The Elder Scrolls

Potential Changes to Attributes

TheElderScrolls14 - Potential Changes to Attributes

There's been some controversy over how attributes and Houses have been handled, and it's a problem that seems to have been echoed by the community more frequently in recent weeks. For this reason I'd like to offer up my own perspective on the issue, and provide some potential solutions / design ideas.

Dual Cards in Houses

y3s9vhas7yn21 - Potential Changes to Attributes

After posting my custom card set for House Indoril, this comment thread immediately got my attention. I noticed that most of these potentially abusive combos rely on Dual cards. While there's been a lot of talk about whether access to Dual cards should be removed from tri-colour decks, this thread only helped to sell me on that point, and made me conscious of the danger of introducing the other five Houses.

When you look at some of the most competitive decks on the ladder, a lot of their staple cards are Dual cards: Scout's Report, Black Hand Messenger, Crusader's Assault, Edict of Azura, etc. Removing access to these cards in tri-colour decks would definitely be a hindrance to those decks, but not so much that they become unplayable. It would certainly encourage players to look more widely in their collection to find effective replacements.

What I like most about multi-attribute cards (dual or tri-stat) is that they're emblematic of the class you're playing. The interesting ways they tie the mechanics of each attribute together, their exclusivity to certain classes, and the fact that they're much less common, makes them feel very unique and almost 'sacred' when you put them in your deck. But the fact that tri-colour decks can get access to both tri- and dual-colour cards somewhat devalues the latter, and by extension devalues the class they were originally designed for, since those classes no longer have any exclusivity. On the whole, dual-colour cards definitely feel less unique than they used to.

What I particularly liked about the Houses was the character they had, both narratively and gameplay-wise. When you played a tri-stat deck, you'd almost feel like you were a part of that House. Each card had a unity of theme that brought out the role-playing spirit of Elder Scrolls in a subtle but appealing way. But once players were able to figure out the optimum decklists, tri-stat decks became more of a mishmash of thematically distinct cards; and because of the sheer amount of options they had, the decks' personalities became a lot more 'diluted'. This isn't something that can be fixed completely, however I think removing access to Dual cards will at least rekindle that feeling of character somewhat, and give some character back to the dual-colour classes as well. After all, Crusader's Assault doesn't read 'Hlaalu's Assault'.


House Deckbuilding Limitations

When Houses were first introduced, I was skeptical about how deckbuilding worked. The fact that you had to have at least one tri-colour card in the deck to get access to three colours always felt slightly unintuitive and arbitrary to me, since the transition from mono to dual-coloured decks had no similar requirement. While it did make getting access to Houses feel like a milestone, it gave off the impression that Houses were a feature that was being 'bolted on' to the core game experience rather than being integrated seamlessly. Now that we know Houses are as effective and abundant as regular classes, I think it may be beneficial to remove this restriction, and replace it with a level-based restriction (so that new players have a chance to build their collection, and learn the basics of attributes and deckbuilding).

Mono Decks

Mono-attribute decks are fundamentally less effective than multi-attribute decks because of their limited card pool. Like singleton decks, they're almost exclusively a handicap to the player. But unlike singleton decks, mono decks – at least in my experience – are very rarely played. This leaves a pretty big design space practically unoccupied which, if filled, has the potential to diversify the ladder, and maybe steer the meta away from tri-colour decks.

One way to increase the appeal of mono decks, while remaining consistent with the deckbuilding rules of tri-colour decks, would be to reduce their minimum deck size to around 35 or 40. This number shouldn't be too low, since the reliability of drawing something you have three copies of will start to get too high. It might also be interesting to see mono-exclusive cards (along the lines of dual and tri-colour cards), such as an Intelligence creature that gives all other creatures in its lane Ward.

Making mono decks more effective will hopefully come with the benefit of making the ladder feel a bit more diverse. Returning to my earlier discussion, mono decks would also have a lot of character by virtue of their cards sharing more mechanics.

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