Killing Creativity, Collecting Cash

shadax
shadax Posts: 1 Just Dropped In
First of all, let me start by saying that I've seen this game improve greatly since I started playing about a year ago.  A lot of rough edges have been smoothed out, and it's really incredible seeing minor fixes in just about every corner of the game.

That said, I've been playing less and less (for a lot of reasons) over the last few months.  Most of these reasons can be attributed to offensive and poorly designed F2P incentives--which were handled in a much better way not that long ago.  The pains started in KLD, and have grown considerably in AKH.  So while the game (from a programming perspective) has improved greatly, the design itself has been fundamentally broken.  I've been happy to toss $20 at the game with each improvement (probably totaling over $200 by now) to show my appreciation; but I'm left with feedback like this for the changes that break the game.  Let's step back a bit and look at the progression.


About 9 months ago--I recall a special Saheeli event.  D3 was introducing a new PW with this 3-PW event.  2 of the decks were custom, player-created decks; and the 3rd was a pre-made, bad-**** Saheeli deck--loaded with myths and a lot of synergy.  The top 10(?) players of the event were given Saheeli as a reward; and everyone else was drooling, waiting to buy her with crystals.  Pretty cool way to introduce a new PW, if you ask me.  Try-before-you-buy, and a strong competition for an even stronger prize.

About 6 months ago--specific card rewards for event participation were very common.  Any mid-tier player who completed the personal reward goals for a particular event would be rewarded with a very specific rare card.  This wasn't quite as strong as the Saheeli incentive, and certainly not as fair.. (considering -everyone- could ultimately purchase saheeli with crystals later; not true for many of the event reward cards...) But, for the most part, everyone who tried to get these event cards was able to obtain them.

Then KLD was released--and it came with new energize mechanics that were in-your-face like void gems, but without the pain if you didn't have your own energize cards.  Not a bad expansion in and of itself, but the real problem is how the events and new PWs were laid out.  Every PW released since KLD has an affinity for either energize or fabricate mechanics.  Not only was this an obvious cash-grab to make KLD decks stronger than they would be otherwise--but it's clear that this would be done for every subsequent expansion... leading to many obsolete PWs, and a lot of wasted crystals.  Set aside all competition for a while, and just look at it from the perspective of deck design--PWs like Liliana 1 (and even 2), Koth, Nahiri, etc will always be more versatile and interesting than the PWs released since KLD.  And that advantage comes from not being paired with mechanics that are only present in a handful of cards in a specific expansion.  This was an incredibly annoying addition to the game, and ultimately when I started to fear the worst for MTGPQ going forward.  Ultimately, I still enjoy Tezz2 and Dovin.. but most of that enjoyment can be attributed to multi-color deck options.

Then, bonus objective overload.  Not a huge deal, but forcing players to use new mechanics with bonus objectives that only work with the latest expansion is a little rude.  Thankfully, well-crafted decks with even the older (non-seasonal) PWs could land a pretty decent score in each event.  This wasn't game-breaking by any means, but it highlighted the mindset of designers at D3.

The nail in the coffin--Events requiring specific PWs.  I can't even begin to emphasize just how poorly-designed this is.  Less than a year ago, a very similar design brought everyone Saheeli for a couple days to try-before-you-buy.  Now we're faced with buy (not even one, but two planeswalkers!) before you can compete?  This is a slap in the face, and shows that D3 does not care about their customers.

And now, with AKH--All of these issues have been compounded into one.  The bonus objectives keep bringing the pain.  And following the trend of KLD, we're obviously going to see AKH-specific-PWs.  Not only were the KLD PWs annoying to buy before, but we know that both sets of expansion-specific-PWs will be useless in 1 or 2 expansions.  And it's not bonus objectives that kill it, but rather the inability to even use older cards.  Deck standards are cool for seasoned players that want the game to stay fresh, and game designers too (because balancing against millions of card combinations is tough stuff).  And I completely understand why both parties would want a standard somewhere in the game.  Problem is, there's a dwindling set of ways to play the game now.  And you're going to see a lot of coalitions breaking apart because of this.

If you really want to introduce a standard (and I think that's a great idea, as an opt-in), do so in a non-intrusive way.  Keep events and coalition events open, but have a specific standard-only event for individuals to participate in.  It should exist only in a gated place, and not at the demise of our coalitions.  To put this in perspective--many coalitions (including my own) are relatively competitive, and love the team events.  But most players will not be interested in standard, and have already grown tired with flavor-of-the-month design.  Our coalition (which is top-25 BTW), and many others, will be breaking apart if only some of us wish to participate in the absurd cash grab events.  When coalitions (communities) split, players leave.  This is bad for us, and it's bad for D3.  

And before people start with the whole "Standard is what keeps MTG alive in paper"...  Let's actually compare to paper then. In paper MTG, players are only affected by standard if they're participating in tournaments, or opt-in with friends.  There's nothing stopping people from getting together and playing with cards that date back to 1st gen.  With the current capabilities of MTGPQ, everything is a totalitarian tournament.  There is no MTG unless it's tournament.  You must use these cards, you must use these PWs, and so on.  To date, we haven't been able to play against our friends with ridiculous decks (which would be really fun!).  But the next best thing was hanging in a coalition and beating The Man together.  For many coalitions, standard is the breaking point; and D3 will see it in their dwindling player base until something changes.



Steps to fix things:
-Make standard deck competitions a solo, opt-in event, such that it does not harm team events and participation
-Give us a 2nd deck slot for free, so that we can manage both standard and non-standard decks
-If you're going to make events for specific PWs, design them as you did with Saheeli about 9 months ago.  Try-before-you-buy is always better than pay-to-compete.  
-Stop slapping us in the face with expansion-specific-PWs.. especially when everyone knows that they're useless in 1-2 expansions with the new standard rules.  Make more versatile PWs like Liliana 1, Kiora, Koth, Nahiri, etc.
-Try not to enforce new rules for events all at once when people don't have the new cards yet.  Especially for a team event.  Encouraging peer pressure for P2W is not cool.
-Add a vs. mode to play against friends.  We don't care if it's against the AI at first, but asynchronous PVP is where we should be headed.  We can manage our own deck restrictions when it's among friends.
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Comments

  • wereotter
    wereotter Posts: 2,064 Chairperson of the Boards
    So just a little note, I think they already adjusted the planeswalkers this time around considering how hated the energize mechanic was tied to all of the Kaladesh/Aether Revolt planeswalkers. You can see all three planeswalkers via training mode for Gideon and Liliana, and by checking the box to show you all the planeswalkers for Nissa. Gideon this time around is pretty versatile. He's got solid mana gains, good life total, and his abilities don't revolve around block mechanics, in fact unless you've gone to the trouble of casting a creature with embalm, then activating the gem to trigger the embalm, then use his third ability to get the creature back, he's not really that tied to the mechanics of the set. So far his second ability seems the most useful of them all. Pump up one creature, then sacrifice it to make your other two that much larger.

    Liliana cares about zombies (this is my not surprised face) but unlike before, she can turn non-zombie creatures into zombies and pump them up, as well as she reanimates them, and punishes your opponent for killing your zombies. She looks like she's going to have pretty solid mana spread across red, black, and blue, and should have some good longevity.

    Nissa looks to be the only one tied to set mechanics, and even then not in a bad way. Her first ability gives free mana to your first card without cycling, so after cycling rotates out, this is every card. Her second ability gives all the cards in your hand cycling, so it doesn't work so well with her first, but it does help you to get rid of cards you don't need and replace them with other potentially more useful cards, so that's a plus. Her third ability rewards you for cycling cards, and considering her second ability can give your cards cycling, she can still work even after cycling rotates out.
  • ErikInVegas
    ErikInVegas Posts: 102 Tile Toppler
    Companies headed by people who failed to finish school have a higher total return than companies headed by MBAs yet boards still allow MBAs to ruin their companies with over-optimization.

    Go look it up.  It's a very robust statistic.  Across countries and across decades MBAs are destroyers of value.

    By contrast, companies headed by engineers tend to outperform the market index both across countries and across decades.

  • ErikInVegas
    ErikInVegas Posts: 102 Tile Toppler
    You can flag my post as offensive but you can't change the facts.

    A sample size of thousands that are systematically trained to use particular methodology and then shown to underperform the average is strong evidence against that methodology.

    Furthermore, Bogle, ****, Buffet and other billionaire investors are on record pointing out that 9 out of 10 funds run by MBAs underperform the market index in the long run.

    That's statistically strong evidence that MBAs are actively optimizing for the wrong things - even when it hurts themselves.
  • Kinesia
    Kinesia Posts: 1,620 Chairperson of the Boards
    Ok, this is related some things I care about.
    I agree about the planeswalkers, Sorin is a _good_ example of how things should be, he's perfect for the in-block Vampire deck but his abilities work in any set.
    Arlinn is _terrible_ in any kind of standard and an example of what not to do. She _needs_ werewolves. If it had been "summon next werewolf or wolf" as the second ability things would have been so much better.

    Partly because of Arlinn and standard we _need_ both standard and wild deckslots for free for every planeswalker.

    The biggest risk to the future of the game though isn't these things. As you say it's so much better than a year ago.

    Because things improved I've got my kids and my wife playing but my wife is getting VERY frustrated.
    The thing that will kill the game is elitism and escalating power levels.

    My wife has planeswalkers around level 40 now and she can win some things with a bit of effort, but she has a LOT of fights against decks that are utterly full of mythics and masterpieces that she could not possibly win.
    The matching in events and Training Grounds can't just be against Level but also against "Amount of mythics in deck". Otherwise there will be NO new players sticking around beyond a week and the game will curl up and die.

    Even me, with no masterpieces but a fair few mythics, I have trouble against some 80% mythic 20% masterpiece decks... Unless we are playing the "pay to enter" elite events I would like it to be limited to 2 mythics per deck and 1 masterpiece.
    This isn't like the paper game. We can't pick who we play or the environment, so you need to level the playing field better to keep the new players.
  • Ohboy
    Ohboy Posts: 1,766 Chairperson of the Boards
    Companies headed by people who failed to finish school have a higher total return than companies headed by MBAs yet boards still allow MBAs to ruin their companies with over-optimization.

    Go look it up.  It's a very robust statistic.  Across countries and across decades MBAs are destroyers of value.

    By contrast, companies headed by engineers tend to outperform the market index both across countries and across decades.



    I just saw this and would like to inquire on your dropout-but-still-an-engineer course. 
  • ErikInVegas
    ErikInVegas Posts: 102 Tile Toppler
    edited July 2017
    How many people here were fooled by Ohboy's willful misunderstanding as a propaganda technique?

    Not many.

    The reason I brought up MBAs and their bad advice is that MtG:PQ has had many 'business optimizations' of the kind that MBAs tend to suggest in recent months that are driving players away.

  • bk1234
    bk1234 GLOBAL_MODERATORS Posts: 2,921 Chairperson of the Boards
    Well this is getting weird fast -- commenting so it's easier to follow. Boards have been quiet today. 
  • Ohboy
    Ohboy Posts: 1,766 Chairperson of the Boards
    Kinesia said:

    My wife has planeswalkers around level 40 now and she can win some things with a bit of effort, but she has a LOT of fights against decks that are utterly full of mythics and masterpieces that she could not possibly win.
    The matching in events and Training Grounds can't just be against Level but also against "Amount of mythics in deck". Otherwise there will be NO new players sticking around beyond a week and the game will curl up and die.

    Even me, with no masterpieces but a fair few mythics, I have trouble against some 80% mythic 20% masterpiece decks... Unless we are playing the "pay to enter" elite events I would like it to be limited to 2 mythics per deck and 1 masterpiece.
    This isn't like the paper game. We can't pick who we play or the environment, so you need to level the playing field better to keep the new players.


    I suspect a lot of complaints about standard, training grounds and trials of the planes is about a lack of technique brought about by playing in an era where OP cards and speed ruled the day, and skill was secondary. 

    Span and I were talking about the barrier of entry to trials of planes on Monday, and he suggested that it's taking so long to take off despite the huge value in platinum because many new players entering platinum find it impossible to beat the 8 games necessary to hit max rewards. (I blamed some people, but that's not part of this story) 

    To test the theory, I've been playing trial of planes the whole week with the 5 basic walkers, and a card pool limited to standard format rares, Uncommons and Commons. 

    The final green node begins this afternoon, and I'll post my results and decks when it ends. So far though, it's been very doable. More challenging of course(and more profanity laced games), but very doable. I've only had to play one legendary mode game. 

    So we perhaps it's experience. Perhaps it's technique. Or perhaps it's even the lack of rares. But I think we can rule out mythics and masterpieces for shutting people completely out of wins. 

  • Kinesia
    Kinesia Posts: 1,620 Chairperson of the Boards
    It's probably a combination of a lot of things. My wife has barely played paper magic at all and very few other similar games. While she have a lack of experience and technique and rares we still need a space for people lacking ALL those things to be encouraged to play.

    I'd be interested in you sharing your strategies for harder games with the different basic planewalkers especially regularly beating High Mythic Koth and things. Olivia is probably the single mythic that, coming out first/second turn is hard for newbies to beat without getting their own cascade.


  • Gilesclone
    Gilesclone Posts: 735 Critical Contributor
    Koth is annoying.  His mana is a huge roll of the dice.  If he gets lucky you're dead very early in the game.  Playing a red PW helps steal his fire, while pumping you up.

    Olivia, Pig and a few others are just broken.  Way too much power compared to ordinary mythics.  But  d3go is too lazy to fix them.  Thank the gods for Standard.
  • Ohboy
    Ohboy Posts: 1,766 Chairperson of the Boards
    Kinesia said:
    It's probably a combination of a lot of things. My wife has barely played paper magic at all and very few other similar games. While she have a lack of experience and technique and rares we still need a space for people lacking ALL those things to be encouraged to play.

    I'd be interested in you sharing your strategies for harder games with the different basic planewalkers especially regularly beating High Mythic Koth and things. Olivia is probably the single mythic that, coming out first/second turn is hard for newbies to beat without getting their own cascade.



    I made the mistake of trying to write my experience on my phone and lost my first draft. I'll try again tonight. 

    There are a few cards that you simply cannot win against without removal if they resolve. Off the top of my head, I can name 3.

    Olivia, ulrich and crush of tentacles. 
  • bk1234
    bk1234 GLOBAL_MODERATORS Posts: 2,921 Chairperson of the Boards
    Ohboy said:
    Kinesia said:
    It's probably a combination of a lot of things. My wife has barely played paper magic at all and very few other similar games. While she have a lack of experience and technique and rares we still need a space for people lacking ALL those things to be encouraged to play.

    I'd be interested in you sharing your strategies for harder games with the different basic planewalkers especially regularly beating High Mythic Koth and things. Olivia is probably the single mythic that, coming out first/second turn is hard for newbies to beat without getting their own cascade.



    I made the mistake of trying to write my experience on my phone and lost my first draft. I'll try again tonight. 

    There are a few cards that you simply cannot win against without removal if they resolve. Off the top of my head, I can name 3.

    Olivia, ulrich and crush of tentacles. 
    You can beat all of these with disable -- (technicality, but true). 
  • Ohboy
    Ohboy Posts: 1,766 Chairperson of the Boards
    bken1234 said:
    Ohboy said:
    Kinesia said:
    It's probably a combination of a lot of things. My wife has barely played paper magic at all and very few other similar games. While she have a lack of experience and technique and rares we still need a space for people lacking ALL those things to be encouraged to play.

    I'd be interested in you sharing your strategies for harder games with the different basic planewalkers especially regularly beating High Mythic Koth and things. Olivia is probably the single mythic that, coming out first/second turn is hard for newbies to beat without getting their own cascade.



    I made the mistake of trying to write my experience on my phone and lost my first draft. I'll try again tonight. 

    There are a few cards that you simply cannot win against without removal if they resolve. Off the top of my head, I can name 3.

    Olivia, ulrich and crush of tentacles. 
    You can beat all of these with disable -- (technicality, but true). 

    And bounce of course. I just group everything that takes creatures out of the equation as removal. 
  • bk1234
    bk1234 GLOBAL_MODERATORS Posts: 2,921 Chairperson of the Boards
    Ohboy said:
    bken1234 said:
    Ohboy said:
    Kinesia said:
    It's probably a combination of a lot of things. My wife has barely played paper magic at all and very few other similar games. While she have a lack of experience and technique and rares we still need a space for people lacking ALL those things to be encouraged to play.

    I'd be interested in you sharing your strategies for harder games with the different basic planewalkers especially regularly beating High Mythic Koth and things. Olivia is probably the single mythic that, coming out first/second turn is hard for newbies to beat without getting their own cascade.



    I made the mistake of trying to write my experience on my phone and lost my first draft. I'll try again tonight. 

    There are a few cards that you simply cannot win against without removal if they resolve. Off the top of my head, I can name 3.

    Olivia, ulrich and crush of tentacles. 
    You can beat all of these with disable -- (technicality, but true). 

    And bounce of course. I just group everything that takes creatures out of the equation as removal. 
    I'm a fan of semantics -- I consider bounce removal since it removes the creature from the board. 
  • Fiddler
    Fiddler Posts: 251 Mover and Shaker

    If I could get back to the original post for a moment...


    What a well written and excellent description of the player experience over the past year and a bit. If I was to add a single addition, it would be about the way the game currencies have evolved in that time.