I'm not sure I understand why you don't think that's what we have.The_Emp wrote: ↑October 15th, 2020, 12:23 amI wanted to chime in on the discussion about Tiers. Coffeepass did ask a similar question in another thread, to which I responded, but I’ll reiterate it here, in no small part because I don’t remember which thread that was. Let me lead with this: I largely agree with Hunter.
Let me explain why.
It’s important to note here that I’m speaking only of the competitive perspective, but if we’re talking about tiers, we’re focusing on the competitive side regardless. Playing off-the-wall casual decks at the kitchen table has no bearing on how the Majors metagame should play out, so I’ll be focusing on the latter for this discussion.
I agree with Hunter’s assertion about competitive games involving multiple characters/decks/etc. with unique abilities, playstyles, and, therefore, strengths and weaknesses. If there is only cosmetic separation between the choices, then sure, everything will even out because there are no practical differences between the available options. But if there are tangible distinctions, the game will naturally separate into tiers, regardless of the intent or actions of the designers, and this kind of stratification is largely unavoidable. Certain strategies will simply have native advantages over others, and the basic structure of the game will favor or disfavor certain options. That is also unavoidable.
If we try to set as our goal a meta in which every deck is 50/50 against every other deck, we are simply setting ourselves up for failure. For one thing, as previously noted, strategic differences will lead to good and bad matchups as a matter of course. Correcting all of those matchups is at best daunting and at worst a fool’s errand. For another, as other games have learned, there is a 0% chance that Design and Playtesting can account for every possible iteration of cards and thus they can’t know precisely what the meta will look like. Attempting to engineer a meta in the way that has been suggested is an utter impossibility for this reason. Some interaction will be missed, some card will prove weaker or stronger than intended, some small percentage edge will be found that was invisible in the dozens of games in playtesting but becomes evident in hundreds or thousands of games in the wild. Once that happens, the entire house of cards falls apart. One deck will rise up and the meta will stratify around decks good against or weak against that deck, then the decks that can tech to find edges against those decks, and so on. D&D can attempt to correct that with errata, but it will simply happen again, and again, ad infinitum. There’s no point in trying to fight it.
So I agree with everything you say here. I'm not sure that is what I or others (but they can speak for themselves), are trying to say. What you are describing is reality, it IS the meta. At least to me, I think there is something that is missing. When people talk about the goal of getting decks to 50/50, I don't think they actually believe we can have a perfectly even 50/50 meta - that is impossible just given that the dark and light cards are different from one another even. Rather, when people quote that they are referring to it as an overarching goal to strive for, not an end point, which I would agree is a false utopia. Even if someone focuses on balancing by bringing up lower decks and curbing higher end decks, you are still going to have decks that fall into tiers. That IS the meta, and it will always be happening.
Something I think is interesting is the rate at which the meta defines itself and shifts decks into different tiers. With the theory that Hunter and others adhere to, I think you would have a faster meta shift that categorizes decks into tiers than you would if you had a lot more viable options since it would take longer to determine which decks were better in the first place.
With the meta we have, it's more like we have very clearly defined top tier decks, with the rest way far behind, so things shake up much quicker.
One question we should each ask ourselves is: Do we think a good meta is a changing/evolving meta, or a meta that has mostly set into place and is more fixed as it's not changing by much?
I don't think there is a right or wrong answer there as they are subjective, but a meta that has mostly settled is much more stale to me then a shifting meta where many decks are competing against each other to establish themselves as the best.
So sometimes in our conversations online even peoples 'timing' of the meta makes a difference.
I'm reading an implication that the current meta is the stale, settled meta that you're describing, and I'd agree most competitive players are ready for a change. For one thing, as MHT/Silverglen showed, there's still room for innovation in such a meta. In fact, the meta has shifted around a fair bit since the last change to the card pool, which I believe was the release of the Tweak set. AOBS fell off, ISB rose, split into several different builds that have since largely settled into a character-heavy trooper build as the best one (but still with some variation depending on meta expectations, as demonstrated by the OCS playoff decks). CCT Scum emerged as a viable alternative to Court, Hunt Down dropped off, Watto emerged as a Tier 1.5 option, Court got more refined. TRM fell off despite a rise in Scum decks, Legend got more refined and improved, No Idea did the same. Even within that, we can see people succeeding with off-meta decks, EchoBaseTrooper/Adam Fletcher being the prime example with his performance with WHAP. So, even in a "solved" meta, there was a lot of movement and jockeying, and it's possible that there could still be more to come even without a new set or errata (although I welcome both). So, it seems that after quite a lot of months of evolution, the meta is in a pretty stable (read: stale) spot, but it did take a while to get there, and a lot of decks moved around in order to come to this configuration.
For another, I'm not sure we can draw a lot of conclusions about how fast or slow the meta settles itself in regards to current Design philosophy. We faced an unprecedented global situation that both ramped up online play and put the brakes on the development and release of the next set. Thus, the meta went longer than originally intended without a forced update, and it evolved more quickly than it had in the past, both due to outside factors. I don't think the number of "viable" decks in the meta really changes that much, if for no other reason than it takes time to determine if a deck is "viable" or not. In fact, I think it's easy to see how the changes in the tweak set were intended to widen the field, SSAv as the prime example. That card alone is responsible for several deck archetypes jumping to prominence, or even existing at all when they didn't before.
I wouldn't argue this meta is perfect, nor that some tweaks to power down top decks aren't called for, as they definitely are, and they're coming tomorrow. I'd agree for sure that, for instance, ISB is too high in the meta and it's presence depresses the appearances of both LS decks that have a hard time fighting it and DS decks that operate on similar axes but in less efficient ways, so taking it down a notch is well worth doing. Those things will happen sometimes, and D&D has, I think, done a good job of addressing them when they do. But I also don't think they've done a bad job at all of giving us new, fun options to play with, or of creating an engaging environment for us to experiment in.