An month ago when Cryptozoic announced the latest patch included change to the chain mechanics where event triggered ability no longer goes into the chain incited quite controversy, especially ones against the changes. I for one personally felt somewhat against the change as well, mainly not because of the direct impact to what we have now but rather losing flexibility for the future. If you are interested regarding to this topic back when this was originally introduced, you can check here. However, the most recent update actually reverted part of the change. So it’s time to take another look about this topic as this sort of change really affects the overall game’s design direction in the future.
What’s the current version?
On the Chain
About a month ago, we implemented some game changes in order to make the gaming experience more fluid, smooth. We observed players, tested with our own internal teams, and took in feedback posted on our HEX forums. With this latest patch, you’ll find that any triggered effects that target going on the chain. So, triggered effects like Wild Root Dancer and Bombsmith now use the chain whereas Fang of the Mountain God does not. Inspire effects continue to function as they always have, not using the chain.
Basically, the original change was such that all event trigger based ability did not go into the chain i.e. was not able to counter/intercept them.
Why do we have these change?
In short the idea was to minimize the number of “pass priority” clicks. The issue with the original change was that we basically lost too much flexibility at least in theory.
The easiest way to assess whether the most recent change has hit the happy medium or not is to look at the same cases as before and see whether those issues has been resolved/alleviated.
Case: Card casting trigger initiation
This is the case of Adamanthian Scrivener(AS) and Righteous Paladin (RP) synergy mentioned on the official post i.e. 2 adamanthian are already on the board, and you are about to summon Righteous Paladin.
Previous Version: Upon the casting of the RP, it enters into the chain. Each player gets a chance to pass priority. If you pass priority here, RP becomes 4/4, if you want to avoid that you need to kill AS at this stage.
Latest Version: This has not really changed.
Issue: When everything entered into change, you could have killed RP itself while he is still 2/2. But now, the only way to avoid RP becoming 4/4 is to kill both AS, then RP will remain 2/2, and perhaps you can try to kill RP. But clearly this is different as it takes 3 cards to kill RP at 2/2 with new system.
Though may be one can accept this as just a game variation and mechanics. By this I mean, you will have hard time killing RP in above situation with 1 card unless you have 4 damage card; however, the fact other player had set up the board with AS x 2 required some effort there. So it may actually be unfair if RP can be killed as 2/2 when two AS are already on the board.
Case: At the beginning of turn
This is the case of Turreted wall (TW) from the official site article. In this case, imagine your opponent has only 1 more health left.
Before: This is still unchanged and the beginning of turn ability resolves without entering into the chain i.e. opponent’s have to gain health at the latest, during his end of turn phase.
Same as before. With the original version, Blinding light could have saved your opponent’s from the TW by casting it beginning of your turn. Now clearly using blinding light during his turn will not save from the Turreted Wall’s ability, and using your turn will be after the TW’s ability so it is too late. Though just a single scenario here, it demonstrates weakening of the use of the blinding light.
Scenario: Resource Card Trigger
Before: Since resource card casting does not enter chain, the whole +2/+2 occurred without any chance of interruption.
Now: This is essentially the change on the latest implementation of the chain system. Whenever there is a target selection associated with the triggered ability, that will enter into the chain. So now we can actually counter this ability.
Potential has been restored, and expanded
The main reason why I did not like the original change was the loss of flexibility i.e. the potential of the game for the future expansions. However, the most recent update actually not only restored that but expanded the design space.
So why I say this?
Basically what the most recent update did is created two types of the “triggered abilities.” Ones that have target selection, which will enter into the chain i.e. can be countered. The other has no target; therefore, will not enter into the chain i.e. cannot be countered.
So basically developers now have a choice to make triggered ability counterable or not by simply including a “select target” statement. For example, they can even do such against champion if so desire by phrasing such that “When other troop enters into play under your control, select a champion and he will gain 1 health.”
Technically speaking, out of the 3 scenarios only 1 had been really fixed/reverted back. However, from the design perspective and the games potential, I actually like the change. With most recent change, HEX now essentially has two types of triggered abilities one that can be “countered” and the other “non-counterable”. This type of option has expanded the future potential as they can choose what type of abilities should be one or the other.
What do you all think?