My thoughts about Pantheon format

For those who don’t know what Pantheon is, it’s the official format for Faeria tournaments (especially Qualifers, Monthly and ESL tournaments). If you know it, you can skip to next paragraph.
For the others, here’s a quick recap :

  • You need to prepare 3 decks, one of them you have to start every match with. Those decks can share only 3 copies of each card, only 1 for Legendary. Which means that if you run Aurora in one of the decks, you can’t run it in the others. If you have 2 Wind Soldiers in a deck, you can run 1 in one of the other decks, and if you run 3 in the same deck, then you can’t run it in either of your other decks.
  • It is a (usually Bo3, sometimes Bo5) King of the Hill (KotH) approach, which means that players start their matches with always the same deck, when they loose with a deck, they can’t play it again and have to switch. The winner has to pick the same deck again for the next game.

Color Lock

I believe the idea behind Pantheon format is that players can’t pick 3 times the same deck, with a little change in it. But the problem is that it is an incentive to play 3 mono-color decks, or at least 2 mono-color decks and one multi-color (with green being in the bad spot we know, it reduces even more the possible color combinations).

Why is that ? Because all the power of a color is concentrated in a bunch of cards that sometimes are a must-have. Here are non-exhaustive examples : Windfall / Unbound Evolution for Blue, Wind Soldier / Soul Drain for Yellow, Seifer’s Wrath / Groundshaker for Red, Elderwood Embrace / Feed the Forest for Green (yes, I know, but go try to find cards as good as the others in Green …). These cards, you’ll often want them x2 or x3 in a competitive deck because they’re the core of so many decks, or simply so powerful. Not to mention legendaries (Aurora, Khalim, Garudan …). In other words, you can play them in one deck only of a color. Look at it another way : you can’t build another competitive deck that uses these cards, so you effectively “lock” a color once you’ve build a deck of that color.

Now, look at a bicolor deck. It may want some of these cards for each of its colors (obviously, as they’re the strongest of the pack). So a bicolor deck will “lock” 2 colors on its own. That’s why you can’t pick 2 bicolor decks, no tricolor, and so on. So the best options are mono-colors, and maybe a bicolor (often using Green as it’s a bad color for mono).

Of course, all of this is from a theorical point of view. Some cards will be auto-staple in some decks and near-useless in others, so you may be more or less able to build 2 decks that share a color and that will still be competitive, but it’s pretty limited.

As a result, that kills creativity, which in turn leads to stagnant meta (it’s already hard to find a deck that can deal with meta decks, but if, by using it, you cancel other good options, then why would you use it ?). So you play mostly mono, because that’s the most efficient.

Break the lock

As I said earlier, I believe the reason for the 3-card/1 legend max rule is to avoid playing 3 decks that differ from a few cards and are basically the same. If it’s not the reason, please enlighten me as I see no other.

What could be done instead is to give a maximum number of cards that can be reused in 2 decks. As an example, let’s say half (that number may not be good, up to you to experiment) :
Between deck A and B, 50% of the cards have to be different. Between A and C, or B and C as well. But if you want, you can still play 3 Groundshakers in each of the decks. One might be a R-Y burn, another a mono-Red, and the last one a G-R (yeah, why not ? ^^). Or 3 mono-R decks, but they’ll have to be quite different (one will use Meteors, another will be rush …). Or they’ll be the same kind of deck, but one will be weaker than the other (if you play 2 R rushes, and take the best cards for one of them, the other will necessarily be a weaker version). This way, you can’t play the same deck 3 times (not even 2 times), and you can freely play any kind of deck. Sure, they will often use the same cards, but hey, why would you make cards OP if not for seeing them in competitive decks ?

About the feasability, while it would be pretty hard to check if that rule is respected by a human organisator, the ingame functionality you’ve implemented make it quite easy to see if the deck respect the rules.

Rock-Paper-Scissor and KotH

This game is currently pretty deeply a rock-paper-scissor. While there are few matchups that are autowins, some decks have an edge (sometimes a big one) over others. This behavior might be fine or not (not the purpose of this post), but it definitely works badly with KotH.

Why ? Because the fate of a match (Bo3 or Bo5) relies heavily on who wins the first match (as long as players have picked good counter-decks).
Here’s an example : Player 1 (P1) wins the 1st game against P2. P2 will pick a deck that’s likely to counter what he’s seen from P1. If he wins, P1 will pick a counter to P2’s deck and will be likely to win the match.

Now, that doesn’t work exactly like this, obviously, as the result of a match is not only dependent on deckbuilding, but I believe, on average, it’s what happens (at least from my own experience).

Why the KotH ?

I personally dislike KotH. It encourages people to put all their efforts in one deck, and it will go well as long as they win with it. But my opinion about it is not the point here. However, I dislike how the result of the first game influences the outcome of the match. Well, in tennis, if you win the first set, you’re more likely to win the match as you have only 2 more to go when your opponent has 3, but it’s not like the winning of your first set gives you any advantage during the others (except psychological advantage of course). Anyway, back to the point. I’d like to see Conquest format (rules being : if you win with a deck, then you can’t play it anymore, your opponent may change deck or not as he wants), which forces you to win with at least 2 of your decks, and prevents counter-picking (at least it’s more difficult, as you need knowledge of what your oppoennt’s going to play).

I’m aware this solution isn’t perfect, but I think it’s definitely better than KotH, especially in a Rock-Paper-Scissor kind of game.

Tl;dr :

Force 2 decks to differ from <50 or other number>% of their cards, instead of locking the use of 3 cards/1Leg for all decks
Switch to Conquest format (once you win with a deck, you can’t replay it during the match) instead of KotH (once you loose with a deck, you can’t replay it during the match, if you win, you must replay it)

Thanks for reading that wall of text, I’ve been thinking for a while about these issues, but they’ve never striked me as much as now, with the current meta (or maybe I’ve never found the time/courage to express my ideas about it ;))



100% agreed. I think the current pantheon format also punishes experiments (especially regarding bi- or even tri-color), which, in the end, is not healthy for the game. Why is that? Because the meta game is usually influenced by what is played on tournaments. The pantheon format kills a major part of possible deck diversity.
This is not only bad for the meta, but it also makes tournaments more boring to watch. After seeing like 3 or 4 matches, you already know like 90% of the decks which will likely be played. A strategy game with that variety of possible combinations should be offering more.

KotH vs. conquest:
I agree with you about KotH being problematic for the stated reasons.
I’m not really sure how I feel about the conquest format suggestion, though. The outcome seems quite unpredictable:
P1 wins and has to switch. What will he switch to? -> Probably a counter deck to P2’s, if he has one in the pool. However, P2 might switch as well. So, he’d probably switch anyways… to what he thinks counters the probable counter deck. Conclusion: Mind games - for the first few matches.

In the long run, this might become problematic for players, who needed some time to finish their matches. Why? Because they had to play, so they didn’t have the opportunity to see their next opponent playing, while vice versa, their opponent probably has seen 1 or even 2 of his decks already. This might even out for the later stages of the tournament, or it might not. As the loser of the first match, you may have an advantage, if you know what’s left in the winners pool. (Is there a counter? -> switch decks. If not. -> Don’t switch)
While this seems rather fair, because of the loser getting an advantage seems quite balanced (the winner has an advantage due to, well, only needing another win), it might encourage to play fast decks only, so you can see your next opponent’s (and hide yours) before you play vs him. Might still be the better solution than the KotH mode.

What about this?: Being forced to switch decks depends on the score of the match, rather than on who won/lost the match before? Example:
P1 wins first match. It’s 1:0, so P2 has to switch his deck. (KotH-style; P2 gets the advantage of choosing a counter deck). Then…

  • P2 wins second match. It’s 1:1, so both players have to/may switch their deck. (Or maybe: P1 has to change (for he lost); P2 may choose (for the score is evened out now) --> mind games/fair random deck encounter situation (like game 1), because score is even) or
  • P1 wins second match (Bo5 situation). It’s now 2:0. P2 may choose to switch; and he may choose, whether P1 has to switch. (= greater advantage for P2, because the score looks really bad for him and he may not have an answer to P1’s deck.)

Something like that. Though it becomes rather complicated, I think.