As one half of The Duel Assessment Podcast, it would be remiss for me to not address important things happening in the game and in the community. Given I had complete control of all topics discussed on Episode 70, I was negligent in not knowing about #iwantmygems before I recorded that episode. As these opinions do not reflect that of the podcast as a whole, I am writing about it on my personal site here.
How #iwantmygems started
The Duel Island – Gladiator Beast event kicked off in Duel Links late last week. The event, which was fairly well-received the first time around, has a lottery bag reward system. Your duel assessment translates into coins, and every 30 coins will yield one reward. Rewards range from cards (UR to N), keys, jewels (UR to R), gems, gold, and keys. All prior lottery bag events had a gem reward range from 1 to 15. This event inexplicably just offers a gem reward of 1 gem.
People were outraged by this gem nerf, and duelists primarily from Brazil started the #iwantmygems movement. The demands were to give Duel Links a 1-star review on the App Store or Play Store, and basically be angry about the gem nerf, and include a hashtag (like any “movement” nowadays).
Any of the drama surrounding this event involves Brazilian streamer, Renan Sparrow, and American streamer, DKayed. They basically asked DKayed to be part of #iwantmygems, DKayed did not side with them, and said there are bigger issues to be had in Duel Links, and things escalated from there. I won’t speak much more about this particular drama as to not stoke the flames, but things got to the point that the original poster on Reddit for #iwantmygems even apologized in behalf of the Brazilian Duel Links community that was being toxic. That is pretty telling which side took things too far here.
Another questionable decision by Konami
It seems every time Konami does something good in the name of Duel Links, they do a few things back to reverse it. This gem nerf for Duel Island – Gladiator Beast seemingly makes no sense at all. We are currently about 3 weeks from the release of the next MiniBOX, assuming something were to drop with the conclusion of the World Championships. The recent Burning Nova BOX was strife with mediocrity, and possibly did not sell as well as other boxes. Did Konami make this gem nerf in response to people only using gems to buy the box? Or is this a long-term change for all lottery bags moving forward? In any case, Konami is making plenty of money thanks to Duel Links, and such a move just looks greedy, without any potential benefit for the company. There could have at least been some sort of PR explanation, or patch note documentation for it.
Gems at stake
The average gem gains from a previous lottery bag of 10 draws was probably around 5 gems. 15 and 10 gem rewards were very rare, and you got some 5s and 1s. The average gem gains from a lottery bag of 10 draws now is probably less than 1, with the dilution of gem reward quantities. So losing out on about roughly 4 gems per 10 draws (300 coins) definitely adds up.
My question is how many people actually took advantage of past lottery bag events. There is a set number of Duel Island duels you can do at one sitting, with potions to replenish this number. Do people literally spend all day on the phone/computer to grind out these events? I know I am not the only person who doesn’t do this thanks to other life commitments, like work or school. Even someone with unlimited free time likely has an opportunity cost in getting other things like Ranked rewards in Duel Links, or even spending time playing other games. It seems extremely strenuous to just grind The Duel Island event endlessly for extra gems.
This leads to the question of PvE cheats. Are the main angry people mining PvE events, while they are inactive or sleeping? It seems like the amount of gems missed out on isn’t that big for anyone who isn’t using a PvE cheat. To really lose out on a ton of gems, you have to be doing some kind of mining of the event for gems.
Movements, politics, gaming communities
I personally hate social media movements and their inherent ties to politics. I actively put on a lot of Twitter modifications (e.g. changing trending tweets to Norway, muting words, muting accounts) to actively avoid politics, given my disgust of current politics from both American political parties. There was a time when Twitter was your own personal space that was not muddled by frankly, crap. I still can get behind a movement, like Net Neutrality, but I am definitely wary of any misinformation from those on “my side.”
My own opinions are largely shaped by my living in Baltimore for 10 years. The riots resulting from the death of Freddie Gray and post-response by the Baltimore government changed me. The riots themselves were mostly of a mob mentality, which the Baltimore news media and government claims were started by “outside instigators.” It was a boiling over of bad tensions from Baltimore Police and the community. Despite the honest need for an outcry regarding social justice, a lot of negative externalities happen when a city experiences wanton destruction. Not only were innocent people hurt just for being around, but there were likely bigger negative impacts for businesses and economy. Post-riot, a lot of band-aids were put on, and nothing really changed that much. A lot of stuff was done to shake up the Baltimore Police Department, and then the city experienced all-time highs in homicides in the following years. So that is why I don’t care much for movements.
Back to Duel Links! I’m sure the organizers of #iwantmygems wanted to provoke something to get the attention of Konami. Hurting the reviews of the game and getting attention of content creators/streamers work towards that. But in the way of the mob mentality come a lot of trolls who just want to see the world burn. I personally have been around long enough in the Hearthstone Reddit community to know that many gamers can literally complain about anything. When I played Hearthstone every day, I did complain a lot about Arena. I complained with many concerns the ArenaHS Reddit community had, which most of the playerbase won’t even take a second to think about. After a while, I stopped caring, and my Hearthstone-related complaints are all but gone.
The #iwantmygems movement cares about Duel Links, too much maybe. I can see truly f2p players feeling shafted, losing their biggest funnel for gems. But at the same time, when you band under a hashtag movement, everyone starts pushing their own agenda, it becomes a muddled mess. Throw in the mob mentality of people just wanting to fuck stuff up, and you have the added toxicity that the world can do without.
Gems would be nice… but
As pointed out by many, the #iwantgems movement is a bit mislead in staking this as the biggest problem in Duel Links. It is a short-term solution that ultimately is a drop in the ocean of gem-spending demand. Just a little fix that can get you high for a couple hours in a multi-year span of drug addiction. Here are some known problems with Duel Links.
Truly f2p players have to be very selective in what they buy in order to be competitive. I was able to play Fur Hires by spending 6400 gems and $1.99. And that was being lucky with the $1.99 SR to get a 3rd Beat! That is almost a maximum supply of gems spent for a f2p deck. To play any deck with 3 of BOX UR is extremely expensive.
Keys and gold are useful resources up to a certain point. I remember being out of certain keys when farming gate duelists, and even being low on gold at one point. Once you hit a critical mass though, they become almost useless. To the loyal fanbase that has logged in for hundreds of days straight, the fact that these comprise a good percentage of duel or lottery rewards feels bad.
Lack of options
As suggested by Timmy Chiew on our latest podcast, there isn’t another game mode once you have hit King of Games on Ranked. Fighting standard duelist is basically a slow mining operation, and any events are basically the same but for new cards. There isn’t another game mode to invest time in.
Harmless suggestions to fix Duel Links
Almost every digital card game today has a secondary resource for crafting cards. You can disenchant cards you don’t want or extras, to add towards building any card of your choice. Yu-Gi-Oh! seemingly has never had this system. And frankly, I am okay with them not having a crafting system, just to be different. I would like something to get closer to that, without being that though.
In the earliest datamines for this game, there was a D.D. Trader who was hinted to function in this regard. That idea was scrapped, but something can still be done. If there could be a system where you trade in a SR or UR from a box, throw in some resources, and get a random other SR or UR from the same box, it would be like a gambling system to work towards the card you want. While RNG will definitely screw people over, it is something to work towards. It is a way to make useless cards have some value. Also, it is a way to encourage people to buy a box to obtain those SRs/URs for transmuting.
More dream tickets
Dream tickets should be more available, at least once a month. They should be tacked on as a Ranked reward at 150 wins, which would encourage people to actually play Ranked duels. These are probably the one resource in the game that saves people most gems, without being too backbreaking to the company making money.
Draft mode akin to Hearthstone Arena
Draft mode is always difficult to balance, and it would be very difficult to do so in a Yu-Gi-Oh! game, given the gazillion archetypes and network synergies involved. Still, a useless spell/trap still has value in being set as a decoy, and a monster still has stars/attribute/type/attack/defense to be considered a monster on the board. So it could work!
As mentioned, I was really into Hearthstone Arena. In fact, I played so much Hearthstone Arena that I have too much dust. So I made enough resources for Hearthstone, just by being a little above average as an Arena player. In Hearthstone, you pay 150 gold or $1.99 to play Arena, and you roughly break even at a 3-3 run, where 0-2 wins would be a net loss. Anything 4-12 wins will net some profit. Duel Links could charge a similar fee, by doing draft mode at the cost of 100 gems, guaranteeing just a pack (50 gem value) at a 0-3 run. This would not only provide a challenge new game mode for draft fans, but also reward better players with some gem economy.