: they are usually only for two players, and they aren't nicey-nicey. Maybe find a compromise with a team game? It would be fun to try four-player Netrunner where each team consists of one hacker and one corporation. Throw in some bughouse rules that let you give de-rezzed cards to your allies, and that could be fun, right?

I'm personally not a big fan of co-op games for a number of reasons. You get the whole alpha player issue, where the person who is most engaged and familiar with the rules ends up telling everyone else what to do. The whole thing can feel like a collaborative crossword puzzle. I'm totally done with Pandemic, for instance.

There are a few co-op games that I like, but they aren't strictly card-based. Robinson Crusoe can easily run into the alpha player issue, but the game itself is so varied and difficult that I find it very engaging. Also, Tragedy Looper isn't strictly co-op (there's a mastermind player working against the rest), but it's a lot of fun and has explicit rules to avoid that team commander problem.

But if you want purely co-op CGs and you're not done with Upper Deck, you might want to try the Alien one. I can't promise it's better than the Marvel one, because I never played that, but I enjoyed playing it a few times back a couple years ago when we actually played board games at lunch here (sadly, all my gamer friends left for greener pastures).
 

Ghost Whistler

Legendary Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2018
Messages
2,040
Reaction score
1,125
I sold my LoTR collection.

Time and again it all comes back to the same thing: it's really only rpg's - in one form or another, either as player GM or merely reader - that hits the spot.

I love a good baordgame (we recently tried Dune, it nearly broke the Harkonnen player), but they don't get played enough and as I've said elsewhere, the more elaborate the design, the bigger th ebox, the harder the disappointment. I'm sure Gloomhaven is amazing but I'm not paying £100 for it + the JCB hire costs to get the thing home without a hernia

As for the Legendary games. I will never speak out against them. But they aren't satisfying to me. Alien was enjoyable, but it doesn't have enough depth.

No, I think these games aren't for me. We'll just have to see how Marvel Champions pans out, but I'm fairly convinced, at this point, it's not really a solo game.
 

Ladybird

TRAHR
Joined
Aug 13, 2017
Messages
2,570
Reaction score
5,296
I'm kinda interested in Marvel Champions, but I saw it in a store today and... £60 RRP? I'm sure it's a good time, but that's a lot to pay to buy onto the expansion train.
 

Ladybird

TRAHR
Joined
Aug 13, 2017
Messages
2,570
Reaction score
5,296
For that price you could get Marvel Crisis Protocol
That's £90 in the UK, just for the core box! And the expansions are £24 - £40! I get they're good figures, they come with cards and stuff, and there's a license fee to pay, but even so...

iirc we basically only have one distributor these days, so the price of hobby games shot up about two years ago. No bargains here any more.
 

TristramEvans

The Right Hand of Doom
Moderator
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
13,419
Reaction score
30,749
That's £90 in the UK, just for the core box! And the expansions are £24 - £40! I get they're good figures, they come with cards and stuff, and there's a license fee to pay, but even so...

iirc we basically only have one distributor these days, so the price of hobby games shot up about two years ago. No bargains here any more.
Yikes! I thought it was high here in Canuckistan!
 

Ghost Whistler

Legendary Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2018
Messages
2,040
Reaction score
1,125
I'm kinda interested in Marvel Champions, but I saw it in a store today and... £60 RRP? I'm sure it's a good time, but that's a lot to pay to buy onto the expansion train.
The price point is high, but for once you do get a complete playset.

I'm just not at all convinced it plays well solo unles syou enjoy playing mutiple decks and the villain decks are largely all the same
 

KrakaJak

Legendary Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2019
Messages
230
Reaction score
429
I had a similar trajectory myself.

I loved CCGs back in the day. Star Wars, INWO, Magic for a while. Then I got burned out on the grind.

The I got into Deckbuilding games. But so many of them play so similarly, that I got burned out on those too. (I'll still like Aliens: Legendary Encounters)

Then I tried LCGs. I liked the idea of set collections, so there was no RNG. However, LCGs eventually had the same level of buy in that CCGs did, so I burned out there.

Right now, I like Keyforge. It's a CCG style game with procedurally generated decks. No deckbuilding. Gives me a lot of the feelings I used to have playing CCGs as a kid, where I had to do the best with what I had, against friends who had to do the same. No one could afford booster boxes in Elementary school.
 

EmperorNorton

Legendary Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2018
Messages
1,798
Reaction score
4,109
Honestly there are two things about CCG/LCG type games that have over the years turned me off to them:

1. I just don't enjoy the heavy prep in a card/board game. Like with being a RPG GM, the prep I enjoy. I used to enjoy building decks, nowadays I don't so much.
2. As far as the competitive ones, you need a large pool of players to play with for them to be fun. If you are playing against the same person over and over it loses some of its charm.

The last time I seriously played a collectible game was Marvel Dice Masters. And I REALLY liked the mechanics. And even the deckbuilding was pretty simple as it was just like 10 cards and then deciding how many dice to put on 8 of them.

But when I only had the same 2 people to play against, it just stopped being very fun. It got repetitive.
 

Ghost Whistler

Legendary Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2018
Messages
2,040
Reaction score
1,125
Yeah, Dice Masters is pretty neat, if abstract. I played a couple of games over webcame which worked out quite well, but I didn't keep my collection. I never do. I'm even considering cashing out of Marvel.

But again there wasn't much interest in playing. I also didn't like mixing the different properties within the system. The only people who played locally (which isn't really local for me) were exclusivly players of the Marvel content. I made the mistake of buying DC (it was cheap).
 
Last edited:
Top