As the first organized play season for the My Hero Academia CCG is starting to launch, we at Jasco thought it would be pertinent to make certain that the parity between the players going first and second in the game should be as close to 50/50 as possible.
In order to do this, we had multiple internal tournaments with members of our design team, playtest team, and even assorted Jasco employees of multiple skill levels joining in to pitch and try out several different ideas. We tested using different rules, decks from different formats, and all kinds of ideas in order to come to the rules changes that we have implemented now, and every change was brought to a vote. The rules changes that we are now implementing may be confusing at first, but it is one that was unanimously voted in and we all believe in it, so let’s look at it as a whole, then I will break it down to further explain it.
Start of Game Procedures
Player 1: This is the player to go first in the current game.
Player 2: This is the player to go second in the current game.
Neither player may attack on their first turn.
– If player 1 chooses to mulligan, they must mulligan their entire hand, but may mulligan up to 2 times, shuffling only after they have accepted their final starting hand.
– Player 2 may choose any number of cards to mulligan, but may only mulligan once.
On their first turn only, Player 2 may draw 1 extra card during the draw step.*
*This will exceed the starting hand size as written on their character’s card by 1.
Drawing the 1 extra card during their first turn is Optional.
Starting with the biggest change, player 2 may draw one additional card during their first turn’s draw step. This one was essentially non-negotiable among the teams, and we knew that player 2 needed assistance but we didn’t know just how much. We had tested player 2 drawing two additional cards during their first draw step, but the difference between that and 1 card was fairly negligible.
The reason for this change is to help player 2 to defend against the turn 2 attacks that player 1 is able to throw out. Far too many people have had games where they went 2nd in the game and they didn’t get to see any cards beyond what they drew in their first hand, because player 1 won the game on turn 2 with a lucky hand and great checks. The difference between how player 1 and player 2 can build on their turn 1 can be massive. Player 1 is allowed to throw down all of his foundations with reckless abandon, whereas player 2 needs to consider which ones to hold for blocks when he might not even know what zones his rival will be throwing. Player 2 might have to decide between playing your copy of Tight Lipped or holding it for its great block, whereas player 1 would have just played it without caring and is now at an advantage. With the additional card in hand, we hope that player 2 will be able to defend better against these aggressive decks, and will be able to have an enjoyable game.
Next up is the change to how mulligans work. While this change can certainly be confusing to explain, it is fairly intuitive once you get used to it.
Player 2’s mulligan remains unchanged, they still can choose any individual cards they don’t want in their opening hand and draw replacement cards before shuffling them back into the deck. Player 1’s mulligan is much more risky now, with them having to make an all-or-nothing decision to place their entire hand on the bottom of the deck and draw a new hand.
Through some testing and data gathering, it was pretty obvious that while this is definitely weakening player 1’s opening hand, it could accidentally force them into unplayable situations. For example, player 1 could draw into a hand that is 60% or more attacks, and then mulligan into a hand that is 60% or more attacks. This would basically an entire game where player 1 had a large disadvantage, so we came to the conclusion that while the all-or-nothing mulligan is certainly the way to go for player 1, we should allow them one extra use of that mulligan in case some bad luck forces them in to a bad hand. Our data showed that with the double mulligan in place, player 1 only had unplayable hands a fraction of the time they would have with a single mulligan. In this game where you see so many cards every turn, it is extremely important that we ensure that our players have viable turn 1 hands in every game.
The last thing to discuss is that player 2 can no longer attack on turn 1, just like player 1. All of these changes have been geared towards making player 1 and player 2’s chances to win as close to 50/50 as possible, and player 2 being able to attack on turn 1 felt a bit unbalanced. If a player truly wants to consistently attack on turn 1 it is usually not for reasons that would be healthy for the game, and this rule helps keep things just a bit more consistent and easy to teach. We do not want to see a world where players are actively looking for ways to justify attacking on turn 1.
We hope that these changes help to ensure everyone has a play experience where they feel like they got to participate in each and every game!