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Now on to the good stuff!
What new features are coming and when?
We are planning a big new update within the next few of months that will include not just a bunch of new cards, but also a major feature we have talked about since the initial Kickstarter- campaign mode. This next release will not include every feature we plan to have in Campaign, but it will present a solid foundation that will give players a much deeper single player game experience.
Starting with the upcoming release, players will be able progress through single player missions against the AI, beating progressively harder challenges to earn rewards. Some missions will force you to use a preselected deck (or choose from one of several) and others will allow you to build your own deck (although sometimes with special deckbuilding rules).
Missions will often have special in-game conditions and events that dramatically change up traditional SolForge gameplay, making this an entirely new play experience. At release, there will be a dozen missions available (all free to play) and we will continue to release new mission content periodically, including “Weekend Warrior” style missions available for a limited time. We are very excited to finally launch this feature, and I think it will be both fun for our current player base and a great jumping on point for new players.
In previous articles, I’ve talked about a much needed UI overhaul to make the interface more intuitive and responsive. Unfortunately, this won’t be featured in the next release, but it is still in the pipeline for late in the year. This kind of overhaul is a huge project, and we are prioritizing getting fundamental features released while slowly working on the overhaul. As always, we appreciate your patience as we work to develop SolForge into everything it can be.
What are the plans for tournaments in Solforge?
During the last few months, we’ve had a lot of exciting developments in the Solforge Tournament World. We introduced the casual draft queue, intended to be a lower cost way for players to learn about drafting and enjoy the play experience. Overall, it seems like this has been a success. We have seen lots of new players joining the queue (including many who had never played draft before) while more competitive players tend to stick to the higher priced (and higher payout) queue.
By tracking the records of players who participate in both events, we have been able to confirm that the competitive queue is, in fact, more competitive, with a win rate differential of about a 20% for players who frequent both queues. We’ve heard some concerns from players that casual players would prefer to keep cards in draft while competitive players care less about this feature (as they expect to win cards via prizes). We are looking into ways we could make that model work without dramatically increasing the cost of these queues.
We have had a lot of fun with a variety of weekend warriors, including the ever popular Legendary Draft. Other big hits recently were the 20 card constructed format and the Forgemaster weekend. We will continue to repeat the popular weekend warrior events and try out new ones to keep the game fresh and to experiment with new modes of play. Some new tools coming in our next release will allow us to vary the round structure more dramatically, allowing players to play until achieving a certain number of wins or losses.
On the high end tournament front, we have now run two Elite Tournaments (one constructed and one draft) and both seemed to be very popular and well received. At the highest level of play, we are getting close to determining our top 8 for the Solforge World Championships. You can see a great write-up of the last World Series Qualifier here:
February 7th is the date of our last WCQ for this season. This is your last chance to become the first ever Solforge World Champion, so sign up here before its too late! We will announce details about the top 8 in the coming weeks and look forward to seeing who will be crowned Solforge World Champion at Gen Con this summer.
What do you think about the current metagame and power level of cards?
All of us at Stone Blade keep a close eye on the tournament environment as well as the player comments on our forums and social media. We’ve seen a great deal of different decks in the top standings of qualifiers and overall the environment seems to contain a healthy mix of older cards as well as newer cards. It is great to see players re-evaluate older, previously ignored cards when new card releases create combos and new deck archetypes, like we’ve seen with Ator and cards like Flameblade Champion.
In general, the environment seems healthy and we are happy with the progress of the competitive constructed and draft environments. All of that being said, there is of course still room for improvement and we are always willing to make changes to cards if the environment becomes stale or unfun. Our goal with SolForge is to see an ebb and flow of power among different decks and rotate what types of strategies are viable and dominant. Of course, SolForge will always be focussed primarily on creature combat, lane placement and making good leveling choices, but things like the speed of the format, the power of control/leveling cards, and the strength of various archetypes and strategies will vary over time to make sure there is always something new to discover.
As for specific cards in the current metagame, right now Rage of Kadras is probably at the top of our watchlist for a possible nerf, followed by Bramblewood Tracker, Ashurian Flamesculptor, and Duskmaw, Twilight Drake. Unlike other powerful cards, like Broodqueen, Wegu, or Oratek Explosives, these cards ask very little of the player to get a huge effect. Our overall philosophy is certainly to allow for big, powerful cards that can swing games, but usually this should require more commitment from the player either in deck construction or in setting up specific board states. Rage in particular puts a lot of pressure on how good we can make other Tempys cards, which ends up restricting our ability to push other cool and interesting designs. No action is planned at the moment, but we are keeping a close eye on these cards.
That’s about all I have time for this month. We are hard at work on the next set release and on designing fun missions for everyone to play. There are quite a few exciting mechanics upcoming to shake up both the draft and constructed environments and I can’t wait to start up previews next month. In the meantime, please send us your thoughts and questions in the comments and on the forums and I’ll work to answer them in my next article!