by Terence Jason Dorman
In the most recent edition of The Fifth Tuesday I told the story of my quest to attain a Cheats McGuillicuty playmat. In that very same Blarg I mentioned, rather briefly, that Cheats McGuillicuty is an awful card.
Spoils forum member Bizze appropriately pointed out that Cheats certainly has a place in decks that feature The Billionaire, using Cheats as a way to keep The Billionaire alive. This is certainly true, and strong, but using him for this purpose ignores most of what Cheats was designed to do.
Unfortunately, what he was designed to do doesn’t really work as he suffers from having only one life, making it hard to build a deck around him. Cards in future sets, however, might make playing Cheats a viable strategy. In a sense, this old dog could be taught a new trick.
But should old dogs be taught new tricks?
In short, I think they should. While almost all CCGs and TCGs thrive on bringing new strategies and game mechanics to the table as a way of keeping players interested, my favorite games have always been the ones that throw back to previous strategies or mechanics.
Some games do this merely as fan service, satiating the desires of players like me who enjoy reviving old decks and strategies, even if they aren’t tournament viable. Other games, however, do it in a manner that expands the metagame while celebrating the game’s own past AND giving players like me something to tinker with.
Cards like Cheats, however, don’t really fall into this category as the card was never part of any metagame (at least none that I can think of). The card is just flat out bad and fulfills a very niche purpose in a small number of decks. Can and should cards like these be revived?
I think it is a no-brainer that they should, for quite a few reasons.
First, it can drive up the value of old cards and give new players a reason to go back to the game’s roots rather than sticking with the newest (usually power-creeped, as is the case with most games) sets.
Second, it gives old players a slight edge for a short period of time as they’ll likely be the first to see the synergies the new cards have with the old ones. This gives the game a strong timely presence as it prevents the game from feeling like it only revolves around the newest set/block.
Third, and probably most importantly, it expands the metagame. Teaching old dogs new tricks forces players to stay on their toes as they may never know when something from the past may bite them. On the whole, I think reviving old cards keeps the player base working hard and, as a result, causes them to improve as players.
Last, and certainly not least, it opens up design areas. Instead of feeling forced to come up with something new, Ken and the other designers can expand on old ideas. They could even take them in new directions, or build them up to what they were originally designed to be but were cut down for whatever reason.
I have not been part of the design team for quite some time, but I certainly hope that Ken and the others intend to revive some old cards/mechanics/strategies with Shade and/or future sets.
If you disagree with me, though, and only want new stuff, be sure to comment below and let me know why. I’m also curious to hear if there are any others who agree with me on this, but it is always more fun to read the dissenting opinions.
Now get out there and build something!