October 25, 2010

Build the New or Revisit the Old

One of the things about customizable card games that is both a blessing and a curse is the infinite variety offered. Having dozens, hundreds or even thousands of cards to chose from can be liberating and daunting all in the space of a few heartbeats. Additionally, as most of us have some kind of addictive mentality when it comes to these sorts of games, invariably we will devote our time to more than one. We have now taken that variability and likely performed a square operation on it, rather than a simple doubling effect.

Whoa, pretty heavy vocabulary for a Monday morning I admit. I'm only two paragraphs in and I'm talking about math. Often when I'm writing something I have only the roughest sense of what my topic is before I start. Even more often I'll simply write a title on the spot and carry on from there. I may change the title after I'm done, but that doesn't change its initial impact on my creative process. In many ways this is very similar to how I approach deck building.

In a game where the player chooses which components he or she will play with, especially one like VS System, it's probably safe to say that no one of those players will approach deck building in the same fashion (and keep in mind that most of these ideas could easily apply to other CCGs). Likely there are some similarities, but even one player's methods will vary from one deck to another. For myself I find that the start of the process usually falls onto three main paths:

1. A single card: I've found a card that I want to build something around, either due to its specific effect or simply because I like the character.
2. A combo: Two or more cards have effects that are fun or seem particularly effective.
3. A theme: Either through a tournament format requirement, or something I think seems fun, this deck doesn't start with any particular cards in mind.

Now how does all of this chatter relate to the bloody title of my entry? Well when I started writing, I don't think it related to it at all. However, now that we've reached this point it all seems to make perfect sense. Let me explain.

So I've chosen one of the three methods above to begin creating my deck from. If I'm not a brand new player it's probably safe to assume that I have a few decks of my own already constructed. Another question to answer then becomes "do I modify something I already have to fit my new idea, or start from scratch?". In most cases I think the answer is quite simple. You have to look at your goal or idea and decide whether or not that idea fits with (and hopefully improves) the theme or combo of that deck, or if it deserves to be explored on its own.

One of the things I think that makes VS System so interesting is that, due to the team affiliation concept, each set can exist on its own as its own game providing combinations and thematic ideas from that set. Where it really starts to be great is that, by adding cards from other sets you can enhance those ideas and make them really fun, really deadly, or both. Judging what I have in my gaming bag at the moment I'm going to say that I fall firmly on the fun side of the fence.

I've recently taken apart several of my deadlier creations to make room for new stuff. Not necessarily new stuff as in the latest set, but new themes or ideas I haven't seen any of my players exploring. There's still plenty of room for that!