A surprisingly good article about causal VS competitive players

This article was written for Android:Netrunner, but I feel applies perfectly to any ECG, like Doomtown:Reloaded. Take a look and discuss!


That is a well written article and I have to say I agree with it to an overwhelming extent.

One hole I see in it is that although he lightly addresses how the “entitlement” of competitive players can influence an owning company he speaks almost exclusively in the context of organized play and swag/prize support. I think this entitlement actually pervades further all the way into design goals and game direction as a whole.

It has at least been my experience that tournament winners tend to be given greater respect when it comes to design/direction feedback, both by the community and owning companies, than others. Without really having any evidence to directly support their opinions, even. This is a false perception that knowing how to win a game directly relates to knowing how to design that game’s framework of play. The two are not mutually exclusive by any means, but they are not inherently correlated either.

This, again in my experience, tend to lead to games becoming more-and-more design oriented towards structured competition. Which can crowd out the design energy towards creating play experience that other kinds of players consider to be fun.

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FYI: Doomtown:Reloaded design focus is primarily towards casual players. This is, effectively, why competitive players complain so much :slight_smile:


Is it? That may be the intent, but I’m not sure it is actually reality. How do you think this is the case, in particular? Just curious.

Well, for one thing, I’m in the design team… :wink:


Right, which gives you authority on intent. Planned versus actuals, though, was my point. Do you have any specific examples on where you think the focus of the design has specifically focused on supporting casual play at the expense of competitive play (or however you’d define the various “camps” of players)?

We don’t really do anything “at the expense of”. It’s just a matter of priorities. But if you look around you’ll see a lot of cards which make for fun deck archetypes, which still get support, even though competitive players shun them.


Potato, pahtahto. There is a limited bandwidth in terms of a number of finite resources that go into game development. That makes it a zero sum game, unless you can achieve multiple goals simultaneously. Which is sometimes possible, but not always.

If the focus is on casual play that means when faced with one of those “not possible to support both” scenarios that seems to me you’d generally favor the choice that supports casual play more than the one that supports competitive play. I’m not sure how someone can claim that isn’t at the expense of competitive play without engaging in a purely pedantic argument.

And to be honest I’m not complaining. I don’t enjoy tournaments, so I’m fine with that. However I remain unconvinced that DTR is not impacted by the lobbying influence of competitive players. I’m not trying to pass judgment or anything based upon that, but I do think that design intent and the actual affects on the game environment are not always one-and-the-same. If anything, too, as a design team member you may be perhaps one of the most biased at seeing the unintended consequences of your own decisions and the influencing effects that others have upon you.

I’m not sure that really qualifies as supporting the casual player elements of the community really, though. A few cards here and there purely for theme/fluff/jankiness doesn’t mean the game actually tracks closer to casual gameplay than competitive gameplay. It may be little more than “throwing a bone” to that kind of player.

Design it doesn’t work that way though.

I feel like you’re asking for some sort of evidence nobody can provide to you.

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I’m not really asking for anything, I’m fairly happy where the game is at so I don’t really feel the need to “demand answers” or anything so dramatic. This was merely a discussion. One which–based upon the content of the original article–you seemed interested in discussing. If you’re not, no hard feelings. /shrug

Also, beyond the design philosophy AEG tends to support organized play primarily through competitive play. All of the biggest/best prizes to date have been awarded based upon performance in Sheriff and Marshall events.

One can get some swag from more casual Deputy events if they are run as a league, but it seems that’s a very small fraction of the community. Most are still awarded based upon Swiss-style tournament performance.

I dunno man, I said the design focus is on casual players, and you requested “specific examples”. I don’t know what you expect from me to not declare me as “not interested in discussing”…

I mean, I’m glad you have design experience and all, but maybe it’s not the same thing?

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I was looking for more than, “Because I say so”. Which is essentially all you’ve said. As a purely hypothetical example maybe the Totem mechanic was playtested and found to be weak competitively but still generally fun for thematic purposes, so it was kept in for those reasons, etc.

I also didn’t declare you as not interested in discussing. I said that if you weren’t, I don’t mind. From the general tone of some of your responses you seem to be a bit defensive, and my intent was not to be “on the attack” or to make you feel as if I were.

However, if all you’re likely to respond with is statements akin to “Because I said so” then this isn’t a particularly constructive or interesting discussion for myself. So I may as well be done.

This article was posted to Stimhack (Netrunner equivalent to the Gazette) and was universally panned as being a total load. If you’re interested in their points of view, this is the thread: Article on Concerns about Competitive Play - Netrunner General - StimHack The juicier replies start at post 21…

Great read. I hope this community stays the way it is right now it’s a healthy mix between the two.

Imo I never want to play for money it feels like you are buying players to play just for the chance to win a lottery. Custom prizes are the way to go. Heck I won some tourneys that had cash in my early days and I don’t care two cents for them now my prized tourney trophy is an uncut sheet of thrones cards from the brotherhood cycle I just top 8 in a 16 player tourney and I lost first round with a jank deck.

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Without knowing the design peoples personally, I see what Db0 is talking about, just from the inherent qualities of dt:rl. There are defiantly stronger and weeker strategies and decks. Over all though, I am yet to simply dismiss any deck type. The effort of balancing is definitely apparent to me.

My goals in any ccg/lcg has been to test something new and unexpected against the proven powers. Hoping to find those beautiful moments of joy, as a new puzzle of deck design is solved for the first time.


Again, it doesn’t work like this. We don’t design ANY card to be too weak. We try to iterate all cards to the point where we feel they’re balanced and we can see interesting decks archetypes, combos or strategies around them.

Deck archetypes that I’ve designed that haven’t really caught on competitively would be things like Experimentals, Totem spam, Blessed Voltrons, Mystical Gadgets and many more. Those are still receiving support, regardless of their status in the competitive scene. However I didn’t design them to be weak or non-competitive either. This is the sort of thing impossible to predict.

I’m getting a bit frustrated because if you cannot take the design team itself on their word that they focus on the casual player, I don’t know what else to tell you.


I made an account after reading this thread. I’ve lurked for awhile, but wanted to chime in.

I’m a casual player, and honestly don’t get to play as much as I would like. The guys I do play with are competitive Netrunner Veterans that indulge my affinity for the weird west. The article in the OP is great and I can easily draw parallels between myself and my gaming group.

For example, I don’t do a ton of deck building and I mostly stick with the example decks provided with each expansion. My gaming group feels like these decks are largely aimed at a player like me, designed to give exposure to different game mechanics. For the record, I love this and I’d love to see more of these, or even decks designed specifically to pit against eachother. My gaming group, on the other hand, prefers to custom build and maximize the game mechanics.

I lose, a lot. But we all have fun playing, and I think that’s the point.

A big criticism would be accessibility for new players. I struggle to get other casual players interested as the mechanics seem overwhelming at first. I think the fact that the base game has preconstructed teaching decks underlines this problem. That said, being able to hand a new player The Law Dogs Arsenal deck with simple instructions to pump up Abhram and equip Evanor, helps give them the confidence to play through the learning curve. Again, thank you.

Ultimately, I made an account and posted here simply to say thank you for an amazing game, and for even considering a player like me in your design decisions. My gut tells me that there are a lot of us out there left unheard.



We’ve now gone back full circle. To quote my very first reply to you, “Is it? That may be the intent, but I’m not sure it is actually reality. How do you think this is the case, in particular? Just curious.”

The last paragraph about Totem Spam, Blessed Voltron, etc. was all that I was looking for, really. You need some thicker skin, none of this was an attack on you.

I didn’t take it as an attack in the first place. But it’s OK to be frustrated when you think the other party is not listening :wink:

But I thank you for the advice on my skin nevertheless. :stuck_out_tongue:

PS: That thing that you were looking for me to spell out, I assumed is self-evident. You can plainly see cards for those “non-competitive” archetypes still coming out.

Well, your initial example mentioned finding a card weak in Playtest and keeping it like this. If a card is weak in playtest, design improves it so that it’s not weak anymore. Thus “we don’t design cards to be weak” :wink: