elenchus wrote:As far as I've playtested it, I have found the Hidden Dimensions too easy. That said, I haven't grinded enough to make the levels all that high; I'd think that if you start having to go through seven opponents that start off at Level 150 with nasty ambush ships and a full complement of boosts and only get harder from there on, carefully selecting mercs and boosts will become more important.
I feel that the grind to get to a level where the AI is hard enough to be fun to play against is too large. The grind just to unlock the Hidden Dimensions was so overwhelming I put it off for months. I was super-hyped when I finally finished the grind about a month ago because I'd heard this was supposedly an ultra-hard attrition game mode that I was told singlehandedly justifies the existence of mercenaries. So I put in my best combat boosts and a mercenary I spent an hour grinding for, I spend several minutes agonizing over which of the bonuses to reroll, and...
...the Hidden Dimension gets knocked over like it was made of blue cheese. Wait, I start at Level 50? And I only get to increase the level by 5 every seven games? After I already put in one hundred and thirty-five matches to unlock this game mode in the first place?
It just takes too much grinding through easy but tedious games before established players can get to the hard games that will challenge them and make them have fun. It was just really, really demoralizing and put me off the game. I mean, I'd note that as a problem with Mercenary Mode too (fifty games per individual mercenary, reduced to around forty-five per mercenary if you're reasonably high-level), but it's especially problematic in Exploration. I think I remember some talk about having some of the Exploration and Hidden Dimension battles involve fighting in other game modes or with special rules or whatnot, and that would definitely make the grind less monotonous, but I don't think it solves the central problem that is the sheer amount of grinding easy battles involved.
I think just fighting one (repeatable?) set of dimensions from each race, perhaps giving common and uncommon cards, serves as enough of an introduction to Explore mode on its own; the focus should be put squarely on the Hidden Dimensions mode, since it's the flagship gameplay mode of the game (no pun intended), and that requires that it be reasonably accessible. I think if I didn't have to go through over ten dozen battles just to get to HD mode, I'd be much more willing to grind HD mode itself to get it to a point where it's fun to play.
Well said. I'd like to see DA points start of brutally expensive for the more important upgrades types (Base Healing and Base Resistance, and also Base Retaliation) - in some early HD matches, I can win practically without playing a card because the enemy self-kills through my Base Retaliation and Healing. Even one Base Resistance makes a HUGE difference in a combat when it is global like this - think about it! It means that Flare towers and anything else that does 1 damage to the base never will. That, on the one hand, saves the player from lots of damage, and (should the AI have this benefit) eliminates lots of valid card strategies for the player (this is why I won't bother putting a Vector in a deck ever, because there's no point in it). That being said - lots of the abilities and cards that give Base Resistance/Retaliation are too weak...1 Retaliation for 1 turn is simply pointless, because there's no guarantee anything will even attack you when you launch a ship that gives that boost (I just scrap these).
In any case, elenchus, I'll definitely support you - the primary phase of Explore was REALLY cool. You got some Uncommon/Elite cards, it gets you used to the game, and it was a solid, meaningful challenge. I would like to see the Hidden Dimensions part be similar, and quite frankly it would be nice to see Uncommon rewards more often, because they're harder to acquire than Elite cards...barring the (very few) types of cards one can acquire in Tactical combats, it's hard to find Uncommon cards anywhere, really, and the selection is few. Hidden Dimensions seems like it would be the most fun option in the long run, but the benefits need to balance out against your opponent - and at present, they do not.