Apologies for the lack of a post last week. Real life and writer’s block meant that putting out any sort of quality post wasn’t in the cards.
Solforge’s latest expansion, Darkforge Rising and it’s mini expansion Factions United have been out for a while now and I figured I’d share some thoughts about it as a set and the draft format. For some background, I’ve been playing since the game first came out, the only money I’ve spent on this game is from the kickstarter and play somewhat completive. I don’t have the card pool to build a lot of tier one decks and I’m happy enough just drafting every three days. That’s being said, let’s jump into it.
Long-time readers, or people who just looking through my archive, will note that I used to do monthly draftcaps. I’ve stopped doing partially cause the process was mildly annoying, but more because this draft format isn’t fun. This is better than Set 4, where the N/T Assault deck was the best deck to draft, miserable to play against and not terribly interesting to play with, but that’s not exactly a high bar. Part of the problem is the titular Darkforged, a cross-faction tribe with a straightforward, linear mechanic. It makes drafting a game of chance in whether you decide to go in on the Darkforged, which is fine. I like that there are archetypes and that the nature of Solforge’s draft system means that you have to be willing to take risks and accept that sometimes the packs just won’t open your way. The problem is that this is present in every draft cause the darkforged are in every faction. Not only that, but the cards are very linear and very simple designs. If you get a critical mass of the right types of darkforged, then the games just feel very similar. If you don’t then they’re more interesting but can increase the feeling of variance in draft if they don’t show up in your hand. In terms of tribal mechanics this is preferable to the abomination deck from the last format.
My other main problem with the draft format is that Voltron strategies are a real theat. ‘Voltron’ for those who are unfamiliar with the term, refers to an old anime series that had combining mecha. It’s become a piece of MTG slang meaning to stack up a bunch of pump on one creature to make a giant monster. In Solforge this is a legit strategy due to the nature of removal in draft as well as how creature combat works out; although in what form and how prevalent varies from format to format. This format it seems easy enough and diverse enough. Which is legit, it’s also the mode of play that I find the least interesting. I love long, grindy games where you’re eking out incremental advantage. Which is still possible in this format, but it’s nowhere near the default mode of play.
Now despite my gripes about the draft format, I still think this is an overall good expansion due to the options it gives constructed. Not only that, but it gives a number of good unlegendary options. The Darkforged are a fine foundation for a deck. Take nine each from two factions and you’re already 60% there to making a deck. Zombie Dreadknight has given Zombies a shot in the arm, and it’s entirely possible to build an unlegendary version of that as you don’t need things like Zimus or Tarsus. I haven’t seen the Patron cycle in play, but they seem like a good boast in the arm to mono-faction, or nearly mono faction decks. I haven’t seen much else or many of the legendaries, but their designs are what I expect from legendaries: relatively unique. Also I think that has to do with my lack of playing in things the constructed queue or unofficial tournaments. The random queue only has so much, and I did see some cool things during Forgemaster Weekend.
Finally, there’s one more thing to talk about regarding this set. The whole concept of the Darkforged and the factions coming together to fight them is a flavor fail. While SBE has been good at setting up the world and telling stories on individual cards or evoking ideas of what the setting is like through groups of cards, it’s been less than stellar at anything more than that. The campaign was nice, but hasn’t been updated in months and the lack of flavor text means that the mechanics and card names only go so far. SBE is great at resonance and implied flavor, it’s terrible at actually putting it front and center to appeal to a Vorthos, or whatever they want to call that archetype for their game. I’ve stopped caring about the flavor, since there just isn’t enough to get invested in, but it’s still worth pointing out as an area of improvement.
All in all, I’m still having fun with Solforge. No set is perfect after all. Right now I’m just looking forward to the new client and all that entails. Till next time.