T/WOTC: Cash is my Middle Name?
I hate TSR/WOTC. To enforce my points, allow me to spearhead my (low-fat) negativeness into two fronts, two of the major sources of the much-overvalued green paper with dead presidents that corporations can't seem to get enough of: Magic: the Gathering, and Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition.
What's that I hear you say? Yeppers, people, I'm new here. No, you haven't seen my (slightly oversized, yet comfortably designed for chair-use) Greek tush in Gamegrene before. I am the Newbie. The Nerd. The Scrub. All of the above, and any combination hereof. As Plato said, youths are full of easily-quenched passion and fire, so here's a fiery sample of mine right now:
I hate TSR/WOTC.
Not too uncommon an emotion these days, I must admit, I'm not exactly the needle in the hay stack. To enforce my points, allow me to spearhead my (low-fat) negativeness into two fronts, two of the major sources of the much-overvalued green paper with dead presidents that corporations can't seem to get enough of: Magic: the Gathering, and Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition.
I never thought of myself as a good Magic player. I was quite proficient at a number of strategies in my time, I had tried out most old and new combos, techniques, styles and piles of cards. From the less-than-known D5C to Stupid Green, Counter-Post, Oath of Druids and Necro. I've tried most of the best, and it was good. It was fun, and it was expensive.
Before I go on, let me set a ti meline: I started playing around '97 and went full-on at the start of '98. I held myself pretty much up to date until 2001, when I got sick of it. WOTC wanting my money is one thing; getting charged horrific sums of my (ever thinner) lunch money is acceptable. I will stand for it. Besides, I don't smoke, and I didn't drink or go out back then (oh bitter folly of youth!), so I could afford to waste some money on a nice hobby (and even win some back if the tournament-God felt like winking in my general direction).
But alas, all good things come to an end. Please observe a brief history, gentle reader: The 6th Edition was a bad one. No new art, no good cards, and a definite outlook from the head of research and development: "We wanted to power down the game, fewer power-cards and overbalancing abilities. Green got a good deal of reprinted good cards, red, blue and white got so-so and black got powered-down" Now let me fill the non temporally-conscious amongst you in: up to now, black had a little of everything. A little bit of creatures, a little bit of control, a little bit of discard, a little bit of removal. And it had the only reanimation (barring a few pitiful exceptions). But no! In 6th Edition, black had next to nothing. WOTC's attitude was away from the pic-n-mix style black had. Granted. I hated black anyway. Fine. Black was to be a discard-based color from now on. Thank God.
But WOTC made a booboo. In the next edition, guess which color was the most favored by the coast-living wizards of gaming? Black. Black got the best creatures in the history of mankind, the most forceful beasts alive and quite a hefty heap of non-discard related cards! What was this turn of events? Well, to me it said one thing and one thing alone: internal strife. The various wizards over there on that coast were all following an agenda of their own, because the company got too big and unwieldy for the big wizard to handle. The cherry on the pie came with Nemesis. The first sub-edition (ie. small sized) to introduce a new ability (fading) in the middle of the year. Wonderful. So now we have new abilities two, maybe three times a year, about 700 cards per annum to keep up with, a hefty price tag for any card that can do anything at all, and inconsistency with the editions. Wonderful.
But as though to add insult to injury, WOTC goes and buys TSR. Rejoice. To be frank with you, AD&D 2nd Edition needed some serious work on it. It reminded one of Jabba the Hutt. Huge, powerful, but too vast to know it all. The only thing I prayed for, back then, was for WOTC to realize that making a M:TG environment for D&D 3rd Edition, no matter how good an idea it might seem, would not go down well if the existing backgrounds (mainly Grayhawk, Forgotten Realms, Ravenloft and Planescape) weren't improved and given a much-needed facelift first.
Two years into 3rd Edition, and I must report I am quite impressed. It's a lot better than my pessimistic "thine end is nigh" attitude allowed me to see at first. It's extremely well-balanced and quite good. Sufficiently complex to cater for most rules-judges, yet simple enough to be easily mastered for the new players, and in my eyes, this can only be a good thing, because D&D is universally the most famous RPG ever (in any multiverse, including the weird one where rain is in the shape of doughnuts), and the one a new player is more likely to come into contact with first.
A few squillion characters into my DMing career, I realized one thing suddenly: D&D is perfectly made to crush the new-player's nightmare (huzzah!): The power-gamer, aka, munchkin. D&D is engineered so divinely mathematically, that not even a +1 goes by unaccounted for, not a single ability is more powerful than it's peer, there is no way, on God's (not so) Green Earth you can overpower a D&D character legally. And don't listen to players who have discovered massive amazing ultra-wow combos that need half a dozen feats and super-stats, because if instead of the amazing combo of nine feats, seven skills, weird weapons and magical artifacts that transform them into the ultimate kobold-mowing machine at the humble level of 16, they had developed like every other player, they would actually have a character who can do more than mow the kobold-infested lawn that seems to decorate most dungeons. Typical examples involve talking and other weird things good role-players do.
Don't get me wrong, D&D is an oxen-cart load better than the older AD&D, but it does get a little monotonous after a while. I mean, how many hamlets of level-0 poor wheat-farmers can there realistically be that just happen to have an evil necromancer in a castle next-door making zombies and skeletons out of their deceased relatives? How many drow can attack unsuspecting caravans at night, and how many evil liches can have scores of gold and treasure lying about in their trap-riddled dungeon while they wait like the knight from Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail for some bunch of adventurers to whip them to eternal damnation and pilfer their riches? Come on!
The world can't be so full of evil stuff! Check out our humble planet's demographics: for every hawk, there's a few dozen mice. For every lion, there's half a dozen gazelles, zebras and other herbivores. If there are so many predators in Faerun, Toril or whatever universe you play'n'slay in, shouldn't there be absolute gajillions of mundane, simple, non-aggressive herbivores around? Creatures that just get eaten? How often have you, in a D&D game, run across a pasture full of impala, or cows or anything that doesn't rip you to shreds for sheer malicious purposes?
Maybe it's time to look towards another company for RPGs. TSR/WOTC is good and nice for one's introduction into RPGs in the first few months, but after that, go hunting for some better games, if you know what I mean. And as far as CCG/TCGs are concerned? Your money is better spent somewhere else, as far as this author is concerned.