This is an edited repost of some ideas I suggested in the Beta forum, for anyone who might not have access. Any Beta references have been removed. This post is purely food for thought.
I’ve been wondering if the deck system could be tweaked, leaving just the cards as a sort of global civ techtree. Maybe updating the rules to include a range of options. From No Deck Mode (all cards in-game), to choosing how many cards Deck Mode should have (5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 & 40).
Put it this way : What purpose does artificially locking a players card limit serve?
Should new players be expected to read through all the available cards before playing a game?
How are new players meant to know what cards might be useful to their circumstances in-game? Or the relation those card choices might have to different map types? Or against different civ types? Or different strategy types within each civ?
Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly an element of strategy involved in knowing what cards you intend to use before the game starts. More expert players will certainly have refined their decks, but new players are more likely just going to play with the default deck and worry about making card choices later. So why not add some optional deck rules to smooth out the transition to more limited cards?
How many new players would bother to read each card before their first AoE match?
How many players might be more motivated to read relevant looking cards in-game?
Obviously during any given match only a certain amount of XP can be earned, which means only a certain amount of cards could ever be used. That’s not going to change. So tweaking deck limits should thereby not cause major balance problems. In most games I would never even manage to use all the cards in a deck. The suggestion is not about making it possible to use every card in a game, it’s about allowing the decision around which cards are appropriate to be made during a match instead. How else are new players expected to know what the right cards are if they can’t even see them all when they care enough to look in-game?
Wouldn’t enabling all cards in-game better allow players to experiment with XP spending order strategies and consequently familiarize themselves with all the options as they go?
Personally I find the deck building requirement quite tedious. Explaining to new players that they might want to read the cards before we play ALWAYS makes their eyes glaze over. ALWAYS! It’s quite comical to watch someone’s face expression in reaction. Usually I end up giving them an ‘optimised’ default deck so they don’t have to overthink and we can just get on with actually playing. I’m forced to do this because playing against someone who you know has a bad deck is not a challenge and therefore makes guaranteed victory unsatisfying.
Spending any amount of time outside of a game, just to read lots of cards to try and predict which ones might be good on different maps, or against different civ types, is just not fun for many new players. Yes it has strategic elements, which may give more advanced players an edge over new players, but it’s just not fun initially. It’s more like a chore, even as an expert and especially for beginners. So why not make some optional settings?
Tweaking the deck system shouldn’t be too complicated either. With No Deck Mode, clicking on the homecity flag in-game simply takes the player to a view similar to the deck building screen (just without the deck building section). Just stretch the card viewer to fill the entire screen. The cards still have their age limits but you can now pick from any card. The card selection options grow as a player ages up, just as they did with decks. Easy.
And if a group do decide to play with Deck Mode limits then the game works exactly the same as it did before. With the added option of making the game even more difficult if one so desires, by reducing the card limit even lower than the current hardcoded limit.
In future I also wouldn’t mind seeing perhaps a few new techs that specifically grant XP, enough to buy another card or two. I always felt that such techs were missing, some way to try boost ahead with homecity shipments, through buying tech upgrades at a building.