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A (Mostly) Low Quality Discussion on Card Balance

[quote=“moistloaf, post:18, topic:3667”]
Flickerwisp might have stated my own opinion better than myself.

If I had to throw out a number, I’d say 25% of the ANR card pool is usable, and I think that’s generous. I personally think this is an unacceptably low figure, especially in a game with no collectible factor. Honestly, I’d rather have two well-designed, game-changing big boxes a year, that have been thoroughly and seriously play tested, than a bunch of data packs that by and large consist of cards that the vast majority of players will never play with once.[/quote]

The LCG model is probably too lucrative for FFG to change, but I agree that releasing whole cycles at once might be better from a playing perspective especially in terms of determining what’s legal for tournaments and the like.

[quote=“moistloaf, post:1, topic:3667”]
What do others think of this quote? It is totally contrary to my own beliefs about ANR design in its entirety, from ‘early’ to current. Perhaps by ‘early’ Lukas means the first couple Cycles, which would make more sense.[/quote]

I think this conservative approach is especially seen in the early IDs. There are 15 Corp and 13 Runner IDs in the Core Set through Honor and Profit. Of these, only 2 Corp, RP and EtF, see seriously play. The Runner side a bit more diverse, but Kate, Noise, Andy are probably played much more frequently compared to Reina, CT, Whizzard, or Gabe. IDs are what make Runner/Corp match-ups diverse and interesting, but when players only use 2 of a possible 15 Corp IDs, there are probably serious questions about play-testing and realistic views of the “meta”.

Though Spoiler-Ken did say awhile ago that ANR 29 totally changed his opinion about Lukas and co. for the better so maybe we just have to wait until then.

They have gotten so much better with not printing garbage cards. The Net Polices and Salvages are long gone I think.

In Breaker Bay for instance, even the worst cards like Tyson Observatory and Recruiting Trip have some semblance of hope and utility. Far cry from False Echo and Power Tap.


Just wait! I predict a Criminal runner, maybe with link?:

"This first ice you encounter each turn gains [subroutine] “trace(n), if this trace is not successful, the runner gains 2 credits”

“n” would have to be some reasonable amount. I’m an ideas man, not a numbers guy.


Here’s a chart I made of the Corporation card pool, sorted by popularity. Source is the most recent 15,000 decks from Meteor, which is a mix of mostly casual and some competitive decks.

The Y-axis is the average number of copies played per deck. The maximum would be 3 if every single deck had 3 copies of that card.

The top 2 played cards by a gigantic margin:

  • Hedge Fund
  • Jackson Howard

And the 5 runners up:

  • NAPD
  • Eli
  • Ice Wall
  • PAD Campaign
  • Enigma

The bottom 5 are:

  • The News Now Hour
  • Hellion Alpha Test
  • Rework
  • Broadcast Square
  • Isabel McGuire

This is a classic exponential shape, where even at the casual level a few staples see most of the play and the rest of the pool barely exists.

The Runner graph looks basically the same, with a heavy top 2 of:

  • Sure Gamble
  • Parasite

And then the next 5:

  • Clone Chip
  • Same Old Thing
  • Datasucker
  • Daily Casts
  • Dirty Laundry

The bottom 5 are:

  • Power Tap
  • Leviathan
  • Record Reconstructor
  • Window
  • Gingerbread

In my opinion this chart confirms my claim that the vast majority of the ANR pool essentially doesn’t exist.

So I read the article. The parts without LL: in front were pretty boring. This full quote was interesting though:

"Early on we were pretty conservative with the costing of cards and the power level of cards, and I think that was probably the right choice. You don’t want to make any mistakes, and it’s better that a card sits in a binder where nobody plays it than in everybody’s deck, and people just hating that card because it’s so ubiquitous.

You can push the envelope a bit more in terms of experimenting with new effects or new ideas within the cycles. SanSan was kind of the first cycle that we did do that a little, and I think you’ll see that going forward now that we have this rotation policy."


All you are showing with this post is your ignorance. You have no idea how easy or hard it is to playtest cards, or design whole sets with the time and personnel constraints involved.


While I think it’s easy to be overly critical of FFG for printing shitty cards, as I have been in the past, the fact that they haven’t totally broken the game and that the meta is changing all the time is a pretty impressive accomplishment.

Still, I think there have been quite a few cards (maybe 10-20%) that see no play that could have been safely costed much more aggressively, without any testing whatsoever.

I think a lot of FFGs problems come with lack of manpower. If they wanted to make sure that every card was playable, they would simply need more people to test and more people working R&D to make sure that they weren’t breaking the game by printing leviathan at $3 or whatever.


Really cool analysis. It would be pretty interesting to see this over time. (See Hard at Work suddenly jump up in the rankings for the release of Anarch Genetic).

But props on doing this.

I think drawing in the line of y=.14, which everything would be if the game were absolutely perfectly balanced, would be instructive. To me it looks like about 1/3 of corp cards are above that line, which seems realistic.


What would you prefer this graph to look like? (Having every card at .50 is mathematically impossible)


You’re right, it’s very close to 1/3 of cards above that “average card” cutoff.

My personal preference would be paying an extra $5 per datapack for those bottom 25% of cards to have been buffed and redesigned into either being reasonable for competitive play or at least fun for casual use.

For example I’m fine that Shoot the Moon isn’t played much, because it’s still a cool “build around me” card with a fun effect. It could conceivably get played more in the future.

My beef is with a card like Net Police that has zero fun value and zero power. It’s functionally a blank piece of cardboard that I paid for.


I think both Net Police and Disrupter were remnant from the old trace/link system. Those cards doesn’t make any sense in the context of ANR but could totally make sense in the context of the old blind bid trace mechanic.


The only other fame I have played is Magic. MtG does an excellent job ealing with “binder fodder” in the limited/draft formats. There are cars that are absolute rubbish in standard but are actually awesome in limited.

I wish FFG would treat drafting like a legit format and not like some kind of abomination.

The problem with drafting an LCG is that they have to make separate draft packs, and they end up being a bit too expensive for most people to bother with. Even the FFG center rarely gets more than 4-6 people for their monthly draft, and that’s with the uncharacteristically excellent prize support advantage they have.

That said, drafting is incredibly fun. There’s nothing like the feeling of a turn 2 Hostile Takeover into a turn 3 Clone Retirement!


I only bought one pack from the lunar cycle because it sucked so bad. I don’t plan to buy a single pack from the SanSan cycle, as I haven’t seen a single good card for either of my factions. If FFG thinks their getting money from me for these pitiful cycles full of binder fodder they are mistaken. If you want my money then give criminals some good breakers and give NBN some better ICE.

Anarchs and shaper both can build decks with only in faction breakers now but I still have to influence in every single breaker for my criminal deck, it’s ridiculous. I also haven’t seen a single NBN card I’m interested in. Step up your game if you want my money.

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