The Elder Scrolls

TESL’ Bizarre Adventure

TheElderScrolls15 - TESL' Bizarre Adventure

Hello I’m Draconis of the Hiking Emeric Crew. You will most likely not know me at all since my active involvement with the community is limited towards the official TESL Discord we have.
However in a recent discussion with Szoty, the lazy leader of us even lazier bunch, I felt expressing my sentiments towards TESL and the state it is in. This post might already sound very familiar to what previous posts have done, especially WayneMcPayne’s post which covered many things I wanted to address in here with some additional input from people in this community so it wouldn't just be my own bias.
Which is why this post takes a different direction than I initially planned.
No opinion comparing, more a little tour on how we came to the current TESL and what people think of it.
Even so I’d like to thank the people that had taken the time to write me their opinion even if their exact words are not mentioned anymore.
With this foreword out of the way, let’s begin.

TESL is a weird game always has been. We don’t know why Bethesda decided to create a CCG Spinoff of its famous RPG Series, but we can definitely say it was created to compete with Hearthstone. Some might remember it, initially TESL was specifically marketed towards cardgame enthusiasts who wanted a digital experience but were fed up with the RNG centric design Hearthstone is made, or at least was known for at the time.
Personally I like to believe we had a good start, the closed beta featured already people that would later on become popular figures in the community or in the case of CVH our community manager. Of course there was also an influx of people who took the game serious and competitive, just like the initial marketing intended.

I believe it was August 2016 when the game entered open beta and this is where our weird journey already begins: It might be because TESL wasn’t well received in the E3 by the public, it might be that the playerbase had been too small at the time, but neither Bethesda nor Direwolf seemed to have the intention of creating official tournaments, big or small, despite us clamoring for them. We as community like to complain about that initial neglect as being the reason we didn’t grow, and some certainly took it as reason to stop playing. Bethesda in the past cited reasons why they didn’t want to hold tourneys, but in my observation and from my answers it seems like they weren’t all that satisfying, such as TurquoiseLink saying “There are budget concerns and solid arguments for tournaments not being good marketing for a game. None of this vindicates Bethesda being unable to support any small community series.”
However this is the past, because the community decided to create their own tournament series such as Warpmeta and Bethesda eventually did create the yearly Master Series, with its second tournament having been played roughly a month ago. So while the competitive scene might be lacking, clear steps of improvement have been taken and we should hope for more in the future.

We move to early 2017, TESL officially released alongside with a mobile client. It had a few bugs here and there, but we were used to such things already, and it brought a big audience to the game, one that probably is responsible for supporting the most considering their sheer numbers. It came at the cost of the original design philosophy however and lead to more cards being added that have extremely good lategame value in order to close out games faster at that stage. Since it being a mobile game you couldn’t exactly play 1 hour long matches *cough*Supportmage*cough*.
So we have 2017, a big group of people is excited to play and watch TESL. Wait a moment “watch”? Yes, watch. This is where we hit our second hurdle, a big controversy for the whole community. Twitch Drops. Writing it like this makes it sound like I’m talking about some kind of Boogeyman that shouldn’t be mentioned anymore, but I think it should be addressed since it is a part of TESL history.
Twitch Drops in its initial iteration made watching streams extremely appealing as they gave ludicrous rewards and the only thing you were required to do is watch a few hours every day. This worked so well in fact that they had to be nerfed so that more rewards could be given out to more people without making playing the game entirely obsolete. They even had to be deactivated due to people creating idle 24/7 streams solely for the purpose of farming drops. They also bloated regular streams with dead watchers that would only care for the drops which led to streamers for the most part complaining about them. But yet again it is a problem of the past, Bethesda adequately addressed it, and Twitch Drops currently are back in a limited fashion that still rewards regular watching.
Alittlejamie even told me that he thinks that the current situation is fantastic despite small viewership.

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Now we come to the 5th of April 2018, Houses of Morrowind releases and with it we get Tricolours. It’s the next big controversy in our rollercoaster of ups and downs.
For some it was an exciting addition, others dreaded it, but all were convinced that they would change how deckbuilding works. We were right tricolours changed everything, some combinations were stronger than others, but it seemed inevitable that inherent design weaknesses in the dual color classes would be slowly faded out, except it didn’t. It is true that throughout HoM, IoM and AW Tricolours have had the most dominance, Dual Colors never quite died out and with Moons of Elsweyr it got a powerful addition, Alfiq Conjurer, that would reward having smaller decksizes. I think in the future we will see more cards that are able to push dual colors as valid competition for tricolor decks.
So up until now through rain and storm we as community held on. We had our problems with TESL, but we still loved it. We still had big sense of community and were supportive of the Dev Team DirewolfDigital.
I don’t quite remember when we were informed, but it came with HoM, DirewolfDigital and Bethesda separated. Around May we were told that because of that we would get a new Developer SparkyPants along with a new client. A large amount of people didn’t want a client change as they were quite fond of DWD’ client. Others, such as myself saw the opportunity for the game to improve further as the client was quite old and frankly was showing its spaghetti code quite often. It was a big change that was to come and it didn’t help that there was no expansion planned till the new client would be released.
It was the longest period of time nothing had been released and because of the masters series even the monthly cards have been omitted. Expectations were high, everyone was tense and thirsty for new content.
And then it happened. The Titanic had hit the iceberg. The client released after a very long maintenance in October 2018. It was a mess, many disliked the look of the client, and even more were disappointed at how bad the client worked. Bugs upon bugs and still no new content.
I still remember it vividly, as it was the first time I ever thought “Man, I hate this community”. Both on Reddit and on Discord there was a nuclear meltdown of anger, hate and disappointment, which went on for about a week. In hindsight I want to dub this week as the community’s darkest and most disappointing hour. The ray of hope tho came from the new Developers. They worked tirelessly the first month to bring the client into a playable version, hotfixing practically every day, and they didn’t stop hotfixing and bringing patches even after the worst was over.
SparkyPants proved themselves to be very competent in handling problems regarding the game and proved to communicate far better than DWD ever did.
Almost a year after the catastrophe, after releasing 3 expansions, we’re riding that high of TESL again.
We have a Roadmap now and the second Masters championship has been finished. Complaints that I’ve gathered are regarding QoL features, previous features like Gauntlets and Chaos Arena returning, old promises being fulfilled (Deck Tracker, Tournament mode).
From the more casual players on the discord I’ve gathered that there’s no huge problem with the Meta. From the more competitive side the complaints are rather detailed, but also not much different from the complaints we had during DWD’s time.

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So why have I done this then? It’s because I think after all this feedback and my observations we are in a good spot currently, we need to have faith and try to spread more positivity. Sure, complaining is easier and garners more attention, but as the saying goes: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Thank you for reading.

TL;DR While criticism is always necessary, don’t forget that we should try to remain positive overall as in our large history we’ve recovered from worse and SparkyPants has been exceptional for the game so far.

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