The Elder Scrolls

Unconventional tech choices versus cards that don’t fit into a deck; matchmaking. Some thoughts.

TheElderScrolls2 - Unconventional tech choices versus cards that don't fit into a deck; matchmaking. Some thoughts.
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Tech choices = cards like Giant Snake, Shadowmaster, Gloomlurker, Shining Saint, Stronghold Eradicator, etc…

Tech choices are unconventional. They are not inherently bad when it comes to deckbuilding, they are just different. I remember in a recent tournament one of my opponents had Gnarl Rootbender in their Aggro Assassin deck. Then, they proceeded to get insane value out of it – it rolled Drain off a Manic Jack mutation, they used Mad Dash on it, gave it ward, Swift Strike'd it once, and just blew me out of the water. At 5 cost, Gnarl wasn't a staple of the deck but was pretty synergistic with the rest of the package. And while maybe it wasn't an unconventional tech choice itself, some cards that supported that package certainly were – like Sixth House Amulet or Mad Dash.

I'll never hold it against my opponent who builds their deck in such a way that these cards find their way in and they are successful against me for doing so. It's actually a sight to see and can help spurn some creativity during your own deck building process.

With that said, I won't actually hold it against my opponent who wants to play totally random cards in their deck that don't make any sense either. As others have mentioned, this might be something like Ice Storm in tokens. While I have to question the validity of these cards in their decks, my opponents are free to do as they choose and can build their deck however they want.

Now let's talk about how that ties into ladder. When it comes to climbing the ladder efficiently, you need a deck that works consistently. Like over a period of hundreds of games in a given month. And the further up the ladder you go, you need to make your deck more tight, more consistent, and less prone to bad variance, bad draws, or cards that don't synergize with how your deck plans to win.

Let's go a step further – in order to climb, you need to be able to consistently beat other consistent decks. Your well tuned Aggro Hlaalu deck needs to find ways to beat Aggro Sorcerer, another popular ladder deck. It needs to be able to beat popular Control decks like Tribunal without auto losing anytime Blue, Yellow, Purple show up on the screen. So you continue to refine your approach, making your deck as good as it in as many matchups as possible, or in the most popular matchups, so that you can continue to climb.

Here is where a lot of frustration comes in. In order to keep winning, you sort of have to stick to these guidelines when playing and deckbuilding. There's not a lot of room for error and this margin only gets smaller as the season goes on and as you approach the top of the ladder. It caps out at the final day of the month.

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Due to the nature of MMR, matchmaking, ranking systems, elo systems – every kind of competitive ladder in every online game that has ever set a precendent – from LoL to Overwatch, to Hearthstone, to Halo in the early 2000s… the higher you climb, the tougher it gets. And the tougher your opponents get.

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Legends has its times where it just completely throws this precedent out the window and follows its own rules for matchmaking. One particular problem that is enabling this is the "snake". Since rank 5 to rank 1 are based on total wins vs. losses instead of something like MMR, and losses stop counting once you are in the snake, you are pretty much free to do what you want in these ranks. And despite having that freedom, you can still be matched up to someone who is grinding a serious deck in the top 10 of all players in the entire game, who has the expectation that given what it takes to get to where they are, they would be up against other similar players.

And that's where matchmaking falls short for people on both sides of the coin. On one side, the true competitive spirit of the game is removed for someone who just had to go through hell and high water to get to where they are. Given what it takes to make this rank, you want to go up against other players who have also built consistent decks that are focused on winning. That way when it comes to making the right choices during the course of the game, you can do your best to predict what their most optimal line of play is given your own moves – so that you can "play around" certain lines and work towards your own best winning percentage.

When you go up against someone who has not been forced to refine their deck to meet the standards of climbing, the fun factor is thrown out the window. And that's matchmaking in a nutshell. If you've had to switch decks a dozen times, make tons of changes, and/or play hundreds of games to reach where you want to be, it sucks to go up against someone who has not been held to that same standard. It is like two different games. And on the same note, why should that player have to go up against you, when you have hundreds of games over them this month, and have had the chance to reiterate and refine your deck as much as possible?

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And this is what it all comes down to. Simply making the best lines of play ("gameplay", playing good with what you have, etc) with a suboptimal deck is enough to take you to legend in this game. I would argue that the safety net in place (the snake, inability to fall behind a rank) is one major factor that allows this, particularly from rank 5 to legend. As a result, players who have had their decks well refined and optimized will still have to go against players who haven't. And while these games are more often than not a win for the person who is on the better deck, its not fun either way. And that's where these rifts come in where some players are saying it's not fun to play against decks that haven't completely refined their approach to be as consistent as possible.

Whether it's a one sided victory or you lose to them because they just played Dawn's Wrath in their Token Crusader, the competitive spirit of the game isn't there. And the competitive spirit of the game is probably the most important factor for anyone grinding to get the best rank possible.

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