The Elder Scrolls

Elder Scrolls Legends and the Worst Game Design Sin

TheElderScrolls3 - Elder Scrolls Legends and the Worst Game Design Sin

I just finished a game where neither my opponent nor I interacted at all — Is this what Legends is now? Is this what this game has devolved into? It's disgraceful.

Both my opponent and I are playing auto-pilot non interactive decks. He's playing market Empire and I'm playing abomination scout and here we are: I have creatures in a lane that I don't want to attack with because it makes starting my combo easier when the lane is full, and he sits there with a creature in each lane that he doesn't want to attack with because it's keeping his transitus shrine up.

So we just sit there, just drawing cards over and over, mostly for free, because this game somehow thought that infinite free card draw was a great idea, and neither one of us interact with each other at all. We just take turns, back and forth, drawing 5+ cards per turn, hoping that we somehow draw our absolutely unfun horseshit win condition that doesn't let the enemy respond or play the game. Both of us cycling through cards, taking up the full turn timer each turn until one of us finds that magic little "I win" card and bam — one of us wins.

Is this what this game is? Seriously? Is this what the designers envisioned when they made this game? Two players sitting there for a half hour not interacting with each other at all? Can we just rename the game, "Elder Scrolls Legends: Masturbation Edition?" Because all you fucking do in this game now is play with yourself.

What happened, man? This game used to be great. Now with the rise of completely unfun, uninteresting, braindead, non interactive decks, the entire basis of what made the game intriguing and stimulating is gone.

Are there more viable decks now? is there more variety? Yes, there is. But none of it is fun. And even worse, most of it isn't very skillful which just makes it all the less interesting. When you have market assassin, market empire, market archer, abomination scout, abomination empire, burn assassin, ebonheart slay decks, sparksmith and telekinesis, and not to mention the abundance of ping effects and things like NTL + Squish to bend you over out of hand, where did the interesting board based gameplay of this game disappear to?

I always preferred this game to Magic because it took Magic's base, which over the years has got too convoluted for it's own good, and then simplified it and made a game that was fun and engaging and interesting in it's own right. But over time it's just added more and more ping effects, removal, and different assorted non interactive mechanics that don't really make sense within the confines of how the game was originally designed. I mean, you can have a lot of that sort of stuff in Magic because instants exist and you can interrupt your opponent on their turn, but that doesn't happen in Legends so it really makes no sense to even be here.

Some people don't like Tribunal control, and I can sympathize because it's not very fun to play against, but at least when they're blowing up your creatures it's a 1 for 1 that's quantifiable in your brain. Like for instance you might play a young mammoth and then he might javelin it, but at least I know that he spent a card to get rid of my card and we each lost a card, not to mention mana wise he wasn't as efficient. Slay with ping effects on the other hand really fucks this up because it's always efficient to ping someone for a slay effect. You get to keep all your cards and get extra effects on top of it, even if the creature dies the very next turn you still got full value out of it, and if they survive, you just get more and more value.

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The biggest problem with all this is that it's just unfun. It's not interesting. People get confused because they have fun winning and it gives them a sense of satisfaction but if you really sit down and ask yourself, "Is this interesting to play?" you may find the answer a little bit different. Anything is fun to win, roulette is fun to win, but is it interesting? Is it fun on it's own without the excitement of winning? Not really.

Speaking of games, I shouldn't really compare Legends to roulette. Well what game will I compare it to then? Gwent? no. Hearthstone? Nope! You know what game Legends reminds me of the most? Bingo. Yep, it reminds me of bingo. You pick a card with numbers you like (making your deck), you keep hoping to get your number (drawing your combo pieces), and if you get all your numbers you win (playing your non-interactive combo)! Good times. It has a similar amount of inter player engagement as bingo — actually maybe less — at least Mildrid can tell you about the good ol' days instead of spamming you with emotes.


There's a trinity involved in designing every card, move, weapon or powerup of a competitive video game, and if you don't meet at least two of the three parts of this trinity, you really shouldn't be adding it into your game.

The trinity is this: 1) Is it fun to use? 2) Is it fun to play against? 3) Is it balanced by skill?

Everything you make in the game needs to have two of these or else it shouldn't exist and it needs to be redesigned. Ideally, everything you make in the game should have all three, but you need at least two. So lets get some examples from different games, mostly shooters, because that's what I know best.

1 & 2 & 3: It has all three! Yay, this is what we want. Examples can include assault rifles in games, say the M4 in CS or the average unit in an RTS game

1 & 2: This doesn't come up too frequently but I think things like the rocket launcher or sword in Halo or the cerebral bore in Turok 2 is a good example, they're derpy enough that it's just kinda fun to have them around, even though they aren't balanced by skill

1 & 3: You may ask yourself why have something that's unfun to play against, but the thing is, if it's balanced by skill I can understand that in my brain and it makes it more okay. For instance, the classic example of this is a sniper rifle in a shooter. Fun to play against? No, but you know deep down when that camping ass sniped you across the map that it took skill and even though it wasn't fun, it was okay because it took so much effort for what he gained.

2 & 3: This one is kinda of hard to come up with examples for but perhaps something like playing Mercy in Overwatch would be in the right direction. I'm sure that's up for debate, but yeah.

So this leads us to the other situation: Having none. Obviously you don't want to include this in your game at all because people will dislike it and it will make the game significantly worse. The biggest example in recent shooter memory that I can think of is the smart pistol from the first Titanfall, which everyone loathed — and for good reason.

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So what about Legends? Well god damn we aren't doing so well on the trinity.

Conscription – none

NTL+Squish – none

Slay in general – none

Burn – none

Market – none

Abomination – none

Sparksmith, Item decks – One (fun to play)

I mean, you look at almost everything that's competitive and almost none of it will hit two points of this trinity. There are decks in the game, actually many, many of them, that hit at least two. But you know what? They all suck so hard they can't be played on ladder or even really in casual.

I know I've been wordy and have bitched a lot (and of course I'm frustrated), but I'm honestly worried about the health of this game. People are excited because there's stuff that's new and they enjoy the thrill of winning, but over time people are going to get bored, and the more and more non interactive pieces, the more decks and cards that hit less than two of the points of the trinity exist, the worse and worse this game becomes. Player enjoyment will suffer, player engagement will suffer, strategy will suffer, and eventually all this game will become is whales and a bunch of players who just played it for shits and never cared about balance or deckbuilding or interactivity or the health of the game in the first place.

There's nothing wrong with players like that, and everyone should be entitled to enjoy the game as they want to, but it disappoints me so much that something with such promise and showing such greatness, has somehow lost it's way.

People will say, "If you aren't having fun, then don't play!" and perhaps they are right, but it's always hard to have something that once made you passionate, now only make you bitter. If I was CVH or one of the devs, having players feel that way would certainly stand out to me and make me ponder the future of the game.

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