If I feel like I keep saying the same things, what must it be like to read every single one of my posts across the last dozen years?
So, let’s talk about repetition. Not (hopefully) my repetition of PCs, decks, card ideas, complaints about games, or whatever, but the concept of repetition in games.
Prima facie, repetition bad, really bad to repeat things, like again and again, because life is a constant struggle against boredom and variety is the very herb of life.
Why do experienced players get pulled to limited play? Well, if playing Magic, because limited formats for Magic are sweet repeat. But, for other games where limited play isn’t the double dog diggity, because even with a constant influx of new cards, CCGs are prone to stale plays. Games with infinite variety for all intents and purposes and, yet, Govern + Stealth + Conditioning or Imprisoned unless Neutron Bomb time or mighty, mighty, mighty, …, Support of the Mighty or “can I borrow some of your combat dice to finish rolling my 200 Last Battle dice?” or whatever.
In theory, lower card limits in CCGs reduce repetition. That seems mathematical or something. Yet, do I feel like VTES is more prone to repetition than Shadowfist than Babylon 5? I don’t really feel it. Now, there are reasons VTES isn’t like oMagic, where you could run your 10x Mountain and 30x Lightning Bolt if you really wanted. VTES incentivizes variety to a degree with the action modifier and reaction limitations. And, yet, I’ve played at least one 3cl deck where the only cards were Govern, Cloak, and something else, maybe Ascendance. Shadowfist could be incredibly redundant since there’s no minimum deck size, but that same lack of minimum deck size causes me to run fewer copies of cards, basically just scale back what the proportions of a 60 card deck would be where the one-offs become correspondingly a higher percentage of draws. B5 actually had a strong repetitiveness problem because …
The more unbalanced the card pool is, the more likely to see the same best cards. B5 not terribly oriented to combo decks, either, where combo decks may run cards wouldn’t normally see in other decks. Now, combo decks can be extremely repetitive in what actions they take when comboing off, but, on the other hand, once a combo deck combos off, the game is supposed to be over.
There’s a bunch of complaining about certain plays in Shadowfist at the moment because they are boring. I’ve often tried to get people to play variant formats or ban cards or whatever to reduce repetition in VTES. But, is it all bad?
I was pointing out recently something that relates to this – clearly superior cards and strategies makes playing CCGs easier. Some folks can’t seem to build VTES decks because NCL doesn’t give them a sense of how many copies of cards to play. But, also, when everything in a card pool is worth playing at a tournament level, can’t metagame (which is a skill), can’t play to an opponent’s strategy, have to know what vastly more cards actually do.
There’s a reason that Magic has gone with many, many versions of the same cards, e.g. burn. It makes the game easier to get into. The massive complexity of CCGs is reduced with card similarities, strategy similarities, staples, tier 1 archetypes, or whatever.
Bleed at stealth is a baseline for what the game is supposed to be like.
Also, you can’t do something different if everything is different … om-m-m.
Okay, CCG repetition I can’t escape, but it’s totally possible to not just keep doing the same thing over and over in most RPGs systems … if you are stupid. Again, players use their best abilities over and over again – otherwise they wouldn’t be their best abilities. Most systems don’t do anything to discourage doing the same things repeatedly. This is why I like combat to last few rounds most of the time – fewer opportunities to just “I fireball again”.
Meanwhile, some systems want you to describe doing the same thing over and over differently, which is tedious. Want actual mechanical reasons to “not reveal my true power”. Builds are often similar as, for instance, some attributes are better than others or some skills or some spells or whatever.
But, again, you get a situation where subverting the SOP can blow people’s minds. Maybe not the greatest thing when every character should be unique since this isn’t a competitive game where various skills improve chances of winning.
Now, like a lot of people, I’m prone to playing similar characters. That can be boring as well, though I’m far more concerned with repetitive actions, activities, plots. Even similar characters can diverge as stuff happens narratively. I mean, isn’t that how oD&D characters develop any sort of character?
Now, there are games that force not doing the same thing repeatedly, but, then, how is your character defined if it’s never doing the same thing? Spider Man webs things, senses danger, swings. Anomaly Thing may have cool powers, but it would be rough to play in a campaign, anyway.
Arc Flash has a variety of powers. I’ve used a variety. I Strobed things last session, Lightning Bolted the previous, used Fog to make water, put out a wildfire with Weather Change, powered something with Quantum Conversion, once upon a time tried to Stun Attack stuff. But, you know, I’m still more interested in using skills over using any of his powers, as there’s still something repetitive going on. I used Bioluminescence to make a flashlight for the first time last session, but, because it didn’t affect anything, it wasn’t actually cool.
Meanwhile Chuda Kitayakei Jade Strikes or Earth Stagnations or Katanas of Fire, and it’s not really more interesting to me than Miya Tatakisu “call 5 raises for extra attack”.
I guest ran a couple Conan sessions where I came up with a monster that was extremely hard to deal with using common party tactics but highly vulnerable to fire and not once did the party try using fire even when NPCs did.
RPGs are just hard to analyze for things like this because there’s some threshold of boring versus not boring and it can vary for even the same person.
This was a TD weekend. I only did three runs. I did goblin fighter on first run, polyish druid on second run, and acid sorcerer on my last run. It was all okay. The three-class Trippin’ Acid run worked exactly as planned, and I think that was part of the problem. It wasn’t just too easy, it was too predictable.
Now, on all three runs, we did exactly the same path. But, 6B actually has less content than 6A, where the two different paths had three different rooms. Also, the puzzle I liked the best was ditched, while the two I didn’t find interesting were retained.
The irony of acid sorcerer is that the whole point was to do the thing I think makes Wizard-Sorcerer suck – keep casting the same spell over and over again. I originally thought sorcerer was great because you had no dead spells, but, after playing with Charm of Spell Swapping a fair amount, I realized that part of the charm of the spellcaster classes is having to choose what spells to cast. So, I became a hater. But, then, I realized something about 6A – casting the same spells over and over again was totally metaing the dungeon to death.
Our paladin Guards two wizards shinobi team totally crushed. First combat, 1 round. Second combat, 2 rounds. Third combat, 2 rounds (paladin luck). Fourth combat, … 7 rounds, where I cast the same spell twice and another spell seven times. Yup, saved all five slots to cast the same spell five times plus Ring of Spell Storing plus Conserve.
We are all getting tired of the same dungeon, to varying degrees. I actually don’t mind doing like five runs each weekend … of the better dungeons. I don’t rate 6ABC as one of the better. The last combat isn’t that interesting to me, even if the whole point of my Goblin Weapon Oil and sorcerer builds was to exploit it.
Then, I’m tired of all of the treasure. It’s just depressing to not get more value, but I don’t like treasure in the first place. I don’t want more uncommons and rares, ever. I don’t care about monster bits. Some of this stuff might be interesting if they were actually unusual to get, but it’s tons of the same stuff, then even high end stuff is from a limited list. If there were previous years’ relics and legendaries and weird stuff, including even rares from previous years, would be vastly more interesting to me, but still not interesting enough for me to actually want to deal with it. I just want people to pay for the tickets of VTD and I play, with the odd PTD run to actually physically interact with TD.
There’s a reason I prefer CCGs and RPGs to boardgames …
I did actually play videogames once upon a time, like in the last century. I played the same ones over and over. In some cases, it was fun. I just don’t have any reason to play something so antisocial as videogames, much like how I have no interest in eCCG play.