I talked in the big banlist thread about how adjustments to Jnet might the secret to detoxifying the perceived metagame, lowering the intensity of debates regarding what should/shouldn’t be banned/restricted, and reducing the generalized and quite public dissatisfaction with FFG (which, although probably justified, may be contributing to a compromised health check for the community overall).
One thing I firmly believe is that it’s easier to organize players around common play goals than it is to come up with a set of bans or restrictions for the game at large that does not create a cascade of other consequences.
There are actually two distinct and separate issues being identified by the community in many of the threads I’ve read on bans, restrictions and MWL, and those are toxicity and balance. Part of the problem with the state of the metagame is more to do with toxicity than it is to do with balance. What toxicity means is that a significant enough percentage of the community are not getting what they want out of the game. This invariably turns into a discussion about which cards are good/bad, but I think it’s more nuanced than that. In the banlist thread I talked about sitting down on a Saturday afternoon to play some casual stuff and getting a run of three or four prison PU opponents in a row in the casual lobby. There are games I have no way of winning and are not fun for me. I don’t particularly care whether the issue is Bioethics or whether the underlying problem is that runner economy somehow forces corps into a horizontal strategy. The issue here may be about balance, but I think the bigger issue is that there’s no way on Jnet for people to identify and connect with players who share common play goals and, to some extent, possibly avoid problematic matchups. To me, this is the essence of casual play.
A simple hypothesis, which could verify whether adjustments to Jnet functionality could have an impact on the greater perceived metagame:
- Add a leaderboard page on Jnet itself. Calculate the leaderboard based ONLY on games in the Competitive lobby. (Optional gold-plating could include leaderboard by region, leaderboard by faction, etc.) Do not publish stats based on Casual lobby.
- After a period of time (e.g. one month) run the numbers again. Did the number of Unfinished games in the Casual lobby decrease?
The hypothesis here is that by giving competitive players a more competitive environment and incentivizing bringing your best deck into competitive, the number of favourable matchups and rewarding play situations in the Casual lobby—for casual players—will increase and that this will be evident through a reduction in ragequits. We may see other side effects here as well: 1) with a built-in leaderboard, competitive players would need to play other competitive players in order to increase their ranking. Stomping my Khan deck with your IG Prison doesn’t get you any points, sorry. 2) It may be that discussions about bans and restrictions become clearer and easier to parse if casual players do not randomly, repeatedly, and without much say in the matter, have to face deck archetypes tuned to the highest level of competitive play, which manifest as “broken, unfun, unfair” or whatever the case is.