General Shifting: A Modularity Suggestion


#1

Premise

With the new expansion on the horizon, and the spoiled cards shining gloriously- I thought to, as a player perform a thought experiment concerned with utilizing existing design space (my favorite exercise.)

Something strange occurred to me, how some cards push a certain General too hard, or under-utilize the flavor or mechanics behind bloodborn spells. Like, how in a Zi’Ran deck, Holy Immolation allows the player to push needed damage, or create board control. In Argeon, however. it’s a nuke spell to utilize with an overly-generous abundance of Provoke minions, to push silly amounts of damage and finish with the Tiger+Roar combo (sick value, sick flavor). In Kaleos, Juxtaposition is an omnitool to put your units in favorable positions and the opponent’s in unfavorable ones- but in Reva, it’s just another way to activate Mask, Magi, or hide a Heartseeker/Magi.

So, then why doesn’t it stand to split some faction cards into a mode for each of their Generals, as a means of balancing elements without destroying an entire faction in the process- or even to just expand the flavor built into every general, making the differences deeper than just Bloodborn spells!

Example:

Astral Phasing
SPELL (Common)
Zirix
(3 Mana)
Target minion gets +5 Health, and gains Flying

Sajj
(2 Mana)
Your general gains Flying this turn. Draw a card.

In this example, we created a “Sajj Mode” for Astral Phasing, that allows Sajj to manage the ever-present hole in her kit that Zirix would normally handle with further board development. The nightmare scenario with the Sajj variant would be the hypothetical involving extreme Wildfire Ankh kiting. Though, that strategy generally tends to involve sacrificing the mana tiles and center board control- so it would probably be a non-issue for Non-GigaVaath decks. Also, Rust Crawler is still waiting in the wings for an artifact deck that pushes too hard.

Proposal

Some faction spells/minions are already tailored to work for one General. So, why not introduce a second side to these cards to expand the utilities to under-supported Generals, or Generals with situational Bloodborn Spells? Why not try improve the experience by letting each General handle things just a little differently than their companion? The flavor can make the generals more unique than “Faction General 1” and “Faction General 2”.

With this, the actual number of cards implemented into the game, isn’t effected. Allowing for flavorful designs to occupy used card slots, without the need to implement a larger number of art/name assets. The UI implemented here could also be rather minimal, showing the card twice when opened, or displaying only the active mode when deckbuilding with a General selected.

This will allow balance oriented fixes to deny a specific General from an effect that they might push too hard (EG, Reva’s usage of Saberspine Seal and Mana Vortex.) The idea here, isn’t to to have any instances of a card being nerfed when used with a specific General- but to have 2 “sides” to the same flavor of spell or minion. For example, an alternative Holy Immolation for Argeon, or an alternative Visionar for Vaath (both situations that are sensible for entirely different reasons.)

The duality of the General paradigm could do to be given more in the way of legs.

Feedback

If it would tickle you guys, I’d really like to see your own examples of creative flip-sides to cards which might not perform for one General, or would make sense as a fundamentally different tool for one of the faction Generals in the comments!


#2

Interesting idea, but I think that there would be problems with implementation.

  1. We could potentially have more than two generals per faction in the future. If Duelyst were to introduce modal spells that have different effects per general, we would need to create more modes. Each card would potentially have 2 or 3 different designs.

  2. Players would have to learn more cards. Not necessarily a bad thing, but could make it harder for newer players to get into the game as the learning curve becomes steeper.

  3. Balancing cards becomes difficult if a change for one general would have effects for the other general since I assume the modes would share mana costs.

These are the main reasons that I think such a solution to the current balancing problems would be overly awkward.

A better variant of your solution I feel would be to have additional effects when certain conditions are met.

For example see Lucent Beam, a card that says 2 mana: deal 2 damage to an enemy minion or general. If a unit was healed this turn deal 4 damage instead.

The base effect is the same, but this card was obviously made for Zir’an because of the second part of it’s effect. Argeon would not use this because he cannot activate it’s (much better) secondary effect reliably, whereas Zir’an can. If we were to extend it to other factions, we could see things such as:

  • Abyssian: If a wraithling was summoned this turn…
  • Songhai: If a minion was teleported this turn… (would need better definitions at this point imo)
  • Magmar: If your opponent drew a card this turn…
  • Vetruvian: If your general has an artifact equipped…
  • Vanar: If two or more minions have been summoned this turn…
  • etc.

TL:DR - creating new cards effects specific to a single general is wasteful in my opinion. We could instead give bonuses to certain strategies by stapling or amplifying effects on existing cards if certain conditions are fulfilled. Some generals would be better at fulfilling those conditions and thus would gravitate to those cards while generals who cannot easily fulfill those conditions still have the option to run those cards, albeit at a lower efficiency.


#3

The problem with that idea is in the implementation. Cpg is a relatively small Dev team and what you propose would practically double the number of cards. Things would be harder to balance and more arduous to test.

right now the only real difference between generals is bloodborn spells. The fact that you have to unlock alt generals would punish people who buy the cards they want at level 1 and play, say, a healyonar deck. Your idea would lock off half of every faction to new players even if they decided to support the game and spend money on orbs. You can play a heal deck with Argeon, even if it doesn’t have BBS synergy, you can play a creep deck with Lilith or a swarm deck with Cass. What you suggest actually limits the types of decks people can play since it forces a general into a specific archetype (basically a new faction of their own with some overlap with another) with little to no wiggle room for something unexpected like a dying wish Lilith with klaxon and obliterate.


#4

Oh no, the idea definitely isn’t to double the number of faction cards! The number of card changed would likely have to be done laterally (though, it could be reasonably done at will per faction.) But I was thinking of no more than 4 cards per faction to begin with anyways. It’d be a huge mess to make every card double sided.

Also, the point is kindof moot, because a level 1 player hasn’t unlocked the faction cards from the basic set. The idea doesn’t lock off anything either- instead the cards simply do more, so if anything it’s adding value to a new player’s collection to get the General shifted cards- if one or both sides are useful to an archetype they want to enjoy.

@nullaurelian

First, I love your avatar. Bad Company’s first couple records are absolutely fantastic. (If those aren’t the dice from Straight Shooter, I’m sorry xD)

Thing is, those types of support triggers do already exist. They simply don’t change reactive BBS being worse than token, attack, or creep generators. Zi’Ran needs cards that are stronger than what can be given to Argeon, and the same tends to go for Starhorn, Sajj, and Kaleos. Rather, the scale you’re thinking at is what we have, which is design by hammer (as opposed to design by hand grenade with balance patches.) But, the idea here is to design by scalpel, to very deliberately increase the amount of existing play- without necessarily having to add more cards.


#5

I do agree that reactive BBS are worse than the ones that generate board presence the majority of the time. However, I think your argument here is the core issue. Your solution for weak BBS is to print strong cards that are gated behind weaker generals. I don’t think this is the correct solution - at what point do you simply make a new faction built around the strategy represented by this BBS instead of dithering around with multiple spells on a card?

Hence I think that triggers are the better solution - you can make the weaker general stronger by making cards that become more powerful when played in that niche without buffing already strong archetypes.

I suppose a way of demonstrating what I mean would be a theoretical revision of Trinity Oath (4 mana draw 3 heal your general for 3). This is a design that is supposed to be pushing a control deck, yet many have stated that this card is good enough to see play in all archetypes. If we were to place a trigger to reward the Healyonar archtype under Zir’an, I would say that the text would be:

Trinity Oath
4 mana Lyonar Spell
Restore 3 health to your general and draw a card.
If a minion was healed this turn, draw an additional 2 cards.

Edit: Card triggered off itself the way it was previously worded. Oops.

By placing the meat of the card (draw 2 cards, total 3 cards) behind a heal trigger, this rewards use of Zir’an over Argeon without making a “Zir’an version” that is far stronger than it’s counterpart in Argeon’s arsenal. In fact, Argeon can still make full use of this card with a little more investment, meaning that Argeon players won’t be completely disenfranchised. I believe that if CPG were to create versions of a card specific to a general we could easily see players complaining (even more!) that CPG favors certain generals or archetypes. We would be making new FotM. Setting strong effects behind triggers means that everybody can use an effect, and that reactive plays can be translated into a different advantage.

TL:DR - I acknowledge that the root necessity of this sort of design is that not all BBSs are made equal. However, I disagree on printing general specific text due to the following:

  • Creates division in the playerbase as separate versions of a spell can cause accusations of favoritism or Flavor of the Month.
  • Creating separate text asks whether or not it would be better to create new factions entirely as opposed to making generals to fit themes in a faction.

As such, I still believe that locking effects behind triggers that either require a certain general or card and tempo investment is the better solution. While more difficult to balance, it means that the developers are acting with an even hand as opposed to forcing certain strategies.

In addition I also believe that the game would benefit from more strategy specific triggers.
༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つCPG plz gib

PS - apologies for the wall of text every time I post. I just want lay out my argument in a constructive manner.


#6

No need to apologize! This is a forum, and ofcourse I expect there to be differing points of view. I’m more than happy to read a thought out rebuttal :slight_smile: (I too, am a knight of Textwall.)

My main point of contention here, is that those sort of cards already exist, but do not stop one General from imposing restrictions on another. For example, Wildfire Ankh is an exceptional card for Sajj, and a “meh” choice for Zirix- but Circle of Dessication has a clause (and price) oriented to Zirix’s playstyle. For Zirix, Circle is a mostly one-sided board wipe and Dying Wish activator. For Sajj, it’s simply too expensive to use as a Wrath-effect, which Sajj needs terribly. There really isn’t a trigger that fixes that without buffing Zirix, either. That’s really the kicker. Those card slots occupied by cards that only benefit one general, limit the playability of the other, and in most situations benefit the General that is already supported (see Starhorn-syndrome.)

Rather than designing entirely new cards, the modal suggestion just allows players to make their choice based on how the cards work for that General, as opposed to having to cross their fingers with every expansion for General support.

That said, it’s unlikely that new Generals will really be a thing, and if they are- making addition modes to 4 or 5 cards wouldn’t be such a drastic introduction (especially considering that they’re introducing 6 new members of the most impactful cards in the game.)


#7

Fair point. I will concede that most situations benefit proactive BBS and thus most cards benefit proactive BBS due to the way the game is designed. However, I disagree that Circle of Desiccation solely benefits Zirix since Spinecleaver exists. I play both and I find that Circle’s selective destruction also benefits Sajj. However, the reason that Zirix seems to make better use of Circle is that by the time players can afford 8 mana the board is already in Zirix’s favor as he does not have to give up tempo, whereas artifacts are a significant tempo loss and thus Sajj has less minions to contest the board. This also applies to most other weaker generals in my opinion - their abilities do not generate tempo as well as their more popular counterparts and a such are not as well positioned to make best use of existing tools.

The point I’m trying to make is that the game heavily favors tempo over value -oriented strategies due to how the game is constructed. This is the same for similar games such as HS I believe. I still maintain that it is possible to create incentives for lower-tempo strategies by using strong triggered abilities.


#8

I would just like to add that with all these flavored, one could make a general brunch…I’ll take my leave after receiving the customary salt grinder for the dried tears of salty vetruvian mains I saved up for myself.


#9

Looks like you got your modular wish with the new grandmaster.


#10

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