Is Faeria gameplay headed in the right direction?

Originally this was a reply to the Dec 6th Patch Notes, but I thought it deserves its own thread.
What do you think?
Is Faeria headed in the right direction from a gameplay perspective?

This is the part that makes me uneasy about Faeria’s new direction. If you want life totals to change more frequently you should give everything haste! It would be action packed with tension and lots of exciting plays! You could pierce through a player’s wall of turtle-like defenses!

I hope the developers understand how terrible taking that suggestion seriously would be, but I fear they might not. Faeria has a delicate board with tactics, land placement, maneuvering, and most of the information is public knowledge, all of which reward properly planning ahead. I realize I don’t speak for everyone but for me the tension comes from boards that are so complex that I’m not sure if I found the best move(s), or wether or not I properly defended against my opponents probable plays. The puzzles are a testiment to just how difficult it can be to find the optimal move(s) in a short amount of time.
In Faeria, like chess, the tension comes from posturing and gaining small advantages until one player has enough of an advantage to win. The number of times a king was placed in check before the final turn(s) is an awful metric to detirmine if a chess match was good / interesting / balanced / fun. Trying to tweak the rules around just so you can see more ‘Checks’ in the midgame because it “provides immediate tension” seems like a huge misstep.


Taking your haste “suggestion” as sarcasm, I agree.

I don’t think every turn needs tension, neither in the sense of orb’s hp dropping/increasing, nor in the sense of constant pressure. The game usually rewards playing aggressive at the right time quite enough already. No need to shift the direction into even more quicker games.

I think, we all saw how most players feel about rush and fast combo decks (reaver; hellfire) being pretty much the only viable decks. I was really glad those options were nerfed yesterday. However, the board still feels SO small with everyone having dash, jump or charge.

I also think, quicker games make Faeria harder to learn for new players. They generally struggle with facing rush decks already. Getting blown up on turn 4 or 5 by rush/combo doesn’t help understanding/learning the game. Feeling constant pressure without seeing any way to deal with it, can create a lot of frustration. I suspect a new player experiencing these situations too often will often lead him to give up and play some other game instead.

Playing control/defensive should always remain a viable strategy in general. A rush fest, where one rush player tries to outrush the other, is nothing I want to experience every other game. Sure, it creates tension, but it also makes aiming for well-control (!) pointless. Faeria is about the board!

After playing a lot of games since the introduction of the 10 new cards, I believe we may have too many/efficient options to gain additional faeria - making fights for the 2x collect positions between 2 wells only second priority or sometimes even completely pointless.
I found these fights for a good position exciting. So in my opinion, aiming for board control first and dealing with the opponent’s orb later, should always remain a viable strategy.
After all, if board/position control becomes irrelevant/secondary, what do we need that beautiful board for?

Also, I don’t see any problems with players just storing resources for one or two turns to setup some big play. If we don’t want such setups, we can go back and play Rng-Stone and have “on curve” mana gain, where we need to spend every resource asap,if we don’t wanna lose the resource.

So please, don’t let go of what makes Faria unique and interesting!

Anyways, I’m quite happy with the actual changes from yesterday. They were a good step in the right direction. I also understand that heavy balancing needs time (and ideas) and shouldn’t be done just 3 or 4 days before a tournament. :wink:

The quoted reasoning makes me worry a bit, though.


I completely agree, and especially with your analogy of what would happen in chess if similar methods were implemented. Having always been an avid chess player, I was immediately drawn to Faeria’s complex positional game and long-term strategy. The fact that this is a game where passing is sometimes simply the best play, where interesting mutual Zugzwang could occur, made it an immediate hit with people like myself.

Now, while I don’t believe that the game is all that bad right now, I am as concerned as you are about the direction we are taking. Trying to appeal more to a casual crowd will almost inevitably bring down the game’s strategic quality. Why? Because casual gaming is not about deep analysis, but about immediate satisfaction. And what better to bring about immediate satisfaction than micro-gambles (like Hellfire) or cheap (design-wise) finishers (like Dream Reaver)? I don’t even dislike these cards so much to be honest, it’s just that Faeria used to be a lot more about developing long term strategies and playing your board, whereas it’s much more about playing around your opponent’s potential hand composition right now.

In chess, if you are ahead, you are ahead, period. There is never one move that can surmount a significant material advantage from a stable board state (one where immediate tactics aren’t possible). Swing cards like Reaver should always be implemented very carefully, not because they imbalance the game, but because they change how the game is played:

They shorten games and provide immediate excitement to the detriment of patient long term development and incremental accrual of micro - advantages.

As always, I like to end on a positive note. The last balance patch was good. Very good for the health of the game. And while I still hope this is the end of this direction in game development, we should all continue to be critical of decisions like these, which could turn the game we love into a bullet - storm nightmare.


this is a trap which has swollen so many card games in the past couple of years…

the majority of people like fast-paced games, hence the success of hearthstone. other games see that and try to make their games (which often started with completely different goals) more like hearthstone.
but the big problem is… hearthstone already exists.

why would hearthstone players with hundreds of hours (and/or dollars) invested in their collections start all over again in another game? they wouldn’t…
if you make your own game, you’ll attract people who don’t like hearthstone, which is a minority of the market… but if you make a hearthstone wannabe, you’ll attract people who won’t care about your game.

my advice would be: do your own thing well and the customers will come over time.

I don’t think Hearthstones success comes from just being a fast-paced game (on that note: I don’t see much difference in Hearthstone’s and Faeria’s current average game length anyways). I believe Hearthstone’s success is ~95%+ coming from Blizzard having a huge userbase to work with, no matter what game they make. The whole Warcraft series is so wellknown and loved that new games from Blizzard will always attract a big amount of players. So even if they make the crappiest game ever, they’ll have a user base of 100,000+ players to start with. The only question they need to ask themselves is: How to keep them? (And I’m not even sure they currently take the right steps to achieve that goal)

This is nothing you could possibly copy, when starting from scratch as an indie studio. You have to go the other way around. You need to find your own unique niche and build up from there. Blizzard doesn’t need to build anything up. They already have, they just need to keep their money making machine running by releasing new games.

You could only possibly copy the other ~5% of Blizzard’s supposed success. However, it’s about the 95%, not the 5%. Also (part of) the 5% might just be some polished, shiny crap - which many users will just forgive because they love the warcraft universe. A search for what Blizzard’s doing right and the attempt to copy this is probably futile.

Edit: To avoid some misunderstanding: I don’t see Abrakam going the above mentioned way of just trying to copy Hearthstone. It’s just the newer direction that (slightly) worries me.

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i find it incredible that so many people have the attitude of “this game is objectively bad and nobody in the world is capable of liking it. they just play because X and Y.”
as if their players are fanboys with stockholm syndrome…

here’s an alternative: there are hundreds of millions of people around the world and a hell of a lot of them enjoy simple and quick games.
(how do you explain the success of candy crush and angry birds? did they start with massive playerbases from companies which had been around for 20 years too?)

the reason why they have such a playerbase in the first place is exactly because they know what people like and give it to them… just look at hearthstone’s slogan “deceptively simple, insanely fun

given that they pull around 20M/month for a game which started as a side project, i’d say they know very well how to keep those players

I personally have a different perspective on this than most of the other respectable players commenting here. While I agree that Faeria is appealing precisely because it is a strategic and tactical game (and not because it’s full of “exciting” RNG moments), I have to say I’m relatively happy with the recent direction of the game.

I should say upfront that I’ve only been around for about 6 weeks - so a lot of these guys that were here in the early Alpha have a lot more history to look at. However, even in this short time, I’ve seen a lot of changes:

  • Card Drawing and Mana (Faeria) Accumulation have become somewhat easier
  • Life Totals swing around more (and Healing has been buffed), giving more general use to Healing as a strategy
  • Dash (and to some extent Slam and more available Jumps) have made it easier to ignore an opponent’s land/board control
  • Several cards that define a game by their appearance have been added (Annoying Gnat, Radiance, Doomsday, etc.)
  • Individual cards are more likely to counter other cards; decks are less likely to fully counter other decks
  • Higher combo reliance
  • Extremely niche cards have been reworked to be more generally usable
  • Imbalanced cards have largely been balanced

In an overall sense, the way I see the direction of the game is that it is faster and more dynamic, with a larger number of viable strategies that can compete against each other and a bigger focus on winning by making multiple small outplays (rather than avoiding mistakes in a rock-paper-scissors matchup where one type of deck should beat another). This is all really good.

In particular, I want to see this focus on outplays remain - a game where you can make brilliant and emergent moves or bluff your opponent is far more fun than a game which has a “prescribed” set of moves for each deck. Faeria should not be Chess - Chess, compared to most other great games, doesn’t have a lot of room for creativity or dynamism. Chess has mostly been “solved” and now rewards calculation over strategy. Chess punishes mistakes rather than rewarding moments of brilliance.

There are a couple of unfortunate side effects to this direction that I believe could be remedied. The first is that securing your own territory and invading the opponent’s territory - extremely cool elements of Faeria’s gameplay - have been significantly reduced in importance, to the point where it’s a small advantage (that can be easily overcome) to pull off successfully rather than a critical objective. You can no longer guarantee yourself a turn or two of safety by surrounding your opponent’s lands with your own. This is such a shame, because it was a perfect qualitative counterweight to life, mana and creature control. I’d really like to see priority brought back to controlling where creatures are on the board, as it’s the coolest type of outplay you can make. This means looking at Dash as a mechanic to serve a player’s critical need for usurping or ignoring an opponent’s position/land control, rather than as a way to give already-good creatures a bit of extra utility. Dash should only be on creatures that really need it to operate, and it should consume a larger portion of a card’s “power budget”.

Additionally, the game has shifted a bit further toward luck rather than skill, though in a completely different way than most people (especially on the Reddit board) have noticed. I have no major problem with cards like Hellfire, which allow you some control over the chaos by setting up different board positions, or cards like Blood Song which encourage you to spend your low-mana cards first as setup. My bigger problem is that the increased emphasis on combos and deck-defining cards, not to mention individual cards as counters, has led to more wins and losses being decided by “did I draw the card I needed”. I’ve uttered far more prayers to RNGesus over topdecking than I have over Ogre Dances and the like.

Looking at it another way - the card games at the absolute top of the “skill and strategy” scale are games like Spectromancer (where you don’t even “draw” cards - you can play any card from your deck at any time as long as you have the mana to do so) and Race for the Galaxy (where you usually have far more cards in your hand than you can use - the crux of the game is making choices about what to play and what to forsake). At the bottom of this same scale are games like Hearthstone (where the mana system encourages you to rapidly spill cards from your hand, and RNG effects can be the difference between a bonus and a malus) and Pokemon TCG (where Evolution means that some cards are literally useless unless comboed with other specific cards, and coin flips are used to determine whether some effects work). Faeria - with accumulated mana, positional outplays, the ability to draw an extra card each turn if needed, and relatively high combo power - is somewhere in the middle of this scale, probably leaning toward the higher end. If you want it to continue leaning toward the higher end, the game needs to continue focusing on “how do I use my cards” rather than “what cards did I draw”.

It’s really easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater here, because the higher emphasis on luck is kind of intertwined with the interesting combos and swingier, outplay-focused games. I might suggest starting with making it slightly easier to accumulate cards and slightly harder to accumulate the mana required to use them all. Maybe start both players with an additional card each game, and ratchet down the power of the most combo-heavy cards slightly? Maybe include a few cards that allow you to “dig” into your deck (e.g. “draw four cards from your deck, then discard three of them”), for a considerable cost?

Overall I think this game is already in a pretty good place and it’s moving in a good direction as well - so long as rewarding skill remains the top priority in its design.

Hopefully I didn’t come across as too arrogant in my analysis; again, this is just trying to offer another perspective on the issue, I’m certainly not some almighty arbiter of game design.