When Card Games Break

When Card Games Break

This video is brought to you by Squarespace. Whether you need a domain, website, or online
store, make it with Squarespace. In my home town’s middle school cafeteria,
the card game lunch room nerds were divided into 3 different tables: The Yugioh Nerds,
The Magic nerds, and the Pokémon nerds. Actually, there was a fourth table – the Digimon
nerds, but I mean, come on. I used to float between all of them as a spectator,
but I remember one such day The Yugioh Table was in an uproar, because Upper Deck had released
a new expansion pack that introduced a game-breaking combo which essentially allowed any player
to win on their first turn if they could pull it off. It worked like this… The card Catapult Turtle allowed its owner
to sacrifice a monster on their side of the field and deduct half of that monster’s
Attack Points from the opponent’s Life Total. Which is a pretty cool move, although because
you can only have a maximum of 5 monsters on the field at a time, it had its limits. However, when combined with the newly released
Magical Scientist, this limit was essentially nullified. This card allowed the player to Special Summon
virtually any number of creatures to the field immediately, which would then be loaded up
on the Catapult, and shot at the opposing player (repeatedly) until their life points
reached zero. Basically, if you got these two cards onto
the field at the same time, the game was over. And, often you could pull this combo off on
turn one, before your opponent even had a chance to play. The kids at the lunch room table were incredibly
bummed out, because, naturally, all of them made decks centered around this combo – and
when everybody is just trying to get an instant win, the game is no longer competitive, and,
y’know, it stops being fun. I was reminded of that little episode a couple
months ago when Hearthstone, one of the most popular online trading card games today, released
a new expansion, and, in it, a minion whose special effect caused a similar controversy. It seemed amazing to me that, over a decade
later, some of the SAME design mistakes continue to plague the world’s most popular games. And that raised a compelling question in my
mind that I want to discuss today – namely – what happens when you break a card game? (Sweet jazz music plays.) So, let’s talk about Shudderwock. (Dope drum beat.) In April of 2018, Blizzard released The Witchwood,
the eighth expansion to their online card game Hearthstone. It included a slew of new card mechanics,
and it experimented with the existing ones by turning them on their heads and implementing
them in new and exciting ways. The one we want to focus on is Battlecry. Basically, if a card has a Battlecry effect,
then that effect activates when the card is played. It’s the easiest mechanic to understand. This card has a Battlecry effect that Restores
3 Health. That means when you play this card from your
hand, your health is, y’know, restored by 3. Easy peasy, right? But it gets more complicated than that. There are TONS of Battlecry cards in the game,
some with REALLY powerful effects – and while up to that point Blizzard had (arguably) done
a good job of keeping the STACKING POTENTIAL of these cards under control, in WITCHWOOD,
they decided to try something crazy. Enter Shudderwock. Shudderwock is a 9-mana card, which means
you’re usually able to play it on that turn number. Probably means nothing to most of you, but
essentially, this is what you call a LATE GAME card. As a match between two opponents progresses,
the cards get more and more powerful. Your mana tops off on turn 10, so a 9-mana
card usually signifies something with extreme power. And Shudderwock doesn’t disappoint. It’s a 6 attack, 6 health creature. But the REALLY splashy part is its Battlecry
effect, which simply reads: “Repeat all other Battlecries from cards you played this game. (Targets chosen randomly).” This is a crazy and incredibly over-the-top
effect, and one that is really only suited for an online card game like Hearthstone. After all, online games have a built-in memory
that keeps track of each card, and the order in which it’s played during the match. Imagine trying to implement an effect like
this during a tabletop game of Magic: The Gathering. A player would have to manually sort through
all of his or her cards played during the match to figure out which Battlecries needed
to be repeated, and, as far as selecting targets randomly, I guess you’d need to assign each
potential target on the field with a number and either have a compatible die or random
number generator to figure out which card is targeted with which effect, which is a
headache in and of itself, and would take forever. Figuring it all out would be incredibly cumbersome
and, most importantly, the opposite of fun gameplay. So, in theory, Hearthstone’s online arena,
which does ALL that calculation and randomization instantly is the perfect environment to try
out such a chaotic card effect. In *practice*, however, well – see for yourself. So, this is ME verses some random guy. Hi, random guy. I’m playing a deck which is centered around
Shudderwock’s ability. (Which by the way, in order to get Shudderwock,
requires players to spend about $60 on the expansion pack, and even THEN you might not
manage to pull the card from one of the randomly generated booster packs, meaning you’ll
need to try again and keep spending more and more money until you get it.) Long story short, I finally got mine. So the game’s proceeding normally. Plenty of fun and flashy animations. Hearthstone does this so well. It’s part of why it’s been so successful
as a game. We’re on turn ten, I’m all set up, I finally
get to drop Shudderwock onto the field and THIS is the exact moment that the game stops
being fun. You’ll see why in just a bit. So to pull Shudderwock’s one turn kill off,
you need to play a combination of different cards earlier in the game,
with the idea being that these smaller Battlecries, when repeated by Shudderwock later all at
once, will be enough to overwhelm your opponent and drop their life points to 0. These are the cards in question: Lifedrinker (a sort of mosquito fellow): whose
Battlecry basically sucks 3 life points from your opponent and gives them to you. Saronite Chain Gang: A really annoying Minion
whose battlecry causes it to make a copy of itself the moment you summon it. And Grumble, Worldshaker, whose Battlecry
returns all other minions on the field to their owner’s hand and reduces their Mana
cost to just 1. Alone, these Battlecries are tough enough
to deal with during a match. But when you play Shudderwock AFTER them,
well… just try and follow me. Let’s say you’ve played ALL these cards
in the early game, and now that it’s late game, you have enough Mana to play Shudderwock. Shudderwock enters the game, and its ability
triggers – it now will recast all previous Battlecries you’ve used during the match. So it repeats the Lifedrinker Battlecry, sucking
3 health from your opponent and giving you a 3 health boost. So far so good – in fact, let’s say you
managed to play TWO Lifedrinkers before Shudderwock drops, that’s 6 health sucked from your
opponent! But THEN Shudderwock uses Saronite Chain Gang’s
Battlecry, meaning it summons a copy of itself. But wait a minute! That means this NEW Shudderwock’s Battlecry
is activated… which means Lifedrinker’s Battlecry is activated again, sucking ANOTHER
6 life from your opponent. And then THAT Shudderwock uses Saronite Chain
Gang’s Battlecry… so IT creates a copy of ITSELF and then the copy of the copy’s
Battlecry starts, and… well, you see what happens, right? Eventually your board FILLS with Shudderwocks…
and even if your opponent somehow manages to survive because your turn reached its time
limit…. I mean, what are they even supposed to do
against a board like this? And remember – you played Grumble, Worldshaker
too, so most of those Shudderwock copies will go to your hand, with a reduced cost of 1. So on your next turn, you literally have a
hand FULL of 1-Mana Shudderwocks to play, who will all create even more copies, and
then THOSE copies will create copies… you get it by now. Plus, just for fun you could play Murmuring
Elemental before dropping your first Shudderwock, and it will ensure its Battlecry triggers
twice, if you want this whole routine to last even longer. Now, in THEORY, this ridiculously over-the-top
late game combo should be pretty funny and neat to watch, but here’s the problem: When a Battlecry effect happens in Hearthstone,
a corresponding game animation plays. For a normal match, no big deal – you play
a card and it’s got a neat little 3-second flurry you get to watch before you can play
your next card. But imagine being caught in a constant loop
of those 3-second flurries – that’s not really fun to sit through, right? Right. Not only is it not fun for my opponent, it’s
not fun for ME. I literally am forced to wait and stare at
my phone while the Battlecry animations play out, unable to do any kind of input. Because you can’t do anything until a card’s
effect resolves – and this one, well, didn’t. (Shudderwock’s Battlecry animation playing
again and again and again and again and again and again……) You basically had to just watch until someone’s
health finally dropped down to 0. Here’s an extremely sped up version of me
playing Shudderwock. I’m not doing anything, here. This is just a solid 3-4 minutes of nothing
but Battlecry animations. I’m going to win. The second I played the card, I knew the match
was over, my opponent knew the match was over – but both of us had to wait for the process
to play out before we could start a new game. If you’re the loser, this is infuriating. You’re essentially forced to watch yourself
lose for several minutes. It’s demoralizing, feels like a total waste
of time, and it makes you want to stop playing. If you’re the winner… this gets old. Really, really fast. After its release, The Shudderwock Situation
became so bad on Hearthstone’s servers that lots of players would just automatically resign
when they were matched against the deck type because they just didn’t want to have to
waste time playing against it. A slow-paced Shudderwock deck can drag the
time of a single match to upwards of 23 minutes – half an hour if they’re purposely trolling
you. Would you want to sit through a half-hour
game that you know you’re just going to lose… especially when, in that time, you know you
could play at least two OTHER matches and have a decent shot of winning them? Of course not. And this game-breaking combo was so dispiriting,
that, just like in the middle school cafeteria, lots of players became so frustrated that
they just didn’t want to play anymore. I sort-of had an on-and-off relationship with
Hearthstone myself, but after a day or two of dealing with Shudderwock – I decided to
quit the game, and I’ve never played it since. For Blizzard’s part, they EVENTUALLY got
around to addressing the issue. After a month of letting Shudderwock rip through
the metagame, they released a patch that attempted to alleviate the issue by doubling the animation
speed of Shudderwock’s effect, and giving it a 20 Battlecry limit. This isn’t the first time Blizzard has attempted
to fix a broken mechanic. They regularly alter the properties of certain
cards in a process called ‘nerfing’ to try and keep the game balanced. But that raises an ethical question, namely: If YOU were a player who spent $60 dollars
or more to get hold of a certain card so that you could remain competitive, and then the
makers of the game CHANGED how that card worked so that it no longer had the same properties
you sought in the first place… Do they have any obligation to compensate
you? This opens up a bigger discussion about the
nature of online card games as a whole, compared to tabletop. If you buy a physical card that gets nerfed
for competitive organized play (or placed on some kind of restricted list, which is
more often the case) you can still theoretically play games privately using that card as it
was originally released – and, in that way, retain a little bit of the original purchase
value. But in an online system that can LITERALLY
change the text and value on every card you purchase at any time without your consent
or even warning, what are you actually purchasing? In that sense, do you even own the card? And, where should game designers draw the
line? Because, after all, you can apply this same
conundrum to ANY kind of game in the digital era in which we now live. In 1997, I could go to the store, purchase
a video game, and I could trust that the game would play the same way every time I turned
it on. I knew what I was buying, in a sense. But today, when I purchase a game through
an ONLINE service, that game will likely be routinely patched – sometimes altering the
game so much that after a year or two, it bears little to no resemblance to what I originally
purchased. This CAN be a positive, but, in a game like
Hearthstone which has a regular rotation of cards and gameplay mechanics, the negatives
can often be glaring. These days, games are perishable items. Just like milk, they have a shelf life. They will not stay the same after you purchase
them, even if you want them to. Does this mean that gamers need to adjust
their expectations? Or, do designers need to be more accommodating
to their customer base? I can’t give you an answer to these questions
because I don’t know the answer. But I’d love to hear what you think in the
comments. One thing’s for sure: card games have come
a very long way since I played them as a kid, and I find myself both excited and scared
to see where they go from here. Big thanks to this video’s sponsor, Squarespace. Hey, do you have an idea for a website? I promote Squarespace often on this channel,
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100 thoughts on “When Card Games Break”

  • AustinMcConnell says:

    As several Hearthstone players have correctly pointed out, I didn't quite explain some of Shudderwock's properties correctly/fully. While an "infinite loop" didn't occur precisely as I described, it was still possible with the combination of Grumble, Worldshaker, Saronite Chain Gang, and Murmuring Elemental. If you'd like to learn precisely how all of it worked, there are plenty of in-depth articles that can explain it (and the rest of the card game) in great detail. Feel free to Google something like "How The Shudderwock Combo Works". Don't listen to some filthy casual like me.

  • dude hearthstone (as well as blizzard) is trash. I played hearthstone when it was new. I got quite a few card's playing completely free because i don't like spending money on game's at all. (because it's never been worth it.) I had no problem with the game early on except maybe that it was kinda boring after so many game's especially when you start to memorize all the card's. but then i quit playing.Then year's past by and i got on the game again to find out I LOST CARD'S! blizzard… removed card's from it's game so i just had less card's. I didn't pay for card's so no big deal but, what if i had.

  • The Magical Scientist FTK was an unanswerable FTK (first turn kill) that gave opponent no response to interact with it, making it unfair. The Shudderwok combo is a late game combo, and one easily stopped if you're prepared. To compare the two is pretty silly, though I agree it was still too strong of a combo, relative to the other classes' at the time.

  • Depending on the provider/developer, you are often times not the owner of any in-game items. This goes for more than just card games as you are only accessing the items through their consent on an account which has it's usability dictated by the server owner(s).

  • I have a certain green/white magic deck me and my friend devised a few years ago in high school that is essentially centered around getting two certain cards on the field, an artifact and a creature, and once put together it creates an infinite 1/1 elf token cards on the field.

  • I guess it depends where you live, but in my school there was a brief obsession with pokemon cards in 1998, but then the kids just dropped it and no other card games where mentioned or seen throughout the rest of my school years. And even then they wouldn't play the game, they'd just trade or show off shiny cards their parents gave them

  • Why am i watching this? I perfectly understand shudderwock otk, shudderwock is out of meta (or in wild already), i don't even play hs now and have ptsd from multiple shudderwocks yelling "MY JAWS, THEY BITE…"

  • "Do they have any obligations to compensate you?"

    Havent played in a while, but I recall Blizzard allows nerfed cards to be disenchanted for full dust (i.e., replace that card with another with the same rarity).

    So I guess blizzard answered your question there

  • Milantique Studios says:

    Yugioh – was beaten on the first turn. Not my turn, the opponents turn. I never got to even draw a card.

    Hearthstone – a game built around 1 hit KO combos. Once certain cards are played, you can predict the opponents entire deck.

    Correct, instant wins are god awful. All cards need a balance. With a super powerful move, it needs a counter move on the user. Like Hearthstones Deathwing that kills everyone but discards your hand. But there a tons of board clears that don’t have a downside.

    Hearthstone is fucked but I think they could counter some of the combos by increasing the base health to 60

  • I play Yu-Gi-Oh and I've had so many of my cards banned I've lost around $80, it's an amazing game though and most cards don't stay on the banlist forever.

  • Its kinda weird to hear you talk about card-nerfing. That doesn't exist in MTG, including Online or Arena, they don't change a card's numerical values and abilities like that, they do (in incredibly rare cases) change the minutia of how an ability works with the rules to prevent broken combos they didn't anticipate, but never things like how Hearthstone will outright change numbers or functions, but if a card is actually broken just by its own nature in a way that isn't a rules minutia, they get banned instead (and that also, is much, much rarer then it has been in Hearthstone. The game has 20,000 cards printed over 25 years and even the Legacy banlist is only a few dozen deep). There is even an entire format without a banlist for people who WANT to play the broken combo game like this and find it fun: Vintage.
    Over all though, this isn't a video about card games….it's mostly just a video about Hearthstone.

  • Comment probably gonna get lost but, Yu-Gi-Oh has a banlist. If cards become too overpowered or become a problem they either get limited, semi-limited or banned. Limited(1 copy per deck), Semi-limited(2 copies per deck), Banned(0 per deck). The banlist is used in tournaments and not necessarily casual duels(dueling at the cafeteria tables) but, can be. As the game improves and other cards balance out the older ones or they don't become as overpowered they can be taken off the banlist or at least not banned completely(moved to limited/semi-limited). Video was kinda disappointing, Yu-Gi-Oh was mentioned briefly and Pokemon wasn't even talked about, basically about Hearthstone.

    Edit: typo fix

  • Medbread 『?』 says:

    Austin: "I spent over 70 dollars to get this card."

    Also Austin: "I quit the game 2 days after, and have never played it since."

  • "That game will be routinely patched, sometimes altering the game to something completely different than what it was when I bought it."

    cough No man's sky cough

  • MTG has a few infinite combos, one of my favorites is Saheeli Rai and liquidmetal Coating. Liquidmetal coating turns Saheeli into an artifact, then use her -2 ability to create a copy of herself. That copy is also an artifact and on the field with 3 loyalty. Use the -2 ability of the copy to create another copy and so on. Any card that has an effect with bringing artifacts on the field, becomes an infinite combo. Urza, Lord High Artificer, you get Construct with infinite power, Altar of the Brood, everyone discards their library, or Reckless Fireweaver, infinite damage. Fun times and pretty pissed off opponents.

  • Laylae #FreeHongKong #LockHimUp says:

    Paradox uses a solution that helps the shelf life issue somewhat, for their games, Stellaris in particular, newer updates change so many features many players prefer to stick to older versions, so Paradox provides a way for players to rollback their game to those older versions. The players don't get to expect tech support for playing this way, and many mods are not compatible anymore, but the players seem to be happy. This solution wouldn't work for all games, but it could work with some.

  • Yeah only let talk about only one deck
    But let not talk about the ammount of card and lucky draw to get the combo set up
    This is type of deck require alot of those battlecries to be play to work or shuttrwok wont do anything
    You can beat out this deck by using more aggressive deck to push the enemy before he play all the battlecries

    You can basicly bring these type of deck otk (one turn kill deck) that let you outlive or destroy your opponent in one turn
    The pro: is winning
    The cons: drawing every combo piece, make sure that when the combo play the opponent havent bring you down to 1 health, (note pretty sure at the time there was a card call dirty rat in the meta that let you destroy shudder combo by pulling shudder to the field but doesnt activate it battlecries destroying easy otk deck

  • Worgmania Shenanigans says:

    u dont have to spend money on cards you can craft them and earn gold by playing… also you dont have to watch the animations when u know u are loosing u can just surrender.

  • The ethical questions exists in a nice philosophical space….but not in the real world.
    Any card game company, real or virtual, can adjust or ban cards from tournament matches. You couldn't ask Wizard for a refund on your Magic the Gathering cards, could you?
    "Do you really 'own' the card?" In the virtual space, you own nothing. Everything is licensed and they reserve the right to adjust or change anything at any time for any reason. It's all stipulated in the licensing agreement (which barely anyone reads).
    Interesting factual tidbit: When you bought a cartridge game back in the day, TECHNICALLY, the company could pull the license and require you to stop playing the game. However, in a realistic sense, there is no way to regulate this, so it didn't happen (well…rarely). It's true that today's online-oriented games give the publishing companies far more control over access and content.

  • If only yugioh players had this mentality ??? why i feel like quitting sometimes, who the flip thinks 50year combos are fun

  • Unknown YouTuber says:

    It's up to the player to understand the nature of the game they are getting into. Players need to realize that online games will be patched, they will have bugs, they will be nerfed, in some cases they will be buffed. Updates will make other aspects obsolete, competitive environments will push certain styles, and ultimately it is the player who needs to adapt.

    As a MTG player, I see this all the time with rotation, ban lists, and in some very rare cases there is even errata as new rules are created and thus conflict with prior rules.

    Just look at Planeswalkers. In the very first printing of them way back in Alara, there could only be one single Planeswalker of that type on the field, regardless of who's side it was on. Then it became that each player could own a copy, but you could only have one of that Planeswalker's type. So if I played a Chandra, then later on a second and different Chandra, I had to choose which one remained and which one was moved to the graveyard due to state based actions.

    Today you can have as many Planeswalkers of the same type as you want, so long as each one has a different name. Now, I could have four different Liliana on the field, as long as each card is unique.

    Games change. Players need to understand that when they buy into it. Expecting the company to be at fault is just silly.

  • Carrick Puckett says:

    In the case of Hearthstone, I'd compare patches to errata issued for physical card games.

    If you're a tournament player, you are required to read up on errata issued on cards in your deck. In Hearthstone's case, the erratum for any one card is applied automatically when the latest patch for the game is installed, regardless of game setting. So with Shudderwock, I would argue that the erratum was entirely justified. Blizzard erred in the design of this card, and as such was obligated to patch it.

  • At least it is mitigated to a late game strategy. In older days of MTG, it was possible to beat the game before you or your opponent draws their first card. If you want to know how, look up the Flash Hulk combo

  • This video is literally just you lying to your viewers. The most irritating part is how from 5:04 to 5:18 you're intentionally not mentioning that disenchanting and enchanting are a part of the game. I hope you get in a car crash.

  • Elmo The Killer says:

    I've been trying to find a way to break magic in my own way for like 5 months and I feel somewhat close yet still so far from perfecting it

  • Menselot the dragonslayer says:

    Lol I got this card from the second pack I opened.
    That is what I call luck.

    I never used it. Now after seeing this…. I won't use it out of respect for my opponent.

  • Matías González Reguilón says:

    Es que en realidad no están rotos, nadie es tan imbécil para cometer un error así, fue hecho así apropósito porque son juegos hechos para el mercado asiático, imbéciles, cuyo público es en su mayoría es troll y disfruta trollear a los demás. De ahí que todos esos juegos sean de azar y tengan características similares. Entonces cuando vos aplicas la idea occidental de los videojuegos parece roto, por eso los occidentales decimos que tienen una progresión rota, que son coreanos, o del mercado asiático para referirnos a juegos troll de azar. La parte que para nosotros es difícil de entender es que para los asiáticos la picardía es algo muy gracioso y divertido sin importar la lógica o el sentido común.

  • I think it's weird that in magic there are a lot of cards that can pretty much kick an opponent from play, if it doesn't kill you through turns, and if you run a mono black deck this can be the case, because there are I think two cards I've come across that can completely end the game, some card's even prolong the game by giving others health, depending on who you're playing this can be pretty fun. But beware.

  • I know this video was created a year ago but I can’t help but feel uncomfortable due to the 6 orbs on the backs of cars shown of magic the gathering cards.

  • Nej i watched this vid like 2 years ago and wanted to find it bcuz its so satisfying to watch it took me an hour but i finnaly found it

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