Monday, June 13, 2016

Solforge Revisited

There's been a new Solforge client in the works for a good long time. It was released late in May, and it did not go well.
I've barely paid any attention to Solforge for several months, since I wrote about it last November. My feeling at the time was that the game had some interesting concepts in terms of gameplay, but had some technical problems (such as lack of turn timers). It also suffered from the usual TCG issues where the guy with the bigger collection has a huge advantage, and a few popular deck archetypes dominated the constructed play scene.

The Solforge team sent me an email when they released their new client, so I decided to check it out. It was completely unplayable right after release. Just about anything that could go wrong, did go wrong...slow server response, UI bugs in the client, you name it. Things were so bad that the game was put into a testing mode, where you could play basically for free, but no progress would be saved. That was eventually turned off and everyone's account was restored to the pre-testing state, but the fact that it was necessary gives you an idea of how messed up the new client release was.

They're still working on fixing problems, but the game is playable now. The client certainly looks different, with a cleaner user interface. There are still some interface issues, such as changes to cards made during play not always showing up in the UI, but it mostly works OK. I don't really see a major difference from the old client in terms of functionality, to be honest, but maybe I just don't play enough to see how it's better. I did notice that playing a game against the AI no longer counts as a win for daily reward quests, which is a major step backwards, if it's not a bug.

I was pleased to see that a turn timer is in place, although it's a weird implementation. The default timer is three minutes and forty-five seconds, for the whole game. You have 20 seconds to take each turn before it starts to count down. It seems unnecessarily complex to me, but it's better than nothing.

As far as gameplay, nothing seems to have changed. I tried a few constructed games and got destroyed, by opponents who played mostly a bunch of top-rarity heroic/legendary cards. Draft games were a lot closer, although it would take some practice to learn what strategies are actually good. A few cards seemed different from what I remember, so presumably some balance changes have been made since I last played, but I'd have to spend a lot more time to understand the differences.

I don't see anything in the updated Solforge client that gives me a reason to start playing regularly again, even if you leave aside the terrible launch. If the team is looking to improve the game, they need to get back to the drawing board.

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