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Tag Archives: Drafting

The Bracket: Some Drafting Errors

Okay, so the world of competitive SolForge is starting to get rumbling again, so this column will start to get moving again as well.  The First Forge Watch Invitational was a huge success, so after some lengthy discussions amongst ourselves, some consultations with SBE, and some lengthy nap times, we’ve decided to do it again!   Details about the invitational can be found here; here details about the tournament series, which will earn you invites to the invitational.  The first qualifying tournament is February 15; sign-ups will start next week, but it’s never too early to start thinking about your decks!

Also, last week saw the first major Unheroic Tournament since the patch.  Congratulations to SilverTail on an impressive victory.  From a metagame perspective, Tarsus Deathweaver decks were clearly dominant.  Only time will tell if another deck will arise to defeat it, or if Tarsus is simply master of the unheroic format in the current card pool.

Okay, enough with the Spring Cleaning, let’s talk about draft.  I’ve been playing a lot of draft, and I’ve noticed my opponents making the same three mistakes over and over again.  So, in case any of you happen to be reading this column,  I thought I might try to offer some constructive criticism.  I’ll call those three mistakes:

  • Too Much of a Good Thing
  • Stallin’ for Nothin’
  • Limpin’ Outta the Gate

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SolForge Report 12-20-2013

Hey everyone! SeomanReborn here with a Draft-saturated version of the SolForge Report. This week the update we have been hyping for weeks was finally released and we now have access to Tournaments and Drafting. We finally get to see what the Tempys Legendary card is and Kibler talked to us about where SolForge is going from here. Let’s get on with the Report!

The Patch

At around 8:45 PDT on Wednesday, Dec. 19, the latest patch hit Steam and the iPad/iPhone versions were available shortly after. If this is your first time on the SolForge Report, here is a list of all the things that were added or changed

  • Draft and Constructed Tournament queues were added. For more information, make sure you check out the Tournament section on the website!
  • Event Tickets, which are used to enter Drafts and Constructed Tournaments, are now available with Gold, Silver, Tournament Prizes, and Daily Rewards
  • There were 24 new cards added to the game. These were added to the main card pool and there are new packs you can buy that will have a chance of containing these. (As a side note, if you had old packs, you will find them using the Inventory button near your Silver total)
  • The iPhone version of SolForge was released with all the current features enabled.
  • Many cards have been updated or changed. Check out the Full Patch Notes to read all the specifics changes.
  • There were many changes and improvements to the UI.

If you want to read all of the changes just use the Spoiler button below.

Full Patch Notes SelectShow

There are several undocumented changes that came with the patch. Artwork changes to Botaminate and Avalanche Invoker were slipped in with no mention anywhere. If you find something not in the official patch notes, let us know!

What’s Next?

Here is what StoneBlade has said they are working on for the next update:

  • Crafting – Kibler stated on the stream that there has already been a bunch of work done on this and we should be hearing more details relatively soon.
  • Chatting/Interacting with your Opponent – They added a Chat button on the PC client version to help people communicate more but they do want ways of interacting with your opponent. There are currently no details on this yet.
  • Single Card Purchases/Website Update – These are tied together and they are currently working on this. Kibler said they think this will be done before the next major update.
  • Leaderboard/Competitive Play – This is something that Kibler said we should be hearing about in the near future.

Silver Cost for Drafting

Originally, there was never an indication that you would be allowed to purchase Tournament Tickets for Constructed or Tournament Play. As a surprise, StoneBlade added the ability to purchase tickets for the cost of 40K Silver. Many people thought this was very steep and Kibler responded to such a thread on the official forums. Here is what he had to say:

Kibler Quote from the Forums SelectShow

Many people are trying to gather data about the averages for the different rewards. I would head to the official forums and Reddit to report your findings and help us make better informed feedback.

Kas, Arcweaver


The Tempys Legendary was shrouded in mystery leading up to the patch. Tempys needed another aggressive creature and it looks like this is it. And, before you ask, he can attack more than twice if you cast multiple spells in one turn. This makes him good in combo decks involving the recently changed Lightning Brand. This is a card I am hoping to get soon and I hope you are as excited as I am about it!

Want to see a full card spoiler? We recently posted a complete card list with pictures here.

Misc.

  • There will be  some sort of Holiday Promotion for SolForge but currently there are no details. Stayed tuned to all the SolForge news channels of communication so you don’t miss it!
  • The official SolForge FAQ was updated with the patch and now contains information about Tournaments as well. If you have questions about SolForge I would suggest reading it first.

The Stream


Watch live video from StoneBlade on TwitchTV

SolForge Report 12-4-2013

Hello everyone! SeomanReborn here with a turkey-leftovers edition of the SolForge Report. This week Kibler showed us an awesome Nekrium card and hinted that the patch is on the horizon. Kibler also discussed a change with the way StoneBlade wants to do client updates and gave us an update about Crafting. To help people with questions about the update coming out soon, I have compiled a large FAQ that should contain almost everything we have heard about it so far. Let’s get on with the Report!

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SolForge Report 11-13-2013

Hey everyone! SeomanReborn here with this week’s edition of the SolForge Report. This week StoneBlade issued a summary of the changes in the upcoming Tournament Update. Kibler talks a little bit about the design of the new cards and we also get a look at one of them. We still have  no word about when the patch will be out, but the signs seem to indicate it is just a few weeks away. Let’s get on with the Report!

StoneBlade Update

StoneBlade released an official press release about the upcoming patch. In it, StoneBlade gave their official summary of Drafting and Tournaments. They also talked about the release of the iPhone client as well as the new cards and card changes. Most of it was a recap of things we had previously learned, but if you want to read it you can find it on their website.

Card Preview

Part of the update StoneBlade provided also has a new card spoiler. Check him out!

Thundersaur
We are not sure what rarity he is but his effect feels Legendary. This card has very interesting flavor and design, which means I’m looking forward to collecting him!

Card Changes

We also got another card change this week.


Changes: It now has better stats (Previously 4/8/12 Health), and its ability is an Activate which only lasts the turn with higher Attack debuff values (Previously was -1/-2/-4).

There was a subtle change in the rarity of certain cards in the stream last week that I had missed.  Cull the Weak and Corpse Crawler were both demoted to Common during his draft. I’m not sure what this means for the rarity distribution of the set, but it could work out better for people still trying to collect certain cards.

Misc.

  • Kibler stated that cards are going to be added directly to the current card pool. The packs will be different than the current ones so any that you have stored up will not contain them. He mentioned there will be other ways to obtain them as well, possibly alluding to the statement that they would be part of the tournament rewards a few weeks ago. There will be no packs for just the new cards.
  • The initial algorithm in determining which cards will be taken out more often by the computer during drafts will be based on what the developers drafted during playtesting. After that, the program will base it on player behavior.
  • There were no spoilers on the stream this week, but Kibler stated that the new cards are designed around synergies to make them interesting to play together.

The Stream


Watch live video from StoneBlade on TwitchTV

SolForge Report 10-30-2013

Hey everyone! SeomanReborn here with another edition of the SolForge Report. John Fiorillo gave some spoilers about Drafting to help with some player concerns on the forums and Kibler gave us a small look at the iPhone version of Drafting. Kibler also asked for player feedback about tutorial videos and confirmed a changed to the Savant cycle in the next patch. Let’s get on with the Report!

Read More »

SolForge Report 10-23-2013

Hey everyone! SeomanReborn here with this week’s edition of the SolForge Report. This week Kibler gave us more information about their current drafting plans while John Fiorillo explained StoneBlade’s stance on Drafting Rounds and Pricing. StoneBlade is going to be at Spiel in Essen in Germany and the next Patch appears to be coming out soon. Let’s get on with the Report!

Read More »

SolForge Report 10-16-2013

Hey everyone! SeomanReborn here with another SolForge Report. There has been a 2 week gap, since there was no SolForge stream last week with Brian Kibler being out of the country. He came back and unloaded a bunch of information about Tournaments and Drafting. Kibler also commented about the card changes rumored to have been found in the newest client. Let’s get on with the Report!

Read More »

Deck Upgrade #5: Evaluating Cards in SolForge

Evaluating cards is a key part of deck building.  You need to be able to figure out which cards are broadly strong, which are narrow but strong, and which are just plain weak in order to figure out which ones belong in your deck.  Card evaluation skills are important in general, but they will become particularly important with the upcoming release of drafts (estimated for later this month or next month).

Reviewing other people’s evaluations of card strength is useful, but only up to a point.  I recommend that everyone check out columns like Raidrinn’s card reviews (available for Nekrium, Tempys, Alloyin, and Uterra), but those evaluations are necessarily general—they don’t take into account the specifics of how you will be using those cards.  Likewise, comparing a creature’s attack and health to the averages for its level (a summary of those averages is available here) is useful but is only a starting point.

In this column, I want to focus on three specific points about card evaluation in SolForge.  First, you have to evaluate a card across all three levels, not just at one level.  Second, to paraphrase the traditional rule about property, the three most important things in evaluating a card are context, context, and context.  Finally, context isn’t just about your deck—it’s about your opponents’ decks as well.

Evaluate the Whole Card, Not One Level

During the period before the Core Set’s release, whenever SBE spoiled a new card, players would comment things like “Level 3 is overpowered” or “Avatars aren’t that good because their Level 3 isn’t very impressive.”  Both of those comments are of a type that are not even wrong—they just don’t make sense as a way of analyzing cards.  A single level of a card can’t be a reason, on its own, to conclude that a card is weak.   Similarly, it is impossible for a Level 3 version of a card to be overpowered without considering the other levels of the card, and virtually impossible for a Level 1 card to be overpowered without considering the other levels.  I can easily construct cards with arbitrarily powerful Level 3s that are still balanced or underpowered overall.  I can’t promise that these cards would be fun, but they could be balanced.

Consider a hypothetical spell, “Nekrium Death Curse,” which has the Level 3 text “Your opponents lose all life and lose the game.”  Overpowered, right?  Not necessarily.  Imagine the Level 1 version reads “You lose 50 life.  This card cannot be leveled without playing it.” and the Level 2 version reads, “You lose 45 life.  This card cannot be leveled without playing it.”  That card would be weak.  Playing it would make you extremely vulnerable to any burn or any card advantage and would give up card advantage to boot.  It might be possible to play it as a less good Arboris, Grove Dragon, pairing it with life gain cards like Glowstride Stag and Lightbringer Cleric.  But even then, it would be a sufficiently fragile strategy that it would not be overpowered.  Likewise, a 25/25 Level 1 creature could be balanced, if the Level 2 version reads “You must play this card if it is in your hand.  You lose the game.”

Of course, a particularly powerful level or a particularly weak level matters for evaluating a card.  Chrogias would be massively overpowered if it had an even average Level 1 and Level 2 version—the powerful Level 3, weak Level 2, and terrible Level 1 are what make it balanced.  Similarly, the Avatars are all powerful in monofaction or monofaction with a splash, because they have phenomenal Level 1s, strong Level 2s, and average Level 3s.  Who cares that 15/15 is only so-so at Level 3 when you’ve been 2-for-1-ing for two Player Levels?

Whether a card with one strong level and two weaker levels is worth playing depends on the central point in card evaluation:  context, context, context.

Context, Context, Context 

Cards are not strong or weak in the abstract, but only in context.  Which is a stronger card, Deepbranch Prowler or Chrogias?  It depends entirely on what cards you’re playing it with, what the game plan of your deck is, and what the circumstances of the board are.  If you’re playing a deck filled with Technosmiths and Synapsis Oracles, designed to level up cards without necessarily playing them and then win with Level 3 bombs, Chrogias is the clear winner.  If you’re playing a rush deck designed to seriously damage your opponent during Player Level 1 and win in early Player Level 2, Chrogias is worse than worthless and Deepbranch Prowler is a strong card.  The difference is all about context.

When I think about the context of cards I’m evaluating, I consider synergy; my deck’s game plan; and important niche filling.  Each of these topics deserves more consideration than I can give it here, but I’ll lay out the basics.

Synergy is the way in which a card becomes stronger when played with certain other cards.  Battle Techtician and Alloyin General are both reasonable cards on their own, but together they become much more effective because of the strong synergy they have.  I’ve written about synergy (and its cousin, dependencies) before, and I suggest reading those articles and considering their applications to card evaluation.  One particular thing I’ll mention is the difference between constructed play and draft or other limited formats.  Soul Harvest is a much stronger card if you know that you can include cards like Zimus, Death Seeker, and Flamespirit Mystic in your deck.  In constructed, you can make sure that will be true.  In draft, you’re unlikely to get a Zimus and may not even get a Death Seeker, which means you have to lower your estimate of the value of cards like Corpse Crawler and Soul Harvest that need sacrifice targets.

A deck’s game plan is how that deck wins games.  It’s not “what would the perfect draw for this deck be?” but rather, what are the realistic, tested paths to victory.  For a deck based on playing spells and triggering powers, the game plan is level up Savants/Flamespeakers/Master of Elements, then chain together strings of free spells and use the combination of Savant/Flamespeaker triggers and the spells themselves to win the game.  For an Uterra/Alloyin leveling deck, it might be level up Chrogias, Echowisp, and Scrapforge Titan, and then use them to overwhelm your opponent.  Typically, a strong deck will have multiple paths to victory—if you build a silver-bullet deck around one card, your deck will fail if you don’t draw that card.  And flexibility in your game plan also lets you play around an opponent’s deck.  If your plan is to Phytobomb and play Deepbranch Ancient and Lifeblood Dryad, you may find yourself in trouble against a Grimgaunt Devourer and Spring Dryad deck.  If you can switch to playing your Shardplate Delvers and Spring Dryads as an alternate path to grow to victory, you have a much better chance of winning.

In general, a card that fits your game plan will be more valuable than one that doesn’t.  Matrix Warden has mediocre stats and an only so-so ability, but in decks that rely on boosting attack, it can be an important support card for core cards like Hinterland Watchman or Oreian Warwalker.  It’s not just that the card has synergy with the rest of the deck—a card that fits the game plan gets additional value because it enables the deck to achieve its design.

The last major aspect of context I want to discuss is the role niche cards can play in a deck.  While typically you want cards that fit within your core game plan, sometimes you need to include cards to deal with problems that may come up.  For example, a power-leveling deck may nonetheless include Deepbranch Prowler.  Prowler can serve the twin purposes of providing early game board presence if you are otherwise in danger of being overrun by a rush deck, and giving you options when you get an unlucky Level 1 hand in later Player Levels.  In that context, Prowler is not a part of the deck’s game plan—if the deck performs ideally, the Prowler would never see play.  But it still has higher than ordinary value, because it fills a necessary niche in the deck.  It provides a tool to deal with the other part of the context—what your opponent runs against you.

The Context of Your Opponent’s Deck—The “Meta”

Your opponent’s deck is almost as important as your own in determining the strength of your cards.  Of course, you generally can’t build your deck based on what a specific opponent will play, but you can make some educated guesses about what might be in your opponent’s deck by considering what decks players in general are using.  Trading card game players traditionally use the term “the metagame” or just “the meta” to describe the overall play environment—what decks are popular, what cards are seeing lots of play, and equally importantly, what isn’t seeing play.  The difference between the constructed meta and the draft meta can be huge—even if Everflame Phoenixes are a must-answer in constructed, played by many players, they will never be a major presence in draft, where vanishingly few players will have even one.

In addition to specifics of individual cards (in an environment with lots of Savants, Gemhide Basher is stronger), speed matters.  The faster matches are likely to be over, the more important Level 1 is and the less important Level 2 is.  The speed of matches depends on how fast your deck is, how fast your opponent’s deck is, and how the interaction of the two decks affect things.  A lot of this has to do with play of the game—there’s no downside to playing a card like the Avatars, with a very strong Level 1, if you’re in the last Player Level the game will reach.  But it also affects deck design—bombs like Chrogias are more powerful in slow games than in fast games.  In particular, because we can expect draft and other limited formats to be on average slower than constructed, cards with weak Level 1s and strong Level 3s will generally be stronger in limited than they are in constructed.

Ultimately, reaching your own opinions on which cards are strong and which are weak—and critically on which are strong in your particular deck, in this particular meta—is one of the most challenging but also most enjoyable parts of a trading-card game.  This column outlined some of the aspects I focus on.  What do you rely on?

Player Level 4 Episode 3: Interview with a Dragon Master

Welcome to Player Level 4: where we take your game to the next level!

This week Kit and I get together with Noetherian to interview the one and only Brian Kibler about upcoming features and the future of SolForge! Read More »

Player Level 4 Episode 2: Shapers…what Shapers?

Welcome to Player Level 4: where we take your game to the next level!

This week Kit and I bring you the most recent tournament results along with our special guest this week, mnmike2002! Raidrinn is also back to join us on our adventure through the metagame. Let’s get started! Read More »

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