Any avid Jay is Games reader will have, at one point or another, paid a visit to game hosting site Kongregate. The site features hundreds of developers, and has a veritable smorgasbord of games. But until now, the folks behind Kongregate had not created a game of their own. Finally, after months of development and a lengthy private beta, the site has thrown its proverbial hat into the ring with Kongai.
Kongai, a multiplayer collectible card game (CCG), blends the lineup of a beat-'em-up fighter with the tactics of a turn-based campaign. This combination makes for a game that will please genre fans and newcomers alike.
You and your three or five character army take on the enemy head-to-head. Turns are divided into two phases. First is the maneuver phase, where players determine what range to fight at, followed by the combat phase, where players select an attack, switch fighters, or rest for a turn. The last team alive wins.
Beneath the basics lies a wealth of strategy. Some attacks work only at close range, while others can only strike from afar. Some characters are resistant to certain types of attacks, while others are especially vulnerable. Knowing when to switch fighters to play off your opponent's weaknesses is essential, but if your enemy predicts a change, they can block you and cause massive damage. Stir into the mix stat-changing buffs and debuffs, and sprinkle in a wide variety of general and class-specific items, and you've got a dense game.
Of course, what would a collectible card game be without collectible cards? You can build your deck through two different methods. Winning online matches gives a chance of earning a new card, while new cards are offered in weekly challenges throughout the user-created games on Kongregate.
Analysis: I'm no stranger to CCGs, although I will admit that my past experience is limited to Yu-Gi-Oh! and the Pokémon trading card game.
One of the most important aspects of any CCG is balance. What fun is a game where one card can destroy everything in its path with no trouble? The game becomes less of a battle and more of an episode of Dragon Ball Z.
Fortunately, Kongai is well balanced, with nary a Blue Eyes White Dragon, Mewtwo, or Goku in sight. David Sirlin is the man behind the game's design and balancing. With enough forethought and planning, any character can defeat any other character.
And forethought and planning are essential qualities in Kongai. Staying one step ahead of your opponent and predicting their moves is critical to surviving. Is he going to switch ranges so he can use his most powerful attack? Cancel their maneuver out and stay where you are. Is she going to change out her fighter for a dark magician? Intercept her and deal massive damage.
Getting inside your opponent's mind is the most valuable skill you can have. Knowing what your enemy is thinking is the key to defeating them. If you've ever had an interest in becoming a psychic, this game will provide adequate testing grounds.
A quickmatch feature places you in a 3- or 5-card battle against a random opponent, and a ranked match system allows you to prove your deck is better than everyone else's. Host a private game against a friend, or practice against the Kong-Bot AI. The only current downside is the connection speed; servers are overwhelmed with players, and you might be occasionally disconnected. But don't let that stop you.
This game is deep. Deeper than most games featured here. Months of planning and consideration have been put into crafting every detail, and it shows in the rich complexities and sheer amount of tactics at hand. But despite the magnitude, even a casual gamer will fall in love with this gem.
I like this game. I was actually part of the beta and even then it was fun. One of the things that makes it great is the fact that it's free. Nothing annoys me more than a site that expects you to pay for a card that you're never going to own. The game itself gets a little boring though. Character animation is nonexistent (similar to the old Pokemon games for the gameboy). Also if your not already a member of the site, you may have trouble since members of the site have been earning cards for a few months already. But you should definitly check out the game, and the site in general.
So that's what all the "achievements" for their games are about? I wish I had known, now I don't really feel the motivation to sign up and start achieving again :(
Someone add me! I want to fight a fellow JIG member.
No?! Where's your sense of community, Corona?
I'll add you Wired22. :)
No offense here but is kidsafe right i mean the girls costume is pretty revealing!
I'll play anyone. My kongai ID is SherpaVT
Actually, it's not the achievements part but the challenges part of the website that earns you cards.
On the outside, it looks like an interesting game. Feature-packed, yes. But balanced it is not. Just positioning your character costs half of your max energy points; executing a decent move will leave you nearly empty at the end of a single turn! And then you're at the opponent's mercy for whatever comes.
Then, like with any online multi, the type of community is also important. I'd hate to be randomly paired up with some screaming 12-year old, the type that populates the Kongregate chatboxes. :/
Nah, I will pass this one.
Kongai is really superb because Sirlin is behind the whole thing. He's an expert when it comes to game balance. You can read his blog at Sirlin.net.
Congrats Sirlin! Great game!
This is a pretty fun game. My only problem is that half the time, my brain starts going like this:
"Hmm, he's in a bad position. Maybe I should Intercept in case he changes characters. Wait, maybe he will predict that I'll do that. So I should just attack...Wait! What if he predicts that? Maybe I should change characters myself to throw him off guard. But perhaps he's predicted that too! I know, I'll just Rest...But what if he's counting on that! So I should..."
And in the end, I'll always fall for it. Whatever it was. =(
And, of course, if I don't do that, he'll pull an obvious move and I'll feel stupid for not seeing it coming. =/
It's a little weird to see switching of cards and movement being so important in a card game...it throws me off a little. Also the game glitches sometimes for me to where I can't see any of the cards...not that it matters, I can still play.
The girls in their steel-bikinis I nice to look at. I mean its typicically sexist... but still nice to look at, altough I never understood how a steel-bikini should give any protection...
Wan, thanks for linking to that developer's site. He certainly has interesting articles about game design and balance.
Browsing Sirlin's articles, I found a funny piece of irony, let me share it with you guys (bold emphasis is mine):
These are some of Sirlin's criteria of a fair game. Too bad that Kongai falls short of these, right from the beginning. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the whole set of Kongai characters is not available right from the beginning. The player has to invest considerable time and effort slaving away at Kongai and other games at Kongregate, to earn these cards one-by-one. Ironically, this is not so much different from WoW's level-up grind that Sirlin so much despises.
Is it then possible that a Kongregate veteran who has been playing various K-games for the last couple months, collecting a variety of Kongai cards, stands a better chance of winning, simply because of his wider set of choices, than someone who start playing only this week? Sure it is, according to the beta-tester who just commented above ("if your not already a member of the site, you may have trouble since members of the site have been earning cards for a few months already").
As it is, Kongai rewards and encourages long times spent playing that game and others on Kongregate, and as an inevitable consequence, punishes players who can't or refuse to do so. That's not what I'd call "fair", certainly not by Sirlin's own standards. :p
It's a cliche, but I still don't like how most of the female characters have bikini armor. It's nonsensical.
Female fighter: Behold! My metal bikini protects from even the sharpest sword blow!
Opponent: *stabs stomach*
Female fighter: Erk. *dies*
I know we're not exactly going for realism here, but it still irritates me.
As for the gameplay, when they say "let the mind games begin" they're not kidding. The ability to switch characters and intercept, and the high energy cost for abilities, makes this a game that requires a lot of thought. I still haven't completely gotten the hang of it, though.
It does bring back some embarrassing memories of high school, when I dropped more money than I care to admit on Yugioh cards. On the plus side, it made me the most popular babysitter EVAR, haha. All the kids begged their moms to let the cool girl who plays Yugioh watch them. ^_^
I'm joye on Kong also and I would happily play a match with anyone from JIG!
switching characters and intercepting makes this game IMHO a hugh bloated variant of papper, stone, scissors. You win when you can manage to read the mind of the other, and youself behave as random as possible making yourself unreadable (so best play wearing a steel bikini and some dice in your hand, and let them determine if you switch or not..)
SiamJai, you can read the comments of Sirlin's latest post. The access to the cards is controlled by Kongregate, not by him. Definitely trying to encourage people to explore Kongregate more. Sirlin only manages the game balance and the stats.
This game has gone through several months of beta-testing and game balancing with hundreds of people playing tens of thousands of games.
When people like "SiamJai" say that it is very unbalanced, it is surprising to me that someone who has played for a day or two has already grasped all the intricacies involved. I would like to learn how to evaluate balance so quickly.
Thanks again, Wan. I will continue the discussion at his site, since my point now has little to do with the actual game discussed here. :-)
I'll post a comment there, once his site recovers from the 500 Error that I see there now.
wow.. this game is really well done. I am usually not a fan of these games, but I enjoy it. RIght now I have 1 win, 2 losses, and all of them close games. (mrmaddog is my name if any JIG people want to play)
garcia: if beta-testing would guarantee flawless games, the shelves would be bursting with perfect games. They are not, and it doesn't. I've made my reasoning clear; address the issue if you want, but sarcasm doesn't get you anywhere.
Someone add JimmyTheBard and I'll be happy to play them.
1. "On the outside, it looks like an interesting game. Feature-packed, yes. But balanced it is not."
2. "Just positioning your character costs half of your max energy points; executing a decent move will leave you nearly empty at the end of a single turn! And then you're at the opponent's mercy for whatever comes."
Your argument is that 1. follows from 2.
This would be great, except that 2. shows a complete lack of knowledge about the game. Do you see why? (Hint: If you don't see why, you might want to play a few more games against non-braindead players who have 'switch' and 'intercept' buttons)
I could have chosen between being sarcastic and insulting your playing skills and/or intelligence, and I chose the former because I am a nice guy! :)
I'll jump in here and say that you're still not adding much to this conversation, garcia.
Why choose between sarcasm and insults only? How about some helpful advice from a seasoned player?
Why not provide some real meat for this discussion? What are you trying to hide?
Garcia, please don't assume lack of knowledge simply because one's opinion is different than your own. I am familiar with the possibilities and advantages offered by the switch and intercept options. This doesn't change the fact that a simple movement takes an enormous toll on the character's energy reserves. In my book that is a serious flaw in game balance, and no amount of number-crunching statistics can change that.
Thanks, Jay. :-)
i don't know if this is "unbalanced" as in any sense i would define "balance". This would fit in the category "the game is different than I want it to be".
Unbalanced in my opinion is some character class, some movement, some very specific strategy that outperforms everything else, thus everyone does only this and there is no difference among players anymore so ruins the game...
But far/near changes happen to both players at the same, so I consider it not as an "unbalance"; The game would just be "different" if it were less, who knows if more or less fun.
In my humble opinion switching should take far more move credits. As long as you don't expect the other to intercept already, switching is always the optimal strategy as the oponnent loses energy while you lose absolute nothing.
Yeah, the clothing choices for these games are always a scream--the female characters are in their underwear and the male characters are covered up in three or more layers? THAT'S realistic!
It's enough to keep me from even giving the game a second look, judging it as silly and immature (whether it is or not). Enter the modern world already--either dress the women appropriately or give us girls some eye candy!
I absolutely agree, dsrtrosy.
It's very disappointing to see continued female objectification and pandering from game developers.
Jay, I am not trying to hide anything. Where did you get the idea that I am trying to hide something?
"This doesn't change the fact that a simple movement takes an enormous toll on the character's energy reserves. In my book that is a serious flaw in game balance, and no amount of number-crunching statistics can change that."
I read this as "I can't change range as often and cheaply as I want to, so that whenever I get in range, I am out of energy. Therefore, I can only do my biggest attack once before I am out of energy!"
For example, you might be playing a character that has only close range attacks. You might find that, against competent opposition, you will *never* be at close range with more than 50 energy. In fact, against most players, you will likely only be at your optimal range with 40 energy.
As a concrete example, you might have Ashi at far range with 100 energy. You move close and do signature slice. You are left with 20 energy.
You claim this is, quote, "a serious flaw in game balance."
Do I understand the situation? I want to understand your complaint before I reply.
My impression is that you are 'hiding' your knowledge and understanding of the game by offering only criticism of others' perceived lack thereof.
No disrespect intended.
Guys, come on. This is getting too heated. I thought this was just a game. if you think it's really bad, keep it to yourself instead of criticizing everyone. Most discussions I've read stay polite. in my opinion, you're ruining the site's community feel.
Part of the community is in the discussions, Twilitlord, and not everyone agrees with each other in a discussion. But that's ok, and is to be expected. :)
Well, first, thanks for the write-up! Garcia is widely regarded on Kongregate as being perhaps the best Kongai player around -- he's usually at the very top of our skill ladder, and right now he's at #2. So I can understand how he might get a little passionate when newer players critique the game mechanics.
SiamJai, Sirlin has been working very hard at balancing the game, and of course it is a work in progress, and player feedback can help shape how balance changes are made. I'm not sure I quite understand your argument about the expensive cost of changing ranges being a flaw in the game's balance, though. All options are inherently available to both players. You describe a scenario in which you pay a lot of energy to change the range and unleash an attack, while leaving yourself open to an opponent's attack. However, your opponent started off in the same situation you did. Deciding which range is more advantageous to you (and most disadvantageous to your opponent) and whether changing this dynamic is worth the steep energy cost is an intended part of the game's strategy. No single player is favored under this mechanic, so I'm not sure if I follow the logic about how it could be unbalanced. If you don't want to spend the energy to change ranges, then feel free to pass and save your energy for attacks. If this means that your opponent is in a better position anyway, take a moment to think about why this is, and how your foe managed to get you into a situation where you must choose between spending energy to make the range more favorable and unleashing one of your character's attacks with a bit of energy left over.
Regarding the power of the cards themselves, the ultimate goal is to have them all as close as possible. We're not designing any cards that are meant to be "better" than any other cards, then only awarding these to the most dedicated members of the site. You can sign up and select any 3 starter cards right away, and be instantly competitive. While it's true that not having a full outfit of item cards may put you at a bit of a disadvantage, you only need 3 of these to have your entire deck fully equipped. Even without any items at all, it's not unreasonable for a skilled new player to take down a less skilled opponent with a complete deck.
Sorry about the wall of text!
And now I can see why he might also be a little stingy sharing his knowledge(!) ;)
to all the people who say that switching range costs to much
movement needs to cost a lot, and by costing a lot it balances the game to a degree of perfection.
here's a couple of examples.
Higashi: the master, has an ability called chi blast. it deals 65 damage, which is more than some characters total life, and it costs 65 energy. if moving cost low energy, than every turn you would just set the range to far, use chi blast and wipe out your opponent.
Helene: the swordstress can only attack at close range. All of these attacks do a lot of damage, and if you could switch range at low energy cost, she would be completely over powered
andromeda: the archer, is the like the opposite of Helene and can only attack at long range, and would also be overpowered if switching range had a low energy.
high cost range switching is a core mechanic of the game, and if it were suddenly changed to low cost, it would ruin the game.
Explanation with examples!! :D
Now we're talking! Nice job tenkuchima.
Yeah, tenkuchima raises a very important point -- that the characters themselves are balanced around this energy cost. This becomes clear if you read some of Sirlin's balancing notes: http://www.sirlin.net/kongai-beta
Though Helene and Andromeda can actually both change the range and do any move they want in a single turn if they start with full energy. But your overall point still stands. :-P
As long males are in the game the same way objectificated as females it's okay for me. Say the males run with almost nothing but with steel-jockstraps. Then it's equal to the steel-bikinis again. But as dsrtrosy said pretty well, its difference in presentation that's just soooo yesterday, and really should not be there especially in a front-show-off-game like kongai is supposed to be for kongegrate.
fuzzyface, no steel jockstraps please, if you want us guys to still be able to reproduce. Warm fuzzy skin jockstraps, I could go for though.
ThemePark, How comfortable do you think the girls feel themselves in their steel-bikinis in which they are often put into for this kind of games?
Apparently well meant humor comes through horribly over the internet. :(
I'm not into these types of games.
I know this has little to do with the conversation, but...
When is JIG releasing it's game??? It would be sooo cool! And I know Jay has some programming experience (remember Kaleidoscorpions?). So, why not start a project? I'm sure many programmers, from the CGDCs and around the world, would show up to help, as we all love JIG! Please consider the idea, and... Well, I guess that's all.
Isn't that a nice idea?
We actually have a couple in the works. Stay tuned! :)
Hey folks, nice to see the Kongai review up. I've been playing the game since it was in beta, and I'm really enjoying it so far.
[Comment spoilerizied to prevent wall-of-text]
Some thoughts on the ongoing balance discussion -
As far as the range-changing cost is concerned, I don't quite see how that's a balance issue - as pointed out already, it's an option that's available to both players at equal cost at all times. The fact that different cards work better close up or far away is something you need to think about when picking which cards to bring in to the fight. One could say it's unfair to ranged cards that the game starts out at close range by default, but this is something that everyone knows (or should by their second game) and can compensate for by selecting an appropriate first card.
About the card availability and such -
I agree it's not fair to new players that they don't have access to all the cards, but everyone has the option to get three starters for free, which is all you need for a basic deck. Also, anyone can play with a random deck drawn from ALL of the cards whenever they want to, by selecting the Random Deck (All Cards) option before they start the match. This lets folks try out how most of the cards work (albeit with a random selection), which is good enough for a lot of varied and interesting matches. I still play random more than half the time, though I have something like 27 cards of the 42 released so far, just to try out new combinations, or characters I may not have.
That doesn't of course answer the criticism that a random deck stands less chance of victory when faced against a well thought out custom deck built by a Kongregate veteran with all of the cards, but if you play enough randoms to get a good idea what works for you, you can make a decent custom deck of your own using your starter cards - all you'll be lacking then is the items (which can admittedly be a pretty big boost in certain situations).
Back to discussion of the game itself -
I really really love the switch/intercept mechanics in this game. After my first few matches (in which I got creamed) - I started realizing the benefits of switching often, and switching unexpectedly. If you think about it, every turn your opponent may switch, costing you energy on a wasted move. However, every turn, you can choose to try an intercept instead of a regular move; getting you a free hit if you guess right, but generally giving your opponent one if you were wrong. The game becomes a matter of predicting your opponent's switches, making for an amazing mind-game with your adversary.
One of the best rushes I got when I started playing was when I had a character on the ropes, and rested instead of switching out - correctly guessing that mty enemy would try an intercept. That wasted his turn and gave me enough energy to finish him off on the next move. :D
As far as criticism is concerned -
One thing that has repeatedly bugged me about the game is the percentages listed for attack hit probability, compared to observation of in game event frequencies. Misses often seem too frequent, or come in streaks; for example, just recently I had three consecutive attacks miss, two of which were listed as 90% to-hit and the third 95%. That's a 1 in 2000 chance, yet I've had similar consecutive miss streaks on other occasions as well.
As another example, there's a character (Popo) who has an attack with a 60% chance to hit, and -if it hits-, a 50% chance to be a critical for triple damage. Now, put together, that's a 30% chance of getting the critical, yet I had three different opponents try it on me within a few games and it was a critical every time.
I'm not sure whether the listed probabilities are inaccurate, or the RNG is prone to erratic behavior sometimes, or if it's just some kind of observer bias on my part, but something does *feel* off. Of course, stuff like that can't really be examined properly by a single player, but casual conversation with other players during games seems to indicate I'm not alone in this feeling.
And about the matchmaking system -
This is one thing which works fine for random play, but is really *really* a let-down if you want to play someone specific. MDen and I were trying to have a few games together a day ago, and it's practically impossible to join someone's hosted 3-card game because the auto-matcher fills in the slot before any human can ever get a chance to click on it. It makes me wonder why the "Host Game" button even exists, though the situation is slightly better for 5-card games simply because there are less players.
It's possible that this is something that wasn't a problem during beta simply because there weren't enough players to lock it up like that, and so (I'm dearly hoping) a fix may be in the works. One of the best parts of *any* competitive online game is being able to play against your friends, instead of random internet people (No offense, random internet people ;) - not having this option available (practically speaking) is a serious, major drawback.
The easiest fix I can think of is for them to simply separate the Quickmatch auto-matcher from the player initiated Host/Join system. Let everyone who's clicked on Quickmatch get matched up amongst themselves, and leave a player Hosted game open until someone actually physically clicks on it. This is, of course, only a temporary fix, since if the player volume gets high enough there may still be too many people clicking to join your hosted game for your intended opponent to be able to get in, but that shouldn't be too much of a problem since people wanting to fight someone they don't know should use the random automatcher anyway.
The best, of course, would be the ability to type in a player to challenge, or click on someone's name in a list in the Lobby, to send a custom game challenge. But until something is done about this, playing Kongai against your friends is effectively almost impossible. And that's a real shame.
You are never "helpless" against an attack, even if you are low on HP and energy. You have the option to switch out, which will evade almost any attack, except for a few select ones like Rain of Arrows and Spectral Choke. The only question is, will your opponent see it coming and intercept? If you think your opponent will intercept, would you be better off making a last-ditch attack with a debuffing move like Deafening Crack, and then switching out next turn? You are never defenseless, only insufficiently good at mindreading.
Valarauka, they have recently updated the game so that you can now host private games.
I want to further champion the complex strategies of Kongai. At the risk of causing myself more losses (I'm 65-46), I'll reveal some of my strategies to emphasize the strategy of the game.
A lot of players tend to chose cards that are rather strong individually - Onimaru, Yoshiro, Vanessa Voss, etc. And although this would not be a good strategy in other games, as long as you are a good enough player, you can win easily. On the other hand, you can create a deck that with cards that work with each other. My favorite deck is an all-Amazon deck (I hate the outfits, but that can't be changed...for now) with Ashi, Anex, and Andromeda. Ashi and Andromeda have, respectively, only close-ranged and far-ranged attacks. HOWEVER, Andromeda has cheap attacks that have good effects. Crippling arrow (nm?) takes away the ability of the opponent to change ranges for the next turn, for only 20 power. Lightning arrow interrupts (blocks) all light attacks, and deals 18 light damage for 0 power. If the opponent brings out Yoshiro or Vanessa, I usually use lightning arrow to block their power attacks.
Andromeda and Anex both have attacks that hit even when the opponent retreats. To me, this is a better option than interrupting, since both the attacks are cheap, strong, and you are guaranteed damage.
Anex has both close and long ranged attacks, and her special ability raises the power of her attacks by approximately 50% if her health is 30% or below. Her enchant blade lets her add 8 damage to all attacks, and changes the types to light. Her power move has a high chance of switching the opponent and does 65 damage for 60 power. With the valkyrie feather, she is a force to be reckoned with.
Ashi is my power-hitter and tank. All her attacks are powerful, and some have decent affects, like bleeding or switching. With sharpening stone, she has the potential to defeat opponents in one strike.
Combined with an effective switching-interrupting-resting strategy, this deck can defeat any opponent. However, if done right, any deck can also defeat my deck (I've been defeated by Level 1s...the shame!).
A deck with any combination of cards can be constructed to be as effective as any other, as long as you think out the strategies and dynamics thoroughly.
If anyone wants to play me, just look up dragonscale333. :)
This game looks like a lot of fun. I always liked the tactics and strategies of ccg's but was always put off by the prices. I'm curious what to choose for my first 3 cards. If I pick stuff that doesn't work together well enough I'm a bit out of luck until I could get some other cards through challenges, etc. This wiki should help answer any deck building questions: http://kongregate.wikia.com/wiki/Kongai
So far my favorite card is Amaya. :)
I don't know how to use quote tags. Sorry!
"My impression is that you are 'hiding' your knowledge and understanding of the game by offering only criticism of others' perceived lack thereof.
No disrespect intended."
I think there is a big difference between "Range changing costs are too high for me to find this game enjoyable. Therefore, I don't like this game" and "Range changing costs are too high and makes the game unbalanced, therefore this game sucks."
The first one is a statement of opinion. I am totally fine with that! I mean, we all like different things. Maybe I like a game with a lot of randomness, maybe you like one with certainty. Totally fine.
The second one is a statement of fact. This requires a higher burden of proof. This burden of proof, I thought, was not met. That is why I reacted in a hostile manner!
That is why I did not respond with a post showing my knowledge and understanding of the game, because I felt that the original statement was not supported by facts.
"Guys, come on. This is getting too heated. I thought this was just a game. if you think it's really bad, keep it to yourself instead of criticizing everyone. Most discussions I've read stay polite. in my opinion, you're ruining the site's community feel."
Jay uses long and complicated words when he writes his reviews. This scares away most of the drooling chimpanzees that inhabit Kongregate. The people that are left (mature casual flash game players) are friendly and stuff. I forgot about this, and I apologize for posting here in a manner more suited to dealing with drooling chimpanzees!
"And now I can see why he might also be a little stingy sharing his knowledge(!) ;)"
Hehe, I don't at all mind sharing my knowledge, and I do a lot of that on the Sirlin forums. I didn't think it was appropriate, though. Like if some guy who is new to chess says "This game is unbalanced because pawns can't capture forwards, even though they move forwards, and it blocks up the board", it is time to correct fundamental misconceptions instead of sharing knowledge.
Anyway, I am waiting for SiamJai to clarify what his objection to the balance is before I respond.
Sorry for the angry tone and stuff!
Whoa, some great comments there - I'm glad that my initial remark sparked so much valuable insight! :-)
I'm going to follow Valarauka's example and put paragraphs into spoilers for easier read. Let's start with the balance issue:
It seems that the most common answer to the balance critique is that the high movement energy cost applies to both players equally, so it is considered 'balanced'. But let's look at the larger picture, and compare abilities to each other, in terms of benefits vs. penalties. Fuzzyface summed it up nicely:
So, if a move with disproportionally large benefits makes the game unbalanced, then by the same logic, a move that carries disproportionally harsh penalties throws the game off-balance as well. Consequentially, whether the move is available to all players or not becomes irrelevant.
Then, further on to address some good points:
So far, Tenkuchima's explanation seems most plausible to me: characters were designed around this limitation. But that sounds more like a good reason why not to make changes now, not why it was designed that way in the first place.
I see some clever tactics that work around the issue, and that's great. :-) Interestingly, the mere fact that veteran players need to work around something as simple as movement just proves my point.
All in all, thanks for taking your time to raise these good points and share your strategies, guys. Although I still feel that movement is too harshly penalized, especially when compared to switching, you guys made it clear that the game can still be made enjoyable. To each his own. :-)
[Edit: No, it's actually caused by blank lines within a spoiler, as the page-building script inserts br and paragraph tags to preserve the whitespace within the comments. Those tags disrupt the spoiler tags. And I'm looking into a fix for this, but it's complicated. -Jay]
"Tenkuchima's explanation seems most plausible to me: characters were designed around this limitation. But that sounds more like a good reason why not to make changes now, not why it was designed that way in the first place"
You're half way there, but you still get it wrong with "designed around this limitation." The "high" cost is the only reason to have ranges in the first place. If you could constantly switch ranges back and forth with no to little cost, there wouldn't be any point in having ranges to begin with. The "high" cost corrects a limitation or unbalance, it doesn't create one.
Still eagerly awaiting your clarification re:
"This doesn't change the fact that a simple movement takes an enormous toll on the character's energy reserves. In my book that is a serious flaw in game balance, and no amount of number-crunching statistics can change that."
The releveant post was on July 15, 2008 1:32 PM.
Thanks in advance!
No, this is wrong. You cannot turn that logic arond.
At first, I thought the movement cost was too high as well. But after a couple of matches, I realized that the high penalty works in harmony with the character-switching mechanic. This way, you'll often find yourself stuck at a disadvantageous range, and therefore be forced to consider switching. Your opponent then has to choose between using his superior attacks at his chosen range, or intercepting you. It forces the mind game.
If you could choose your range relatively cheaply, Kongai would play out more predictably, like a high-level game of Magic the Gathering where all the most important choices were made before the match. Kongai isn't supposed to play that way. It feels more like poker, where your guts and your read on your opponent matter more than your card selection.
Anyway, I like playing with Marquis le Morte (or something like that) holding a Mind-Reader's Chalice. People don't want to switch out against the Chalice, but the Marquis heals so quickly at close range, he can outrace just about any character who can't attack his accuracy. If they retreat to long range, just teleport back in and resume draining life. Once your opponent realizes the situation is hopeless, intercept and BAM! 50 damage and all your energy back! Fun character.
Why not? It seems to work both ways.
I didn't quite understand this until I read Psychotronic's message that has specific examples. Thanks, both of you. :)
In order to keep the friendly atmosphere here, I won't demand that you respond to my question any more. Also, please don't apologize to me for your actions in this discussion; I don't think you have earned the right to apologize.
Hmmmm, looks like a little clarification is in order for all concerned. I think we're mixing up two different kinds of balance issues, which is causing confusion in the discussion. The two being "game" balance versus "move" balance.
Move balance is concerned with making different moves in the game have similar payoffs and/or penalties for getting them wrong. If there was a fighting game with lots of tiny kicks and punches and one SuperMegaDeathAttack that killed your opponent instantly, that move would be 'unbalanced' relative to the rest of the game.
HOWEVER, if both players had equal access to the SuperMegaDeathAttack move, the *game* between them is still balanced, in that each player has the exact same abilities by which they can win or lose the match. The game itself would only be unbalanced if one player got the special move and the other one didn't.
Now, one might argue that having unbalanced moves makes the game less *interesting* to play, since people will either always or never play the unbalanced move (depending on whether it's too strong or too weak, of course). But you cannot say that having unbalanced moves makes the game *unfair* to either player, since the move itself is equal-access.
Finally, about the specific move balance issue we're on about - while I agree that having hugely under/overpowered moves is detrimental to gameplay, I don't agree that the move cost is too high. The cost is something that's built into the game, and it has to be taken into account when planning your actions. Sometimes the only defense against extremely damaging enemy moves is to make sure they never have enough energy when they're at the right range, and the high cost of moving is the only thing that makes that possible.
I think Psychotronic's comment on how it forces the mind-game (specifically re. your saying moving costs too much compared to switching) is spot-on. The game is built around the idea of switching *often* - not just when your character's nearly dead, or when it's up against a superior card. The idea is to make switching an attractive choice, but also give it a pretty hefty penalty when you get predicted and intercepted - forcing you to think twice about it, setting up the mind-reading tension between the players. I think it's beautifully done, myself.
Chance to get crits and chance to hit use the same roll. It's 50% for triple, 10% for regular, and 40% for a miss.
@SiamJai, you have explained severaltimes already how cheap near/far moves would make the game unbalanced.
Really you are only crestfallen, because the strategy you want it to be sucessfull doesn't work. If you are far with a close fighter, you might want to switch the character, this doesn't cost any movement points. Go for that strategy and you are not "delivered" to his mercy. Changing the way of fight is an expensive move, and has to be, for the difference to make any sense.
I don't know if it can be any clearer than that, but it has been pointed out to you already several times...
...and I accept the politely stated difference of opinions. I'm amazed by, and sometimes totally relate to, how some of you guys experience it. But let's face it: no amount of talk can compare to actual, personal gameplay experience. I experienced it one way, and others experience it in other ways. I leave you the freedom to say that it's balanced - in return, let me have the freedom to say that it's not. It's great to have a match of reasoning, but the discussion doesn't have to end with complete surrender on either side. :p
Valarauka, your observation is spot-on: it is the move balance that I keep talking about. What's really bugging me is that the option for range change is right there, but I can't use it in any practical way, simply because the developers want me to play the game in a predetermined fashion. It's the we-have-it-but-you-should-use-the-other-one attitude that's a total turnoff for me.
The lucky people for whom this sort of gameplay is right up their alley - great, I'm happy for you! But like I said in my very first post: I'll pass this one.
Its really a difference to say, "the game is not the way I want it", to say "the game is just unbalanced". I mean look at chess, is chess unbalanced, because pawns can only move 1 step, and the queen is clearly overpowered? By making the pawn move only 1 step, the designers off chess "force" you to play it in a certain way?... Oh come on...
Kongai can be critized on many things, and its definetely not going to be a favorite game of mine (I'm not to fond of this card games in general), but to argue about how much costs the near/far difference should make is a redicolous small issue. The game settings *do* make sense this way, and you either take it or leave it. Of course you can imagine another game, that is set up completely different. But in the whole way the Kongai abilities are structured this movements costs *do* make sense.
I'm pretty sure that's not the case, Ted. Under that system, how would you explain something with 95% hit / 100% proc?
Are you sure about that? When you see that a game has a balance flaw, you obviously wish it would be another way that's more enjoyable for you. Say that out loud and you'll get people for whom the status quo is already working, all trying to convince you that it's already balanced. Try this with any game that's popular enough for people to actually care, and it will happen, I'm sure.
Incidentally, did you know that there are different types of chess with various rules? Perhaps some people thought that the Western conventional rules have... balance flaws. ;-)
SiamJai, yes I am sure. Let's talk about "balance"... In general balance is a myth, if everything would be perfectly "balanced" in a game, every choice would be futile, since everything would be of equal value, because it is "balanced". What we mean with "balance" is a variation in game, that is not having the one mega-strategy that beats everything else, that's what we understand as "unbalanced". Balance as an absolute ideal is actually an unreflected thought. Even in short small mini-games unbalance can be even make sense, as the game can be about discovering what works well and what doesn't. Again if any move you can do has more or less the same effectiness, it just doesn't matter whatever you do. Chess is sure not unbalanced if you know anything of that game. Speaking of it to have not enough "variety" is ridiculous. Sure there are other variants of chess, because people consider it to be "more fun", or want the game to be different, but they cannot say western chess "does it wrong" (in an objective measurement). It's a valid and good game. The same expensive near/far moves is a valid game setting, I don't know if others are more fun, maybe, but it's not just as if it would be "unbalanced", speaking of "balance" as "objective fact". That this can never be an "objective fact". Yes there are people who consider the game to be workable, as it currently is. So its a valid game? Okay?
If you say, I think the game would be more fun if [....] Okay I let you that, maybe right, maybe not. But if you say "this game is obviously broken because of [....]" then you are just wrong, because there are people who *are* haveing fun. And that's a fact.
Also why don't you get it into your head that the expensive near/far changes are integral part of the whole near/far concept? What you want is basically a different game...
Is this site down?
At the risk of getting off on a tangent, I want to address one of your points, fuzzyface:
"Let's talk about 'balance'... In general balance is a myth, if everything would be perfectly 'balanced' in a game, every choice would be futile, since everything would be of equal value, because it is 'balanced'."
I disagree completely. What you are talking about is every move doing the same thing. Balance is: (quoting from wikipedia) "determined by whether the skill of a player is sufficiently important in determining who wins; it is balanced if two players of equal skill have equal chances of winning."
See the starcraft example as a good counter argument: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_balance#Real-time_strategy
OfficiallyHaphazard, Valarauka has pointed it very well out the difference between "game"- and "move"-balance. You and the starcraft example go about the "game"-balance. I agree, the players should have same chances regardless of the specific game startingpoint. THen thats the "move-balance" SiamJai is whining about, in that case my point before is true, if you have perfect "move-balance", no matter what you will do, will result into the same thing.
Hmmm. I think I misread a part of your post, for you say "What we mean with "balance" is a variation in game, that is not having the one mega-strategy that beats everything else, that's what we understand as 'unbalanced'." agrees with what I was saying before.
However, the point I was trying to make still stands. There are certainly some games that are more balanced than others. Although this doesn't give us an "objective fact," it provides us with a relative comparison, which is more than enough to judge a game.
As far as Kongai goes, right now I am having a lot of fun with it, and find that the movement cost is an interesting replacement for the swapping cost that most card games have. I feel most people are just not that used to swapping cards so often.
Also, "whining"? Come on, fuzzyface, lets not try and start a flame war.
Valarauka: this post from Sirlin's forums says the same thing I did about crits (and also at the bottom of the page; it's a apparently been confirmed).
Presumably the game checks for a hit before checking for a proc or something.
For what it's worth, Sirlin also gives a definition of (move-)balance on his site:
Hmm, thanks for that link Ted. So I guess my gripe is then with the way the information is diplayed; if it's the same hit-roll they should list the percentages like that. Otherwise, having the proc% listed as being higher than the hit% on some moves is simply misleading - it definitely fosters the impression that they're separate rolls under the hood.
If it's the same roll, I would much prefer if they just listed out the three percentages (Hit / hit+proc / miss) separately, like 10/50/40 for Popo.
Back to the balance discussion: SiamJai, you can't really claim that a move has a "balance flaw" until you've played the game at a skill level which lets you make such judgements. The game has to be balanced for all players, but more importantly, a *good* game has to be balanced for the expert players.
I would say that a move is unbalanced only if: most good players, in most circumstances, would rather play that move than any other move (overpowered), or alternatively avoid that move in favor of any other move (underpowered). That is quite clearly not the case with the range switching; there are many situations where you would choose to get close or far instead of simply passing.
Your comments are more and more beginning to sound like "I don't like the move cost, so it must be unbalanced!" which is, to put it mildly, not a valid argument.
On an unrelated note, I would really like the ability to spectate other people's games; I've found that's one of the best ways to learn how to play. Checking out how the high level players do it would be very interesting, I think.
The AI is decent, but could be better. Things I've noticed:
1. Characters with a 20-energy move (Poison Dart, Voidstream) often fall into a pattern of using it every turn if they're low on energy.
2. When the battle begins or the computer replaces a dead character when you're at close range, if you Pass the computer has a tendency to go Far, even if it's Ashi and you're Andromeda in the most extreme case. I don't think I've ever seen this happen when I go Far myself, although I've seen double Closes and double Fars in other circumstances.
This may be a feature, since scenarios similar to this have happened on occasion: I start with Ochimaru and the computer starts with Ashi at close range. I pass, and the computer goes Far. Ashi can't attack or (de)buff, which means I could use Ancestral Curse/Spirit indefinitely until she switches out or pays the energy penalty to return to Close. There's no downside to that strategy but it's boring, so I swap Ochi for a long-ranger and BAM! I eat an intercept. It may be an attempt at mind games, but it often has zero tactical benefit against a minimally skilled and arbitrarily patient player.
3. Enemies will use attacks that you're immune to, often repeatedly. It feels like the computer can't "see" your stats the way you can see its.
4. The computer is pretty predictable in general. For example, Helene (A) starts at long range and uses Enchanted Blade on round 1, then moves to close on round 2, or (B) starts at close range, moves to long range and uses Enchanted Blade on round 1, passes and rests on round 2, then moves to close on round 3. This is obvious preparation for a buffed Frenzied Strikes, so unless you can soak it as Vanessa or reflect it with Yoshiro, you should seriously consider swapping characters to dodge it.
What should happen is that this would lead to a mind game where she might intercept, but I don't think this has ever happened to me in 10 hours of game time. She always goes for the Frenzied and I always swap-dodge. Similarly, Popo coming close = Knee Bash, Marquis going far = Teleport (which is stupid btw) and so on.
In fairness, I don't have an account so this is only from practice battles. Maybe it gets harder as your win record goes up, whether from a smarter AI, better character/item combos, or good old fashioned cheating.
Okay, I liked this game a lot more at first but now I'm starting to feel like this is a complicated version of rock paper scissors. It's starting to really annoy me.
That would make sense if it were my job to write game reviews, for instance. But like most causal players, I play games for fun. If a game is not fun, I figure what's wrong with it and play something else.
You switched the cause and effect, Valarauka. Cause: the game has a balance flaw. Effect: I don't like it. Not the other way around. ;)
I like your idea of watching others play the game though. Perhaps through YouTube, for example. It worked great when I did video walkthroughs for MILO.
Thanks man, but no worries. It takes both sides to start a flame war, and I won't be one. I mean, look at how many times I've been insulted during the course of only this single discussion. Here is my recipe: as soon as a participant has proved himself to be a poor discussion partner, he gets added to my virtual "ignore list". ;)
@ graph -
This is really not designed as a single-player game. The practice games vs. the AI are just to give the player a feel for how the game works, the AI is known to be weak and does not improve as you play it more often.
If you're liking the game, it's time to sign up and play against non-bots.
For me its sounds pretty arrogant, "my personal taste is "objective balance""...
And if *you* don't find it fun, "the game is wrong"? Really... Tastes ... are ... personal...
No, see, it is the other way around. That's the point. Have you considered the effect reducing the move cost will have on all of the moves available to all of the characters? How about in conjunction with the item cards and character abilities that can affect move costs as well? Have you played the game enough to understand the impact changing something as fundamental as that will have on the rest of the game? No, obviously you haven't. And until you have, you can not say anything about whether the game is balanced - the only reason you think so right now is because you played a few games and didn't like how much movement cost. It's just not valid, and it will rightly be dismissed by everyone as meaningless criticism. And there doesn't seem to be any point to discussing this any further.
About the spectated games, well, youtube is always an option of course, but that's not what I had in mind. Putting something on Youtube requires the players themselves to record the match, and then upload it so people can watch.
I was thinking more along the lines of simply being able to click on any of the matches that are currently in progress from the lobby, jump in to the game and watch it in real time - possibly even chat with the players themselves; though players should probably have an option allowing or disallowing spectator chat, to prevent abuse/annoyance.
I like the gameplay, not the character art.
It's definitely liek a complex rock-paper scissors, mind games and whatnot. I do intend to try playing completely randomly sometime. (Meaning, roll a die or flip a coin for every input) I've gotten better at successfulyl switching and not switching when he expects me to, but I don't intercept often enough.
It's frustrating to start with a choice of three cards, choose without much knowledge of what is good and bad, and then not be able to change those. Then it's just random generation of what cards you can get later. (I can't control which cards are offered in challenges or which cards I gain from wins)
While I agree that all of the cards are pretty well balanced, it's the combinations of cards that give large amoutn of card holders an advantage over minimal deck holders. No matter how balanced the characters are, a player with three characters and three items has a natural advantage over the person with three characters and no items. A deck with Popo with natural 25% dodge and additional 25% dodge from an item, added to by debuffs such as Amaya's Shadow Curse... (enemy team gets -20% hit chance for 7 turns) It's pretty well impossible to hit.
@ graph -
...the AI is known to be weak and does not improve as you play it more often...
That's a shame. I know the multiplayer is the main point, but it would have been nice if people could practice the strategic aspects on their own more effectively, especially since it's a matter of luck to test some of the characters and practically impossible to get a specific character/item combo.
Some of the artificial stupidity is probably unavoidable, but seriously computer Juju, stop trying to hex Cornelius while you're Blood Burned. It's just embarrassing.
For those of you worried about not having enough cards to be competitive, your percent chance to gain a card by playing a match now depends on how many cards you have. If you're just starting out, you'll gain cards a lot more frequently than if you've got a ton of them.
Also, Kongai itself has a challenge for the month wherein if you beat the AI three times, you'll get a nifty item usable by anyone (except it's worthless on Tafari).
It really is kind of a shame about the AI, from what I've read it's essentially an extremely basic thing just there for tutorial purposes, more or less.
The thing is, given all of the matches being played Kongregate could stand to make a pretty darn good AI just by taking at all of the data being generated and using it (e.g. in a Bayesian scheme), which could potentially provide extremely good play without even venturing into trying to code a strong traditional (rules-based) AI - which is admittedly not always an easy task. Given the extremely limited number of possible choices in any situation, just doing what the majority of players did in a similar situation with the same card (probably with higher weights for higher-level players) would very likely make for a decent play.
Of course, you don't want the AI to always make the same move in the same situation, but it'd be trivial to throw in some randomness by simply picking a move based on the percentage of players that did each one (so if 80% of players attacked, and 20% switched, the AI could attack 80% of the time and switch the other 20%).
Of course, there are lots of variables to consider (other cards in deck, their status, enemy's card and current health/energy, enemy's deck status, items, buffs/debuffs, switching cooldown, etc.) - so even with a ton of matches going on finding "similar situations" may be a bit tough, but the whole point of a probabilistic approach is that you can decrease the consideration given to data as the similarity decreases.
If nothing else, I'd be very interested to see the kind of play a setup like that generates...
I'm a Kongregate member, but I'd have to argue that some of the characters are seriously limited, such as Asha's lack of long-range attacks and Andromeda's lack of close-range attacks. But if you choose characters with decent long- and close-range attacks (e.g. Phoebe), attach as many items as possible to all your characters and don't do anything supremely stupid e.g. using Rest all the time, you should have a decent chance of winning
So I signed up for this as I keep playing kongregate games and thought I must have got tons of cards by now with all the games I have played - pity I was not signed in...
Anyway, it seems this works like most multiplayer games. As soon as you are beating some kid, they just turn off their computer and somehow you lose. That annoys me.
Still the mechanics of the game seem quite fun, so long as the person you are playing isn't a 10 year old.
Oh... and the game seems to be about luck, what with the intercept button. Yes, I know that there is some "skill" in predicting what the openent does, but really... just luck.
weird.. here it's rated 4.7 but on king it's rated 4.2