Hello everyone. I'm sure you have all noticed the effect of a 5* card in a game. Whether it's Beeboy, Cliff, Dorian, Avola, Spyke (see what I did there), you can say more often than not the whole match revolves around making sure that 7/8/9 damage does not go through. The whole metagame is affected, and the presence of such nuke cards make games unbalanced. To call a Beeboy bluff? Pill to beat him? Or do I DR? Against a hand with Avola, you know what happens. 1 pill Angelo, 0 pill Oscar, 1 pill Spiaghi, all pill Avola and win.
How is ELO a strategic game mode when most games depend on whether or not a 5* is in your hand. Competitive decks actually use 2 5* when possible, like Avola + Don, Cliff + Sledg, Dorian + Herman/Lady, Troompah +Ongh, Beeboy + Bodenpower, etc. Because even with a mediocre hand, having a 5* means you can just luck your way inti a win. The result is that even good players lose a good % of their games, and then it requires more and more games to get a top score because you average +/-. It's a cliche to say you need 1000 games in order to win the ELO tournament, but I wonder how far that estimate is from the truth.
I'm not doing this for the sake of whining, but out of actual concern on how ELO is played. The recipe for winning is to pack as many 50/50 cards as possible, and force your opponent to predict each one or lose. A guildie of mine proposed that all 5* be banned from the game, but this is a bit too drastic IMO. Perhaps a 24* format?
Build better decks.
If you find yourself devastated by the opponent drawing a 5*, you need to think more about synergy and utility. There are great low-star cards that gap hard, or shut down opposing cards in significant ways. Things like SoA and DR effectively limit WHEN your opponent is able to play his heavy-hitter, giving you a lot of control over the match.
Many ELO players actually shy away from 2 5* decks -- it means you are forced to pack your deck full of low-star cards as well, which can result in inconsistent play. Making T100 relies on streaks, and you just can't afford to lose more than 1 out of 4 games. In other words, sometimes getting an "easy win" draw is not an advantage when it comes at the cost of sometimes getting a "guaranteed loss" draw.
I personally have had success with 2 5*s, 1 5*, and no 5*s at all. I honestly wouldn't say that any of those setups has a distinct advantage over the others. However you build your deck, you need to have multiple viable plans for winning the game, regardless of what your opponent is running, even if you got a sub-par draw.
There's a difference between unbalancing the metagame (which you suggest) and stabilizing it. 5* cards are the glue that keep deck-building variable without making it ridiculous; you know you have a higher chance of facing Avola than 3-4 random 3* cards from Montana, so you know you should probably pack a high Pow/SoA card in your deck somewhere. There's a lot of cards, and if you had to try and plan for too many your build would spread too thin and you wouldn't get as much success.
Also, a part of playing smart is playing manipulatively. If they draw a hand with Spiaghi, Angelo, Oscar, Avola, count yourself unlucky and then start 3-4 pilling your own high cards against their obvious olding. 9 damage in the fourth round isn't as useful when you can't afford to lose the third round.
Again, this is not a rant. Most of the time I win the 5* 50/50, but it's not the fact that I'm losing. It's not the fact that 5* don't show up in every hand, it's true that it comes at the cost of running more low star cards. But with low star cards are things like Thormund, Spiaghi, Jean, etc. you can live with having loads of 5*. The thing is high damage, assuming power remains at least 7, creates such a random factor in matchups that some games are coin tosses FROM THE START. I can understand a 3rd round 50/50 or even a 2nd round, but to have games rely on random pills takes the strategy factor away from it. Sure, 5* can be beaten. They can be DR'd, SoA'd, whatever you like. But it's not just that. You can bluff, which causes the aforementioned coin toss.
There's no flash in the office right now, so I can't pull up a recent game and show you the effect of a 5*. But here's one from last year, which is still relevant today despite the banning of some cards:
angelo's hand: Bristone Dolly Methane XU52
my hand: Grudj Olga Wonald Chiara
First round: Angelo plays Dolly 8 (56 atk), I play Wonald 3
Second round: I play Olga 6, he plays Bristone 0 and I lose. Just for posterity's sake I'll post the rest
Third round: He plays XU52 1, I know this but I really can't do anything, so I play Grudj 2
Fourth round: I play Chiara 5 and he plays Methane 6
With that much damage in the hand, I have to call a coin toss three times. He can afford to overpill due to the sheer damage
His draw has. I was outplayed, but in effect this is how some players win their games. I quote: "@duessel : in round 1 if i win = 8 damages ( potentially ) , round 2 : you know and i know that i can kill the game by win this round , but this is too obvious, so i prefer to play old , and you're into a dilemma...
This is a typical 50/50 from the start , we should be thankful to the staff if there is no strategy , cards like Fuzz, XU52 , Cliff should be permabanned ,
Conclusion : even with a cristal ball you couldnt predict anything here , just pure luck from my side"
A hand like this can't exist now that Dolly is banned? What about: Karrion, Cutey, Artus, Kenny? In fact, even with one high damage card games REVOLVE around making sure that card doesn't go through, or saving pills throughout the game so Cliff doesn't kill you in rounds 2, 3 or 4. Of course these games are winnable, and we can argue: SoA, SoB, DR, etc. but the fact of the matter is these high damage cards create too much of an imbalance in the game. When I get back I'll use a deck with some 5*s, post the results here again.
0 Incognito's hand: Kerozinn Cr, Shifou, Flanagan, Tremorh
My hand: Dave, Lady, Oxen, Rubie
Already it seems I am at a disadvantage. His draw is solid, while mine is shaky. But, I have cards with big damage, and I believe I will win this game.
He plays Flanagan 3 pills.
I play Oxen 5.
Round 2 (and this is a 50/50 already)
I play Rubie old.
He plays Kero 6 and I win the match.
0 Incognito forfeits.
22:50 Elo you won by forfeit against 0 Incognito, Maison Close (6-: 1315 ELO
You see, by letting a card with big damage go through in the first round regardless of pillz spent, you create a situation where your opponent is forced to call heads or tails. Twice. It probably wasn't too smart to play Flanagan first, but you get the point. I can even afford to old Rubie, even if he pills just enough to beat it I can still force a win or draw. You don't even HAVE to play the 5*, its mere presence causes all the other moves in the game to change.
Here's the deck I used if anyone wants to see it. I made it in about 30 seconds just for this thread, but I know it is competitive because 1: It has big damagers, and high reduction and 2: It has walls that can beat 5* safely without usually causing 50/50s.