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Subject: Convincing a new player that the game is balanced rss

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Torin Kogut
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I've been trying to convince a person who isn't very familiar with card games that sorcerer has been balanced, but it's very difficult to do. They're under the impression that to balance a game like this you would need to have tested every single deck combination against every other deck combination hundreds of times, and it's a bit hard to dispute that. Does anyone have any advice about what I could say to convince them that the game is balanced enough?
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Nate T
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I would acknowledge that he may be right, then invite him to play to see if it is balanced himself during actual, regular play.
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Ian Toltz
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You could adapt* the adaptive format from Keyforge. Play best of three with the same decks. Swap decks for game 2. If there's a game 3, you each bid for the right to pick the deck you want.

The only problem is figuring out what to bid, but there are a few knobs you can play with. Starting cards in hand, starting energy, starting damage on your locations...

*ha
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J Chi
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torin555 wrote:
I've been trying to convince a person who isn't very familiar with card games that sorcerer has been balanced, but it's very difficult to do. They're under the impression that to balance a game like this you would need to have tested every single deck combination against every other deck combination hundreds of times, and it's a bit hard to dispute that. Does anyone have any advice about what I could say to convince them that the game is balanced enough?


Don't try to convince them that it's balanced. It's highly unlikely that the game is perfectly balanced with every match up of combinations having the exact same likelihood of winning. I think arguing this is a bit of a strawman.

Instead, you can say that the game has been playtested and that each deck has tools and styles of play. There are different cards and interactions that you may miss anyway playing it the first time (that said, many cards specifically prohibit interactions with cards that aren't from the same deck, which seems to be a way to help mitigate "out of control" interactions). So your first time playing, it's unlikely that the "balance" of the game will be as much of a help/hinder to your experience compared to the process of learning and understanding the game. This is something that's true for most games with asymmetry.

That said, if it helps make them feel better, let them pick their deck combination. If they're concerned with balance (or specifically, losing because they got unlucky with their deck choices) let them go ahead and try to craft a "powerful deck".
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Bad Mojo
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I don't think there exists a perfectly balanced game. Chess theorists have long debated how enduring White's initiative is and whether, if both sides play perfectly, the game should end in a win for White or a draw.
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Torin Kogut
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Tamiya wrote:
That said, if it helps make them feel better, let them pick their deck combination. If they're concerned with balance (or specifically, losing because they got unlucky with their deck choices) let them go ahead and try to craft a "powerful deck".

I think this is the best suggestion, sadly in my case, it doesn't really work because they're so unfamiliar with card games in general that having them pick their own decks is almost the same as giving them out randomly.
 
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Bad Mojo
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Everyone talks about over powered combos, is there a weakest deck combination? Maybe the veteran player can use that as a challenge.
 
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Lester Festertester
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I wouldnt bother even trying. Any one who believes that a game needs to have every combo playtested to death shouldnt be playing anything but checkers and chess
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Adam Daily

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I think the fallacy this is making is that they are assuming that the way the designer is balancing things is by manually testing every interaction of every card and then assessing those decks based on how they "feel". That's a really inefficient way of assessing the strength of cards (or anything).

More likely, they've identified hotspots where interactions are likely to occur and then targeted those in terms of what they do for decks. For example, if they know up front that one keyword or mechanic synergizes with another, they can make sure that interaction's existence in a deck doesn't have an enormously disruptive impact on gameplay. In addition, they probably have some sort of proxy values that correspond to deck strength and have an understanding of how elements of a deck influence that strength. I mean, go ask card designers for MtG how they balance within a cycle and what algorithms they use for that. The cards obviously aren't perfectly balanced even within a set, but I'm really skeptical that they just create cards that feel good and then go manually play zillions of games.

Edit: Speaking of Magic, I also keep wondering why Sorcerer has been targeted for this specifically over other games. In many ways, this game is easier than a game like MtG, Netrunner, or even Dominion to balance. You only have so many factors to worry about. In a game like Magic, you basically have infinite combinations possible, and any of those cards *could* synergize with another card. Is the worry that people don't like the existence of "bad" cards in a board game, but it's fine in a CCG? Is it that cards are exclusive to one player in Sorcerer? If so, are they suggesting that there's one combo to rule them all that one player could steal and no other Sorcerer combination is good enough to challenge it? That feels silly to me.

I feel like the whole discussion is a little irrelevant though. When people say "balance" in a game like Sorcerer, what are they referring to? Raw damage output? Card access? Energy efficiency? Tricky plays? Some sort of holistic sense that includes all of those things? I think what they're really saying is "I got this combo and I lost and it's not obvious how I could have won instead". I'm skeptical that there is a matchup that exists that straight up skill at the game can't overcome. You might be at a disadvantage given the how the strengths of the players match up with the decks they've created, but I'm not sure how the designer is supposed to accommodate that without saying outright "this is the style with which you're supposed to play this game, and all decks do that very specific thing equally well."
 
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Bad Mojo
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In terms of general strategies I know that the 2 most powerful and degenerate abilities revolve around resource and/or card denial. If you don't have energy or cards you cannot participate in the game. Are there any character, lineage, or domaine decks that offer these tactics?
 
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Oskar Ohyeah
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Chud_Munson wrote:
I'm skeptical that there is a matchup that exists that straight up skill at the game can't overcome.


What about instead of skill just straight up luck? You got the luck of the draw and dice combat. That together can certainly mitigate the bad luck of a deck combination. Even if a deck is much stronger than another - say 30/70 - it can still be beaten with a bunch of luck which this game offers plenty of.

Anyway I think to appreciate this style of cardgame, you need to accept the challenge of being the underdog now and then.

My point being: luck is a huge part of this game. Especially if people are of equal skill. Whether it's the luck from dice, draw or deck combination shouldn't matter a whole lot.
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Torin Kogut
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Chud_Munson wrote:
Edit: Speaking of Magic, I also keep wondering why Sorcerer has been targeted for this specifically over other games. In many ways, this game is easier than a game like MtG, Netrunner, or even Dominion to balance. You only have so many factors to worry about. In a game like Magic, you basically have infinite combinations possible, and any of those cards *could* synergize with another card. Is the worry that people don't like the existence of "bad" cards in a board game, but it's fine in a CCG? Is it that cards are exclusive to one player in Sorcerer? If so, are they suggesting that there's one combo to rule them all that one player could steal and no other Sorcerer combination is good enough to challenge it? That feels silly to me.

I think the reason it's more of a concern with sorcerer is that in a game like MtG the cards themselves aren't balanced. The balance of MtG comes from a combination of card rarity and a player determined metagame. If a tier 1 deck goes up against someone's tier 3 deck in MtG, the odds of the tier 3 deck winning are incredibly low.
 
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Jason
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Badmojojojo wrote:
In terms of general strategies I know that the 2 most powerful and degenerate abilities revolve around resource and/or card denial. If you don't have energy or cards you cannot participate in the game. Are there any character, lineage, or domaine decks that offer these tactics?

Thenoch (character) mills cards from the opponent with the benefit of also casting then.
Animist (lineage) mills cards into extra attack for creatures. (In think it has some graveyard and hand control too.)

I don't know of any deck that can take away an opponent's energy. But, I haven't played them all.

I think there are some other decks that might have a little milling or able to remove cards from a players hands.

On the other side though, there are decks that allow you to cast creatures from the graveyard, recycle certain cards back to your deck, or provide flexibility (shapeshifter forms being creatures and attachments). Another aspect is that some leaders are more energy efficient and/or card efficient. So, the cost of denial may mean less minions on the board.
 
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Bad Mojo
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VaultBoy wrote:
Badmojojojo wrote:
In terms of general strategies I know that the 2 most powerful and degenerate abilities revolve around resource and/or card denial. If you don't have energy or cards you cannot participate in the game. Are there any character, lineage, or domaine decks that offer these tactics?

Thenoch (character) mills cards from the opponent with the benefit of also casting then.
Animist (lineage) mills cards into extra attack for creatures. (In think it has some graveyard and hand control too.)

I don't know of any deck that can take away an opponent's energy. But, I haven't played them all.

I think there are some other decks that might have a little milling or able to remove cards from a players hands.

On the other side though, there are decks that allow you to cast creatures from the graveyard, recycle certain cards back to your deck, or provide flexibility (shapeshifter forms being creatures and attachments). Another aspect is that some leaders are more energy efficient and/or card efficient. So, the cost of denial may mean less minions on the board.


By "mill" that will discard from deck, correct? That is neat, but not as powerful as discarding from hand.
 
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Vadim Deylgat
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Convincing someone new to this kind of card games, that this is balanced will be hard. You’d better start that player of with some basic deck builders (Star Realms, Hero Realms) to sharpen his card playing skills. A trained card player and a new player, who both play this for the first time against each other will have very different experiences from their first plays of Sorcerer. When you have played similar games, you quickly identify possible combinations that a new player will just not see. The experienced player will win.
The first time I played Sorcerer, was a demo at a convention. I played against one of the regular play testers who knew the cards very well. Yet I asked him to play me without holding back. I have played a lot of different card games and deck builders and even some MTG back in the day. So I know the tropes of the genre and I selected a necromancer deck, fully expecting to find cards that would allow me to bring back cards from my discard pile. I was not surprised by how my cards worked, so it wasn’t that hard to build a basic strategy. The guy doing the demo made me sweat, but I did pull out a victory.
Are all decks perfectly balanced, no, but they will be balanced enough so that equally skilled players will have an equal chance of beating each other. Now, if you are the experienced player and you want to introduce someone to this genre, give yourself the supposedly weaker deck combinations or the more complex decks. Give the easy, but less deep decks to your “apprentice”.
It’s not about balance, it’s about player skill. Skill is not acquired without training
 
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