[Classic] Definition of a broken card [8/19/2001]

Sent to the Babylon 5 CCG Rangers group, i.e. the volunteers group (not to be confused with the player’s group, the old volunteer’s group, the playtest group, or any of the other groups that got setup up near the turn of the century).

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While we are on the subject of errata, I thought that it might be helpful to
share my definition of a broken card with you all.  Here it is:

Any card or card combo that can win consistently in 9 or less turns unless
someone puts a card in their opening hand to stop it.



The main qualm I have with this definition is that there’s nothing wrong with consistently winning within 9 turns if every deck is that fast.  8-10 turn games where everyone has a chance of winning sound real good compared to the current length of many games.  I’m not sure there is a good comprehensive definition.  Some others that I’ve heard include:

Where X is some specific strategy, card, or group of cards, if you must play X or anti-X, X is broken.  This works better in some situations.  Unless you get quite broad in how you use this, I don’t know that it ever applied real well to B5.  For instance, in the first Worlds, OAA would have made a good X, but anti-X wasn’t nearly as clear.

If a strategy still produces excessive wins even when players prepare for it, it’s broken.  This, OTOH, has applied often to B5.  For example, I’ve often seen a searched out Master of Darkness fail to stop GiC.  On a more extreme level, Sheridan mark still could win after It Will Be His Undoing (put in opening hand) got played.

For individual cards, if the card goes into every** deck no matter what the deck’s strategy is, then it’s a candidate for being broken.  A definition that applies well to B5 at times and not so well at other times.  To modify it for B5, would probably have to add “and causes a significant increase in a player’s ability to win”.  Meditation, for instance, is rarely called broken.  Then, there’s a card like Trent.

**  “every” being somewhat open to interpretation.  Every Minbari deck still sounds like a possible problem.  Every Gather Rebels deck doesn’t.

For multiplayer games, if there is a standard of deck strength in terms of how much effort the other players must expend to stop it from winning and a deck significantly exceeds that standard, then the deck is likely broken.  For example, as this is rather abstract, if a standard tournament deck can normally be stopped by one player, assuming the player expends enough effort, and there exists a deck that can only be stopped by multiple players, then the deck is broken.  An extreme would be if all other players did everything possible to stop the deck throughout the game and it still won more often than not, then it is clearly broken.  Decks that come to mind that were above the standard historically would include early CoG, some military decks (depending upon time period).

Of course, if you have statistics, any deck that dominates tournament play is broken.  Broken decks play broken cards as a rule, so there should be some card in the deck that can be pulled out.

“I’m not very tough.  I cry a lot.  And, the tears won’t stop flowing.”

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Other than including one of my more memorable sigs, why now brown cow for this post?  I was reading the only B5 CCG blog I know about (given that I haven’t searched for any others), babylon5ccg.blogspot.com

I pulled out my decks box to comment about opening hands.  Two problems with that.  First, most of the decks have slips of paper in them for playtesting one of the CCGs I was designing that never got close to being published.  Second, I had a lot of opening hands that would have undermined my argument, so I don’t know what my comment should be.

Anyway, I started searching my sent email to see if I ever sent my Band of Brothers decklist out.  This was for another blog post idea I had where I’d rehash an old topic – decks that fail to meet a minimum threshold of viability (aka nutpunchers).  I ran across this email.  This is relatively thoughtful compared to many of my emails to the various groups about things B5ish.  I also don’t really have an argument against anything I said 13 years ago.

I also haven’t posted any classics (things I write to places other than here that I copy here, especially anything I wrote prior to starting this blog) for a while.

By the way, something that isn’t broken (per se) is anything I don’t like playing against.  While The Unmasking is broken, it’s not because I hate playing against it, which I do.  It’s because it hits on something this classic doesn’t – certain effects that break basic mechanics of the game are broken.  This is an idiotic definition in that the whole point of CCGs is that cards break the basic mechanics of the game (“OMG, Glancing Blow prevents damage … that’s so broken.”), so you need more stuff in there like “Massive distortion of the game from common play.”, “On a global level and with no real ability to restore the game’s mechanics to the norm.”, or whatever.

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One Response to [Classic] Definition of a broken card [8/19/2001]

  1. Alex says:

    Thanks for including posts about B5 CCG from time to time. :) I am stumbling on them occasionally. I am hosting a small 4-player event at my place tomorrow, so I am wondering what new decks I am going to see.

    About broken cards: in my group nobody is really playing with a strategy to win in the 9th round… the players are more into story-telling and enjoying the progression of the game… but of course we are trying to win. :) Even I am more interested in creating unexpected decks with a small twist which actually do work in the end just to have a bit of a laugh and fun during the game (while winning). :D

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