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Tathel
01-09-2014, 01:36 PM
I don't know if this has been discussed (my quick search didn't seem to turn up anything)

Right now in alpha we are seeing a fair amount of balance changes for cards.

I'm fine with this because we haven't paid for these cards.

I'm sure CZE will not want to have this level of change post release (set 4 or 5 down the road: when we will not have the use of cards before buying boosters presumably only played by internal balance testers).

I'm wondering in the future in order to balance cards before a set's release, would it be a good idea to run things like a 'set 4 beta' where players will be invited to try break the set?

This might allow them a larger testing ground in order to avoid banning.

Wizards keeps set information pretty close to the belt until a few weeks before pre-release, so this would be a very different take. I'm sure there would be downsides, but this is also not possible with physical cards and the advantages may outweigh any disadvantage that comes along with revealing information about up coming sets (such as effecting value of cards in the current set prematurely, also formats may stale more quickly with information existing longer between sets)

Opinions?

Shivdaddy
01-09-2014, 01:57 PM
I would guess they would do a beta to work kinks out of the cards. It would spoil the set instantly so my guess would be its a week long beta.

SomeoneRandom
01-09-2014, 02:14 PM
I don't foresee them doing anything before set release. Because this is Alpha this is a time they would be balancing in house anyways, we are just seeing the process. The process makes me a bit uneasy as it is because honestly a lot of the nerfs were unnecessary, but since it is POSSIBLE to do nerfs currently people will beg for them and they have to respond.

Tathel
01-09-2014, 02:22 PM
I don't foresee them doing anything before set release. Because this is Alpha this is a time they would be balancing in house anyways, we are just seeing the process. The process makes me a bit uneasy as it is because honestly a lot of the nerfs were unnecessary, but since it is POSSIBLE to do nerfs currently people will beg for them and they have to respond.

Hmm i agree, and with this in mind; it may actually become the norm if there is a bunch of external testing. I don't mind pushed cards stops things from being bland.

Handsofevil
01-09-2014, 04:08 PM
I do expect a PBE like many companies/games have, Public Beta Environment (I think). This would be a completely separate server where you get 4 each of the cards and can do PvP for all the different formats. Not saying they need to, but it would be really cool if they would. I know I would play it!!

Gwaer
01-09-2014, 06:37 PM
I expect something more like the future future league. Very small scale balance testing. I'm hoping they keep it all in house. As far as I know they didn't prerelease wowtcg cards for public comment prior to releasing the set. I don't see why that would change.

jetah
01-09-2014, 08:37 PM
They are working on Set 3 as we wait. I doubt we'll see a PTR or such thing to 'test' new cards.

mach
01-09-2014, 09:11 PM
I expect something more like the future future league. Very small scale balance testing. I'm hoping they keep it all in house. As far as I know they didn't prerelease wowtcg cards for public comment prior to releasing the set. I don't see why that would change.

Why would you want something which reduces the quality of the sets? Outsourcing much of balance testing to the playerbase saves time and money, which is why PTRs are so popular.

Imagine how much worse set 1 would be without all these balance changes from public testing.

ErnieK
01-09-2014, 10:56 PM
Judging this as more of an MMO (because I have much more experience in that realm than I do with TCGs, and the online-nature of the game lends itself to the comparison)... you'll have a completely separate test-server that will be up, not all the time, but as they want to stress test and get feedback on new expansions or patches. It would be, basically, a beta-server, with none of the rewards or permanence of the main servers but a month or more ahead of the mains when it came to state-of-game... it becomes the realm of the data-crunchers and testers and such.

Again, that's treating this entirely as an MMO...

BlackRoger
01-10-2014, 05:23 AM
I think one of the big problems we've seen is that they do not have a large enough testers base for now to squash all the bugs.
Imagine you start your first payed draft in a new set and you lose due to a bug.
Perhaps in time they will improve and increase their size enough for this to not be a problem, but for now I think getting players to help test is a must.

SomeoneRandom
01-10-2014, 08:11 AM
I think one of the big problems we've seen is that they do not have a large enough testers base for now to squash all the bugs.
Imagine you start your first payed draft in a new set and you lose due to a bug.
Perhaps in time they will improve and increase their size enough for this to not be a problem, but for now I think getting players to help test is a must.

You have to understand that they clearly would still be testing at this point even if we weren't playing. So a lot of these obvious bugs would have been caught. There is something to be said though about random interactions that might not be caught by testers. However, a lot of balancing and bug squashing should be behind the scenes and we shouldn't really see the set earlier than a week or two in advance. I think it would make a lot of sense for them to utilize perhaps top players on a heavy NDA for something like a future future league. I dunno, we will have to see their approach, it is hard to tell because Hex has so many elements that they can draw from a lot of different strategies.

Mahes
01-10-2014, 08:12 AM
I still question the number of sets they think they will release every year. I see how long it is taking them to release set 1, balance set 1 and repair set 1 (Many cards in play are still bugged), and I just cannot see them being able to release 3-4 sets per year. I know that some of this is due to staff working on multiple things, but I just feel that unless they plan to double their staff that that many sets a year might be too many.

mach
01-10-2014, 08:47 AM
I think it would make a lot of sense for them to utilize perhaps top players on a heavy NDA for something like a future future league.

But these players having advance knowledge of the set would give them an unfair advantage over everyone else. Not what you want in a competitive game.

Gwaer
01-10-2014, 08:53 AM
They're still developing the client. The tools for adding cards are clearly not finished and still causing bugs. They're working on an alpha product. Once the card tools are in the game it will be much easier to add new cards

also the first set of any card game should take by far the longest to develop. It needs to be more representative of the whole game than future sets.

Finally, I'm against a PTR, and even a future future league because it does give some people a leg up in tournaments. If they kept it in house at least the player base would be on even ground going into new sets. That seems very important to me for a future tcg esport. League gets away with it by just not patching for a few months prior to major tournaments trying to give more people time to get up to speed. As I said previously, whatever they used while developing wowtcg cards should be good enough. If they need more then do a future future thing... Only then if they need even more should they do PTRs for PVP sets. PVE sets and dungeons they can PTR right from the start if they want IMO.

SomeoneRandom
01-10-2014, 08:56 AM
But these players having advance knowledge of the set would give them an unfair advantage over everyone else. Not what you want in a competitive game.

There is a lot of precedent for that in games though, Blizz has high end raiders test their new raids(And even keeps a staff on hand of previous top end raiders). Riot brings in pros to test big changes. A lot of times things in the future future league are very different than the real game, so a lot of the knowledge isn't useful anyways. We will see what path they take...

The key factor is their staff is short handed, they are trying to shore up some positions, but until they release they aren't doing much expanding. We will see what their career page looks like a month or two down the road.

rjselzler
01-10-2014, 11:24 AM
Why would you want something which reduces the quality of the sets? Outsourcing much of balance testing to the playerbase saves time and money, which is why PTRs are so popular.

The lion's share of a playerbase (our playerbase, even) doesn't understand tcg balance. I've been playing tcgs for seventeen years, and I probably even fall into that category. Simply look at all of the "X is overpoewered" threads where "X" doesn't see any real play. Essentially, someone gets blown out by a card and then immediately goes to post about how OP it is. Multiply that by the thousands, and you'd have a pretty ugly process; go and look at the Alpha Discussion forum... :D

I think that the illusion of time and money savings would be obliterated by the deluge of garbage complaints that a team would have to wade through to get the few gems. I'd expect them to use the model of the modern tcg ala WoW tcg (shocker, right?) and MtG (in before #thisisn'tMagic). Of course, I could be totally wrong and, in that instance, it would be an interesting choice that I'd still have confidence in a veteran tcg company making.


Judging this as more of an MMO (because I have much more experience in that realm than I do with TCGs, and the online-nature of the game lends itself to the comparison)... you'll have a completely separate test-server that will be up, not all the time, but as they want to stress test and get feedback on new expansions or patches. It would be, basically, a beta-server, with none of the rewards or permanence of the main servers but a month or more ahead of the mains when it came to state-of-game... it becomes the realm of the data-crunchers and testers and such.

Again, that's treating this entirely as an MMO...

I believe that this game, balance-wise, would probably be more akin to a TCG, which isn't the way that the big dogs do it, as Gwaer pointed out. The reason we are seeing these changes is because the cards were optimized for limited (draft and sealed deck, for those of us who don't speak fluent TCG) but are now seeing exclusive "standard" constructed play. I'm not all that worried, since they'll likely just balance for both constructed and limited in-house in the future like WoW TCG and MtG did/does.

TL;DR: Alpha is messy, but I have faith in their ability to balance a tcg for constructed and limited on release with a fairly industry-standard model.

*Edited for subject verb agreement

mach
01-10-2014, 12:24 PM
The lion's share of a playerbase (our playerbase, even) doesn't understand tcg balance. I've been playing tcgs for seventeen years, and I probably even fall into that category. Simply look at all of the "X is overpoewered" threads where "X" doesn't see any real play. Essentially, someone gets blown out by a card and then immediately goes to post about how OP it is. Multiply that by the thousands, and you'd have a pretty ugly process; go and look at the Alpha Discussion forum... :D


The players don't need to understand balance for public testing to work. They just need to play. Then the devs can look at the data from the test server and from that determine what needs to change.

BlackRoger
01-10-2014, 12:30 PM
You have to understand that they clearly would still be testing at this point even if we weren't playing. So a lot of these obvious bugs would have been caught.

I do understand.
I also understand that this is one of the buggiest alpha's I've seen, and I also know that the patches they release do go through some level of QA, as was indicated in some weekly post some time ago, and yet still some cards make it into the alpha completely unplayable.

I'm not trying to be mean here, I don't mind the bugs, it is alpha and all that, but their testing crew does not seem to be able to handle the pressure right now, hell just the completely off projections of when beta will be ready show that they did not realize how many bugs and problems they will encounter until release.

Maybe I'm just being too paranoid and all will be fine, but seeing as how even the best companies have to patch their games post launch, and knowing it will be much more of a problem here where people will lose money over bugs in drafts, I'm just worried their current QA staff is not enough for the job.

I suppose time will tell.

Edit: there is also the possibility ofc that their QA are fine and know of all the bugs and the rushing cards into the alpha is a decision from above, but I have no real way to tell.

Gwaer
01-10-2014, 12:59 PM
Clearly you don't understand what alpha means. An alpha build is nigh unplayable. Bugs are expected. These patches we are getting aren't solely dedicated to squashing player facing bugs. They're introducing new elements and are creating new bugs.

SomeoneRandom
01-10-2014, 01:13 PM
It is obviously hard to tell from the outside, but it seems they have maybe only 1-2 guys on bug squashing right now and the rest are implementing cards and other features. Once the foundation for everything is setup things should be a lot faster and their developers will be more skilled not to mention hopefully they will be working a set or two in advance so they will have a long time for QA to hammer at it.

The current state of the game is exactly why most companies don't do public alphas :D games are in horrid states at this point and people can easily jump to bad perceptions.

rjselzler
01-10-2014, 02:25 PM
The players don't need to understand balance for public testing to work. They just need to play. Then the devs can look at the data from the test server and from that determine what needs to change.

What data, exactly? Composition of tournament decks? Win/loss ratios for any given composition? How do you balance cards with only quantitative data? Does lack of data necessitate a change? How do you balance cards in this environment that aren't played enough to constitute a large enough sample? From my perspective, qualitative data is a must for card development and balance, which will mean qualified, knowledgeable testers. Check out what MtG does with their Future Future League (http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com/article/Future_Future_League). I'm not opposed to the concept of non-employee testing, per se, but there is certainly downside to that approach beyond cost and time, namely quality.

Furthermore, if CZE already has a tcg playtesting/development model and group (which will need to go somewhere now that WoW tcg is dead), then why would they look elsewhere when their model obviously works? I've heard many complaints about the WoW TCG but balance issues haven't been among them. On the topic of balancing, here is a great article (https://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/ld/234) on the way MtG does it; I'd guess that CZE's model is similar. Note that MtG does trust a few outsiders with the "God Book," but that is not without its issues (http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/news/042811a).

mach
01-10-2014, 02:54 PM
What data, exactly? Composition of tournament decks? Win/loss ratios for any given composition? How do you balance cards with only quantitative data? Does lack of data necessitate a change? How do you balance cards in this environment that aren't played enough to constitute a large enough sample? From my perspective, qualitative data is a must for card development and balance, which will mean qualified, knowledgeable testers. Check out what MtG does with their Future Future League (http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com/article/Future_Future_League). I'm not opposed to the concept of non-employee testing, per se, but there is certainly downside to that approach beyond cost and time, namely quality.


Of course you need skilled developers to interpret the data. I'm not advocating ditching all internal testing. The point is for the developers to use the external data as a tool to check their own conclusions and make sure they're not missing something.

The FFL is probably the best in the world at what they do, but they still make plenty of mistakes which could have been avoided if they had public testing data. Famously, they completely missed the Splinter Twin deck.

rjselzler
01-10-2014, 04:55 PM
Of course you need skilled developers to interpret the data. I'm not advocating ditching all internal testing. The point is for the developers to use the external data as a tool to check their own conclusions and make sure they're not missing something.

The FFL is probably the best in the world at what they do, but they still make plenty of mistakes which could have been avoided if they had public testing data. Famously, they completely missed the Splinter Twin deck.

What exactly could they do with purely qualitative data? I'm not trying to be rhetorically condescending; I really do want to know what data (top 8 results, casual win percentages) they could use to inform meaningful balancing actions to individual cards. I'm sure someone will come along and educate me. : )

My big point is that, from my perspective, qualitative data will always be superior for card balance. I will readily admit that Hex is in a good place to completely make me a fool, since it is doing some amazing things in the digital environment without ties to a real-world tcg.

mach
01-10-2014, 05:12 PM
What exactly could they do with purely qualitative data? I'm not trying to be rhetorically condescending; I really do want to know what data (top 8 results, casual win percentages) they could use to inform meaningful balancing actions to individual cards. I'm sure someone will come along and educate me. : )


A couple examples:

1. If some deck is winning 70% of the tournaments on the test server, something in it probably needs to be nerfed. Then it's up to the developers to determine how they want to nerf it.
2. Suppose a deck wins 80% of the time when it draws a certain card. If it doesn't draw that card, it wins 50% of the time. It's probably a good idea to nerf that card.



My big point is that, from my perspective, qualitative data will always be superior for card balance. I will readily admit that Hex is in a good place to completely make me a fool, since it is doing some amazing things in the digital environment without ties to a real-world tcg.

We're not comparing only qualitative data to only quantitative data. We're comparing only qualitative data to both, and having both wins hands down.

rjselzler
01-10-2014, 05:59 PM
A couple examples:

1. If some deck is winning 70% of the tournaments on the test server, something in it probably needs to be nerfed. Then it's up to the developers to determine how they want to nerf it.
2. Suppose a deck wins 80% of the time when it draws a certain card. If it doesn't draw that card, it wins 50% of the time. It's probably a good idea to nerf that card.

My argument is that if something is winning 70% of the FFL, then it would accomplish the exact same thing without folk not in the need-to-know handling the cards and getting a competitive advantage. I haven't mentioned it, mostly because Gwaer et al. have already articulated how that in itself could skew the meta in an unhealthy way.


We're not comparing only qualitative data to only quantitative data. We're comparing only qualitative data to both, and having both wins hands down.

I doubt that CZE or WotC only use qualitative data in balancing cards, but you have to admit that at a certain point qualitative data is the information you want to actually balance cards; quantitative data is a back hoe to excavate the site whereas qualitative data is a brush to actually remove the fossil. Chances are that FFL participants log wins/losses and then, when something is askew, people experienced with that strategy are called upon to explain what interactions re going on and how they are integral to the strategy. Of course, I could be wrong, since I have never worked for WotC.

I get that they aren't mutually exclusive, but you can't get qualitative data from a server in the way you've put forward (i.e. a dev looks at server stats alone). You can infer things from from the quantitative data that you get from the server, but people have to be involved in qualitative data gathering; once people are involved, the professionalism of those people will necessarily influence the efficiency of the process, which will likely render any perceived time or monetary savings irrelevant. That is why I originally brought up the idea of competent testers, which we have now returned to. :D

So really, were comparing two methods:

1. A dev team looks at a PTR for various stats (quantitative) and then makes changes as they see fit, which may not actually address the "problem" of a deck winning in an unbalanced way.

2. A FFL tests the cards a dev team has created, logs wins/losses (quantitative), and then can be called upon to report how the strategy works (qualitative).

Am I missing something for the first model? The only qualitative data that I could see actually happening with the first model is devs watching replays of matches (yeah, right) or calling upon community members for their reactions, which lead us back to the competency issue.

mach
01-10-2014, 06:16 PM
My argument is that if something is winning 70% of the FFL, then it would accomplish the exact same thing without folk not in the need-to-know handling the cards and getting a competitive advantage. I haven't mentioned it, mostly because Gwaer et al. have already articulated how that in itself could skew the meta in an unhealthy way.

I doubt that CZE or WotC only use qualitative data in balancing cards, but you have to admit that at a certain point qualitative data is the information you want to actually balance cards; quantitative data is a back hoe to excavate the site whereas qualitative data is a brush to actually remove the fossil. Chances are that FFL participants log wins/losses and then, when something is askew, people experienced with that strategy are called upon to explain what interactions re going on and how they are integral to the strategy. Of course, I could be wrong, since I have never worked for WotC.


You can't get much useful quantitive data from a small group like a FFL because there simply aren't enough games played by enough people to get statistically significant results. Plus, there's a very good chance that the FFL hasn't thought of all the decks, so they don't have an accurate picture of the metagame.



I get that they aren't mutually exclusive, but you can't get qualitative data from a server in the way you've put forward (i.e. a dev looks at server stats alone). You can infer things from from the quantitative data that you get from the server, but people have to be involved in qualitative data gathering; once people are involved, the professionalism of those people will necessarily influence the efficiency of the process, which will likely render any perceived time or monetary savings irrelevant. That is why I originally brought up the idea of competent testers, which we have now returned to. :D


I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say here. You will still need your paid developers to spend time developing. You just won't need as many people or as much time because you have data to work with. And more importantly, you'll have better results.




So really, were comparing two methods:

1. A dev team looks at a PTR for various stats (quantitative) and then makes changes as they see fit, which may not actually address the "problem" of a deck winning in an unbalanced way.

2. A FFL tests the cards a dev team has created, logs wins/losses (quantitative), and then can be called upon to report how the strategy works (qualitative).

Am I missing something for the first model? The only qualitative data that I could see actually happening with the first model is devs watching replays of matches (yeah, right) or calling upon community members for their reactions, which lead us back to the competency issue.

In both cases, the devs will spend time play testing themselves.

With the first model, the mistakes that they make then will be corrected when the public finds them during the PTR phase.
With the second model, those same mistakes will be corrected after release when cards are banned.

Xtopher
01-10-2014, 08:07 PM
Based on personal experience, I think a beta for new sets is unavoidable. If they make a beta server for this purpose open to everyone prior to new sets being released and limit it to constructed play, that would probably be the fairest way to go about it.

Alternatively, they could have closed betas for new sets, but there will be much grumbling and cries of "unfair!!!11!!!!!" (I don't think it's unfair, but some vocal people will). If they go with closed betas then I'd suggest having an NDA and banning participants from participating in new set releases for the first two weeks just to mollify the whiners.

I think the first option I listed is superior, though.

funktion
01-10-2014, 08:27 PM
Talked about this at GenCon (so this might be outdated info); but the goal is that they will have internal tools which will make this whole process unnecessary.

Mahes
01-11-2014, 07:43 AM
Not to be pessimistic, but I find it very difficult to believe that they can construct a tool that will maintain a balance for new cards such that no card will ever be to powerful or abused. That program would be incredible. Given that they have been working on an AI system for the better part of 4 months now and it still has issues, I just do not see that happening. Of course they could try borrowing "Watson" from IBM to play test. That would be cool.

Xenavire
01-11-2014, 08:23 AM
Not to be pessimistic, but I find it very difficult to believe that they can construct a tool that will maintain a balance for new cards such that no card will ever be to powerful or abused. That program would be incredible. Given that they have been working on an AI system for the better part of 4 months now and it still has issues, I just do not see that happening. Of course they could try borrowing "Watson" from IBM to play test. That would be cool.

They didn't update the AI at all from what we have heard, only their decks. So we are still against a months old AI. So that isn't a good argument to CZE's abilities.

Yubar
01-11-2014, 09:53 AM
Well I hope they allow maybe a 2-4 week testing process, maybe even with say 100-500 players, because if not then players lose out in twi ways-
1)We have to deal with unbalanced cards ruining the set
2)Cards that should've been really fun, but were just over-tuned get BANNED

Internal plus selected external testing could be a great way to increase players' play experience. I actually think it should be open play testing ut either way should be okay.

Rieper
01-11-2014, 11:12 AM
I realy hope not. MMO got killed with test servers.

TCG is all about cards, you know what having a OP card getting through and getting banned has always been part the fun for me. And actually getting to play cards early in a TCG is a huge advantage for both constructed and limited, since those people now found good decks and deck building of sets before everybody else.

Gwaer
01-11-2014, 12:23 PM
Plus you will still be able to play those OP cards in PVE, and casual games that allow them. So it's to a total loss.

Patrigan
01-12-2014, 06:13 AM
Wait, are people actually wanting bans? Ugh... These forums sometimes...

Lennier
01-12-2014, 04:18 PM
Wait, are people actually wanting bans? Ugh... These forums sometimes...

I don't get it either. If there are methods to prevent cards from getting banned, those avenues should be explored to the fullest before releasing a set. The amount of changes that have happened to set 1 so far lead me to think each set should get at least 1 month of public testing before release.

If Cryptozoic doesn't want to do a public beta before a set release, then maybe they should consider having a 1 or 2 month flux period after a set is released that a card could be potentially nerfed / buffed. The player base will know the cards are potentially in flux, and a correct market value will eventually be found. If the community is fearful of a nerf on a certain card, it might not make it to it's full value until the flux period is up.

After the time period is up, if the an issue comes up that would require a ban, then ban it. The community at least knows that everything to avoid a ban was done, if something was missed, the whole community missed it, not just a small group of testers trying their best to catch everything. I think Hex is set up to be potentially the hardest card game to balance with all of the crazy effects, and it should take advantage of the fact it's fully digital and fix things quickly when they slip through. If a future set causes a previous card to be entirely broken, then ban is probably the way to go.

All that said, I understand how much it sucks to work to build a deck in a digital TCG/CCG that dominates, then a week later one or two of the key cards has been changed to the point the deck has to be scrapped. I'd much rather a minor change in a card than the card being banned and completely worthless. In a digital card game a ban pretty much removes the card from your collection (unless it's only banned in some formats).

Gwaer
01-12-2014, 05:28 PM
Or they can just balance the set properly to begin with, and anything that slips through the cracks gets banned, just like every other TCG? If they want a real market, and serious collector mentality, they need to not change cards after any money changes hands.

Xenavire
01-12-2014, 07:49 PM
Why not do an early spoiler of a set, and then they have players look for interactions and post them - and in certain cases, invite people onto a pre-release server to test the balance of suspect cards.

Only for those cards (at the time, with more feedback they can test more things) but then they can keep the meta from being set before the set is out, while still having a little player input into the more powerful cards.

It would be a bit messy of course, but it would allow for some testing without it being 'all-in'. If, after all that, things need to be banned, fine, but that window between the spoiler and the full release allows for specific cards to be nerfed or buffed as needed and quickly retested.

Gwaer
01-12-2014, 08:20 PM
Finding those interactions and using them is a large part of the game. Moreover, even if an effect is quite powerful, that doesn't mean it needs to be banned in all formats. Banning is as has been said repeatedly the surgical strike option, you can ban only in whatever format is degenerate. You can only nerf in every format.

Xenavire
01-12-2014, 08:53 PM
Finding those interactions and using them is a large part of the game. Moreover, even if an effect is quite powerful, that doesn't mean it needs to be banned in all formats. Banning is as has been said repeatedly the surgical strike option, you can ban only in whatever format is degenerate. You can only nerf in every format.

Thats why I mentioned having a suspect list - if a player thinks they have found a degenerate combo, it gets added to the list to be checked. I doubt any set will have more than 1-2 suspects in the first place, but having player input at that point could be useful. (I doubt it will be a game changer, but it could stop some things falling through the cracks now and then.)

I do think the surgical strike ban system is the easiest, but the more we can avoid using it the better. Still, ban is always better than nerf once a card is released for real.

Gwaer
01-12-2014, 09:41 PM
I'd rather not see cards banned unnecessarily. It needs to be in the format for a while to see if a counter presents itself. Something that looks format warping may only be a problem temporarily until someone comes up with a reliable counter.

Patrigan
01-13-2014, 11:40 AM
I'd rather have a healthier game, no bans and lose the chance to "find" these combos because of pre-release testing.

There would also be no money changing hands during this period, because it would be on a BETA server, much how all other big MMO firms have a "PTR" (Public Test Realm).

Finally a meta is usually pretty fluid, what is top today, is beaten tomorrow by some new deck combination.

SomeoneRandom
01-13-2014, 02:21 PM
Wait, are people actually wanting bans? Ugh... These forums sometimes...

Bans and nerfs are pretty different philosophies in a game like this... and I think bans are definitely a better option.

Lets look at a random example. A card is released that dominates the meta, if you played MTG imagine Jace, The Mind Sculptor or Skullclamp. It shows up in 6-8 of the top 8 decks in the 3 most recent tournaments. Most likely with this small amount of data a nerf could be applied, but the time is short enough that they would probably need more information before looking at a ban.

Nerfs:
- Due to the low overhead they can be done easier and more liberally.
- It destroys most of the value of the card.
- It devalues the card in every possible format (PvE, wild west, casual formats like EDH).
- People are wary of cards being nerfed all the time which makes them scared to invest in high value cards (look at Yu-Gi-Oh).

Bans:
- Due to the complete elimination from a format they are used more sparingly.
- It hurts the value a bit, but if it is still playable and good in other formats it can retain value there. (Jace for example saw a $10-20 or so drop when it was banned, but has recovered fine due to use in other formats, foil ones are now about quadruple what they were at the point of banning)
- It allows the card to be used in every other format including fun casual formats.
- Since it is used more sparingly (One or two every 5-10 years) people are not scared to invest in high value cards which drives the market better.

knightofeffect
01-13-2014, 04:13 PM
Bans and nerfs are pretty different philosophies in a game like this... and I think bans are definitely a better option.

Lets look at a random example. A card is released that dominates the meta, if you played MTG imagine Jace, The Mind Sculptor or Skullclamp. It shows up in 6-8 of the top 8 decks in the 3 most recent tournaments. Most likely with this small amount of data a nerf could be applied, but the time is short enough that they would probably need more information before looking at a ban.

Nerfs:
- Due to the low overhead they can be done easier and more liberally.
- It destroys most of the value of the card.
- It devalues the card in every possible format (PvE, wild west, casual formats like EDH).
- People are wary of cards being nerfed all the time which makes them scared to invest in high value cards (look at Yu-Gi-Oh).

Bans:
- Due to the complete elimination from a format they are used more sparingly.
- It hurts the value a bit, but if it is still playable and good in other formats it can retain value there. (Jace for example saw a $10-20 or so drop when it was banned, but has recovered fine due to use in other formats, foil ones are now about quadruple what they were at the point of banning)
- It allows the card to be used in every other format including fun casual formats.
- Since it is used more sparingly (One or two every 5-10 years) people are not scared to invest in high value cards which drives the market better.

This is a great post!

I think Patrigan was more refering to people prefering bans over having a Test Sever / PTR.

Personally, I don't have a preference... As long as the end product is a TCG that only requires the very occasional ban, which ever can accomplish the goal the best.

Gwaer
01-13-2014, 04:16 PM
A test server or ptr won't fix the problem. Once you have a lot of sets available there are just too many card interactions to "test" in a reasonable period of time, plus often times the problem card is the interaction between released cards and new cards, it could be the better option is to ban the earlier card and keep the new one. They can test the MMO portion of the game, dungeons and raids and whatnot in a PTR if they feel it is necessary, but the TCG portion should be handled in bans, after a problem is certain, no knee jerk reactions.

Great job on your post SomeoneRandom, best post on the topic I have seen in a long time.

Yoss
01-13-2014, 04:21 PM
A test server or ptr won't fix the problem. Once you have a lot of sets available there are just too many card interactions to "test" in a reasonable period of time, plus often times the problem card is the interaction between released cards and new cards, it could be the better option is to ban the earlier card and keep the new one.

Surely the test server wouldn't hurt though, right? Even if it only allows exploration of, say, 70% of the game space before time runs out, it should still find things like Jace and Skullclamp before go-live. Sure, it might still miss things, but having a public test server is cashing in on free labor, so why wouldn't you do so?

Gwaer
01-13-2014, 04:25 PM
Yes, it absolutely does hurt the release of the set. Why do you think magic goes to such lengths to keep their future sets so super secret? Sales are driven by the "What do we have, what will I get" mentality in the very first weeks of the game, the later that information becomes widespread the longer that buzz lasts. I huge section of the players IE pretty much all johnnies live in that space right after a release. By spoiling it early before it goes on sale the general buzz of the set dies down. It's just no good.


I find it incredible that people still think cards like Jace are bad for MTG...

His price is still high even after being banned, same for lotus, and the mox's. The occasional overpowered card creeping in is not a bad thing. The very occasional ban because it is just too powerful is also not that bad of a thing.

Yoss
01-13-2014, 04:32 PM
Fair enough.

mach
01-13-2014, 04:51 PM
Bans and nerfs are pretty different philosophies in a game like this... and I think bans are definitely a better option.

Lets look at a random example. A card is released that dominates the meta, if you played MTG imagine Jace, The Mind Sculptor or Skullclamp. It shows up in 6-8 of the top 8 decks in the 3 most recent tournaments. Most likely with this small amount of data a nerf could be applied, but the time is short enough that they would probably need more information before looking at a ban.

Nerfs:
- Due to the low overhead they can be done easier and more liberally.
- It destroys most of the value of the card.
- It devalues the card in every possible format (PvE, wild west, casual formats like EDH).
- People are wary of cards being nerfed all the time which makes them scared to invest in high value cards (look at Yu-Gi-Oh).

Bans:
- Due to the complete elimination from a format they are used more sparingly.
- It hurts the value a bit, but if it is still playable and good in other formats it can retain value there. (Jace for example saw a $10-20 or so drop when it was banned, but has recovered fine due to use in other formats, foil ones are now about quadruple what they were at the point of banning)
- It allows the card to be used in every other format including fun casual formats.
- Since it is used more sparingly (One or two every 5-10 years) people are not scared to invest in high value cards which drives the market better.


You're missing the most important benefit of errata: it leads to a better game. Each errata done is done to make the set better. If it didn't, there wouldn't be any desire to make them.

Think about how Hex's constructed format is now. Think about how it was at the beginning of Alpha. Other than the effects of new cards, all that improvement is due to the errata they've done. Individually they don't make much difference but together they make a huge difference. You can't get that kind of improvement just by banning the worst offenders.

Nerfs don't destroy most of the value of the card if done properly. The key is not to nerf to the ground. Nerf so the card is still playable, just not overpowered.

And there's a simple solution to the problem of players worrying about losing money. Institute a policy that for a week after the nerf is announced, they will buy back the card for the market price at the time the nerf was announced.

DackFayden
01-13-2014, 05:32 PM
You're missing the most important benefit of errata: it leads to a better game. Each errata done is done to make the set better. If it didn't, there wouldn't be any desire to make them.

Think about how Hex's constructed format is now. Think about how it was at the beginning of Alpha. Other than the effects of new cards, all that improvement is due to the errata they've done. Individually they don't make much difference but together they make a huge difference. You can't get that kind of improvement just by banning the worst offenders.

Nerfs don't destroy most of the value of the card if done properly. The key is not to nerf to the ground. Nerf so the card is still playable, just not overpowered.

And there's a simple solution to the problem of players worrying about losing money. Institute a policy that for a week after the nerf is announced, they will buy back the card for the market price at the time the nerf was announced.

Interesting idea for the buybacks. Although I foresee (http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=205068) the difficulty of having to buy back a broken card with a ludicrous price tag.

Gwaer
01-13-2014, 05:42 PM
As stated in a myriad of ban vs nerf threads, the reason cards are broken to the point that they need a ban is virtually never a case where changing some numbers will fix the problem. It is an interaction between the effects of cards that is pretty much always to blame. So the only choice is to nerf that card into the ground by fundamentally changing the offending text.

SomeoneRandom
01-14-2014, 09:40 AM
You're missing the most important benefit of errata: it leads to a better game. Each errata done is done to make the set better. If it didn't, there wouldn't be any desire to make them.

Think about how Hex's constructed format is now. Think about how it was at the beginning of Alpha. Other than the effects of new cards, all that improvement is due to the errata they've done. Individually they don't make much difference but together they make a huge difference. You can't get that kind of improvement just by banning the worst offenders.

Nerfs don't destroy most of the value of the card if done properly. The key is not to nerf to the ground. Nerf so the card is still playable, just not overpowered.

And there's a simple solution to the problem of players worrying about losing money. Institute a policy that for a week after the nerf is announced, they will buy back the card for the market price at the time the nerf was announced.

Most of the current changes would have happened before a set hit live anyways. Also honestly I think a lot of the changes were unnecessary once we had the full set. Or perhaps a small tweak to Ragefire(1 damage)/Crash(2 toughness) and everything would have been fine. I think they were worried about a good balanced environment rather than testing a set as a whole because people were playing alpha.

I have great confidence in their ability to deliver a full balanced set based on their past experiences. I just really hope they don't get into the nerf cycle we are seeing now(and in HS) once we hit live.

Gwaer - I completely agree, I think Jace was fine at the time. However, the next block just added too much support for that archetype to the point where you were doing it wrong if you weren't playing with Jace.

Yoss
01-14-2014, 10:46 AM
And there's a simple solution to the problem of players worrying about losing money. Institute a policy that for a week after the nerf is announced, they will buy back the card for the market price at the time the nerf was announced.

They have stated multiple times in very strong language that they will never mess with the secondary market beyond the occasional card ban. The potential to buy back cards would be a massive liability to the company, against which they'd have to carry cash reserves, not to mention the breach of trust with the player base about tampering with the market.

BlackRoger
01-17-2014, 04:56 AM
As stated in a myriad of ban vs nerf threads, the reason cards are broken to the point that they need a ban is virtually never a case where changing some numbers will fix the problem. It is an interaction between the effects of cards that is pretty much always to blame. So the only choice is to nerf that card into the ground by fundamentally changing the offending text.

Is it? are the power 9 cards from MTG specific interactions?
Nope, they are pretty good in almost any deck, thats why they are so broken.

Im not saying bans are unavoidable, but if sometimes a card can be salvaged instead of completely banned, it may be worth giving it a look.
I'm not expirienced in the miriad of mtg formats, but if a card is banned from one format why allow it in another?
I wouldn't want some crazy combo to be banned from pvp but still trivialize pve.
That is my largest worry, since corry said cards banned from pvp will still be playable in pve.

Rieper
01-17-2014, 06:38 AM
Power 9 is not good in any deck. Lotus works in any yes, but first time power 9 really became a problem was when people where able to pull off turn 1 kills which had no counter at all. Mox fits the decks they belong to color wise, and rest are blue cards, so you either need to play blue or splash blue.

What cards you should really be looking at when talking stuff like this is stuff like skullclamp. Insanely powerful card by itself sure. Add it in with arcbound ravager and other stuff like that in mirrodin. Even if you nerfed skullclamp too 1 card draw, it would be to strong. (THink if shin'hare had skullclamp in hex, holy "BLEEP")

SomeoneRandom
01-17-2014, 07:53 AM
Is it? are the power 9 cards from MTG specific interactions?
Nope, they are pretty good in almost any deck, thats why they are so broken.

Im not saying bans are unavoidable, but if sometimes a card can be salvaged instead of completely banned, it may be worth giving it a look.
I'm not expirienced in the miriad of mtg formats, but if a card is banned from one format why allow it in another?
I wouldn't want some crazy combo to be banned from pvp but still trivialize pve.
That is my largest worry, since corry said cards banned from pvp will still be playable in pve.

The thing is that PvE won't be as simple as "deal 20 damage to me" there will be puzzles and raids and things that take a lot more than just winning the game in the PvP sense. Also if it becomes TOO degenerate then they can also ban it from PvE. Also often times things are strong enough in a format to warrant a ban because of lack of other options. For example Jace was banned from Standard, but he really wasn't strong enough to require a ban in other formats because the other formats were more diverse and included answers to him already.