At the time of starting to write this I haven’t slept in almost 24 hours. Sadly it’s at this moment I feel most incentive to discuss coming to terms with powercreep in trading card games.
What made me realize this was combination of my long running relationship with Yugioh, my recent infatuation with Force of Will and a sporadic resurgent stint with Wixoss. It seems clear to me that each of these games uses as their primary development to print new cards that are consistently stronger than (or in some cases direct counters to) the cards currently available.
Yugioh does this by releasing new summoning methods that yield powerful monsters that are usually also generic. It all started with Synchro monsters, which everyone for the most part could use by including a tuner monster(s) in their deck. Synchros were then replaced by Xyz monsters, which literally require the player to use monsters of the same lv, in addition all of the “best” Xyz monsters are also generic (Castel the Skyblaster Musketeer). Now the pendulum mechanic has allowed Synchros and Xyzs to reach a new zenith of power that forces current players to either play the newest mechanic or run specific counters to it (Anti-Spell Fragrance) if they want a chance at winning.
Force of Will honestly feels right now like Magic the Gathering run by Konami. On the one hand we have great lore, stunning artwork (mostly) and balanced game design. However on the other hand we keep seeing cards released (or more specifically 1-2 J/Rulers per set) that either hard counter the last meta J/Ruler or simply out-advantage every other ruler released at the time. This little chart more or less sums up the Force of Will meta since I started playing it:
Bahamut+Lavetainn -> Blazer+Deathscythe -> Reflect&Refrain “->” Gill Lapis, the Progenitor
Each of these formats (or one case hypothetical formats) had one J/Ruler positioned as the best ruler in the meta. Bahamut broke the rules by J-activating on turn 1 with Lavetainn, the Demon Sword. As a result, Blazer became the top ruler when he came out due to his combination with Deathscythe shutting Bahamut out of the game. Then with the release of Twilight Wanderer Reflect/Refrain showed up with a built in ability to dodge Blazer and generate more easy advantage that any other ruler in the game. Reflect has been so consistent in its tournament victories that FoW saw fit to “errata” its effect to make it weaker (a move that I think is completely justified). However, now in the upcoming set we have The Progenitor being released who not only hard-counters Regalia decks, but also further hurts Reflect/Refrain by taxing its Change the World, Orb of Illusion. While it may not pan out ultimately it looks like Progenitor will take over the format. Now this isn’t 100% as certain rulers like Vlad Tepes, Arla and Melgis still top events will some consistency. However, whenever I recall the the ARG with 15 Reflect players in the 16 I remember that this game has a long way to go.
Wixoss I only learned recently (thanks to my knowledgeable of the game friend) has its own powercreep as certain characters have gotten more support than others. I also realized that my decks have been left behind (since I haven’t bought any cards for this game in easily a year) and that I don’t stand much of a chance with the new incredibly advanced defensive arts that have been released.
Review of my old decks:
Though in a more overt manner I’ve come to release that none of my decks functioned well to begin with each lacking the consistency to make strong plays.
Mirrun: I focused too much on the Art Fortune Five. Building my deck around an imperfect defensive art only now dawns on me as a terrible idea. Basically this art reveals the top 5 cards of your deck and gains effects if you see 3+ atom signi. For this reason I ran like a Collected Company deck to ensure I wouldn’t whiff. However, I still whiffed all the time and died as a result.
Hanayo: In hindsight I never got really good at playing this game when I built this deck. If you use a bunch of burn spells/Arts to open rows to your opponent, all that happens is you give them enough Ener to shut you out of the game with their Arts. I think the Assasins strike Art is where this deck needs to go, cutting some of the expensive burn arts I’ve had lying around since day 1.
Midoriko: Honestly this deck functioned pretty well since there’s not many ways to build 3 stop Midoriko. I’m missing an untold number of support cards, but this deck was my most consistent mostly due to its simplicity. Midoriko gives everyone +2000. That’s it, just roll with it.
Eldora: So Eldora became meta while I wasn’t paying attention. It’s clear I need her new cards to make the deck viable. Her Dynamite spell is beyond amazing.
Iona: Iona is the only deck where I had an ambitious play that I could never make consistent. I’ve learned she’s gotten new support in the new set, but that it’s also crazy expensive. I have mixed feelings about buying a box for the one expensive LRIG (the rest is likely affordable as singles), but it’s very tempting.
Ok so at this point I’ve slept (for 3 hours) and entered the FoW locals, but I’ll talk about in a separate post. As for this whole post the message or moral I’m trying to convey is this:
In order for these games to keep making money they have to print progressively better cards to make people want to buy them. We have a romantic notion that these companies can release cards that aren’t better than what we already have and expect us to buy them. That being said I do think the card companies can not make so overt they’re power-creeping of the existing cards, but that’s just my opinion.
Thanks for reading me rant. The takeaway of this is to not be salty over powercreep because it’s unavoidable. OR just play Magic the Gathering where the opposite problem exists and the cards get weaker over time. Thought that’s a discussion for another time.