The Cycle of KARDS

over 1 year ago

Hello friends!

Last year was on the leaner side in terms of new content, as we prepared for our fast approaching mobile launch. We are finally set to clear that forest. What does this mean? A new expansion of course! We have already started work on a new expansion for KARDS, slated to be released this summer. The goal is to have the new expansion follow closely in the footsteps of the mobile launch. The new expansion, which will be of a similar size as the Breakthrough and Legions expansions, is the first of many we are planning. We are setting up a more regular content delivery pipeline, so we will have two major expansions every year and in between smaller releases, some of which can include new cards.

It is too soon to dive too closely into the details on the upcoming expansion, but rest assured that we will keep you closely updated in the coming weeks and months. What this dev blog is intended to do, apart from announcing that a new expansion is on the horizon, is to cover some of the other features related to the new expansion pipeline we are working towards. So buckle up, we have a lot to cover. Or, if you are strapped for time, you can skip to the bottom of this dev blog to read the tl;dr summary for the highlights.

Oh, one more thing before we continue - this dev blog liberally uses the terms expansions and sets interchangeably throughout. The two terms have the same meaning, i.e. Breakthrough for instance is both a set and an expansion. Usually, the term expansion will be used when talking about soon-to-be released sets, while the term set is used when talking about already existing sets or a group of sets.

Core Play

First of all, we are simplifying the current set structure. This has two main benefits. One is to make the store easier and cleaner for players (especially new ones) to navigate and understand, especially with the plan to release new expansions on a regular basis. The second reason, which we will cover in more detail below, is to allow us to better control what to do with older cards as the overall card pool increases over time.

Once this feature is live, you will only see 2 sets in store - the latest set (currently Legions) and a permanent Core set. The Core set will include all older sets. The Core set will include all cards in the Base, Allegiance, Breakthrough, World at War and the Theaters of War sets. Due to this, we will rebrand Theaters of War slightly, removing the card rewards. This will happen in two steps; first we will remove Theaters of War from the store (this does not affect those that already own the campaigns in any way), later we will add it in again without the card rewards (at a lower price of course). The World at War sets will be removed as well, there is no plan currently to re-introduce them later in the same form, though the props and battlefields will show up separately in the store at a later date.

Any packs you own from any of the sets in Core will not be touched. This change is only for what packs you can buy in store and get from rewards. So if you own for example a Breakthrough officer pack, you can choose to sit on it as long as you want and it will be kept in your collection.

We are also making a couple of other changes. First of all, we will introduce full duplicate protection, for all rarities. This includes duplicate protection for gold cards (such as gold elites received as season rewards). Secondly, we want to make base and officer packs a bit more distinct so players have a better understanding of what to expect. Our current plan is for gold and wildcards to only drop in officer packs and slightly adjust drop rates of all card types on both packs - feel free to voice your opinion here because this is not set in stone yet.

Send In The Reserves

It is inevitable for all card games that once the card pool reaches a certain size then problems arise. The meta becomes too chaotic, deckbuilding becomes tedious, new players are left further and further behind and power creep issues become more prevalent. Currently we have around 800 cards in the game (not counting HQs). We deem this to be close to the optimal number of cards for the game. This is a bit less than found in some other card games, but KARDS has less ‘filler’ cards than most other card games, so the actual number of construction-worthy cards is at a similar level.

With this in mind, going forward each time a new expansion drops, we will move a similar number of cards from the Core set to the Reserve Pool. Cards in the Reserve Pool cannot be used (or randomly show up) in ranked battles or casual and will not show up in drafts. The cards in the Reserve Pool are not removed from the game, they will still be part of your collection.

The way this works is that when a new expansion hits, then the former newest set (Legions right now) will become part of the Core set and an equal number of other cards in the Core set will be moved to the Reserve Pool. Here is a diagram to help you visualize this process (all images used in the diagram are just for visualization aid and not an indicator of what is slated to rotate):

Many of you may ask why we are not rotating cards to the Reserve Pool based on sets, like most other card games do it. This would simplify understanding the process, but it creates some problems for us. The two main ones are that it would make some allies basically unplayable, as the bulk of their cards come from the set they are introduced in. Secondly, because we are a historically based game, we are limited for instance in what unit types we can use - i.e. we don’t have the luxury of easily swapping like-for-like when something iconic would rotate out. This could mean we would end up with a WWII game without any Panzers or Spitfires, and no one wants that! So for these, and other, reasons, we will hand-pick which cards will be moved to the Reserve pool each time.

In making this selection we will look at things like how popular a card is, how toxic it is to the majority of the playerbase, how oversaturated strategies it belongs to are, and other things. What will be rotated out will be clearly shown in client weeks before a new expansion comes along, giving players ample time to adjust and adapt. This includes for instance a warning when trying to craft a card slated to be rotated and such cards not dropping in packs for some time before the rotation.

If you look again at the diagram above, you will notice that cards can also return from the Reserve pool back into the active pool. Once this system is up and running, we are planning to return around 20 cards (exact number may vary) back from the Reserve Pool with every rotation (every time a new expansion drops). Of course, this will not happen in the first rotation, as the Reserve pool will be mostly empty at that time (see below on why only mostly). But from the Winter ‘23 expansion and going forward, a number of cards will return from the Reserve pool. The number will be far below the cards rotating out, so the Reserve pool will grow over time. This means that not all cards will return from the Reserve pool. The intention is that the cards returning from the Reserve pool each rotation will be impactful cards, preferably ones that fit the overall theme of the expansion they are coming back alongside.

Our current plan is for returning cards to be added to packs from the new set (they will still retain their old set watermark and are counted as part of the old set for collection % purposes). They might drop in the Core set as well, this is still undecided. The reason we are contemplating them being part of the new set packs is that it makes it easier for newer players to get their hands on those cards, than if they only become part of the much bigger Core set. This would not reduce the number of new cards coming in each set (at least that is not the plan right now). So the Winter ‘23 expansion is slated to have around 80 new cards, same as the Summer expansion, but also have around 20 returning cards. Note that this means because the first rotation of around 80 cards is alongside the Summer expansion, then 20 of those 80 cards will return mere 6 months later. In the long run though, we aim to have more time between a card going out and it coming back, so when it returns it will feel more like an old friend returning after a long journey. Let us know your thoughts on the mechanics for cards returning, what would you like to see?

New World Order

It is undeniable that the creation of a Reserve Pool will have a big impact on the game. Until now, players have been able to buy our products knowing that the cards they get are theirs to use as they want. Now this will no longer be the case, as some cards in players collections will not be available for ranked, casual or draft matches. To acknowledge this fact, we are planning on providing players with some compensation in two main forms. When the first rotation hits with the Summer expansion, players will receive a one-time compensation, which we will communicate about in more detail closer to the first rotation.

In addition to this, we are planning another (smaller) compensation feature that will become a regular part of the game. We plan to re-implement the crate system so that more than just duplicates contribute to filling the crate. Things like gaining a national level and cards in your collection becoming part of the Reserve pool will then contribute to the crate. The crate itself will also be reworked a bit so that you will fill it more frequently but get reduced rewards each time (exact numbers still to be determined). This feature is slated to be ready alongside the Winter ‘23 expansion.

Cards in the Reserve Pool are of course still part of the game. As time goes by and the Reserve Pool grows, we will start to show more and more divergence between the active (800 card) pool and the total pool (active + reserved). This will be a chaotic environment, but undoubtedly quite fun as well. With this in mind, we will add a new battle mode, termed Classic. In these battles, you will be able to use any cards in your collection, including those in the Reserve Pool. Classic battles are not ranked, nor have an Officer club or leaderboard. Matchmaking will use the hidden Elo-based rating all players have. The reason for this is not to split up the player base too heavily and to make sure newer players don’t feel like they are missing out by not being able to compete in this format.

On the Horizon

Let’s look into the future a bit. As stated above, the plan is to now start putting out new expansions and other content on a regular basis. This cadence is important to make sure we shake up the meta on regular bases and for players to have a better idea of what is coming down the line. With the regular expansions, we are scaling back our balance patch work. The balance patches have been one of the main tools in our arsenal for the past year or so in making adjustments to the meta. With regular expansions and cards rotating in and out of the Reserve pool, this is no longer required. We will still do balance patches when needed, but only to hotfix serious bugs or balance problems.

We intend to put the content cycle feature on live before the first major rotation, to give us to time to tweak and adjust the in-client UI, such as the indicators for which cards are slated for the next rotation and how to filter between Active and Reserve Pool. Battletesting this feature will require a handful of cards to be put in the Reserve Pool. We intend to pick 5 very infrequently used cards for this.

One thing that is very important is for players to have faith in having the time to enjoy new cards they buy. So cards in new sets will be exempt from rotation for a time. Only cards in the Core set go to the Reserve Pool. When a set moves into Core, then none of its cards go into Reserve. On the next rotation, these cards are safe as well. It is only on the 2nd rotation after the cards became part of Core that the cards can be moved to Reserve. For example, Legions is currently the newest set. When the Summer expansion drops, Legions cards will be moved into Core, but none of them will be moved to the Reserve Pool. When the Winter ‘23 expansion drops, Legions cards are still not touched. It is only when the first expansion of ‘24 drops that cards in the Legions set can go to the Reserve Pool. This means that cards in the Summer expansion will definitely be playable until the 2nd expansion of ‘24 at the very least. Exceptions can be made in extreme cases, but we don’t foresee needing to do this often (if at all). To understand this process a bit better, here is a diagram for your viewing pleasure:

Tl;dr version

Here is a brief summary of the deliveries this year, as discussed above.

  • Spring. Introduce rotation on a minor scale to battletest the feature and gather feedback. We will put a few (around 5) very infrequently used cards in the Reserve Pool. All cards except Legions become part of Core. Theaters of War removed from Store.

  • Summer. New expansion lands with around 80 new cards. Same number of cards moves to the Reserve Pool. Classic battle mode available.

  • Fall. Re-introduce Theaters of War without card rewards. Reworked crate system. Finalize system for cards returning from the Reserve Pool.

  • Winter. Winter expansion lands with around 80 new cards as well as 20 cards returning from the Reserve Pool (exact numbers to be determined).

We would love to hear your feedback about all of the elements discussed above. Please visit the Content Cycle Feedbackchannel on the official KARDS Discord to leave your thoughts and engage in discussions about the new content cycle.