This is rather a hot topic in HEX community right now because the most recent patch included the change. I, personally, chose HEX over many other great dTCG out there because of its potential and flexibility of “almost I can do anything I want.” Aside from the Magic the Gathering Online, I really had not seen any other dTCG that used true dyanamic interactive play (DIP) style system. Then HEX came out, but is this about to change, or not?
Welcome Hexamanics to this week’s patch notes. We are implementing a new feature this week to our engine that will make games play smoother and cut many of the unnecessary actions you are forced to take in a turn. With patch 815, triggered abilities will not go on the the chain and instead will simply resolve.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the rules and engine of the game, a triggered ability is an ability that automatically does something when a condition is met. For example, “At the start of your turn” or “When a troop enters play.”
What does this mean?
The way players have been playing HEX: Alpha had these triggered abilities using the chain. At the start of your turn, your Fang of the Mountain God would trigger and both players would have to click “pass priority” before your champion took the 1 damage. With this patch, any trigger will happen and resolve without players receiving priority. Most of the time, this won’t affect gameplay. But, there are times where the experience could be different from what you’re used to in trading card games.
If you have Turreted Wall and the opponent is at 1 health, your opponent will need to gain health during his or her turn. Once your opponent ends the turn, he or she won’t have priority to gain health before the damage is dealt.
In this next example, you have two Adamanthian Scriveners in play and you attempt to play a Righteous Paladin. Your opponent will have a chance to respond to you playing the card because cards go on the chain. Once both players pass however, both Scriveners will trigger and resolve followed by the Righteous Paladin gaining +2/+2 without either player gaining priority.
Why are we doing this?
We feel as though the number of times you must click and pass through your turn is getting in the way of gameplay. Our goal here is to make playing through the game an easier, smoother experience. We want to provide the best gameplay possible and allow you to get deep into the game while allowing the game to flow well and keeping players engaged.
We are releasing this because we want to hear your feedback. Give it a try and let us know, we believe you will immediately notice a difference in the pacing of the game and the overall enjoyment.
In short, Cryptozoic is trying to lessen the number of “pass priority” clicks. I concur with Cryptozoic’s concern about this issue (here).
However, the true DIP system provides the potential of countering anything anytime as long as you have the right card. This system allows the game to have the infinite potential of what the game can do.
The biggest concern many players in the official forum has “does this take away the future and flexibility?” Though it is true at the first glance the change may seem rather negligible to the gameplay itself, is it really so?
After playing a few games with the new patch, I do feel the tempo of the game has improved with less “pass priority” clicks. So what issue have I faced?
Case: Card casting trigger initiation
This is the case of Adamanthian Scrivener(AS) and Righteous Paladin (RP) synergy mentioned on the official post i.e. 2 adamanthian are already on the board, and you are about to summon rituous paladin.
Before: Though I cannot precisely recall how this was implemented in the past, I assume if you played righteous paladin (RP), it created a chain entry of “RP summon”, then both player had to pass their priority. Once the RP resolves i.e. comes into play, each AS abilities joined the chain. Then each player had to pass priorities (either once or twice, I’m not sure), then your champion gained the health. Now RP triggered its ability twice and again those abilities entered into the chain, and pass priority had to be clicked by each players (once or twice). As net result, RP became 4/4 upon summon and the champion gained 2 health.
Now: Upon the casting of the RP, it enters into the chain. Each player gets a chance to pass priority. If you pass priority here, RP becomes 4/4, if you want to avoid that you need to kill AS at this stage.
Issue: This change certainly took away many extra pass priority. However, it did take away a potential. Before in theory, you could have killed RP itself while he is still 2/2. But now, the only way to avoid RP becoming 4/4 is to kill both AS, then RP will remain 2/2, and perhaps you can try to kill RP. But clearly this is different as it takes 3 cards to kill RP at 2/2 with new system.
Case: At the beginning of turn
This is the case of Turreted wall (TW) from the official site article. In this case, imagine your opponent has only 1 more health left.
Before: Upon start of your turn, Turreted wall’s ability enters chain and your opponent can decide to counter against it i.e. gain health before the damage incurs so he won’t lose.
Now: Beginning of turn ability resolves without entering chain i.e. opponent’s have to gain health at the latest, during his end of turn phase.
Before Blinding light could have saved your opponent’s from the TW by casting it beginning of your turn. Now clearly using blinding light during his turn will not save from the Turreted wall’s ability, and using your turn will be after the TW’s ability so could be too late. Though just a single scenario here, it demonstrates weakening of the use of the blinding light.
Scenario: Resource Card Trigger
Before: Playing resource card itself will not enter into the chain; however, Wild root dancer’s ability did. Therefore, you could have potentially killed opponent’s target before wild root dancer’s ability resolved.
Now: Since trigger event won’t enter chain anymore, everything will occur without a chance of interruption.
Issue: Let’s say opponent created a Battle hopper while Wild dancer is on the board. He now casts a resource. Before you could have killed the battle hopper with just 1 damage, and essentially negate the wild dancer’s ability as he can only target another troop and not himself. But now, once the resource card is casted, it is too late. The battle hopper becomes 2/3, and you need 3 damage ability to kill the battle hopper.
Potential alternative solutions
Though none of these are perfect, here are potential ideas to keep the relative flexibility of the game yet decreasing the pass priority clicks.
1. Default timer/auto pass setting
By default, set to automatic pass of ability. So if one wants to counter ability he has to set as stop point. If Cryptozoic’s argument is correct, most people would not check this back.
Alternatively, set short timer that automatically passes the ability or perhaps all priority by default (5 or 10 seconds). So if one wants to counter, he hits button to stop the timer; otherwise, automatically the priority is passed.
2. Champion’s ability
Create a special champion with ability where if you have the champion selected, you can counter the ability.
3. Separate ability types
Make certain ability’s not countable, but others countable by creating a new keyword e.g. interrupt-able. This way Cryptozoic can make some cards with trigger ability that is strong but still counterable.
4. Beginning of the phase stop for all
It is already mostly implemented, but add a stop before the any “beginning of turn” effect take place, and also stop with resource card play.
Personally, I like the #1 with stop priority rather than pass priority approach the best. Because this will not change any of the game’s potential.
Although the change may not seem substantial at the first glance, and perhaps many players may not even appreciate any difference in the gameplay, there are some loss of flexibility. This will impact the future cards.
Once HEX had potential of being able to do anything Magic can do and perhaps more, now no longer becomes true statement. Is this change a big enough for day to day play? HEX is still DIP game, and can be far more deeper than any other dTCG out there with exception of Magic. It is also true that taking away many extra pass priority button is a nice change. The question is the sacrifice worth the change?
Even if you are not in Alpha yet, now is the time to cast your opinion; otherwise, this change could be official or be reverted back to original forever.