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Snowball effect

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#1
FedericoFasullo

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What I noticed is that in the core set there's an abudance of cards that contribute to create the so called "snowball effect". What is it? It's when the winning player is more likely to win and viceversa, leaving very few chances to twist the outcome of a game (or nothing at all).
Let's take "Put to the sword".
It's a good offence card when you are already in a good position but there are very few chances that this cards will help you to recover a bad match. And you will really need to kill something when in a bad position.
Another exemple is King's landing which won't provide you any draw effect if you are being outnumbered. imho that's really sad because I would love some help when in needs not something that supports only when I'm winning (it's like having a crappy friend, wtf).
The plot are not really helping in this scenario:
- wildfire assault: it's a soft board reset, a player with a lot cards in hand will easily recover and his/hers MVP won't be affected by it
- winter is coming: it's meant to be used by people in board advantage due to the lack of gold income and it's designed to crush the losing opponent
- marched to the wall: well....
- head on pykes: it can crush an already crumbling hand
 
You can find other examples by yourself.
 
So, the cardpool is really really small and it's early to complain about this little meta*, I was just wondering what do you think about it.
 
* the early meta of Conquest was reaaaally a mess, I 've learnt to be patient and eventually good cards will "even the odds".

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#2
Masus04

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What I noticed is that in the core set there's an abudance of cards that contribute to create the so called "snowball effect". What is it? It's when the winning player is more likely to win and viceversa, leaving very few chances to twist the outcome of a game (or nothing at all).
Let's take "Put to the sword".
It's a good offence card when you are already in a good position but there are very few chances that this cards will help you to recover a bad match. And you will really need to kill something when in a bad position.
Another exemple is King's landing which won't provide you any draw effect if you are being outnumbered. imho that's really sad because I would love some help when in needs not something that supports only when I'm winning (it's like having a crappy friend, wtf).
The plot are not really helping in this scenario:
- wildfire assault: it's a soft board reset, a player with a lot cards in hand will easily recover and his/hers MVP won't be affected by it
- winter is coming: it's meant to be used by people in board advantage due to the lack of gold income and it's designed to crush the losing opponent
- marched to the wall: well....
- head on pykes: it can crush an already crumbling hand
 
You can find other examples by yourself.
 
So, the cardpool is really really small and it's early to complain about this little meta*, I was just wondering what do you think about it.
 
* the early meta of Conquest was reaaaally a mess, I 've learnt to be patient and eventually good cards will "even the odds".

 

You mean the cards let the player who played better win?

 

On a more serious note it's a lot more complicated than that. The Red Keep is a great example that can help you if you're slightly behind. It won't do much if you have a really bad board presence but if you do end up in a really bad board position and don't have a plan to get out (resets like varys, wildfire or future tech) you are supposed to lose.

Back to TRK: usually power challenges are considered to be the least important challenges in joust, up to just before the win. With the keep you give your opponent another challenge to worry about. The claim of a power challenge just got as important as a two claim intrigue as you essentially take two of your opponents cards. Which means your opponent must chose to either go for int, discarding a card from your hand, or power, preventing you from drawing 2 where before that he only needed to win two challenges.

I hope my point comes across. Besides that, the most important part of the game is, and is supposed to be, the challenges phase, so whether you are ahead or behind it will always be about winning challenges, or so i hope. That means there don't need to be any cards that help you catch up because these are the exact same cards that let you get ahead, by winning challenges.



#3
mnBroncos

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First: I have both won when was behind and have lost when ahead. Coming back from behind is very possible with good deck and good play.

Second: I don't want a game where the person that is losing 90 percent of the time to still somehow win. Easy comebacks are not good.
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#4
IdeYoshiya

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Second: I don't want a game where the person that is losing 90 percent of the time to still somehow win. Easy comebacks are not good.

Isn't that largely the purpose behind randomized elements such as deck shuffling? The weaker/newer player should have some glimmer of hope of beating the stronger/veteran player, even if it won't happen often.


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#5
Sokhar

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Second: I don't want a game where the person that is losing 90 percent of the time to still somehow win. Easy comebacks are not good.


Federico is arguing in favor of a return of Valar. You are way too smart and experienced to actually be equating Valar with a really high % chance of coming back from behind, so really not sure what you were trying to get across here.

#6
mnBroncos

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The new player can win that isn't my argument my argument is that if your way ahead you should win. Imagine a war type board game where if your behind you can destroy all their units and resources to be back on same footing, that be horrible game design. There should be ways to come back but not so often where being ahead doesn't matter.
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#7
mnBroncos

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Federico is arguing in favor of a return of Valar. You are way too smart and experienced to actually be equating Valar with a really high % chance of coming back from behind, so really not sure what you were trying to get across here.


I am not talking about valar at all. All I am saying is no game should be easy for the person behind to come back there should be a major advantage to a strong start
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#8
Kingsley

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This game design article seems relevant. Broadly speaking, making early victories count towards future situations is good, but having games that are "foregone conclusions" is bad. Having comeback mechanisms that make a disadvantaged player able to regain position is broadly good because it makes the game more exciting and engaging. Some games probably have comeback mechanisms that are too strong (the blue shell in Mario Kart is pretty silly IMO), but generally speaking having the ability to come back from a weak start is quite important to engaging and exciting games.

 

In my eyes, the current state of Thrones 2 has a bit too much slippery slope (with the importance of board position being what it is), with not enough mechanisms to enable a comeback from even a somewhat weak start. Further, it has several mechanics that serve to punish a bad start, which strikes me as not very good for the game overall.


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#9
Wosho

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If You have problems with snowballing play Martells they doesnt care about it :)



#10
sidefor

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The concept of a player being able to accumulate advantage is endemic to nearly any game where "permanent"(or "on-board") elements play a major role. Personally I think this isn't really a problem, as long as the gap between a player taking a dominant position and actually finishing the game is short(in real time). It can be tempting to create mechanisms that mitigate the importance of a player's position, or even turn an advantageous position into an disadvantageous one(or vice-versa), as a sort of balancing mechanism, but I find that often this just negates the value of the permanent elements that the game is usually built around, creating a distasteful experience where the apparent focus of the game doesn't actually matter. In short, creating effects that are better when used from a disadvantageous position is fine, but great care must be taken that one does not overturn the concept of advantage entirely.


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#11
ingsve

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The best balance in a game is when you naturally swing back and forth until one side tips over a little extra and takes the win. The problem as the OP states it is that there are lots of mechanics in the core set that gets limited utility when you start falling behind. I think this is a direct consequence of the designers wanting challenges to count for more while at the same time limiting the power of kill cards by making them harder to play. And it's not just kill cards but perhaps more importantly card draw that fast gets limited once you fall slightly behind.

 

The point isn't that the game should favor people that fall behind so that you can have a swingy game. If there are swings in a game they should occur naturally rather than be deliberate design that favors the underdogs. The point is more that the opportunity to affect the game state should be neutral with regards to the current board state. It's not a good state of the game that when you draw cards that could potentially help you, you are unable to ever use them because you can't win that challenge by 5 or whatever it may be. And you don't have to get far behind before the opportunity to play the cards in your hand get much harder so it's not about someone who is completely board wiped and should be losing anyway.

 

I think the removal of influence is another thing that swings the game in favor of the winning player. When you fall behind a little you constantly need to replenish your board by playing new characters which leaves you with little to no gold left to use abilities or play event. As soon as you get a slight upper hand however you can start holding back gold during marshalling and you have more left over for cards that punish your opponent.

With influence at least you had some separation between the economy of playing characters and the economy of playing abilities so that the one didn't affect the other as much as gold does now.


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#12
Barnie25

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The new player can win that isn't my argument my argument is that if your way ahead you should win. Imagine a war type board game where if your behind you can destroy all their units and resources to be back on same footing, that be horrible game design. There should be ways to come back but not so often where being ahead doesn't matter.


I think you are missing the point if you ask me. If you have a strong board presence with strong characters and such you risk getting your characters blown up, at least that creates balance in MTG, a reset forces you to play smart and not over extend. This game now is something to spam the most guys, get wildfired, keep your three best guys and still win with ease. I get your point that if you are ahead you will probably owe it to win but its not as simple as you make it out to be. I think the game needs either better spot removal or a reset of some sorts, to keep people honest. Of course this will favor control decks so there should also be a counter measure for aggro decks but still, I believe it would be good for the game.
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#13
Libor

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I won´t lie, I am a big fan of Valar and that´s the thing that creates my oppinion in this discussion. I don´t think that core set is somehow wrong designed and I really like the second edition after around dozens of games but I 100% agree with what Federico wrote in first post. If you have bad setup or bad start in first turn(s) it is very unlikely you will win the game. Most of card draw (insight, draw location) and solutions for your problems (removing of characters - win by 5, locations - the same - by 5 or unoppossed) is extremely hard to trigger. You can only stall the game and both of you probably knows who will win if there won´t be a miracle. It is not impossible to swing the game but extremely, extremely difficult and I´m not afraid to say it is based on luck. The player with better economy can simple marshall his big characters without fear he will lose them and underline his better board position and yes - I heard the "snowball" for the first time, but it is right word to describe this kind of games. 

I don´t want to be misunderstood - in the situation where the game is tied and players have similar start, it is great and tense game and anyone (usually the better player who akes no mistakes) can win, but sometimes the beginning of the game is all that matters and Wildfire is only a partial solution (Varys is absolutely not a solution, in my point of view). 

We shall see how this problem (again - from my point of view) will be solved and if we will see Valar back or some kind of plot reset that can be triggered at the right time and keep the game more exciting. But I am very surprised by the discussion and oppinions about the absence and including Valar in the future...


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#14
widowmaker93

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Have you guys forgotten that it's just the Core Set? I know there are lots of cards in the core set and many combinations to play around with but it pales in comparison to what we had in 1.0. The snowball effect should diminish once more cards are printed. I agree that more removal is needed but complaining about not having any this early in the game's lifecycle is kind of pointless. They can only put so many cards in the Core Set box and I think they have given us a pretty good variety already.

I've seen a lot of decklists online and maybe it's time to put the Milks and Hand's Judgements in the binder and start playing Tears and Put to the Sword?

My dad always used to say "patience is a virtue." I think that applies pretty well to parts of this topic. :)
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#15
Sokhar

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I am not talking about valar at all. All I am saying is no game should be easy for the person behind to come back there should be a major advantage to a strong start


Thanks for clarifying, I was totally confused. I agree with what you're saying. Any early lead should be a definite advantage, while allowing for possible comebacks. It just boggles my mind, the people that think Varys allows for comebacks, and is an adequate replacement for Valar.

In all honesty, Valar wasn't even really about facilitating a comeback unless your opponent way overcommits into it (either through inexperience or by necessity, probably because they're playing a rush deck). It was more about not getting beat by THIS character(s).

#16
widowmaker93

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In all honesty, Valar wasn't even really about facilitating a comeback unless your opponent way overcommits into it (either through inexperience or by necessity, probably because they're playing a rush deck). It was more about not getting beat by THIS character(s).


Two separate games. You and your opponent have similar economy and cards/characters in hand, and you both have 8 power. In both games you have zero characters in play and he has 5. In one plot deck you have Valar and in the other you have Wildfire Assault. Which plot gives you a better chance to make a comeback?

Not Wildfire Assault.

#17
starkjoy

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This thread makes me want to drink more beer.


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#18
ingsve

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Have you guys forgotten that it's just the Core Set? I know there are lots of cards in the core set and many combinations to play around with but it pales in comparison to what we had in 1.0. The snowball effect should diminish once more cards are printed. I agree that more removal is needed but complaining about not having any this early in the game's lifecycle is kind of pointless. They can only put so many cards in the Core Set box and I think they have given us a pretty good variety already.

It's not really about the core set and not having enough removal either and its' not about Valar. It's a heads up about the way the mechanics of the game are working right now. It's obvious that they have made powerful effects harder to play so that they can't be abused as much as before. But that has had consequences for the game that wouldn't be as bad if cards were easier to play.

 

There is nothing that says that more cards will help the situation if powerful effects continue to be almost impossible to play once you fall behind. I'm not too worried though but I think that it's a legitimate aspect to highlight so that designers at least keep it in mind when creating new cards.



#19
FedericoFasullo

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so really not sure what you were trying to get across here.

 

I was trying to say this

 

This game design article seems relevant. Broadly speaking, making early victories count towards future situations is good, but having games that are "foregone conclusions" is bad. Having comeback mechanisms that make a disadvantaged player able to regain position is broadly good because it makes the game more exciting and engaging. Some games probably have comeback mechanisms that are too strong (the blue shell in Mario Kart is pretty silly IMO), but generally speaking having the ability to come back from a weak start is quite important to engaging and exciting games.

 

In my eyes, the current state of Thrones 2 has a bit too much slippery slope (with the importance of board position being what it is), with not enough mechanisms to enable a comeback from even a somewhat weak start. Further, it has several mechanics that serve to punish a bad start, which strikes me as not very good for the game overall.

 

I cover behind my bad english, he speaks better than me, lol (nice article btw)

 

I think the removal of influence is another thing that swings the game in favor of the winning player. 

 

Totally agree. But if you remember they removed them from the 1.0 too s:

 

 

Have you guys forgotten that it's just the Core Set? [...] My dad always used to say "patience is a virtue." I think that applies pretty well to parts of this topic. :)

 

For what it's worth I remembered it and I specified it in the first post. So I agree.

 

I was really trying to find opinion from new and old players because in 1.0 there wasn't this mechanism (well, there was, it was not so prominent, especially compared to the limited cardpool and the % of cards ratio).

 

I believe a good balance (as ingve said) is when a game is neutral but offers you a little comeback*.

 

* Yes, everyone is thinking about Valar, but... it might be not the only solution, in Conquest there's a nice card like Tarrus which it helps you when you are being outnumbered, it's really a lovely design

ffg_WHK01_180.jpg

(ignore the mechanics behind Conquest, the text seems pretty obvious :P



#20
Shadowist

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Sounds like a watered down version of cards at command- a mechanic probably less problematic to balance without 2/2/2 in the environment.

In the current environment if Valar were reprinted I'm not even sure I would run it, I'd probably just run more 3x and a full suite of bodyguards. All it would change is the order in which you claimed your cards from military challenge.