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TOPIC: The Rarity System in TCGs: Good or Evil?

The Rarity System in TCGs: Good or Evil? 1 year 9 months ago #38

Trading card games by nature are games that are "bigger than the box", they are usually sold in semi-randomized packs of cards in which some cards have a higher chance to appear than others. There are many arguments for and against this sort of rarity system, it can be used for good and for evil, and I want to hear your opinion on the subject.

The good:
Having a rarity system in your TCG allows you (the game developer) to somewhat control what cards people will be more exposed to.
This can be of useful for many different purposes:
When a player is new to the game and opens up a pack of cards, if the more common cards are in general easier to understand and to play with, or otherwise more appealing to new players, the rarity system can help newer players get to know the game by first getting exposed to the easier parts of it. This is especially important in TCGs that are more complex, and have many different moving parts to them, like my own Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest. In turn, if the more complex cards are rarer, this helps the newer player to not be overwhelmed by the complexity of the game, and they're introduced to the game bit by bit.
When a player is building up his or her collection of cards in order to make some decks and start playing, if the more common cards are the ones that can be used in more situations and in a greater variety of decks, this helps the player to get a better starting cardpool from which to begin building decks. In turn, if the more niche and specific cards are rarer, their presence will be very limited, and a newer player won't be swamped with cards that they can't use to build basic decks.
In limited formats such as booster draft and sealed, where players have to build a deck out of packs of cards they opened right then and there, having a well-designed rarity system helps balance and invigorate the limited formats, so that all kinds of decks and strategies can be built with the available cardpool and have a shot at winning.
Having a rarity system in place makes opening packs of trading cards especially thrilling, because you never know what you're going to get, also it makes it so different players will have different cardpools from which to build their decks, and it pushes people to trade their cards with each other and try out and build all kinds of different decks.

The evil:
The rarity system in TCGs can be easily abused to make people buy many more packs than they would otherwise.
By unbalancing the rare cards and making them stronger and more playable than the common ones, more competitive players will be forced to buy more packs of cards in order to build competitive decks. Also, the fact that there are fewer of these rare cards around when demand is high inflates the prices on them. This can easily get out of hand if pushed too far. It can turn your game into a "pay-to-win", which leads many players to not being able to play and win in competitive tournaments just because they can't afford the expensive cards, it can get them frustrated to the point that they stop playing your game altogether.
It's good to have rare cards be exciting by making them do cool and unusual things, but not by them being strictly better than common cards. This tactic of exploiting your playerbase, their love of the game, forcing them to buy more packs just so they can get a chance to play your game, is disgusting and deplorable.
Another point against having a rarity system is that you're putting obstacles between your players and their cards. Many players want to have easy access to the entire collection of cards available in a TCG, they want to know what they buy, and don't want to be surprised. They want to be able to easily pick and choose what cards to play with not just from the cards that they happened to come across in packs, but from the entirety of the game. The LCG (Living Card Game) model allows you to buy the entirety of a set of cards all at the same time. This model is more popular with hardcore boardgame players, but it tends to get rid almost entirely of limited formats, as well as the whole trading aspect of the game, as well as the more obvious excitement over opening a pack of cards.

Does the good outway the bad? What do you think? Maybe the right way to please everyone is to have both options available: packs of semi-randomized cards for casual players and limited format enthsusiasts, and boxes of entire sets of cards for the more competitive crowd.

What do you think is the best system for a game like Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest?
Keep it up!
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The Rarity System in TCGs: Good or Evil? 1 year 9 months ago #131

  • Kyle
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One thing to consider would be price if you were to go with the 'both option': As a casual gamer how many packs would I have to buy to get all the cards in the set (%), and does that cost more or less than buying the whole set from the start instead? How much more or less? I have a feeling this might negate the feasibility of buying any booster packs unless they were really cheap.
As opposed to playable content (cards) having rarity, you could randomize card design, like holos, limited editions, alternate art and such. It's not the best option, but somewhat fills that 'thrill' aspect of opening a pack in a tcg. I can see how this is still a sort of scumbag way to get people to buy more, but it doesn't impact gameplay.
Using rarity as a mechanism for controlling the exposure of certain cards still makes a lot of sense however...
What about leaning more towards a lcg structure of distribution with very small bonus semi-randomized pack/card? That way people would have access to all the cards they need to play competitively and casually, whether they are starting to play or long time players, with some of the extremely obscure, fun but balanced cards in a randomized pack, maybe 1 or 2 cards in a pack out of a pool of 20 or more. This way players would be incentivized to build a deck around these extremely rare and complex cards (which should be difficult but rewarding), and you could have a weird version of limited format gameplay still where you build a deck out of your old collection around the random one you opened.... but that might be too complicated. What do you think?

Honestly this question has been debated so much and there's probably nothing in my post that hasn't already been said somewhere in the internet. It's a very important question to ask though, especially since you want the community involved in making this game a success. In the end it might be better to just stick with a LCG for Multiverse like you suggested, people seem to like that. And I guess it wouldn't hurt to have the random packs for limited gameplay for the few that want that as well then.
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The Rarity System in TCGs: Good or Evil? 1 year 8 months ago #215

You know, maybe you're right, you should have both options. Hardcore players can go and buy the entire new set, and meanwhile the more casual players can learn how to play with a more limited card pool. I think it can work if done correcxtly.

Having holographic versions or promo art of the cards is also a good idea. Probably the easiest thing would be to have holos, although it's going to be a pain to figure out how to print them. It's a good thing to have exclusive versions of cards for collecting purposes, without impacting on gameplay.
Keep it up!
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The Rarity System in TCGs: Good or Evil? 1 year 3 weeks ago #423

  • IDKLOL
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Perhaps a variation of the LCG set idea could be used. Instead of getting all of the cards in a set, the box could contain a large portion of them, say 3/5, with a disproportionately large number of key and star cards. Booster backs would only contain cards not found in the box set. This way, players could obtain large sets of good cards to play casually and competitively with, but booster packs would still be a fun and somewhat nescesary thing
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The Rarity System in TCGs: Good or Evil? 1 year 3 weeks ago #424

  • callum
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you could do a booster system as normal, but sell each card on its own online. this will let people get the cards they need if they cant open one. it can also make a kinda baseline to stop decks to be too expensive. this will make top tier standard deck be addvadable to the genrel audance
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The Rarity System in TCGs: Good or Evil? 1 year 3 weeks ago #426

Both of you have very interesting ideas!

The thing is that the more I analyze it and the more I crunch the numbers, the more I come to the conclusion that Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest can't be a traditional TCG. It's not even a problem of the rarity system itself. The fact is that new TCGs that aren't based on preexisting intellectual property just aren't successful. The market is saturated mostly by just 3 games: Magic, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh, and all other trading card games have a very hard time getting enough of a player base to sustain them.

I think that, at least for the first set, Multiverse will have to be sold as an LCG. Probably we'll be selling preconstructed decks (2 at a time, so you can play right away) as well as a big box with all the cards in the set. I'll have to analyze what would be the absolute best way to do it. Considering the scope of Multiverse, this is a much more realistic way of selling the game. We've calculated all the costs, and if we sell the game through booster packs it will be profitable only after tens of thousands of them are bought. it's also more expensive in the beginning. We don't have neither the resources, nor the player base to support this method of selling the game. It's just not happening.
This still allows for Cube-style drafting, by the way, which with only 1 set released, is as close as booster drafting as you'll get without actual booster packs.

The online version is a different story, though. It can have booster packs no problem. It can even have other forms of drafting, like the Arena in Hearthstone.

Maybe there is a way that still allows for booster drafting in the paper version that doesn't cost too much, but right now I can't find it.
Keep it up!
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The Rarity System in TCGs: Good or Evil? 1 year 2 weeks ago #451

  • IDKLOL
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I thought of something else. One of the pitfalls of a rarity system is that it is virtually impossible to get full sets of rare cards via card packs. The number of boosters required is simply too enormous. So what If you (in the online TCG) sold sets of four booster packs, each containing the same cards? that would make it much easier to get full sets of rare cards.
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The Rarity System in TCGs: Good or Evil? 1 year 2 weeks ago #452

That's an interesting idea, actually. Of course, that makes it a problem for drafting, you'll have to make sure to pick packs from different sets of 4. I don't know, something tells me that's not the right way of solving the problem. I think the most optimal solution would be to sell boosters, but along with them sell preconstructed decks, or products containing all the cards of a certain color, or just the entire set. This way players can decide whether to buy boosters and collect the cards that way, or buy a big box with all the cards in it.
Keep it up!
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The Rarity System in TCGs: Good or Evil? 6 months 3 weeks ago #597

  • IDKLOL
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As I have been thinking about and working on my own game we talked about, the subject of super-rare cards has come up in my mind.

In one of your "Throwback Thursday" videos, you pointed out the problem with these cards (and thus decided not to include them). This, of course, is that as these cards are so rare, they easily become very expensive. If too many good super-rares are in a players format of choice, they will have to spend a lot of money to build a competitive deck.

On the other side, as I am sure you know, super-rares can be wonderful for a TCG. There is no better pack opening experience than to pull a super-rare card. However, greatly ramping the prices of competitive play outweighs the benefits these bring to pack openers.

However, I have seen systems other games use for certain rare cards, as well as my own ideas i believe, which can sort of solve this problem. The ones that come to mind are the systems Pokemon has used for shiny pokemon in the past and MTG for legendary permanents.

One system is to simply limit the total number of super rares you can have in your deck, or of each. For the first sub-option, even if super-rares are expensive, deck prices are still limited since you can only put so many super-rares in your deck. The problem with this is that if your TCG does not have great search power, such as yours, you may not be able to draw into your super-rare every game. If these rares are good, this could give a lucky player too much of an advantage over their opponent. Perhaps the rule could say that you may have up to 4 copies of any one super rare, or just 4 of any. This way, players could hope to draw into them more frequently.

For the second sub-option of limiting the number of each super-rare to say 1 a problem arises for formats which give players access to all sets that have been released. Once the game has lasted long enough, there will be a sufficient number of super-rares to allow you to build a deck dense in them even with a limit on how many of each can be in your deck. Perhaps this could be solved by allowing most cards from older sets, but banning their super-rares. Super-rares from more recent sets could be allowed, but with a limited number of them, this would not be a problem. This would be especially true for a rarity system like yours, where rare cards are more specialized. Logically, super-rares would be so specialized that most decks wouldn't be able to effectively play too many of them.

Then, like in MTG, there is the option of limiting the number of certain cards that can be in play per player, rather than the number in a player's deck. Like with their legendary permanents, each player could have only one of each on the board at at time. This also limits the number that can be played in a deck, because if you play too many of these limited cards, you may not be able to fully play your hand.

I don't know which would be best for your game, if you want to include super-rares, but you would be the expert in that area.

If you do want to include them, I hope this helps.
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The Rarity System in TCGs: Good or Evil? 6 months 3 weeks ago #598

  • callum
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i do agree with the limitations of cards, but i think it would be better if it was gradual
for example:

common:4 per card
uncommon: 3 per card
rare: 2 per card
super rare: one per card

or you could just make the super rare just cards that have alternate art with a different border.people don't need them, but they would make your deck look cooler.
this could include planets that are essential to the plot of MCC or make a robots card border be more mechanical
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The Rarity System in TCGs: Good or Evil? 6 months 3 weeks ago #601

It needs to be said that super-rare cards aren't inherently bad for a trading card game, my concern with them is that if they turn out to be too powerful and essential in many different decks, the price of these cards can turn people away from the game. This has happened many times in many different TCGs, the most recent and obvious example I can give is in Magic in 2012 Jace: the Mind Sculptor went over 100 dollars, and it was an incredibly overpowered card that you HAD to play in your deck to have a chance at winning. That lead to many players leaving the game and the card being emergency-banned.

There are positives to adding super-rare cards into a game: as you've said, it creates great pack opening experiences, also, it allows you (the designer) to create super specific cards, or create build-around-me cards that don't have a place in booster draft and other limited formats, but allow players to create all sorts of weird and interesting decks for constructed play.

Callum is right when talking about alternate art and different borders. Adding these things can make the process of opening packs much more engaging without the addition of new super-rare cards. Honestly, I'd like to implement something like that in Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest. I'm not sure exactly on the actual frequency in which these cards will appear in packs, I'll have to calculate that. Another possibility is to add one holofoil card in each pack, kind of like Pokemon TCG does. That can also achieve the same goal.

I don't agree with artificially limiting the number of super-rare cards you can put into your deck. This presumes that super-rare cards are necessarily better than common cards, and it also limits your deck-building abilities, as well as makes the cards less effective because it makes it harder to draw them during your game. Hearthstone does exactly this, it limits the number of each Legendary card you can put into your deck to 1. This works for Hearthstone because that game has a bigger element of luck than other TCGs. It may also work for other games, but it won't in Multiverse: Cosmic Conquest, where skill is such a big part of the game.

I'm not against the legendary rule in Magic, because it makes sense flavor-wise. It has problems as well, as you pointed out, it can lead to you not being able to play the cards in your hand if they're all copies of a legendary creature, plus sometimes the legendary creature is so good regardless, that you'll play 4 in your deck just to be able to draw it more reliably. So this rule doesn't solve the high cost problem. In fact, Jace: the Mind Sculptor, again, is a perfect example of that. You cannot have two Jaces in play at once, but everyone HAD to play 4 in their decks just to make their deck good in tournaments.

The right way to go about designing commons, uncommons, rares, and super-rares is to make it so that to build a great deck (ideally in both limited and constructed formats you'll need a lot of common cards, a bunch of uncommons, a few rares, and sometimes a few super-rares. This way the price won't go up on rarer cards, because they won't be needed in huge numbers. In Multiverse, this generally means that cards that cost a lot of resource to play are rarer because you don't want many of them in your deck anyway.
Keep it up!
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