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Subject: Tournament of Heroes rss

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Chad Edmunds
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My son and I love Star Realms. We just recently got the Hero Realms base set and the 5 character packs, and started playing Hero Realms full on. So far, we are loving this game as well.

We first started playing with the base starters, but after 2 games (we went 1-1, with start player winning each time) we realized with the starters it was just more of the same.

We then queued up the Fighter against the Wizard for a couple matches. That was a lot more fun (again, we went 1-1 with start player winning each time).

So, we started a tournament of the Heroes. My son will play 1 hero for 4 games against me playing each of the other 4 heroes. After those 4 games, my son will switch to a new hero and we will do it again. In the end, we will play 20 games, with each of us playing each hero against each other hero.

We are looking for:

1. Fun factor
2. Balance
3. Start player advantage

We also have to factor in my edge, which will be hard to do. I have played nearly 2000 games of Star Realms online to his 100ish, so we are assuming that will give me a 55-45 edge in Hero Realms out of the gate.

This is going to be a fun experiment and I will report any findings to this thread.

So far, we have played 4 games. My son started with his least favorite fantasy character (and my favorite): the Wizard.

Updates to follow...

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The results table...

ADAM | DAD Start Player Winner
------------------------------------------
WIZARD | FIGHTER DAD DAD
WIZARD | CLERIC ADAM ADAM
WIZARD | RANGER DAD DAD
WIZARD | THIEF DAD DAD
THIEF | WIZARD DAD DAD
THIEF | FIGHTER ADAM ADAM
THIEF | CLERIC DAD DAD
THIEF | RANGER ADAM DAD
CLERIC | RANGER ADAM DAD
CLERIC | WIZARD ADAM ADAM
CLERIC | THIEF ADAM DAD
CLERIC | FIGHTER ADAM ADAM
RANGER | WIZARD DAD DAD
RANGER | THIEF ADAM ADAM
RANGER | CLERIC ADAM DAD
RANGER | FIGHTER ADAM ADAM
FIGHTER | THIEF DAD ADAM
FIGHTER | WIZARD DAD DAD
FIGHTER | CLERIC ADAM ADAM
FIGHTER | RANGER ADAM ADAM


WIZARD 4-4
FIGHTER 4-4
CLERIC 4-4
RANGER 5-3
THIEF 3-5

Start Player 15-5



EDIT: Games 5 and 6 played.

EDIT: Games 7-11 played.

EDIT: Game 12 played. Adam's first Character non-loss (he went 2-2 with the Cleric) and first Xbux earned.

EDIT: Games 13 and 14 played.

EDIT: Games 15 and 16 played.

EDIT: Games 17 and 18 played.

EDIT: After 2 marathon games where we collectively brought 33 and 39 cards in those last 2 games, the tourney is complete. Will post a final wrap up tomorrow, but 2 things can be noticed from the results...1. The Characters appear to be balanced and 2. There clearly seems to be a significant start player advantage in Hero Realms. Only 20 games played so still way too early to draw any conclusions just yet, but the results are interesting.
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Chad Edmunds
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The Wizard

My son's least favorite character, so he choose to play it first. The first 4 games did not change his mind.

The Wizard starts with the lowest health at 50. But I feel the Wizard has the best character deck, with arguably the strongest abilities and a great combo happy item, the Fire Staff.

The deck promotes Action buys with Fire Staff, but also requires good scrapping to get Fire Staff firing each deck. Spell Components helps with the Action purchases.

I am not going to do a deep dive into each character pack, I will leave that to someone much better at writing and analyzing. I will just give some highlights of what we noticed.

As for the 4 characters that faced the Wizard, my favorite was actually the character that lost. The Cleric. My son made the mistake of not taking out my champions in our first game, allowing me to combo like crazy with the Fighter's abilities. He fixed that mistake, and with the going first advantage (is there one?) and much better decision making, he took me out with the Cleric in the second game.

The 3rd (Ranger) and 4th (Thief) games were very close with my son trying hard to play around my abilities. He did a good job as I used my abilities in both games NOT AT ALL. However, his playing around my abilities left him making not many good purchases, and weaker in other areas, giving me wins in both of the very tight matches.

So far, the Ranger is my least liked character. The Thief is the one I am most excited to explore.

Results

Red die indicates Start Player
Winner is shown forward




Next up for my son....The Thief.
 
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Rick Teverbaugh
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I have played about 10 times with the game but don't find any advantage to going first. With the 3 card limit in going first there isn't a lot getting done that turn.
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Martin
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AJEddy wrote:
My son made the mistake of not taking out my champions in our first game, allowing me to combo like crazy with the Fighter's abilities. He fixed that mistake, and with the going first advantage (is there one?) and much better decision making, he took me out with the Cleric in the second game.

Not a single champion?
It should be always done if posssible except you are capable to win the game.
Do I spend 4 combat to stun an enemy champion or do I harm my opponent directly but let him get for the next 10+ turns 3 combat each turn (example) so he will end up with 30+ combat because I didn't invest 4 combat to stun the champion and in addition to that the champion will trigger faction abilities (as already said this is an example). The choice is pretty obvious.

EDIT: I just wanted to add that he was forced to take out some champions if they are guards which won't let him target other targets.
 
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Chad Edmunds
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rickert wrote:
I have played about 10 times with the game but don't find any advantage to going first. With the 3 card limit in going first there isn't a lot getting done that turn.


I hope that is true.

I play other games where the going first advantage is so big, it ruins the game. Dice Masters - a fantastic game I love - has a ridiculous go first advantage at the highest competitive level. Like 85-90% when playing Bard. Which everyone does because you must to compete. Another issue with that game.

But I digress...

In Star Realms, I can't say I noticed a significant - if any - start player advantage. That is, when playing formats without Gambits, Events and Heroes. However, when playing with either of those sets, there exists the potential to tip the scales in favor of the start player.

Because the start player can only get to 3 gold in his/her opening hand, the start player advantage seems to be limited, if not completely eliminated. However, through Gambits and Events, and Heroes to a lesser extent, the start player can acquire a 6+ cost card on turn 1. The start player just gained a huge advantage in that game.

Character abilities, the Ruby, and more powerful, lower cost cards in Hero Realms have, I fear, tipped the scales back toward a start player advantage.

My son and I have only played 8 games so far, a sample too small and insignificant to draw any conclusions just yet. But each game was won by the start player: my son 3 games and me 5. I mention who won as start player only in recognition of the fact there likely exists an edge in my favor over my son given the volume of Star Realms I played more that he did.

Again, I hope you are right and further games show no start player advantage. But I fear the slight power creep in the game(s) is inadvertently creating a start player advantage that is no longer being kept at bay with a 3 card starting hand.
 
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AJEddy wrote:
rickert wrote:
I have played about 10 times with the game but don't find any advantage to going first. With the 3 card limit in going first there isn't a lot getting done that turn.

I hope that is true.


The three games I've played so far were won by the second player. I don't like going first because a three card first hand sounds like a waste of a turn to me. It still can be interesting in Star Realms if you manage to grab a Cutter or a scrap card, but it otherwise pretty much is useless in my opinion.

Could be more helpful indeed in Hero Realms as you can buy cards that give you 3 gold for playing them, and could still have 5 gold if you play the Thief (although you need a fair amount of luck for that). An early Taxation also is a special treat I love that card somehow.

Anyway, we're not keeping track too much about who won and went first in our games yet, but we did notice that the player who won went second each time for this game.

Thanks for sharing this very interesting data. It will help towards my balance questioning as well! Hope you're having fun.
 
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Marc Bennett
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if you are trying to assess the effect of the start player on win ratios you should probably do each match up twice switching off start player, this will help compensate for skill.

for example, play the wizard/fighter twice, one with the wizard as start player, one with the fighter as start player.
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Chad Edmunds
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The Thief

Just played 2 games against my son playing the Thief. I started as Wizard and won handily. He started against the Fighter and squeaked out a win right on the number the turn before I would have won.

So far we are 10-0 (6 me, 4 Adam) for the Start Player across all Hero Realms games played so far.

In the second game this evening, with his opening hand of 3 gold, my son asked me what I would buy from the trade row. Being the good father I am I quickly told him to buy green, as it allies with the Thief's major ability big time. He did. Instead of scrap.

That said, the Thief used his major ability not once in the 2 games. In game 1 I was able to buy a couple cards that kept big cards out of my discard pile. In game 2, I tried to keep good cards out of my discard as much as possible. But it didn't really matter as they then stayed in the trade row and he bought them anyway.

RE the possible start player advantage...there appears to be one. I will continue tracking it during this tournament. But afterwards, I would like to run the test suggested by Klaxas.

For what my son and I are doing, if there does get shown a start player advantage, it will not be a big deal. We can just structure our plays around the fact and make sure each match/set has both sides starting. But for competitive/tournament play, it will be very significant.

Given the small sample of games played with the start player always winning, the Ruby in the starting deck, the Character abilities and the stronger lower costs cards in HR, my money is currently on there being a significant start player advantage to this game.

I hope not. But fear so.

EDIT: Update of games against Cleric and Ranger

We rolled the dice again to determine the start player in the first game, The Thief against the Cleric. I won the roll (I rolled yellow)



and got to go first. The Cleric won the game.

The next game I let Adam go first, and I went second with the Ranger. I also won this game, but more significantly, and unfortunately for my son, this is the first win for the player going second for us! Including the 4 pre-tournament games, the start player is now at 11-1 (7 me, 4 Adam).

The Thief's major ability did not get used during its 4 game set. The Thief went 1-3 in the hands of Adam.

Results



Next up for Adam...The Cleric
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Martin
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I like to go second because it's more likely to be able to acquire a higher cost card on the first turn and to use synergies of some cards of the hero starter decks.

I often win most matches vs. my girlfriend but sadly she isn't the most competitive player^^
 
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AJEddy wrote:
But afterwards, I would like to run the test suggested by Klaxas.

Each hero pairing happens twice in the tournament! How do you determine the starting player?

Why don't you switch the starting player if a pairing happens for the second time during THIS tournament?

The match up THIEF vs. WIZARD happened 2 times and both games you started first, why?
 
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Chad Edmunds
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Adam vs Dad Tournament Setup

Thought I would give some background and setup information that will hopefully answer some of the questions being asked.

Here is the battleground:

Dad's Playmat



Adam's Playmat



We use yellow and red dice to track our trade/gold and damage pools



Typically, we roll the dice to determine start player randomly before each game. However, since noticing a potential start player advantage, I have been letting Adam go first.

The tournament is setup to be very casual, although I am starting to think there may be an opportunity here to do some real play testing and digging into things like balance and start player advantage. I plan to continue this 20 game tournament as we have started, but in the next go around, I will add a little more structure, with the intention of gaining more reliable insight into the game and its balance and such.

I love playing the game so that will not be difficult.

After this first play through of every Character against every other character, I will attempt to play a new format where we play 4 games per match-up.

For example, we play the WIZARD-FIGHTER matchup as follows:

Dad Adam Start
WIZARD FIGHTER WIZARD
WIZARD FIGHTER FIGHTER
FIGHTER WIZARD WIZARD
FIGHTER WIZARD FIGHTER


There are 10 possible matchups, meaning each tournament will be 40 games.

Next tournament (Tourney 2) we will add the Year 1 Promos to the market deck.
Tourney 3 will see the KS promos added.
Tourney 4 will see the Year 1 character items added to the starter decks.

In total that will be 120 games played, after this tourney of 20 games is finished. Not sure if we will get through all of that before running out of steam, but we will try.

EDIT: I also wanted to add some information about the "stakes" we are playing for.

About a month ago, I put Adam on a new system of earning hours playing video games. I called them Xbux, and printed off 20 Xbux worth of currency



For each hour he spends helping me learn a new game, or during chores, or playing outside, etc. he earns 1 Xbux, which is worth 1 hour of video game time.

I also give him a chance to win XBux by beating me in tourneys and such.

I also gave him 4 special XBux tokens for Xmas:

1 Free weekend
1 Free day
1 Double Day (earn twice as much)
1 5 Xbux token (there are only 20 Xbux in circulation, so this allows him to hoard up to 25)

The HR tourney we are playing pays out as such:

Character results (4 games per character):

2-2 = 1 XBux
3-1 = 2 XBux
4-0 = 3 XBux

Tourney results (5 sets, 1 per character)

3 wins = 5 XBux
4 wins = 7 XBux
5 wins = 10 XBux

As you can see in the results table above, it has not been going so well for Adam winning XBux. So, today I introduced a 2-in-a-row chance to win 1 Xbux.

He is still at 0 Xbux won. Dad does not take it easy on him.
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Marc Bennett
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i have to say that is a cool idea with the video game time. well done.
 
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Klaxas wrote:
i have to say that is a cool idea with the video game time. well done.


Yup, not sure I would have thought of that as a Dad, if I were one. I'm not that imaginative That's a very neat and engaging idea for a currency.
 
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Thanks for the comments on the Xbux!

Yeah, it has been going very well. Adam and mom like the idea. It also gives us a currency for discipline and encouragement.

 
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The Cleric

Finally Adam did not lose a character. Although he did not win either. The set ended 2-2.

Results



Next Up for Adam...the undefeated at 3-0 Ranger.
 
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The Ranger

Another tie for Adam.



Next up for Adam, the final Character for this tourney: The Fighter. Adam will have his work cut out for him with this Character as he is currently only 1-3 in my hands. Although, it is Adam's preferred Character, and preferred playstyle, ie. smash me right in my face!

 
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The Fighter

Adam's first victory, taking the Fighter to a 3-1 record. My only win was with the Wizard.

The last 2 games of that set were grueling! Adam focused on green and damage in all 4 games as it combo-ed well with the Fighter's draw item, the Throwing Axe.

With the Wizard, I focused on Actions and was lucky enough to have the trade row provide.

The Thief is a hard Character to figure out and both Adam and I have yet to.

The last 2 games I played the Ranger and the Cleric. Both were epic battles with an enormous amount of cards purchased in both games. Adam continued to go green and damage, while the trade row screamed yellow to me in both games. The last game, where I played the Cleric, I also choose many champions over what was likely better Actions. The Cleric does love the Champions, but that tact should be taken only so far.

As for yellow, I found it just did not have enough damage umph to be a primary color. Several times I had Adam on the ropes and just couldn't finish him off. At one point I was at 78 health with 5 champions on board, and he was at 11 and exposed. But I couldn't deliver the final blow and he stormed back over several turns to grab the win.

I will speak more to our experiences with the factions in my Tournament wrap up. Suffice it to say, I was very glad to see Adam come back in the event and, in the end, have a very respectable showing. His total Xbux take was 10.
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Final Results and Wrap-up

Here are the final tallies for our first Tournament of Heroes:

Adam 9 11
---------------------------
FIGHTER 3 1
CLERIC 2 2
RANGER 2 2
WIZARD 1 3
THIEF 1 3

Start Player 8 4

Dad 11 9
---------------------------
WIZARD 3 1
RANGER 3 1
THIEF 2 2
CLERIC 2 2
FIGHTER 1 3

Start Player 7 1

Characters

RANGER 5-3
WIZARD 4-4
FIGHTER 4-4
CLERIC 4-4
THIEF 3-5

Start Player 15-5


Notes:

1. The edge assumed to exist between Adam and Dad before the tourney was pretty accurate. I assumed I had a slight 55-45 edge on Adam because of my Star Realms experience. The final result of 11-9 is perfectly in line with that. Adam did start more games, and if there is a start player advantage, then that affected the overall edge. But mathing all that out is way beyond what I am trying to do.

2. Adam clearly favored the Fighter, as was assumed at the beginning. I favored the Wizard. Also assumed to be my Character of choice given my play style. It was cool that those facts actually bore out in this contest.

3. First of all, we only played 20 games, but it does appear after this small sample that the characters are balanced well enough. And, I think that each plays to a particular play style that can carry through a game of Hero Realms. To a point. For example, Adam loves to go aggro and smash you right out of the gate. He is not looking for fancy combos. Just simple smash you damage. The Fighter supports this play style and that bore out in the results. I enjoy more combos and tricks, making the Wizard fit my play style better. Discovering this was a ton of fun.

4. I will not draw any definitive conclusions on whether or not there exists a start player advantage in Hero Realms. Only to say that the evidence strongly supports it. The Ruby changes the 3 card handicap big time. The Thief can buy a 5-cost card on turn 1...its starter contains 2 Rubies. Because this game has more powerful 1-5 cost cards than Star Realms, going first should be an advantage, even with the 3 card hand. Our results, again admittedly from a very small sample, supports the theory that the start player has an advantage.

My Personal Thoughts on Faction Balance

First, I would contend that it is not necessary for the 4 factions to be perfectly balanced. I would even challenge the suggestion that they must be very closely balanced, one vs. the other. What I do contend is that each faction should be useful and have purpose in as close to as many situations as the next for them all to be interesting. Is that the case? Let's see if anything showed up in our 20 game play through.

I feel that Hero Realms could/would follow a similar progression to success as that which forms the base for Star Realms. Start with econ and scrap, then buy damage, then buy defense and healing as needed. Of course this is not always the winning formula, but it is a great skeleton for a winning formula.

Because of the Ruby and the opportunity to draw a 6th card all available in the Character starter decks, buying econ early is less necessary.

Because of the enhanced starter deck for each Character, scrapping the starters is less necessary, or rather less of an advantage than it was in Star Realms. The Character starters contain only 5 completely weak cards, 5 Gold. Even the 1 attack cards provide a combo with another card in the starter, and are therefore of more utility and less a target for scrap than their Viper brethren.

So, scrapping is less important. Always an advantage, but less so in Hero Realms than in Star Realms.

Basically, the Character starter decks provide a head start on econ and scrap. So, less focus is required on either at the start of the game. Which brings me to my first proclamation: Spark is the best 1-cost card in the game. Elven Gift is the best 2-cost card in the game. Getting both with your opening hand provides an almost insurmountable lead. Just my opinion!

Some quick notes on each faction...

Green - Adam and I have not yet found a reliable counter to an early Green deck. Green is very strong, and as it did in Star Realms, supports a very aggro play style.

Red - straight forward mechanics. Not as "necessary" as it was in Star Realms. A good compliment to Green, but as a primary color tactic it seems to fall a little short.

Yellow - needs a partner. Full stop. A mono-yellow deck seems to get nowhere and needs help to deliver the winning blows. The healing is great. Many of the best cards are yellow. But there is just not enough damage for it to go alone.

Blue - the trickiest faction by far. Adam and I have not figured this guy out yet at all. Seems weak at first glance. But I just think it is a very combo heavy faction that requires more thoughtful and strategic play to master than anything we have seen in a X Realms game to date. Many of our games ended with a very Blue trade row by game's end as we often choose other factions when given the choice. I am not saying Blue is weakest, just that its strengths are not immediately obvious to us yet.

That wraps up the wrap-up. Adam and I will be starting a new tournament shortly with the Year 1 promos, and maybe the Year 1 magic items. This one will be a 40 game tourney that promises to expose any start player advantage, if one exists.

I love how excited Adam is to play this game! Hope it continues.

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Thanks for the in-depth review. Your analysis is interesting. While it may not be deep enough in regards to the game, it is a good start and is not expected to be deeper, as this would require a LOT more games.

That's also saying a lot as to the value of Hero Realms, that you need tons of plays to analyze it properly.
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Razoupaf wrote:
Thanks for the in-depth review. Your analysis is interesting. While it may not be deep enough in regards to the game, it is a good start and is not expected to be deeper, as this would require a LOT more games.

That's also saying a lot as to the value of Hero Realms, that you need tons of plays to analyze it properly.


It truly is a great game! I wish I were better at analysis and writing...I would like to give the game a proper review, after a few more plays. But, as it is, I will share as best, and as objectively, as I can what we find as we play.

Part of my writing challenge is I often sound a lot less objective than I actually am. Maybe someone else could use our play results as input into a good review of this game. hint hint.
 
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AJEddy wrote:
Razoupaf wrote:
Thanks for the in-depth review. Your analysis is interesting. While it may not be deep enough in regards to the game, it is a good start and is not expected to be deeper, as this would require a LOT more games.

That's also saying a lot as to the value of Hero Realms, that you need tons of plays to analyze it properly.


It truly is a great game! I wish I were better at analysis and writing...I would like to give the game a proper review, after a few more plays. But, as it is, I will share as best, and as objectively, as I can what we find as we play.

Part of my writing challenge is I often sound a lot less objective than I actually am. Maybe someone else could use our play results as input into a good review of this game. hint hint.


You're doing a much better job than me to begin with Your analysis is good enough to be understandable and yet reflect what the game is about, without being boring, so it's a nice read. As for your writing, I find it enjoyable and effective.

As for being less objective, well, you can start by losing the "Hero Realms is 2016's best game." It's... Partial, to say the least . Not to say that it isn't true, but saying so makes you sound VERY objective!

By the way, my game of the year is Aeon's End, hands down. If you'd like a cooperative game to play with your son, and a deckbuilder to boot, give this one a shot
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Thanks for the suggestion on Aeon's End. My son and I played Legendary Encounters a bunch of times and did enjoy it. We do like cooperative and deckbuilding. We will look into Aeon's End for sure.

And thanks for the kind words regarding my writing. I prefer to be silly sometimes, but I can see how that can sometimes be read the wrong way. Like me saying Hero Realms is the 2016 Best Game of the Year. It is the only game of 2016 I played. So, while I do whole-heartedly believe it is the best, I can't possibly be objective in that opinion.

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