It was a very busy week, we had a stream of patches and even a rollback.
First we had 0.8.3264, which was launched the morning of the 2nd of February, this was a major change which was unfortunately had not been communicated well and the backlash was substantial from some of the more vocal members. The big change was the change of size of hand size at the start of the game, it was lowered to 6 cards with a new draw every other turn, and a loot possibility on the alternate turns. The following morning this patch was rolled back with 0.8.3271-hotfix#1 and Quentin wrote a long post explaining the circumstances and the plan for future handling:
Quentin – 2023-02-03 on Discord:I would also like to talk a bit about the last set of changes made yesterday. Before talking about them, let me give you some context on the situation, I am currently attending events this week (you might have noticed on Twitter) and was not as close as usual to the game updates. I was exchanging with the team remotely and took some decisions too quickly. As you might know, we are working actively on many subjects altogether currently :
– Web3 features update with the next step being wallet deployment unleashing marketplace, transfers and crypto payment for Prana.
– Gameplay updates since the start of Era 3.
– Onboarding thousands of new players through our campaign Road to GA, including some dedicated features such as a brand new tutorial as well as special packs.
– And some surprises I do not want to spoil right now.
It is not always easy to make decisions on the schedule and we clearly made a mistake yesterday. I asked the team to push a change that was tested internally for a few weeks (and partially released in custom games last week) in order to make it available before sending Road to GA packs.
Although this change is quite major and releasing as-is without more in-depth explanations of why nor the full set of why this change would better fit the future was a bad move. We warned that Era 3 would be way different than the other because we would be ready to take down some major components of the gameplay and the meta in order to make the game more enjoyable but we have gone too far too quickly.
Before this Era, the most talked topic was player 1 vs player 2 balance, our first change was to completely redesign the outcome of a game. It was major and although rejected at the beginning, it is almost loved by every player right now. We then made some adjustments on how the score was computed, while not perfect it prevented the game to be over after a few turns. We are still actively balancing this aspect. But there is two other topics we did not addressed entirely yet:
– Making game less repetitive
– Reducing the domination of the “min-max” meta (deck with very low and very high power cards)
For the first one, we have already teased how we will achieve this and we will give you more details on Friday, February 3, 2023 7:00 PM during our AMA this subject will be tackled in an upcoming update.
For the second one, we believe that one issue the game currently has is that a too big portion of the deck is known beforehand making the 10k limit less restrictive than it should be.
We did consider normalizing the RNG of the starting hand, but making such a change would shift too drastically the meta to mid-range cards which would basically invert the meta, not really opening it by adding more strategies to the min-max meta (nor killing it entirely). Discovering his cards over the turns of a game has multiple advantages for the game but the one related to min-max would mean that playing such a deck would be “high risk high reward”. Your deck is highly reliant on RNG, if you’re lucky you can win easily/quickly, if not it’s basically a defeat. Meanwhile a mid-range deck would be more balanced, as such we would be able to have a more interesting meta with both strategies being used (and any in-between as well as opening 3-5 arkhomes decks).
Yes, reducing the starting hand reduces the win rate of min-max, increases the RNG of such a deck and by extension increases the win rate of all other decks. But the game is not meant to be played only through min-max, albeit being the most dominant strategy since the 2022 summer. I know that some people, including influencers, did have a take on this and were having good games using different decks, although I agree that if you did stick to your old classic you would feel like the game has been worse. As such, this change has been reverted today, both because it was too major compared to what is available right now and because if it came back, it would be for a bigger content patch than just a regular one.
We also now decided to not release any gameplay changes until at least the end of the Lunar New Year Event, we might have cranked a bit too much the changes for the era and are stepping back those for now. We will then finalize other subjects such as Web3 features and mass onboarding first.
I failed you and sincerely despise the situation, keep in mind that I and almost the whole team dedicate their days and often nights to make this game a success.
We understood we went a bit too far this time and so we will prepare more for the next changes. We also learned other lessons and here is a list of what we will implement for the future in our workflow:
– Patch notes will always be available directly on the launcher.
– Whenever a patch is released, its notes will be displayed on the first launch of the game and you will have a section in-game to retrieve them at any time.
– We will always communicate upcoming gameplay changes at least days and ideally one week before releasing them.
– We contacted many players and guilds through Era #1 and #2 to know if they would be interested in playtest, we had some legal constraints to address before making such a program, recently all those steps were cleared and we will look into enabling this taskforce in the best possible way to stage game changes.
– We have plans for a Public Test Environment where any player will be able to get updates beforehand (in-between Playtest and Live).
Finally, as you might have seen in the latest notes, we sent to every EA player 500 trisels this morning in order to compensate for yesterday’s situation preventing some of you from playing, whether due to the disturbing changes and/of the technical issues. Technical issues are our focus for next client patch, hopefully today.