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The Master of the Myths' myth


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#1 Carioz

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 01:37 AM

The Master of the Myths' Myth

Greetings readers.

Overview

"- cartes trop puissantes qui déséquilibrent le jeu : cartes à énumérer
* Khopesh of the Abyss, Manifested Malice (The Shifting Sands F16)
* Initiate of Huang Hun (Curse of the Jade Emperor F40)
* Master of the Myths (Into Tartarus F101)"

"And yes, I have to think that Master of the Myths is headed for the restricted list. Not sure what FFG was thinking putting yet another cheap (effectively) colorless blocker into the game - it's Guardian Pillar meets the Descendant of Eibon, only with more Arcane icons, *sigh*. The other "put into play" cards are relatively balanced because they need specific triggering effects - Master of the Myths is broken because all it requires is one colorless resource. I think we're going to see it everywhere until the restricted hammer comes down."

"edit: i guess there is just (limit once per turn) missing and i got carried away, i still cant live down
Khopesh of the Abyss TSS and
Master of the Myths IT"

-various authors-

Some occurrencies are clockwork like in their repetition. Six months ago the outcries against Khopesh of the Abyss reached the peak point, with multiple calls for bannings, restriction and nerfing. My friend and teacher Graham Hill posted and interesting (and quite compelling) argument on the impact of Khopesh on the game (very little if any) and on the metagame (it did actually shift a lot of choices), which you can read here. Now, six month later, I am seeing a similar level of outcry over Master of the Myths.

So in this post I am attempting to evaluate if Master of the Myths power level is so far out there that it needs restriction and if the card is broken to the point it needs nerfing or banning. I have very little chances of making it scientific, as it would require an amount of games much bigger than the one I am exposed to, but rest assured I will reference anedoctal evidence and avoid "theory cthulhu".

Is Master of the Myths being played?

First and foremost it would be interesting to see if Master of Myths is seeing play time on the tables; Khopesh, as an example, while being heralded as bad for the game, gamebreaking, and an absolute must play, was surprisingly lacking from regional winning decks (I think it was featured only in Italy and Germany, although I am dubious on the latter).
Out of all the regionals where data is available (or deducible) Master of Myths was played in winning decks in these regionals:
Italy and Portland.

Of course there are strong hints toward it having been played in more decks than these (I *strongly* suspect France and Germany), it wasn't used in Australia and Jenkintown while Ohio and FFG Game Center have no data.

So the breakdown of Master of the Myths use among winning decks would be:

2 used it;
2 almost certainly used it;
2 didn't use it;
2 no data.

In other words 25% of the players who won tourneys felt that Master of the Myths wasn't worth the space on their decks. If we cut out no datas from the "survey", we get a 66% of use. Not a low percentage by any means, but apparently there *are* reasons to not add it to your deck.

Is Master of the Myths broken?

I will borrow Graham definition of broken here: "Cards that win games by simply being on the table (If I have it and you don't - I automatically win, immediately or inevitably) , and thus require specific consideration in any deck build. In essence, you must play this card or lose. Mechanically this means the the board configuration will now permanently slant toward the player who played the card."

Honestly, having played in an era where cards like The Rip Off were flung around without any remorse, my gut reaction would be to just file it under the "-Expletive-, Not Broken at all!" category and move on, but let's analyze.

What does Master of the Myths do?

Master of the Myths is a pretty simple card: at action speed, for the cost of 1, it adds an ephemeral 3 cost willpower tough+1 skill 3 AAA character on the board for you to peruse. So far the most common use I have seen touted is popping it after opponent commits to jam into stories, getting wounded and denying unopposed (and sometimes making the attacker lose the skill check too).
While a "surprise" play of Master of the Myths in defense may look like a big swing, in fact its sudden appearance on the field and following commitment has a negligible effect on board position: Master of the Myths won't wound nor make any char go insane, it just might prevent a char to ready (if that char had Arcane icons in the first place) and either deny an unopposed token or grab one instance of direct removal. In the first case it just delays the opponent victory (and delaying the inevitable isn't the best strategy to gain board position), in the second case it trades 1-1 for a generic removal. Repeated activations of Master of the Myths raise the pressure on the other domains, as one is caught in the Master of the Myths routine. Along with this there are a few cards which will directly punish the player which activates Master of the Myths or make it's activation useless.

Can Master of the Myths be dealt with on a deck vs card basis? Are there decks against with Master of the Myths is meaningless?

I will not elaborate on this much, but I believe most decks are Master of the Myths transparent, i.e. the presence or absence of an opposed Master of the Myths is pretty much meaningless in a deck strategy economy. The closest comparison would be Long-Dead Prince. While I have no qualms on admitting Master of the Myths is much more efficient, it is still not a card you deckbuild against or take special countermeasures. Terror of the Tides is another similar (albeit much more steeply priced) card. Again, not a card you deckbuild against.

Let's take a few sample decks. If you play a rush, you can expect a few story runs to be opposed or disrupted by ephemerals and frankly I'd rather have my character place no tokens than being destroyed by some random shooting. If you play a removal deck (not that I suggest it, as it is a weak archetype, but your deck, your call), Master of the Myths is just another character, incidentally just the type of card your deck was built to remove; combo decks like the Jenkinton winner are non interactive with characters and as such Master of the Myths is not of special concern.

Does Master of the Myths fit in every deck?


Yes and no. I use Master of the Myths in many decks, but there are a few where its use has to be weighted a lot. As an anedocte I avoid using more than 4 out of 50 neutral out of faction cards in bi-faction rushes, as it creates resource mismatches which delay the deck clock by about 1 turn; so if I happen to have a neutral card which fits more the deck strategy then Master, the Master goes.

Another example: there are many cards which "fit every deck" (The Mage Known As Magnus, Alaskan Sledge Dog, Mentor to Vaughn), which are not in the restricted list. I'll leave to every reader to make up his mind on why it is that but as a truism, a card popularity is not a direct gauge of its power, just the influence the card has in the perceived meta (As an example Alaskan Sledge Dogs were absolute dominators of Worlds '09 and '10, where they outshined Descendant of Eibon in performance; the inclusion of Statue of R'yleh, Negotium Perambulans in Tenebris and other percieved anti-rush cards made the presence of Dogs in winning deck plummet to zero in Worlds '11).

Conclusions

While this discussion has, as premised, little scientific value (it is based on a number of cases best described as anedoctal), I think I can draw two conclusions from it.
1- Not every deck plays Master of the Myths, nor every deck absolutely benefits from it;
2- Master of the Myths is hardly what you'd call a problem card and, of all the cards ever described as "too strong", is one of the least impacting ones.

How these two interact with the requirements of bannings or errata or restriction is a mystery to me, as the reasons for inclusion in the restricted list are described in the announcement from one former designer leave the matter pretty open: "On the restricted list, you will find the cards that have been cramping tournament play and preventing the game from being as enjoyable as we all know it can be. Some of these cards are part of an overpowered combination, some have risen to the status of “auto-include” and are simply too pervasive in the environment, and some were printed to address a very specific situation that the game has since grown past."

I feel however much of the demands for restriction stem from two traditional responses the Call of Cthulhu community has:
1- Every once in a while, there is an influx of new players, which, after experiencing the game, single out a few cards whose efficiency is slightly above the curve -in a few comical cases even slightly under- and, due to lack of experience and perspective proclaim those cards needs banning, restriction or errata;
2- The Call of Cthulhu community, as a whole, has a fascination with "surprise effects". This goes back, as far as I can remember, to an article published by Chris Long which compares the utility of Burrowing Beneath and Thunder in the East and puts the versatility of the former on par with the sheer efficiency of the latter. Since then, cards which can surprise your opponent or cause miscommits have been routinely overvalued (Polar events, revised Sacrificial Offering, Cats of Ulthuar, … , Master of the Myths)

What I can hope for (and I think it is not a misplaced hope, as the current Leading Designer has proven in the past a strong grasp on which measure to take to let the the game grow -well, except that teeny tiny scouting ruling I cannot really agree with-) is the current demand for banning, errata or restriction of Master of the Myths is heavilly counterbalanced with the current lack of effect Master of the Myths has on the metagame.



#2 .Zephyr.

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 02:18 AM

 As one of guys that really doesnt like this card i think one of the reasons is mid lv play.

When you play not entirely casually, but also not best competitive, this card shines. When you have perfectly tuned deck with where every card matters, you have your draw balanced, you use all domains each turn, you have multi fraction resourcing that is really hurt by neutrals then master might or might not be what you need (im still not sure it hurts enough not to make your deck better by including him).

When your deck is even a bit off put master in. He is free if you dont use domains every turn, hes usefull form early game to late game, he cant be just shot easly as most of the time hes in your hand and 3 cost 3 skill and toughtness makes it much harder to hit, and if he gets shot you saved another character by paying 1. That much versitility makes it completly auto-include. Magnus is nice but: cost 3 - you wont do sth else, and you need draw and expensive characters in deck to use his great ability. Dogs are nice, but after early stop doing much and are T prone. Mentor to Vaughn is definitly good, but again, price 3 - hinders your strategy and exhausts only weak ones. With MoM you get strong rush braker (not changes game effect for rush to get 2 sucesses less… and the card that stopped it stays in hand and will keep disturbing rushes strategy), that transitions into late. Can help you when you need 3 skill, win books, take the wound. Can stop strong card that would otherwise get unopposed from getting 2 sucesses to 1 or 0, most of the time making it exhausted when it wanted to win A. For the minimal price… and goes back to hand.

This card will certainly not win the game alone, he alone doesnt do much in fact. This is a card that will support greatly pretty much any strategy other than pure destruction maybe… but stil might be useful… for minimal cost.

Whouldn't you find event:

1) add 3 skill, win A and prevent one wound on your side of story. Return to hand after playing a bit too much? And hes only a little worse. 

Hes only weakness IMO is getting countered by Stalking hounds preatty strong (and other "free" chars lo lesser extent). If hes in dogs are also in, even when they were killed.

The fact that tournament decks dont use him yet is IMO too soon to judge. From what i read you play what you know how to play best, and using MoM full potential will require more play experience with him. But maybe he will be not enough for the most experienced players.



#3 Carioz

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 02:22 AM

.Zephyr. said:

 

 

 

Sorry if I cut most of the post but let me ask directly: "How does playing a Master of the Myths directly improve your board position?"



#4 Konx

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 02:36 AM

I agree with the concept expressed in the article, but I want to make a few remarks:

- the evaluation of the card in itself is good and I think we all can agree on that

- the evaluation of the card in a deck is, however, questionable (and it is quite obvious: it would be impossible to evaluate the card in every strategy/deck :D)

 

I don't feel like the community is asking for banning (and I'm for sure NOT in that basket).

However, it is true that some new players might be scared with the card. As Zephyr says, if you don't play competitive, but you prefer casual play, this card is very good in a non-tuned deck. But the point is: if you are playing non-competitive, what stops you and your playgroup from banning this card locally?

I don't have much more to say…I just hope it will not be banned :)

 

Konx



#5 .Zephyr.

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 02:47 AM

Carioz said:

 

Sorry if I cut most of the post but let me ask directly: "How does playing a Master of the Myths directly improve your board position?"

 

 

It improves your board position in the same way Forcing the Truth, Intimidate and other syndicate effects do. It stops your opponent from getting successes he would otherwise get (and as far as i recall main winning condition is having won 3 stories) And lets you get your sucesses easier if you opponent did commit his character and doesnt have 4A he wont be able to block you. Buys you time to play what you wanted and you dont have to worry about rush and C protection that much. If you're rushing and opponent cant block all 3 stories he gives you 2 successes (unless everyone plays Beneath the Mire). Can stop opponent if he wanted to win the race for this story by one sucess and now is opposed.

Cost 1 event that recycles and improves permanently your board position would be just too stupid. Hes strong not completely broken.



#6 Konx

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 03:13 AM

.Zephyr. said:

It improves your board position in the same way Forcing the Truth, Intimidate and other syndicate effects do.

So you are saying that it does NOT improve the board position? :P

The cards you mentioned do not improve the board position, because the Character is still on the board after you play it. What they do, is changing the board status, that is different from position.

Regarding the success tokens etc…: having the success token on the board does not help you in winning. The token are there and they do nothing (with the notable exception of Descendant). Having 0 or 4 tokens in a story makes little to no difference in terms of winning (of course, it might be slightly easier to grab 1 token than 3, but it's a minor point…if you are there, the situation is probably already compromised).

 

Anecdote: at the last German regional I've seen a board where 1 opponent had 3 stories with 4 success tokens on each story. He still managed to lose the game. Sad but true.

Again (for all the readers :D): the character is good but not overpowered. it does some things in an efficient way but it's not broken.



#7 Hellfury

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 03:23 AM

I am in the camp of "Master of the Myths is a great card, but not overpowered."

I just calculate every struggle to include the potential of MotM when my opponent has an open resource if I beleive that that card may be a factor in a game.

I am more worried by the Blackwood Agency card; "Intervention" as that card actually posses a legitimate threat for the active player challenging stories.

 



#8 Runix

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 03:29 AM

Carioz said:

 

Sorry if I cut most of the post but let me ask directly: "How does playing a Master of the Myths directly improve your board position?"

 

 

I can answer that:  Master of the Myths improves your board position by preventing unopposed story wins.  Placing success tokens on stories is a big deal as it relates directly to the victory conditions, and Master of the Myths is one of the best cards in the game for preventing your opponent from doing it.  Between success tokens on stories and characters in play, it's success tokens on stories that wins you the game.

I have to say, it pains me to say that this card is a problem, because I definitely favor Silver Twilight, and think it really works well with the ST theme.  But:  this card is a problem.

By your own calculations, 66% of winning decks have it. What other card do 66% of winning decks have? It's the Delver of Secrets of the current CoC meta. If any given card is showing up in over half of winning decks, it's a problem card. And just like Delver, it's not that it's way too powerful - it's that it's way too cheap. It's a solid card, but at a dirt-cheap fire-sale cost. That's the problem.

It's just way too good for what you're paying for it.  It's a very good surprise blocker that is immune to insanity and resistant to damage, and which can ready another character while limiting or even preventing enemy progress on a story - and at a cost of one colorless resource.  At a cost of two resources, it would still be a great card.  At a cost of one ST resource, it would probably be OK.  At a cost of one colorless resource but with a condition match - e.g., an action has been triggered - it would be fine.  But at one colorless resource with no match and no other trigger, it's just way too cheap.

I repeat my previous thought on this:  if Guardian Pillar is on the restricted list, no way this card stays off it.  I don't know what they were thinking when they made what is, in effect, another Guardian Pillar after the first one caused so much trouble.

Along the same lines, let me say that many of the cards on the restricted list are more or less the same:  cards that are not fundamentally problematic, they're just too cheap.  Diseased Sewer Rats would have been OK at cost 3; Khopesh of the Abyss would have been fine at cost 3 (or arguably even cost 4); Guardian Pillar at a cost 4 (or 5); etc.



#9 .Zephyr.

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 03:30 AM

I lost the game having 2 won stories and 4 sucess on the 3td one to 0 stories. (Opponen got his combo going and i had nothing to stop him) 

Having one more sucess, for example becouse i've used Master to contest another story might have been enough. 

If a character is too good, so much it shuts down really big portion of the game, works along everything, recycles itself, fits almost every deck (especially no resource match needed) and has no drawback IMO needs nerf or ban.

Maybe your play experience is completely different and Master doesnt effect it… in my games it made so-so deck really scary… but with that cheap of a card i completely fail to see how can he be too weak to get used competitively? You use all domains every turn and still not run out of cards ever? Or maybe other effect combinations are so strong Master doesnt matter…

And i dont mean "ban cause its broken" i mean "errata to order steadfast like check on action" or "raise cost to 2, so its not free" change

[edit]

and no cost can save khopesh IMO, too much effects that can bypass it… i'd place exhaust on use so its more slow killing than one side nuke



#10 dboeren

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 03:55 AM

If anything, I'd rather see the card get an errata to include a Steadfast: Silver Twilight icon, same as I'd like to see for Snow Graves, rather than being Restricted.

I think the card is fully appropriate for the Silver Twilight faction, it just shouldn't be this easy for any faction to take and use as if it were one of their own cards.

Restricting the card would be detrimental to Silver Twilight who already have one staple card on the Restricted list, this may even make the card more commonly used in other faction decks than in Silver Twilight decks which would be a poor outcome I think.



#11 Carioz

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 04:18 AM

Runix said:

 

Carioz said:

 

Sorry if I cut most of the post but let me ask directly: "How does playing a Master of the Myths directly improve your board position?"

 

By your own calculations, 66% of winning decks have it. What other card do 66% of winning decks have? It's the Delver of Secrets of the current CoC meta. If any given card is showing up in over half of winning decks, it's a problem card. And just like Delver, it's not that it's way too powerful - it's that it's way too cheap. It's a solid card, but at a dirt-cheap fire-sale cost. That's the problem.

 

 

Actually and not at all surprisingly there are 3 cards  which appear on over 50% of winning decks (again, allow for some informed guesses), more on the virtue of being staple cards of Stl Yog and Shub, which were overrepresented in the regionals.

But apart from that, the best description for Master of the Myths would be super-chumpblocker. Is 1 neutral every turn really that cheap for a card whose effect is "delay your loss without improving your characters array?". Honestly that looks more like an Healing Balm than a Lightning Bolt (if MtG comparison is still in effect)



#12 Penfold

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 06:37 AM

 What makes Master of Myths awesome is he allows beginning and intermediate level players, "play up." HE can be included in their decks and his utility and efficiency shrinks their decision tree and covers up deck building mistakes against other beginning and intermediate level players and tier 2 decks

Advanced level players see him and recognize him for what he is, a sueful but unessential card in a many decks. I have him in two of my five decks. I have one which I would think about putting him in if I had three more available and knew what I wanted to take out, and then have two decks I would never put him in.

He is less useful in my play than Black Dog is, which has the potential to actually change the board position and does much more to punish a rush strategy IMO.

He does not need to have errata, be restricted, or be banned.



#13 ssjevot

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 08:38 AM

I'm new to CoC, but I spent many years playing Magic.  I picked this game up for a number of reasons, but one of the things I most enjoy is that cards are always "current", I don't have to worry about what is valid in a given format.  I think restricted cards are handled well, but I feel errata is a better solution than restricting/banning.  If a card seems overpowered and it's possible to just make some errata that fixes the issue without removing the usefulness of the card than that's what should be done.  More deckbuilding options is better in my opinion, so rather than restricting or banning cards, just use errata.  I think Khopesh could be easily removed from the restricted list with a simple exhaust to use errata or something similar.  People would still use it, but it would also free up deck building options and prevent it from being overpowered in either casual, intermediate, or tournament play.

If Master of the Myths is perceived as overpowered I hope they consider errata before restriction or banning.



#14 dboeren

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 09:52 AM

ssjevot said:

I think Khopesh could be easily removed from the restricted list with a simple exhaust to use errata or something similar.  People would still use it, but it would also free up deck building options and prevent it from being overpowered in either casual, intermediate, or tournament play.

If Master of the Myths is perceived as overpowered I hope they consider errata before restriction or banning.

If Khopesh exhausted, then yeah, there'd be no reason to restrict it.  I'd be happy with that solution as I'd rather see a more even power level between cards than a list of overpowered cards where you only get to pick one.  It would make for more varied decks overall.

On Master of Myths, I'm not convinced yet he needs anything, but I'd prefer an errata to a restriction.  Silver Twilight is still building up and needs the characters they have.  Of course, this could be solved if FFG would put out a second boxed expansion for Silver Twilight bringing their card pool up to par with the older factions.  Just saying ;)  Do that and you can mess up Master of the Myths any way you like!



#15 AUCodeMonkey

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 12:19 PM

Hellfury said:

I am more worried by the Blackwood Agency card; "Intervention" as that card actually posses a legitimate threat for the active player challenging stories.

Boldness added for emphasis 



#16 Hellfury

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 12:43 PM

Carioz said:

…the best description for Master of the Myths would be super-chumpblocker. Is 1 neutral every turn really that cheap for a card whose effect is "delay your loss without improving your characters array?". Honestly that looks more like an Healing Balm than a Lightning Bolt (if MtG comparison is still in effect)

This. I give it more credit than a healing balm, but your point remains.

And since we are using M:tG analogies:

AUCodeMonkey said:

Hellfury said:

 

I am more worried by the Blackwood Agency card; "Intervention" as that card actually posses a legitimate threat for the active player challenging stories.

 

 

Boldness added for emphasis 

Intervention is more of a Shock since it offers the defender the chance to gain from what would otherwise be an unchallenged story by granting the Investigation struggle (and the forthcoming success token) to that defender and possibly the loss of the active player's plebe that dared go to that story as if it was a walk in the park.

A quick, sharp stab that says "Bad boy! Do not try to think you can just walk up to any story and grab it. There are dangerous things in them thar hills!"






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