Another Arena season, another boring set of factions

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Patrick of the Isles
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Re: Another Arena season, another boring set of factions

Post by Patrick of the Isles »

Slartibartfst wrote: 18 January 2023, 02:23 Guess we will never see change on this. People who take Arena seriously like to stay in their comfort zone I guess, and the community is going to go with leaders opinions like nerdcubes and raniors, so doubt it will ever change. Just seems a waste to me.
This seems needlessly snarky. I doubt that most folks vote for arena settings based on what people who placed highly in previous arena seasons suggest.

I happen to enjoy many of the same settings that nerdcube mentions, however I don't entirely agree with him that there exists any set of articulable reasons why a particular format is more compelling. I think it comes down entirely to subjective personal preference. For instance, I enjoy playing the game without expansion factions and expansion scoring. I think the choices are more interesting and dynamic. Other folks get more enjoyment out of the game with expansion factions and expansion scoring. I don't think anyone is going to change what gives them joy based on a well-constructed argument - that isn't really how enjoyment works in my experience.

I also think the guru system for determining arena settings is fairly good. A lot of people dislike the system, but taking the people who play the most games and giving them a vote is probably significantly more inclusive than the old way of having forum threads and polls with only a few participants. It's easy to complain about the guru system, but I don't see a clearly superior alternative.

I don't enjoy expansion scoring in Terra Mystica, so I stopped playing arena when it was introduced four months ago. I won't play arena again until it is removed. But I still play several games each week and have a great time, so I don't really understand why people get so focused on what the arena settings are. Just set up a table with the settings you prefer, and likely you'll find some folks to play with if you wait a bit.
Last edited by Patrick of the Isles on 22 January 2023, 00:35, edited 3 times in total.
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ChiefPointThief
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Re: Another Arena season, another boring set of factions

Post by ChiefPointThief »

I agree with Slartibartfst. I am not surprised to see this thread. I was a guru several seasons ago. I was optimistic that F&I would be implemented in the next season. To my surprise any suggestions to make the season less bland had negative votes. What did it for me though was the removal of landscapes. I saw people complaining about landscapes because they are not created equal for all factions. I don't understand what these people wanted. The darklings to get a double spade with priest after placing landscapes or cultists to move up 2 on the cult track for their landscape? Landscapes are meant to try to balance the factions. I came to the realization that if old fashion gurus wouldn't even approve of landscapes then the votes for fire and ice were never changing. So I stopped playing arena. Slartibartfst just move on. No matter the outcome of arena votes someone will be unhappy so just find people who like the settings you like and play with them.

I don't understand the argument that perhaps a fan faction can be too good so lets eliminate them all when that problem already exist in the base game. That is the reason for the introduction of the auction phase. If there are 1 or 2 factions created too strong why can't there be a banlist like in agricola? Right now almost 2/3 of all available factions are not included in competitive play (imo that is ridiculous). The game is evolving for the better. I agree with many of alloran points about f&I and those arguments apply even more for fan factions. Fan factions extremely multiplies the level of "deepness" to the game and extremely lessens the predictability.
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ChiefPointThief
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Re: Another Arena season, another boring set of factions

Post by ChiefPointThief »

nerdcube wrote: 17 January 2023, 02:54 I have been a strong advocate against Fan Factions and Fire and Ice Factions in arena for several reasons:
- They (particularly F&I factions) add a significant amount of complexity and change the game in ways that I think goes against the spirit of TM (as Ranior alluded to)
So just to clarify do you think fan factions go against the spirit of TM and if yes how so?

-
The base game is easily complex enough to support deep competitive play for tens of thousands of games (as has been done for over a decade on another site that supports TM tournaments)
If the base game is complex enough for tens of thousands of games shouldn't the fan factions make it complex enough for even more games? This doesn't go against why fan factions shouldn't be included.

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I believe some level of stability in the competitive format is healthy for the game. It gives space for players to master that more-limited set of content at a very high skill level (as I think should be desirable in a competitive format), it allows content creators to create content for a consistent set of rules, it gives newer players a more stable place to enter the game from, and it gives players who have taken a break from the game an easier way to re-enter the competitive community
Why is someone as talented as you be opposed to mastering the fan factions? Most the players who have been playing for years have at least 1000 games under their belt. Why not take on a bigger challenge? Also me personally if i am a new player I might start off with the base factions. But then I am going to want to take off the training wheels. I don't see how a player who has access to all of the new factions would turn them down.

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We have other ways to "shake things up" (map, expansion scoring, landscapes, etc.) from season to season without doing something as dramatic as introducing more than double the available factions
You must be the life of the party (haha). But seriously this is not shaking things up. Taking away some of these options makes the game more bland and it is what turned me away from arena initially.
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donkeykong66
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Re: Another Arena season, another boring set of factions

Post by donkeykong66 »

My 2 cents to this discussion. Firstly, I think any game suffers to some extent from people annoyed with arena settings. This ranges from player count (can we please appreciate that at least TM arena is still 4p) to very specific settings. This gets exponentially worse when the number of potential settings increases, as it becomes less and less likely that there is actually a majority concensus on the overall settings.

Moreover, I think since the guru system this annoyance has increased, since the guru system gives a sence of "community influence and agreeance" on game settings, despite all the known flaws / issues / quirks with how gurus work. One thing that used to happen for Terra Mystica (a rotating set of settings) would seem like a good solution to me (we could alternate between various popular settings) but that's actually much harder to achieve within the guru system constraints.

As for my personal preferences, I think this season is too early for Fan Factions, primarily because they are still undergoing active changes to them. I don't think many (if any at all) factions are currently TOO strong or TOO weak to not be able to solved by auction. However, this is an actual issue for turnbased games, since any changes made to the factions also apply to ongoing turnbased games, and so suddenly the rules of the factions might get changed mid-game, which is an obvious issue. For future seasons though, I wouldn't be opposed to adding them provided they are in their final form.

I haven't had a ton of experience with F&I factions, but I do think they make the game too chaotic for my liking: the new factions create an asymmetry and imbalance not seen with base factions / fan factions with respect to the colorwheel. Firstly, F&I factions can dig any hex into their special terrain, but special terrains can't be dug into any other terrain. Secondly, one of the best aspects of TM in my opinion is the color wheel and the fact that some hexes are easier to reach for you and others are harder, and this gives a good sense of which hexes are accessible for which faction and vice versa (Giants are the only exception here). However, for fire & ice faction this entire distinction disappears and they usually only care about "is this someone's home terrain or not". These two make expansion a lot more unpredictable (and targeting also somewhat easier), and I guess it's personal preference on whether to include this. I personally wouldn't like it in arena, but wouldn't be opposed to alternating season between F&I factions included and excluded as I think there's a decent playerbase interested in F&I factions.

Lastly, I don't want to speak for others, but let me give some potential / my personal answers to some of your questions
So just to clarify do you think fan factions go against the spirit of TM and if yes how so?
I don't think fan factions go against the spirit of TM, although the F&I fan factions arguably do. I think the main reasons for this have been mentioned above.
If the base game is complex enough for tens of thousands of games shouldn't the fan factions make it complex enough for even more games? This doesn't go against why fan factions shouldn't be included.
I think the argument here is that including fan factions might make it *too complex*. People who want to enter arena now need to learn doubly as many factions (and know how to play them). Think of an extreme case where multiple extra sets of factions come out, and now there are 10 options per color, so 70 total factions. Including all of them would lead to lower quality games, since people suddenly need to master all these factions, and mastering a single faction in a game as deep and long as TM already is quite a feat.
Why is someone as talented as you be opposed to mastering the fan factions? Most the players who have been playing for years have at least 1000 games under their belt. Why not take on a bigger challenge? Also me personally if i am a new player I might start off with the base factions. But then I am going to want to take off the training wheels. I don't see how a player who has access to all of the new factions would turn them down.
This comes down to personal preference I would say. For me even after a couple hundred games playing with "just" base factions doesn't feel like I'm playing with training wheels by any means. I still feel like I'm improving my gameplay in certain situations, for certain factions, and play gameplans and lines I haven't really played before. And I also still get absolutely smashed at times and learn new things about these factions. Let's say that players with 600+ ELO and 1000+ games are at a point where they 85% understand the base factions. They can either be satisfied with that and now move on to new factions, or they can continue playing until they feel like they understand the base factions 95%, 99%, 99.9%, ..... I think whichever option is preferred is highly personal, but as long as people still enjoy the game in the settings they're playing, there's nothing wrong with that.
You must be the life of the party (haha). But seriously this is not shaking things up. Taking away some of these options makes the game more bland and it is what turned me away from arena initially.
I think he's saying that we can also add those options back in. We can alternate between various permutations, and yeah, maybe now some of those might have been taken away, but we can add them back in to still create some more diversity. It's definitely much lower impact than doubling the number of factions available, but still has an impact. Personally I'd throw back in landscapes in a heartbeat since I think they make the weaker factions more viable more often!
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filgalaxy999
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Re: Another Arena season, another boring set of factions

Post by filgalaxy999 »

I am one of the gurus and I proposed Fan Factions and Fire & Ice in the Arena, but unfortunately I was outvoted :(
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deragned
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Re: Another Arena season, another boring set of factions

Post by deragned »

Not everyone has to play Arena, but to me, the format is cool because it tells us what the "default" game is and provides a clear pathway to matchmaking and standardized competition. You're still allowed to have 2p games, 3p games, this faction set on, that faction set on, this map, that map, this set of scoring, that set of round tiles, landscapes, whatever.

But since Arena is the default, I would find it better if it were less complex and more consistent. It's a place of greatly mixed skill levels - masters of the game as well as people with less than 200 Elo all play Arena. I play a ton of Terra Mystica and find that I enjoy experiences with different factions on occasion, but my "default" game is more consistent. The Extra Scoring and Random Maps combination is already overwhelming; I want to know what map I'm getting in Arena even if it's one I'm not a big fan of; the knowledge I gain about the meta from one Revised Base game might not be relevant again until 10 Arena games later, and even then my knowledge in Cluster scoring might not be relevant since the new game has Edge or whatever. The amount of volume required for experience to translate just increases exponentially.

Other people have already articulated the reason that there's more pushback on the Fire and Ice Factions than the Fan Factions - the F&I factions simply change the way the game is played. While each faction has its own way of changing the game, the Ice and especially Volcano/Variable factions are disruptive in a way that is not seen in any non-Giants faction in the base game. While I love TM's interactivity, I already can get frustrated enough by one bad dig. The F&I factions will only exacerbate that.

I'd further add specifically about the F&I factions that they were almost certainly conceived to be a balancing mechanism so that players wouldn't get stuck picking into an unwinnable spot at 4th seat. They're essentially meant to fix the same issue that auction fixes. If the proposal were to play with F&I factions for a season but disable auction then I'd be a lot more interested (though still wary). Since we do bid on factions in the auction, though, that (to me) increases the need for predictability, so that our auction valuation skills are actually useful.

Beyond that, I just don't particularly want to feel overwhelmed when playing a game. There's a ton to think about in a given TM game, a lot of which depends on knowing your opponents' boards. Doubling the amount of knowledge required to track your opponents' boards is not a good thing to me by default. Again, I enjoy occasionally playing those games and do play them at times, but I have no desire for that to be the default format.

Still, while the extra factions are yet to be included, Random Maps and Expansion Scoring look like they're here to stay. As I stated at the top of this message, no one is forced to play Arena. So for the most part I don't. But I'd love to get back to that format for faster queue times and competition with the best again.
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ChiefPointThief
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Re: Another Arena season, another boring set of factions

Post by ChiefPointThief »

deragned wrote: 22 January 2023, 14:07
I'd further add specifically about the F&I factions that they were almost certainly conceived to be a balancing mechanism so that players wouldn't get stuck picking into an unwinnable spot at 4th seat. They're essentially meant to fix the same issue that auction fixes. If the proposal were to play with F&I factions for a season but disable auction then I'd be a lot more interested (though still wary). Since we do bid on factions in the auction, though, that (to me) increases the need for predictability, so that our auction valuation skills are actually useful.
This isn't a bad idea. I also saw someone propose only allowing 1 F&I faction per game so that there is isn't more than 1 "disruptive" faction but like any other idea outside of just having base settings it was shot down. While I am not opposed to F&I factions I do understand why people don't like them. They can be pesky. I am more so advocating for fan factions. If gurus were willing to budge a little seasons ago it wouldn't seem so out of this realm to add more factions. They don't even want to take baby steps towards adding new things to the competitive seen so I am not surprised those same players don't want to dive in head first with dozens of new factions.

I also think that fan factions help the 4th seat and auction problem. In games with low scoring there are more factions now that can generate points in other ways and don't have to go for the standard earth1. Or in low coin games instead of seeing the standard alchemist pick there are more options. There are more counter picks. More cult factions. etc. etc. etc. Even though I completely disagree with some of the opposing opinions in this thread I'm glad they were voiced. What I perceive as extreme bonuses (less predictability and more strategy) others view as a downside.

It would be nice if TM with fan factions could be considered its own game for arena purposes.
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ChiefPointThief
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Re: Another Arena season, another boring set of factions

Post by ChiefPointThief »

deragned wrote: 22 January 2023, 14:07
I'd further add specifically about the F&I factions that they were almost certainly conceived to be a balancing mechanism so that players wouldn't get stuck picking into an unwinnable spot at 4th seat. They're essentially meant to fix the same issue that auction fixes. If the proposal were to play with F&I factions for a season but disable auction then I'd be a lot more interested (though still wary). Since we do bid on factions in the auction, though, that (to me) increases the need for predictability, so that our auction valuation skills are actually useful.
This isn't a bad idea. I also saw someone propose only allowing 1 F&I faction per game so that there is isn't more than 1 "disruptive" faction but like any other idea outside of just having base settings it was shot down. While I am not opposed to F&I factions I do understand why people don't like them. They can be pesky. I am more so advocating for fan factions. If gurus were willing to budge a little seasons ago it wouldn't seem so out of this realm to add more factions. They don't even want to take baby steps towards adding new things to the competitive seen so I am not surprised those same players don't want to dive in head first with dozens of new factions.

I also think that fan factions help the 4th seat and auction problem. In games with low scoring there are more factions now that can generate points in other ways and don't have to go for the standard earth1. Or in low coin games instead of seeing the standard alchemist pick there are more options. There are more counter picks. More cult factions. etc. etc. etc. Even though I completely disagree with some of the opposing opinions in this thread I'm glad they were voiced. What I perceive as extreme bonuses (less predictability and more strategy) others view as a downside.

It would be nice if TM with fan factions could be considered its own game for arena purposes.
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nerdcube
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Re: Another Arena season, another boring set of factions

Post by nerdcube »

ChiefPointThief wrote: 23 January 2023, 21:09 If gurus were willing to budge a little seasons ago it wouldn't seem so out of this realm to add more factions. They don't even want to take baby steps towards adding new things to the competitive seen so I am not surprised those same players don't want to dive in head first with dozens of new factions.
Over the ~3 years I've been playing on this site, the Arena format has evolved from being strictly the base map with no landscapes or other expansions, to including a variety of permutations of different maps, landscapes on and off, and expansion scoring on and off.

Part of the reason why it's frustrating to have discussions like this is the lack of acknowledgement that things have changed and the gurus have budged on various things already. The reasons for not including F&I factions (they are very unappealing to many) or Fan Factions (they are literally an unreleased/Beta expansion) are not because the competitive scene is unwilling to change/compromise.
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