If you do, call me.
In any case, I feel inspired to chip in on the most recent addition to the Shadow Era game client: Meltdown.
I've touched on limited formats like Meltdown in the past, but here's a quick recap for anyone who doesn't know.
In Meltdown, players are given four packs with which they build a 30 card deck (29+hero). This deck is not subject to any faction or class restrictions like normal play. In other words, you can include human allies in a deck with a shadow hero, or play War Banner in Majiya.
How does the weekly Meltdown competition work? Each Meltdown match costs 200g, and 100g from that is put into the jackpot. Wins get you 30 points, draws 15 points, and losses 10 points. At the end of the weekly countdown, the jackpot is divided up according to your percentage of Meltdown score vs the global Meltdown score total. For example, if you have a Meltdown score of 10 and the total of all Meltdown scores is 100, well then you get 10% of the jackpot. Win more games to get a much higher payout! Check your Status screen for more info.
The format itself is fun. However, Meltdown alone is not the subject of this article. It's been around for a while already.
I want to talk about the digital implementation of Meltdown. And it needs some serious work.
First thing's first: creating meltdown games. There really should be a way other than entering the custom game menu, which is a bit un-intuitive. On the bottom where you have buttons for search, create game and quick game, is it too much to ask for a quick Meltdown button? This is a small thing, so I won't hold this one against Kyle and the team. It just seems awkward to me as is.
Next up: viewing the pool. When you first enter the deck construction screen, the client demands you pick a hero first. What it should be doing first is letting you view your pool in a screen similar to purchasing a pack from the shop, since you want to pick a hero based upon the other cards you have. Again, not a big deal since you can just pick one to get rid of the prompt, then pick a different one once you got a better look. This isn't a biggie.
Next: The deck construction timer. This one is the biggie. It's what makes me never want to play Meltdown. If this wasn't in the client, I would still be playing now and never get around to writing this piece.
|Ever had a frosty melt prematurely? I blame that poor timing on Kyle too.|
For those of you who haven't played Meltdown yet, there's a three minute timer on deck construction. And if you don't submit your fully built deck in three minutes or less, the game kicks you to the lobby so you have to do it over again with a new pool.
This is ridiculous. I understand why Wulven feels the need for a timer; because without a limit it would be fairly easy to get plenty of help from the community, friends, me, etc and that could be considered unfair. However, a three minute timer that resets your pool is also unfair.
What Wulven needs to understand is that some pools are simply more complicated than others and some players are slower at the building process than others. I do this for a living and I've been kicked out mid-deck. Imagine what it's like for a casual iOS player who keeps losing constructed so they have to grind out painful loss after loss to make that 200g, then get kicked out before they're halfway done. That's like spending all week saving up to buy an hour with your friend's mom and then the friend walks in on you half-finished.
Or maybe that's just me.
Moving right along...
The 'proper' way to play limited formats in other games such as Magic: The Gathering is to fully examine your pool, sort cards by whatever preference you have (depends on the person), then making methodical cuts one by one until you get to the deck limit. In a game like Magic, this process usually takes around 20 minutes. For a format like Meltdown, which is relatively simple but has you include more cards (mtg 40 card limited deck will have around 17 'land', meaning only 23 actual cards to Meltdown's 30), I'd guesstimate that a ten to fifteen minute timer would be appropriate.
The current timer is three minutes.
I quickly discovered you can't stop to think in digital Meltdown. You can't examine your pool, you can't sort anything, you can't use an ounce of strategy. It's just grab the pretty threats and go.
I'd love to do a piece on Meltdown strategy. What cards to look out for, deck construction tips, what to expect from opponents, etc. I can't do it, and that's because there's currently no time for any of it. The only way right now to build a Meltdown deck is just grab what grabs you, and even then you'll barely make it in three minutes. It's a vicious cycle of grabbing that never stops.
At least, it doesn't stop until your friend walks in halfway through.
Again, maybe that's just me.
What I want to see, Wulven, is a ten minute timer. What I'd settle for is five, that's at least enough to get a quick peek at the pool before adding cards. Ten is enough to add good cards and then look at your deck composition while making those last few choices, Fifteen is enough to really sort through your cards first, consider things like tempo, etc. and open up some intelligent decision making for even the most difficult of card pools.
Another huge problem is that because the timer is so low, the entry fee isn't taken until you submit your deck.
That's right, sleazy people who already figured it out like I have.
To the rest of you: You get to look at your pool and build a deck before deciding if you want to pay for it or not. If you're confident in the deck, submit it. If not, let the last few seconds on the timer drip away and you'll be dropped back in the lobby at no charge. In other words, you can keep entering over and over again until you have the best possible pool of cards.
That's like if in quickmatches you got to see your opening hand before deciding to play a game or not.
This is a horribly broken system. If I ever run low on monies, I will play the hell out of the current version of Meltdown until I make it all back from collecting a large portion of the pot. Until something is done about this, you won't see me playing the otherwise enjoyable format any more than I have to.
Lastly is more the lack of a feature than a complaint: acquiring whatever you open.
|I know I reference this game too much, but it's kinda hard not to.|
I mean, they INVENTED the TCG. They've done most everything first.
Also, Momir Basic is a great time-waster (google it).
My issue is that if I want to spend 400 crystals on the packs and then keep the cards after, I should be allowed that option. But I'm not.
Again, not a big deal. I wouldn't be spending those crystals anyways since the timer really needs a fixing first. However, for people who don't care or for those who are buying packs anyways and want to get the most value for their crystals, the option is sadly missing. It's a great way for both Wulven and the players to profit.
To wrap it all up, Meltdown is a blast, but the digital version needs some improvements both for ease of use and fairness. If you were a pre-order customer and have a box or two lying around, I encourage you to try the format with real cards. If you're just curious or want to sate your appetite for Shadow Era limited until the official physical release, then there's that. If you want to make a quick buck with my leet haxorz tip, do that too. Otherwise, I would stay away until the timer is extended and you pay up front. I can only assume that these things will be fixed to avoid cheating.
As a side note, there was a bunch of other stuff in the update too, like friends lists and messaging for people who like certain other players and want to play with them more often. For more information on that, be sure to check the forums over at the official site www.shadowera.com.
Until next time (which is hopefully not four months from now),