Cheap and Juvenile

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Cant we all agree that GameDays allow for a group aspect that WoTC has excelled in for decades?
I love GammaWorld, it's funky, different, and allows retail outlets to make a little $ in these hard times
I am happy to support my stores and my fave company.  Its way better than paying 15.00 a month and staring at a computer screen for the likes of those bastardos at blizzard!
The only aspect of the cards with the game I dislike is the random boosters.  The idea of using them in game is great (although I feel far too often you mutate) but I really doubt I need several copies of the common cards in my already overstuffed game closet.  The guy at the store said to "Just buy a case and you will get all the cards"... only, I don't want to spend $75 or whatever and toss out 80% of the cards because they are dupes.

I'll hold out hope for non-random DECKS, and find an excel spreadsheet that I can roll randomly on in the interim.
A box of boosters if over a hundred bucks if your area has any kind of sales tax at all, with 192 cards to a box, a minimum of 72 will be duplicates, and you are in no way gauranteed to get a complete set of 120 - you might have to buy two or three boxes to do that.  Of course, trading is part of the point, too, I suppose.

I'm sure that's fun for some folks.  Personally, I like randomness just fine in my games, but not so much with my money.  ;) 

I'm also holding out for complete decks.  A complete deck at the CCG 50-cents-a-card price point would be 60 bucks, or 30 each for separate alpha and omega decks.   Better than 100+ bucks /plus/ all the time sorting through them, but still steep.  I'm not sure at what point it'd become a reasonable business decision for WotC to release a complete 'unlimitted edition' deck. Would simply coming out months or a year after the boosters be enough to keep it from hurting booster sales. 

I'd think a good idea would have been to give the boosters cool art, like M:tG cards, and the complete decks just test, like the deck that came with the game.  That would have further differentiated them. 

 

 

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Yes, it's nonsense, because 'optional' the way it's used to dismiss criticism of the CCG elements, is nonsense.



Even if that was true, common ground in a discussion isn't found by taking the halfway point between two ridiculous statements. You don't get a free pass to spout nonsense even if someone else did do it first.

And, really you could ignore the less mechanical RP elements:  neglect to name characters, not say or do anything in-character (just take actions and resolve them mechancially), run encounters without set-up or story line.  You'd be opting out of a lot more of a game, but I did say /extensive/ RPG options.



You still wouldn't have a CCG. You'd have a tactical wargame using collectible cards as an accessory, not a "CCG with extensive tactical wargame options."

The point is that "it's optional" is a meaningless distinction.  Everything is optional.



It's not meaningless because there are degrees of "optional." Gamma World tells you how to play without boosters. You don't have to rewrite any rules to play without boosters. They are, in the rules, presented as an option. You seem to want to imply that they are optional in the same way that, say, using Dexterity instead of Strength for initiative or Constitution instead of Charisma for hit points is "optional," but that's disingenuous.
Random I like. Make a character randomly and role play it. But it seems strange to role play a character that just keeps changing like every other player's and just hoping I pull out a fusion rifle.


"I love randomness! Except when it comes to getting my preferred piece of ludicrously rare pre-apocalypse weaponry! The fact I only randomly get an overpowered item is why I hate randomness!"

Would you be bitching this loud if it was just a table in the book instead of cards?


Maybe you should go back and reread the comment. He like random. Hoping to pull out a fusion rifle in this case is no difference than hoping to hit a homerun in baseball. Even with the small text you quoted it is clear he doesn't like the amount of randomness. He doesn't want the character's powers changing each encounter. The text you didn't quote lay out his problem with the card system quite clearly and it is not what you claim his problem is.

Identical Games

D&D Published World foums at The Piazza (Dark Sun, Mystara, Spelljammer, Planescape, and more); Core Coliseum; D&D Material including my Master/Expert DM Competition entries

Collecting cards to play a game is childish, IMAO. 

 A real game system suffers when it's design implies that wealthier players have an advantage over poorer ones.



Congratulations you have been quoted by Mike from Penny Arcade.  www.penny-arcade.com/2010/10/13/


Congratulations you have been quoted by Mike from Penny Arcade.  www.penny-arcade.com/2010/10/13/

And then thoroughly trounced.
People seem to think that Gamma World is a CCG and that’s simply not the case. You do not ever need to buy a booster pack to play the game. Like I said it comes with two decks full of mutations and tech cards. If you decide that you would like to build your own decks to draw from then yes, you can go and purchase booster packs. You are not at a disadvantage if you don’t though because this is not a competitive game.

In MTG you are pitting your deck against your opponents. If you don’t buy booster packs you don’t have a deck and that will making winning very difficult. In Gamma World you are playing with your friends and against the DM who does not get to draw any cards. The cards are just for fun and to help you kick the **** out of whatever the DM throws at you. When I ran the game I didn’t even tell my players about booster packs until after the first encounter. We played with them drawing from the two decks that came with the box and they all loved it. Then I handed each of them a booster pack and explained that if they wanted to they could go get more and build their own decks. Will any of them do it? I have no idea and honestly it doesn’t matter. This isn’t a CCG.


Gamma World Origins Half-Sheets: Horizontal (FiFG) Vertical (GW) FiFG coming soon
Collecting cards to play a game is childish, IMAO. 



Obviously you are unaware of the successful cash-cow that is MTG, and the vast number of adults who compete on a professional basis in it. Which I find amazing considering where you are posting.

How is it less childish than adults pretending to be elves and dwarves out slaying dragons?

Seriously, listen to yourself.
The point is that "it's optional" is a meaningless distinction.  Everything is optional.



It's not meaningless because there are degrees of "optional." Gamma World tells you how to play without boosters. You don't have to rewrite any rules to play without boosters. They are, in the rules, presented as an option. You seem to want to imply that they are optional in the same way that, say, using Dexterity instead of Strength for initiative or Constitution instead of Charisma for hit points is "optional," but that's disingenuous.

The rules present the use of booster cards as the norm.  The rules happen to cover what to do when you don't have any cards in your player deck (becaue you've run out or 'haven't build one yet,' which incidentally works for not using them at all.  That's not an optional system.  If the use of player decks were suck in the back of the book in Apendix A: Player Decks, and boosters were never mentioned anywhere else, sure, I'd grant that they were explicitly optional.  But the line between explicitly optional and a rule you can fairly easily throw out is basically meaningless, anyway.  As long as you have a game master as final arbiter or the rules, every rule is used or not at his option. 


 "You are not at a  disadvantage if you don’t though because this is not a competitive game."

This quote about the CCG element (from some blogger, aparently) betrays a complete lack of understanding of the role of game balance in an RPG.  In a CCG, part of the point is gaining an advantage in a competative game by collecting the right cards and building an awesome deck.  In an RPG, it is not the point of the game to gain an advantage over other players - doing so to excess is a sign of an imbalanced game, and can easily ruin the experience for everyone else. 

 

 

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The rules present the use of booster cards as the norm.  The rules happen to cover what to do when you don't have any cards in your player deck (becaue you've run out or 'haven't build one yet,' which incidentally works for not using them at all.  That's not an optional system. 



That's a complete misrepresentation. Especially that part you put in quotes that doesn't actually appear anywhere in the book; adding in that little "yet" really changes the meaning of the sentence and makes it look like you're pushing an agenda.

Here's what the manual actually has to say about players having their own decks:

p. 5 - "In addition you'll probably want to pick up a few D&D Gamma World Booster Packs. [snip] You can play the game using only the Game Master's deck, but the cards in the booster packs let you customize your character with a broader selection of powers."

p. 10 - "The D&D Gamma World game includes a starter deck of 80 cards, but you can build your own mutation and tech decks by purchasing additional D&D Gamma World Booster Packs."

p. 15 - "You can play using only the starter cards that came in the game box, but a player can create a customized character by building his or her own Alpha Mutation and Omega Tech decks from booster packs."

p. 15 - "Players can use either the Game Master's decks or create their own decks from booster packs."

p. 15 - "Sometimes players draw cards from the Game Master's deck, and sometimes they draw from their own decks (if they have decks; if not, all draws are from the Game Master's decks)."

p. 15 - "If you have your own decks, shuffle each one separately before play begins, and keep them face down..."

p. 30 - "Draw a card from your Alpha Mutation deck (or the Game Master's deck) and a card from your Omega Tech deck (or the Game Master's deck)."

p. 66 - "Before a game session begins, each player can construct a deck of Alpha Mutation cards using D&D Gamma World Booster Packs. [snip] If you haven't constructed your own deck, all your draws come from the Game Master's deck."

p. 67 - "You draw one Alpha Mutation card from your deck. [snip] If you don't have your own deck, then all your draws are from the Game Master's deck."

p. 67 - "You can draw a new card from your own deck, if you have one, or the Game Master's deck."

p. 68 - "Before a game session begins, each player can construct a deck of Omega Tech cards using D&D Gamma World Booster Packs. [snip] If you haven't constructed your own deck, all your draws come from the Game Master's deck."

p. 69 - "If your result is 10 or higher, you can draw from your deck or the Game Master's deck. [snip] If you don't have your own deck, then all your draws are from the Game Master's deck."

The game manual doesn't have a single page that talks about decks without making it clear in the text that you don't have to have your own deck; usually they do it within a sentence or two. It is presented as an option every time it is brought up. 

I won't deny that the manual really drives home the fact that they have booster packs for sale and that buying them to build your own deck will help you customize your character. But the rules text never assumes that you'll be using them, and explicitly says in black and white that the 80 card starter deck is all you need to play, and goes on to reinforce that every time the subject comes up. So, telling people who don't like the collectible card model that they can play Gamma World without shelling out for collectible cards is completely relevant and far from meaningless; some might even call it helpful.
Where this game went horribly wrong for me is in the incessant alpha flux and omega tech, card readying, discarding, and deck building. All are just plain strange and take the focus away from RPG elements.


Actually, this is a player issue, unrelated to game mechanics.  If the focus of your game passes from one mechanical element to another and this causes "strangeness," that is ultimately a symptom of your mindset, not the game itself.

The game manual doesn't have a single page that talks about decks without making it clear in the text that you don't have to have your own deck; usually they do it within a sentence or two. It is presented as an option every time it is brought up.

It's quite clear that you have the option of /not/ using player decks. Or, at least, that each player has that option.   'Optional' is meaningless, as I've said.  Everything is optional.  Engineered Humans?  Optional.  Ammunition? Optional.  Alpha Flux on a 1?  Optional. 

But, if you look at those quotes, you see that it's really /not/ using the player deck that's the 'option,' with player decks generally assumed.  Cards are part of the game.  /Collectible/ Cards are part of the game.  As a DM, you can nix cards if you don't like them, just like anything else you decide you don't like.  As a player, you can choose not to use collectible cards, yourself, but other players may well choose to do so.

Where this game went horribly wrong for me is in the incessant alpha flux and omega tech, card readying, discarding, and deck building. All are just plain strange and take the focus away from RPG elements.

It's not difficult to tweak the card mechanics to better support an RPG style of play.  For instance, if you want the vague verisimilitude of the DM, not the player, choosing what the PCs find in a given area, the DM can simply pick a card or cards, and hand them out when the area is searched, rather than having a draw from a deck (the book even mentions this in a 'you could even do this if you're terribly daring' sort of way).  You wouldn't even have to 'ban' decks - you just /never/ call for a draw from an Omega deck (well, unless the players are totally off the rails and you're just stumped for what they find next).  Nixing Alpha Flux on '1' is a painless enough variation.  You could ready Alpha cards at the start of the day, instead of after each encounter.  You could have PCs draw their own Alpha 'player decks' at random at chargen and leave them, making their mutations more 'stable.'  There's a lot of potential ways to use cards beyond the 4 pages or so of rules on decks the game gives.  Those rules are obviously meant to encourage deck-building (and thus booster-buying) by players, but they can very easily be taken in other directions.

 

 

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It's quite clear that you have the option of /not/ using player decks. Or, at least, that each player has that option.   'Optional' is meaningless, as I've said.  Everything is optional.  Engineered Humans?  Optional.  Ammunition? Optional.  Alpha Flux on a 1?  Optional. 



And as I've said, that's equivocal. None of those latter items are presented as optional in the rules. Removing them means invoking houserules. Yes, you can houserule anything, but there are no houserules involved in playing Gamma World without collectible cards, and lumping that option together with houseruled options is misleading.

If someone was complaining that the ammunition rules in Gamma World were stupid, and someone answered that complaint by calling the ammunition rules "optional," then I'd agree that's not a very helpful or meaningful response to the complaint, because there is no alternative presented in the rules. The collectible card issue is a different matter.
Seems like we're getting pretty angry at one another instead of focusing on the fun that is Gamma World. Maybe we should just shake and be done with it?

1. My personal preference is not to collect booster packs of cards for games. (A) I dislike the notion that a boxed game might not be complete and that I have to buy booster packs. (B) I dislike the notion that folks who buy more packs can have better characters. For me, this is a general CCG dislike, not one directed specifically at Gamma World.

2. However, I can see that buying packs for random character creation (especially for a one-shot or tournament game) could be a lot of fun, so I'll keep it in mind for the future. If I do so I think that I will do all of the buying, or encorage boosters to become GM property. That way, no one player will have a long-term advantage over another.

3. Also, in the case of power cards, optional really is optional. I bought some D&D 4E power cards and don't use them because of the character generator software, so power cards are optional in D&D 4E. I think something similar happens here. There's a thread with the list of cards, so one could easily just use that info to create a "random power chart" where you can just roll instead of drawing cards. Perhaps not as cool as having a little rectangle of cardboard to play with, but a chart could replace the cards without any real impact on play. That makes the GW power cards optional as well.

Each gaming group will have some decisions to make about whether or not the booster card packs are a good thing or not for their particular game, and I doubt that this decision will impact other gaming groups. Let's just have fun with the game!

Marv (Finarvyn) Master of Mutants (MA and GW) Playing 5E D&D and liking it! OD&D player since 1975

I live in a country that requires me to participate in specific games at least once a week, and if there are any optional, pay-for, components to those games, I must buy at least the minimum indicated in the rulebook.  This minimum number is usually found under the arcane word, "OPTIONAL".

For the rest of you, who get to decide whether or not to spend your money on a hobby (a game, at that!), you can decide to just not buy Gamma World, or its optional additional (not "collectible!") booster packs.

You can also choose to let people who want to buy the game, its boosters, or whatever, to do whatever they want to do.  It will in no way adversely impact your lives, or that of your family or loved ones.

By the way, does anyone else here listen to any of the WotC podcasts?  Every time the topic of boosters are brought up in a podacst pertaining to Gamma World, the WotC representative very clearly and specifically mentions that they are optional, and in no way required to play the game.  They're there for the groups that want to use them.  And, believe it or not, some groups DO want to use them.  Some people *will* treat them like a CCG, and will try to get them all.  Some people also purchase every mini produced by WotC, and every sourcebook.  This does not make D&D a "collectible minis" or "collectible book" game.
This complaining about the card aspect is ridiculous. The cards as is are nothing different than the "power cards" in 4E, only you draw them instead of rolling on a table for them. If the players and the DM never bought another pack for the rest of eternity the game wouldn't play any different fundamentally.

As for the argument that it's cheap and juvenile, I might agree on both aspects. The former I do have to say that in a negative light. Small book, small maps, two sheets of tokens and a couple of quarter-sized character sheets? Oh, and a deck of cards, for $40? Right off the bat it comes off as expensive IMHO and to then not even include dice as well is just questionable. They either need to lower the price by $5-10 or at the very least give players EVERYTHING they need to play in the box (i.e. dice).

As for juvenile... I agree, only in this instance not in a negative way. It's juvenile in the way Paranoia from West End Games or Toon from Steve Jackson Games was. It's meant to be lighthearted and hectic. When my players, some serious min/maxers, agreed to do EVERYTHING random and by the book, I was genuinely impressed. They really seemed intent on giving it a go, and we had a great time as a result.

My biggest complaint is the general layout of the book and the abysmal index. I am still a bit new to 4E, and the index in the book is primarly covering Gamma World facets, so to not have 4E items will indexed as well really hurts. Referencing the rules as someone new to 4E in general is a lesson in futility. Awful.

But like I said. The overall tone for the game was lighthearted, fast and fun. I actually have the players asking already about the next session, something that doesn't happen anywhere near enough. Will it last? Or will we leave it behind after level 10? My guess is we'll get at least a few characters out of each player.. Beyond that it definitely depends on the expansions they release and how well they keep advancing the system.
If someone was complaining that the ammunition rules in Gamma World were stupid, and someone answered that complaint by calling the ammunition rules "optional," then I'd agree that's not a very helpful or meaningful response to the complaint, because there is no alternative presented in the rules. The collectible card issue is a different matter.

It is, in fact, an identical matter.  It's not like you need the rulebook to tell you how to count bullets.  A very simple house rule.  "You may not use booster packs" /is/ also a house rule. 

"That's optional" is not a meaningful response to a complaint about an RPG, because having a DM  running a game makes everything optional.   It is not a response at all, it is simply being snide and dismissive.  

...

Y'know, actually, they're not quite identical, because you're unlikely to outrage a player who has just paid good money to "not count bullets" with your "count your bullets houserule," whereas a player coming to your table with a deck he spent time and money collecting ideal rare cards for may not be too sanguine to hear you're not going to allow it.

 

 

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It is, in fact, an identical matter.  It's not like you need the rulebook to tell you how to count bullets.  A very simple house rule.  "You may not use booster packs" /is/ also a house rule. 

"That's optional" is not a meaningful response to a complaint about an RPG, because having a DM  running a game makes everything optional.   It is not a response at all, it is simply being snide and dismissive.  







You can keep waving that banner, but I don't think you'll find many supporters.

It's not snide or dismissive to try and offer solutions to a problem. The collectible cards exist; nothing short of a time machine can change that. People who hate collectible cards can either give the game a pass or look for a way to play without them. Telling people in the latter camp that not only can they play without the boosters, but in fact the rules are built to accommodate that, is neither snide nor dismissive.

As for people in the former camp, those who aren't looking to play the game and just want to vent their spleens, well, telling them that the cards are optional may be a waste of breath, but it isn't hurting them.
it all comes down to the default expectation of the game. The tone from the rules seems to support the default expectation that some, SOME, players will not have personal decks. "If you don't have cards you always draw from the GM's deck." It's as simple as that. It DOES provide for an alternate ruling right in the official rules if you don't have cards, thus OFFICIALLY making the players' need for them optional. Are the cards completely optional? No, because as likewise stated, it doesn't provide an alternate ruling if you decide not to use cards at all. However being that the game supplies you with cards, there is no reason for making them optional as a whole.

So really what are you complaining against? The usage of cards in the game in general? Fair enough, and too each their own. But if you are complaining about the cards under the banner that "requiring booster packs" makes the game unfair, expensive, or pointless, it is all negated by the fact that, per the rules, booster packs are completely optional.

the ONLY way you would be correct in what you were saying is if the rules required the character to draw cards from their personal deck and didn't give them a personal deck. I would be even more inclined to agree with you if there were fundamental differences between a GM's deck and a player's deck, or if rare cards in the boosters caused an incredible over-powering of characters during the course of an adventure. However none of that is true.

People who hate collectible cards can either give the game a pass or look for a way to play without them. Telling people in the latter camp that not only can they play without the boosters, but in fact the rules are built to accommodate that, is neither snide nor dismissive.



Precisely. This arguing of semantics to try and prove that you HAVE TO buy boosters is ridiculous. We've gone through the first three encounters already and (possibly to WotC's chagrin) none of my players have expressed interest in boosters. I personally might buy a couple of packs to see what's what, and the mechanic itself is not only perfectly fine, but IMHO quite enjoyable. With that being said, I would prefer WotC going the Living card route and leave behind the Collectible card route. I mean they've already essentially done it on the PC/360 with Duel of the Planeswalkers. To me this game seems like a better fit for that format than the CCG format.
I am sort of amused that the title of the thread, which grossly misrepresented the OP, has suddenly become incredibly accurate.

I am not, mind you, denying that I had any part in that.   
you can decide to just not buy Gamma World, or its optional additional (not "collectible!") booster packs.
...
By the way, does anyone else here listen to any of the WotC podcasts?  Every time the topic of boosters are brought up in a podacst pertaining to Gamma World, the WotC representative very clearly and specifically mentions that they are optional, and in no way required to play the game. 

Yes, WotC has tried very hard to hide behind the 'optional' line when confronted with fans' misgivings (or outright nerdrage) over the CCG aspect.  That's one reason why I'm so adamant about it.  It's a lame, dismissive excuse, for ignoring any objection, not an answer.  And WotC's own description of the game comes right out and calls the cards 'collectible,' so even they aren't so disengenous as to pretend they're not.

It is, in fact, an identical matter.  It's not like you need the rulebook to tell you how to count bullets.  A very simple house rule.  "You may not use booster packs" /is/ also a house rule. 

"That's optional" is not a meaningful response to a complaint about an RPG, because having a DM  running a game makes everything optional.   It is not a response at all, it is simply being snide and dismissive.  

You can keep waving that banner, but I don't think you'll find many supporters. It's not snide or dismissive to try and offer solutions to a problem.

A solution or even a discussion of the 'problem,' wouldn't be so bad, but "it's optional" or "don't like it? don't use it" are not solutions, they are not constructive, they are denials of the 'problem.'  

Say for instance someone /really/ likes Gamma World, would really like to play rather than DM, and isn't gauranteed to find a DM who is banning boosters.  How is telling him the boosters are 'optional' going to help his gaming experience suck less when he's playing at a table full of booster decks stacked with rare cards that overwhelm what he draws from the DM's deck?  It's not.  And telling him no to play a game he's loved for decades isn't exactly constructive, either, is it?  No.  What are both of those responses?  Dismissive.

The collectible cards exist; nothing short of a time machine can change that. People who hate collectible cards can either give the game a pass or look for a way to play without them.

There you go.  You've just tried to exclude a fairly sizeable minority of RPG fans from the game.  

I say let anyone who has a problem with the combination of CCG and RPG voice that objection.  And, as far as we can with Gamma World, finding /real/ solutions to the issue would be a lot more helpful.  I'd rather see someone with initial missgivings about the CCG aspect reasured and given some helpful imput than told not to even try the game.


Telling people in the latter camp that not only can they play without the boosters, but in fact the rules are built to accommodate that, is neither snide nor dismissive.

The rules cope with it, but they don't accomodate it, as balance is thrown off if everyone isn't persuing rare cards with the same agandon.  (I know balance isn't a big priority in Gamma World, but it's still an RPG, not a competative CCG).  

As for people in the former camp, those who aren't looking to play the game and just want to vent their spleens, well, telling them that the cards are optional may be a waste of breath, but it isn't hurting them.

I am running Gamma World on Game Day.  I just playtested the Freesboro module, with some success, with a group of old-school GW fans, most of whom were not accepting of the CCG aspect.  On Game Day, obviously, I won't be banning boosters - though I will be using a few other interpretations or house rules based on what I obsverved in the playtest.  Banning boosters is a perfectly reasonable house rule normally, of course, but not on Game Day, where boosters are /required/.  Going forward, I will be running Gamma World weekly at my FLGS, and may even start up a semi-regular campaign, since I do have a circle of Gamma Geeks who are anxious to play /any/ edition (though most would probably perfer 1st or 4th, they'd all play 7th if that's what I decide to run).

If I run GW for my fellow GW fans, I'll be able to use whatever variants I want.  But, in organized play, when players may be buying booster packs from the very store where I'm running, it would hardly be fair to tell them the product they just bought can't be used in the game it's meant for.  OTOH, after Game Day, I will almost certainly have some RPGers showing up, too, who will not be interested in buying boosters, and who would be very quickly put off if I don't find some way of rebalancing the game to accomodate both avid deck-building CCGers and deckless RPGers. 

So, yes, the way WotC has chosen to fold CCG aspects into an RPG with Gamma World does present a very real challenge for GMs, and, no, dismissing that issue as 'optional' is not constructive, and serves only to stiffle any constructive discussion that might otherwise occur.

 

 

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I would prefer WotC going the Living card route and leave behind the Collectible card route. I mean they've already essentially done it on the PC/360 with Duel of the Planeswalkers. To me this game seems like a better fit for that format than the CCG format.

Would you care to expand upon the "Living card" alternative? 

 

 

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Say for instance someone /really/ likes Gamma World, would really like to play rather than DM, and isn't gauranteed to find a DM who is banning boosters.  How is telling him the boosters are 'optional' going to help his gaming experience suck less when he's playing at a table full of booster decks stacked with rare cards that overwhelm what he draws from the DM's deck?  It's not.  And telling him no to play a game he's loved for decades isn't exactly constructive, either, is it?  No.  What are both of those responses?  Dismissive.


all of the cards are known, and I've now purchased a couple of boosters. There is nothing in the current set that is any more powerful than the cards included in the base set.

Furthermore, arguing that booster rares ARE more powerful than base set cards completely ignores the reason that CCGs frustrate many in the first place. "He with the most money wins". That's the fundamental annoyance of CCGs. It's annoying because it means that if I only buy a deck and a few boosters, I can't be competitive against someone who sinks $200 into a deck. Does this annoyance translate to GW? I can't see how it does. Everyone putting together decks are on the same team. So what? You are not competitive against another party member?

Now let's make the incorrect presumption that I have the Very Ultra Rare booster card "all attacks deal 4[W]". Johnny sitting next to me has to draw from the GM trash. Poor scrub. How is Johnny's game going to be fundamentally worse than mine? I am going to be doing more damage than Johnny. But I'll also be doing more damage than origins not primarily anchored in damage dealing. I will be getting more kills than johnny, but XP is still handed out evenly. I'll still be taking the same turns as johnny. Moving the same number of squares. etc. In this scenario Johnny's game doesn't change directly at all, and only indirectly changes because I am killing monsters faster than everyone else (which in reality isn't the case).

The bottom line is that if you are insisting players are going to hate this... you have to explain WHY, more than just "because it's collectible". You still have not illustrated precisely where one player's game experience will be drastically worse without a deck than another player's game experience who has a deck stacked with rares.

Would you care to expand upon the "Living card" alternative?


The fact that you don't understand what a Living Card game is kind of points to the concern that you don't understand what is going on in Gamma World.

A Living card game plays exactly like a CCG. The difference is that unlike a CCG, there is no collectible aspect. When an expansion is released, the $10-15 set includes every card in the expansion. Furthermore, the cards are "pooled together", in that each player doesn't need to buy the base set, and each player doesn't need to buy each expansion. It is a pool of evenly distributed cards useable by both players and skill takes the stage, not bank roll. Poker is the ultimate LCG. Everything needed to play comes in your standard 52 card deck.

Now what Gamma World is, without boosters, is essentially a Living Card game. Everything you need to play (sans dice.. sigh) is in the box. You can play an entire campaign, and likely every expansion, without buying a single booster. What my suggestion is, is that instead of releasing "Atom cards" in booster packs, WotC releases an "Atom card expansion". This way if players wanted to they could go out and buy the $10 (or whatever) expansion and load up their decks from an equal footing. The GM could as well.

My guess is had WotC done that, there wouldn't be..... well, ok.. there'd still be complaints, but you wouldn't here any of these age old "players without the money to spend on boosters will have a miserable time" arguments that typically come up with CCGs (which btw is largely a falacy as well). However, WotC went the CCG route so it is what it is.

But the bottom line here is that a player with Boosters doesn't have a significant advantage over participation as a user without boosters, and if nobody showed up to a game with booster decks the game is still very much playable 100% according to the printed rules. So all of your fears are allayed. Of course I still imagine you clinging to your assessment that by not buying boosters players are not abiding by the game and are playing some non-sanctioned house rule variant, and that players who do buy boosters will have twenty times more the game experience than the peasants who can't afford them. Which is a shame, because it really is quite a smart game and the cards add to the enjoyment. It's the convenience of power cards from 4E combined with the hilarity of a random power table rolled every encounter. How could someone not love that?
Say for instance someone /really/ likes Gamma World, would really like to play rather than DM, and isn't gauranteed to find a DM who is banning boosters.  How is telling him the boosters are 'optional' going to help his gaming experience suck less when he's playing at a table full of booster decks stacked with rare cards that overwhelm what he draws from the DM's deck?  It's not.  And telling him no to play a game he's loved for decades isn't exactly constructive, either, is it?  No.  What are both of those responses?  Dismissive.

all of the cards are known, and I've now purchased a couple of boosters. There is nothing in the current set that is any more powerful than the cards included in the base set.

'The Patch,' the DM deck heals your bloodied value.  'The Patch II,' a common, heals your bloodied value + 2d6.  That's strictly more powerful.  And, it's just a common.  Nothing in the DM Alpha deck does the 10d10 damage of an overcharged Gamma Eye. 


Furthermore, arguing that booster rares ARE more powerful than base set cards completely ignores the reason that CCGs frustrate many in the first place. "He with the most money wins". That's the fundamental annoyance of CCGs. It's annoying because it means that if I only buy a deck and a few boosters, I can't be competitive against someone who sinks $200 into a deck. Does this annoyance translate to GW? I can't see how it does. Everyone putting together decks are on the same team. So what? You are not competitive against another party member?

Actually, that's exactly the point.  CCGs are competative, part of the point is coming up with the best deck possible.  RPGs are cooperative, but, they are also about highlighting each individual PCs contribution - 'spotlight time' it's sometimes called.  'Game Balance' is thus an important part of any RPG (though different games prioritize it differently, and it's never been the top priority in Gamma World).  What, in CCGs, is a feature, is a glaring weakness when done in an RPG.



Would you care to expand upon the "Living card" alternative?


The fact that you don't understand what a Living Card game is kind of points to the concern that you don't understand what is going on in Gamma World.

A Living card game plays exactly like a CCG. The difference is that unlike a CCG, there is no collectible aspect. When an expansion is released, the $10-15 set includes every card in the expansion. [/qutoe]That would be ideal, yes.  Complete expansion decks rather than blind/random boosters would be an entirely superior distribution model for an RPG suplement that uses a card mechanic.

Furthermore, the cards are "pooled together", in that each player doesn't need to buy the base set, and each player doesn't need to buy each expansion. It is a pool of evenly distributed cards useable by both players and skill takes the stage, not bank roll.

Nod.  As a DM, I'd almost certainly buy each expansion deck, anyway.

 

 

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'The Patch,' the DM deck heals your bloodied value.  'The Patch II,' a common, heals your bloodied value + 2d6.  That's strictly more powerful.  And, it's just a common.  Nothing in the DM Alpha deck does the 10d10 damage of an overcharged Gamma Eye.


Gamma Eye is 10d10 overcharged, and if you miss the overcharge you do no damage and take your bloodied value in radiation damage.. Sounds about right to me. Further, it can only be used on one target and as an Alpha is "tapped" for the encounter. It's a one shot with a pretty drastic downside. As for "The Patch" comapred to "The Patch II".. of course it's better. It's an upgrade. There are better and worse cards comparatively in the GM set. Like wise there are also some comparable healing cards in the GM set and even better overcharges.

Furthermore, arguing that booster rares ARE more powerful than base set cards completely ignores the reason that CCGs frustrate many in the first place. "He with the most money wins". That's the fundamental annoyance of CCGs. It's annoying because it means that if I only buy a deck and a few boosters, I can't be competitive against someone who sinks $200 into a deck. Does this annoyance translate to GW? I can't see how it does. Everyone putting together decks are on the same team. So what? You are not competitive against another party member?

Actually, that's exactly the point.  CCGs are competative, part of the point is coming up with the best deck possible.  RPGs are cooperative, but, they are also about highlighting each individual PCs contribution - 'spotlight time' it's sometimes called.  'Game Balance' is thus an important part of any RPG (though different games prioritize it differently, and it's never been the top priority in Gamma World).  What, in CCGs, is a feature, is a glaring weakness when done in an RPG.

but umm... they are still contributing. so they are going to feel lousy that they are not contributing enough now? Petty?

The bottom line here is that the boosters are in fact optional and nothing in the rules states expressly that the players need a deck to play (which of course they don't). If someone is going to be soured on their gaming experience because one player did 25% more damage than they did because of their deck of cards, well... I'm not sure if that's a player I'm really interested in playing to begin with. It's about cooperation, and just like the player lucking out and finding that +10 sword in the chest behind the bookshelf, everylittle bit helps us make it through the adventure.
A solution or even a discussion of the 'problem,' wouldn't be so bad, but "it's optional" or "don't like it? don't use it" are not solutions, they are not constructive, they are denials of the 'problem.'  

Say for instance someone /really/ likes Gamma World, would really like to play rather than DM, and isn't gauranteed to find a DM who is banning boosters.  How is telling him the boosters are 'optional' going to help his gaming experience suck less when he's playing at a table full of booster decks stacked with rare cards that overwhelm what he draws from the DM's deck?  It's not.  And telling him no to play a game he's loved for decades isn't exactly constructive, either, is it?  No.  What are both of those responses?  Dismissive.



"Rare cards that overwhelm what he draws from the DM's deck" is a massive overstatement of the difference between the cards in the starter set and the collectible set. Drawing from the GM's deck is not going to make anyone's gaming experience "suck." I'm speaking in part from my own experience here; so far I've run one adventure over a couple nights. Some players had collectible cards and some didn't. There was no noticeable power disparity over the adventure, and certainly no fun imbalance.

Even if the collectible cards were so overpowering as you imagine, I don't think people's ability to enjoy games with uneven resources is as fragile as you think. Especially in a cooperative, light-hearted game with random character generation. In fact, given the cooperative nature of the game, at many tables I expect the players who are collecting will be happy to lend their extra cards to the players who aren't. This isn't a head-to-head tournament we're talking about.

There you go.  You've just tried to exclude a fairly sizeable minority of RPG fans from the game.  I say let anyone who has a problem with the combination of CCG and RPG voice that objection.  And, as far as we can with Gamma World, finding /real/ solutions to the issue would be a lot more helpful.  I'd rather see someone with initial missgivings about the CCG aspect reasured and given some helpful imput than told not to even try the game.



No one's telling anyone not to try the game. Some people are trying to tell people who are apprehensive about the collectible aspect that they can play without it, and you're trying to undermine that by being alarmist.

The rules cope with it, but they don't accomodate it, as balance is thrown off if everyone isn't persuing rare cards with the same agandon.



False, and ridiculous.

I am running Gamma World on Game Day.  I just playtested the Freesboro module, with some success, with a group of old-school GW fans, most of whom were not accepting of the CCG aspect.  On Game Day, obviously, I won't be banning boosters - though I will be using a few other interpretations or house rules based on what I obsverved in the playtest. 



Let me just interject that using houserules on Game Day strikes me as a terrible idea, but whatever.

 Banning boosters is a perfectly reasonable house rule normally, of course, but not on Game Day, where boosters are /required/.  Going forward, I will be running Gamma World weekly at my FLGS, and may even start up a semi-regular campaign, since I do have a circle of Gamma Geeks who are anxious to play /any/ edition (though most would probably perfer 1st or 4th, they'd all play 7th if that's what I decide to run).

If I run GW for my fellow GW fans, I'll be able to use whatever variants I want.  But, in organized play, when players may be buying booster packs from the very store where I'm running, it would hardly be fair to tell them the product they just bought can't be used in the game it's meant for.  OTOH, after Game Day, I will almost certainly have some RPGers showing up, too, who will not be interested in buying boosters, and who would be very quickly put off if I don't find some way of rebalancing the game to accomodate both avid deck-building CCGers and deckless RPGers. 

So, yes, the way WotC has chosen to fold CCG aspects into an RPG with Gamma World does present a very real challenge for GMs, and, no, dismissing that issue as 'optional' is not constructive, and serves only to stiffle any constructive discussion that might otherwise occur.



It's only a challenge in groups that actually suffer from this as-yet theoretical, imagined friction between the deck-builders and the deckless, a concept largely founded on an exaggeration of the imbalance between the two. If an actual group ends up suffering from it, solutions are going to be predicated on the personalities involved; there's not going to be a one-size-fits-all answer. Although letting the deckless print out their own cards and putting them in sleeves might solve many of these cases when they eventually actually manifest.
As for "The Patch" comapred to "The Patch II".. of course it's better. It's an upgrade. There are better and worse cards comparatively in the GM set. Like wise there are also some comparable healing cards in the GM set and even better overcharges.

I honestly don't know what you think you're talking about.  You said the booster set cards weren't better than the DM set cards.  I gave you specific examples that were.  Yes, it's an upgrade.  A lot of the GM set cards are very obviously inferior just by their names, you have 'Unstable Vibroblade,' 'Dim Photonic Spear,' 'Cracked Ray Gun,' 'Leaky Fusion Rifle,' 'Unreliable Jet Pack' and 'Erratic Riflehound.'  Then, in the boosters you have the superior versions.

'Game Balance' is thus an important part of any RPG.  What, in CCGs, is a feature, is a glaring weakness when done in an RPG.

but umm... they are still contributing. so they are going to feel lousy that they are not contributing enough now? Petty?

OK, so you don't grasp the concept of game balance, so you can't see why having more powerful stuff available to some players than to others would be an issue. 

The bottom line here is that the boosters are in fact optional and nothing in the rules states expressly that the players need a deck to play (which of course they don't).

I never said they weren't, it just a meaningless distinction in an RPG, since any rule could be overriden by the GM.

Since any rule can be altered in an RPG, discussions of the merits of various rules can be quite helpful.  But, those discussions can't happen if the issues that prompt them are dismissed out of hand.

No one's telling anyone not to try the game. Some people are trying to tell people who are apprehensive about the collectible aspect that they can play without it, and you're trying to undermine that by being alarmist.

Not at all.  When you dismiss the concerns of someone who is worried about the CCG aspect, you are, in effect, advising them to abandon the game.  If you address those concerns, you may alay their fears.  

Although letting the deckless print out their own cards and putting them in sleeves might solve many of these cases when they eventually actually manifest.

Thank you, that's the first constructive sentence I've heard from you in this entire discussion.  I'm not sure how WotC would feel about such a forray into copyright violation, but I'm sure there might be other possible solutions along the same line.  Ultimately cards are content, like the pages of a rulebook.  So, using dice for randomization purposes and the cards as a reference, for instance, would allow 1 card (or a card list?) to serve the whole table.   Another example of a variation to cope with the balance aspect might be to have a communal player decks, rather than each player building their own (those bringing cards would have to find some suitable method to track ownership, of course).

 

 

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Not at all.  When you dismiss the concerns of someone who is worried about the CCG aspect, you are, in effect, advising them to abandon the game.  If you address those concerns, you may alay their fears.



You can compare "informing people of the option to not use the collectible cards" to "dismissing thier concerns" until you're blue in the face, and apparently you intend to, but it won't become any more true. Although it is somewhat amusing watching you pretend to be offended for these imaginary wounded parties.

The "don't use the cards" solution won't satisfy everyone, and I haven't seen anyone claim that it would, but coming from the position that it couldn't conceivably satisfy anyone and therefore it was somehow immoral to bring it up is just bizarre.

Thank you, that's the first constructive sentence I've heard from you in this entire discussion. 



I'm sorry I waited until now to give you a solution for your previously unvoiced theoretical problem, but if that's all you were looking for you could have stopped reading at post 16 of this thread. Better that than getting snippy with people who didn't know about your specific concern for the crime of providing information to other people that wasn't helpful to you.
You can compare "informing people of the option to not use the collectible cards" to "dismissing thier concerns" until you're blue in the face, and apparently you intend to, but it won't become any more true.

It doesn't /need/ to become anymore true.  But, yes, when someone pops up in a discussion I'm having and dismisses legitimate concerns with a meaningless assertion, I'll call him on it. 

 

 

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Tony, you've blown what credibility you have, and are only making it worse.

The point was made that by RAW boosters are not needed.

Your counter argument is that "anything" is optional via houserule.

These are not the same thing.

You then retaliate with "The rules expect you to have boosters", which is again factually incorrect.

The rules ALLOW boosters, and include rules for using them. If they didn't have the rules to accomodate the boosters, then they couldn't be used at all, now could they.

Regular 4E says "You can use point buy, or if you don't want to, you can use an array."

By your reading, the game expects and requires you to use point-buy, and merely "accomodates" arrays... but the way it's written means that using arrays is "just as optional" as allowing characters to have Expertise feats for free.

You're wrong, Tony. Give it up and move on.
Booster packs are optional, not required, and not using them is NOT comparable to house rules in any way.
AlexandraErin: If last season was any indication, I think Encounters is pretty much the elemental opposite of "organized" play!
If you decide you're not going to allow boosters in your game, and a player comes to your game expecting to use boosters, how is that player going to see it as anything other than a 'house rule?'  If you're going to a Gamma World game that has no house rules, will you not assume that you can use a player deck you built using boosters?

Palmer, I know you're predisposed to judge me harshly based on those Essentials threads, but I am a longtime Gamma World fan, and I /do/ like the new ed (it beats the hell outta the last two, anyway).  I have not taken up a 'hater' position, here.  I'd just like to see constructive descussion of criticisms rather than more snide dismissal. 
Maybe /I'm/ pulling some baggage from the Essentials discussions in that regard, too.  Embarassed

 

 

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Tony, you're the only anti-E poster I LIKE. I have vast respect for you and how you make your points. You use facts, logic, reason and common courtesy to make your case, and it works.

Here's the thing. If I show up with boosters... that's still not the same as "required for play".

Just because I *have* boosters doesn't mean you NEED to use them yourself.

It's just like how you don't need Martial Power. If I show up and use it, it works within the established rules... but it doesn't compel ANYTHING on your side beyond "That's legit, lets play".
You don't need to buy MP, you don't even need to read it. You sure as hell don't need to use any of the material contained therein.

It is an optional supplement, the same way the cards are an optional supplement.
The same way performing a bull rush is optional. It's in the rules, it's something you can use. Or not use. I've never seen anyone perform a bull rush in my life. The fact I am told I can do it doesn't mean I have to.

You mention game balance, because booster cards are somewhat more powerful? OK, that's standard power creep. Everyone acknowledges that classes/powers get stronger with every splatbook. So someone with MP and MP2 can make a more powerful character than someone with just the PHB.

How does someone get GW cards to make a better deck? They spend money.
How does someone get MP+MP2 to make a better fighter? They spend money.

There's really no difference... it just LOOKS different. You yourself made the point that cards are content like a rulebook... just packaged differently.

Not letting someone use a player deck is a house rule, yes.
So is not letting someone use a splatbook.

The situation is nowhere near as dire as your level of concern makes it out to be. 
AlexandraErin: If last season was any indication, I think Encounters is pretty much the elemental opposite of "organized" play!
I've never seen anyone perform a bull rush in my life.  



Because I cannot pass up the opportunity, I must note that the cleric in my weekly group still tells the story of the night he bull-rushed an aberrant monster off the bridge separating the two halves of the map, sending the monster down into a deep and fatal pit, so the cleric could get across and rescue the Paladin, who was making death saves.

No connection to what you guys are talking about, but there's one thing a 2 year 4E campaign has taught me, and that's that every rule, no matter how obscure, comes up eventually. 
The Doctor Comics Blog: doctorcomics.blogspot.com On Twitter @doctorcomics GW Card List: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/26023881/Card_List
If you decide you're not going to allow boosters in your game, and a player comes to your game expecting to use boosters, how is that player going to see it as anything other than a 'house rule?'  If you're going to a Gamma World game that has no house rules, will you not assume that you can use a player deck you built using boosters?

Palmer, I know you're predisposed to judge me harshly based on those Essentials threads, but I am a longtime Gamma World fan, and I /do/ like the new ed (it beats the hell outta the last two, anyway).  I have not taken up a 'hater' position, here.  I'd just like to see constructive descussion of criticisms rather than more snide dismissal. 
Maybe /I'm/ pulling some baggage from the Essentials discussions in that regard, too. 



Thanks for dousing these people with a little reality-sauce!
Hmm...Should I jump back into this? I used to be an anti-E poster, maybe I can get some love from Palmer...

There are two problems here:

A. First, everyone's a little bit right. Here are some (hopefully undisputed) facts about Gamma World. 1) Booster packs are available. 2) Booster packs are not required by rule to play the game. 3) However, the rules anticipate that some players will have decks, and some will not. 4) Since the rules allow for the use of player decks, banning boosters outright would indeed be a "house rule."

Now, here are some opinions from someone who has the game and has purchased a couple boosters. 1) By and large, the cards found in booster packs are comparable in power to those found in the GM deck. 2) There are a few, however, that are strictly more powerful or more unique ("The Patch II" and "Explode!" come to mind). 3) Those cards aren't more powerful or unique enough to "break the game," since you'll probably only get to use each Alpha Mutation once per day. 4) It's a cooperative game, so those people who care less about "winning" GW will care less about having the best cards (and vice versa).

B. The argument thus far has been a little...imprecise. There's a distinct difference between arguing based on RAW (which the anti-Tony crowd has done) and arguing based on realism (which Tony has done). Booster packs aren't required, but it's foolish to think that a majority of players who like GW aren't going to want to buy some. And, in certain situations (like WWGD or other public play events), it's going to be at least difficult to prevent someone from using a player deck if they want to.

It's my opinion that a larger deck breeds more chaos, and forcing players to deal with such chaos leads to more creative thinking and more fun. Therefore, when I run a private game of GW, everyone will be drawing from my GM deck (which has been beefed up with boosters). My FLGS has been gracious enough to waive the purchase requirement for WWGD, so I'll try to convince the players there to draw from the GM deck as well. But if someone shows up hell-bent on using their own deck, I'm going to have to let them.

I don't think I've said anything horribly new, but sometimes it's difficult to keep the whole thing when participants in an argument are seizing on one- or two-sentence quotes at a time (chief of sinners, though I be...).

Gamma World Origins Half-Sheets: Horizontal (FiFG) Vertical (GW) FiFG coming soon
Hmm...Should I jump back into this? I used to be an anti-E poster, ...

Yeah, me too, then I picked up my advance copy of Gamma World, got all enthuses about it and haven't been back to the D&D General boards much.  ;) 

A.
First, everyone's a little bit right. Here are some (hopefully undisputed) facts about Gamma World. 1) Booster packs are available. 2) Booster packs are not required by rule to play the game. 3) However, the rules anticipate that some players will have decks, and some will not. 4) Since the rules allow for the use of player decks, banning boosters outright would indeed be a "house rule."
Good summary, right on all 4 counts.

Now, here are some opinions from someone who has the game and has purchased a couple boosters. 1) By and large, the cards found in booster packs are comparable in power to those found in the GM deck. 2) There are a few, however, that are strictly more powerful or more unique ("The Patch II" and "Explode!" come to mind). 3) Those cards aren't more powerful or unique enough to "break the game," since you'll probably only get to use each Alpha Mutation once per day.

I'm more or less with you through here.  I've taken a good look at the booster card list elsewhere on this forum, though, and can't quite agree.  Maybe it's just the impression I formed from going through the GM Omega Deck and seeing adjectives like 'Cracked,' 'Erratic,' 'Unreliable,' or 'Dim' appended to items.  

 4) It's a cooperative game, so those people who care less about "winning" GW will care less about having the best cards (and vice versa).

I really don't get this.  When did game balance start becoming undesireable?

B.
The argument thus far has been a little...imprecise. There's a distinct difference between arguing based on RAW (which the anti-Tony crowd has done) and arguing based on realism (which Tony has done). Booster packs aren't required, but it's foolish to think that a majority of players who like GW aren't going to want to buy some. And, in certain situations (like WWGD or other public play events), it's going to be at least difficult to prevent someone from using a player deck if they want to. [/qutoe]'Realism?'  Oh, you mean realistic assumptions about how people might play the game?  OK.  Not exactly my point - guess I'm just not expressing myself well.

I don't think I've said anything horribly new, but sometimes it's difficult to keep the whole thing when participants in an argument are seizing on one- or two-sentence quotes at a time (chief of sinners, though I be...).

Helpful, level-headed summary of what we've been wasting our electrons on.  ;)

 

 

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B. The argument thus far has been a little...imprecise. There's a distinct difference between arguing based on RAW (which the anti-Tony crowd has done) and arguing based on realism (which Tony has done). Booster packs aren't required, but it's foolish to think that a majority of players who like GW aren't going to want to buy some. And, in certain situations (like WWGD or other public play events), it's going to be at least difficult to prevent someone from using a player deck if they want to.



I think you're putting words into people's mouths a bit here.

The collectible cards in Gamma World are optional, and they're optional in the purest sense: the rules give each and every single player the option of building a deck or not, and give the GM the option of adding collectible cards to his/her deck, or not.  So when someone on this board tells someone else on the board that the collectible cards are optional, I don't think there's reason to assume that they're saying anything other than "You, as an individual, whether you're playing or GMing, don't have to buy any cards if you don't want to, and you can still play/run the game just fine."

No one, by my reading, has said "You can just ban anyone from using the cards if you don't like them," or "You can just play in games where no one is using collectible cards." Some people will certainly exercise those options, but I don't think anyone's been actively encouraging them.

If a GM dictates that no one can build their own decks, or conversely that everyone has to build their own decks, then yes, they are houseruling the game. And like any instance of the GM banning or requiring certain things in a game that the rules would normally leave up to the players, it's probably best to discuss that with the group before they get too heavily invested.

I agree with Palmerkun that the cards aren't fundamentally different, in that sense, than book content in other games. If a DM in a 4E game decided to ban, say, psionics, or material from Dragon magazine, then players who invested money to get that material could understandably get upset, and the GM should take that into account before making those decisions.
The collectible cards in Gamma World are optional, and they're optional in the purest sense: the rules give each and every single player the option of building a deck or not, and give the GM the option of adding collectible cards to his/her deck, or not.  So when someone on this board tells someone else on the board that the collectible cards are optional, I don't think there's reason to assume that they're saying anything other than "You, as an individual, whether you're playing or GMing, don't have to buy any cards if you don't want to, and you can still play/run the game just fine."

I would definately agree with the second part of your thesis ("the rules give . . . deck, or not"), but maybe not the first (The collectible . . . optional in the purest sense"). I can decide as a GM not to use boosters, but because the rulebook provides for their use, there are going to be certain situations where RAW is going to prevail. For example, when a player shows up to WWGD with a deck ready to go (or is forced to create one by the rules of the event). Or, if a GM gets a bunch of players together without making his or her houserules on collectible cards and player decks known.  That's why I think your last two paragraphs:
If a GM dictates that no one can build their own decks, or conversely that everyone has to build their own decks, then yes, they are houseruling the game. And like any instance of the GM banning or requiring certain things in a game that the rules would normally leave up to the players, it's probably best to discuss that with the group before they get too heavily invested.

I agree with Palmerkun that the cards aren't fundamantally different, in that sense, than book content in other games. If a DM in a 4E game decided to ban, say, psionics, or material from Dragon magazine, then players who invested money to get that material could understandably get upset, and the GM should take that into account before making those decisions.

are right on the money (emphasis added). I do think a GM can "ban anyone from using the cards" just because he or she doesn't like them. But this probably won't be a very popular house rule, and if there's a disagreement, the GM would probably have to follow RAW.
Gamma World Origins Half-Sheets: Horizontal (FiFG) Vertical (GW) FiFG coming soon
I really don't get this.  When did game balance start becoming undesireable?



It's not so much a matter of game balance being undesireable. It's more a case of the cost being greater than the benefit in certain styles of play. Gamma World is, in part, a game of crazy possibilities, and game balance is, in part, about reducing the range of possibilities to keep everyone within a maximum acceptable distance of a certain baseline. Getting too uptight about the balance makes it harder to play Gamma World (or Paranoia, or Toon) the way it was intended to be played.

And the cards aren't really where the balance gets tilted in Gamma World; it's the random stats. You can minmax the cards to the utmost, but if you rolled those 3d6s poorly you'll still probably be outshined by a player who rolled them well, even if he is drawing from the starter deck.
...The cards aren't really where the balance gets tilted in Gamma World; it's the random stats. You can minmax the cards to the utmost, but if you rolled those 3d6s poorly you'll still probably be outshined by a player who rolled them well, even if he is drawing from the starter deck.



Not necessarily, playing with the online character generator (Here) I rolled until coming up with a character with poor stat rolls. He/she is a Giant/Mind Coercer and will attempt to use her own deck to outplay the other party members. (I am using the card list compiled by some of the people on this site for text and names.)

Stats:

Str: 18
Dex:11
Con: 9
Int:   7
Wis:10
Cha:16

Deck:
Adrenal Rage (C13)
Dart Cough (C14)
Huge Arms (C21)
Gigantism (U43)
Healing Roots (U45)
Redundant Organs (R81)
Density (R83)

All of the above cards are Bio; and therefore have a +2 to overcharge. The only two cards that require attack rolls use printed numbers instead of stats. The only stat needed for anything is Str. There is a good variety of cards in the deck; support, healing, buffs, attacks. Poor Con is helped by cards like Redundant Organs and Healing Roots, Adrenal Rage buffs his already good damage potential, Gigantism and Density are good generic buffs to help his presence on the battle field, and Dart Cough gives him a ranged option.

His main advantage over a GM-deck user is that he is guaranteed to get a card that compliments him. So that instead of drawing a card that doesn't mesh well with his brutish stats (like Light Generation or Empathic Healing) he gets powerful cards that he can use well.

This seems to be caused fact that you are guaranteed to get an 18 in your primary stat and a 16 in you secondary, and that you get to choose one of a pair of stats for many things. So even a character with poor stats is generally only going to care when those stats are actually required for a check of some sort.
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