It’s been a while since the last time I gave my opinion regarding the Versus Arena state in TESLegends. This time, I want to briefly discuss the Invade mechanic in the Arena context. I’ll leave the ranked thoughts for another time since there are some issues that require a dedicated article.
Invade. Everyone Gets Invade.
As some of you may have read/seen/witnessed/played, Invade has become a polarizing mechanic in constructed mode. Some argue that the random keyword generation is the main offender, while others believe that the way the Oblivion Gates behave is quite unfair. Of course, there are way more opinions about the topic, but I want to keep it reduced.
On October 7, 2019, some Arena changes were announced with the new expansion. Among the relevant news we got:
- The introduction of the ranked system in Versus Arena.
- Changes to appearance rate of some cards:
- Jaws of Oblivion cards appear at 4x frequency and Moons of Elsweyr cards appear at 2x frequency.
- At the start of each Arena run, the options presented for which attributes to play will include:
- One Invasion-aligned option: Battlemage, Crusader, Mage, or Guildsworn
- One Tamriel-aligned option: Monk, Scout, Spellsword, or Empire
- One option at random from all 20 dual-color and tri-color combinations
- Moon Gate, Frazzled Alfiq, Rebellion General, Smash and Grab, and Old Salty’s Assault have been curated out of Arena.
Everything seems fine. The developers made these decisions in order to allow players to enjoy the new expansion in Arena and take highly synergy-dependent cards out of the draft pool of cards.
The problem began with how the new mechanic works. Invade is a highly synergistic mechanic whose success depends on being able to draft as many Invade/Daedra cards as possible to benefit from the buffs provided by the Gates. This poses some challenges:
- You should be able to pick an Invade class: Mage, Battlemage, Crusader or Guildsworn to optimize your draft.
- You should be able to pick Invade/Daedra cards at a consistent rate.
The Invade Options
The first issue is simply solved by having always the option to pick an invade class. Of course, the moment another patch/expansion arrives, this will be reverted. However, there will always be the chance to pick one of the aforementioned colors.
A problem arises with “Jaws of Oblivion cards appear at 4x frequency”. This change translates into having a higher chance of getting a better density of Invade picks than we would expect at base rates. Add the card pool from two/three Invade colors and your chances to obtain the desired synergy in a deck increases.
Despite this issues, I want to state a positive change. Guildsworn has been in a good spot in Versus Arena since its introduction to the game. I don’t intend to say it’s the best or one of the best color combinations, but I’ve seen/had decent 7-x runs with it. The same applies to Crusader.
The problem lies with Mage and Battlemage, classes that I’ve found less represented in the game. This doesn’t imply it’s impossible to reach a 7-x run with them, but you require a solid draft. I like how Invade raised the power level and general utility of these two classes, making them more useful and worth the run. However, I dislike that they achieved this solely by manipulating numbers in the backend. Although, can this justify such actions?
By the way, the first days of the expansions, I just played against Invade decks. One after another. As time passed by, I started to see more classes like Scout, Monk, etc. Maybe it was the heat of the moment, but people started to experiment with different colors.
The In Between
Have you ever picked a class with an Invade color and a non-Invade color? Let’s say we select Monk. Yellow has access to four Invade cards (Invasion Marauder, Unexpected Arrival, Invasion Party and The Crisis Begins) and several Daedra, but Green doesn’t (some Deadra, but not Invade). How “good enough” should these Invade cards be in order to justify being drafted?
In my first 7-x run, I picked Monk and was able to draft two copies of The Crisis Begins. Removals are always good options in Arena. Despite this lucky picks, I was only able to draft two other Daedra: Dremora Channeler and Shining Saint. Sure, there exists (weak) synergy, but is it enough to justify Inavade in this draft? That completely depends on the person, but drafting Invade cards in these scenarios just with the hope of getting more of these picks sounds too optimistic. For this specific situation, I (along with other people) arrived to the conclusion that it is risky to draft around Invade with just one Invade color. You don’t get enough juice from a few fruits.
Breaking Down the Gate
One of the things I personally dislike are random outcomes in Arena. Highrolling will always feel unfair for the losing side, and this is where random Keywords enter the scene. Let’s break down the Gates into parts.
The first two levels grants Daedras a +0/+1 and +1/+1 buff, respectively. The trick with these buffs is when you get them. The Health buff is best at early stages of the game thanks to the ability to (in the best case) trade for more than one creature.
For example, consider a buffed Golden Initiate (3/4). If you manage to get this Daedra on curve, the best scenario is that it will trade with at least 2 creatures of lower/similar cost, eating your enemy resources (spend two cards two destroy one). This is helpful due the ability to control or dictate trades, always keeping them at your favor, controlling your opponent’s game plan during the early game. With some luck, you can keep this pace until late game and close it when you want.
The Attack buff helps at later stages of the game when you are ready to givethat Charge or Guard creature that small buff that counts towards victory. Nothing clever here.
The 1 magicka cost reduction, again, helps if you’re playing the curve game, but at the risk of quickly depleting your hand. This effect requires planing ahead in the future, so it can be tricky to take advantage of it. Nevertheless, this allows some burst plays that can be hard to overcome without spending a lot of resources from your deck.
Finally, we arrive at the Keyword generation at level 4. As Link-先輩 once said, “Get a random Keyword” translates to “Get charge, you win”. Despite this truth, there are other useful Keywords in Arena: Ward/Lethal allows value trades and Drain/Guard helps you when in turtle mode. Even Regenerate has the opportunity to shine if it drops on a high health creature with guard that can survive trades.
However, all of this will only occur if you are not able to close an Oblivion Gate as soon as possible before they reach the Keyword generation point. Unfortunately, the game won’t offer enough counter cards for the gates, so you need to get creative.
Despite the few tech choices in this game mode chasing the Gates seems to be the best tool (in most cases) to close them, stimulating the fight for the shadow lane control. We have other options like Lethal pings, Prophecies and play the tempo game. Of course, feel free to pick cards like Execute or Arrow Storm if offered.
Invade arrived and disrupted the metagame. I enjoy how some classes received a general buff, but not how they got it. At the end, the whole problem of the Invade mechanic lies on the player having enough assets that can benefit from the Gate’s buffs. Indeed, random Keyword generation is problematic considering there are few options to handle them in Arena.
The second part comes from the available Daedra/Invade card pool. Invade with no Daedra is a waste of time, especially since you risk losing the leveled Gate. Thus, the higher the density of Invade/Daedra in your deck, the better.
I’m confident once the special arena rules introduced with patch 2.14 are removed, Invade decks will become less powerful due the lower appearance rate of synergy cards. This doesn’t mean that they will completely disappear, but it will force people to more carefully pick their cards if they choose to go the Invade route. I just hope this moment will arrive sooner than later – chasing and closing gates becomes boring with time.
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