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Shaqattaq
12-19-2013, 07:38 PM
by Ben Stoll

Today, I wanted to take a minute to address the what and why of some of the changes we’ve been testing recently in Hex Alpha.

http://hextcg.com/prep-phase-priority-window/

mudkip
12-19-2013, 09:22 PM
HEX is nearly complete

Hmm...

jtatta
12-20-2013, 09:08 AM
Hmm...

He's obviously talking about the design of the game, which is true.

escapeRoute
12-20-2013, 09:23 AM
by Ben Stoll

Today, I wanted to take a minute to address the what and why of some of the changes we’ve been testing recently in Hex Alpha.

http://hextcg.com/prep-phase-priority-window/

i can say im not totally sold with this... i dont think it is a loss equal to the previous big change, but it still is a big loss... not one that makes me outrage like the first time, but one that leaves me with a bitter taste.

i can live with it but i will need time to forget it happened

primer
12-20-2013, 04:29 PM
Can someone give me and in game example of before and after this change to help me understand? bit of a layman.

ravenight
12-20-2013, 06:28 PM
I think the change is a good one - the prep phase priority window is mostly dead time, and the few things that could possibly have been done there are not a big enough boost to strategy to justify the cost in game flow.

In fact, I think they should experiment with no priority passing whatsoever. What if every card that targets another card and would currently use the chain either no longer uses the chain, or now resolves at the end of the opponent's first main phase? You could still counter/respond to any card you wanted, but you'd get to do it on your turn. You could still surprise the other player, you'd just have to plan differently. Some cards would have to change, but how many? You wouldn't be able to counter enemy troops, but do you need to be able to? It might be cool to introduce cards that didn't show the opponent what they were at the time they were cast, that had various effects either at the end of the first main phase, or in response to the opponent's actions (that would obviously have to be designed in future sets, but would allow counterspells to affect troops and such).

I know it's too late for them to make that big a change, but I really think the recent changes make it clear that this is a good direction to head.

RECHiD
12-20-2013, 06:28 PM
I'm a competitive TCG player. After reading the article, I'm left a little bit saddened, but not devastated. This sort of thing happens every few years in Magic, and while it sucks for the hardcore tournament grinders, we get over it.

At least Ben knows what the implications are. He pretty much nailed it on the head. The big implications are -

1) Streamlines and simplifies the game. Less clicks, less things to get confused about.

2) Removes window for strategic plays. Fewer options, removes interactions.

It won't hurt to give the game a try with this window gone, but I'm holding out hope that the community and rise up against this one, like how we did against Triggered Abilities (hey, at least we got targeted Triggers back on the stack!)

I'd like to toss an idea out there, as a middle-of-the-road approach.

ALTERNATIVE to removing Prep Phase Stop: Remove the default stop on prep phase. This way, casual/new players will not have to concern themselves with an additional stop. If both players have default stops, play proceeds to Main Phase. The only time a turn will not immediately proceed to Main Phase is when at least one player decides to make a play (or grind the timer to bluff that they have a play). If no play is made, the turn proceeds to Main Phase, as the person who has default stops (that is, no Prep Phase stop) might not even notice.

The folks who seek to gain value from a Prep Phase stop can manually re-enable it. If they choose to do something, of course the opponent will be able to react.

- - - - -

I guess it really depends on what sort of card game Cryptozoic wants to develop.

If you keep these little complexities in the game, tournament players looking for depth appreciate it, as it gives them a richer play experience, and their skill is more rewarded. But complexity and tediousness can drive some people away.

If you simplify the game, you lose points with the hardcore, but you appeal to a wider audience. That means more players to play with, and more money that Cryptozoic can spend making HEX a better game for many years.

koisoujiro
12-20-2013, 08:22 PM
as long as I can respond on an opponents turn, im good. Haven't played any TCG yet that offers that besides MTGO.

decoy11
12-21-2013, 01:23 AM
It still sucks to lose a phase while you could have and already did set that phase to auto default to skip it anyways. I still hope we get the phase back and in fact one day get as many phases or more phases then Magic. Also please write a rulebook for the game already or at least a rough draft.

Jinxies
12-21-2013, 03:08 AM
I wish they'd just set a default option to always skip the prep phase. That way those of us who like it can just add it in options :/

Indormi
12-21-2013, 03:28 AM
At this time I think that the only 2 "mayor" affected interactions(appart from what is mentionend on the artcile) are with Sliver(being able to make the slivers before your draw steps) which makes you pretty much inmune to mill (as there are really few quickaction speed mills(I can only think of boltpaw,and fate rack)) and the ability to play stuff like Inmortality/Blinding light before your draw step to not die to stuff like castigator and possible Inferno.

On the 2nd interaction I just rather make any ability that deals damage to a player to go the stack in addition of just targetted one. I wont ever forget my 100 cards highlander match against Cirouss where he played castigator, I had inmortality in hand and 11 lives and just topdecked argus next turn which I couldnt respond with my own inmortality. It was hilarious but also a bit frustrating.

And the first interaction just may be unhealthy as slivers may counter mill just too well.

Kroan
12-21-2013, 03:46 AM
- wrong thread, derp -

Arivald
12-21-2013, 04:23 PM
Ben is asking wrong questions. We should not discuss this change but focus on why are we even have to "test" it. Crypto made it clear that they want smoother gameplay without so many clicks and that's why they are cutting some game opportunities -again-. This is absolutely not what they should do. Extreme majority of what they want to fix wont be fixed unless mechanics of the game will be extensively cut. What will be removed next - end step, stack, priority? Where will it end before retail? Since I hope its not what devs want I ask why Crypto is ignoring elephant in the room which is responsible for 90% of problems they are trying to fix.
Solution is simple - priority yield hotkeys. Why are we treating symptoms while cure for the disease is right there. I honestly cant understand why we still don't have hotkeys in alpha - its really a few lines of client code that will dramatically improve how the game is played. If those get implemented, and we will still have issues with clicking and the flow of the game THEN we can start thinking about changes in game mechanics.
Someone could say that still - prep step is so often unused that we should get rid of it regardless of clicking issue. First of all - we don't know how game will evolve and that we wont miss that prep step in two years. Second - well, why not just disable it by default? We have "phase stops" setting window and if someone will be in need to access priority on prep step he could simply set this in that window. Game wont be crippled and wont slow down games when not needed. IMHO loosing because we couldn't use card when it was needed is absolutely the worst experience tcg can "offer".

Gwaer
12-21-2013, 04:34 PM
I think they are trying to fix the underlying problems the yield keys were designed to fix. I think it's possible. But cutting opportunities like the prep phase or even the triggers is the wrong way to approach the problem. We are redefining a genre here. We need a real innovative step to dealing with priority, rather than cutting back on chances to act.

escapeRoute
12-21-2013, 05:09 PM
I think the change is a good one - the prep phase priority window is mostly dead time, and the few things that could possibly have been done there are not a big enough boost to strategy to justify the cost in game flow.

In fact, I think they should experiment with no priority passing whatsoever. What if every card that targets another card and would currently use the chain either no longer uses the chain, or now resolves at the end of the opponent's first main phase? You could still counter/respond to any card you wanted, but you'd get to do it on your turn. You could still surprise the other player, you'd just have to plan differently. Some cards would have to change, but how many? You wouldn't be able to counter enemy troops, but do you need to be able to? It might be cool to introduce cards that didn't show the opponent what they were at the time they were cast, that had various effects either at the end of the first main phase, or in response to the opponent's actions (that would obviously have to be designed in future sets, but would allow counterspells to affect troops and such).

I know it's too late for them to make that big a change, but I really think the recent changes make it clear that this is a good direction to head.

my eyes bleeded a bit after i readed this

Damascus
12-21-2013, 11:43 PM
I think they are trying to fix the underlying problems the yield keys were designed to fix. I think it's possible. But cutting opportunities like the prep phase or even the triggers is the wrong way to approach the problem. We are redefining a genre here. We need a real innovative step to dealing with priority, rather than cutting back on chances to act.

Sorry in advance for incoming wall of text, and as a disclaimer, I just want to say I am one of the biggest Hex fans out there and have recruited many friends to slacker back, etc. Please read this all though:

I think Gwaer is right about this. I said it last change and I'll say it again now - they really need to stop cutting out reaction opportunities and just streamline the UI instead. I really get a bad taste in my mouth every time I read these posts and their rationale.

It's like "yeah, ok, let's test it, maybe it won't be THAT bad - and it's worth it because it streamlines things."
Sure it does, but you're not fixing this in the right way. These 'fixes' are like bandaids on someone with hemophilia. Sure it might help slightly, but that's questionable, and you aren't addressing the underlying issue.

Each time you try to streamline things by removing complexity, you eat away a little bit at nuanced play, which makes me and other more competitive players cringe. I get the desire to appeal to a wider audience, and I do agree that the game would benefit greatly from some streamlining (I'd be pumped), but this isn't the way to do it - this is not streamlining, it's dissection - and while these changes aren't alienating me as a more competitive player coming from a tcg background, and I still love Hex, they do dampen my enthusiasm about the game slightly each time I see them.

Please do us all a favor and just make the user-interface change that so desperately needs to be made, and allow people to pick and choose which phases are auto-passed or utilized. You asked for feedback, so this is me trying my best. This is literally a solution that nobody will have issue with, and will help appease the hardcore who want to get into all the nuances (this is what you want if you are trying to foster an e-sport, which I know you are) while letting newer or more impatient people skip what they view as unimportant phases.

Literally just a check-box in the menu on the left of the screen or something you could easily pop out to toggle the phase-stops. Please, I am begging you guys - I really want this game to succeed, and while people will comment about this saying that it's not a big deal, the negative feelings associated with the changes can start to add up in peoples' minds such that while there is no 'single reason' to stop playing, there is just an overall sense of distaste and lack of enthusiasm.


One last thing: am I the only one who read this line in the second paragraph?
"We recently updated the game so that triggered and activated abilities no longer use the chain except when they target"
I was under the impression that it was only triggered abilities? Activated abilities that don't target not using the stack/chain is a whole different ballgame. Example: I have a 0/1 with the activated ability "this troop gets +1/+1 this turn". This does not target, and if it does not use the chain, I can't burn in response. Can someone clarify? If this is the case, there is a much bigger issue at hand I think.

Gwaer
12-22-2013, 12:31 AM
To your footnote I've suggested in many places that it be expanded to include abilities which alter the attack, defense, or abilities of troops hitting the stack in addition to just targeted ones.

escapeRoute
12-22-2013, 02:29 AM
For fuck sake i missed that... Activated abilities are even a worse thing than the firdt passive ones... I am starting to get pissed by this thing.... A lot... I just hope this was a misspelling

U will never appeal the hearthstone crowd... Stop trying or u will screw this up for god sake

ravenight
12-24-2013, 08:54 AM
I think there's a big difference between priority windows and strategic options. Whenever a change is made for the sake of streamlining play, it is fair to ask whether strategic depth is being lost and whether there's a better way to accomplish the goal and/or replace the lost depth. But priority windows are really not the same as strategic depth.

On the flip side, removing ways in which cards can be used without adding additional ways to use them should be done cautiously, hence the need to test a change like this. If the option to do something during the prep phase is almost never used, it could still be an important strategic element, allowing certain plays due to the threat of doing something during the prep phase. I don't know what those things would be specifically in the current game but looking at the current cards alone doesn't tell you everything either.

I agree with Gwaer, though, part of the opportunity here is to use Hex's all-digital nature to solve problems that make physical TCGs worse. They've found a lot of places to add mechanics that can only exist digitally, but while those are different than the ones in Magic, they aren't fundamentally better. Priority windows, though, seems like something that could be handled better.

For example, what if you could queue any quick action into a priority slot, with a trigger set for either the start of a particular phase, or in response to opponent's action? So there were slots for prep, first main, combat, after declare blockers, second main, end phase, and reaction. You can only have one action in a slot at a time, putting it there costs 1 for each slot it's already in, but doesn't reveal to an opponent what the action is. So you can queue pump abilities, for example, but if you queue them for the start of combat and reaction windows, it costs 1 per turn to maintain that queuing . Once a priority window is opened by an action being in its slot, it works as normal, so as long as you have something queued at combat start, you can use any quick action at that point.

Werlix
12-26-2013, 06:19 PM
I'm happy with this change I think smoothing the gameplay experience by culling the priority window in the prep is worth the very minor loss of strategic options. There's no question that if this was designed as a digital TCG first it would never have had that window in the first place.