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knightofeffect
09-16-2013, 07:13 PM
Let me start off by saying I am not an advocate of rushing the game in any way. I am for alpha and beta taking absolutely as long as necessary for a good finished product to get released. However, hearing that the alpha will likely take a "couple months" as opposed to a few weeks did raise a concern for me.

So far we have heard that alpha access will entail 4x of every card and similarly open testing of all tournament types/structures along with some of the starting PvE content. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for set spoilers, and used to religiously look out for the full MTG spoilers before a pre-release, but I do have a concern about the entire meta of set 1 being shook-out before there is any risk or possession of cards involved.

My favorite times in MTG were around pre-release, when a new set's implications in to the constructed and draft meta is still a very fluid situation and exiting ideas and discoveries are popping up all over the place. Typically that time period doesn't last very long and would last even shorter if every player could draft as much as they liked with no consequences and play-tested every constructed deck in tournament after tournament.

It seems we could easily run into a situation where the relative values of most of the cards are fairly well set before anyone can even permanently possess the cards and the draft meta is set into its archetypes for set 1. Now, so far the draft meta looks to be very diverse and I have been quite impressed with only 3/4th of the cards to work with, so perhaps that won't be such a big issue; but thousands of players having unlimited access has a chance to shake even the most robust meta down.

Some would say, well if you don't want to spoil the experience, then don't play in the alpha. Well, whether or not I play (and you bet your ass I will out of pure anticipation), the meta will get developed regardless. Furthermore, there is no way I would want to willing go into a draft format where everyone I'm playing against has had two months of experience where I have had none. Which makes me think, at least for set 1, players new to the game (not backers) might have a particularly difficult time in the more competitive side of things unless they are especially diligent in their fan-site research.

A few of suggestions to help mitigate these possible ramifications of an extended alpha (I have a feeling these will not be popular suggestions):

Pace the experience by giving players a limited allowance of platinum weekly to dictate rate of tournaments and drafts. (But start them off with a significant amount so we can dive in head first. IE 20 drafts worth of plat to start and then an allowance for once a day after)

Give players only 1x or 2x of every card to start with as more cards will be accrued in draft so the constructed format will evolve and it will give the AH and/or trading systems the opportunity to be thoroughly tested.

Stagger player testing availability. (IE all groups get it for the first two weeks. Then do a mix of rotating 1/3rd of the base for a week and periodic stress tests of the whole player base.) Probably not the biggest fan of this idea myself, as I imagine I'd go through pretty bad withdrawal.


Perhaps some of the above suggestions are already known to be happening in some fashion and I missed it; perhaps they are the worst ideas ever and I should watch my whore mouth. Just something that had been on my mind since Dragon*con...

Cheers :D

Gwaer
09-16-2013, 07:23 PM
It's a pretty big test of their design phiilosophy as well. Cory has said repeatedly if there are only one or two decks in the top 10 they have failed utterly.

jetah
09-16-2013, 07:25 PM
There will be many people streaming HEX alpha.


the problem with value of cards is the chance to obtain one in Beta/Live. if a well desired card has a drop chance of 2% then everyone needing it in their deck will likely not happen.

it would be pretty neat to have ~50% of the cards up front in Alpha with the rest being released weekly (say over 4-8 weeks). This would give a surprise when the new cards drop.

knightofeffect
09-16-2013, 07:28 PM
@ Gwaer That's true. It is also worth pointing out that no game is judged on a meta surrounding a single set. I'm sure things will get much more complex with sets two and three making their respective introductions. However, first impressions are very important, and I don't want set 1 to have a built in "disadvantage" due to an extended alpha.

@jetah Yea that is another possible suggestion. Thanks for the thoughtful post!

TheRhys
09-16-2013, 07:28 PM
I'm fine with suggestions 1 and 2, but not 3, suggestion 3 sucks. Keep participation open, too many issues with scheduling and if you can't play during your time because you have scheduling issues and whatnot. Limiting cards in alpha is fine, it would test the rate of accrual. Limiting tournaments would be... ok I don't like it but I'd live with it for the health of the game. Other than that... Generally I'm ok with this, because I think set 2 will probably come out very quickly after launch based on the amount of work they already have done on it.

Redbeastmage
09-16-2013, 07:39 PM
Giving people full access to the alpha set is really no different then end of spoiler season for MtG. People can proxy to their hearts content and brew out the best decks that way. Plus, with alpha testing, the sample of people playing will be small enough that ideally there will be ideas not found or synergies undiscovered.

Simo46
09-16-2013, 07:56 PM
I too have thought about it but was resigned to an 'oh well' at the end of it. People will be behind starting late purely on the merits of less experience, likely less cards collected etc as well so I didn't think too much of it. But those ideas like releasing the unspoiled cards slowly or limited platinum are great ideas. If we go bananas straight up there will be a deck heirarchy within a week.

knightofeffect
09-16-2013, 07:59 PM
@Redbeastmage Yea I thought about this, as I was one of the people doing it. However, it seems that only the really hardcore did that, and at least when I was doing it, the community was not nearly as well connected as this community is going to be in this internet filled day and age. Similarly there wasn't the ability to playtest against an extremely diverse group of people as we will be able to in the Hex alpha.

Finally, I don't think even the most hardcore proxied up full drafts, which is really where my primary concern lie. The meta of only 1 set constructed really doesn't seem like to worrying about really. Drafting is the primary card acquisition mechanism of the competitive players (at least in my experience) and fully developing that meta (where real dollars and cents are involved) so early (where real dollars and cents are not involved) seems like it could be slightly unhealthy to the launch. Especially for the uninitiated.

sukebe
09-16-2013, 08:26 PM
I would really rather they include all the cards in the alpha as quickly as possible. This will allow us to test them far more than the developers possibly could. I am sure they have worked long and hard on making all the cards balanced but they cannot possibly do the work of 16k + people who will be devouring the game the moment they are allowed.

I think it is important we get all the kinks worked out in the cards before the general public is allowed to access them. During the alpha the cards can still be changed without them breaking their promise of "no nerfing, only banning". I at least assume that only applies when we receive our kickstarter packages.

knightofeffect
09-16-2013, 08:43 PM
@sukebe I don't think they will be relying on us for card balance at all. All TCGs do tons of playtesting internally to develop the correct balance during the creation of a set; even if they did use us for set one (which they won't), they wouldn't be able to use us for any of the other sets in this manner (I guess you could say a "test server", but still that isn't how TCGs are currently made and they are a very experienced physical TCG company). It has simply always been the job of the internal set design, testing, and rules teams to make sure that a set is well balanced before it releases; the ban is utilized on the rare miss. =)

Even with platinum limiting, I can guarantee that we will be able to playtest the hell outta bugs inherent in the card design implementation. =)

Now that was all the PvP-side of things... That isn't to say that we could provide some very useful playtesting in PvE where the variation and possibilities will be much greater. They have already said that certain PvE-only balance aspects could be susceptible to modification even past alpha.

Thanks for the post!

zadies
09-16-2013, 09:14 PM
Your assuming that set two won't be released shortly after live they could start the count down for it at soft launch when they give out the is rewards as opposed to when the real live with all pve launch happens.

Dralon
09-16-2013, 09:25 PM
This is not just a new set coming out with an anticipation of how that will affect the metagame. this is an entirely new game. It is much more important to ensure that everything is working as well as it possibly can, from cards, to the interface to the commmunications, to the support, to the purchasing, etc than to ensure the metagame is fresh. Yes card values and strong decks will be known at launch because of that, but that is way ok. With set 2 the meta will change and that is where you can look to have your "pre-release" experience. Lets make sure the game functions as intended first.

knightofeffect
09-16-2013, 09:29 PM
@zadies I wasn't really making an assumption either way on that.

I have actually seen several people mention the potential for a relatively "quick" set 2 release, is that something someone once said would be nice, or did someone from Crypto hint towards that possibility? If they were following a typical MTG development timeline, most of the major set pieces for 2 & 3 would be done by the time set 1 is released (assuming a typical block structuring). I know Ben mentioned that they had moved onto starting on set 2 several weeks ago, but assuming set 1 soft launch in Nov/Dec, it would not be out of a typical timeline for set 2 to release in Feb/Mar just based on that one hint Ben gave.

But regardless, your point is correct, when set 2 launches, it will inevitably change the meta significantly; therefore, if it was released shortly (a month to 1.5 months) after soft launch, it would mitigate pretty much everything I'm talking about. That being said, I'd personally like to enjoy set 1 in the wild first if I could choose, but would not complain with an extra ~170 cards making an early entrance. =)

knightofeffect
09-16-2013, 09:34 PM
@Dralon

I completely agree it just seems to me they both can be accomplished at once. If you limit the cards given out to 2x for everyone and then put plat on an allowance, it seems to me that you would even do a better job at testing the purchase, trading, etc. functions of the game while not limiting the bug testing of card functionality either as tons and tons of games will still be played.

My concern about my suggestion was actually the opposite; I thought they might not actually have the systems completely in place to facilitate purchasing and trading/AH at the initial alpha launch as that really isn't necessary to test gameplay bugs.

Again, while a fresh metagame is likely not the top concern, a first impression for new players coming in at launch will be very important to gain the ground swell we'd like for the game to be massively successful. To your point, a fluid bug-free set of features and systems is crucial, but so is a health and inviting meta. =)

zadies
09-16-2013, 09:36 PM
Given they have already spoiled a card from set two with full art I expect it to be rather far along as I know they are currently play testing it due to comments made at dragoncon though I am unsure if it was during the panel or after it that they said they laid out all the card designs for about a year in advance.

tautologico
09-16-2013, 10:27 PM
Releasing Set 2 before the game even launches may not be a good idea. New players getting into the game just at launch will be already at great disadvantage because they'll need to know 2 sets already (and set 1 is quite big by current MtG standards).

I agree with the OP and in general I think Set 1 will not have the same experience as the future sets (obviously), being the first one. The draft meta will probably be fully explored by the time beta comes, and the tier 1 constructed archetypes will probably be known too. This is balanced by the fact that we will be playing a whole new game and all.

keldrin
09-16-2013, 10:40 PM
I fully support the concept of full access to all set 1 cards, plus unlimited plat to work with and test with.
No matter how you look at it, the meta will get tested and explored quickly and a relative worth established, no matter how you limit things.
The reason being, to a large extent, this very forum commenting on new combinations and relative worth of cards. The synergies will get learned, even if they limit your card pool and play ability. Especially, since we need to be posting powerful combinations and synergies, so crytozoic can analyse things to make sure the cards are working with-in the confines of what is intended.

Leingod
09-16-2013, 11:12 PM
@sukebe I don't think they will be relying on us for card balance at all. All TCGs do tons of playtesting internally to develop the correct balance during the creation of a set; even if they did use us for set one (which they won't), they wouldn't be able to use us for any of the other sets in this manner (I guess you could say a "test server", but still that isn't how TCGs are currently made and they are a very experienced physical TCG company). It has simply always been the job of the internal set design, testing, and rules teams to make sure that a set is well balanced before it releases; the ban is utilized on the rare miss. =)

Even with platinum limiting, I can guarantee that we will be able to playtest the hell outta bugs inherent in the card design implementation. =)

Now that was all the PvP-side of things... That isn't to say that we could provide some very useful playtesting in PvE where the variation and possibilities will be much greater. They have already said that certain PvE-only balance aspects could be susceptible to modification even past alpha.

Thanks for the post!

I think you're definitely underestimating the amount of balance issues that a playerbase will find compared to internal testing.

sukebe
09-16-2013, 11:36 PM
@sukebe I don't think they will be relying on us for card balance at all. All TCGs do tons of playtesting internally to develop the correct balance during the creation of a set; even if they did use us for set one (which they won't), they wouldn't be able to use us for any of the other sets in this manner (I guess you could say a "test server", but still that isn't how TCGs are currently made and they are a very experienced physical TCG company). It has simply always been the job of the internal set design, testing, and rules teams to make sure that a set is well balanced before it releases; the ban is utilized on the rare miss. =)

Even with platinum limiting, I can guarantee that we will be able to playtest the hell outta bugs inherent in the card design implementation. =)

Now that was all the PvP-side of things... That isn't to say that we could provide some very useful playtesting in PvE where the variation and possibilities will be much greater. They have already said that certain PvE-only balance aspects could be susceptible to modification even past alpha.

Thanks for the post!

I know they do huge amounts of testing. MTG even has the Future Future League to test them out in tournament situations in house. Guess what though? Some overpowered cards still make it to print. Look up Jace, The Mindsculptor, Skullclamp (the oldest of the bunch), and Stoneforge Mystic.

The simple fact of the matter is that they just do not have the manpower (even in MTG, the largest tcg around) to do the testing that 16k+ fans can do. I have a great deal of confidence in CZE and I am sure that they have learned from past mistakes. It also helps that, as large as this first card set is, it is far smaller than even the standard block in MTG so they have far less card interactions to worry about. All that said though, it never hurts to have so many people double checking them.

You know the old saying about getting enough monkeys typing on typewriters.... :-)

EntropyBall
09-17-2013, 08:54 AM
I really like your 2nd suggestion. It gets all the cards out there to someone, so they are all being tested, but more importantly I think it gives a chance to test the AH and trading mechanics. No incentive to do that if everyone has a playset, and if they don't want to wipe after beta starts, you definitely want to find bugs/exploits in trading before beta.

Aruken
09-17-2013, 09:02 AM
I have a question that does not need a new thread to be opened imo, so I'm sorry if it is a little out of the blue here.
Just to know if drafting will be free during the alpha, as constructed already seems to be? I just need a quick Yes or No. Thank you.

Gwaer
09-17-2013, 09:10 AM
That's the plan. Implement free unlimited drafting in the alpha. But it will not be there right away.

knightofeffect
09-17-2013, 08:51 PM
I know they do huge amounts of testing. MTG even has the Future Future League to test them out in tournament situations in house. Guess what though? Some overpowered cards still make it to print. Look up Jace, The Mindsculptor, Skullclamp (the oldest of the bunch), and Stoneforge Mystic.

The simple fact of the matter is that they just do not have the manpower (even in MTG, the largest tcg around) to do the testing that 16k+ fans can do. I have a great deal of confidence in CZE and I am sure that they have learned from past mistakes. It also helps that, as large as this first card set is, it is far smaller than even the standard block in MTG so they have far less card interactions to worry about. All that said though, it never hurts to have so many people double checking them.

You know the old saying about getting enough monkeys typing on typewriters.... :-)

Hahaha, sadly, skullclamp is the only one of those that I know about... well, I've heard of Jace. They really should have seen skullclamp coming, I mean just a cursory glance could have caught that one.

I agree that 16k people banging on the meta would shake balance extremes out better than any internal testing could, I just don't think they are going to set the precedent of using the community for balance. All their comments about the development process point to them developing the game like a physical TCG and they have already said on different occasions that they will consider bans for cards whose powerlevel gets out of wack after it is released.

Allowing the community to comment on what they feel is too powerful can be a slippery slope, additionally a single set for a couple months is unlikely to definitively show a card to be worth banning, and again, I don't think they want to set the precedent of using the community to freely test the meta before a set comes out in order to possibly find things worth banning.

The topic of how Crypo uses the community in regards to balance could probably have its own thread. Or maybe that already happened and I'm behind the times =)

Parzival
09-17-2013, 10:04 PM
I also don't like the idea of full sets in alpha, I can understand from a testing point of view but personally it would kill the joy of the beginning, building your collection, limited resources, putting that Grey Ogre into your deck because well he's all you've got :D

I remember Shandalar (yes I know there will be no PvE in alpha), those crappy starter decks, wailing at Amrou Kithkin and walls of Wood.

Giving all cards in alpha is like opening the Candy Shop and ushering the kids in, then pointing at the watch before taking all the candy away and locking the doors again.

I know the standard answer will be "Well then don't play alpha" and Dralon's argument that it for the greater good makes sense but that does make me sad.

Hoping that they start alpha with full sets, then wipe the accounts during alpha (after they have the bugs nailed down) and offer us unlimited draft and platinum for the ah - that would make me happy :)

Gwaer
09-17-2013, 10:14 PM
It'll only be the PVP set. You can still discover the PVE set shandalaar style.

Parzival
09-17-2013, 10:23 PM
It'll only be the PVP set. You can still discover the PVE set shandalaar style.

I know, that's why I'm not cracked up about it :cool: Just means I have to be a little more patient - which is hard with Hex.

sukebe
09-17-2013, 10:54 PM
Allowing the community to comment on what they feel is too powerful can be a slippery slope, additionally a single set for a couple months is unlikely to definitively show a card to be worth banning, and again, I don't think they want to set the precedent of using the community to freely test the meta before a set comes out in order to possibly find things worth banning.



I agree that they need to be careful when listening to community ban cries. I want them to listen to the community closely but never simply bend to its will. I am not too worried though, they should know what they are doing as they have worked with TCGs before. Even MTG, with its many many fans, rarely bans cards and I think CZE will be the same way.

jaxsonbatemanhex
09-17-2013, 11:06 PM
I believe they have enough TCG experience and have seen enough other high level games to only listen to concise, well thought out arguments by players at the top of the game, as well as looking at statistics that indicate highly unfavorable trends (ie. every top tier deck running a certain card because it's just so good - as an example, IIRC Wild Nacatl was banned from modern as it more or less forced aggro decks to go Naya colors due to how efficient swinging with a 3/3 on turn 2 is). While casual gamers shouldn't be ignored, many a time what a more casual gamer will perceive as an imbalance will just be a gap in skill or knowledge (this has happened somewhat frequently in SC2, where a low to mid level player would complain about a certain unit or tactic that didn't cause an issue at the higher levels of gameplay, and I only recall ever seeing pros complain about a tactic once).

sukebe
09-18-2013, 01:13 AM
I agree, this is likely the way they will go. Following the trends will be the most effective way they have of knowing if something is to good. Not on single tournaments of course but over time seeing the same cards in winning decks will be a big indicator. Thank you for bringing that up :-)

Mokog
09-19-2013, 04:12 AM
CZE has great incentives for a fully unlocked pvp alpha. You get to have simultaneous use of every card in the set and testing to make sure they function as intended as well as that early data of what cards players seem to be preferring.

There is also a confidence factor that this form of test has. It takes confidence in your design and systems to have a no NDA fully unlocked alpha. If this goes as well as we imagine Hex will be the new BMOC of the digital world for a long while.

Soldack
09-19-2013, 05:58 AM
Isn't Alpha only 3 weeks long?

Mahes
09-19-2013, 06:27 AM
You are concerned that the first set will be play tested to much?

The surprise portion of the game will not be the PvP.....ever. Any person can proxy out the cards and test to their hearts delight. An example of this would be me having tested out the new magic card "Whip of Erobos" in a green/black deck. The card is very fun to play. Theros has yet to release and I have played with that card dozens of times now. Yes it is true that the /random digital aspect makes it more difficult, but not impossible. The first set is going to be played to death. People will get tired of playing the first set because it will become apparent that 4-5 decks will dominate the constructed environment and everything else is filler, just like Magic. The fun for constructed will be when we get to set 4 or 5. This is when players will find unexpected combo effects not initially intended. There will be no surprises for set 1 in PvP, and so no real concern for new players who can simply look online to find one of the stronger decks and build it.

The PvE side of things will be what players get more of a surprise factor come release.

Gwaer
09-19-2013, 07:10 AM
Isn't Alpha only 3 weeks long?
Originally. It has changed to a couple months rather than 3 weeks.

Zygon
09-19-2013, 12:10 PM
I'm more worried that Set 1 is going to get boring, tbh.

Sure they're going to add more sets....after release. Hopefully they'll count Open Beta as release, because as much as I'm going to love this game, I don't want to wait until like...June of next year for new cards.

Gwaer
09-19-2013, 01:27 PM
april-june seems like a good guess about when set 2 might be coming out. I plan to put a good many hours into PVE, hopefully that will keep set 1 from dragging on too much.

Zygon
09-19-2013, 02:17 PM
Yeah I'm going to be pretty into PvE as well, which will help a lot. But this first set is definitely going to be really long for us. There's going to be a ton of PvE content for sure, as well as many characters. Hopefully that'll be enough.

jetah
09-19-2013, 09:46 PM
Each set will have a variety of ways to play because of the PvE equipment. I'm sure people will rebuild their deck many times based on items they get.