Hi guys. There has been a lot of discussion on the Elder Scrolls Legend’s future recently, and some many good suggestions on how to address the game’s issues.
All these discussions, plus my own reflections on the game, has led me to consider how to fix the game. As a result, I have decided to try my hand at a massive overhaul of ESL mechanics and design to address the core issues of the game.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of issues I wish to address with my redesign with no particular order:
- Rework Prophecy to not be RNG
- Prophecy should not provide an immediate free tempo boost
- Prophecy should favour control, but still able to be utilised by aggro with smart play
- Prophecy should still not make players feel bad for breaking runes, but still make them consider consequences of doing so
- Ensure that each attribute have well-define strengths and weakness
- If a card breaks from the identity, it should have a good reason for doing so and significant drawbacks.
- Rework Tri-Colours
Remove Binary Counters
- Redesign hard counters to “soft” counters, and provide incremental advantage
- Support and support removal
- Graveyard and graveyard hate
Reduce the snowball nature of the game
- Reduce the impact of the Ring of Magicka
- Increase punishment for players overcommitting to the board
Make lanes meaningful
- Utilize the design space of lanes
- Incenivize creature trading/gaining lane control
- Consider reworking/revaluing random keywords, as Ward, Lethal, Charge are much more valuable than others
- Silence is undervalued currently
- Make “packfillers” interesting
Some of these are subjective, but I do believe these issues need to be addressed for the longevity of the game. This project will be long-term, and will be posting each section periodically while building up to the whole. This first post will be about the Prophecy System. While my rework is ultimately built upon criticism of the game, I really intend for this to be a positive project – having fun exploring the mechanics and potential ESL has.
Part 1 – Reworked Prophecy System
The Prophecy System and its faults have been a major point of discussion every since ESL released.
To briefly summarise the issues: Prophecies are RNG and have high variance, it feels horrible/unfun when you trigger one, it disincentivizes players from doing something they want to do. These are all issues I hope to address with my rework.
How it Works
Prophecies are no longer played for free when you draw it from a rune breaking, though there are still 5 runes and they draw a card when broken.
Instead, the Prophecy keyword is now:
Prophecy: Bonus effect when you have less runes than your opponent.
For example, if you have 4 active runes, and your opponent has 5, your cards will have the extra effects from Prophecy while your opponent does not.
This also means Prophecy effects can be used by card that were already on your hand before the rune was broken.
Sharpshooter Scout – Strength
1 Mana – 1 Attack – 1 Health
Summon: Deal 1 damage. Prophecy: Repeat the Summon effect.
Rework of every Prophecy card
I have reworked every Prophecy (and related) card in the game to accommodate this reworked Prophecy system. For those interested in viewing all the reworked cards, I have made a
Google Spreadsheet with all the reworked cards.
Disclaimer: I have tried not to alter the cards from their original design too much. Nor do I claim these cards would be well-balanced, they are intended as a proof of concept.
One thing I’m currently uncertain on is whether Prophecy should be on play effect (like a summon) or whether they should be an aura that can be lost when a player no longer has less runes than their opponent. Currently it’s a mix of the two, where most cards gain their effect on play, but some are specified as an aura.
What the reworked Prophecy fixes
Prophecy is no longer RNG/high variance, outcomes are less binary and can be played around.
The reworked Prophecy means attacking players will no longer be screwed and lose the game because of a dice roll. Games will largely avoid situations where the outcome is dependent on whether a Prophecy was triggered or not. Additionally, it raises the skill cap – if players can predict what Prophecy cards their opponent will have, they can play around them consistently, making the decision whether to break runes more meaningful.
High magicka cost Prophecies no longer must be understated to compensate for potential tempo.
High magicka Prophecies (Cliff Hunter, Spear of Embers, Knight of the Hour, Ransack, Lurking Mummy, Dark Harvester etc) are generally horribly stated for their cost in order to compensate the potentially huge tempo they provide when they are played for free by Prophecy. The reworked Prophecy allows for the power level of Prophecy to be adjusted on a card by card basis, and opens the design space for higher magicka cards to have Prophecy.
Players are no longer directly punished for doing something they want to do.
The win condition of (almost) all decks is ultimately to reduce your opponent’s health to 0. Consequently, players want to attack their opponent. The old Prophecy system created counter-intuitive situations where players would be worse off for doing something they’re “meant” to do by triggering the Prophecy. While this is still true to some extend with the reworked system, there is no direct/immediate punishment for attacking your opponent, and it’s much easier to play around and take on an acceptable level of risk.
Prophecy no longer makes players feed bad
This point is more about “fun” than balance. Hitting a rune and triggering feels bad and often unfair. The reworked Prophecy avoids this negative gameplay experience.
Prophecy better favours the reactive (“control”) player than the active (“aggressive”) player
Prophecy as a mechanic was meant to be the counterbalance for control players against the advantages aggro players have (cover, two lanes). However, the Prophecy system often ended up helping the aggro player in many situations (I talked more about this post). The reworked Prophecy system more consistently favours control, and generally makes the control player less afraid to damage their opponent when their opponent abandons a lane, punishing players for abandoning a lane. However, they can still be utilised by aggro decks in certain matchups (particularly in aggro mirrors by deliberately falling behind in runes to gain an advantage). Additionally, I believe my rework allows for more design space for runes, such as cards making use of the difference in the number of runes, such as my reworked Fireball and Insightful Scholar, which can be utilised by both aggro and control decks.
Thanks for taking the time to read the first part in my (hopefully!) multi-part rework. I welcome all comments and criticisms. Please keep in mind that this is all a work in progress.
I’m also aware that realistically such dramatic changes to the core gameplay are not going to happen. I’m more doing this for my own fun, and if someone from Sparky gets some inspiration from it, all the better!
See you in part 2, which will be on the Support and Lane rework (or possibly the Houses rework!)
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