5 November 2014 | Living Card Games

A New Stage of Growth

Announcing the New Rotation Policy for FFG's Competitive LCGs (R)

In 2008, Fantasy Flight Games made the bold decision to relaunch its customizable card games in the Living Card Game® (LCG) format. It was a decision we did not make lightly, nor did this decision come without risks.

We saw too many players burn out on the blind-buy model shared by the many CCGs that were saturating the market. In order to ensure the continued health and stability of our games, we took the gamble and reintroduced A Game of Thrones and Call of Cthulhu as LCGs, even though we knew we risked alienating some fans of the collectible games.

The decision, however, has been rewarded many times over. Our sales have increased, and players across the world have come to understand the format and appreciate its advantages. We have sometimes experienced growing pains; the only way to learn how best to publish a new category is to to publish it, and we have learned many lessons along the way. Since we introduced the category, we introduced a Restricted list for competitive play, and we moved away from our early 40-card monthly pack format.

Now it is 2014, and the LCG format is bigger and more successful than ever. Our games continue to grow, and the category itself has grown to include several other games, including the revised classic Android: Netrunner and our newest LCG, Warhammer 40,000: Conquest. Indeed, from its humble beginnings, the LCG category has grown to become one of most important that we have.

Addressing Upcoming Issues

As pleased as we are with the LCG format, and as committed as we remain to it, we recognize that it presents an issue that we need to address. No customizable card game can sustain the unrestricted growth of its card pool over an indefinite period of time. Eventually, such growth works against a game’s continued health:

  • An overwhelming card pool intimidates and turns away players who may otherwise be interested in the game.
  • As a game's card pool grows unchecked, its metagame begins to stagnate, and the game falls apart under its own weight.
  • Players aren’t the only people who are impacted by large card pools, and as retailers need to carry more and more products in order to support a game, it becomes harder for them to do so.

At this point, we are publishing five active, competitive LCGs, some of which have reached maturity, and others of which are growing steadily. As we look toward their futures, we are forced to consider the best ways to address the issues that come with their ever-expanding card pools. As much as these game have continued to grow and be successful, we see that their growth will eventually make it increasingly difficult for new players to find their way into the collection and for retailers to support their local play groups.

Identifying the Solution: Rotation

What is rotation?

Rotation is a term used to describe the systematic retirement of older cards from an LCG’s card pool as newer cards are added.

FFG’s rotation policy is based on the number of monthly expansion pack cycles available at any given time.

The Living Card Game model is all about growth and evolution. Now, having recognized the problems inherent within the natures of constantly expanding card pools, we are moving forward with the next stage in the growth of our LCGs. In order to ensure the continued health and success of our games, we are introducing a rotation policy for all of our competitive LCGs.

Our new rotation policy dictates that the standard card pool, for use in all Organized Play tournaments, will consist of a game’s Core Set, its deluxe expansions, and its latest five to seven cycles of monthly packs.

For example, the card pool for Android: Netrunner currently consists of the Core Set, two deluxe expansions, two complete cycles of Data Packs (Genesis Cycle and Spin Cycle), and a third, incomplete cycle of Data Packs (Lunar Cycle). The game’s card pool will continue to grow until the first Data Pack of the eighth cycle is released into circulation, at which point the Genesis Cycle and Spin Cycle and its cards would be removed from the standard card pool, bringing the game back to five complete cycles of Data Packs and one Data Pack from a sixth cycle.

We invested a great deal of thought into the design of this policy, and we settled upon the number of cycles active in standard play so that each pack will enjoy a long lifespan of three to four years.

By cycling out older monthly expansions, we address the issues that present themselves with the unchecked growth of a game’s card pool:

  • Rotation encourages new evolutions within the metagame. As older cycles and their core themes and mechanics phase out, their departures open holes within the metagame that will be filled with creative new deck ideas. Power cards will enjoy their time in the spotlight before rotating out, the card pool will remain a more balanced environment, and the restricted and banned lists on our FAQs and Tournament Rules will shrink, rather than grow.
  • Rotation makes it easier for new and potential players to enjoy our games. Our rotation policy restricts the size of our oldest LCGs while maintaining growth, evolution, and a card pool mature enough to feature a wide range of dynamic strategies.
  • Rotation makes us a better partner to our retailers. Rotation limits the number of packs that retailers need to carry on their shelves in order to grow their local communities.
  • Rotation helps us grow our games into new territories and languages, expanding their communities across the world.

Rotation only impacts our LCGs after they have already reached maturity. While the card pools for individual LCGs will vary slightly from that presented by the graph above, you can see that rotation keeps an LCG’s card pool at a healthy, manageable size.

What Does Rotation Mean for My Favorite Game?

Because our rotation policy is based upon the number of expansion cycles in print, rather than a number of years or months, and because each of our LCGs features its own publication schedule, rotation impacts each LCG differently. For more about how rotation impacts your favorite LCG, you can visit its website:

What About The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game?

As a cooperative LCG, rather than a competitive one, The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is excluded from rotation.

Building Toward Success

Our Living Card Games are currently healthier than ever. Since we first introduced the LCG model in 2008, we have learned much about what the model offers and how it can work best. Our decision to introduce rotation is yet another step along the path toward creating the best possible gaming environment for our LCG fans.

All told, rotation is the happy result of years of growth, and we’re thankful that you’ve helped us get to this point. We’re grateful for the support you’ve shown to the LCG model for the past six years, and we look forward all the exciting developments of the next sixty!


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