Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Trading Cards and the SolForge Release

SolForge released the its first full set last night.  The servers were slammed and things were terrible.  One great thing about SolForge is that you can exit the game and come back in and things are right where you left them.  Last night, unfortunately, you had to do that pretty much every turn.

But I played anyway, and I had a good time doing so.  I acquired an Uterra "starter deck" right at the end of the closed beta so I have a full complement of Spring Dryads.  Those combined with plenty of new cards that let you put more than one creature into play at once gave me a deck I was happy to play.  I'm sure things will get better over the next couple of days anyway.

Right now SolForge has no trading.  They have plans to implement some kind of system of trading for the future, such as an auction house, but apparently that might be a ways off.  I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this.

In 1994 I started playing Magic.  My brother and I got a starter deck and a couple of booster packs and played games against each other drawing off a common deck.  It was months before any of my friends actually built a deck, and when we did we inevitably included cards that could be improved upon.  We just didn't have the cards to build the deck we wanted exactly so we had to substitute.  Every time we got new cards it was a new opportunity to add to our decks.  Trading was great because it let each of us improve our decks.

Improving decks in collectable trading card games isn't just about winning.  It is about being able to do new things.  Sometimes you are willing to lose over and over if it means that when you get around to winning you can win the way you wanted to.  Sometimes the crazy things you are trying to make happen don't even win you the game.

Things have changed a lot.  We are no longer in the "early game" of acquiring Magic cards.  You wouldn't consider going to a Magic tournament now if you didn't have the cards you wanted to play in your deck.  You wouldn't stick in a couple of cards that didn't fit as well and call it good enough.  You also wouldn't show up at a tournament where other people are playing moxes and try to win with grizzly bears.

Trading allows you to build the decks you want to build, but it also accelerates us towards the "end game" where the metagame is solved and you can't play unless you have the full play set of certain rare cards.  I'd like to get a few more copies of the some of the commons so I can try to build a fairly bad deck out of them, but I would also like to make a decent run at early tournaments with my hacked-together Spring Dryad deck.

When I joined Scrolls I was a little disappointed that the trade channel had, in the very short time before I started playing, already turned into nothing but buy and sell lists with prices in gold.  I couldn't find anyone to actually trade with, and if I did I'm sure they wouldn't have wanted to trade unless the prices were about equal.  Flipping through someone's trade binder to see if they have anything you want may just never happen again.  I've just been finding that there is something unhappy about efficiency, though, because working to get what you wanted was a big part of the fun.

Hearthstone is saying they are going to have a very different solution where you can recycle old cards and simply craft the cards you want.  I'll be interested to see how that works out.  In the meantime I will be opening a few SolForge packs a day according to the free currency alloted to me and hoping to find cards that I want to slide into a deck.

I'm Humbabella on SolForge so it's pretty easy to find me if you want to play a game, and one of the great things is that you don't actually have to be online at the same time to play, so challenge away.

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