After much anticipation the standard format is finally upon us. With the initial launch seeing the return of Kagero, Royal Paladin, Nova Grappler and Oracle Think Tank we have a pretty small meta-game to break down. Which thankfully helps to form more of an impression of the basic game-play and direction that standard seems to be heading in its initial year.
Today I’m going to break down some of my initial thoughts and criticisms of the standard format and how I think it can improve as well as some tips for players getting used to the new game-flow.
This is without a doubt the most important aspect of standard, knowing when to swing in or hold back is the decider in most of the games I’ve played. This is especially important against Novas who if allowed can easily reach 6+ attacks by their second or even first gift if Perfect Raiser is allowed to go live.
Take it on a case by case basis though, sometimes you do have to push in damage and prepare for the response, this is likely to be the biggest dividing factor between good and learning players in the early standard format.
Somewhat a companion to denying damage attacking problem rears is a big deal, hell even somewhat tame rears might be worth directing attacks into. Advantage is low currently so every extra unit that the opponent has to commit from hand is significant (especially if you pair this with damage denial). It can be quite easy to swing a win in one big push turn if you’ve chipped away at the opponents resources enough.
Gifts are a large part of progressing the game state and I’ve found that games where I prioritise gaining gifts are more successful than games where I call G3s for additional pressure. Of course this won’t always be true but its a decent rule of thumb especially if you’re playing force or accel decks.
Thoughts and Criticism
Obviously the game is much simpler than the later G-era games but there are still some pretty interesting decision to be made that often have larger immediate implications. Choosing how you want to build up to finisher turn, where to place force gifts, what to attack and even whether to call G1s can all make large differences. Although these are easier than the more constant micro choices of the G-era they’re still very engaging and have captured my personal interest and helped nurture enthusiasm from me at least.
Guarding and Grade Ones
Guarding is almost an entirely new beast and again plays into the decisions you have to make, over-guarding attacks is a semi-common occurrence due to new shield values and holding onto a G1 to retain shield over offence is a dynamic I’m a big fan of. Boosters are more important than ever but the trade off is a relevant one that helps to keep things interesting.
Game progress in a very interesting and natural way and there is definitely no love lost between generation break and me. Gift and G3 based progression help to make the game feel smooth and progress in an intuitive way all the while going back to twin drive helps keep the game more intense as resources are whittled away at by general pressure.
However all these positives are not without flaw and I do think there are currently some glaring issues that although I believe will likely balance out or be addressed are certainly worth mentioning.
First Turn Advantage
Getting the first G3 as well as the first gift is a significant boon, putting you ahead of your opponent almost an entire stage of the game. This isn’t entirely new G-era was weighted to the second turn player, however there was significant counter-play and the early G2 game was a deep and complex stage of the game. First turn player advantage currently has no such play around and is definitely something that needs to be considered moving forward.
There are a few ways this can be evened out but I think the most elegant to handle this is to remove the draw from the first turn of the game. This evens the odds without the need to create cards geared towards this problem or shift advantage in the opposite direction.
Kagero Is Definitely Ahead
From the first set Kagero is definitely somewhat ahead of the other clans in the set. There are a few factors contributing to this but it largely comes down to higher general card quality. I don’t think its an overstatement to say that Aermo may be one of the best cards in the set and yet isn’t even a game ending card. On top of that retire is very powerful currently due to low advantage and Kagero is the clan most effective at playing the damage denial game thanks to cards like Overlord, Gaias and Waterfall.
This is something that should definitely even out over time as more clans diversify threats and counters emerge to Kagero in the form of immune units or counter Kagero. I do hope that the power gap is brought closer in future sets as these early sets are important to the future success of the standard and potentially even premium format.
Triggers Are Very Powerful
A combination of lower advantage, less overall checks and the 10k power make both offensive and defensive checks very swingy. This is an aspect of vanguard that is always going to be a part of it and will even out over the course of the game but it’s definitely somewhat overbearing with current defensive options especially for non-force clans who don’t have the benefit of increased base power.
Like I said I expect this to even out over time but I think coupled with first turn advantage this could lead to a lot of off-putting moments for new players and would like to see it addressed sooner rather than later in some way or another.
Overall I think the game is looking to be moving in a positive direction so long as the current issues are addressed in some way or another. I have definitely come out with an overall positive impression of standard and look forward to later releases and more clans coming into play. Standard delivers a more solid base to build on than the previous iteration of the game and allows for more interesting directions overall I feel.
That said only time will tell how things really progress and as always
~Thanks for reading!
If you want more from me I’ve been rambling a lot more on twitter so follow me there if you’re interested.