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Restoring First Edition, Part 1 - What is Wrong?

by Nick Fancher, First Edition Rules Master

7th June 2010

The First Edition Rules Committee has been doing a lot of research lately. We have been looking at the game in all levels, and all areas of play. We came up with two basic conclusions about First Edition.

  1. It is a great game that deserves to be played a lot more than it currently is.
  2. It is in need of some major revisions.

We are not just talking about fixing the many "broken" cards, but revising the game’s rules structure. We are also talking about the inadequate process available to deal with issues. These elements make up the foundation of a stable game, and both are cracked and damaged right now. Decipher tried the easy way out by giving up and creating Second Edition. Fortunately, the Continuing Committee is not driven by a profit motive and has the luxury of attempting to heal what has been deemed unsustainable. Over the past couple of years, we have tried many ways to stabilize the foundation of First Edition, but every one of our attempts has failed on some level.

We tried ban lists, but they do not solve the problem. Ban lists only bury problem cards and look the other way. The biggest problem with ban lists is you have to ban good cards to eliminate some bad decks. So you have a clean environment, but you cannot play many fun and balanced decks because they use a card that is broken in another deck. This is not acceptable. We want to create more balanced strategies and decks, not ban them.

We tried to use rules changes to restore the game. The problem here is you just wind up adding complexity to the game. Also, to repair a single bad card you have to make a rule that hurts every similar card. So again, you have hurt good strategies and balanced decks in order to stop bad ones...unacceptable. We should encourage players to use balanced decks, not discourage them further.

We also looked at what you (the community) tried in your “house rules” and “home brew” attempts to restore the game. What we saw was certain problems being addressed, and others being ignored. Every group solved the issues that came up in their area, but other areas had ways to break the house format. There is also the problem of not knowing if your deck will be playable if you travel outside your current play area. Once again this is unacceptable. We want to come together as a community, not splinter into many smaller ones.

So why not just issue errata for every bad card in the game? There are so many bad cards we could never catch them all at once. There are so many cards targeting bad cards that would have to be addressed at the same time. While a proper erratum actually fixes a problem for good, the amount of errata we would have to dump on the community would be overwhelming. The amount of time and effort it would take rules, design, and playtesters to come up with that many errata would also be massive. We would never get anything else done.

Like any good drone, we analyzed our previous attempts to regenerate the game and we now see why we failed. There are two main reasons. First, we limited our options to restore the game. Second, we did not try to address the real problem.

Limiting our options to restore things will never work. Some problems can only be addressed one way. Other problems must be addressed using a different approach. If you do not allow yourself access to all the tools, you will fail somewhere.

The real problem is not with the game or the cards (well, most of the cards). The real problems are with the rules foundation no longer supporting the game properly. So trying to “fix” the game will never actually restore First Edition. What will restore this wonderful game is to repair the cracks in the rules foundation. Once you have done that, you can take care of the little things one at a time.

So how are we going to do this? We'll tell all in the next part of this series: Restoring First Edition, Part 2 – Announcing OTF


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