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View Full Version : New Player Feedback on Campaign and Game (LONG)



Planeshaper
02-02-2016, 12:12 AM
SPOILERS AHEAD (Start – Post 1/5) SPOILERS AHEAD

Hi,
I joined the game recently, only because a friend convinced me to after indicating that there would be multiplayer co-op raids coming down the line, and that the PvE portion (single player adventure) had just had its introduction released.

These are my thoughts on the introductory campaign, and the game in general. The below feedback is very, very thorough (5k+ words). I hesitate to even post it on the forum, because I know that extremely lengthy posts are rarely read and even more often ridiculed. But my friend, a KS-supporter and consistent player, encouraged me to do so.

If there were a TL;DR it would be this: Hex does some things I like and some things I don't like. It's a game I could see myself getting into, and spending some amount of casual money on. I don't think it's heading in all of the right directions for a co-op PvE raiding game. Beyond that, however, a particular experience towards the end of the PvE campaign pretty much ruined my entire attitude towards the game. It was mostly fun up to that point, but I'm left with an extremely bitter taste from that experience that almost feels like it was spitefully designed (even though I know that game developers don't want their players to feel this way).

For some background, I am a long time Magic player (since Alpha), long time WoW player (since Beta), long time DM/GM (30 years), and all around gamer. I like puzzle games, and I really don't mind trying at a challenge several times until I solve it and get it right in order to succeed.

I am uninterested in PvP (especially competitive PvP) and with the release of PvE content, you may find that to be true of many new players. So, it's through that lens that my feedback is provided.

Overview
There's a lot that this game is doing right, but there are many aspects of this game that are not friendly for new players. I'm aware that a lot of my criticisms will be met by long-time players of the game as "the way things are," and "but you should be doing it this way in Hex," and those kinds of responses are generally empty when considering the new player's experience. Particularly if the game doesn't tell you that's how you should be doing things in Hex, don't expect people to know or magically guess that to be the case. And even when they do know or find out, don't expect them to like it on its face.

Most of what follows is based on me jotting down my own notes as I played through the game. Some of these criticisms and praises may seem minor, even when compared to others in this same document. Again, they're an expansion on the notes I took for myself as I went through the game step by step. Only a few things have been moved for sake of organization.

UI and Initial Presentation
First up, I didn't know how to access my card collection after signing in. On the opening page, you're presented with 5 panels. The first panel, which is the combined size of the other four panels, is filled with advertisements, promotionals, and notices (“Follow us on Twitter!,” etc.). Of the other four panels, one is the Store (which also has its own button in the upper right section of icons), and my own cards are hidden in a drop down menu in the fine print of one of the remaining three panels. My initial impression when logging in was: “Check out how awesome Hex is!” and “Buy cool stuff from Hex!” and only then, in whispers, did I hear, “oh, and maybe here's your stuff, under these spiderwebs, in the corner.”

Is this minutiae? Am I exaggerating the experience? Yes, on both counts. But for someone already hesitant to get into another game, let alone this particular game, it isn't actually selling itself very well, by making it two clicks away from the stuff I've already got, while shouting its own name multiple times. And people hesitant to get into Hex are going to be most of the new players that Hex is going to get.

I'm not even saying that Hex should get rid of the Promotionals panel (a panel that often changes should be prominent), but it should also be in the immediate line of sight to get to the stuff you've already gotten – particularly the free 200 cards you're giving to new players (which is very appreciated). After having the notice that I had been given the free 200 cards, I had to figure out how to even find them.

To briefly continue this line of thought, when I go into the Campaign panel (the area of the game that I'm interested in), there isn't even a button to open the Card Manager.

As an aside here, that Platinum/Gold bar that covers up three of the top right icons? It's awkward. And, of the 5 icons there, it's covering the 3 icons that it has least reference to, while the AH and Store icons aren't covered by it.

Deck Manager
Once I was able to build my decks within the campaign, I quickly realized that I needed to use screenshots to manage my decks. This was cumbersome, and certainly a much larger UI issue than the pithy ones I've discussed above. A proper deck manager within the campaign needs to be a priority, even if it only manages a limited number of decks per character (say, 10-20).

General Game Thoughts
RNG and Resource Distribution
I feel like, as an online only game, Hex had the opportunity to solve Magic's issues with mana screw/flood, and RNG in general, and it didn't take it. Too many games resolve in a 60 card, 22-25 mana deck where either flood or screw causes problems for one or both players. An online game has the ability to ensure an appropriate resource distribution for all players across all games. This distribution could have been deterministic, and I feel like it's a missed opportunity otherwise.

Instead, I feel as though Hex has doubled-down on the amount RNG that occurs within the game by adding more cards and effects that rely on it, rather than making the game less RNG based. Cards enter the battlefield with random abilities, terrain causes random and unevenly distributed penalties and bonuses to the players, and even certain Champion Powers have % chances. This accumulated RNG, when place on top of the inherent RNG of playing a TCG itself, leads to wildly swingy matches in several cases. I've played a few games already where a single RNG roll determined the outcome of the match – the more RNG rolls that the game adds, the more often games become determined by those RNG rolls rather than through tactics and choice.

On the overworld, it's a minor frustration or annoyance. But when you are deep into a dungeon, having an RNG roll decide the game, or having to mulligan through several unplayable hands, it's the waste of hours of playtime due to causes beyond your control. I don't like winning because my opponent got screwed by RNG, and I especially don't losing because I got screwed by RNG. It takes the outcome out of the players' hands.

In PvP, especially casual play, you can generally get by with just relying on “a higher statistical likelihood” of winning (though even Magic has plenty of valid criticisms on RNG). But PvE requires consistency – and this is only going to get worse with co-op raid encounters. You'll see this become a theme in my feedback.

The Tutorial
Given my gaming history, I wanted to skip the Tutorial, but couldn't. I am so far removed from the time when I was a new player to TCG's that I honestly can't say whether the Tutorial was really well done, but it generally seemed effective, I suppose. In any case, it holds your hand through 4.5 encounters, then lets you finish off your last opponent after the first few turns. It gave me a bit of backstory, which could have just as easily been read. I made the most of it being unskippable primarily by poking fun at it with my friend over VOIP while I went through the motions.

If you're worried about players skipping the tutorial, then complaining later about a mechanics thing that was explained in the tutorial, one solution would be to have the “guided” portion of the tutorial be able to be turned off. You would have to complete all of the tutorial matches, but perhaps it wouldn't hold your hand if you told it not to.

(Cont.)

Planeshaper
02-02-2016, 12:13 AM
(Cont. – Post 2/5)

Campaign Play, Pt. 1
Opener
I began the Campaign as an Elf Mage, though I considered Coyotle Cleric. To be honest, they all seemed reasonably fun to play, so I just went with something. Hand size was an important determiner of my first pick, knowing how powerful card advantage is.

Several of my past comments have been critical – so, maybe I should get into talking about the good things that I experienced, because this is really where it starts.

The campaign runs genuinely smoothly and naturally. There are certainly moments of lag, especially for online games that are rising in popularity. But I only experienced one crash and real technical issue. That's honestly commendable!

As I was saying, the campaign flow of quest progression feels very natural. My introductory quest (Taming) was very fun, and it progressed me into other quests before it was finished itself (which then continued to branch me into more and more quests). With my attention held on finishing earlier quests while simultaneously being given newer ones, before I even noticed, I realized that I was getting myself into something larger and more profound.

And speaking of profound, the worldbuilding is rather well done. Some races are as expected from fantasy fantasy tropes (Wild Elves!), and some races are as expected from modern fantasy tropes (Engineer Dwarves!), but they all still feel fresh within the Hex world, and that's a pretty significant accomplishment on its own merits. Unique races, such as the Coyotle and Shin'hare add some spice to the traditional fantasy dominance – and almost give it a Western American vibe in some places, rather than the typical Old Europe vibe that is the hallmark of fantasy.

It's a beautiful world, with excellent art and music. The music itself does not feel imposing, rather it feels like it is Ambient to its settings and belongs there. You're just a character heading out into this big world. There is a bit of hero worship, but it isn't nearly to the extent that other modern games and RPG's shove down your throats.

The dialogue is a bit elementary, but let me be honest – I'm here to play cards, not engage in vicarious Shakespearean repertoire via my Champion. To that end, I could joke with my friend on VOIP about the quotidian script while still having a unicornpooping blast playing the actual game. And though the writing of individual lines could handle more collegiate prose, those words fade into the background of the larger narrative. And it's a good story so far.

Only once did I have a problem with a quest objective that I couldn't get to because the intermediary nodes did not show up. It turned out that I had to go back into the village that I had just left and pick up a new quest from a new NPC (I believe the NPC did not trigger his own appearance correctly after I had turned in a quest at that same village, so I had to leave it and reenter for the NPC to show up). If you're wondering, it was the Gnome in Ambling Mesa who bugged out and missed his trigger.

Dungeons have a rising and building tension, which is great. Although it certainly feels bad to lose your last life deep into a dungeon, at least you keep the XP you earned and there aren't any rewards you earn in the dungeon that get taken away from you (packs are given at the end of the dungeon). Because the worst possible thing you can do to a player is give them something and then take it away. (There actually is a reward in one dungeon that gets taken away from you – more on this later).

As far as dungeons are concerned, though – decks in these kinds of games have a tendency of falling into archtypes with faint RPS strengths and weaknesses. Although a single, unchanged deck can certainly complete each of the dungeons, they would feel better if you were allowed to build small (15-card) sideboards for the deck you took into the dungeon itself. The ability to have at least a bit of a plan to modify your deck against an opponent who happens to be the paper to your rock should be considered.

The Introductory Dungeon
This is a very good dungeon for new players. It warns you about dungeon lives and the general mechanics of dungeons, while giving you the leeway of completing this first dungeon with a bit of a safety harness. It also helps introduce you to the more prominent threat.

My own starter deck made it through here alright, but I could easily see a desire to modify your deck before even going in. That should perhaps be an option. Again, at least having a sideboard would help immensely.

It's the first dungeon you experience for quite some time during the campaign. I feel like there could have been another small dungeon before the Indigo River Bend.

My Deck
Of course, my deck archtype should be considered when judging my experience with the PvE game.

Being an Elf Mage, my starter deck was a mishmash of R/G that didn't really have a consistent theme. I used the 200 free cards to modify the deck into an R/G that ramped into midrange, which I felt worked best with the Embiggen power of the Mage (though on occasion, I found the Soothsaying power useful). I kept this up over the course of the campaign with my reward packs, making my deck more and more consistent within the archtype.

For those unfamiliar with the archtype, generally, I would play higher toughness creatures early (2/3, 2/4, 3/3 with Steadfast, etc) that could function as defenders, while simultaneously ramping (Howling Brave, Lithe Lyricist, Chlorophylia, etc), until I stabilized the board state to begin aggro. It's a very flexible archtype – against some opponents, I would lean more Ruby for earlier aggro/removal, while for other opponents I would lean more Wild for lifegain and beaters. My “bomb” was an Ashwood Colossus I picked up in a pack.

While in hindsight, I feel like I would have preferred to have done all of this with my cards alone, my friend did send me 2 Chlorophylia and its respective equipment when I was about 1/3 of the way into the campaign (I commented about an enemy that used one, I believe it was the Dream Bear, and how it would be good for my deck, and he sent them before I could say no :p ). I don't think most new players who hop right into the campaign will have any cards beyond their own free 200 before getting to the end of this introductory adventure. Nor should this short of an adventure be hinged around those new players having access to other cards.

This short of an adventure should be the “hook” to get new players into the game and get started on their collection. Based on its presentation, that's what I would expect to be the attitude of people coming into the game. A poor experience here will have new players quit, rather than continue playing.

It's a little too late for me now, though – I did continue the game with those two cards and their respective hat.

(Cont.)

Planeshaper
02-02-2016, 12:15 AM
(Cont. – Post 3/5)

Aside
General Thoughts at this Point
With a few hiccups, the game plays very smoothly, encounters are interesting and fun, and I have about as many cards as Richard Garfield expected most Magic players to ever own in their lives.

Coin Flip
The coin flip at the beginning of each encounter. This could stand to go for PvE. I would rather a system that is more predictable and less RNG-based. When you win a game, your next opponent chooses to play or draw – when you lose a game (even through concession), you choose. This would speed up some of the stronger overworld matches where you're just going to concede until you go first, and in a dungeon, prevents you from losing 3 lives in a row to bad coin flips.

Let's not beat around the bush here, 99.99% of the time, choosing to play first rather than draw first is the stronger strategy. I think I've built all of one Magic deck in my life where it preferred to draw first (it was a Sealed tournament). But typically, it's a “false choice” to begin with – even the AI knows it (all of them that I encountered chose to play first). While ideally you build a deck that can overcome playing second, it's definitely a statistical hindrance that does have to be overcome in the vast majority of games. Your opponent getting to start first three times in a row, and winning all three of those times, does not feel good for the player.

Deck Limitations and Progression
This isn't done well at all for PvE.

Your starting collection is roughly equivalent to twice that of a normal Sealed pool; about 3 times a normal Sealed pool after you progress through the campaign (with a slightly greater percentage of rare cards).

The name of the deckbuilding game is determining the deck archtype your pool can most strongly support, and making it as consistent and predictable as possible. Limiting, to the greatest extent possible, the inherent RNG of the card game is strongly desired.

So, beginning a game with the ability to build a 60-card, two-color 3/2/1/1 deck isn't necessarily a terrible place to start (3 of any common with the same name, 2 of any uncommon, 1 of any rare, and 1 of any mythic). A 60-card, 3/2/1/1 deck made of two colors is very inconsistent, and several later (and optional) opponents play with much more consistent decks (I'm pretty sure that the Piranha has only shards and Piranhas in its deck).

But as you advance, the first thing that you gain the ability to do is minimally splash other colors 1/1/1/1. This is tremendously disadvantageous without a supporting mana-base of multicolor shards. You barely get to put the other colors in your deck, and you certainly cannot consistently take advantage of the strengths those other colors provide. Exchanging 6-7 Standard Resources (because you won't have many fancy multicolor resources at this point) for your new splash color is just going make consistency problems worse, not better.

On the matter of consistency, by level 7, I never even progressed to the point where 4 cards of a name were allowed in my deck. This is understandable, as the PvE game certainly needs to have progression beyond this first Adventure Zone – I get that.

But giving me the ability to splash in a 60-card deck that doesn't have the resources to support it felt absolutely pointless. For new players, you're better off doing the opposite. Start with a 3- to 5-color deck at 1/1/1/0 or 2/1/1/1, and give them the ability to lean into a color pair as they level up. Ideally, you might also start them with a 40-card minimum, and gradually increase that minimum as they progress. This would likely require toning down some of the earliest encounters, since a 3- to 5-color deck will have many more issues with the early game – but it would give the newest of players a better idea of what each color does (Hex's color wheel/pie), while allowing them to build stronger decks with more specific focuses as they level, rather than build weaker decks by splashing without the multicolor resources to actually support that design.

Free Mulligan
I'm torn on this. On one hand, as an online game, resource generation and thresholds could be entirely handled for you by the rules of the game, and you might not need a mulligan system at all in that case. But, this probably isn't happening.

With that in mind...on the other hand, I've seen some statistics about win/loss rates from mulling to 6, 5, 4, and lower – compared to not mulling equivalently low-resourced hands – and often, you're better off not mulling. I don't think I've seen the AI ever mull twice, even when they wind up resource starved or flooded later in the game. I'm not sure if this is hard-coded, or if the AI is deriving its own mulling strategy based on past performance. In that sense, it is nice that as a player I do get a free mulligan. It's one of the few things Hex has done to limit the inherent RNG of the card game.

There are two systems I'd prefer. One which allows you to (one time only) shuffle two cards back into your deck and choose any one Standard Resource from your deck to start in your hand. Or my friend's suggestion where you are shown N cards from the top of your deck, and you can choose your opening hand from any consecutive set within those N cards (credit to Aradon for this system). Either of these would yield superior consistency than reshuffling into a new hand, and both are easy to manage with an online game (since the latter doesn't work well in meatspace).

Alright – now back to the play by play.

(Cont.)

Planeshaper
02-02-2016, 12:16 AM
(Cont. – Post 4/5)

Campaign Play, Pt. 2
Zila River
This is the first optional encounter. At the point that I unlocked it, I believe I attempted it around 50+ times without success. I'm fairly certain that at the time I attempted it, it was impossible for me to beat (I conceded many, many times until playing through several near-perfect hands

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining at all that I couldn't beat it at the time. It's an optional encounter, the NPC specifically warns you that he had never seen an adventurer go into the river and walk out alive, and...well, there is no other and. It was pretty obvious to me that you're supposed to come back to tackle this challenge.

But it leads me to two pieces of feedback.
The first is that I think map nodes should have some kind of difficulty indicator for the encounter. 5 or 10 stars, or something like that.

The second is that I believe there should be some kind of clear and obvious sign or explanation when one choice you make is going to cut you off from other choices. When faced with an easier path and a more difficult path, many gamers will bust their heads against the more difficult path out of a learned response to the loss of rewards. The idea that taking the easier path will lead to fewer rewards and will simultaneously eliminate the possibility that you'll be allowed to do the harder path for its rewards later is a pretty typical concern and phobia of gamers. It would be worthwhile to know up front, for instance, that you as the developers will never cut map nodes and their potential rewards off from us once we have access to them.

Indigo River Bend
This is the Dream Dungeon. It's a very good dungeon to really introduce new players to the different colors, their techniques, and their color wheel philosophies at a deeper level than they've probably observed so far.

I was very pleased at the way this was presented – as with much of the dialogue, it definitely poked fun at the idea that my character is always fighting all of these other NPCs and monsters to their deaths. I was a bit surprised, since the very first encounter that my character engaged in was written as though it was a friendly spar, with both combatants having the understanding that both would still be alive after the match. This dialogue could have been written as though these Dream Champions were teaching my character about their colors, rather than my character engaging in a fight to the death with them.

Regardless, this particular Dungeon was excellent, with perhaps the best presentation in the entire campaign.

The Army of Myth
For a name like, “The Army of Myth,” this felt very anticlimactic. Given the inherent RNG to the encounter design, I could have just gotten lucky. That feels bad. That's all.

The Bleak Citadel
This dungeon was decent, not incredibly memorable, but it did move the plot of the adventure forward. It was around here that I realized that I desired a sideboard while dungeon delving. I had to do this dungeon twice.

There is a room in this dungeon that I never got to. It is a room with an altar, a...sarcophagus?...on the altar, and a beam of light shining down onto the altar from the ceiling. I don't know if that room is supposed to have an encounter in it or not, but I never had one there.

Optional Encounter: Wormoids
I'm not certain that the Wormoids are completely optional to progress the story, but the game does give you three paths for completing this quest – one path is very obviously more difficult.

As with the Piranhas, the Wormoid Queen is an incredibly difficult encounter with my current card collection and the lack of consistency my level 5 (at the time) deck limitations allowed. Also, there is a bug with this encounter. I attempted to move to my declare attackers step without skipping it, not realizing that she couldn't be attacked while she was submerged herself. I could not progress the encounter and had to concede.

Optional Encounter? Killipede
Upfront: I don't know how many times you have to fight the Killipede. I defeated his first form, but not his second. Attempting to fight his second form felt like I was playing Pauper Magic versus competitive constructed.

Even his first form was particularly difficult, but his second was simply overpowering. Like the Piranhas, I challenged this guy 50+ times. Unlike the other optional encounters, there seems to be no alternative to completing this quest :( I'm not necessarily certain that the Killipede is actually optional, but since I've continued to progress the story with this quest in my quest log, I assume it is?

Lake Wyalusing
I just want to take a moment here to say that I really loved the Shin'hare of the Wounded Petal encounter here. It was something of a wonderful comic relief at an appropriate time when intermixed with all of the seriousness of the rest of the story at this point. It didn't overextend itself either, it was just a fun encounter with fun NPCs. Probably my favorite single encounter in the campaign.

It gave me a laugh and made me happy :)

Power of Blood
While I'm taking a brief interlude, let me talk about this card. It's ridiculous. (Later on in my playthrough I'll discover that this is a cycle of cards).

As I progress through the campaign, enemies generally get more powerful, and have more consistently powerful decks to wield against me. Power of Blood is the standout card that has led to more of my own defeats than any other. I'm not even sure why this is a card, let alone a card that is in multiple copies in opponents' decks. Board advantage and card advantage for the low cost of 2 mana. A 2-resource, charge 2 basic action is already strictly better than most 3-resource basic action staples (e.g. the 3-resource draw 2 basic action which is standard in Blue). But this card is in Black, not Blue, and cripples the PC's board state to boot!

Please let Magic be an example that you learn from. Printing powerful cards early is a great way to regret the fact that you printed powerful cards early when your game actually has a lifespan longer than 3 years.

My hope is that this is a PvE-only card, nonexistent or pre-banned in PvP. Because it's very, very powerful. Several of the strongest opponents in PvE use this card consistently – which can definitely feel very unfair if you haven't opened one in a reward Pack yourself.

And I want one, now, of course – if only to even out the fairness of the matches where this card or another in the cycle are screwing me over :p

Tomb of the Rose Knights
As with the The Bleak Citadel, I had to attempt this dungeon twice.

There was some sarcophagus in a side chamber that I guess was an optional encounter? I feel like he was a different encounter when I went into the dungeon for the second attempt? He played very different cards during both fights, but given that he played multiples of his cards each time I faced him, it felt like he was playing two different decks.

The boss of this dungeon is where I failed during the first attempt, and nearly failed during the second attempt. This is the first set of non-optional encounters that I consider to be challenging on their face as an experienced TCG player (rather than just RNG losses). The final boss requires very specific play to strategize around his powers, rather than just playing your deck's archtype. I feel like Blue players might have a lopsidedly difficult time here. I wasn't playing Blue, but I could see its color wheel having issues.

Again, 15-card sideboards that you can take with you into dungeons would be helpful, and I think would give developers the freedom to make some encounters more specialized.

(Cont.)

Edit: My Power of Blood feedback was written confusingly, and I also miscommunicated the card's power originally. That has been fixed.

Planeshaper
02-02-2016, 12:18 AM
(Cont. – Post 5/5)

Campaign Play, Pt. 3
Devonshire Castle and Wiktor
So, things have been mostly okay up to this point. I've had some wins, some losses, some encounters I plan on going back to. But here is where my experience falls apart, I'm sorry to say.

I wouldn't have even entered the dungeon if I knew that I did not have a chance at completing it. The dungeon itself is a worthwhile challenge. I failed my first trip into the dungeon rather early due to a few misplays of my own and a bit of bad luck (that PvE luck…). But the second trip fared much smoother. I skipped two nodes on the SE of the dungeon, and even went through an apparently optional path that rewarded a Power Card! I chose the Wild Power card, since I felt like that fit the character much better than the others. Finally, she would have one of these cards of her own – although the consistency of a Singleton card in a 60-card deck is incredibly lacking, perhaps this would just be the start of her long adventure towards building a truly worthwhile, raid-level deck.

The encounters are grueling and difficult. I've used the Power Card once, and maybe it turned the tide – it's difficult to say in that particular game. I certainly can't rely on it to the extent that I can rely on the enemy here having their own Power Cards (Power of Blood). My deck has to be consistently powerful enough on its own through my own minimal collection to get through here. It's difficult, but I manage to lose only one life by the time I make it to the boss's chamber. Lord Devonshire's own room. I consider going back to the two gray nodes in the SE corridor to clear those, but I figure I will do that on another character some other time, and I proceed into what I believe to be the boss of this dungeon.

The Wiktor encounter is extremely powerful, almost as though it was spitefully designed. There is no lead up or slow rise to this challenge in difficulty – Wiktor as a Champion is at least 3 times more powerful than any other NPC that I have already defeated, including all other NPC's in the Devonshire Dungeon. He begins the game with a starting hand size of 10, nearly 50% larger than the normal hand size, and 40 life. Oh, and he effectively starts with a copy of the champion I defeated right before him in play. There is no difficulty curve up to this encounter. There is a difficulty cliff.

And of course after Wiktor defeated me in our first game, he had the decency to win the coin toss and went first in our second game – something that alone felt like insult added to injury. The commonality of the other remarkably strong encounters is the warning given ahead of time (no adventurers escape the piranhas, the wormoid queen is certain death, Killipede is literally named Killipede). But this is a necessary part of the story to advance, and merely at the end of the Introduction to the forthcoming PvE content, with no warning that the encounter is as difficult as the preceding optional encounters.

Kicked out of the dungeon I go, back to the overworld map. I consider trying to build a new deck around Wiktor, knowing that I have to keep in mind the rest of the enemies in the dungeon. Perhaps I can actually put that new Power Card to decent use. But when I open the card manager, it isn't there….

Giving me a powerful card, one of a cycle that I had seen enemies crush me with (far too often, by the way) and then taking that card away 2 hours later after losing a predetermined challenge not only feels like you specifically intended to waste my time without telling me, but that you kicked me afterwards. I cannot express how incredibly bad that feels without analogy. To drive the point home, you gave me a present, let me open it, then kicked me and threw it in the trash.

As a long time Magic player, this also means that I know that there is a gimmicky deck that exists that I'm sure handily defeats this boss (probably more than one) along with the rest of the dungeon while still acquiring the copy of the Power Card. There are several ideas that I have of my own for decks that could probably take this character down. Do I have the cards to make those decks? No. Do I have the necessary consistency in allowed deck construction to make decks with the cards I do have? No. Do I have the time on hand to test out the decks I can make without it just being a frustrating slog to the end of the dungeon only to get my ass handed to me, another 2 hours wasted, and yet another loss of the reward that the dungeon gives me? No. Do I have the desire to even go through that experience again? No.

New players will quit from an experience like that, and I may in fact be no exception. These are game experiences I simply do not like to have.

If I was never even given the Power Card during the dungeon at all, just to have it taken from me at the end, the feeling of Wiktor being ridiculously overpowered at the end wouldn't have been nearly as bad. Maybe I would have gone to look up a strategy guide. Maybe I would have buckled and bought other cards earlier than I intended (since I already intended to do so after finishing the campaign itself). Maybe I would have traded with my friend or hopped into a casual event with him. But, I earned something during that dungeon, something I'd been looking forward to having, given how often other strong PvE opponents had used a card of that cycle against me and handed me crushing defeats. And then I had it taken away well over an hour later….ugh, I just wouldn't have even tried in the first place! Why even bother taking the optional path to get that card, and fighting through 2 damn battles (each with chances at losing a dungeon life), only to get a Singleton copy in your deck, anyway! So much about this just left me feeling incredibly annoyed, frustrated, and like I had just been emotionally conned.

At this point, I feel like I'm trumping up this one event perhaps a bit too much. It is an incredibly feel-bad experience, and one that should absolutely be avoided, both now and in future development – not just the punishment of taking something away from the players that is given to them, but dealing with a 2 hour slog through a very long dungeon only to face a clearly more difficult encounter at the end. Beyond this particular kind of punishing game design, there are numerous other frustrations that I've brought up that, if continued and expanded upon, will only make the real end-game PvE experience much worse.

I don't think I can recommend this game to others who are also interested in PvE based on how this turned out at the end. I certainly can't see how this game will progress into PvE co-op raiding that doesn't suffer from the same frustrations that it currently does, particularly when RNG effects seem to be more pronounced.

And the final experience of losing something given to me due to a predetermined, exceedingly strong, opponent over an hour later means I can't currently trust the developers to not build another experience just like it later in the game.

(P.S. I have, indeed, been informed by my friend after I wrote this feedback but before posting it that the Power Card received in this last dungeon is only for the dungeon, and you lose it regardless. In many ways, this is an even worse experience – being given a powerful card that enemies have been using against you to win many, many times, just to have it be taken away right when it seems like you finally get to use one for yourself against those enemies. And without warning that I noticed – I won't say that there wasn't anything at all that said the card was for that dungeon only; I was admittedly overwhelmed by finally being able to pick one of those cards to have in the first place. It felt like a fitting reward to add to my collection for having made it to what I imagine is the end of the campaign. Perhaps you would be able to get one at the end of each campaign to place in your PvE decks for the co-op PvE raids.)

Closure
I'm very sorry this ended on a sour note.

This has the makings of a game that I would love to see succeed. This is the kind of game that I would love to love. I wouldn't even be here writing more than 5,000 words if it weren't. There are many, many games that I have simply silently stopped playing.

But there are certain aspects, both inherent to the current rules of the game and various feel-bad execution decisions, that as a player interested in co-op PvE I don't think I can move forward with.

If you read all of this, I much appreciate your time doing so. I attempted to be as honest, fair, and forthright as I could regarding my experiences as a long time gamer, and initially hesitant player.

END END END

Yoss
02-02-2016, 01:43 PM
Thanks so much for taking the time to write this.

I very much agree with the following:

I believe there should be some kind of clear and obvious sign or explanation when one choice you make is going to cut you off from other choices

As to the horrible experience about the Power of X card, I am curious if it's actually possible to even own it. There are many cards in the game that are AI-only, and while you may find ways to play with them (e.g. stealing it from their deck during a match), they cannot be owned by you as a player. There is an old article that has the Power of X cards shown as AI-only (link below). If that's the case, and if Campaign is going to grant you one of these as temporary use, it should be made quite clear that you are only borrowing the card!

https://www.hextcg.com/fort-romor-dungeon-sneak-preview/

Aradon
02-02-2016, 03:58 PM
To clarify one point, the rarity indicator of a card can indicate two details mentioned here: The set symbol for all 'PvE' cards (as opposed to PvP pack cards) is a I, as in Book 1. We can expect IIs and IIIs in the future, which will help us know what cards are PvE/PvP. As for what cards are 'AI-only,' the rarity indicator will be Orange for all AI cards, and Grey for all other cards you can't actually own in your collection (system/card generated, like the Spell Sprites or troops created by various effects.)

And to be completely fair, the anatomy of a card isn't very well explained (if at all) in the new-player experience, especially not the rarity indicator. There would probably be a good opportunity to mention in a hint or something about AI-Only cards early in the campaign experience.

Just saw this:
Or my friend's suggestion where you are shown N cards from the top of your deck, and you can choose your opening hand from any consecutive set within those N cards (credit to Aradon for this system).
I should clarify that I didn't mean to propose the idea as my own. I originally saw it in an earlier thread regarding the resource system, and brought it up in a relevant conversation! No credit to me!

Brjuntinaar
02-02-2016, 07:00 PM
I don't think that Wiktor is OP, but I do agree with you that the ramp up in difficulty to fighting him just doesn't feel fair. That said, I've beaten him now with 6 completely different decks. One ramp, one control, one recursion, one midrange, one tempo/aggro, and I'm forgetting what the last one was. It's a pretty fair, and well balanced encounter. It just should have been placed at the end of a dungeon that was generally more difficult than Devonshire.

I also completely agree with you that it is really frustrating experience to trek all the way through the dungeon with zero chance at rewards until the end. I hope they revisit that system, because that is simply not fun for new players who might end up seriously struggling with the final fight of the dungeon, and getting nothing for all their work and effort.

bigtipper
02-02-2016, 07:29 PM
It should be expected that AI opponents (Bosses especially) will use OP cards that only they will ever get. Just like in MMOs, that fireblast attack that one-shots the raid is purely an NPC-ability, the players don't ever get OP moves like it.

I agree that a lot of stuff during the campaign isn't explained well, but stuff like Deck Manager does get explained, just not right away like you wanted.

Fateanomaly
02-02-2016, 08:19 PM
I can't tell AI only orange and uncommons apart. Yes, my color difficiency is that bad so i think it is not unusual for people to not be able to know that the card is AI only at first look. I only know because i read about the cards.

Hyperion
02-02-2016, 10:09 PM
This is well put together. I do hope it gets read.

Planeshaper
02-02-2016, 11:21 PM
Thank for the kind words from all!


I don't think that Wiktor is OP
That's a fair response. I agree that he's only out of place in the context of the rest of the dungeon and the card collection a typical starting player will probably have by the end of AZ1. He isn't overpowered in terms of the game itself.

It's just such a steep jump to him that the rest of the dungeon or mandatory AZ1 content simply doesn't prepare you for or really hint at.


It should be expected that AI opponents (Bosses especially) will use OP cards that only they will ever get.
While I think I agree with this in principle, cards that players can't get shouldn't be used as crutches in 1v1 encounters to artificially inflate the power of the challenges, IMO. In group PvE, I can certainly see it being more necessary.

On the other hand, the "Power of" cycle is so commonly used across several AI encounters that I think I just expected it to be a player-available card, as well. It's not like it's a unique aspect of a particular encounter.

And when I received a copy without, y'know, gigantic flashing letters saying that I wouldn't be able to keep it, I got excited that I might actually be able to build my character into an equal card-wise with these powerful 1v1 encounter challenges. And still, given the context within which you do receive the "Power of" card in Devonshire, it hardly seems worth the effort of the extra battles just to have a Singleton copy in a 60-card deck. Deck consistency and predictability is fairly crucial for both non-casual TCGs and multiplayer PvE.

It's going to be awkward in group PvE if there are certain degenerate 2/3-turn kill decks that consistently produce arbitrarily large numbers of things like the kinds that do exist in the Magic metas. I don't know necessarily how well Hex has been in terms of developing away from infinite combos and such.

Chinane
02-03-2016, 03:45 AM
I agree that he's only out of place in the context of the rest of the dungeon and the card collection a typical starting player will probably have by the end of AZ1.

That could be by design though. The only interaction between PvE and PvP players is via auctions, so there needs to be some incentive for PvE players to spend their gold on the auctionhouse.

Quantius
02-03-2016, 09:05 AM
It's a good read and while I think the campaign is mostly well done, I think it would have helped newbies to put up signs or show that some part of a zone/dungeon may need "leveling up" their collection, not their class. Maybe a counter that adds up how many cards you've unlocked and maybe of different rarities so it can rate your collection for PvE strength. Just an idea.

As far as the UI goes, obviously designed by an engineer/programmer. There's no way a designer of any type UI, UX, Graphic, etc would have come up with what they have now.

Gozuja
02-03-2016, 10:57 AM
Very thorough and thoughtful and well-written, thanks for taking the time to put this up. Echoing the sentiment that I hope Hex's crew gives this good consideration--it's so critical that the campaign be positioned to help new players fall in love with the game and want to stick around for all that is (hopefully) yet to come.

gjaustin
02-03-2016, 02:38 PM
When you get the "Power of" card it does tell you that it's only for the rest of the dungeon.

BenStoll
02-10-2016, 08:34 PM
Thanks so much for writing this very thorough post about your experiences. I've been especially attentive to the forums following campaign launch (at least as far as reading them; I don't have as much time as I'd like to get in and respond :(), and this post along with many others contains a lot of insight.

Given this post, I will go ahead and tell you now that we already have plans for a future patch to upgrade the bonus from the "optional" path that awards the Power of SHARD card, as it should feel like it was "worth it" and like it might provide a relevant boost to your fights (especially against Wiktor) and currently it falls short.

Developing Wiktor's fight in particular is very challenging and tough; we risk a lot less by making some of the optional encounters you mentioned (Killipede, Worm Queen, etc.) very tough, because they can be skipped by newer players, whereas Wiktor has to serve a very important moment in the campaign for ALL of our players.

In the end, we decided to err on the side of Wiktor being a tough customer; we were afraid of the hallmark and final fight being too easy, and while I know that there will be people who are stuck and frustrated, I was also glad to hear from a few people that it was a satisfying challenge, as I would hate for him to be too easy, as well. I like the idea that he is a challenge to aspire to conquering, but I am sad when development imperfections make this experience too frustrating :(. We have pretty specific intentions regarding difficulty cadence, though we obviously don't always hit the bulls-eye--but also keep in mind that it can also come out more or less lop-sided feeling for different decks/characters because some of the encounters are very contextual.

I can tell you that we read and absorb this sort of feedback, and consider it important to our future development of existing and unreleased content.

Thanks again!

Silvanos
02-11-2016, 08:10 AM
When you get the "Power of" card it does tell you that it's only for the rest of the dungeon.

I didn't remember thinking I got to keep it, but I also spend a lot of time reading about this game.

OP, was great to hear your perspective on the game, as I think you are exactly the type of gamer Hex hopes to attract.

nicosharp
02-11-2016, 08:28 AM
I'm glad you guys made Wiktor really hard, but I can see how and why a new player might lose their shit on the inability to process the battle and make changes to progress.

Would be cool if you guys provide a Dungeon deck-building suggestion when a player loses their last life in the dungeon.

The hand holding the game has now has immensely improved. It's okay to build hard games, games that are not friendly to players. Anyone that grew up playing and beating early Nintendo games appreciates games that are hard and provide no training wheels. Let the community be Nintendo Power.

Yoss
02-11-2016, 10:14 AM
I faced Wiktor last night for the first time, and was playing as my Hardcory Coyotle Cleric. I got completely stomped, though I can imagine ways that my deck could have done better (like not losing the coin flip every time). I also figure I need tweaks to the deck to remove all the auto-dead 1-HP troops I'm running. On my second run through I'm not even going to bother with the Power of X encounter chain; the path requires three fights (time lost and risk of lives lost) and the reward is pretty poor (I almost wished I could have said "no thanks" to the cards). I'd have liked to see the reward be "for the rest of the dungeon, start the game with X" where X changes by shard choice.

Koz
02-11-2016, 10:19 AM
I faced Wiktor last night for the first time, and was playing as my Hardcory Coyotle Cleric.

"Hardcory". Lol...love it. If they ever make the "Cory Challenge" an official mode, they should totally name it that

Yoss
02-11-2016, 10:28 AM
I take no credit for coming up with the name "Hardcory" but yeah, it's perfect. :)

nicosharp
02-11-2016, 11:27 AM
Given this post, I will go ahead and tell you now that we already have plans for a future patch to upgrade the bonus from the "optional" path that awards the Power of SHARD card, as it should feel like it was "worth it" and like it might provide a relevant boost to your fights (especially against Wiktor) and currently it falls short.

Perhaps here the only other thing worth mentioning is that the OP's entire experience was supposedly 'ruined' by not obtaining this ridiculously powerful card in their collection. Maybe 1-time dungeon run buffs should be more explicitly stated, or perhaps even built into the early tutorial experience, so players know what to think when they come across cards never meant to be free staples in their collection going forward.

Reading that as a player with a better understanding of cards power-levels in PvP and PvE, I found that entire expectation of owning the card, and not owning it being a tarnishing point for the OP to be a bit absurd. But I'm not in his shoes, nor do I know what a true F2P new-player experience feels like, as you slowly build access to new cards to drop in your deck that advance it. Especially when you are having trouble advancing..

It may also be important to let new players know there is a benefit to making new characters and playing the early campaign, or making new characters just to increase their base collection size... The racial cards were a nice touch, but may be hiding a bit in the myst regarding how they are obtained in addition to 1x, and why there is a benefit to farming more with multiple characters.