Sunday, 19 October 2014

On Adding Permanent Alternate Queues To Solforge

In which Eon rambles on about the effects adding permanent tournament queues to Solforge, both negative and positive. Opinions are appreciated in the comments section.

Often at the end of Weekend Warrior(s), particularly the Unlegendary and Unheroic queues, there are requests for these to remain as permanent fixtures in the client. It is not difficult to see why, after all, many players enjoy the change in pace brought by a different format, or may not have the collection to compete effectively in Standard, or in the case of phantom drafts, wish to practice drafting without potentially losing a lot of tickets each draft.

That said, what are the more in-depth arguments for (and against) adding different formats as permanent queues?

It serves as a 'stepping stone' for new players

This is especially true for 'budget' formats such as Unlegendary or Unheroic, where the legendaries newer players lack are not present, creating a level playing field. Hence, if newer players are able to build their collection AND remain competitive at the same time, this not only improves the new player experience, but also allows new players a clear path on how to reach a point where they can compete in Standard.

However, it can also be rebutted with the notion that new players would remain content with playing the budget formats and never aim to play Standard or have an incentive to spend money,(which is something SBE needs to keep the game running, by the way.), or 'sharks'; experienced players who would crush the newer players by playing better, which SBE has to some extent by making the prize packs payouts in Unheroic worse to discourage experienced players from entering.

This method of discouraging experienced players however, might also drive players who wish a change in pace by playing different formats (namely Unheroic) away, and goes against one of the reasons why people want alternative tournament queues.

It segregates the player-base

In games that support multiple game modes, or in Solforge's context, formats, adding an additional one causes players to 'spread out' over multiple queues, as players are likely to stick to a specific queue as opposed to playing each queue equally. This may not really seem an issue at first, but increased queue times and more imbalanced matches (people of different records being matched against each other) are a consequence.

For Solforge, this is especially true, due to the relatively small size of the player-base, which may suggest why the alternate formats have been Weekend Warriors, as opposed to full blown formats.

It allows players to practice a format without the fear of losing tickets

More so for 'phantom' formats than the rest, especially draft. A common new player compliant is that they are unable to improve at draft as they don't get to draft often enough, and phantom drafts solve that by offering lower/flatter payouts (you don't get to keep the cards), while being not enticing for experienced players.

However, the same argument could be said that new players would only stick to these 'practice' formats and not play the regular formats. However in the case of draft, where a major lure for newer players to drafting is the part where they keep the cards they draft, this is less so. Personally, I do not see 'practice' constructed becoming a queue of its own, at most, maybe a future implementation of allowing a player to choose a specific format in Random Online games.


This particular write-up was inspired by a chat on a Solforge stream with Foxhull and another person a ways back, where we discussed different formats as permanent queues.

Hopefully you enjoyed my ramblings, and since this topic is both sensitive and something several members of the community are passionate about, I'll love to hear your opinions in the comment section below. 


  1. Great summary of points! The only one missing that frequently comes to mind, is balancing. The Stoneblade team is very small, and have only been focusing on balancing the standard and draft formats (not always to great success). In order for queues such as unheroic or unlegendary to be made permanent, there at least needs to be some diversity to the additional meta-game(s).

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed it, David. I didn't actually think that the state of the metagames of the different formats were a (major) deciding factor in a decision like this, appreciate the insight! Does that mean we might might might see these once those metagames are healthier, the?

    1. Although I can't speak to what the future may hold, I can say that we avidly track the participation levels for each of our weekend warriors; and look for feedback from the player-base via our forums and other social media. If you'd like to see any of these events become permanent, the best thing you can do is play in them and let us know what you think of them on the forums.

  3. To make this game more attractive to playe I would add ASAP the following:
    - Permanent unheroic queues with the payout/prize structure to be used in the next WW.
    - Permanent phantom drafts with the same payout.
    - Formal leaderboards with prizes for the highest ranked

    1. I do like the idea of prizes for topping leaderboards, although that does promote an unstable equilibrium, where the players who do better get better prizes, and are more likely to win more, although it probably too early to claim anything at this point.