Articles Wanderer

Ravings of a Lunatic #21: You want some Cheese with that?

Sorry I haven’t tossed out an article in a while.  I just opened a third store and a couple hundred thousand more FOW cards. That’s a lot of sorting.

The new banned list came out, and some of us are scratching our heads. Fair enough. Why ban cards made to go with each other, from the same set? I’m not saying all the choices are good. I believe some of them are preemptive, if they will work or not, who knows?

The thing is, and a lot of you might be unaware, is that sets for TCGs are designed WAY ahead of time. Magic has a whole series of articles by their head of R&D, Mark Rosewater, that covers this. They design over two years out. They have whole teams (usually 6+ core members) and a ton of in house and even contracted play testers.  Force has 1 designer, as far as I know.

The announcement to go to Wanderer only was this year. Force has always designed clusters with each set in mind so that the whole cluster works together, kind of what MTG used to do years ago when they had blocks, but more so. This means New World and Underworld were likely designed together, and likely done over a year ago, before the announcement. Game of Gods was done way before that.

The process of designing is long, then it has to get tested, laid out, formatted, art done, sent to the printers, sheets laid out, and all that. Depending on the way a set comes together, it may actually be harder to do all the logistics. Think of all the artists, designers, managers, and others involved in bringing a set to you in nice booster boxes. Too many cooks and all.

As I write this New World is not even officially released, but we already can order Underworld, so I wouldn’t be surprised if its sitting on a computer ready to go to the printers once they know how many to print.

Point is, when GOG and Hero cluster were designed, they were made with New Frontiers in mind, not Wanderer. The hope is, that going forward, as the sets being made are designed with just Wanderer being the format, that the combo bans that are cards in the same set will stop. This transition will seem slow to most, as the sets (in the design stage) catch up with the current world, but its not intentional, its not bad design, it’s just the design aspect of the game catching up to the organized play part. If you understand the process, you can see that it really isn’t a bad thing.

Will this mean some cards you want to play with will get smacked? Yes. But the company is reacting to the players, and this is the painful part of changing things drastically. But what is there to actually complain about?  This is just a side effect of a game company listening to their players. Those players just didn’t know what the issues would be of that change. Well, here they are. Are they all perfect? No. Will there be more you may not like? Yes.

But before you cringe looking ahead, just look back.

Baha Blast, R&R, Sacrificial Altar, these are just some of the things that were not responded too in a timely manner and they almost ruined the game. I would rather have preemptive decisions and quick reaction than not or slow. Why? Because those can be undone with a simple post or email.  Watching the players flee because of oppressive combos can’t.  How do I know? Because a lot of players fled after the previously mentioned lack of bans and haven’t returned.

When you look at a banlist that nerfs your favorite deck to nothing, you will get upset.  I get that. But you have to look at it in context at the moment. The facts are this at this point and time:

  • That set was designed for New Frontiers 2 years ago
  • NF doesn’t exist anymore
  • New sets will be made with wanderer in mind
  • Combo bans of same set cards will reduce over time
  • It’s not personal

I am not saying same set combo bans will stop, I am certain though that they will stop with cards from a just released set. So, if same set ban happens for say EDL in 2 years, no problem, but if for a set less than a year old, then yes, Then, its time to review the design process.  Worry about that then though, not now.  This isn’t to say you should be happy with the ban list, just to keep things in mind that happen behind the scenes. 

MTG has emergency bannings, hello Ikoria, we don’t because FOW is trying to be on top of things.  Pokemon reprints sets into oblivion (FOW used too). YuGiOh reprints $500 cards into tins a year later. DBS, Digimon, and I’m sure One Piece will print must have cards as hard to get promos.  Most of these thing’s FOW does not do, heck they just brought Eiji back.

Should we bow down and grovel at their feet? No. The fact that we haven’t is one of the main reasons why all the recent changes have been happening. Imagine a game company actually listening to their customers? You don’t have too, FOW is. Will they get it right all the time? Nope. But the fact they do listen means that even the unpopular choices might be changed.

The main point is, we have it better than most of the other games. The game is affordable, has an active ban list update (like it or not), promos that are actually useful and I might add more promos for local play than any other game, reasonable entry fees to large events with amazing prizing (go pay $50 for a MTG GP with no entry stuff), godly card quality (looking at you YUGiOh), and a growing secondary market (Poke and MTG are down so much for cards in regular boxes).

It’s not perfect, far from it, but stop yelling doom and gloom. It’s been 10 years. Who else has made it that far?

This is a price guide from 2001, it lists over 600 TCGs at this point, I happen to have a copy for fun. There have been hundreds more since. Out of all of these, MTG, Pokemon, Vampire, YuGiOh, Net Runner, Raw Deal, Redemption, Cardfight, L5R, Final Fantasy, Shadowfist, UFS, Weis Schwarz, and now FOW. 14 out of more than we know. And a couple of those 10-year guys are dead now, L5R and Raw Deal at least.  Most die in 2-3 years, yet here we are.

Don’t stop thinking they can do better, don’t stop letting your voices being heard, but do it in a way that is productive. We have a nice community, let’s not become YuGiOh in that manner.

Thanks for stopping by,

Dan Rowland
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About the author


TCG player and enthusiast who has been slinging cards for 25+ years. He has won some stuff, judged, ran events, owned stores, and and sold online. Wannabe writer as well. Having written for sites such as The Dojo and Starcity for various other games, he now wants to try his hand for Force of Will. Also a hack novelist with one book currently published and seller of fine wares at for all things Force of Will and on Facebook.
Not the best of players, but a head for numbers and a historical buff. Sporting degrees in Business and Writing, he hopes to spread some knowledge with a dose of sarcasm. Enjoy the ramblings of a deficient mind and grab a chuckle while you're there.