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Subject: Why no CCGs? rss

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Noel Llopis
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I've seen multiple comments in the The horror of card game design and other threads in this forum, of people strongly encouraging designers to stay away from collectible card games.

Why is that? Is it because, as a player, you don't see anything that CCGs add over LCGs? Or is it because of the complexity involved? Or is it the logistics actually printing physical cards? Does that recommendation apply for digital CCGs as well?

I have to agree that, as a player (and after spending many thousands of dollars on MtG), I'm not attracted to CCGs anymore. On the other hand, I do remember the thrill of completing a collection and trading, which is completely abstent in a LCG.

I wonder if it would be possible to have some kind of a hybrid, where you buy the core game, but there are some cards you may choose to buy separately and collect.


--Noel
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Besides the player's vantage point, which you describe (it's expensive and hard on completists), from the publisher's standpoint it is MUCH more expensive to produce a random-pack game than an all-in-one, even with expansions.

A hybrid game like you propose would be more expensive than either, needing multiple SKUs and packouts for the same product.
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Noel Llopis
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Good point. I hadn't considered publishing costs!
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B C Z
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CCGs (Magic in particular) was originally designed so that no-one would have a complete game, everyone would have some part of the game.

It was balanced for that, and introduced the concepts of rarity to further enforce it.

But no game EVER works better when everyone doesn't own the complete game if ANYONE *can* own the complete game.

Enter the suitcase player. They have spent enough cash and/or done enough trades to have a complete playset. They can make the best decisions based not on what they have, but on a complete analysis of the entire game system.

Casual players don't like playing against that mentality, so the game fragments into the haves and have-nots.
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super varal
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I think CCG are similar to MMORPG where you need to constantly create new material for the game to be succesful but you can only afford to do so if the game works well.

To sum it up the CCG needs to be big hit or they'll fail. There's no in-between. One reason is the need for a big player base willing to trade and play since a player can't play with anyone, he needs to play with another player.
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Clive Lovett
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I don't think you need to design a CCG. Design a card game that works and let the publisher decide how they will introduce expansions. Whether it be the LCG method (which is just a CCG in disguise) or a traditional CCG.
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Scott Slomiany
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The "collectable" angle in card games is mostly a marketing "how do you want to sell this thing". That really should have no bearing on the actual game you are designing (since you need to design for all the parts regardless, whether or not a player has access to all of them or parts of them).
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Brook Gentlestream
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I have been collecting HeroClix casually for awhile, always through boosters. Some are old ones I bought on sale, but I try to buy the new ones to get the better bases. I have mostly collected from the DC Flashpoint and Batman sets, but have a few older sets as well.

I have enough figures to fill a shoebox half-way.

One of my friends commented, "Considering we're not that into this game, we've amassed quite the collection."

My response: "Yeah, but its too bad we still can't outfit a single team of heroes or villains. I mean, we can't make a Teen Titans team or a Batman team or anything themed like that. We just have a little bit of every team. I think we have two Titans in this entire collection."

When I started out, I wanted to collect all the iconic Batman villains. Today, I have a Riddler and four different variants of Jokers.
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Travis Worthington
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Clive65 wrote:
I don't think you need to design a CCG. Design a card game that works and let the publisher decide how they will introduce expansions. Whether it be the LCG method (which is just a CCG in disguise) or a traditional CCG.


I don't know of any publishers that would take a CCG/LCG game from a freelance designer. Both formats require a huge investment in competitive play and constant development to keep the game fresh - most rely on a licensed property to get initial traction. Games for licenses are almost always developed in house - first the license then the game.

In short, I don't see the market for an independent designer to sell a publisher on a CCG/LCG game.
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Clive Lovett
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T Worthington wrote:
Clive65 wrote:
I don't think you need to design a CCG. Design a card game that works and let the publisher decide how they will introduce expansions. Whether it be the LCG method (which is just a CCG in disguise) or a traditional CCG.


I don't know of any publishers that would take a CCG/LCG game from a freelance designer. Both formats require a huge investment in competitive play and constant development to keep the game fresh - most rely on a licensed property to get initial traction. Games for licenses are almost always developed in house - first the license then the game.

In short, I don't see the market for an independent designer to sell a publisher on a CCG/LCG game.


My point was to design a card game that works and then let the publisher decide how they will implement the expansions or whether they thought it should become an LCG or CCG. The first thing to do is make a game that works and submit that idea.
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So is it your intent to develop 100 'blocks' of the game and then have only 10 'blocks' of the game in the initial release? That's rather resource intensive for an untested concept.
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Matt Green
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llopis wrote:
I've seen multiple comments in the The horror of card game design and other threads in this forum, of people strongly encouraging designers to stay away from collectible card games.


Well, thanks. I've had some great traffic on that thread and the discussion has been interesting to read.

The point of that article was that it's the hard end of game design. CCGs (IMO) are great games but they are so difficult to get right. Balancing them is very very hard to the point that it is easy to make a bad one. Some (most?) of the CCGs that made it into print are quite bad games when viewed in a cold light.

They are really high risk. Not much more to it than that.
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John "Omega" Williams
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The other problem is that CCGs are a withering breed and have lead to the death of many many many a company big and small. Even now you see people trying to cash in and instead crashing and burning if they dont find a niche that the others arent filling. Bela Sara comes to mind for one.

The other deterrant to CCGs is retailers. Ive talked with several retailers and now two or more designers who all were pushing away from the CCG format. They often sit on shelves forever and players are getting more and more burned out and turning to more reliable games.

Also online CCGs are proving a odd competition. Theres even been tries at combination online and physical.

One of the very very early CCGs I worked with in the 90s recently went non-collectible. Netrunner went standalone. (+ inevitible expansions) etc.
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Chris Ferejohn
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I think the biggest problem with CCGs is the ownership model.

If me and my 3 friends want to play Settlers of Catan, only one of us needs to own Settlers of Catan. If I show up to a board game night with some great/new game that no one else has, that's great.

If me and my 3 friends want to play magic, we generally *each* need to buy in. Yeah, it's not strictly true - someone could make a drafting cube out of their own cards or whatever, but generally that is the model. If I show up to a board game night with some magic cards I'm doing it in the hope that someone else will bring their own.

LCGs are a bit in the middle, but at least in Netrunner (which is the one head to head LCG I have experience with) it is certainly not necessary for both players to own their own set.

This is great news for CCGs that have managed to reach critical mass (like magic), but it makes it really hard for a new CCG to get traction. You need to reach critical mass in a community for it to be successful. This is true of minis games as well - generally everyone is expected to have their own army.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Ownership is a problem with many miniatures wargames too if the game doesnt have a two-player starter right out of the box.

Monsterpocalypse switched to a non-collectible format in two types. One being a two player starter box with two randomized factions. The other being a single faction box with a mostly preset loadout. Pretty good really as you get quite a bit in a box.

The trick when going the ownership model is that you make the single player starters affordable. Alot of starter boxes back then were in the 8-12$ range. So it was pretty easy to grab a starter and go.

Some CCGs went the two-player starter format. Netrunner, Dragon Storm, Illuminanti, Mythos, etc.
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Justin Hawkins
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llopis wrote:
I wonder if it would be possible to have some kind of a hybrid, where you buy the core game, but there are some cards you may choose to buy separately and collect.


Stop telling people about games I'm working on before I get a chance to flesh out the idea!

(I kid; I do have an idea for a "core game" with an optional "buy separately and collect" component, but I doubt the separate component will be random like a CCG, mostly for my own sanity's sake. Besides, the game is in the "trying to figure out semi-functional rules so I can even attempt a playtest" phase, so this might not stick)
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Chris Ferejohn
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Summoner Wars is kind of like that. It sounds like Mage Wars will be too.
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Adam Kazimierczak
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A new CCG is doomed for multiple reasons, but it really boils down to 2:

-production costs
-market share


Most designers underestimate the production costs of a CCG because they see online publishers promising 1 cent per card printing, when that is the quoted price for 10000 copies of the same card. Add in artist commissions and having to randomly fill boosters and costs just skyrocket.


At this point the market for CCGs is shrinking and only the games with the most solid fanbases can survive. Looking at my local FLGS (which happens to be a comic store) and other stores as a microcosm:

8 years ago: Store has Yu-Gi-Oh, Magic and Pokemon tournaments. A handful of other licensed CCGs (Star Wars) are sold but not actively marketed.

4 years ago: Store consolidates to Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh; everything else gone.

2 years ago: Store goes belly up. New smaller game store opens with only Magic.

Now: Finding players for any CCG in person is difficult at best. The store with Magic cards is still around but only takes cash and looks decidedly seedy (like opium den seedy).


Without local game stores to galvanize support, new CCGs will never gain the traction that Magic did back in the day and are a bad investment for all involved.
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From a player perspective both CCG and LCG are expensive if you want to be a completionist, and inexpensive if you want to dabble, there is no difference in cost between the two for players.

For the publisher, I would advise staying away from CCG.
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Noel Llopis
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T Worthington wrote:
In short, I don't see the market for an independent designer to sell a publisher on a CCG/LCG game.


That might be true for physical cards, but there's always digital versions of games (which is what I'm most familiar with). I suppose a runaway digital hit could always entice a publisher to consider a physical version.
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Noel Llopis
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cferejohn wrote:
I think the biggest problem with CCGs is the ownership model.

If me and my 3 friends want to play Settlers of Catan, only one of us needs to own Settlers of Catan. If I show up to a board game night with some great/new game that no one else has, that's great.

If me and my 3 friends want to play magic, we generally *each* need to buy in.


That's a great point. I should keep that in mind if I make any kind of card/board digital game. I'd like to mimic the idea of one person buying the game allows them to play it with their friends, without their friends having to buy it.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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frumpish wrote:
From a player perspective both CCG and LCG are expensive if you want to be a completionist, and inexpensive if you want to dabble, there is no difference in cost between the two for players.

This is patently untrue. To get a play set of a given LCG in its first year costs around $150. The same cost for a Magic playset from a single year is easily double to triple that, at a minimum (and you are still subject to blind buy).
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Kenny VenOsdel
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frumpish wrote:
From a player perspective both CCG and LCG are expensive if you want to be a completionist, and inexpensive if you want to dabble, there is no difference in cost between the two for players.


Agreed. The main beef I have with LCG's, take Warhammer: Invasion for instance, is that the small expansions give you a few cards for each faction. So it's nice knowing what I'll get, but an expansion doesn't really give me much to work with anyway. I'll have to buy a lot of small expansions to get enough cards to build my Dwarves deck. I wish that all the expansions were more focused than what they are.
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llopis wrote:

I wonder if it would be possible to have some kind of a hybrid, where you buy the core game, but there are some cards you may choose to buy separately and collect.


Sounds like an LCG, or a card game with promo cards.
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Justin Hawkins
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joedogboy wrote:
llopis wrote:

I wonder if it would be possible to have some kind of a hybrid, where you buy the core game, but there are some cards you may choose to buy separately and collect.


Sounds like an LCG, or a card game with promo cards.


Again with the "sharing of game ideas I haven't fleshed out enough to post" thing! Haha.

Seriously though, I'm working on something like this. Base set would be kinda like "Munchkin", but there would be extra sets that allow you to focus your playstyle. (using Munchkin as an example, one player might collect and bring extra Wizard cards to the table that he can get throughout the game; of course, then there's the "how do people buy/collect these cards?" as well as "how do you make it balanced for people who don't bring any cards of their own?") I expect to end up with a set like "Munchkin 2" that comes with enough cards for 4-5 people to bring their own extras to the main game, rather than boosters of some sort.

It's a work in progress, and still a few notches down my list of "games I am giving my attention to."
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