How goes it fellow kids!
Okay, we’re not all kids, but we’re kids at heart! In any case, since we’ve got The Tale of Horus Taver out I want to talk about something real quick. Because I was sharing the previews with some friends in a different Discord Server when this was said:
So I figured now might be a good time to discuss the ultimate boogeyman for card games: Power Creep.
First up, most of what I’ve learned from Power Creep comes from this video from Extra Credits. So quickly watch it and we can get into some details. Got it? Good.
Borrowing from the video, in card games each card has to sit somewhere on a Power Curve based on their cost. That way the designers at Direwolf Digital can agree that 1 Power cards can only be so powerful and that they are, on average, less powerful than 2 Power cards. This is true as we move up the Power Curve. But let’s look at the preview that caused the comment I mentioned above, Dilphex Stalker.
When considering whether Stalker does indeed signal Power Creep, we need to look at comparable cards at that cost and faction, so here are the other units that cost 3T and are 2/2s: Disciplined Amanera and Determined Stranger. And let’s be honest, Determined Stranger is a 3/3 not a 2/2. But anyways, the question we have to ask is “Are any of these cards seeing play in Ranked?” The answer is unsurprisingly “No”. A Lifeforce deck has yet to take off in Ranked and even then the ones that do are using Katra, the Devoted for their shenanigans not a 3 Power 2/2. And no Strangers deck has done well despite Direwolf Digital’s best efforts, although the appearance of new Strangers from ToHT may change that. So Stalker sits comfortably above these two cards within the Time faction. But what if we expand our consideration to all units that cost 3I where I is any one influence? Well, that list expands to include: Fevered Scout, Granite Acolyte, Oni Quartermaster, Praxis Outlaw, Rakano Flagbearer, Rebel Sharpshooter, Sparkbot, Stoneshaker, Ageless Mentor, Amber Acolyte, Avirax Familiar, Dune Phantom, Scorpion Wasp, Auric Sentry, Brightmace Paladin, Copperhall Shieldman, Emerald Acolyte, Fencing Master, Hero of the People, Highbranch Sentry, Loyal Watchwing, Order of the Spire, Silverwing Familiar, Spire Chaplain, Tireless Stranger, Treasury Guard, Valorous Stranger, Cobalt Acolyte, Crafty Yeti, Foothills Alpha, Ice Sprite, Icebreaker, Skyrider Vanguard, Skysnapper, Stormcrasher, Thunderbird, Tundra Explorer, Amethyst Acolyte, Cabal Slasher, Cat Burglar, Direwood Beastcaller, Lethrai Memory-Keeper, Lethrai Nightblade, Ravenous Thornbeast, Shadowlands Guide, Skeeter, and Xenan Destroyer.
Quite the list eh? Luckily a majority of the 49 three Power units don’t see consistent play in Ranked and we can safely assume are significantly below the Power Curve for 3I Units. The ones that do see consistent play, in my experience, is a much smaller list:
Scorpion Wasp, Amber Acolyte, Auric Sentry, Hero of the People, Silverwing Familiar, Ice Sprite, Cat Burglar, Direwood Beastcaller, and Shadowlands Guide. So how does Dilphex Stalker compare here? Well several of these units fill different slots for their decks: Amber Acolyte as a magnificent piece of Influence fixing; Beastcaller is a key piece for Haunting Scream; Shadowlands Guide a centerpiece for the low-to-the-ground Stonescar lists; Cat Burglar living in sideboards for the ETS; Silverwing Familiar to suit up with Weapons; Auric Sentry was already a budget option for Rakano Warcry decks and was given new life thanks to Tavrod, Auric Broker; and Hero of the People as a combo card. Thus Scorpion Wasp and Ice Sprite are the only Units that do a similar job to Dilphex Stalker. But the main question when it comes to Power Creep is this: Do you automatically play Dilphex Stalker over either of these two units? I think the answer here is another firm “No”. Stalker does allow for some card selection, but Stalker can’t deal with large units like Wasp/Sprite can. The upside here is that Stalker can deal with small Aegis units like Bartholo, the Seducer as Reddit was quick to note. With that said, I think it’s safe to say that Stalker isn’t the symptom of inherent Power Creep in Eternal.
Since we’re on the topic, let’s talk about the sentinel in the room: Sandstorm Titan.
Any conversation about power cards in Eternal begins and ends with our old friend Darude. How does this relate to what we’ve just talked about? Well Sandstorm Titan probably defines the Power Curve for 4II units in Eternal. While cards like Tavrod or Heart of the Vault can be made that are more powerful than Titan, both of the aforementioned cards are multifaction and cost more Power than the Titan. However the moment that Direwolf Digital makes a card that costs 4II that makes Titan obsolete, then we can talk about Power Creep. Also, for what it’s worth, I think that Tavrod and Heart of the Vault define their Power Curves as well for 5 and 6 cost multi-faction units.
I guess with that example out of the way we should finally discuss the main question, “Should we be worried about Power Creep?” The answer, for me at least, is “No.” Power Creep is a problem that DWD has to manage to ensure the longevity of their game. And luckily there exists 20+ years of CCGs managing Power Creep to learn from. Magic: the Gathering, Pokemon, Yu-gi-oh, and Hearthstone have all taken slightly different approaches that would require someone with more design experience than I to fully detail. Regardless, I have faith that DWD won’t throw us to the wolves.
As always you can give me comments/questions on Reddit, the Discord, or Twitter @jwiley129. Thanks so much for following along and I’ll see y’all next time!