@cryptogogue_ken Do You know what The Fermat's Last Theorem is?? This unsolved problem bugs mathematicians around the world for years, and they still didn't found a definitive answer:) This is exactly what Your question is. Simple in theory, but without a definitive answer. However, I have some thoughts on the topic I want to share.
First of all, we need to define who is the 'new player'? Do we want to attract people who never played any CCG/TCG or someone who plays for years and want to try something new? I think both groups will be interested in different things about the game and we cannot treat them equally. As an ambassador of The Spoils, I saw both groups of people trying to play for the first time and never came back. That's why I want to take a step back and look at this problem from a different perspective. What turns people off about the game. I'll try to list different aspects of the game from least to most important, but be aware it's just my humble opinion. I have no experience in game design nor worked on any game in the past. If I'm talking trash, call me on it I would be glad to find out anyone else opinion.
By Flavor I mean everything surrounding the game, but without direct impact on design or gameplay e.g comics, stories, lore etc. Don't take me wrong I like when a game I play has interesting lore and characters, but I don't think it has that much influence on the player base. Bushiroad usually develop an anime for their card games (e.g Luck & Logic, Cardfight!!, Vanguard or Future Card Buddyfight). My own earliest recollection connected to CCG/TCG games is watching Yu-gi-oh anime. But I didn't play the game back then nor now. I think there's the same number of people watching anime, but not playing the game, as people who play the game and doesn't care about anime. Same with other media or even flavor text.
I heard an opinion that The Spoils failed because of adult humor and non-fantasy flavor, but for me it's BS. For me, very little people care about it. Needless to say, there's a lot of Japanese flavored CCG/TCG games, and we all know what that means:)
I could include cards design in flavor section, but I think there's a need to add a word or two on this topic as it may have a little bigger impact. We all know how first impression matters and we as a species like nice things, right? I know MTG player who once said: "I'm not going to play The Spoils, but I want some of those cards in my collection" because he liked some of the artworks. On the other hand, I bought a blister of Pokemon cards and felt disappointed. common cards design doesn't appeal to me. It was better with higher rarity cards, but I paid a good money for 10 cards and I wasn't happy about that. We're paying a lot for a piece of cardboard and we want it to looks nice - right?
And this leads us to the 3rd aspect which is a price. Playing CCG/TCG competitively is an expensive hobby. This is related to both players who never played any CCG/TCG game and players who currently play some other game. I'm living in a country where the average wage is around 3 000 PLN (~812.98 USD), but we know that majority earn much less. Spending 20 PLN (I paid this much for a pokemon blister containing 10 cards) for a pack of few cards is a lot. I understand people who are afraid to spend this much not being sure if they can invest not only that money, but also a lot of free time. Some of them have families and have very little possibility to spend a few hours a week to play a card game. On the other hand, a player who is currently investing in one game will be very reluctant to spend money on a new game and start from scratch. They invest so much already in one game, It's better for them to continue investing in it. This is called The Rule of Consistency.
Also CCG/TCG game will always suffer from being seen as 'pay to win' game. There's no way around it, but it's important to show new players that they can spend very little and still build an interesting deck, have fun, and even score high in the tournament. This is a thing that in my opinion The spoils did well. There were enough common cards which play well to build quite a strong deck. We often helped new players by handing them out some of our commons and uncommons and they perform well and had a lot of fun.
Recently I was trying to find new game to play with my friend. I was considering many options e.g Yu-gi-oh, Luck and Logic, Vanguard. I went to my local game shop and there was just Mtg. No other game was available. It cost me extra effort to go, find online shops and find out which of them sells those games. Not every person is willing to do this extra step. Not every person would set up node and mine packs before being able to play the game. They will just install heartstone, wait few hours for every update to download and play it.
This one is important to me for a few reasons. Recently I was trying to teach some of my friends how to play The spoils and it hard to do. They complained that it's a hard game which they cannot understand. I quickly found out why. We were playing with my tournaments decks. Quite a few interesting things could be done with those decks. But there was a lot to process at once as well. For a person who is just starting it's just too much.
Recently I was trying to learn "World of Warcraft TCG" and I was in the very same position. The game itself was easy enough, but I felt like there's just too many different cards tight to a specific hero type. One example is Abilities. Some of them are instant Abilities that can be played at any time (Mtg instants), normal abilities which can be used only on Your turn (Mtg sorcery) and ongoing abilities which stays in a game after they resolve and usually provide some kind of trigger. On top of that Shaman hero has Totem Abilities which are ongoing abilities with live points and can be targeted as allies... And we played with limited preconstructed decks intended for new players.
That's why game rules need to be easy to learn, but complex enough to provide a challenge for advanced players.
One more word about game tempo here. I liked The spoils because each battle was long one (~40min). It required a lot of thought and was very tiring. Exactly what I need after a week of work to reset. But listening to some podcasts I was confused by some people who consider 20min battles as long ones and states that game meta is too slow. It's not what I'm used to, but I respect that opinion. I'm interested what You guys think about this? Is 20 min spend on for one battle too long?
Dialog with Community
Do I need to explain it more? We all know what happened to The spoils. I think people responsible for developing the CCG/TCG game needs to listen to its target audience and respect their voice. In the end, they are the people who put their money into the game. I'm not saying every demand needs to be fulfilled. Sometimes a hard decision must be made, but don't be a child with Your fingers in Your ears repeating "LALALALA I don't hear You LALALA"
in Poland, there was a game called Veto!. It was an interesting local game based on polish history. One day they announced that some cards will rotate out from meta, but there won't be 'legacy' format. Prices for cards dropped overnight. Now the game is dead because they didn't cared about the very people who put money into the game.
And that leads us to the most important thing...
- Community itself
Yep, That's what is the most important thing for me. There's a lot of toxic communities out there and if Your community is like that it wouldn't attract new players. I was lucky to play with a very welcoming community. We just had fun and I was happy I can spend whole Saturday with those people. Sometimes someone new came and played with us. We also never disrespect players who enjoy other games. I hope We'll build not good, but amazing Volition community and anybody will be welcome to play and have fun:)
Agree? Disagree? I feel like I've just scratched a surface a little bit. I'm interested in each and everyone opinion:)