Limited Formats

Everything that doesn't go anywhere else.

Limited Formats

Postby Ekin » Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:57 pm

So, those of you that play other CCGs probably know where this is going. Limited formats are tournaments/games where the pool of cards is limited to what you receive in a few booster packs. The minimum deck size is usually reduced in these formats; in Magic: the Gathering, the minimum deck size for constructed tournaments is 60, but in limited formats, the minimum deck size is 30. There are two main kinds of limited formats: sealed and draft. For those unfamiliar with limited formats, here's a quick rundown on standard sealed and draft formats:

In sealed, each player receives a certain number of packs (and this is different in each CCG). The player then builds a deck using that card pool. Part of this is very luck dependent; if you open a terrible pool of cards, you're probably hosed. However, a good player can make do with what he has, and make better card choices than a weaker player, so skill still comes into play when building a sealed deck. After everyone builds a deck, they play each other, either in a standard tournament format, or a swiss tournament format. Each player gets to keep the cards they open.

In draft, each player receives a certain number of packs (again, different in each CCG). Each player simultaneously opens one of their packs, looks through it, and selects one. They then pass it to the player on their left. Next, they look at the pack received from the player on their right, select one, and then pass that one to the left. They repeat this process until the first group of packs is exhausted, and then everyone opens their second pack, and the process remains the same, except this time they pass to the right. Every time a new pack is opened, you switch which direction you pass cards. When everyone is out of cards, people build their decks and play. Each player keeps the cards they select, though what is done with rare cards often differs (some people put the rares into a pool at the end from which everyone gets to choose in the order they finished, while others just let everyone keep whatever rare cards they've selected).

Limited formats are fun for several reasons: they give you extra utility out of your cards (you still get to open booster packs, but you also get to play them in a way you normally would not have), they level the playing field for those unwilling or unable to spend money for their constructed decks (though only for that tournament), they test different skills such as reading signals and a player's understanding of the difference between limited and constructed formats, you get to play with strategies you otherwise wouldn't have access to, etc.

Now, the mechanics of Alteil are such that both formats are possible, but require some work. I think it would be difficult to allow decks that have a lower than normal number of cards because of the way the game plays out. As such, you need to provide players with enough cards to build a standard deck: this means that unless you create different booster packs with higher card counts for limited and draft formats, each player will need to buy at least 5 packs, probably more (like 7 or 8). This can get a little expensive, and there's still no guarantee people will be able to play enjoyable decks.

For the draft format, things become even more difficult: the standard draft pod (a pod is a group of people drafting from the same pool of cards) in most other CCGs is 8. However, those games give 12-14 cards a pack; Alteil gives 5. One of the basics of drafting a CCG is being able to read signals other players are giving you (I haven't seen any of color X's good cards, so I'd better not go into that color, but I've seen a lot of good color Y cards, so maybe no one else is drafting Y). A good player will figure out which card in a pack will come back to her. With Alteil's standard 5 card booster packs, you don't get the opportunity to see what card comes back to you in an 8 man pod because the cards will never go all the way around the table, nor do you get to read signals as well.

As such, for both draft and sealed, but especially draft, it seems like an increase in the number of cards is required to make the format playable. I also think that because there is only a very minimal cost to the Alteil team to distribute cards (as they don't exist physically, and thus are very close to zero cost), they can offer entry into such tournaments at a reduced price, such as 400 gran for draft, and 600-700 for sealed (as sealed requires a player receive more cards). This would be a great way to get people to buy cards, and, of course, there would be prizing for top finishers.

I've seen Logress mention there will be sealed tournaments in the future. I'm just curious to see if you guys would be interested in sealed and draft, how/if the booster packs should be altered to make such formats more playable, and how much you'd be willing to pay if you wanted to participate.
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