Tag Archives: Card Games

Hearthstone “Forged in the Barrens” Set Thoughts and Predictions

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Hearthstone’s year of the Gryphon is already moving pretty fast, and its first expansion is set to release at the end of this month. There were many changes in the last year for Hearthstone, with the introduction of a new class and a few new game modes as well, with an additional format in “Classic” scheduled to arrive, along with the newest set “Forged in the Barrens.”

There also just happened to be an entire core set rework that I never really touched on, but since my schedule is busier than ever and my focus is at an all time low I never really got to talk about it, so I’ll give my quick thoughts now. In summary, I think the core set rework and standard change is a really good idea. There were definitely a lot of older cards that just were not good and probably are not getting played ever again. Additionally, the idea of a rotating core set makes prospects of playing standard over an extended period of time much more interesting. This is because, along with new expansions, the base level cards that everyone has access to will change, making the game feel much more fresh over time.

With that being said, here are my thoughts on “Forged in the Barrens.”

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Spell Schools/Tags

This is also more of a game wide change as opposed to a set specific one, but it does affect the upcoming sets as well, so it is still worth talking about. Tribes in most cards games, be it “Hearthstone,” “Yugioh,” “Magic,” etc are used both to increase the power of specific archetypes and also to control which archetypes have access to specific effects. The ladder two in particular are fairly comfortable with the idea of spell tags and using them to control the power of a card.

“Hearthstone” is a game that has gone through a lot of changes even its relatively short lifespan, changes which have created a lot of decks that players would consider gimmicky or unfun to play against, such as “Malygos” combo decks. Having certain effects like spell damage only interact with certain kinds of spells significantly lowers the ability for singular cards to create entire archetypes in the future. In this way, the inclusion of spell tribes not only feels unnoteworthy, but in a lot of ways necessary for the health of the game.

Frenzy

There have been a lot of new keywords added to “Hearthstone,” particularly in the last few years of the game, but not all keywords are created equal. Some, like “Discover” have added a lot more randomness and overall focus on value generation to the game than in its earlier days. Others, like “Overkill” and “Corrupt” have had a lot less of an impact on the meta, outside of just adding some ok cards to the standard pool.

While it is still really early to make a definitive judgement on anything thus far, “Frenzy” feels like it will end up somewhere in the middle. For those unaware, Frenzy effects activate the first time a minion would survive damage, which makes it almost like an enrage effect of old. A fair amount of the minions with the keyword have relatively high health totals to help trigger these effects, but that might not be enough.

Even with the core set rotation, and with the addition of a lot the new cards in “Forged in the Barrens,” most classes still have access to a fair bit of high damage and hard removal. However, there will still be plenty of times when no such removal exists or it just is not drawn, meaning “Frenzy” might just have a better chance. Also, the inclusion of the “Rush” keyword on many of the newer cards means it might be a be a bit more viable than other proactive keywords such as “Overkill.” Still, only time and statistics will be able to speak to the new mechanic’s effectiveness.

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Diamond Cards?

Alternate arts and cosmetic changes have always been a topic of discussion in the “Hearthstone” community, and in the last year or so Blizzard has delivered a lot more in this realm. The updated rewards system in the form of the battle pass brought with it a whole host of rewards, including new hero portraits and a new version of the coin. The year of the Gryphon is expanding on this idea, and introducing a limited number of diamond cards that will be accessible through the paid version of the battle pass.

The battle pass was another controversy that I did not cover, partly because of time but mostly because other people did it a lot better than I could. It definitely sucked at first, put the continued adjustments to experience requirements and improvements on received experience from play has made it feel significantly more rewarding than its advent iteration. Where was I? Oh yeah, diamond cards.

Since it is purely a cosmetic addition and only limited to a certain number of cards, I do not particularly mind its inclusion. Die hard fans of the game who are looking to have a 100 percent complete collection are probably going to be a bit mad that they have to spend even more money, but, at the end, of the day it is a really cool looking addition that does not take anything away from gameplay for money.

No More Infinite Value!

The mechanical theme of “Barrens” contrasts significantly with the previous year. Much of the card design in the Year of the Dragon focuses on getting value off of value in continuous chains. This created a lot of polarized opinions, with a certain part of the player base being ok with it and many saying it creates an unhealthy degree of randomness in a game that is already largely defined by it.

However, the game’s newest set seems to be returning to designs of old, which focus complimenting specific game plans rather than being on card engines. Personally, I think this will leave the game in a much healthier state than it was before. If the priest mirror match can teach us anything, its that a meta defined by balancing infinite value with consistent tempo is one that is destined to become boring after a while.


Are you looking forward to “Forged in the Barrens?” What do you think of the recent changes? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

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If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

The Ultimate Downfall of Card Games: Power Creep

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It is hard to talk about the evolution card games, both online and paper, without mentioning the genre’s most fatal flaw: power-creep. Now, because card games have been around for such a long time, and because many of them have grown quite old, there are many examples of this phenomenon that have been discussed in detail elsewhere. Still, as someone who has spent years in multiple different communities, I want to share my perspective on the issue.

First, for those who aren’t familiar with cards games or gaming terminology in general, power creep describes the gradual increase in strength of cards, both to compete with the current best cards of any given meta as well continually generate interest from players in the game. Over a long period of time, this usually results in cards that are significantly stronger than anything that came out during the initial period of the game.

There are a lot of obvious negatives to this phenomenon. For one, power-creep makes it so that it is very hard for someone to leave a given game for any extended period of time and then return to the game, because it likely that by the time that person gets back a lot new game mechanics have been added that are necessary to learn in order to play the game at a high level.

Another is that those who enjoy a specific archetype/playstyle will likely not be able to play with that deck indefinitely. This is because power-creep will inevitably start favoring another archetype/playstyle depending on what kind of cards are made more powerful in an given format.

Then there are the less obvious negatives, like the fact that increasing the power of cards does not necessarily drive any outside interesting in the game, but rather only serves to keep the already existing player base interested. This because even with all of the advertising in the world, a potential new player only has their pre-existing knowledge to go off of which, by definition, is probably not a lot.

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One of the few positives, though, is the increased interest for already existing players. As a former Yugioh player and current Hearthstone player, I can tell you that the prospect of a new extra deck mechanic in Yugioh, as well as the introduction new keywords in Hearthstone was and is always incredibly exciting. Constantly expanding games also make it so that there is a continued sense of community among any given player base.

Regardless of the positives and negatives, though, the reality is that it is very hard to deal with power-creep in any meaningful way. One non-direct solution that games like Magic the Gathering have adopted is simply introducing different formats with different rules. This makes it so that players only have a specific-meta game, and thus make it a little easier to understand. However, this does not inherently limit power-creep in any way, as it is like that new combinations of cards will be discovered depending on the format.

Card games could also introduce new cards less often, thus decreasing the amount of power-creep in a given time period, but this has the effect of causing existing player bases to be less interested in the game and potentially even quitting.

There is also the question of is power-creep even necessarily that bad. After all, part of the appeal of competitive card games is seeing just how successful people can be in different formats, whether that be aggressive metas, control, tempo, or even burn and combo decks.

Personally, while I don’t find it particularly fun to constantly learn new game mechanics and deal with whatever overpowered BS comes out during a given expansion, and I cannot deny the fun I have theory crafting and deck testing with other people about the game. Overall, I think the best solution to power-creep is design a game such as DC Deck Builders, one that can use expansions, but doesn’t need to, and that is versatile enough to have multiple winning strategies and also rewards people for skillful plays.


What’s your opinion on power-creep? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

“Slay the Spire” is a Lot of Fun

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Card games have been a huge part of my life for a long time, almost as long as anime, and most of the people who I would now consider my best friends I met while playing TCGs like “Yugioh” and “Cardfight Vanguard.” More recently, since I have had less time and interest in playing cardboard based card games, as well as losing interest in games like “Hearthstone,” I have been in a bit of a card game dry spell. That is, until I found “Slay the Spire.”

For those who have not yet been acquainted with this indie game darling, “Slay the Spire” is a rouge-like card that now features four different characters on their way to the top of the spire. Each character has a different play style and set of cards used to build a deck and defeat enemies on each floor.

As of the writing of this post, I currently have about 90 hours dumped into the game, and by the time this post comes out it will likely be more. The reason for that is because “Slay the Spire” has an incredibly addictive design. Each of the characters starts with a certain number of their class cards locked, and those cards tend to be a lot better for future runs. However, even after unlocking all of the cards for each of the game’s four classes, the challenge of actually making it all the way up the spire probably still remains.

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Because each run starts with a brand new set of options, the deck a player receives will always be slightly different each time. The challenge then becomes making a deck consistent enough to make it through every fight.

Even after making it through the spire with all four characters and unlocking every card, players are still left with another option. They can choose to climb the spire again using ascension rules, which make the game harder. Combine that with daily challenges and customizable runs, there is a lot of ways to play the game.

There is also a lot to love about the game design wise. Each character plays in a totally unique way, and their play style is reflected in their character. For example, The Ironclad seems to be based on a fiery warrior, which comes through in his card options, which has a fairly balanced pool of good offense and defense cards. Similarly, the newest addition to the game, The Watcher, seems to be based on a religious warrior, and because of that can switch stances between attack and defense.

The game admittedly does not have a lot to speak about musically, though. The main track of the game is the one that will be heard for about 90 percent of any given play through, and while it is a nice song, it does get boring after a while.

“Slay the Spire” is a fun game, plain and simple. It has an incredibly addicting format with tons of replay value, along with a unique set of characters and different modes for various different runs. Those who have yet to give the game a chance should rectify that immediately.


How do you all feel about “Slay the Spire?” What are your initially impressions of it? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!