As a Magic player, I am always interested in trying new formats, casual or otherwise. From well-established formats such as EDH/Commander to the obscure and forgotten (anyone remember Tiny Leaders?), I think a strong marker of a good card game is the ability to customize the card pool to your liking.
Obviously, as an out-of-print card game, the Warhammer 40K CCG global playgroup is fairly small (if it even exists at all), and so for you, the current format is basically “whatever cards you can acquire”, and your meta is “whoever you can convince to play with you”.
I find that this, for me, makes gameplay fresh and exciting. Why? Consider the experience arc of every CCG player. The most thrilling period for every card player is when they open their first starter deck and booster packs and begin delving into the game. Every new card brings a world of possibilities, and you are naïve to the jaded, harsh reality that is the competitive metagame.
I have spent a lot of time in the past year collecting and building new decks, and I build each deck to win. The reality of the game is that each faction has a competitive ceiling, and once you build and play towards those ceilings, you realize that a significant chunk of the card pool simply isn’t suited to that level of play. As a result, many interesting cards just don’t see the light day because they’re rendered inadequate when compared to other cards.
For example, every competitive Space Marines deck will likely play Apothecary Singa, Squad Faustus, and Miller’s Bodyguard. Every competitive Chaos deck will probably play Khorne Bloodletters, Traitor Space Marines, and Tzeentch Flamers. For decks like these, at least 12 out of your 60 deck slots have been accounted for. As a semi-Spike, I realize the need for optimization, but I also realize that it comes at the cost of creativity.
The upper limits of optimization and competitiveness are appealing for many CCG players, but understandably not as important when it comes to dead/OOP CCGs, because let’s face it – there aren’t any tournaments happening anytime soon. So, there’s more of an excuse to explore suboptimal – and dare I say, more fun – configurations of the game.
As an example, let’s explore a thought experiment: what if we played a version of the Warhammer 40K CCG that did not include Pandora Prime, the first set? For this, let’s not even consider rares.
Space Marines lose the above mentioned cards: Apothecary Singa, Squad Faustus, Miller’s Bodyguard, among others.
Chaos loses Khorne Bloodletters, Traitor Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, and Tzeentch Flamers.
Eldar lose Kaura and Lockesis.
Orks lose extra-BA enablers such as Goff Boyz, Freebootas, and Warbike Squad.
Already, we are beginning to see a wildly different format without Pandora Prime. Is this format better? At the very least, I believe that the power level would be drastically reduced across the board, which would give room for many lesser-played cards to shine. Is it more fun to play? I have no idea, but that’s part of the fun – to explore the game in ways undiscovered by anyone else. And in this time of card scarcity, this is the perfect opportunity to see the game in a new light, with fresh eyes.
Other ideas to consider:
- Peasant and Pauper formats (banning rares and uncommons)
- Duel decks (building two decks specifically against one another)
- Pure generic decks – break out those Tiks!
- “Block constructed” decks – e.g., Alaitoc vs. Catachans
- Fluffy theme decks – Death Guard and Iyanden players unite!
I hope this adds some food for thought for your collecting and playing. What interests you? Let me know in the comments!