BREAKING: FFG Buys Legend of Five Rings

L5R-LCG

Fantasy Flight acquires a venerable CCG brand outright in a major deal announced with AEG:

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The initial press release:

Fantasy Flight Games to Aquire Legend of the Five Rings

Ontario, California; Roseville, Minnesota – September 11th, 2015. Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) and Fantasy Flight Games have entered into an agreement by which Fantasy Flight Games will purchase the Legend of the Five Rings intellectual property from AEG.

For the past two decades, Legend of the Five Rings has been a hobby games mainstay as a collectible card game (CCG) and roleplaying game. AEG will be releasing the final set of the CCG later this year, closing this chapter of the game. Fantasy Flight Games anticipates its first Legend of the Five Rings product to be a relaunch of the card game as a Living Card Game (LCG) with a debut event at Gen Con 2017. More details will become available once the deal has closed.

“The prospect of working on Legend of the Five Rings is very exciting for us,” said Steve Horvath, SVP of Communications at Fantasy Flight Games. “The AEG team has done an amazing job creating a truly rich history and a universe with a deep narrative that fans have connected with for twenty years, and we are looking forward to the potential to build on that legacy moving forward.”

John Zinser, CEO of Alderac Entertainment Group said, “L5R is and will always be our first gaming love, but over time, we’ve changed our company focus further and further away from those roots. Our friends at Fantasy Flight Games have staff with a long history with the L5R property and its games, who are excited about the prospect of taking the brand into the future. When we recently decided it was time to end our own work on the story of Rokugan, we knew they were the best possible stewards for the world, the story, and the community we love and want to see continue to succeed and grow into its next twenty years.”

 

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FFG Elaborates on the L5R Transition:

“The current incarnation of the Legend of the Five Rings CCG will be complete with the release of the Evil Portents expansion from AEG. After that release, the game will go on hiatus until FFG relaunches Legend of the Five Rings as a Living Card Game®, or LCG. The Legend of the Five Rings LCG is scheduled to be released in two years at Gen Con Indy 2017. 

For players unfamiliar with the LCG model, a Living Card Game offers regular, non-randomized releases that include full playsets of every card. In its new form, Legend of the Five Rings will use this release format, rather than “blind” boosters that contain randomly assigned rare, uncommon, and common cards. Instead of spending their time chasing hard-to-find cards, the LCG distribution model allows players to focus on building decks by buying a single expansion that includes a full playset of every card in that expansion. For more information about Living Card Games, click here

The transition of Legend of the Five Rings from CCG to LCG impacts far more than just distribution model. As the game is reimagined and relaunched as an LCG, we will be implementing significant design changes, but we will ensure that the spirit and emotional impact of Legend of the Five Rings remains intact. By introducing a new mechanical design, we hope to open the game for a new generation of players to join the veteran samurai who still battle for Rokugan. Across the transition to LCG, our developers will ensure that the game maintains its pervasive themes of honor, nobility, magic, intrigue, duty, and warfare and that these themes continue to drive the game and the narrative forward.”

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A few things to note:

  1. FFG didn’t license L5R, they bought the entire IP lock, stock and barrel.
  2. FFG is already showing images of L5R with their “LCG” logo on it.  They mention they are not expanding the existing CCG version of Legend of 5 Rings, but instead will reboot it as a new LCG and add it to thier stable of current card game products.
  3. This is a big acquisition of owned IP for FFG, and gives them an entirely new world they wholly own.  They could take L5R into other gaming genres such as boardgames and RPGs (which FFG already hinted at) in the future.  It’s a big step for FFG who has so far relied almost entirely on licensed IP for thier games.

~What do you think this means for FFG and the future.

 

  • Rob brown

    I’ve played a D&D 3.5 version of this setting for a few years and I must say I love it. The artwork in the 4th edition books is frankly incredible. I’m looking forward to seeing where FFG go with it on the RP side.

  • I play historical samurai, so eager to see what minis they bring to the table

  • Iiiiiiiinteresting… It’s not often these days you see an IP outright bought instead of licensed, but frankly Alderac hadn’t done all that much with it in the last several years compared to the past, so the decision makes sense.

    Too bad there’s nothing on the horizon for the revival of 7th Sea. THAT is a game I’d love to see fly again.

    Man, FFG really is going to take over the industry, isn’t it?

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      it looks that way, but since they seem to design good games it doesn’t seem like a bad thing. Time will tell how they handle the difficult process of managing and reviving old games systems or continuing support for games with minority appeal that GW seems unable to do well.

      • BT

        They have two options. You either go back and start over using the existing fluff (cherry pick it) or you start over with a fresh start. You then ignore the old fluff or say it is ancient history (distance yourself from the stuff you don’t like by simply not mentioning it).
        Either way, creating a good, balanced game is number one. I say make a RPG that works, base your CCG off of that RPG world (characters in both help link the game and bring in players). Then do a mini’s game (which I think is FFG’s strength). The Mini game helps strengthen the RPG (specially pre-painted figs) and thus the RPG will help drive mini sales. Then having a good samurai mini game in it’s own right might bring in those players to the other two aspects.
        Either way, GL FFG. I would love to see this game come back.

      • If it were any other company I’d be a little worried, but I don’t thing FFG has /failed/ to produce a smash hit so far. So long as you’re okay with their obsession with proprietary dice, they make great games.

        That said, if they do revive the RPG, I hope they keep the R&K system. It’s one of my favorite mechanics and I’d be sad to see it go.

    • BrianDavion

      FFG really is IMHO the “gaming company to watch”right now, they have the 40k and star wars lisences, and now have L5R. these are pretty big names

      • It was increasingly apparent for several years that FFG was going to be the next big contender in the TTG arena, and then X-Wing happened, and within a couple of years it’s #2 behind 40k and gaining ground fast. Now they’re not just buying licenses they know will print money, they’re outright acquiring IPs they think they can sell.

        So, yeah. Keep eyes on FFG in the coming years. The industry has needed a swift kick in the pants for a while now, and it looks like Fantasy Flight is winding up to deliver it.

  • Victor Hartmann

    I used to collect the books but never played the game. Some of the books were quite good (to be fair, some were not which is why I stopped collecting them). They did a good job of creating an interesting world with vibrant characters. I have no idea where FFG is going to take this but their source material is quite good.

  • BT

    10 years ago, L5R was huge. The Clan Wars story arc was amazing (so awesome fluff) and they had a Card game that was fun, a fun RPG, and even a 25-28mm skirmish game. Three editions later, the RPG was doing well, but the company started going south.

    I think their first mistake was letting the winners of the Convention (like Gen Con) CCG tourneys influence the story arc and making up their own twist instead of having acceptable pre-written ones they could easily fit in per faction. That meant the fluff that most fans loved was slowly destroyed. This random aspect into the game disrupted the story for a lot of people and started driving them away. Their other games, all loosely part of the same world, were coming out at the time and were hit or miss. The steady decrease of players really hurt them at this time, IMO.

    The Pirate game (7th Sea) was starting to take off, but Burning Sands couldn’t hang onto L5R’s coat tails well enough to stand alone. Then WotC bought them for Oriental Adventures and destroyed their CCG, which was starting to be a threat to Magic (I think it was #2 at the time). AEG bought back the rights, but had to jump ahead 20 years in the game to try to fix the damage. That killed the game and it never fully recovered.

    Really, L5R kind of reminds me of White Wolf and Vampire: The Masquerade. At one point and time, they had /the/ game, and what drew in people was this cool setting and awesome back story. But then the rules were not the cleanest (they didn’t have stats for a war horse for 3 editions, yet had a faction based around being mounted, ala Mongolians) and didn’t have the best in terms of game balance. Then they went off doing other projects instead of making sure their flagship was in order. The ball was effectively fumbled.

    • Erik Setzer

      I was actually quite surprised when the story only mentioned the CCG and not the RPG or miniatures game. I know the CCG is still running, but when I think L5R, those are actually what I think of first. (And not just because I found my old faction box for Clan War in a bin in my apartment a few weeks ago.)

      • Cergorach

        The miniatures game has been dead for a long long time, the miniatures are licensed (?) to Valiant Enterprises and available again (at very high prices btw).

        The RPG… 4E is out and available, don’t know when the last book was released, but I expect a while ago. Looks like April of this year, but it looks like they’ve been going the pdf and Print On Demand (POD) route. That generally means that sales are so bad that doing a print run isn’t feasible. That last book also was all the material they couldn’t fit in the previous books (so very little work was required to get it to pdf). The one before that was march 2014 (The Book of VOID).

        The L5R LCG will probably be less work and sell better then a L5R RPG, we might even see L5R board games before an RPG… Heck, the L5R DiskWars game might make a reappearance before an RPG…

        • BT

          Heck, I would love to see a MMO or some other online game like Magic: Origins using this material. To be frank, the setting is a nitch that has never been fully explored. Anime is getting bigger and bigger in America, so there may be a decent market for the product in whatever form FFG uses. They just have to make the game work, whatever kind of game they actually make..

      • BT

        I agree. Heck, that was one of the best aspects of the CCG was the experienced versions of the characters from the RPG. I don’t think the CCG would have taken off if it wasn’t for the RPG and the story behind it.

    • Cergorach

      I think part of their failure is that AEG has poor distribution outside of the US. That wasn’t such a big deal a 15-20 years ago, everyone based in the US beside TSR had horrible distribution outside of the US.

      I love a lot of the stuff did back then L5R RPG (especially 1e), l5R CCG, Clan War, Spycraft, Stargate RPG, etc. I still collect that stuff. But except for the RPG D20 material during the D20 Glut very little made it to distributors in the EU. That is besides the licensed stuff to France and Germany.

      Everything else I had to buy through ebay or a US based store. I do get some secondhand stuff from Ludik Bazar so now and then.

      FFG already had a better distribution network in the EU, but with the recent fusion with Asmodé it’s better then ever! Moving the L5R CCG to LCG is a briliant move imho! A lot of folks are completely burned out on CCGs, but the LCG model is just plain attractive to everyone that likes cardgames.

      • BT

        I have a friend who swears by Net Runner, but other than that I have limited experience with the base system.

    • BrianDavion

      yeah letting your toruny winner pick the plot twist is a bad BAD idea. just because someone is good at a CCG doesn’t mean he gives a damn about the story. and even people who give a damn about the story may not always be the best people to make a change. all it takes is for some top flight players be be trolls. to put your setting at risk

  • Damon Sherman

    awesome, I’ve been waiting for them to do this for a while now. I might just pick a starter set to get my fix til 2017.

  • Seismic Ghost

    4th ed L5R is the best thing that has happened in my gaming life.
    I own every frigging book.
    Not sure how I feel about the possibility of a new edition looming.

    • Meeee

      FFG did a fantastic job on the 40k P&P RPG’s.
      I would say they are better at writing 40k fluff then GW itself these days.

  • scadugenga

    Ugh. I like FFG for many things, but I’m not a fan of their RPG’s.

    4th Ed L5R is a fantastic RPG with a unique and viable rules set. I foresee our group not making the jump to any new edition. Sad news for AEG rpg fans.

    • dinodoc

      The 40k RPGs are pretty good. Is there something I’m missing?

      • scadugenga

        Personal preference, perhaps.

        They’ll likely change the rules to their personal system, which mucks up every game that suffers that particular fate. AEG’s roll/keep system was great, and they got the right tweaks in with 4th to keep it that way. Not at all a fan of their Star Wars RPGs. But WotC screwed up Star Wars too, so at least there’s a natural progression with that.

        • BrianDavion

          sounds to me like your concern isn’t quality so much as “OMg! CHANGE SUCKS!”

          • scadugenga

            Nope, reading comp fail on your part.

            Or sad trolling attempt?

          • BrianDavion

            nope, and that actually wasn’t intended negitivly, and my apologies it came off more hostile sounding then I intended. to rephrase it it sounds like your concern is that you like the current system, and just would rather not see changes made. I’ve been on that side of things too (I played D&D when 4E launched) when a IP changes hands, RPG wise you normally have to expect the system to change completely due to the lisence not extending to the system (WOTC couldn’t just continue D6 star wars even if they wanted to, and FFG couldn’t contiune SWSE even if they wanted to) I find in a case like that the best thing to do is focus on what the new system does well, (WEG’s D6 system was very differnt in approuch from WOTC’s D20. both had their pros and cons) I suppose the biig question is, did the sale include the RPG system mechanics.

          • scadugenga

            Fair point, and thanks.

            In the TT RPG world, a system is almost synonymous with the IP attached to it.

            If you were into WoD, try thinking how you would want to play that with,
            say, D20 rules, or Rolemaster, or HERO, or even GURPS rules. It would
            lose the individuality and flavor. Try Shadowrun, Champions (after removing HERO from the list above); Star Wars, or TORG–they each would suffer that loss. (I still blame 3.0’s open license for the real decline in quality RPG’s)

            Muck about with that, and you’ll have issues. My group, for example, ditched L5R when it went d20 for awhile, and picked it back up in 4th ed.

            No one that I know (I know, anecdotal evidence…) played Star Wars d20 after they won the license from WEG. Most people who played D&D pre-4.0 loathed 4.0, and either jumped to Pathfinder, continued 3.5 (or in some cases, 3.0), etc. There’s actually a smallish movement of people nostalgically returning to the original AD&D. (A buddy is running such a campaign down in FL, and has a full table and then some every time.)

            Fortunately, at least for L5R, there’s a huge wealth of 4th ed material to keep us playing that for decades, if we want to.

          • BrianDavion

            I know plenty of people who played D20 Star Wars, but a lot of people who played the WEG system stuck with the WEG system. in that case it was very much “differnt strokes”

      • BrianDavion

        I just hope they don’t go the special dice root they did with SW

    • zeno666

      While I’m not a fan of the different colored dice-systems frin FFG I do like the system they use in the 40k-line.

      Reminds me that I have to flip through some of my 1st ed L5R books, there are some really good stuff in there

  • Il Produttore Signor Brandolin

    I hope the FFG will soon buy GW….

    • Meeee

      Can’t happen early enough.
      Heck! FFG writes better 40k fluff then GW itself these days!

      • Il Produttore Signor Brandolin

        Can you imagine? A re-release of space crusade, Heroquest, battle master….

        • Cergorach

          That will only happen is FFG buys Hasbro => MB…

          Space Crusade, HeroQuest, Battlemaster, etc. Were NOT GW games, they were Milton Bradley Games (bought by Hasbro). MB used GW IP with permission, but the game is/was owned by MB.

          • Il Produttore Signor Brandolin

            but is the IP that blocks its reprint, don’t you know the history of heroquest 25 ?

          • Cergorach

            It’s not the IP, it’s the name “HeroQuest”, MB/Hasbro let the trademark lapse and it was picked up in 2003 as the new name of the Hero Wars RPG. It’s an RPG not set in the world of MB’s HeroQuest, but in the RPG world of Glorantha, also known from the RuneQuest RPG.

            If GW wanted to release a similar game, the have Warhammer Quest (no reprint) and the Advanced HeroQuest game (which they could rename to something like Sigmar Quest or Advanced Warhammer Quest…

            They are not doing this currently because their partner is doing something similar already and doing it better then they ever could: Descent 2nd Edition and for the sci-fi fans: Imperial Assault.

            Space Hulk was a good enough success to bother with a reprint with some extra content, but not good enough to warrant a real expansion. It sold mostly to 40k fans, hell, I bought a couple of boxes! I seriously doubt GW will ever bother with HeroQuest or Warhammer Quest again as a miniatures game. I suspect that the FFG Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game will do way better then HeroQuest or WarhammerQuest ever did…

          • BrianDavion

            depends on how the lisencing was handled

    • Joyous_Oblivion

      Them or Hasbro, either one will likely make it much better.

  • Alexandre Comtois

    It’s about time! It’s an amazing card game but with 9-10 factions the random boosters just wasn’t a good distribution model. The game was just too expensive.

    • Joyous_Oblivion

      I played the heck out of this CCG back in college, the fact it hung around all this time against MTG is impressive even if it didn’t have the same level of success.

    • Michael Gerardi

      I played L5R until the group I used to play with drifted apart. It was one of my favorite CCG’s, and I must have enough cards to start my own card store. Now I’m thinking about buying a few boxes of the last CCG set, and maybe getting into the new version.

  • Chad Underdonk

    I don’t mind the change to a Living Card Game over a Collectible Card Game. I do however dislike the fact that they are most likely going to toss the existing game out the window (which at the moment is actually well balanced) and redesign a game that has had a lot of good evolution over the years without ever leaving its core mechanics by the wayside.

    New backs and new mons to gain the value of their new intellectual property? I’m okay with that. Redesigning the core mechanics and probably trying to shoehorn in chits, cardboard counters, and funny dice? That I would take issue with and never even touch the new incarnation.

    • BrianDavion

      I really wish game companies would stop trying to push unique dice on us. it drives me away

      • scadugenga

        Truth. I think game designers don’t realize how annoying their “unique dice system” is to gamers who have multiple such systems, and dice that they can’t re-purpose.

        Designers obviously don’t always listen to their beta-testers.