FRA 2.0 Review - Initial Thoughts

    • FRA 2.0 Review - Initial Thoughts

      FRA 2.0 has been out for a week now. While I love the new set, the FRA is now something fairly different from the original. Within this review, I'll talk about why. There is also a fairly big caveat to this whole thing which is simply, maybe HEX simply decided on a change of direction (which is fine, but sad - for me anyway).

      A bit about how I play the game and why probably helps here. I really love that this is an outlet that I can be creative in. I'm not the world's most creative person (by far!), but deck building, when it strikes me, is something that I find extremely fun! FRA allowed me to make MANY decks and bring them against a variety of foes to test how I did and how well I might have solved the puzzle. The example of "the puzzle" for me is facing off against War Bot - while still sticking to the core theme of the deck. Virtually all of my decks included some artifact troops so that this wasn't an auto-loss. On the other end of the spectrum was Xarlox, which I pretty much gave up trying to beat and just relied on luck. Heh.

      For FRA 1.0, I had made 38 decks. Every deck had a different theme which allowed me to do something fun. Even when my guild (Cornerstone!!!) had forums, I had started a series on running a deck through the FRA and its stats. It was fun to do, but it came near the end of me running FRA which was simply due to - I had farmed everything multiple times and was having more fun farming AZ2. Now, I always looked forward to HEX hopefully updating the FRA with new toys, and now at least that part has come true.

      A quick sampling of deck names: R Drift Away, DR Pets, WS Holiday Control, D Phantoms, DSR Royalty, SB Death Sentence.

      I had a simple rating system of 1-3 and a notes section where I wrote ideas on how to improve the deck as needed. For example, my B Vampires deck has this note: "Need to rethink Renner with Spiders". Heh.

      I probably had a roughly equal amount of tier 1 and tier 2 decks with a smattering of tier 3 decks (I've changed ratings post-FRA 2.0 so I don't have the exact numbers).

      Here are some stats from FRA 1.0:
      • 164 total runs through. Some of this is weighted on the GenCon times for those packs of course. Never met the Dragon. BOO!
      • 2,391 wins.
      • 283 losses.
      • 449 marks (a more accurate loss number actually). So, generally losing roughly a bit more than 1 in 6 games).
      • 56 Tier 1 losses.
      • 157 Tier 2 losses.
      • 134 Tier 3 losses (making it to Tier 3 happened less than getting to Tier 2).
      • 84 Tier 3 losses (and making it to Tier 4 happened even less).
      • I have no doubt that Xarlox and War Bot ended most runs, and I don't want to count individual losses against each foe.
      What I loved about FRA 1.0 was the vast variety that I could bring into the Arena! It was a fun place to go, even after the AZ's were released. FRA allowed me to be at my creative best and really have some fun with everything that HEX created. Now, another note is that I don't own 4x every card nor am I close to that. I use what I open in (now) Evolution tournaments and what I win in the Arena and the AZ's. It's a substantial amount of cards, but not near "complete". It is more than enough to have fun with - in FRA 1.0.

      So, what about FRA 2.0?

      Initially, I started with a one of my better decks. WR Stompy with updates from newer cards. I got owned pretty quickly and finished at 6-3. I moved on to two other of my (previous Tier 1 decks) and they both finished at 10-3. I finally brought in what I thought was my best recent deck which is my D Phantoms deck. It got killed at 5-3. I tried a few more decks - mostly quicker ones. I managed 13 wins and 11 wins. I finally just picked a deck that I thought would play well in FRA 2.0 and got walloped with 7-3.

      All of this was telling. It spoke volumes of what FRA 2.0 was in its current incarnation. Meanwhile, I was reading through the various threads in the forums and found that fairly interesting. Folks loved or hated the new difficulty. Most disliked the nerf to various cards (which I don't have). Those that loved it tended to be of the mindset of "adapt" while those that disliked it tended to point out that "it narrowed decks to use."

      I understand the former and appreciate folks liking the challenge. I mostly am empathetic to the latter in that pretty much all of my 38 decks are now useless in FRA 2.0. So, I net-decked and built the TerrorMill deck. It's un-fun mostly. It does its thing and does it well. I went and farmed two more Gifts and the 2/2 Vennen guy and am running through it for the third time. 14 wins on try #2 and was easily the best run yet. I'm currently in the middle of run #3 where I have 4x of the gifts and vennen finally.

      I don't mind the difficulty ramping up a bit from FRA 1.0, but what happened here just feels awful. HEX stripped away the best parts of the FRA and simply made it a farming exercise of the best net decks. The problem with this is that (as others have pointed out), this will happen regardless. So, why change it so drastically?

      Every deck seems so much better tuned. Decks can win in 3-4 turns. I can't play my cards. THIS isn't why I play a card game and now I can't do this!!! I want to play the cards that I bought from HEX. That no longer is viable. That definition is now so narrow as to be ugly and un-creative. I have seen more rare and legendary cards in FRA 2.0 than are in most every one of my decks. I'm talking about quite hard to deal with rare and legendary cards here! From my perspective, the devs simply went too far. I thought the FRA 1.0 difficulty was "close" as it allowed me to play a wide variety of decks. Yeah, during the GenCon event, I rolled my best deck (DR Pets) through there for farming during a timed event.

      If you didn't catch it - I can't play my cards!

      If I could ask the question to the HEX devs, I might ask, "What was wrong with the difficulty as it was before?" or "Why was it bad that some folks liked to roll through and farm it fast?" or "Seems like FRA 1.0 allowed folks to play how they wanted, why change it so drastically?"

      Bottom line (tl;dr): This isn't fun anymore for sure. I hope this direction doesn't infiltrate other areas of the game since it just marginalized what I do in Hex (the game). I also hope that they roll back the decks that are so crazy now (if you don't play TerrorMill or some super rush deck, it's almost pointless). Make the Arena fun again please!

      Thanks for reading and happy gaming!
      Taleisin
      Cornerstone Guild
    • For be truly i'd like have more gold than iten, mostly if the arena have this difficult setup, i spoke with many people and everyone said the same thing, half was for use the Terrormill, and the other half have stop to play it cause farm on the campaign was more easy and fast.
      I used create many fun decks (fun don't mean weak) and end the arena even with perfect runs, but right now, even my best deck can't afford that, and i don't would hate that if it didn't took me hours for 2k or 3k gold, because we all know about how much value will have our spare items in few weeks... so i really prefer can keep this difficult (cause i think is stimolating) but put a higher rewards in gold
    • I like the idea of new champions and updated (additional?) loot. Gold seems down already. I would run this with a plethora of decks like I used to to farm stuff and have fun even though the gold is lessened. It simply feels mindless to me now and that is really un-enjoyable.

      I'll compare that to running (farming) TGMG or RoK in AZ2 which I do for gold (=Chark Mart packs). I don't mind this as I can still run a variety of decks through if I want (albeit more tuned ones for farming now).
    • I think we are just being asked to diversify which sandbox we play in. Arena was an easy stepping stone in the past, where you could get away with any deck you designed well, and win. New arena is asking more of us as deckbuilders to be able to simply win. Some of that is using a narrow set of cards to deal with difficult encounters. The list will expand, but harder content will feel more restrictive.

      I think it is important for HEX to always in BOLD font, with Red warning signs, tell players, in client, what is expected of them, for the content they are playing. Like even hover text on the collection tab when you toggle to Frost Ring Arena, for deckbuilding.

      Being able to easily beat old push-over content might be fun for how far outside the the box we can go in deck design, but it did not feel, especially as you get better at building decks, to be challenging at all.
    • I've participated in other threads about this. While we're all here, I may as well add a touch more. For one, Since most of the talk has been about what we don't like, I'd like to mention a couple of the things they got right. I think the Construct Forman and Avalanche Giant encounters are much better tuned but they're some of the most exciting fights in the arena. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but I enjoy the games each time. The new Phenteo encounter also seems well constructed and well balanced. Again, sometimes I win, sometimes not, but the anticipation and back and forth feels "just right."

      On the flip side, the FRA is now a puzzle, not a sandbox. That's ok to a degree, but such an approach is probably better implemented in smaller sized content rather than FRA.

      All in all, FRA isn't awful. Even if you're getting blasted in tier two, you can farm tier 1 and still obtain loot. It just seems the FRA punishes conventional decks and play styles.

      Also, does anyone have a Ruby/Wild deck that can clear FRA or is R/W prohibited now?
    • ShinGuard wrote:

      I've participated in other threads about this. While we're all here, I may as well add a touch more. For one, Since most of the talk has been about what we don't like, I'd like to mention a couple of the things they got right. I think the Construct Forman and Avalanche Giant encounters are much better tuned but they're some of the most exciting fights in the arena. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but I enjoy the games each time. The new Phenteo encounter also seems well constructed and well balanced. Again, sometimes I win, sometimes not, but the anticipation and back and forth feels "just right."

      On the flip side, the FRA is now a puzzle, not a sandbox. That's ok to a degree, but such an approach is probably better implemented in smaller sized content rather than FRA.

      All in all, FRA isn't awful. Even if you're getting blasted in tier two, you can farm tier 1 and still obtain loot. It just seems the FRA punishes conventional decks and play styles.

      Also, does anyone have a Ruby/Wild deck that can clear FRA or is R/W prohibited now?
      Ice been running some W/R elf-aggro deck, which managed to clear arena for my first runs with it. Last 2 times didnt really get far after T2 boss.
      It seems to work sometimes though.
    • This is a terrible comparison I know but if you look at the hard content in WOW (I have no idea what it's been like for the last 5-6 years, I'm referring I guess to the t5 raid content I played and beat back when TBC was the current xpac) there's a very narrow set of gear and a high degree of skill required to beat said content and it took us as a guild of mostly scrubs that spent more time taking the piss out of each other than playing seriously 3 weeks for both Kael and Vashi raiding 4 nghts a week to down for the first time. My question is should the same principle exist in Hex? Should anyone be able to throw together a deck of random cards and blitz the difficult content while watching netflix as we did with FRA 1.0 or should those that take the time to test and research and, god forbid, invest in the game be rewarded with the spoils of success? How accessible should the hardest tier of PVE be?
    • TheBlackCrypt wrote:

      This is a terrible comparison I know but if you look at the hard content in WOW (I have no idea what it's been like for the last 5-6 years, I'm referring I guess to the t5 raid content I played and beat back when TBC was the current xpac) there's a very narrow set of gear and a high degree of skill required to beat said content and it took us as a guild of mostly scrubs that spent more time taking the piss out of each other than playing seriously 3 weeks for both Kael and Vashi raiding 4 nghts a week to down for the first time. My question is should the same principle exist in Hex? Should anyone be able to throw together a deck of random cards and blitz the difficult content while watching netflix as we did with FRA 1.0 or should those that take the time to test and research and, god forbid, invest in the game be rewarded with the spoils of success? How accessible should the hardest tier of PVE be?
      The interesting thing about this comparison is that WoW, with all its massive income from 5+ million subscribers, has steadily worked with every patch and every expansion to make those raids more and more accessible to the masses. Why? Because $$$. Customers don't like so much attention being paid to content they won't ever get to experience. There's a lesson there.
    • TheBlackCrypt wrote:

      This is a terrible comparison I know but if you look at the hard content in WOW (I have no idea what it's been like for the last 5-6 years, I'm referring I guess to the t5 raid content I played and beat back when TBC was the current xpac) there's a very narrow set of gear and a high degree of skill required to beat said content and it took us as a guild of mostly scrubs that spent more time taking the piss out of each other than playing seriously 3 weeks for both Kael and Vashi raiding 4 nghts a week to down for the first time. My question is should the same principle exist in Hex? Should anyone be able to throw together a deck of random cards and blitz the difficult content while watching netflix as we did with FRA 1.0 or should those that take the time to test and research and, god forbid, invest in the game be rewarded with the spoils of success? How accessible should the hardest tier of PVE be?
      I am all for hardcore WoW TBC era content when raid is here. I always thought FRA is a mid-tier content rather than end-game raid(to compare with WoW, FRA to me is like those dungeons you go with a matchmade party from level 20 onward). Those contents are not as easy as those quests and normal mobs in the world map(campaign here in terms of difficulty level) but they are not super hard either. I feel like if they overtune FRA now, they are going to have harder time making raid difficult enough to standout in the future unless they make the boss having hard counter to a lot of things. I feel like there are a lot more to come in PvE and difficulty should be progressive.

      Also, a difference between WoW(or most MMORPG) and Hex is how we build up our characters. In WoW, we care about build and gear. I have only limited experience in WoW but the gear progression is pretty linear I'd assume? Say there are 6 raid dungeons, you start from the easiest one and you get the gear to proceed to the tougher one. A card game is never that linear. Sure, there are power creeps in which a card is superior to the others while providing the same usage, but card game is all about building a lot of different, unique decks and play with them. So a closer comparison is build. And if we are talking about build, I think Path of Exile or Dark Souls are better comparisons. Part of the charm of PoE and DS are their seemingly endless possibility of builds you can make and try. That sounds like a Hex to me, the game has all of these cards, now make a deck(equivalent of build)! PoE and DS build path is not linear like WoW is what I am focusing here. Without linear progression, then limiting people into a narrow set of (workable) builds seem like the opposite of what the game should provide to me.

      As for raid, I would be fine if they forced us into narrow set of builds there. It is okay there because each dungeon is themed and specifically designed, so it makes sense to have specific strategy to each of them, similar to campaign's dungeon but much harder. FRA, to me, feels like a free-for-all mode that has encounters of all archetypes. For this kind of content, I think all archetypes should be viable. You lose because you did not build the archetype good enough, not because your archetype is hard-countered. I am all for difficulty as long as it's not about hard-limiting any archetype from working.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Goliathus ().

    • Zurai wrote:

      TheBlackCrypt wrote:

      This is a terrible comparison I know but if you look at the hard content in WOW (I have no idea what it's been like for the last 5-6 years, I'm referring I guess to the t5 raid content I played and beat back when TBC was the current xpac) there's a very narrow set of gear and a high degree of skill required to beat said content and it took us as a guild of mostly scrubs that spent more time taking the piss out of each other than playing seriously 3 weeks for both Kael and Vashi raiding 4 nghts a week to down for the first time. My question is should the same principle exist in Hex? Should anyone be able to throw together a deck of random cards and blitz the difficult content while watching netflix as we did with FRA 1.0 or should those that take the time to test and research and, god forbid, invest in the game be rewarded with the spoils of success? How accessible should the hardest tier of PVE be?
      The interesting thing about this comparison is that WoW, with all its massive income from 5+ million subscribers, has steadily worked with every patch and every expansion to make those raids more and more accessible to the masses. Why? Because $$$. Customers don't like so much attention being paid to content they won't ever get to experience. There's a lesson there.
      And hence the Hard Modes right? Blizzard has catered for the casual player with normal difficulty and to that 1% with, is it Mythic difficulty? I guess Hex PVE is still in it's infancy so doesn't have the luxury of mile after mile of content but as FRA 2.0 is currently 'end game' my question still stands....should this area of play be accessible to everyone with any deck they can throw together?
    • TheBlackCrypt wrote:

      Zurai wrote:

      TheBlackCrypt wrote:

      This is a terrible comparison I know but if you look at the hard content in WOW (I have no idea what it's been like for the last 5-6 years, I'm referring I guess to the t5 raid content I played and beat back when TBC was the current xpac) there's a very narrow set of gear and a high degree of skill required to beat said content and it took us as a guild of mostly scrubs that spent more time taking the piss out of each other than playing seriously 3 weeks for both Kael and Vashi raiding 4 nghts a week to down for the first time. My question is should the same principle exist in Hex? Should anyone be able to throw together a deck of random cards and blitz the difficult content while watching netflix as we did with FRA 1.0 or should those that take the time to test and research and, god forbid, invest in the game be rewarded with the spoils of success? How accessible should the hardest tier of PVE be?
      The interesting thing about this comparison is that WoW, with all its massive income from 5+ million subscribers, has steadily worked with every patch and every expansion to make those raids more and more accessible to the masses. Why? Because $$$. Customers don't like so much attention being paid to content they won't ever get to experience. There's a lesson there.
      And hence the Hard Modes right? Blizzard has catered for the casual player with normal difficulty and to that 1% with, is it Mythic difficulty? I guess Hex PVE is still in it's infancy so doesn't have the luxury of mile after mile of content but as FRA 2.0 is currently 'end game' my question still stands....should this area of play be accessible to everyone with any deck they can throw together?
      It may not be a popular answer but I would say no, I don't think it should be beatable by anyone with any deck. Eventually I think the FRA will indeed end up being the mid-difficulty content that some think it should be but right now it is our end game pve content. It should be hard to get through it and it should take effort and testing to make decks that can beat it consistently.

      Right now we have several decks that beat the arena. Many of them are indeed expensive but we also have some budget options that can beat the arena as well. This is exactly as I feel it should be. As for those who have said they want it to have more gold than items...I prefer it as it is. If I just want gold I will farm GMG or Kukatan. I am farming the arena for the cards and equipment it drops. If you get lucky you can even get some legendaries that sell for more plat/gold than you get in the GMG (at least for now anyway).
    • Even with terrormill it is not a sure win and many of the bosses can be quite dangerous in elite form (on top of the usual rng the deck has to deal with). With these challenging fights It is okay not to win all the time, but the rewards should be increased to make it more exciting. Right now I am getting too many repeated cards, while finding equipment takes a very long time (I was there are 100-300 pieces right now for possible arena drops). Maybe a choice of drops (like Shroom Haus) would help?
      "Winning with terrormill is not fun? Try losing with it"
    • Arkansaw wrote:

      Even with terrormill it is not a sure win and many of the bosses can be quite dangerous in elite form (on top of the usual rng the deck has to deal with). With these challenging fights It is okay not to win all the time, but the rewards should be increased to make it more exciting. Right now I am getting too many repeated cards, while finding equipment takes a very long time (I was there are 100-300 pieces right now for possible arena drops). Maybe a choice of drops (like Shroom Haus) would help?
      Some of the aggro fights are just plain stupid and no matter what you do bar casting Extinction (assuming you live long enough to cast it) or getting a very early 5/5 spider you are dead. I don't know about others but I aren't really enjoying FRA 2.0 whether winning or losing...it's just not overly fun.
    • TheBlackCrypt wrote:

      Arkansaw wrote:

      Even with terrormill it is not a sure win and many of the bosses can be quite dangerous in elite form (on top of the usual rng the deck has to deal with). With these challenging fights It is okay not to win all the time, but the rewards should be increased to make it more exciting. Right now I am getting too many repeated cards, while finding equipment takes a very long time (I was there are 100-300 pieces right now for possible arena drops). Maybe a choice of drops (like Shroom Haus) would help?
      Some of the aggro fights are just plain stupid and no matter what you do bar casting Extinction (assuming you live long enough to cast it) or getting a very early 5/5 spider you are dead. I don't know about others but I aren't really enjoying FRA 2.0 whether winning or losing...it's just not overly fun.
      Yes, the AI relies quite a lot on aggro with its starting bonuses (not very different from some campaign encounters), so it is a struggle between all out offence and having some kind of minimal defence. The new cards from set 7 give terrormill better chances of outmilling the AI straight (without spiders) using a combination of small actions and constants, so in way FRA 2.0 has been designed for promoting set 7 content, and terrormill benefited from that.
      "Winning with terrormill is not fun? Try losing with it"
    • I'm pretty sure I still don't have enough runs under my belt yet, despite spam farming with my own terromill variant a fair bit last week. I haven't made a perfect clear yet, elite Hogarth has trumped me as the last boss and another time an early loss ruined an otherwise breezy clear. But nayway, for now I feel I've had my fill of terromill. You can mill crazy fast and it's pretty efficient and effective, but that lost its fun fairly quickly.
      So now I've turned to different decks and builds and I'm enjoying experimenting. I'm going to be bold and state that "I am having fun" because I really am. I accept that some of these fights are hard and sometimes grossly unfair, but I know what I'm in for so I'm ok with that. It makes some clinch wins really satisfying.
      The AI still makes some bonkers decisions at times. There are definitely improvements to be made there, although having said that there have been some nice tactics it has pulled off.

      Anyway, blah blah just my two cents. My final comment is WHY MUST URUU APPEAR FOR THE FIRST TIME FOR ME EVER WHEN IM AT TWO STRIKES ALREADY??!! Nnrrrgghhh #rage. I guess I'll never ever ever see him again :-/
    • I think the best solution I've seen proposed is the one where you can bring in a few mercenaries to swap in. That way you can build a deck that you figure does reasonably well with most encounters and tag in a mercenary to fight against the FRA champs that bring heavy hate to it.
    • Seems like this thread in more in line with the way that I use/enjoyed FRA 1.0, so I'll pile on here with my thoughts.

      • I like the campaign, especially the character+class and mercenaries, but I like FRA much more as the replayability is much higher. I think way more effort is put into the campain scripted/story arch then I actually get enjoyment out of. I play through with as many chars as I have, then I'm done. This is a huge plus of FRA 1.0 and especially 2.0, each play through is different. Not sure how reproducible the FRA setup is, but I would love to see beating the endzone boss open up an arena for that zone, with the encounters for that zone as the opponents to be faced, with one of the zone dungeon bosses as the end-boss for the arena.
        • tldr; more arena's, because they seem like they have more replayability and are easier to content to create.
      • Chests require gold to open. I buy into VIP, so I get a trickle of packs to use over time (draft, or just crack em open depending on where I am in the season), so I need gold to open those chest that I keep getting. FRA 1.0 was the non-eyestabby way of getting gold. With FRA 2.0 going a different direction, I have only the campaign, which I've already run far, far, far too many times. Please, I'm begging you, add a non-eye stabby way for me to play the game and make gold at the same time. Seriously, love the game, I'm begging.
      • FRA 1.0 allowed me to create really goofy decks to see how they'd play. I have a deck called Christmas. No, I didn't expect that it would do well, but occasionally it would surprise me, and it always amused me, especially as that season rolled around and more xmas-flavored cards enter the pool. FRA 2.0 will just punch those decks in the jimmies in an extremely unfriendly/unfun way. Need a way to test out weird deck ideas, across all deck archetypes, against gradually ramping opponents who don't use hard counters. Need the fights to not always be the same exact fight as that is soul crushing.
      • FRA 2.0 special encounters. I think you really missed the mark here. Don't include special encounter that include effects that are banned to me. Really prefer the special encounters that change game-state for both combatants, rather than changing the game state for only the AI. Give them health, more cards, even the lower cost artifacts/constants are ok. Closed coffins, a card that is banned in PvE? Not a fan.
      • Would really to play an arena with the ability to choose mercs or campaign chars in addition to the list of champs that we currently have. If it's an arena that is in the campaign, versus FRA, that's fine. Just really want that ability.
    • While I can understand people wanted mercs and extra decks, I'm not a fan of that approach. Mercs may be too powerful even for this iteration of FRA. Let's get the really stupid encounters adjusted, see where the difficulty is, then MAYBE think about reserves or something.
    • ShinGuard wrote:

      While I can understand people wanted mercs and extra decks, I'm not a fan of that approach. Mercs may be too powerful even for this iteration of FRA. Let's get the really stupid encounters adjusted, see where the difficulty is, then MAYBE think about reserves or something.

      Well instead of campaign mercs as champions your tag in decks could be limited to PvP champs.