The Elder Scrolls

I love TESL. Here’s why I’m leaving

TheElderScrolls1 - I love TESL. Here's why I'm leaving

TESL is a great game, has great mechanics, interesting gameplay, and various archetypes that appeal to lots of different people. The community, especially on twitch and discord, has kept my interest and has been a joy to be around.

Let's be clear. I love this game. I've played it more than I should since the mobile release. I've finished top 100 in all but a few months while I was actively playing. I've met lots of awesome players and competitors in twitch chats, and watched some amazing tournaments. Watching QC with friends was as exciting as watching any IRL sports event I've seen. Here's what is pushing me away from the game.

1. Matchmaking.

Playing at high legend is a frustrating experience for me, as well as most people I've talked to. Throughout the month there are often mismatched games against Ladder rank 3 players, or #1000 legend players. These games aren't fun, win or lose. It's not satisfying to outplay my opponent when I know his deck is so greedy that he doesn't really stand a chance. It's also not satisfying to get high rolled with silly includes that are anti-synergistic. Like a bunch of hard removal in an aggro deck. Or Immolating Blast in a token deck. It's frustrating to play against these decks because I can attempt to play around and anticipate synergistic cards, but when these cards that have anti-synergy with the apparent strategy come down… it's just not fun.

Possible fix? Let me opt-in to a queue that provides more accurate matchmaking at the cost of longer queue times. I'd be happy to wait 2 minutes+ for a good game at high legend. I think most people in my position would.

2. Tricolor decks encourage high roll.

I think this is somewhat explanatory. The downside to running a tricolor deck is having to include 75 cards, which should, in theory, reduce consistency. However, so many good, standard includes are in the game that 6/75 ends up being more consistent than 3/50, for example. Furthermore, having three colors of uniques, along with two different sets of class cards to work with, really increases the power of tricolors that, except in a few specific cases, running dual color classes is really just hamstringing yourself. And losing to that Ahnassi in hlaalu just feels bad. And losing to that telvanni perfect draw feels bad.

Possible fix? Damage is done unless they rotate out the tricolors. I don't see this happening. I know people have suggested limiting class cards from being included in tricolors, but I don't see that happening. That would definitely help with the 'high roll ability' of tricolors, though.

3. Cards like squish the wimpy aren't fun to play against.

In my opinion, Night Talon Lord shouldn't ever be a viable strategy in high level play. For several years, NTL WASN'T a viable strategy, because it's so slow and greedy. Now, NTL makes sense because NTL + Squish, or Falkreath + Squish to revive a NTL is a winning line. It's not FUN, and it's not INTERACTIVE at all. It reminds me of old ramp scout, which could just win with word wall, word wall, DV, or 7/7 giant bats. And generally, while running sorc, I don't lose to ramp warrior. So it's not that I'm losing a lot of games to this archetype, but it's not fun praying that they don't have the answer. Just like it wasn't fun praying that ramp scout didn't have DV at the right time.

I'm targeting squish here, but other cards like deathpriest, grummite, twilight, meme wraith fall into this category as well. I'm not saying how good or bad these cards are, because in general, they are average or worse. They just aren't FUN to play against.

Possible fix? Increase magicka cost of squish, and have a power limitation just like battle girl does. Why squish has no power limitation blows my mind a little bit. People will still include NTL I'm sure, but at least it won't be game winning play without more ramp involved, which will reduce the consistency of the combo. Delete the others, or at least make them less playable so people realize that they aren't worth including.

4. The abundance of good, playable 2s and catapult decrease deck diversity.


Spend any significant time on ladder and you'll get highrolled by catapult. I've taken advantage of this fact myself quite a bit. It's not always an auto-win situation, but if you have multiple catapults in an aggro mirror match and have the ring, you're more often than not going to steamroll your opponent. Even without ring, cards like catapult and the new dead hound provide a huge comeback potential that wasn't there before. Catapult wasn't so prevalent before because there wasn't such a saturation of good 1/2s, so that activating catapult meant the deck was much weaker when you didn't happen to draw catapult. I personally prefer a more mid-range sorc that doesn't include catapult that controls the board a little more and stalls out the opponent before going to for the kill. This strategy, in a catapult meta, seems straight up worse than just going with the catapults.

Possible fix? Phase out catapults. In the future, more playable 1/2s will just exacerbate the problem.

5. Midrange strategies aren't viable long term on ladder.

I'm not suggesting you can't win at all with midrange decks. I've had success in top 100 with mid mage, as have Ianbits, MattO, and others. I know several people were in top 10 early month with mage. However, over the long term, other archetypes prevail. Hlaalu and Crusader are so fast that midrange decks just can't compete. Furthermore, Tribunal has so much hard removal that, when Trib curves out, playing one big threat a turn just isn't going to cut it. This isn't a problem with the game per se, but it makes the game less fun for ME. My favorite meta was the mid yellow meta we had after the clockwork expansion. I miss that.

Possible fix? No good ones. Removing tricolor would help a bit, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

6. Division in the TESL community

This isn't a problem with the game, it's a problem with us, the players. There is an obvious divide in the community in this game. Some high profile clashes on social media have really made a rift between 'competitive' and 'casual' players. It needs to stop. There is design space for everyone to be happy in this game, and there isn't only one way to enjoy the game. I think there is value in diversity in this game.

There isn't an easy way to discuss this issue without furthering the divide between players. I'll just say that 'competitive' players have a certain perspective on the game because we have personally tested, or know someone who has personally tested, a lot of different strategies (good and bad) in the game. It's not that we outright dismiss cards because they are 'bad,' it's that we understand what synergies are viable strategies in the game. God, it sounds 'elitist' just typing this, but please understand that I'm trying to provide perspective, not encourage more divide in the community. There is still space in both ranked and casual for people to test whatever they want. I'm not saying that all matches should be cookie cutter, but some thought to synergy should be made during deck construction.

Possible fix? Stop fomenting hate against 'competitive' and 'casual' players. Try to take comments on face value, and don't attribute malice when there is none intended. We have a great community, let's try and foster valuable discussions where everyone can learn something, rather than dismissing each other.

I'll see you ladies and gents in twitch chats and discord, but I won't have the pleasure of playing against you all on ladder any time soon. I hope this game continues to grow and succeed financially. The switch in developers was definitely a step in the right direction, even though it slowed card releases quite a bit. The game is better off now, and I'm glad to see it continue to improve.


  1. Matchmaking
  2. Tricolor decks encourage high roll
  3. Cards like squish aren't fun to play against
  4. Abundance of 2s and catapult decrease deck diversity
  5. Mid range decks aren't viable long term
  6. Division in the community

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