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Why Overload is the Worst Mechanic in Hearthstone

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09 Oct 2015 08:00 #212213 by Jackwraith

Overload, intended to be an advantage for the Shaman class, instead is one of the main factors in the class' inability to be competitive in constructed play, largely because it works against the essential tempo of the game.

 

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09 Oct 2015 09:42 #212214 by Gary Sax
Great post! I love seeing people with CCG experience breaking down Heartstone, rather than pure videogame players who have only gotten on board with thinking about these things recently.
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09 Oct 2015 10:24 #212221 by Jackwraith
Thanks. Some card images and the link to Tempostorm didn't make it. I'll try to get those cleaned up.

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09 Oct 2015 13:40 #212235 by Jexik
The totems are pretty cool, and unique to the class.

But they're only what you really want about 1/4 of the time. That new Thunder Bluff Valiant guy is pretty cool.

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09 Oct 2015 14:36 #212237 by engelstein
As an exercise, how could we change Overload to work?

I like the 'borrowing mana from the future' idea. It should really make Shaman a mega-rush deck. However, as you say, the edge isn't enough to carry you through the next turn of low mana.

What we need to do is change the way that the mana is paid back. Here are a few off-the-cuff ideas, most of which are probably completely unworkable:

1. You choose which turn to pay back your Overload debt. It just keeps accumulating if you keep playing Overload cards until you decide to pay it. HOWEVER - You must pay it back the next turn once you hit 10 mana. In other words, Once you hit 10 mana it goes back to the current Overload mechanic.

I like this idea because it gives you more control over what happens. And by 10 mana you often have extra anyway. Also, the decision on when to take it becomes a bit more strategic.

2. Same as #1, but 10 mana you instead take all the overload points as damage, instead of mana loss. Or maybe have a choice or something.

3. Overload doesn't cost you mana next turn. Instead you burn that many cards off of your deck.

All of these ideas will push Shaman into being more of a rush class. But it seems like that's kinda what Overload wants to be anyway.
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09 Oct 2015 15:09 #212243 by iguanaDitty
The overload value is actually life points paid? Obviously not an issue early in the game but could be bad late. Probably too close thematically to where Warlock is at though.

Overload is the same but also allows you to pick which totem you get next? I like this one, it gives you both a benefit and a drawback.

Overload actually hits in two turns? Probably too complicated to keep track of.

Rather than hurt you Overload gives your opponent x mana? This is probably terrible.

I like the burn that many cards off your deck one.

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09 Oct 2015 16:03 #212247 by Erik Twice
That was a great read, as an outsider I can see why it would be poor.

From what I see, I'm not surprised that most of these cards are underpowered or not actually better than the default, non-time consuming spell. It seems misguided to me to try to build the basics of a faction, the meat and potatoes of it, with something as inherently unstable as "get the benefit now, pay later". When it comes down to it, I cannot see any benefit to making a Lighting Bolt (or whatever Hearthstone's equivalent is called) more complicated because the effect is not the interesting part of the card.
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09 Oct 2015 17:04 #212250 by Jackwraith
Engelstein, those are some good ideas. Like Iquanaditty, I think the life point one (although thematically similar to what used to be called "mana burn" in MTG) is probably closer to Warlock territory than Blizzard would like. However, it would fall in line with the "supercharged with the elements" theme that Shaman has been known for in WoW. If Overload burned cards, I'd be even less likely to play it in Control decks for the same reason I wouldn't play Fel Reaver: every card has a precise reason for being present in the deck and I want to draw them faster, not burn them. That concept would work for Shaman aggro, but not for control or combo decks, so we'd probably need something more general.

I like the "pay later" concept best once you get into the superfluous mana stage, but I wonder if that wouldn't be TOO aggro-oriented, such that a Shaman Zoo deck would be so enabled by the speed of Overload that it would be irrelevant for them to pay it on turn 5 once they'd dumped their hand? Of course, that sounds like a mechanic with an actual bonus to it, right? I think what Blizzard is attempting with most of their class mechanics is a bonus for wise play (like Rogue's Combo mechanic) and a penalty for unwise play (also like Combo, because you can easily dump your hand too quickly and stall in the midgame.) The problem with Overload is that it's almost universally poor because of the overall pace of the game, which is something that I think they failed to anticipate (and why Face Hunter is so reviled but also so widely played in order to get out of the lower ranks for the first week of every season.)

I think their approach has been to create ever more powerful Overload cards to try to make the mechanic enticing. But they cut back on the overall power of the cards in the last two expansions (BRM and TGT) such that Totem Golem still isn't generally worth its cost. (TGT has been largely rejected for top-level competitive play because the cards in GvG and Naxx are so much more powerful/useful. Unfortunately, the "power" cards that were supposed to save Shaman still can't compete with the strength and speed of the current meta. My initial thought was simply that Overload needs to be removed. Not all of the classes even have mechanics that identify them. Rogue has Combo, but Mage and Warrior and Priest don't have mechanics. They have themes (Spells, self/minion damage, healing/capture, respectively.) Shaman, OTOH, has two mechanics (Overload and RNG) that are central to the class' play and neither of them are productive in the current game; similar to how Warlock's discard isn't, as most Warlock players go out of their way to avoid it, since random discard in 30-card decks is too high a price to pay for what most of the cards do.

I guess what I'd consider a proper exercise of Overload is a constant presence of the resulting effect. So, you pay Overload for Feral Spirit and next turn both wolves gain +1/+1 or you summon a third. You pay Overload for Lightning Bolt and next turn the static charge it generated hits another random enemy for 2 damage. Either of those effects means that even if you're not able to keep pace with your opponent, at least the mana you're unable to use on that next turn contributes in some way to the board state. Or something more general (in order to minimize card descriptions) such as: You play Feral Spirit and, if you choose to pay the Overload next turn, you get an extra draw at the end of your turn (thus assisting with another significant Shaman problem: draw.) Perhaps there's no choice, as I don't have a good idea in mind for NOT paying it. You'd still lose tempo, but at least you'd gain some card advantage.

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09 Oct 2015 20:06 #212252 by jeb
Would it make any difference if Overload just impacted the next available mana? Like, it's turn 3, I can Rockbiter Weapon {1) and Crackle {2 o1} for the experience we're all familiar with. OR, I could just Crackle {2 o1} and "give up" that third mana this turn. Is that the same? Worse? Better? I feel like it lets you better "control" your Overload, amortizing it across turns. If you are in topdeck mode, a late game Elemental Destruction {4 o5} could make a lot of your deck uncastable next turn in the current regime, but in my proposed regime, it only effects this turn. Curious about your thoughts.

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09 Oct 2015 21:55 #212253 by Jackwraith
Hm. It seems like what it would add up to is a more flexible approach, since if you don't need to use that spare mana, you can use it to fulfill the Overload. But does that mean you'd still be paying the inflated costs of some of the cards? Lightning Storm isn't worth 5 mana. The only reason it's used is because of the lack of options. At this point, I don't think Feral Spirit is worth 5, either, but Bolt and Crackle and a couple others would work better under your proposal. I wonder how the UI would function? Would it just burn the available mana if you didn't use it? That kind of automation would seem to make the most sense.

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10 Oct 2015 01:42 #212259 by Jackwraith
OK. Did some editing to put the pics and the TS link back in.

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