The following details a regular night with my rotation of games.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links
I’ve actually had this game opened 5 different times during the course of the day, doing the auto-dueling and PvE events and whatnot. But after a layover of about 12 hours, I’m going to grind some of the PvP ladder! Geargias are such a good deck in this meta…
First opponent is Archfiends. Super difficult matchup, with all the milling and removal. Of course, you had your Archfiend’s Call not milled. That Wild Tornado tech to destroy your Archfiend Cavalry to get Archfiend Emperor at 3000 was pretty neat. Tough game, I wish I had the cards to play that deck.
Amazoness next, this is the archetype is making PvP fun again, for sure. Amazoness Princess down, Onslaught set. Hit, banish, special summon. Repeat a few times. Baby Tiger dead. Baby Tiger back. That was a close game, but just not enough. If only I had more than 1 Ties of the Breatheren.
Sylvans next, I thought this was the Masked HERO meta? My Geargiattacker, Pulse Mines, and Forbidden Chalice are down. I negate Komushroomo, but can’t do anything about that Guardioak. Carrot excavated, toss Rose Lover, I lose. I hate Sylvans. Back to Legend 1 I go.
Ah, a guy who hasn’t gotten more than Legend, this should end my losing streak. Fire Formation – Gyokkou, Tensu, Raven, Fire Formation – Gyokkou, Peryton, Sphynx, Beatdown. RIP.
Extra, Extra Mill/Stall Pegasus next. I can’t believe these stupid decks are back! I just wasted 10 minutes…
Oh right, here are some Sylvans again. Why did I take out my Memory Loss? I thought this was the Masked HERO meta? Oh yeah, that was last week’s meta.
Logging in for my daily reward. I definitely want to play this game more, and I realize I’ve been saying this for years. I’m still a B rank, and everyone’s probably easy pickings. My neutral Runecraft is still good when I play it. If only I didn’t have other games to play… Oh well, I ‘ll login tomorrow for another reward.
Turn on the Blizzard Launcher for Hearthstone, my Ex that I’m still awkwardly kinda friends with. I don’t really know what’s going on anymore with Hearthstone, but we had some great memories. Going to play that Warrior Arena I drafted last night.
Facing a Mage. She cleans up my board pretty well for the first half of the game, and I’m down to 13 life on Turn 7. I build a wall of taunts and Armor Up a lot. Remember when Warriors were literally unplayable in Arena? The Armor Up was the downfall? I’m here with 15 armor and 10 health, too well protected by 2 Pyroblasts and Chargers. I win.
Next up is a Priest. I do a lot of board value trading and eventually have 5 minions on the board on Turn 9. But you never expect that Spirit Lash into Thoughsteal into Blood Razor right? That Obsidian Destroyer I took care of is back… Free from Amber into Violet Wurm, the value is too much. Devour Mind and use my Commanding Shout and Fiery War Axe. I play all my cards and clear up the grubs. Another Free from Amber into Lich King, welp no point in continuing this game…
The old me would’ve found something enjoyable about playing Warrior in Arena. I don’t really know what is going on anymore.
Time to kick back with my new favorite game, Warframe. Such an amazing game that is so overlooked. While I am fairly bad at this game, the learning curve has to do with it. It’s DE’s way of weeding out people!
Tonight I am going to continuing some Tier 2 Spy missions. Building up my Vaykor Hek, which probably needs the Hell’s Chamber mod. Hell’s Chamber increases multishot for Shotguns. I frankly don’t even know what multishot is in Warframe. I think it gives your gun a chance to shoot extra bullets. The damage goes up a good amount with multishot mods. But do Shotguns get more out of multishot, since they are already shooting a bunch of projectiles?
While my Ivara is stabbing Corpus Crewmen and doing parkour, someone in my clan is complaining about the Razorback Armada not being here despite the bar being filled. He literally did this yesterday morning. And possibly every other time I was not logged in. I would probably say something funny, but I realized I made enemies in my last clan, which I left voluntarily. I’ll shut up. Everyone in the clan is annoyed about it. Someone even openly said that in the clan chat yesterday, but after this guy logged off. Finally, people say the Razorback Armada is not coming since DE has to remotely activate it. The guy pipes down finally.
I ran 3 Spy runs, but no Hell’s Chamber. I did get Thermite Rounds though, I guess new mods are always exciting. More Spy runs tomorrow I guess.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links
I have some pressure to do well in this game, but the meta the last few hours has been very unenjoyable. I’m going to ambush some people with Ice Barriers!
After losing my only game with Ice Barriers, I go to bed.
Welp, the Witchwood is arriving in Hearthstone around this time next week, and it will bring about a new standard rotation, and the loss of the 2016 sets (Old Gods, Karazhan, Gadgetzan). As per tradition with this blog, I will take a look at the best cards in the Arena format that are leaving the game. While they may make an appearance with whatever Wild event happening in the future, these cards are pretty much gone for good. And I really liked some of these cards!
10. Big-Time Racketeer – Hardly exciting, but usually dependable. It is quite amazing that a card being 7/7 worth of stats is just a little better than a similar 6/7 Boulderfist Ogre, but a big difference. The 6-mana Racketeer also had fun interactions with various Evolve mechanics from Shaman, as well as bounce effects.
9. Psych-o-Tron – This guy solved a bit of a problem with Sunwalker costing 6, and dealing with an aggressive board. Taunt + Divine Shield is a great for absorbing many hits, and usually causing multiple trades. Also great against board clears, or protecting a board that is going face for 2 turns.
8. Spiked Hogrider – Situational effects aren’t great, but this card was sneaky good in causing 2-for-1 trades. Taunts usually don’t hit for 5 when played on Turn 4 or 5, so this took care of them usually. More importantly, it probably helped pave the way for situational Rush cards coming down the pipe in the new expansion.
7. Hired Gun – Nothing exciting here at all, but this card was always really good. There isn’t really anything else to add, but the 3-mana 4/3 cards are leaving together in droves it seems.
6. Mistress of Mixtures – Turn 1 became more of a novelty, with a lot of the 1-mana minions leaving in the previous rotation. Mistress, being the spiritual successor to Zombie Chow, didn’t really disappoint in controlling the early game. The 1 Health difference made this a bit worse, but the double heal helped Rogue often.
5. Nerubian Prophet – I always loved playing this on Turn 3, being a 4/4. Greedier players liked playing it for 0 mana. In any case, just a great tempo cheat that does not have an immediate substitute. No, nerfed Corridor Creeper isn’t close.
4. Corrupted Seer – The neutral Blizzard AoE that nobody ever sees coming. Seer set a newer precedent at the time of neutral AoE. We saw a much better version later with Primordial Drake, but this was definitely a card that usually had high board impact.
3. Tri-class Discover (Kabal Courier/Grimestreet Informant/Lotus Agents) – These aren’t exactly neutral cards, but let’s just call them that. Anyways, Discover was almost immediately great in the Arena, given the implications of untangling yourself out of bad situations, with unexpected class cards. At first blush, Lotus Agents seemed too clunky to be good, but it turned out just as good as the rest.
2. Bomb Squad – I play Hearthstone with very low regard to my health, so Bomb Squad is one of those cards that I almost always pick. It turns out that the 5 health cost never mattered much compared to the board removal. Given the new drafting system, removals are more common with class cards. But this is definitely a card I loved playing in Arena.
1. Bog Creeper – Was there ever any doubt? Bog Creeper brought a brand of big beefy minions that followed in sets to come. The 6/8 was almost perfect on Turn 7, an offensive and defensive threat. While we still have big cards on Turn 8 remaining, it is hard to see a card replacing the power of Bog Creeper on 7.
10. Flamewreathed Faceless – The memelord himself, a 4-mana 7/7 was just a lot to deal with. While less good in Arena with less Overload synergy and consistency, a 4-mana 7/7 pushed in a ton of damage. It also is a card that forced many trades on the board.
9. Swashburglar – This guy came at the same time as Babbling Book, but he just did a lot more. 1-mana cards help setup combos. The RNG Burgle mechanic received support with Ethereal Peddler and later with Obsidian Shard. Further, being a Pirate helped sometimes with drafted cards. Usually, the RNG into something amazing is what made the card so good.
8. Rallying Blade – Despite Fiery War Axe being 2-mana in the past, 3-mana 3/2 weapons are still really, really good. Rallying Blade was definitely not a card to save for a Divine Shielded minion, but it was OP if it came to a buff.
7. Jade Claws – Arguably one of the strongest class cards in the Gadgetzan set, with the offering bonuses to Jade Golem cards. Being 1 durability lower than Stormforged Axe never really mattered, as the 2 damage becomes less useful with prolonged turns. The combination of being just right for the mana cost, and leaving something on the board was phenomenal.
6. Fool’s Bane – The infamous “Warrior help card,” Fool’s Bane allowed Warrior (who was usually behind), to clear the board. The downside often came at the cost of being really low on life, but the good times with this card overshadowed those losses.
5. Call of the Wild – A card with probably one of the highest “Played winrates,” it was a game-ender for the opponent. While it probably did clunk up the hand being put at 9 mana with the nerf, it was a near auto-pick.
4. Ravaging Ghoul – Another rare bright spot for Arena Warrior, this card just did a lot for it’s cost. While you can think of really enticing combos with Sleep with the Fishes or powering up a Frothing Berserker, it often did enough to clear the early board. Simply an amazing card.
3. Potion of Madness – If you played against Priest in Arena, it always seemed like this card was in the opening hand, or every Priest had one at the right time. It became such a big part of the Priest identity, that people learned to play around this card by not playing 2 susceptible cards, or Deathrattles. It is possible by next week, it will be finally safe to go faster against Priest.
2. Abyssal Enforcer – This card made it’s presence known right away, making Warlock the best Arena class for a couple of months. Big damaging ability, which fit with Warlock, put in a “big enough” body. This card was such an Arena force that it was presumably nerfed in offering by 50%.
1. Firelands Portal – I’m not sure if we’ll ever know why this adventure card is a common and completely screwed over 8 Arena classes. What we do know is that this the best card that is rotating out. Flexible big damage, and putting a bigger minion on the board. I personally will be glad to see this go, but it will definitely feel weird not having it around to terrorize me.
tldr; Drake plays video games, Twitch goes bananas. I observe and reflect.
It’s hard not to be in the know of what happened last night. Just by being in the circle of video games, I know that Drake helped streamer Ninja set a record with concurrent Twitch views last night, while playing Fortnite with him. Travis Scott and JuJu Smith-Schuster later joined in.
Real talk. I know Drake is a rapper from Canada. I know what he looks like. He is in a meme. I can’t name one Drake song though. I also know Travis Scott is a rapper, what he looks like, and he is/was in a relationship with one of the Kardashians. I can’t name one Travis Scott song. I do know enough about JuJu Smith-Schuster, being I care more about football than rap music. And the Steelers are always on prime time TV.
The same can be said about Fortnite. I know it is a MOBA made by Epic Games, and is commonly #1 or #2 on viewed Twitch games since release. I see it as a more cartoony style of PUBG. That is literally all I know about that game.
Obviously, celebrities are the key to garnering views
This is the main takeaway, and one that will likely lead to much imitation down the line. The funny thing is that in Ninja’s stream, you don’t even see Drake on camera. Sure, it is documented that he did do the Fornite co-op, but Drake not even having to appear on camera broke records. Expect streamers to do everything in their capacity to try to get celebrities in co-ops.
Not just any celebrities
The thing is that you can’t just be a slouch. Like a side character from a 90s show, or drummer for Sugar Ray (not sure why I use this example, lul). Drake and Travis Scott are really famous in music, and JuJu Smith-Schuster gets more press than most NFL players. These co-op guests are at the top of their respective fields, and even appeal to the audience. This automatically makes younger celebrities a bigger hit with the Twitch crowd. Unless you’re someone like Bill Nye.
Good press countering bad press
Fortnite has been in the news lately in a bad light, in the war against video games, due to recent school shootings. I’m not getting into this too much, but this is harkening to 20 years ago with Columbine, as Harris and Klebold were really into Quake or Doom. I don’t expect this war against video games to persist for too long, as nothing was really done 20 years ago about it all.
But this Drake helping hit Twitch records was good news for esports. It showed the industry is stronger than ever as a medium of entertainment consumption. And whatever negative perception of this game, basically regarded an anathema in main stream media, was completely ignored for one night. The power of celebrity can do that, and probably holds more sway than anything.
It must’ve sucked for other streamers
I dabbled streaming Duel Links for a month, until an update on Steam made nothing record on OBS. It is a bit of work to be a good streamer. Some people stream just to dabble in it, but some people are more serious about streaming, keeping regular schedules. These people are either trying to build something, make a name for themselves, make money, etc.
Let’s say last night, you had some great stuff in-mind, and brought your A-game. Your viewer count is lower than normal though. Drake showing up in a co-op probably sapped views from every other streamer, pulling away people with the exception for stream-lurk/sub-diehards. It was an uncontrollable negative externality on any individual streamer.
Good thing for Twitch
I’m sure a lot of people who tuned in were not regular Twitch viewers. Drake posts a link on Twitter, a much more known social media outlet, into Twitch, something only traditionally gamers frequented. I’m not going to pretend to know the numbers of clickthroughs for this, but let’s say it was a lot of views. Twitch has expanded outside of gaming in the past year, and are seemingly doing anything for views. This was a great thing, mostly for exposing Twitch to audiences who don’t regularly use it.
I’ll end by talking about MOBAs. It seems the top 3 viewed games on Twitch at any given time are MOBAs. This is probably happening by now, but game companies should push out MOBAs that improve on what current ones don’t have. It makes sense to make more of a game that is enjoyed much by the viewerbase.
Out with the old, in with the new. Hearthstone has officially done away with rarity-based drafting, and has gone on to a power level-based one. I had some questions in my previous look at the draft, but it is great to finally dive in myself, to see what it looks like.
I drafted a Paladin Arena in Arena 10.4. I took a screencap of every pick.
I went to hsreplay.net to find stats for Paladin Arenas. Stats are for the last 14 days, delayed half an hour, of this writing.
I copied the “Deck winrate” and “Played winrate” for each card.
I used Google Sheets to calculate the standard deviation for each pick. This was done for “Deck winrate” and “Played winrate.”
Deck winrate table
The cards were labeled A, B, C, from left to right.
SDdwr represents the standard deviation between the 2 or 3 picks.
A new Arena card, Hand of Salvation, was excluded from the data, in picks 27 and 28.
Played winrate table
The cards were labeled A, B, C, from left to right.
SDdwr represents the standard deviation between the 2 or 3 picks.
A new Arena card, Hand of Salvation, was excluded from the data, in picks 27 and 28.
This is just one draft, so small sample size. But it does provide 30 data points!
I drafted Paladin, a class with pretty good winrates. I suspect a bad Arena class would give more discrimination in winrates between cards.
The data was pooled from the last 14 days, which includes all of Wildfest. It is unclear if static Wildfest data was used to group cards, or if it will be a dynamic system with the winrates.
Standard deviation isn’t the best measure for 2 or 3 picks, but I was too lazy to figure out the best test.
The standard deviation of deck winrate was very low, with most values falling within 0-2%. Pick 11 (Street Trickster / Ebon Dragonsmith / Midnight Drake) had the highest deviation, and Pick 16 (Frostwolf Grunt / Eye for an Eye / Lesser Pearl Spellstone) second. These were the only standard deviations above 5%.
The standard deviation of played winrate was higher. Pick 11 had the highest rate again, and Pick 22 (Small-Time Recruits / Eye for an Eye / Sabretooth Stalker) had the second. Along with Pick 16, these were the three abnormally higher rates.
The power levels seemed to be grouped by deck winrate. While Hsreplay data is not perfect, it takes a sample from actual data. Overall, the deck winrates were fairly consistent among 3 picks.
There appears to be a distinction from premium cards from good cards. Cards like Vinecleaver, Spikeridged Steed, and Rallying Blade were grouped together often.
The premium pool was rather small for this draft. I drafted 2 Vinecleavers, 1 Rallying Bad, and 1 Spikeridged Steed. This could give Arena a more constructed feel, and definitely making playing around cards more important.
There were 2 legendary picks in this draft. I definitely saw a premium legendary group, and an average-ish legendary group.
The bad cards have greater variance in winrates. As shown in Pick 11, it appeared Street Trickster didn’t really belong with the other two picks. Possibly, there isn’t a really bad pool, and the really bad cards are grouped with just bad cards.
More data is needed. We don’t know how many card pools there are from this one draft, or what are acceptable differences in card winrates to be in the same pool. Obviously, more cards in other classes helps as well. Do your own analysis!
In a blindsiding fashion, perhaps the biggest change to the Arena was announced not long ago, due for update 10.4 of the game. This change will do away with the rarity draft system, which has been in place since the beginning, and move towards a power level draft system. For the first time, one can potentially pick from 3 cards of different rarities (common, rare, epic) for a draft slot. Also added in the post are the upcoming new Arena-exclusives, for a limited time, but the removal of the rarity draft system warrants much more discussion on it’s own.
Let’s run through some potential implications this has on Arena.
By taking away the power level quantity to compare three cards with, the focus becomes other useful factors. Most Arena picks have a clear-cut “good card,” which results in an auto-pick. If the new system works as defined in the video, every pick should warrant some critical thinking, in regards to deck construction. The demoed example of Fireball vs Leyline Manipulator vs Primordial Drake isn’t easy. Fireball is usually automatic for being one of the best Mage spells. Primordial Drake is probably the best neutral epic minion though. Leyline Manipulator is an Elemental Yeti with plus side for RNG decks. Tough choice.
The test would be prioritizing mana curve, synergies, win condition, minion/spell balance, etc. In a way, this accomplishes what the dreaded Synergy Pick era never did in testing synergies. Synergies are explosive and powerful when they hit, but are they worth all the other factors. Skillful drafting is definitely reinforced, when you take away sheer power level.
In a way, this drafting system works better for individuals who drafted without using a tierlist. When you have used tierlists for years, you become inured to cards having a certain value attached to that. With the new system, this becomes much more fuzzy, and there is more wiggle room.
Definition of power level
This brings the question, how does Blizzard define power level? As the entire draft system will now be based on power level, it would be important to find out what that quantity is. My first guess is it would be the “deck winrate” value, which usually demarcates good cards from average cards from bad cards. “Played winrate” is more of a swingy value I don’t like so much, but is an option as well. Blizz probably has more internal stats that will make the basis of what power level is.
Power level buckets
Once power level is defined (whenever that is), how many buckets are there? As this is the key basis for how the drafting system works, it would be important to know. We definitely will have at least three, with good, average, and bad. The Lightforge Tierlist has 7 buckets for their valuations. I have a feeling there won’t be that many in the Arena update, but there should be enough to make the draft pick between three “same power level cards” seem similar. I personally believe there may be 5 power level buckets, which goes neatly in a 1-5 scale, and divides into 30.
Valuation of neutral cards in classes
Thanks to class cards, hero power, and class identity, neutral cards have different values in different classes. An example is Violet Illusionist in Rogue, which is just a 3-mana 4/3 in another class. Taunts for Warlock are also great. The valuation of neutral cards should take class into consideration.
Epics are no longer bound by generally low appearance rates and should show up more in the new Arena. They usually have a reputation of being either really good or really bad. It is possible we may never see the really bad epics anymore, unless they were drafted for a specific deck synergy.
Normalization of usage
If you look at class cards drafted by class, some cards appear in just short of 50% of decks. By grouping cards through power level, it is likely that the highest cards will fall in usage, and the lower cards will rise in usage. There should be a normalization of some sorts, just because cards of equal power level are pitted against one another, and you are bound to 30 picks.
Variability of power level
The biggest question regarding this change is how different each draft would be from another, in terms of power level offerings. And this probably will be determinant on how many power level buckets there are. If there are fewer buckets, like 3, you can easily say there will be 10 bad picks, 10 average picks, and 10 good picks. If you have 7 power level buckets, things get more complicated.
In the current rarity draft system, you typically don’t have crazy variability in terms of card rarity. Yes, you do see 3-4 legendary decks sometimes, but usually you will have 0 or 1. Power level is much more important than rarity though. Many legendary picks aren’t even all that good. Premium cards are often common cards.
A bad scenario would be a highly variable system, as the number of premium picks afforded in a draft determines your fate. Hopefully this distribution of power level per draft is fairly consistent.
Back when I still had hope of a successful Hearthstone blogging venture, I took a few looks at Arena cards rotating out into the Wild. With the announcement of Wildfest starting February 19, I thought I would do a little exercise and take a look at the Wild cards coming back for this Arena event, and pick out my favorites.
What we know about Wildfest
All we really know about Wildfest is that “the Arena draft will offer cards that are exclusive to Wild.” There are still a good number of unknowns, including:
If the entire draft is all Wild cards, Wild + Basic, Wild + Standard (all cards).
If previously banned Wild cards are coming back.
If the Discover/Random Summon pool is affected.
If the offering rates for cards are changed.
If we are getting different rewards.
The description did not tell us much.
To new Arena players
If you didn’t play Arena back in the day, and had to know one thing about the Wild sets:
2-drops are really, really important!
Top 10 Neutrals
There are plenty of great (and bad) class cards coming back for Wildfest. I’m sure that I like a lot of them, and will have some great nostalgic moments in the Arena with them. But given how universal Neutrals are (along with my lazier-than-ever blogging style), I have only included the top 10 Neutral cards. As is normal with Arena, I focused primarily on the Commons and Rares, with some Epics. If the offering rules are the same, Epics should see more drafts than they did in the past.
Piloted Shredder – Despite the big unknown of whether the 2-drop that comes out of the Deathrattle is Wild-only, or mixed Wild and Standard, it doesn’t really matter. You are getting a 2-drop for the cost of 1 mana antitempo on Turn 4, which is a wash, given the randomness of Arena drafts and hands. The stats on the 2-drop probably favor a bigger body in the Wild format, but it is negligible. Throw in various Mech synergies found in GvG, you have a premium card here.
Haunted Creeper – The supreme 2-drop is high on the list, as it does what a 2-drop is supposed to, win early board fights. You’ve got 7 points of stats in the Haunted Creeper, which is a bit more than the typical 5 points. Given the wider availability of “ping” class cards in newer sets, I can see this card being even better if the Wildfest combines Wild and Standard.
Zombie Chow – Another early game statstick, which plays into the speed meta that was Wild. It’s a 1-drop that can trade into a good number of 2-drops. The opponent healing that comes built-in with Zombie Chow is irrelevant most of the time. Sometimes you may not want to draft it because you have a hyperaggro Hunter list. Sometimes that 5 heal will cost you the game. Chances are that it won’t, and this card will do it’s job.
North Sea Kraken – The cost of 9 was always a bit awkward with this card, as it prevented Hero Power help to clear something that had 5 health. But this card was almost always premium, and was defining in the mana slot. Just like Bonemare had a big Turn 7 impact, this card does the same in Turn 9. With the importance of board trading in Arena, chances are better that Kraken can clear something up. The big minion meta is less good for Kraken, so it remains to be seen whether various Standard format big guys are around.
Bomb Lobber – Always an outstanding pick in the Rare slot, Bomb Lobber usually had value in clearing multiple threats on the board. The 4 damage was almost always good enough to clear whatever was played on Turn 4. While RNG will always make one never lucky, it is relatively controllable with this card. Pretty much on-par with today’s Fire Plume Phoenix and Flanking Strike.
Jeweled Scarab – Discover cards are among the best type of card in today’s Standard Arena. Honestly, Jeweled Scarab was never an amazing card, possibly owing to the card pool available at the time, and what class cards were available. So the power of Jeweled Scarab entirely depends on the rules of Wildfest. Of course, there are important class card considerations, as Jeweled Scarab is seemingly great for Paladin drafts.
Kodorider – An Epic worthy of discussing, as it is a card that it is extremely snowbally, and has a direct presence on the board on Turn 8, producing 16 points of stats. More-so than any other card, if left unchecked, Kodorider will result in the player winning the game outright, due to board value.
Sludge Belcher – We’re starting to see some creep in stats of monsters, but I suspect Sludge Belcher would still be great. Any taunt with that stat line can trade with many smaller minions, and just soaks up damage. Of course, it is dependent on what cards are available in Wildfest, as a relatively frequent pick in Spiked Hogrider completely wrecks Sludge Belcher.
Argent Horserider – Another card that performs very well in the value trading aspect of the game. The card can take out common 2-mana 3/2 minions, and trade even with 2/3’s. Fix any equip spell on this, and the Divine Shield has even more value to take out bigger threats.
Fel Reaver – A polarizing card that draws many parallels to a current 5-mana 8/8 in Bittertide Hydra. Part of what makes Fel Reaver rather good, aside from the stat line is the deception. Inexperienced players will use more mana trying to mill, instead of dealing with the immediate threat on the board. If they have a hand full of cheap cards, the strategy can work. Otherwise, the stats are too much to deal with. This card favors the old Arena format more, when there were far fewer taunts.
Bonus = Flame Juggler (or any other good 2 drop!) – 2 drops collectively are back for Wildfest. Flame Juggler is especially good, as it has a 50/50 chance of dealing with pesky 1-mana 2/1’s, which will show up a bit more. Yes, RNG isn’t the best, and this guy seems to hit face all the time. But bonus damage shouldn’t be scoffed at.
2 weeks ago, I read a Steam-linked article of the top 100 Steam games of 2017. Listed in the “Platinum” rating was the game, Warframe, which I had not heard of prior to reading the article. The magic phrase “free-to-play sci-fi MMO shooter” caught my eye (not surprising), and things went from there. 80 hours of logged gameplay later, I am still a newbie in Waframe, and still having an amazing time. Given that Warframe has taken over my gaming time of late, I figure I will emerge from my blogging stasis and discuss the game.
What is Warframe?
Warframe was released in 2013 by Canadian game studio Digital Extremes (DE). DE is probably most known for work in the Unreal series, and have also contributed in developing the Bioshock series. I will delve into the different gameplay parts of Warframe throughout the article, but the initial description of “f2p sci-fi MMO shooter” doesn’t come close to describing the game. The game probably draws the most comparisons to the Destiny series, given the setting and gameplay elements. An important distinction is that Warframe shows the third-person perspective, while Destiny is first-person.
The planetary travel and resource collection system draw some comparisons to No Man Sky. The hack-and-slash aspect of levels seem a bit like Diablo sometimes. It is just a huge amalgamation of things, and is actually coming up on it’s 5th anniversary. It’s pretty cool that such cool game seemed to have come out a long time ago in game years.
Missions and Quests
Your player character is called a Tenno, and are introduced to the game as an enslaved prisoner. Suddenly, you are told by The Lotus to escape. After this tutorial, you board a spaceship, which becomes your UI for accessing all parts of the game, not unlike the ships in Starcraft II. You start off on Earth, fighting through “nodes,” until you reach a junction to a neighboring planet. Venus acts as the first junction, for example, but you could head off to Mars soon after. You fight a junction guardian as a test to move to the next planet or moon.
There are main quests you complete to move the story along, but every single node is a repeatable mission. Every mission falls into a general type. You have basic Extermination missions, where you just have to kill x things. Spy missions involve stealth, bypasses, and lots of hacking. Excavation and Survival missions typically have no end, and you can keep farming the level for more loot. While missions can be solo or co-op, some objectives are just difficult to do solo. This is when I get into co-op games to get through the mission.
Void Fissure levels are common levels which corrupt the enemies you face. While they aren’t much more difficult than the regular enemies in a level, you can bring your Void Relics to these levels, and unlike a certain rare Blueprint or part.
Further, special events happen all of the time. Alerts pop up in random nodes, which reward lots of game currency, and special items. Two warring factions could be fighting in a node, and you could join either faction. And Syndicates of course. You can join unaligned factions, which initiate you into the group to give perks in rewards. But with joining a Syndicate, you make enemies with other Syndicates, and they send assassins to kill you in the middle of other missions.
As mentioned, Warframe is third-person, where you see your Tenno on the screen all of the time. I personally like third-person over first-person, which is likely a bias of my playing Syphon Filter a ton. Third-person shooters also afford easier usage of cover, but is less realistic.
Like many games, you have health and shields, with shields being regenerative. You can still replenish health by collecting globes or through abilities. You also have an energy meter, for use of your special abilities. Ammo count is fairly typical, with max ammo and clip ammo. The level of your weapons and armor is always shown. Unlike many games, your character doesn’t have something like grenades, but thrown weapons are in the game.
Melee combat is very important in Warframe. Sometimes you need to conserve ammo. Sometimes things get too crowded, and the hassle of reloading in the middle of combat is too dangerous. Sometimes your weapon is just better against a group of enemies. Weapons also provide parry abilities, allowing you to block enemy shots, to preserve health.
And of course, the parkour aspect. Because the Tenno are basically space ninjas, you do many athletic moves to go with the shooting and slashing. These moves include sliding, jumping, doing multiple jumps, wall jumps, ziplining, etc. An experienced player can use parkour skills to get out of hairy situations and just win fights. A forgiving aspect of Warframe I like is that they don’t count fall deaths towards your death limit in a mission. I personally hate “jumping levels,” and they forgive you for bad jumps.
Other than enemies, you interact with the environment around you. You can loot lockers, chests, and resource piles. You do hacking often to open doors, reset enemy alarms, or sabotage the enemy. You interact with hostages and can give them weapons. Wild animals exist as well.
Oh yeah, Archwing missions. You basically fly around in outer space in your Archwing suit, and complete missions. While I have yet to do decently in these missions, they just look really cool if you enjoy staring into the cosmos.
All of your equipment levels up to a max of level 30, which all add up to your Mastery Rank. Your Mastery Rank grants access to buying things, or other permissions.
Your armor is called the titular Warframe, and is basically tied to what special skills you use, and your base health, shields, speed, etc. Primary weapons are all types of big guns like assault rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns, launchers, and various bows. I am finding a liking to sniper rifles early on. Secondary weapons are your smaller SMGs, handguns, specialty pistols, thrown ninja weapons, etc. While secondary weapons are ignored in many games, you are forced to use them in several Warframe missions. Your melee weapon takes up your fourth slot.
You can also equip a companion, either some type of robot or and organic creature. These help you in combat situations, grant you shields, etc.
Everything can also be modded. Your equipment have slots in which you put Mods you find in missions. These grant shield/health buffs, ability buffs, extra damage, elemental damage, fire rate buffs, quicker reloading, etc. Two different elemental mods can be combined in a weapon to provide a new type of elemental damage. For example, Cold + Toxin = Viral. You can further trick out your gear with Orokin Reactions (or Potato), which double the amount of slots in your equipment.
You do all your crafting in the Foundry. Unlike under loot-based games, you don’t find Warframes or weapons looted on the ground. You can only find Blueprints. Blueprints allow you to craft things, so as long as you have the other reagents to craft it. This is where the grindy part of the game comes in, where you must scrounge the universe for spare parts. Collecting basic resources adds up over time, but often you need reagents that are in another planet you cannot access yet. Sometimes you will also need to farm bosses or enemies for drops of Blueprints or parts to craft something. Void Relics and Void Fissure levels do provide some good Blueprints for making weapons and Warframes.
There is also the time aspect for crafting. While it takes a while to scrounge the reagents, the “real” crafting wait is something. Warframes take a 3 full days to make, and weapons usually take 12 or 24 hours. You craft everything you need in the game, and they all don’t take this long, but be prepared to wait.
Market and In-Game Currency
Warframe notoriously uses the slogan, “Ninjas Play Free.” It is a f2p game, but they make you work for being f2p.
Your main in-game currency are called Credits, and they are either rewarded in large sums for Alert missions, dropped by enemies, looted in the environment, or obtained in sales. Platinum are the “pay-to-win” currency, and are obtained with real money. You also obtain Platinum by trading with other players, something a f2p person must do well. Platinum allows you to get good instantly from the Market, and allows you do rush the crafting in the Foundry. While you can still get Warframes and weapons in the Market with Credits and resources, you are getting Blueprints, which come with the added crafting costs and time wait.
The Market also has another myriad of goods. Like many modern games, there is a ton of customization for your Tenno, companion, and spaceship. Various skins, color palettes, sigils, etc can be bought in the Market.
A Non-Toxic Community
There’s a chat window in Warframe, which is mostly spammed for people trying to sell or buy things, which is a real use. I noticed that people aren’t really mean while playing Warframe. As described by people, it is likely a nice community, as the game is almost entirely PvE, and not PvP. This is something I had not really thought about prior, but it seems true. My previous experiences in the Diablo III community were almost always positive, as we were just fighting computer enemies. That’s not to say that people who play Warframe are nice all the time in other games, or IRL, but they are nice when playing the game. This comes in handy when doing co-op, trading, or joining a clan.
The game developers of Warframe are very unique, and makes me think Digital Extremes is something else. DE is small indie game company. The community manager, Rebecca, not only runs many of the video streaming shows, but also is the voice actor for The Lotus. Their devs are the clothing models in the merchandise shop. They are very genuine and seem to have a very transparent process. They’ve been doing Dev Streams and other video media since 2013, when they launched. In Dev Streams, they bring real submitted questions to directly as devs about game progress and what they are working on. They promo new features all the time in dev streams. They also drink beer and admit to being slow, or admit shortcomings in the game.
There is also a cool rewards program setup by Warframe for Twitch. If you watch Dev Streams or partnered streamers on Twitch, you earn in-game rewards depending on how long you watched. They also do raffles for free Platinum, or other rewards during Dev Streams.
An Addictive Grind
I admit I don’t come with the stale bias that veteran Warframe players would have, as I literally just started the game and I am coming in with fresh eyes. But there is something cool about this nearly 5-year-old game, which feels like it could’ve came out in 2018. While the grind of being f2p is a work in progress in Warframe, I still cannot put the game down. I am having a great time playing Warframe now, and look forward to more in the future.