Reverse speed is the only ruleset that actively punishes leveled cards
For this week's battle challenge, I thought I'd highlight something unrelated to the card of the week (Spineback turtle, an amazing cheap tank! check it out) based on a recent battle I had.
My daily quest was Fire, which I don't often use and have nothing leveled in the splinter.
(My fire collection is not...fire. Although I have more fire launchers than I realized so that's cool!)
I was chugging along, mostly losing but occasionally winning with smart plays when I came across the following ruleset:
Reverse speed, 34 mana cap, and Fire, Water, Earth and Death available. Looking at my opponent's previous few battles they had Mylor, so I figured winning with a melee team was unlikely. But my Death team (my main) is pretty fast and doesn't fare great in reverse speed (with the exception of Lich, who is baller). So I figured why not, as most of my fire team is pretty slow.
I started with Tarsa, the default fire tank: Living Lava, and then backed it up with Molten Ash Golem for the beefy 9 HP. I then just chucked in a few slow hard-hitting guys: tenyll striker, sand worm, and spy (the last one not being so slow, but cheap and hard hitting). Then chicken in back because chicken gonna chicken.
On seeing my opponent's team, 1) I was surprised they went Tarsa and not Mylor, 2) while not a mirror match, we had similarish teams and 3) I was behind in levels on every single creature 4) was very sure I was going to lose (I even skipped the battle and was shocked to see I had won).
The reason I won is clear from the first round. My guys were slower and so they went first, knocking out some of the enemy cards before they could attack. (Although chicken in back was a pretty good placement, I'll admit). Then the first hit of round 2 was my sand worm killing the enemy sand worm because mine was unleveled and had lower speed. It was all downhill from there.
Why Reverse Speed leads to Negative Play Experiences (NPE)
Obviously I won not because of my own skill (I forced a bad splinter for me into a ruleset that sort of went well), but because of my opponent's bad decision (not sure why they went tarsa and chose a 5-speed reach card instead of going mylor) to use leveled cards. I won because I had worse, cheaper cards with lower speed so they went first.
Reverse speed is the one ruleset that almost invariably favors weaker cards (there are some rules that can prefer weaker cards such as no melee meaning you can take an unleveled chicken but not a leveled one, but these are offset by other rulesets favoring the opposite such as only melee meaning you can only take a leveled chicken). Speed almost always goes up (even if just by a point or two) as levels occur, meaning lower level cards will often beat high level ones all else equal.
This leads to negative play experiences: a clearly better deck being beaten by a clearly worse one. And this is pretty much only possible in the Reverse Speed ruleset. Fortunately, it doesn't look like @mirokun got tilted by this fight, as they went on to wipe the floor on a bunch of others, but losing that one can't have felt great.
Some potential changes to Reverse Speed
As a result of the above, I do think Reverse Speed would benefit from some changes. Here are some possibilities:
- Remove Reverse Speed. I don't love this, as I actually really enjoy the ruleset, and would miss the strategy of it. But this would fix the problem.
- In reverse speed matches, speed increases on cards are subtracted from their base speed. This would be my preference, but I don't know how hard it would be to code. Given how bloodlust is able to remove speed in reverse speed matches, I think some of the infrastructure is there to do it. It also wouldn't completely fix the problem, as cards with 1 speed couldn't get faster (e.g. sand worm would stay at 1 speed), but it would mean that leveled cards were at least as good as unleveled ones.
Upvote my suggestion
I've added a suggestion to splinterlands feedback for the 2nd option above. If I've convinced you this is a good idea at all, please go there and vote on it!