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.