Redemption offers are large pool of cards and a nearly infinite possibility of decks. With all the different brigades, themes and quality cards printed over the years there should be a large variety in the decks people play. But what happens when a card is so good that most people feel the need to use it to keep a competitive edge? What happens when a card makes things too easy? It’s like “push button, receive bacon”; you get all the goodness without all the work.
Is this a problem?
When a card, or a group of cards are too good, a lot of decks can start to look the same. Most gamers enjoy some variety in the games they play.
If decks start to look the same, games play out the same way. This eventually detracts from people’s enjoyment. It can even drive them away from a game. Keeping variety in the game helps Redemption keep existing players and draw in new players.
Do we have this problem in Redemption?
One indication that a card might be a problem is if it’s seen in the majority of competitive decks. Dominants are easily one of the biggest culprits. That has changed somewhat since the introduction of the Dominant Cap back in 2012. Cards like Son of God, New Jerusalem, Angel of the Lord and Christian Martyr are still seen in most decks.
Beyond Dominants there’s still variety though, right? Not to the degree that some people consider to be “healthy”. The Judges theme, and more specifically it’s primary engine, The Angel Under the Oak (AUTO), continue to appear in several of the top placing decks year after year.
We only have good data from the annual National tournament. If we look at the decks that placed in the top 3 of any constructed event since The Angel Under the Oak was released, this is what we find.
- In 2012, 5 out of 5 reported deck lists contained AUTO
- In 2013, AUTO was in 4 out of 7 deck lists
- In 2014 we find AUTO in 6 out of 9 deck lists
I can share with you from personal knowledge that he was in many more decks than just the ones that placed. Even with the release of a new set and an entirely new brigade I haven’t noticed a change in that trend.
What can we do?
Every collectable game I’ve heard of has had to address problem cards. Designers misjudge the efficiency of a card. Players find ways to use a card that wasn’t originally intended. Whatever the reason, there are ways to address it.
- Rules change – the rules of the game can be modified in such a way that the card is no longer a problem
- Errata – this changes the original text printed on a card in a way that will address the problem
- Ban – the card in question is no longer legal for tournament play
- Counters – release cards that address the problem specifically
How do other games handle problem cards?
Different games handle problem cards in different ways. Let’s start by taking a moment to evaluate how other popular games address this type of situation.
Magic the Gathering (MTG) will ban cards from tournament play when they are deemed over powered. Just this past January they banned two cards from modern play and restricted them in classic formats. Over the years, MTG has needed to ban cards on multiple occasions.
Many years ago when I played there was a season during Urza’s block known as “Combo Winter” where certain cards were abused to allow you to force your opponent to draw his entire deck in one turn (decking your opponent is a method of winning in this game) fairly early in the game. It reached the point that everybody either played this deck or played its counter deck. The result was that cards were banned to bring variety back to the game.
I’m not familiar with the history of popular games like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh. It appears they have both banned or limited the use of certain problem cards over the years.
Dice Masters is a collectable game I’ve been enjoying recently. The game is only about a year old so there’s not a lot of history to look at. Recently they have issued errata for a few cards. One in particular was causing games to end too quickly. They have not yet banned any cards or rotated any old sets.
What should we do?
Redemption has always addressed game play problems primarily through printing counters. In extreme cases cards have been issued errata. And in very rare cases rules changes are made. There are presently no banned cards in Redemption.
Printing counters hasn’t seemed to slow players from using the same Dominants year after year. It doesn’t appear to stop players from building decks that abuse The Angel Under the Oak. More and better counters might not be the answer, especially with only one small (150 cards or less) release coming out per year.
The Dominant cap rule change of 2012 seems to have helped curb the use of Dominants but didn’t solve the problem entirely. The change to which Lost Souls you can rescue with Dominants took some power from Son of God and New Jerusalem but they’re still used in every deck. Are there further rule changes that can be made to reduce the power of Dominants? What about The Angel Under the Oak?
Maybe it’s time to issue errata to reduce the power of these cards? But what errata will do this effectively and how many of the cards we see in every deck get errata?
Is it time for Redemption to reconsider its stance in banning cards? This stance was a great asset to the game several years ago when it was introduced. I know many players still value it today. But the game has grown and changed a lot. Maybe an anti-ban stance is no longer in the best interest of the game.
My goal isn’t to tell you the solution but to offer us options. As a game that is heavily community driven, your input is important. Do you think these cards are a problem? If so, what solution do you feel is in the best interest of the game?
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