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Restrictions and bannings: how to nerf a game into oblivion

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#21
Jhaelen

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Well, I have read sirlin's homepage a long time ago and found it very illuminating. It perfectly explains what bothers me about a particular kind of players, and by extension, games that are dominated by that kind of players.

 

So, I'll start with the following confession: If a player who is 'playing to win' (using Sirlin's definition) is unhappy with the current state of CoC, that makes _me_ _very_ happy! :D Bugger off, I'll say, go ruin the play experience for players of other games, like MtG, etc.

 

And to address your main point:

[q]“It’s Too Good!”

Only in the most extreme, rare cases should something be banned because it is “too good.” This will be the most common type of ban requested by players, and almost all of their requests will be foolish. Banning a tactic simply because it is “the best” isn’t even warranted. That only reduces the game to all the “second best” tactics, which isn’t necessarily any better of a game than the original game. In fact, it’s often worse![/q]

First, this quote specifically talks about banning. How many cards in CoC are banned? Two: Endless Interrogation and Glimpse of the Void. The former has already been mentioned, the latter I'll address below.

 

Restricted cards, however can still be played and it's a rare deck that doesn't use any of them.

 

Sirlin doesn't address another, very valid reason for banning a card because to his point of view, it's a non-issue: Cards should be banned if they result in the game not being fun anymore (for players who don't just 'play to win'). Now, what are examples of cards/decks that aren't fun to play against?

 

The Logan/Necronomicon combo was one example. In Liege I was the first player unlucky enough to face it and the game was over after 10 minutes because there wasn't anything I could do anymore. It would have been over in 5 minutes if I hadn't asked my opponent to demonstrate his 'finite' loop again. He was draining all of my domains before I could play anything each turn.

And that's what I call 'unfun' and a degenerated type of deck.

As it happened, I said 'good game' and my opponent offered to play his secondary deck against me - and that was actually quite fun, even though I lost it was well, because I could actually _play_.

 

At the same tournament one player played a deck using 'Glimpse of the Void'. He would recur it every turn and try to deck his opponent. His only Achilles heel was 'Snow Graves' (which is why he also included lots of support destruction). The reason he didn't win the tournament was that

a) in the half-final he had to play against his regular play partner (who would later win the tournament, as well), who knew the deck and had the tech against it, and

B) his opponent had the luck on his side (drawing all three Snow Graves early in the game, and winning before the Void player could destroy the third one).

Playing against this deck could also result in an extremely 'unfun' experience since there would never be any story phase, leaving 'normal' decks without any chance to win.

 

Today we have the Yithian train, which I'd argue is also extremely 'unfun' to play against. You get to watch your opponent trigger effect after effect from his discard, drain away your hard-earned success tokens and mill you along the way.

 

Going back to Sirlin's statement: In CoC, so far, the restricted list _has_ resulted in a better game. It's not worse. It has opened the game up to a wide variety of 'second best' tactics that can now win you the game if you're more skilled than your opponent. In fact I'd argue we'd never have seen the 'Research & Destroy' deck, if CoC didn't have the restricted list! It was only developed, because other OP options had become unavailable.

 

One last thing, I'd like to point out:

There's recently been the hot topic of introducing some kind of card pool rotation to CoC (and more importantly AGoT). I'm convinced that without CoC's restricted list, we'd have seen some kind of rotation _years ago_! The restricted list is a less heavy-handed tool to keep the game healthy without having to ban whole cycles of expansions. And making changes to that restricted list from time to time is an excellent way to keep the game fresh, because you get to investigate alternative options, rather than re-using your deck year after year and only replacing one or two cards, as a better alternative for them is released.

 

I mean, it kind of sucks, that my Liege deck from 2010(?) is no longer tournament-legal since it now includes four or five restricted cards, but, hey, isn't that better than meeting every year to play the same deck against the same decks you faced the years before?



#22
LordTeacup

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Restriction and occasionally banning of some cards is essential in the case of tournament play.  At a local level how the meta perceives a deck, combo or card isn't as important. If a player insists on playing the 'one turn kill' or someother facepalm inducing flavour of the month deck type you can simply not that play against that guy.  Having the best deck in the world and not being able to play it soon gets dull. 

 

In a tournament you don't get this option.  If a game devolves into a case of 'you must have this card to have a chance' then that card requires removal.  No one card should be 'required' to compete.  If a top 8 has decks and the same card is in each deck there is a problem. It gets worse too, if the Top 8 features the same deck (albeit tweaked here and there) the problem has gone too far.  See Magic The Gathering and pretty much every Japanese card game.

This is why restriction works.  More often than not a deck 'type' is not neutered, only a combo or situation (such as a total lock).  This means that Mr. Blue Control can happily continue his Machievellian schemes while Mrs Aggro goes about hers.

I have a guy complaining on one of my boards right at this moment because a recent Yugioh event produced a quite varied top 8 result.  His complaint was that 'you can't sideboard effectively.'  He would rather one or two (I'm not joking here) decks dominate so that his sideboard could be streamlined to deal with them better. 

Horses for courses I suppose.

I like a dynamic, ebb and flow to a game.  Sure, I want to be flowing more than I'm ebbing but the game itself is the joy, the win is simply an opportunity to do my victory dance and to lord it up over my opponent for twenty minutes or so.  If the price I have to pay for this is a handful of cards go to the sin bin occasionaly I'm fine with that.

 



#23
Skelton

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Too varied...  Can't sideboard properly... wtf....

 

Sideboards are for bad deckbuilders. ;)



#24
konx

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So, I'll start with the following confession: If a player who is 'playing to win' (using Sirlin's definition) is unhappy with the current state of CoC, that makes _me_ _very_ happy! :D Bugger off, I'll say, go ruin the play experience for players of other games, like MtG, etc.

 

Yes, why should I be ruined my play experience, when I can ruin yours? (sorry for the sarcasm, but this is what your message is sending out).

 

 

Sirlin doesn't address another, very valid reason for banning a card because to his point of view, it's a non-issue: Cards should be banned if they result in the game not being fun anymore (for players who don't just 'play to win'). Now, what are examples of cards/decks that aren't fun to play against?

 

Aren't fun for who? For you? and why is your point of view more relevant than mine, if the end result is that one of us is not playing the game anymore?

 

 

 

The Logan/Necronomicon combo was one example. In Liege I was the first player unlucky enough to face it and the game was over after 10 minutes because there wasn't anything I could do anymore. It would have been over in 5 minutes if I hadn't asked my opponent to demonstrate his 'finite' loop again. He was draining all of my domains before I could play anything each turn.

And that's what I call 'unfun' and a degenerated type of deck.

 

Instead I call it a nice deck idea, which can be fought with other ideas...the guy was good enough to see the combo before you did and he won. Next time you will be prepared. What is the big deal, if at the end you don't care about winning?

 

 

Going back to Sirlin's statement: In CoC, so far, the restricted list _has_ resulted in a better game. It's not worse. It has opened the game up to a wide variety of 'second best' tactics that can now win you the game if you're more skilled than your opponent. In fact I'd argue we'd never have seen the 'Research & Destroy' deck, if CoC didn't have the restricted list! It was only developed, because other OP options had become unavailable.

 

Right now the skill is more and more "who draws better wins", in my opinion.

 

About R&D: well, you are wrong, since the story Graham told in his post is that the two main mechanism were present since at least 1 year before the deck actually took place. But that has really nothing to do with my post.

 

To summarize my answer: I really don't have a problem to play for fun, to play different type of games or anything. I play Magic also, and I like to play competitive tournament level decks and also other formats like Pauper or EDH which are everything but competition.

 

The point is: why should your view of fun being imposed on the game through restriction?

 

And more important: instead of thinking about what cards stop a deck, why don't we start discussing what strategies are good or bad?

 

Because the entire point is that limiting and restricting is causing less strategic diversity.

 

cheers

 

Konx

 

 

 



#25
Skelton

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Because the entire point is that limiting and restricting is causing less strategic diversity.

 

 

 

 

Sorry but you are wrong. When a single deck archtype is dominating a game then more and more people flock towards playing it. I have seen this happen with Star Wars, AgoT, Netrunner, Legend of the 5 Rings, MTG, Vtes, and pretty much every other game I have played over my 20 something years of card games. Cthulhu isn't included in that because the meta within the UK is very small and has only recently begun to grow.

 

As the saying goes, "If you can't beat them, join them".

 

That is what stifles and limits creativity.


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#26
konx

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Sorry but you are wrong. When a single deck archtype is dominating a game then more and more people flock towards playing it. I have seen this happen with Star Wars, AgoT, Netrunner, Legend of the 5 Rings, MTG, Vtes, and pretty much every other game I have played over my 20 something years of card games. Cthulhu isn't included in that because the meta within the UK is very small and has only recently begun to grow.

 

As the saying goes, "If you can't beat them, join them".

 

That is what stifles and limits creativity.

 

Yes, I agree, and that happened lately only with Yithian (and only in US, I would add). And it happened because other strategies which could beat Yithian have been damaged by restrictions. That is my point.

 

Of course, if you take away all the tools I have to fight consistently Yithian, then Yithian becomes dominant. No question about that. The problem, in fact, starts well before Yithian.

 

It's funny, because I wrote a huge post, and everyone thinks I am complaining about Yithian being removed from the game, when I fact I couldn't care less about that deck.

 

cheers

 

Konx



#27
LordTeacup

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"Because the entire point is that limiting and restricting is causing less strategic diversity."

 

I would go so far as to say that the opposite is true.  Not restricting leads to strategic stagnation.  Very much in line with Skeltons view.



#28
Skelton

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Konx,

 

For the most part, I agree with a whole bunch of what you say. I simply quoted the one line which I strongly disagreed with. Restriction is, unfortunately, a necessary evil with such a large card pool. Cards are quite often designed without knowing the full implications of how it will interact with the rest of the cards. **** happens.

 

Sometimes the reaction of the players is well over the top, but in other cases it is a well deserved response to what makes for a very NPE experience. I rarely use the term NPE and in all honesty feel like it gets thrown around way to much but sometimes there is no other way to describe the way a deck works.

 

I haven't played against a Yithian Mill deck and find it unlikely that I ever will. Funnily enough, I'm okay with that. If the deck is as strong as people suggest then it probably annihilate me. I can take my beats with good grace, I play to have fun not to win (although it's always nice) and the deck just sounds like it is no fun to play against.



#29
Karrius

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edit: Post is screwing up, will try again.



#30
Jhaelen

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Aren't fun for who? For you? and why is your point of view more relevant than mine, if the end result is that one of us is not playing the game anymore?

 

Right now the skill is more and more "who draws better wins", in my opinion.

 

The point is: why should your view of fun being imposed on the game through restriction?

 

It isn't _my_ view that is more relevant than yours, it's the majority's view that is more relevant than yours (_and_ mine)!

 

What do you think: is there a majority playing CoC to win or to have fun?

 

I'm pretty sure it's the latter. Without casual players, CoC would have been dead a long time ago.

So, if FFG has to make a choice whether it's better to make the 'playing to win' faction happy or the 'scrubs', they will know what the right decision is.

 

And if you cannot think of a deck that would allow you to win with a certain degree of consistency with the current restricted list in place, then who's problem is this? It sure isn't a problem I have.



#31
konx

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So, if FFG has to make a choice whether it's better to make the 'playing to win' faction happy or the 'scrubs', they will know what the right decision is.

 

That's the difference. You think I am talking about a "playing to win faction" or a "playing to win card", while I am talking about "variety of choices in strategy".

 

The two things are so far away that is like me talking about working in physics and you talking about how awesome it is that everyone has a job. The only thing they have in common is "someone is working".

 

cheers

 

Konx

 

EDIT: I really didn't want to answer to this, since it looks a lot like a personal attack, but as always let's have a look at it in another way from a different perspective:

 

 

And if you cannot think of a deck that would allow you to win with a certain degree of consistency with the current restricted list in place, then who's problem is this? It sure isn't a problem I have.

Now my take:

 

And if you cannot think of a deck that would allow you to win with a certain degree of consistency against the Yithian deck with the current restricted list in place, then who's problem is this? It sure isn't a problem I have.

 

Which is the clear issue with all the fun/not fun discussion (which I was trying to avoid in the first place since the OP)...it is way too subjective to have any real meaning.



#32
Karrius

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It isn't _my_ view that is more relevant than yours, it's the majority's view that is more relevant than yours (_and_ mine)!

 

What do you think: is there a majority playing CoC to win or to have fun?

 

 

I think that people who say that others should be banned from tournaments just for trying to win those tournaments should not partipate in discussions of high-level play, as they are obviously bad players, and should not particiate in discussions of what is necessary for the game to be healthy, as they are obviously bad people.



#33
LordTeacup

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I think that people who say that others should be banned from tournaments just for trying to win those tournaments should not partipate in discussions of high-level play, as they are obviously bad players, and should not particiate in discussions of what is necessary for the game to be healthy, as they are obviously bad people.

 

They may not be particuarly bad players but they certainly have no clue as to what a 'tournament' entails.  Ideally you would play to win, while having fun.  Then if you lose hopefully you still had fun.  You take something away even if its your ass that was handed to you.

Playing just to have fun is the realm of 'playing' and not being involved in competition.  Even co-op play is 'playing to win' as you are attempting to overcome the obstacle of the designers board/deck.  Playing solely to win is fine and I don't judge those people but I wonder how dreary their lives must be if all they have to look back on is the wins and not the games.



#34
dboeren

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You say that right now it's "whoever draws better wins".  How would that be different if we had fewer viable decks that were featuring strong combos?  Would not whoever drew their combo/engine/whatever faster still probably be the winner?  Or is your point that you prefer the winner to be decided rock/paper/scissors fashion so that the emphasis is less on what happens during the gam and more on designing your combo and predicting the meta?

 

I'm sorry, but I think we just have very different preferences.  If the meta is such that a very good player can design a dozen different decks that are all capable of winning (with a good pilot who knows the deck) then that sounds to me like the game is going great.  That's WAY more fun and interesting than seeing 2-3 different decks being played by everybody.  It also steers people towards playing their own decks and away from specific counters to the known top-3 decks simply because you can no longer predict as well what those will be.  Fewer games become locks, as you nearly always have to fight to win now.


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#35
Karrius

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They may not be particuarly bad players but they certainly have no clue as to what a 'tournament' entails.  Ideally you would play to win, while having fun.  Then if you lose hopefully you still had fun.  You take something away even if its your ass that was handed to you.

Playing just to have fun is the realm of 'playing' and not being involved in competition.  Even co-op play is 'playing to win' as you are attempting to overcome the obstacle of the designers board/deck.  Playing solely to win is fine and I don't judge those people but I wonder how dreary their lives must be if all they have to look back on is the wins and not the games.

 

The thing is, this philosophy of "play to win" IS having fun. If playing to win in a game isn't fun, then you move onto a new game, not try to twist and contort the game into something different. There are lots of games that ARE fun, so why play something that's not?

 

I enjoy trying to do my best, and have my opponent try to do their best as well. That's when you really get the great plays, the interesting interactions, the cool back and forths. I play to win, but I do so BECAUSE it's fun - I wouldn't play in a game that couldn't handle the rigors of high level, dedicated play but yet asked for such a huge time investment as Cthulhu did. The desire to get into a game heavily, to explore its space, to do the best you can in it, is because that game is fun, and doing these things is in a way respecting the game to me.

 

My comment was made because Jhaelen had previously commented that I deserved to be banned from all tournaments, forever, because I had the gall to play a legal deck he didn't like.



#36
konx

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You say that right now it's "whoever draws better wins".  How would that be different if we had fewer viable decks that were featuring strong combos?  Would not whoever drew their combo/engine/whatever faster still probably be the winner?  Or is your point that you prefer the winner to be decided rock/paper/scissors fashion so that the emphasis is less on what happens during the gam and more on designing your combo and predicting the meta?

 

I really don't know how to express my ideas better.

 

I don't care about combo. It's not a matter of a particular card, it is not a matter of a particular deck, it is not a matter of a particular winning path.

 

it is a matter of being able to pull off a strategy which can be combo/control/rush/whatever in a consistent way. The consistency of doing things has been taken away almost completely. Combo has little to do with it, it is just an indicator.

 

In a "rock/paper/scissor" meta the winner is not who draws better (and I am talking here simply from a statistical point of view, on the long run. In the single game, obviously this can happen) if the meta is balanced.

 

I really don't know how to explain it better.

 

I'm sorry, but I think we just have very different preferences.  If the meta is such that a very good player can design a dozen different decks that are all capable of winning (with a good pilot who knows the deck) then that sounds to me like the game is going great.

 

And then you analyze the decks and you see that they all do the same basic thing, so "building the deck" becomes "pick two factions and throw in the best cards" and "play the deck at its best" becomes "let's hope I draw more best cards than my opponent", because there is little to no skill in deciding where to throw a removal or when to play a char. Or at least, that is kind the basic skill everyone has after 3 games of CoC.

 

That's WAY more fun and interesting than seeing 2-3 different decks being played by everybody.  It also steers people towards playing their own decks and away from specific counters to the known top-3 decks simply because you can no longer predict as well what those will be.  Fewer games become locks, as you nearly always have to fight to win now.

 

Ok, now we get to the point. Everyone is steered to play their own pet deck. Why? because every bunch of cards which includes a certain minimum combination of auto-include cards now can win due to pure luck. I am probably short sighted (and in fact I wear glasses, LOL), but I fail to see where is the skill in both deckbuilding and playing in a situation like this.

 

cheers

 

Konx



#37
Karrius

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So just for a quick analysis, the current restricted cards are:

 

-Ramp Cards: Feed Her Young, Por XV 14:19, The Festival, Twilight Gate

-Search and Play: Broken Space Broken Time, Museum Curator, Shocking Transformation

-Mind Control: Infernal Obsession, Stygian Eye

-Combo Bullshit: Interstellar Migration, James Logan

-The "Just Too Strong": Alternate Historian, Diseased Sewer Rats, Doppleganger, Guardian Pillar, Initiate of Huang Hun, Khopesh of the Abyss, Magah Bird, Obsessive Insomniac, Ravager from the Deep, Temple of Ryleh,

-Combo Bullshit That's Just Too Strong: Intinerate Scholar, Marcus Jamburg (ALSO search and play), Master of Myths, Nyarlathotep

 

The Ramp Cards have the issue that any one of them is likely fine, but drawn together they were too much. This is an issue as Call of Cthulhu kinda needs to keep printing them as older packs get harder to find and new players want to be able to ramp too - but then the players who have ALL the cards have too much. Twilight Gate could be fixed just by making it "return to the same domain", likely, and FHY/The Festival staying mutually exclusive is fine.

 

The Mind Control cards are under the same deal, here. Any one of them would likely be OK, but both of them together, when combined with Museum Curator, was too much. If Museum Curator got *banned*, maybe we could see these being unrestricted just to test it out and see how it goes. Hastur could certainly use the boost.

 

The Search and Play cards are all pretty poorly designed, except for Broken Space. Shocking Transformation means every high-cost non ancient one (remember, that's ALL the high cost cards for some factions) is going to be better for shub than the faction they're designed for. It's a terrible card.  Museum Curator means we can never have really amazing high cost support cards, because it's "put into play for free", so they are all stuff that can be played turn 1, even if they're a 5 cost support. Marcus Jamburg is similiar, due to the ease of discarding cards. Honestly if Shock and Curator got banned, so more cards could be designed, I'd be OK with that. They never should have been printed in the first place, as neat as they are. Under the Porch does what Shock wants to do just fine. Museum Curator really should have been "and it goes to hand", not to play. Broken Space is the only one I can see un-restricting, but only because of the double-sided effect. Otherwise it's still a "search and play an 8 cost for 4", and only the current iffyness of high cost ancient ones is making it unplayed. These are all bad cards because they let you play another card ignoring that card's cost WHILE essentially drawing that card. There are good cards that only do one of those!

 

Combo Bullshit: These cards are all in here because of specific combo loops or whatnot. Logan can likely come out if Shock goes away, Migration is just a total mess.

 

Just too Strong: This is where it gets harder. Alternate Historian is powerful, but doesn't really share a restricted space for anybody but Curator. Sewer Rats recently came OFF the ban list, so they might be moving off restricted eventually, too. Here I think is where you might be able to make the most arguments to get cards unrestricted.

 

Too Strong Combo Stuff: Nyarly's issue is that he's too strong to rush out T2 or T1 without major sacrifices. Master of Myths is just a flawed card, you should have to pay 1 *ST* resource to use him, not just 1. Intinerate Scholar just absolutely stomps ramps decks, and is completely bonkers when you add recursion in. Jamburg just hits about a dozen issues at once.

 

In short: I think some cards can be taken off the restricted list. But I think in order to take a decent chunk of them off, some of the restricted cards need to be banned, instead.


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#38
Danigral

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There are definitely some cards that can come off, and are on due to some other problematic cards. I agree with your analysis of Curator and Shocking. Back when Pacta Arcana was starting, I never had a MU deck without Curator, or a Shub deck without Shocking. If they were banned, then it would free some otherwise good cards that are only bonkers in combo with them.

 

#banCurator #banShocking

#freeLogan #freeInfernal



#39
GrahamM

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I feel like everyone here probably agrees more than they think do when it comes to what should actually be done. Karrius' analysis was spot on. The rest of this thread has just been rhetorical blustering and name-calling.

 

If there's one thing that separates what Konx has been saying from what Karrius just said, I think it's that Konx is a lot more concerned with keeping existing decks in tact. I don't really think that should be the primary concern when it comes to restricting/banning


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#40
Danigral

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I feel like everyone here probably agrees more than they think do when it comes to what should actually be done. Karrius' analysis was spot on. The rest of this thread has just been rhetorical blustering and name-calling.

 

If there's one thing that separates what Konx has been saying from what Karrius just said, I think it's that Konx is a lot more concerned with keeping existing decks in tact. I don't really think that should be the primary concern when it comes to restricting/banning

^This is a good TLDR. I just want to add:

 

My understanding is that I don't think konx is concerned with keeping decks intact so much as allowing proven top-tier decks to exist in the format for longer in order to allow the meta to try to beat them and adjust before FFG takes action by removing linchpins of said decks (which I agree with). There are obviously cards that deserve to be on the list because they have proven to be overpowered in certain deck types and have no readily apparent answer within the cardpool, or go against the type of experience the designers have decided they want CoC to be. Creative builds are a secondary consideration because while they may utilized the overpowered card, they do not abuse them as an optimized top-tier deck piloted by a "play to win" type would. "Play to win" players will find other good cards to abuse, or the RL whack-a-mole will force all next-best options to be not clearly better, just different. Creative deckbuilders will find replacements for those cards and still have fun, or they may even - in a casual setting - ignore the restricted list. (As an aside, this is another barrier which some players impose on themselves which is unnecessary in a casual setting. "If I just had access to this card for my deck," they say, "it would be so much more fun." Does your play group care or even have knowledge of the restricted/banned list? Then play it. Have fun.) This is what the RL is for, to force creativity and hard choices at the expense of the easy choices in a competitive setting, and thereby to keep the game fresh.


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