Life is a Balancing Act
Normally I review a battle mechanic or a card specific ability, I want to do something a little different. With the release of UNTAMED followed quickly by the release of additional Rewards card there were a couple of issues that got the Splinterland community up in arms. I am referring to Gremlin Blaster, Prince Julien, and Redemption. The three most recent nerf targets. I have enjoyed sitting on the discord sidelines reading the heated exchange.
I am a relatively new player to Splinterlands but I am an OG MTG player from a long time ago - think Channel + Fireball or Black Lotus. So the concept of game balance changes and errata are old friends of mine. I decided to dig through the archives and see how the changes have manifested in Splinterlands. This is not an exhaustive list but a selection of examples from across a few different seasons.
Spirit of the Forest that devious dryad legendary for 7 mana will give you 3 range, 6 speed, 8 life and the following abilities: Flying, Snipe, Tank Heal, and Protect. Well as it turns out that wasn't all the little lady had. In her earlier iteration she had Dodge as well which apparently made her near impossible to take out. So the last ability was removed.
These are two of my favorite examples. The first is at the end of Season 3 as it rotated into Season 4 mechanics were changed that would prevent debuffs from reducing melee below 1. This was apparently a real problem with Zintar Mortalis in lower games effectively neutering the opposition's offensive. When they changed it, entire meta-strategies built around this concept had to be re-engineered. The critics backlash was intense but nothing it seems compared to the second example from that time period.
It was the same time that the developers removed the Beta pack reward system and introduced the unique Reward Cards. As of this printing there are 49 reward cards spread across all splinters and neutral. Many staples of the current meta game including Lord Arianthus and Furious Chicken are to be found. At the time however players accused the game developers of "bait and switch" and only did this to force players to spend more money. I think we can agree that those reward cards proved to be exceptional additions to the game from a play-ability stand point and an investment view. One more...
I'm including this one because not only does it involve one of my favorite Life Splinter cards but it lets me include this vintage Card View Screen:
As you can see, even at Level 1 (1 bcx) this beast of a tank had 3 melee, 3 speed, and 10 life along with Heal making it apparently impossible in the lower ranks. So they weakened the card at the lower levels down to 7 life which still makes it formidable and worthy of legendary status but far more manageable.
I even found a post of someone willing to sell 1 bcx for 1.29 per card. As of this printing the lowest price on the market is 2.36 per card. So for all those critics that at the time hung their proverbial hat on the economic argument, the card has grown in value 1.07 or almost 83%.
The Development team also introduced Reach at that time assigning it to five separate cards to make the second position a variable in the algebra of team selection.
My point is this, creating a game and user experience as rich as Splinterlands takes the alchemy of creativity, economics, game theory, marketing, psychology, and about a million other abilities to come together just right. Some times the gods of inspiration and fortune are on the developers side and they get it right. Some times it requires a second look.
History has played out that despite the changes and balancing mechanics introduced in past seasons, the value of the cards has increased overall, the player base has absolutely increased, and the game has deepened in its offerings.
So, a departure from my usual blog post but I want to give a huge shout out of gratitude to @aggroed , @yabapmatt and @clove71 and the rest of the team who continue to toil on behalf of all of us - despite our occasional rants to the contrary - to make Splinterlands an awesome gaming experience.
I will return next time with a more traditional post, in the meantime, continue to have fun and Play On!!!