Competitive Feedback from a MtG semipro and eSports team manager

Dear devs,

first of all I would like to congratulate you for a fantastic job done with Faeria so far! I installed the game as it went live on Steam and I had a great time learning the basics. All my teamates in EnLightning Gaming who were interested in competitive CCGs on a digital platform also installed the game and we had long discussions about the design choices and the potential for eSports. Below is a summary of our thoughts so far on competitive gameplay mechanics, as per anything else in the game we don’t have any strong opinions and believe that it has a very good overall design with any issues being addressed somewhere else in the Feedback and Suggestions board.

  • On Predictability and Strategic Play in battlefield development and resource management. This, we believe, is the prime example of why this game really stands out in the CCG market. Faeria and lands directly determine the configuration space of game-states (how games plays out) and their generation and management is predictable and symmetric for both players (wells and power-wheel are identical for both players). This creates a Chess-like layer of strategy, only at the level of land placement and Faeria farming, that makes Faeria more akin to perfect-information RTS games than any other digital card game. This is a feature that we greatly praise since history has proven that games like Chess or Starcraft, both sharing the symmetry and, to a degree, the perfect information of positional play and resources, excel at creating deep 1v1 experiences with ample room for serious competitive play.

  • On Card Design and Deck Building. Card types (creature, struture and event) and card design (Faeria cost, colour requirement, attack and life…) together with the current diversity of effects provide a very heathy starting point for competitive deck building. The redundancy ratio (copies of the same card per deck) is 3/30=1/10 which is far better than Magic: the Gathering’s or HearthStone’s 4/60=2/30=1/15. This fact combined with the overall higher draw rate in Faeria as compared to MtG and HS (mainly due to the power-wheel draw option) makes deck archetypes in Faeria more predictable and consistent than in other card games. Again, we believe that this builds on top of the predictability of land placement and resource farming described above to consolidate Faeria as an obvious candidate for a serious card game eSport.

  • On Strategic Depth and Skill Ceiling. There are two metrics that provide a rough way to compare the strategic depth of turn-based strategy games, which one argues is directly related to the skill ceiling: Cumulative Decisions (CD) and Configuration Space Growth (CSG), we briefly define them and give estimates for Chess, HearthStone and Faeria at the bottom of the post. Simply by looking at the summary tables presented at the end of the post it becomes clear that, at least at the level of raw amounts of decision making and game variability, Faeria is closer to Chess than it is to HearthStone, in fact, only looking at this aspect of the game, Faeria has even higher metrics than Chess (mainly due to movement/attack mechanics in the hexgrid and the power-wheel). We regard this as enough proof that the basic design choices made for Faeria, as discussed in the lines above, set the ground for very deep and nuanced competitive play that, provided a balanced card pool (see the item below), will give a virtually indefinitely high skill ceiling, similar to that of Chess, where the better player has a very high win rate over a lesser player. This is yet another strong reason why we would pick Faeria as our turn-based eSport of choice for serious competition in the present-day digital market.

  • On the Card Pool and Randomised Effects. The existing card pool for Faeria is sizeable, diverse and, overall, seems to encourage the standard CCG and resource-based strategy game archetypes (aggro all-in, aggro midrange, fast control, economic control, combo…) in a balanced manner. However, and this is pretty much our only criticism, we are disappointed to find a fair amount of built-in randomised effects in the current card pool. We hope the above three points help justifying our disappointment: Faeria doesn’t need the added randomness to work, potentially really well, as a competitive 1v1 strategy game. A shuffled deck provides a level of variation that is welcome, specially with the extra consistency given by Faeria’s deck building rules, and whose probabilistic nature is well-understood and symmetric for both players. Players can count played copies of cards and make educated guesses quickly computing simple probabilities in their heads (as any competitive MtG player is used to doing) which adds a layer of “probabilistic” decision-making on top of all the other “deterministic” mechanics described above. We regard this as a positive feature of the game since optimal, possibly probability-based, plays can be decided by an average human player within the time limits of a turn in the game. The problem with built-in randomised effects, such as those of Spellwhirl and Hellfire, is that a similar way of making educated guesses is no longer possible within the time limits of a turn. We will not elaborate too much on the notion of taming randomness as a game mechanic, something that is required in any strategy game involving built-in randomness, but we feel that, beyond the well-known and de facto manageable randomness of a shuffled deck, Faeria doesn’t need any further source of probabilistic variability.

We hope this is useful for the future of this game as we believe it really has a chance at becoming the next big turn-based eSport. I personally will carry on playing and posting further comments in the future.

See you in game!


Metrics for Strategic Depth in Turn-Based Strategy Games

CD and CSG are functions of the form m(t) where both m, the metric, and t, the number of turns elapsed, are integers; as we shall see that they are not completely independent from each other but together provide a good insight of how a player’s strategic options develop in the course of a game. CD is the total number of different decisions that a player could have made after a number of turns, including all the potential ramifications. CSG is the total number of game states that become available for a player to access through decisions after a number of turns. Here we would like to compare three games: Chess, HearthStone and Faeria; and in doing so we will make some simplifying assumptions (like considering an “average” competitive deck for HS and Faeria and “sensible” moves for Chess) and take averages to illustrate the notions of CD and CSG - this is so that we can keep this discussion concise, obviously one can apply game theory and discrete mathematics to gain increasingly deeper understanding of turn-based games but this is not our aim in this post. Let us consider Chess first, piece movements are the decisions and board configurations are the game states, we can thus estimate: CD(Chess)=(10,85,300,2000,…) exponentially blows up very quickly, and CSG(Chess)=(10,27,40,55,78…) as the game progresses and players lose pieces the CSG stabilises at an average of ~80 and eventually decreases, the upper bound for total distinct states accessible via piece movement in a single turn is not too diferent (certainly of the same order of magnitude) as the average stable value since it is estimated at around ~300, a number that results from considering the number of squares, average number of pieces and average number of legal movements in a Chess game. For HearthStone decisions are playing cards, attacking or activating abilities and game states are cards on the board and life points, then we estimate: CD(HS)=(1,3,6,9,11,19,42,…) grows geometrically, much slower than exponential, and CSG(HS)=(1,1,1,2,4,7,12,…,) the CSG stabilses at an average of ~12 after a few turns and due to the built-in limitations of the game (board size, deck size and mana storage) the CSG is bounded above by ~250. On to Faeria, decisions and game states are a combination of the corresponding notions introduced in Chess and HS with the addition of land placement, then we have CD(Faeria)=(20,58,300,1500,5000,…) exponentially blows up very quickly, the reason for this fast increase in game options is the combinatorial contribution of land placement in the hexboard and the constant use of the power-wheel. The second metric is CSG(Faeria)=(18,33,47,80,…), land placement and creature movement/attack makes up for the relative low count of “moving pieces” in the early turns and makes Faeria’s CSG very similar to that of Chess (which has a high count of moving pieces in the early turns). Faeria games will take longer to reach an average CSG, if at all reached, and the number of turns to get there will vary greatly from game to game. Faeria’s 36-tile hex grid, together with the movement and attack mechanics already implemented in the game, makes for a ridiculously high upper bound for CSG at ~2000, this is an estimate of the theoretical maximum but the average game will stabilse at around ~130. In summary:

(early) Cumulative Decisions
Chess: exponential
Hearthstone: geometric
Faeria: exponential

Configuration Space Growth
Chess: avg 80 , max 300
Hearthstone: avg 20 , max 250
Faeria: avg 130 , max 2000


An interesting post @Zaphys. Thank you for taking the time to type it up. I agree that Faeria has an element of chess to it with its board mechanics. It’s very easy in the beginning to blindly march across the board not realizing that your god is open to attack, and become overwhelmed by the opponent before you have a chance to hit them. On the point with randomness I agree that it can be difficult to play around cards like Spellwhirl, Hellfire, Crackthorn Beast, Maghda, Queen of Meroval, etc but at this point I believe that the randomness is not too crazy. I’m happy with the way Abrakam has designed the game and it’s nice to see that other people agree. Hope to see you in game as well!


Very good post @Zaphys!

There has been a lot of discussion about the RNG cards in Faeria and the developers have also taken action when the community was unhappy with the amount of RNG (old Pandora had a lot of RNG, and there were some cards that changed because of the amount of RNG).
I understand where your coming from, losing a game due to random effects can feel terrible. But there are many people who like the randomness. Having some random effects can make games more swingy but also more exciting for viewers. And without viewers, any esport will struggle.

Personally I am fine with some random effects, the ones you can anticipate/control (for example Spirit of Rebirth, Court Jester, Blood Song or Steam Forge). They allow the user and the opponent to make predictions of the outcome. But I am not a fan of for example Luduan, Annoying Gnat or Bloomsprite.

I have to agree on the randomness. Random targets are fine, its still a pretty basic math. Random spawns are worse. Bloomsprite isnt the worst offender - though I see no reason it cannot be “draw a random creature from deck and buff” instead.

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Really nice summary of some of the things I also enjoy most about Faeria and what I don’t like as much. I agree that rng-effects printed on cards should not be necessary and I’m confident that they are not what make games interesting and fun to watch or cast either.
Also Kudos to you for pointing out that it can take considerable time trying to estimate an educated guess about all the variables affecting every decision made in the game. It seems like there are always people who complain when one of their opponents use up the time in their turn frequently in an attempt to anticipate events as accurately as possible.

See you in-game!


great post!

For RnG cards I can tolerate card generation effects such as spellwhirl, since it will require you to go make the right decisions based on what you get. Coin Flip RNG cards like Hellfire, or Crackthorne Beast on the other hand are horrible design, and can either punish you for making statistically the right play or sometimes reward the opponent for getting a lucky roll which feels horrible. In general RNG cards should never be top tier cards, but those coin flip cards (knife juggler rng) i wish wouldn’t be in the game at all…


But I think RNG has the side effect that it can be fun. It can be very satisfying using a hellfire when you’re on the losing side and pull off a win against the odds. I think that’s why hearthstone is more fun than chess for example.
It’s not inherently bad design. This randomness gives you instant gratification that you wouldnt from other cards.

I disagree with the way you state that. RNG gives that instant gratification to some. And while I do not mind (all that much) hellfire RNG myself (you can optimize the board to maximize your chances), RNG card draws make some wins cheap and unfulfilling. Drawing a tech card you don’t even run, with a buff that makes it broken… nah. Solid, well played wins are way more fun.

And boy, do I hate Hearthplop.

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I think people generally prefer games with some element of randomness because although it’s a lot more fun to win a game without RNG, it’s fairly soul crushing to lose a game in which everything bad that happens is unquestionably your own fault. In essence, it’s harder to take RNG games seriously, which makes them generally more relaxing.

On the flip side, if you design a game so that it’s hard to take it seriously, fewer people will take competitive play in the game seriously. I generally agree with other players a competitive CCG doesn’t need any RNG effects beyond the shuffled decks, but other small RNG effects are acceptable. For me, Annoying Gnat is probably the only card that is absolutely out of line in terms of the scope of its randomness. Even though cards like Crackthorn Beast are certainly more random than I would like, I think they’re valid in this kind of game and don’t detract from it a great deal.


Thank you everybody for taking the time to read my post. I think it is important that this issue is raised and discussed in a civilised manner as it could very strongly determine the future of Faeria as a competitive game.

I see many of you refer to the “thrill factor” or “fun factor” of random effects, I was initially planning to include a second part to my post where I talked about those notions but I decided to write it sometime down the line in a separate post. I simply wanted to emphasise the term competitive feedback I use in the title. The analysis in my post is exclusively focused on how well would Faeria fit as a competitive 1v1 strategy game; that is, regardless of how fun the game is for the non-competitive player or how entertaining it is to watch.


Just want to make it clear that I think its a lot of fun (and I much prefer) to both watch and play WITHOUT any RNG :slight_smile:
I just know that some people dont agree with me :slight_smile: