During the product stream on the 14th Bushiroad took us all by surprise by announcing a complete reboot.
I’m only going to focus on my perspective on things as I’m sure you have already seen plenty of videos and articles explaining the changes, but in case you haven’t here’s a link to the official website and an excellent explanation video from LivingProof.
The Format Shift
To kick things off lets look at the format shift.
We have “standard” and “premium”.
Standard is essentially a soft relaunch of the game, incorporating new design ideas and removing the G-zone. Rotation is often a controversial subject but I generally find myself in favour of it. Standard seems to be aiming at the more clean gameplay of the original season and incorporates a new system “imaginary gift” to keep things fresh.
Our other new format is premium, essentially taking the roll of an eternal format for the game. Premium will certainly be interesting to see in the long term and Bushi has made a point of continuing to support it with premium events already confirmed for the second half of this year.
Premium will be an odd format early especially since at first glance it appears that clans with standard support will be at a clear advantage due to the changes to trigger and base power levels which already amp up some decks that had started to fall behind.
Force, Accel and Protect
Not only do gifts seem like a very interesting way to add further late game progression to the game, they have the added effect of encouraging grade 3 swapping and encouraging certain tactics.
Each gift has some really interesting implications tied to them especially with the game going back to twin drive. Protect allows decks to play heavy defensive tactics while accel enables innate multiattacks and force offers a more versatile approach.
I’m a huge fan of this system it’s dynamic and interesting while complimenting the regular game flow. I was a definite fan of stride and G-guard but they innately warped the game around them. Gifts will no doubt be a huge part of gameplay but rather than force gameplay to bend around them offer a compliment to regular gameplay while creating new strategies.
Another of the changes we’re seeing in the new era of the game is changed baseline powers, notably grade 3s becoming 13k at base and triggers now granting 10k power instead of 5k and increased shield. This seems to exist for two reasons, one of which is likely to allow new cards to compete in premium, while the other seems to be changing the numbers side of the game in standard.
This change is an odd one that while understandable leaves me with some doubts about the future of premium. While strides will no doubt continue to be used based on sheer power alone these power bumps could cause main deck cards to fall behind in future. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it adds a trade off to running powerful G-era cards but it’s not hard to see a premium that eventually becomes standard with a G-deck.
That’s not to say this is a bad change even in the premium format. Adding a real tradeoff to powerful effect triggers which otherwise had no downside such as Flogal or Sheep adds an interesting dynamic to deckbuilding which I’m looking forward to toying with.
As for the effects it has on standard we’ve already seen some very elegant uses of it such as staggering of trigger shield powers (heals will still be valuable defensive cards with 20k base shield). This all adds more to not only deckbuilding but in game resource management and I’m excited to see how it affects gameplay.
Alongside these huge announcements we were given the release schedule for the rest of the year (or at least most of it) and a commitment to ensuring each clan gets support at minimum once a year.
At initial launch standard is only going to have four clans those being: Royal Paladin, Kagero, Nova Grappler and Oracle Think Tank. With more clans following each month in later sets. This is probably the correct decision but unfortunate for people who have to wait a little longer on their preferred clans appearing.
Personally despite being a long time Kagero player I can’t say I’m too enthusiastic about Vt01 meta having only four clans but its a very minor issue especially as we haven’t even seen anything from the set and we aren’t being made to wait long before more clans jump in alongside them. The commitment to yearly support is definitely a good thing but is also heavily dependant on how committed to balance Bushiroad is moving forward and whether or not clans get several waves of support in a single year, which again remains to be seen.
Another feature of this release schedule I would like to see stick moving forward is the release of trial decks alongside main sets. This will be hugely helpful to new players coming into the game on the back of the relaunch. Not only that but if these decks continue to follow to standard set by the first wave (four of the main boss and four PGs) new players will be able to get a real feel of how the game flows rather than the watered down version offered by current products.
Without any more information than we have this looks like a really positive step for the growth and future health of the game and leaves me really excited for the next half year and onward.
The Launch Window
This is the most important part of the new series for me and isn’t entirely related to the game itself.
As a playerbase we should really think of this as a second chance at growing the game the barrier for entry has been completely shattered and we need to take advantage of that while we can.
Of course not just us as a playerbase but as a company Bushiroad really needs to strike while the iron is hot and it looks like they just might having already announced a large demo caravan to show off the game.
Beyond the demo caravan Bushiroad should also make a push to expand its range with more online advertising on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. On top of that give LGS’ more incentive to push the game with more prize support.
If I’m really being optimistic I would also say that Bushiroad should have more frequent events. Currently we get two large events a year, compared to the big three this is almost nothing. I’m not even saying we need more huge events but supported and organised local leagues can go a long way to encourage people to keep playing the game. Shop promo cards aren’t enough to keep people interested, genuine competitive reasons to play motivate people to keep playing and helps grow the player base.
Combined with an upcoming mobile game this relaunch could be massive for the game if we as a playerbase and Bushiroad as a company put in the effort to encourage new players to join the game.
The End of An Era
These announcements leave me excited and optimistic about the future of the game, I’m a big fan of the current gameplay but I don’t think anyone is in disagreement that we had reached boiling point in terms of power creep. My main hope is that we begin with more interesting gameplay than the game had in the early days especially with the much improved fundamentals.
It’s an exciting time and I look forward to both the premium and standard formats as well as all the new sets, cards and content to come.
Thanks for reading