The developers of fantasy card game Faeria [official site] are cutting a major pack of cards from the game’s shop. Until now the game had offered a Core Set with 256 cards for $50. But developers Abrakam are ripping that out for “the greater good”, saying that it gave too much power to those willing or able to pump the money into their card collections, while others were grinding to earn the same cards in random drops. They explain everything in a candid blog post where they admit that the community is likely to be split over the changes.
Faeria is a fantasy CCG along the lines of Hearthstone but played on a hex-filled board of mountains and other obstacles that each player shapes and builds as they go along, trying to damage one another to death. I haven’t played it (still satisfied by Duelyst, thanks) but a lecherous peep at the thumbs-down reviews it has on Steam shows that some players felt it was too much of a ‘pay to win’ game. This may go some way to explaining the changes. But here’s the developers reasoning:
The major problem caused by the core set is that it deflates the value of grinding and progression in the game to too great an extent, by creating an uneven benchmark against which to compare to. Both our game data and survey responses confirm this conclusion that its impact on players who don’t buy the core set is too strong, and affects too large of a portion of our playing community.
We considered many alternate ways of working around this problem: by changing the price of the core set, splitting it up into chunks, or even the idea of returning Faeria away from the F2P model entirely – but each of these options would do too little, and with likely even worse side-effects.
In other words, buying the core set put those ‘paid’ players at such an advantage to regular ‘grinding’ players that it was making matches frustrating for the free loaders. And given that those grinders made up the majority of the game’s audience, the decision was made to side with them over the ones with all the dollah dollah bills.
But the decision will likely annoy others, the devs admit. Players who enjoyed the game – but who didn’t have time to grind up to accrue the huge libraries of cards of other high-tier players – would buy the Core Set and be happy. Now that the set is going to vanish, those types of players will have to hop on the treadmill just like everyone else. Which not only demands time but also arguably makes it more likely you’ll end up spending even more money on the game’s random booster packs just to get the full collection. And, as ever, the law of diminishing returns comes into play. It’s a very familiar free-to-play conundrum.
The developers say they are changing other things to make the treadmill a little faster, however. Instead of the Core Set there will be Starter Sets available to buy, for new players who want to a less-overpowered kickstart into the game. Meanwhile, those booster packs – containers of five random cards that you earn over the course of games, similar to Duelyst’s Orbs and Hearthstone’s own booster packs – are also becoming ‘Battle Chests’. These will be more or less the same as now but will also allow you to re-roll the highest rarity card you receive for another rare card at random. You can read about other changes in the full blog post. Unless you are already playing Faeria and know all of this already, in which case: WHAT IS GOING ON? DO YOU LIKE THIS?
This is all due to take effect on October 12 with the game’s upcoming patch. It is still in early access at the moment, so yet more balancing acts are likely to follow.