Hi guys, most of you probably know me from my long running topic “my thoughts on the game so far”, or simply from playing against me in-game.
I actually haven’t posted in a while. I’ll stop boring you with talks of my newly discovered omnibusiness that rules the IT domain, something which I got myself into over the course of this year and go straight to the point. I wanted to make this one a video, and make it more elaborate, accompanying the arguments I wanted to make with replays showing some of the matchups and how they work. It’s a longstanding wish of mine, that I just can’t seem to find a free weekend for. But until then, I’ll try to share my thoughts on the state of the game, some player progress and balance concerns. In face of the announcement that the game will be changed radically, I guess balance concerns aren’t of much use, or perhaps any of stuff I might share, but I still felt like doing this. Sit tight! This will be a long one.
If you don’t want to read everything, I’ll give the TL;DR just here:
- The guilds were a much needed feature, and a huge step forward in allowing players to communicate, am hyped for competition/event possibilities guilds present us with in the future.
- I think Lyra is a very different design to other heroes which is great, but from a balance standpoint - is very weak to spell damage and needs some sort of way to play around it ( a card/special power change ).
- The way units keep charging even after a stun feels a tad strong and non-intuitive.
- I think the economy and player leveling/progress is still boring and one-dimensional, and presents a large barrier of entry for new players. Just trying to level up cards for a different character takes a lot of time. I welcome lifting of the daily gold limit though.
The more you get to chew on one patch, the more you realize determinism makes the matchups feel “samey”. This is the first time I truly feel the core gameplay design is needs a nudge in a certain direction. This problem is a lot more prevalent since heroes have fewer cards to choose from than before.
- Mordrake’s hero power change and many 2 mana spells made him very oppresive. Valen is also somewhat too strong. Ruul’s charge mechanics sticking through stun are also counter intuitive and a tad too strong. Lyra is too weak for how difficult she is to play. Ameryl is not in as bad of a spot as Lyra, but she could also see some love.
The long version:
I love them. More importantly, I’m excited for they might bring. The weekend “get the victories” chest is the most simplistic sort of event to come up with, but even that felt cool. It feels cool to get stuff and contribute somehow to your other teammates. Card sharing feature, similar to that in Clash Royale, is a welcomed feature as well. It can help even out differences between players … if only a little bit. Most importantly however, there is finally a room to chat with likeminded players, and queue up for practice matches. I really needed and wanted this for so long, the matchmaking queue can get quite terrible at times.
The new hero, believe it or not, I didn’t get to play all that much just yet. One of the reasons is the very way heroes are leveled up (which raises the more important question talked about in the next passage). Which is why it was hard to play Lyra. Until you got the epics you wanted, and then other spells to a decent level, you couldn’t test it versus your other teammates hero without getting blown out, because your spells were severely underleveled. Only recently, after weeks of leveling her cards, I started trying her out in practice mathes versus guildies. She offers a unique, rogue-like playstyle, which feels quite different, if a little bit non-interactive in a way. I quite like this, and this sort of difference would be most welcome in a moba. How balance of it can be kept in check a card game of this sort I’m not sure. Currently she suffers from all of her damage having to come from her minions, while she has no ways to protect them. This means that simply killing her minions with spell damage is a winning move that she can’t really counter. Perhaps her hero power could give temporary spell resistance to her minions. Or she could get access to that vast spellshield card that Ameryl used to have. Or she could have a card which reflects spells back to the enemy when timed well - It would go well together with her illusionist theme rather well I feel! She is, out of doubt, the weakest hero in the game in this state.
ON CHARGE AND MASS CHARGE MECHANICS
While I like the fact charges were significantly buffed, as they are fun, aggressive spells, I feel as if the way they interact with stuns is awkward. You stun the units while they are in their spell charge, then after the stun ends they continue charging until they hit their target … This way charge isn’t simply countered with a stun, but there has to be a more logical, intuitive solution to this problem. Maybe you can’t stun charging units in the first place, maybe it just slows them down instead. The special effect which gives a white glowy “shield” to a unit which still didn’t spend it’s charge is helpful though at least.
ON PLAYER LEVELING / PROGRESS / COLLECTION BUILDING / OPTIONS / VARIETY / BALANCE
Collection building and progress is way too vertical and not at all horizontal. I’ve mentioned this before, but I guess this is as good time to reiterate that point again as any, since it strikes a good point. When you acquire assets in Spellsouls, it feels like you are just filling up this one bar of power that goes in one direction. One hero has so very few spells available to them that there is maybe one or two good decks that can work well and that’s it. You acquire these spells relatively quickly, and then you just keep making them stronger, very slowly, all at the same time since returns on expenditure rapidly get awful. For a game that has almost no randomness to it, having very few directions to go in in terms of gameplay and deck building choices is a painful limitation to have. The skill floor is high, for certain, but it would be also nice to have a healthy pool of possibilities.
For example, there is this very powerful Mordrake deck that picked up steam. I could be wrong, but Feddan was the first one I saw use that exact style. It uses many of its strong 2 mana spells to be able to rotate your other favorite spells faster. When you combine that with a now very opressive hero power, you get a deck that has a lot shorter rotation cycle than any other deck, so you don’t really get to counter any of his abilities with yours. Tyantyan really mastered playing this deck lately, and it’s almost impossible to beat. We had many nailbiting games, but lately I feel if he plays it well there is nothing I can do. Pick whichever hero you want and you will see there aren’t that many knobs to turn that will help you beat this strategy. But pick Ruul, and you can beat him. Mind you, there is a Mordrake variant that beats even Ruul buff decks but Mordrake is a bit silly right now. The point is, you can’t make it be balanced around having one hero be the scissors and the other one be the paper. They sort of feel like that at the moment. Almost everything (except Mordrake) you can imagine sucks vs a well played Valen, and especially minion based heroes, because he can just chain stun the minions whenever they get buffed. But if you have a lot of damage to kill Valen’s minions or a way to push him back, his stuns don’t do so much anymore.
In one of the previous patches it used to feel like Starcraft, sort of, I said. Where now it feels more like a moba. This is true for both the bad and the good it brings. Heroes are funneled into one “gameplan”. This design type usually works great in games like League of Legends and Overwatch where the games are played in a team vs team environment, and variety is achieved through endless combinations of heroes. But in a one vs one game, like Starcraft, or a fighting game, a character needs a variety of moves to be able to have a fighting chance versus any other character. In hearthstone, this difference is split through rng. This deck wins 70% of the time against that deck. In fighting games, this character has an advantage, but the skill ceiling is through the roof, and the possibilities and combinations of moves are vast, so you are rarely truly lost. In Starcraft, there are many builds you can try, and they vary in efficiency on the current map - ( I think Spellsouls could actually benefit a lot from having different maps with different mechanics for each - sort of like Heroes of the Storm.)
In Spellsouls, the game starts, you know your opponent’s deck and yours. You know who has the upper hand. You play your sequence and hope your opponent makes a mistake, that’s about it. There is a lot of focus needed but in the end there are a very few ways to be outwitted or surprised. If you are countered, you probably just lose.
Agree, disagree ? Hopefully the designers come up with something good. I really love this game and I feel as if it might be such a Clash Royale killer if they found what it needed. Horizontal variety in both deck building and gameplay is desperately needed. I wouldn’t even write off throwing some rng into the mix to achieve it.