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Thread: Is SE ROSHAMBO?

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    Senior Member kamman13's Avatar
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    Is SE ROSHAMBO?

    Abridged version! This just has the main points, for the full explanation with reasoning, go for the second post.

    Soothslyr recently posted that SE is nothing more than a glorified game of rock, paper, scissors. Personally, I welcome this format as it is inherently balanced, everything has a weakness and strength. But it can lead to the situation where a matchup between two heroes is essentially pre-decided. Not cool. Soothslyr suggested it should be pretty easy to map out the dynamic, so I decided to try to map out the rock paper scissors dynamic. But the situation, as you will see, got real complicated real quick.

    Damage Strategies

    So how to start? Well, you win the game by doing damage to your opposing hero. Looking at the cards, there are essentially three ways to damage the other hero, ALLIES, WEAPONS, and direct damage SPELLS. Allies in particular are diverse, and there are several ways to use allies to do damage. You can use heavy allies (HA), weenie rush (WR), or a weenie boost (WB).

    Notice two things. First, wulven and rogues are poorly represented in the above damage schemes, and are also considered lower tier decks, partly for this reason. Second, I would argue that with the exception of the HA strategy, all the other strategies are not powerful enough to win on their own, meaning multiple strategies need to be employed and card draw becomes essential. In the few decks that can rely on one strategy (allyless Gwen or mage), card draw is still essential to these strategies. In HA strategy, though, the fewest cards are used to do the most damage possible, making card draw less of an issue.

    Now, for the rock paper scissors dynamic, we need to look at the counters to such strategies. This is the difficult part, because there are multiple ways to counter each strategy, so I have ranked the counters, from very effective (A), to mediocre (B) to doable, but not efficient(C). I then determined which damage strategies and counters are available to which heros, and thus who can counter who. This should ideally break everything into a rock, paper, scissors type dynamic.

    So, original question, ROSHAMBO?

    Here's my attempt to make a roshambo flowchart.

    Mages counter ally based strategies, mainly priests. But Zhanna counters mage strategy. Shadow mages can also counter weapon based strategies. Mages have no effective counter for warriors and Zal using a type 3 strategy, but those warriors and Zal have no effective counter for Mages with type 2 and 4 strategies, leading to an either way death race. Zal counters warriors and Gwen, warriors counter Zal. Gwen counters mages. Everything else counters Gwen. Priests in general can counter everything, but especially warriors.

    Super generalized- Hunters counters mages, mages counter priests, priests counter warriors, warriors counter hunters. But there are ways to build decks that counter about every step of this circle.

    Eh. To me, too confusing and too many qualifications to be useful. Additionally a lot of these counters assume typical decks, but for many of these it is possible to build a non-typical deck that can counter any possible deck. The take-away message here I think is that the game can't be easily broken into a ROSHAMBO strategy, since most decks have a possible counter to most strategies. Additionally there is always the issue of how to balance your deck between boosts for your strategy vs. counters to other strategies. And then the question of- should you add in more really effective counters for the deck you are built to defeat, or put in the weaker counters to deal with the decks that you have more trouble countering but can counter? These cards weaken your deck overall (less consistent draw, less effective counters) but give you versatility. In other words, no, don't think SE can be broken into a rock, paper, scissors type strategy.
    Last edited by kamman13; 09-29-2011 at 11:57 PM.

    My thoughts and ramblings:
    The art of death racing
    Hitting em with all you got
    In defense of bazaar
    Card draw engines and card draw advantage
    Damage Strategies in SE

    A1's resident Mathemalogian
    A1 : Evolution in Theory.
    Member of the PFG, and guest article writer for GDC's website

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    Senior Member kamman13's Avatar
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    Soothslyr recently posted that SE is nothing more than a glorified game of rock, paper, scissors. Personally, I welcome this format as it is inherently balanced, everything has a weakness and strength. But it can lead to the situation where a matchup between two heroes is essentially pre-decided. Not cool. Soothslyr suggested it should be pretty easy to map out the dynamic, so I decided to try to map out the rock paper scissors dynamic. But the situation, as you will see, got real complicated real quick.

    Damage Strategies

    So how to start? Well, you win the game by doing damage to your opposing hero. Looking at the cards, there are essentially three ways to damage the other hero, ALLIES, WEAPONS, and direct damage SPELLS. You can also deal damage in a mill type deck through card draw damage, but there is IMO no competitive mill decks, and the developers seem intent on preventing a long, drawn out strategy from ever becoming viable. So it won't be discussed here.

    Further note- the allies are diverse, and there are several ways to use allies to do damage. You can use heavy allies (HA), weenie rush (WR), or a weenie boost (WB). Each of these will be considered separately, for reasons further on.

    So, let's hit 'em up one by one.

    1 Weapons- Pretty simple, you do damage through direct weapon attacks. the damage needs to be pretty substantial for this strategy to be effective, so it's pretty much currently limited to Amber and Gwen (a Wulven deck is also somewhat possible).

    2 Spells- These spells can be present in cards or hero abilities. This damage strategy is most prevalent in the mages, but can also be used effectively in Zaladar's or Banebow's ability. The priest's smite spell also isn't half bad in a pinch.

    3 Heavy allies (HA)- This strategy relies on heavy allies being used to gain board control, and secondarily to do damage to the hero. It's most effective in a warrior deck as there are several card that can boost the strength of these already powerful allies (KP, war banner, aldon for humans, life infusion). Once board control is firmly gained, these boosted, beefy allies can take down a hero in a turn or two. According, this deck is limited to warrior, priest, and elemental classes (Zal Mega-rush is built on this strategy). Without boosts, human decks can still run it somewhat, with Aeon, aldon and raven, but it's not as effective.

    4 Weenie rush (WR)- Simple, you fill your hand with low cost, synergistic allies that win early board control and can do some significant damage to the hero. Not viable as a consistent winning strategy, since the wrong combination of allies can leave you in the hole, but especially powerful in an elemental deck with spark. An early game- weenie rush strategy is available to every hero in some sense. Card draw is especially crucial to this deck.

    5 Weenie boost (WB)- This is somewhat similar to the HA strategy, but instead of relying on a few superpowerful allies, you rely on several medium-powered allies to give you the win. There are two ways to play this, you can boost the attack of allies that have good health but low attack (bloodlust, KP, war banner, shard of power), or you can hasten allies that have good attack (portal). This is then a mage, warrior, priest, elemental strategy.

    Notice two things. First, wulven and rogues are poorly represented in the above damage schemes, and are also considered lower tier decks, partly for this reason. Second, I would argue that with the exception of the third strategy, all the other strategies are not powerful enough to win on their own, meaning multiple strategies need to be employed and card draw becomes essential. In the few decks that can rely on one strategy (allyless Gwen or mage), card draw is still essential to these strategies. In strategy 3, though, the fewest cards are used to do the most damage possible, making card draw less of an issue.

    Counters

    Now, for the rock paper scissors dynamic, we need to look at the counters to such strategies. This is the difficult part, because there are multiple ways to counter each strategy, so I will rank the counters, from very effective (A), to mediocre (B) to doable, but not efficient(C). This is based on my subjective, (ahem) expert judgement, feel free to disagree.

    1. Weapons based attack strategy
    A. Weapon or item destruction cards.
    B. Armor, especially Snow Sapphire
    C. A lot of allies, to wear out durability (so a WR or WB strat)

    2. Spell based damage
    A. Heals, especially continous ones like lone wolf or Elementalis or Zhanna's ability or Soul Seeker.
    B. Single use heals, like healing touch, regeneration, Mugged, Enraged or soul reaper
    C. A faster damage strategy to win the deathrace, like a WR

    3. Heavy allies
    A. Single ally disables, Rabid bite, Captured prey, mind control, crippling blow, assassination
    B. Tidal wave
    C. Item destruction, to destroy the boosts, single ally delays, retreat, Snow Sapphire, rain delay

    4. Weenie rush
    A. board clears (nova, tidal wave, ice storm nish's ability)
    B. heals, to survive through the initial rush, banebow's ability
    C. Weapons + delays, allies won't survive long, so weapons needs to regain board control

    5. Weenie boost
    A. board clears (nova, tidal wave, nish's ability)
    B. Item destruction, to destroy the boosts
    C. HA strat or weapons can win board control from the weanies without using as many cards

    Ok, not so simple.

    Hero by Hero

    Next step, I'm going to through the decks one by one, and list their available damage strategies, and counters most available to them. A lot of generalization will be happening here. Bold indicates an A level counter, otherwise is a B level counter if listed, and a C level or no counter if not listed. Notice that almost every deck listed below has at least a C level coutner available to every strategy. I will also bold the strategies most commonly seen or effective with each deck, if relevant.

    Amber
    Strat - 1,3,4,5
    counters - 1,2,3,4,5

    Boris
    Strat - 3,4,5
    Counters - 1,2,3,4,5

    Shadow warriors
    Strat - 3,4,5
    Counters - 1,2,3,4,5

    Gwen
    Strat - 1,3,4
    Counters - 2,4

    Banebow
    Strat - 3,4
    Counters - 1,2,4,5

    Human mage
    Strat - 2,4,5
    Counters - 1,4,5

    Shadow mage
    Strat - 2,4,5
    Counters - 1,4,5

    Jericho
    Strat - 3,4,5
    Counters - 1,2,3,4,5

    Zhanna
    Strat - 3,4,5
    Counters - 1,2,3,4,5

    Zal
    Strat - 2,3,4,5
    Counters - 1,2,3,4,5


    Card draw isn't considered here, but adds a further complication. Most card draw mechanisms are item based, and so can be countered by and shadow hero, warriors and priests, (everything but Gwen and human mages). Except for the warriors card draw which is an attachment, and is countered by Jericho. And the shadow mages, which get card draw from their ability, and cannot be countered.

    Conclusions

    Notice that although the warriors and priest have every counter available to them, they don't have enough cards in a 40 card deck to incorporate them all in one deck, forcing them to choose which counters to focus on. Warriors also have no real good counter to fend off the strategy 4 available to every hero. They can only hope to survive through it until their strategy takes over. Mages and Gwen tend to only have a limited number of strategies and counters available to them, but what they do have is quite effective. Priests have really effective counters, but are entirely reliant on allies for damage.

    So, original question, ROSHAMBO? Here's my attempt to make one (you can also skip the text and look at the attached diagram.
    Mages counter ally based strategies, mainly priests. But Zhanna counters mage strategy. Shadow mages can also counter weapon based strategies. Mages have no effective counter for warriors and Zal using a type 3 strategy, but those warriors and Zal have no effective counter for Mages with type 2 and 4 strategies, leading to an either way death race. Zal counters warriors and Gwen, warriors counter Zal. Gwen counters mages. Everything else counters Gwen. Priests in general can counter everything, but especially warriors.

    Super generalized- Hunters counters mages, mages counter priests, priests counter warriors, warriors counter hunters. But there are ways to build decks that counter about every step of this circle.

    Eh. To me, too confusing and too many qualifications to be useful. Additionally a lot of these counters assume typical decks, but for many of these it is possible to build a non-typical deck that can counter any possible deck. The take-away message here I think is that the game can't be easily broken into a ROSHAMBO strategy, since most decks have a possible counter to most strategies. Additionally there is always the issue of how to balance your deck between boosts for your strategy vs. counters to other strategies. And then the question of- should you add in more really effective counters for the deck you are built to defeat, or put in the weaker counters to deal with the decks that you have more trouble countering but can counter? These cards weaken your deck overall (less consistent draw, less effective counters) but give you versatility. In other words, no, don't think SE can be broken into a rock, paper, scissors type strategy.

    Shadow era.jpg
    Last edited by kamman13; 09-29-2011 at 11:48 PM.

    My thoughts and ramblings:
    The art of death racing
    Hitting em with all you got
    In defense of bazaar
    Card draw engines and card draw advantage
    Damage Strategies in SE

    A1's resident Mathemalogian
    A1 : Evolution in Theory.
    Member of the PFG, and guest article writer for GDC's website

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    Senior Member Calmdown's Avatar
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    Good post. I agree.

    Obviously in any game where both sides are not completely identical (eg, Chess) there will be different factors affecting the game before it begins. X may be strong against Y and weak against Z with a reasonable chance against A and B. The relative strength of a deck is generally not defined by the deck itself, but the metagame in which it plays. A deck which is good against *every* deck in the metagame defines the metagame, and is hence broken; the meta will eventually shift towards everyone playing that deck as a result.

    No game is perfectly balanced, but balance shifts as playstyles and deck popularity shift, which is why it's impossible to define this game, or any CCG with balance that is at a minimum reasonable, in terms of rock paper scissors. However, it *is* perfectly legitimate to say that *all* CCGs (and most other listbuilding games, be they CCG, miniatures, or otherwise) are games of weighted rock, paper, scissors - and you control that weight by building your deck appropriately.

    Through many years of competitive deckbuilding/listbuilding/and so on, my basic formula for what comprises a 'good' deck in any metagame is this:

    1) Does the deck have any auto-lose or very weak matchups in the environment?

    Yes > It's a bad deck, don't play it. Too risky to run into that opponent and lose based on matchup
    No > Good start. This deck is playable


    2) Does the deck have multiple above average matchups in the environment?

    Yes > Great. You are on top of the metagame and giving yourself inherent advantages.
    No > Not good. Your deck is capable of winning, but you'll have to have no bad luck if you want to win consistently.


    3) Does the deck have any auto-wins or very strong matchups?

    Yes > Good. You just won yourself some free games based on draw, which can go a way to countering any bad luck you may have.
    No > You're maybe missing the opportunity for deckbuilding to win you games!



    That's it. Basically, as long as your deck has a 50% chance or greater of beating every standard deck in the meta, you've done well. If it has better chances than that of beating parts of the meta, even better. The rest is down to luck and skill.
    Last edited by Calmdown; 09-26-2011 at 08:16 PM.
    Calmdown * Shadow Era Designer * Logan Stonebreaker & Brutal Minotaur Fan Club

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    Senior Member Carbon_911's Avatar
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    There good info here so /Bump. good read Kamman, i suggest people find the time to read it or bore themselves enough to want to read if thats how they work. Thats how I force myself to read

    edit: the bump was to get this to the top, i noticed it was falling from my sights on the game discussion page!! lol
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    Go for the throat...show no mercy..

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    Senior Member Pie Flavor's Avatar
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    I pretty much agree wholeheartedly with the post, albeit I still have little experience in the game.

    Oh and another thing is that some people feel like the entire metagame its based on luck, as a close match up by 2 opponents with similar skill will always boil down to who draws the better cards.

    We shouldn't really worry about the pessimistic views on the game as long as we enjoy it.

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    Senior Member He-Man's Avatar
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    Nice analysis, Kamman13.
    I would like to note: The above is all assuming both players have similar skill level and play decks of equal size, and, most importantly, disregards the major effect on the outcome of going first.

    Although I agree with you that it is not quite a rock-paper-scissor game, I can very much see where Soothslyr's sentiment came from when he started that thread. With the (hopefully imminent) release of more cards, and I am not talking about this first set but also about expansion sets, this should get better. With a much larger card pool and more different viable decks, the metagame will get much more complicated and you will see more variations even within the top-tier decks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by He-Man View Post
    Nice analysis, Kamman13.
    I would like to note: The above is all assuming both players have similar skill level and play decks of equal size, and, most importantly, disregards the major effect on the outcome of going first.
    . . . . Was going to say the same, especially re: skill level.
    Occam's Razor [def]:

    A scientific and philosophic rule that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily
    which is interpreted as requiring that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex
    or that explanations of unknown phenomena besought first in terms of known quantities.


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    Senior Member Nickey293's Avatar
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    Great post kamman13!
    Team Juggernaut FTW!!

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    Senior Member kamman13's Avatar
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    Hey guys,

    Thanks for the bumps carbon, and for the rest of you for stumbling through it. I just re-read it today, I kind of didn't want to look at it for a few days after writing it, and it is horrendous to read through, especially if you want to follow the logic. Sorry for ever subjected anyone to this! I still think the beginning and end are useful, for those of you unwilling to slog through it, if you trust me that the logic in the middle sort of works.

    Also, I really like Calmdown's post, as it it is a great way to figure out how to make a decent deck.

    Anyone want to direct Soothslyr this way at some point? I'm curious what he thinks.

    My thoughts and ramblings:
    The art of death racing
    Hitting em with all you got
    In defense of bazaar
    Card draw engines and card draw advantage
    Damage Strategies in SE

    A1's resident Mathemalogian
    A1 : Evolution in Theory.
    Member of the PFG, and guest article writer for GDC's website

  10. #10
    Devoted Fan Gondorian's Avatar
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    I will make time to read this at some point if people keep bumping it.

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