Hello again everyone! This is part two of my Complete Rework of the Elder Scrolls Legends. As I said in my previous post, even though my rework is fundamentally based on criticism, my intent is for this to be a positive and fun project, done out of a desire to explore the mechanics and design ESL has and could have. Realistically, I know that such major reworks to ESL are never going to happened. Still, I am doing this for my own enjoyment, to promote discussion of the game, and maybe Sparky will get some inspiration out of it.
In part two, I have reworked the support and lane system, primarily through the introduction of a new card type Battleground which many supports have been reworked into.
Spreadsheet of Reworked Support/Battleground Cards
My original post discussing the game, which inspired this rework
Introduction and Part 1: Prophecy
Spreadsheet of Reworked Prophecy Cards
Issues to address
To briefly touch on what I hoped to solve in part 2 of the rework, and the starting point for my thought process:
Remove the binary nature of supports/support removal
Make lanes meaningful and affect both player’s strategies
Promote trading on the board, and/or disincentivise abandoning lanes.
Reduce frustrating experiences from the two lane and cover system.
The new card type I have introduced for the rework is called Battleground, with most existing Supports have been reworked in a Battleground. After the rework, most Supports are now activated supports, while Battlegrounds are supplanting the role of most ongoing Supports. Thematically, Battlegrounds are meant to represent where the battle between the forces of the two players are fighting or their base.
How it works
Battleground: Create an ongoing effect in one lane that affects both players.
When a Battleground is played, it creates a lane effect in the chosen lane (along with any Summon effect it may have). The Battleground lane effect affects both players, meaning your opponent can also be helped or hindered by the new lane effect. Only one Battleground from each player can be active in each lane. (Both players can have a Battleground in play in each lane). When a player plays a Battleground on a lane where they already have one, the Battleground in play is destroyed.
Supports and Battleground can no longer be destroyed (with one exception with Edict of Azura) and have been designed around this. See the “What the Battleground/Support Rework achieves" for details.
Strength – Battleground – 2 Magicka
Summon: Deal 1 damage to all creatures in this lane.
Whenever a creature is summoned or moved to this lane, deal 1 damage to it.
I have reworked all the related Battleground/Support cards. You can find them in this
Disclaimer: Though I have made an effort, I do not claim these reworked cards to be well-balanced. They are meant primarily as a proof of concept.
Shadow Lane and other Lanes
This is an issue I’m undecided about. I am unsure whether to have the Shadow Lane (Cover) removed when the first Battleground is removed, or whether the Shadow Lane effect should be permanent. At this point in time, I think the Shadow Lane should be removed on Battleground play for two reasons. First, the Shadow Lane arguably becomes redundant when a different interesting effect comes into play. Secondly, the Cover lane disincentives creature trading, something which I wish to improve, and creates frustrating experiences where you lose to damage from a creature you are unable to deal with despite having board control.
As for other lanes, such as in solo arena or story mode, I don’t see any reason why the Battleground can’t coexist alongside permanent lane effects, where the Battleground doesn’t replace the effect. Regardless, this is mostly a single-player issue and beyond the scope of this rework.
One issues I came across while designing Battlegrounds was the issue of redundancy. Given that a player can only have 2 Battlegrounds in play at once, and can't be removed, then any excess Battlegrounds in hand would be useless. To address this, I have done two things:
Firstly, most Battlegrounds have summon effects. This means that Battlegrounds can be used as pseudo-actions when needed, and means that Battleground cards can still provide some value even when played twice on the same lane.
Secondly, I have tried to design Battlegrounds that incentivize switching between them, such as reworked Swindler's Market. Some Battlegrounds you may naturally want to switch to and from depending on the state of the game, such as a health gain Battleground earlier to help stabilize, then a more aggressive one to go for the win.
What the Battleground/Support Rework achieves
Supports (and Battlegrounds) are no longer have binary removal outcomes
Support removal currently in ESL creates very binary outcomes. Either your opponent has support removal and you gain very little value out of your support, or your opponent has no way to remove it and you gain a permanent, high value advantage. This can create undesirable coin-flippy games. Similarly, there is no scalability. A 2 magicka support is removed by the same card as a 7 magicka support. This renders high magicka, and low tempo supports essentially unplayable. Of the few supports that currently see play, it is usually because they can provide a tempo boost or some immediate value on play (e.g. Divine Fervor).
This issue is hard to resolve. Eventually, my solution was a straightforward one. Make Battlegrounds/Supports unremovable and balance them around that fact. The Battlegrounds I have created are (mostly) designed to be low value/impact, but create a long lasting incremental effect that forces both players to play differently.
Edict of Azura is the only card currently that can remove a Battlefield, providing a unique ability to Spellsword. Activated supports still have "soft hard" counters that remove single use from them, which provides some direct counters without completely crushing any support strategy.
Promote dynamic play
The game plan of decks change little from game to game and match to match. Battlegrounds aims to create dynamic play, where different matchups will have different battleground combinations, one from each player. This creates variation in games, and incentivises players to adjust their plan and decision making to best make use of the Battlegrounds, as they can make use of their opponent’s Battleground as well.
Incentivise fighting for board control, or disincentives abandoning lanes.
A major complaint in ESL currently is the lack of interactively on the board, particularly with trading creatures. Aggro decks tend to avoid trading, go face and abandon a lane when it begins their opponent gains control of that lane. Ramp Warrior tends to just stall until in can pull off win-con combos. Battleground aims to incentivise players to fight for control of lane through two ways: Firstly, many of the Battlegrounds give strong boons when you play into them (“while you have a creature in this lane…”) which means abandoning a lane can place you at strong disadvantage.
Secondly, as Battlegrounds can benefit both players regardless of who played it, there is an incentive to destroy or trade into your opponent’s creatures to minimise your opponent taking advantage of them (e.g. reworked Gladiator Arena).
Utilise the design space of lanes
Despite the lanes being a major mechanic that separates ESL from its similar competitors, lane effects have been essentially unexplored outside of singleplayer content. While Duke of Mania and Duchess of Dementia show the beginning of a change in design philosophy for lanes, my criticism of them is they don’t directly affect the board state, which I think should be a priority for lane effect. Battlegrounds utilises an unused design space and adds depth without needless complexity.
Reduce frustrating experiences
This is admittedly a subjective topic. For myself, and many other players, one of the most frustrating and negative experiences in the game comes from your opponent pulling a win out of nowhere after gaining board control, due to the dual lane and cover system. Battlegrounds provide an option to help stabilise can offer a shield against “unfair” losses by providing an active defence against them. (e.g. reworked Spider Lair).
Thanks for taking the time to read part 2 of my complete rework! I welcome any feedback and criticism. Also let me know if you would like clarification on anything or anything isn’t clear – I will update the post as needed. Please keep in mind this is all a WIP! Keep your eyes out for part 3, which will (probably) be the Tri-Colour rework!
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