The **NEW** New Player Experience - 0.36 Edition

Hi!

So with all the changes since the game first launched in Early Access back in March, I thought it would be interesting to revisit (or in many ways visit for the first time) the new player experience as of 0.36.

Many active forum participants have dozens of Citadel Levels and primarily focus on higher level content. Most if not all of their followers are maxed (to the limit of what they can be without further crystals); most are attempting to do 50+ skirmishes and dungeons daily; many have huge piles of gems and keys, just waiting for the best value to come along; and most are waiting for the next Epic or more hopefully Legendary Evolve to enhance their gear set options.

But what is it like to be Level 1 again? How has the game changed for the new player. Is it better? Is it worse? I think we generally know some of the not-so-favorable changes (cough spells cough) but I was curious to know what the experience is like in full; so that’s what I did. Time to start again!

I started a brand new account, drew a class randomly from a hat (Berserker!) and set off to Etheria with my Cloth Shirt and Leather Belt to do battle. I am currently Level 15 and here are my thoughts to date.

General Impressions

  • Oh so Slow!
    The game is much much slower now to start. With the mana increases to spells and the lower mana gain (a 3 gem-match gives 30 mana), it often takes 3 turns or more to even cast your first spell. This is not so bad at first but it doesn’t get much better after about 15 levels. My match lengths are almost exactly the same because gear growth is challenging (I’m currently equipped with all uncommons and 3 rares with 1 thankfully being a weapon), mana accrual remains slow (I’m up to 33 mana for a 3-gem match, huzzah!) and every bit of extra damage you squeeze out of your weapon or spells is soaked up by increasing difficulties of the enemy. I have currently made it through Chapter 3 with relative ease but my fights are certainly getting a bit harder (losing more health comparably by match end).

  • Two Starting Spells is Dumb. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb. Really Dumb
    Most forum commenters here know this, but this change in 0.35 really made no sense. Now that I’ve had a chance to play the game as a starter again, this setup just pisses me off. Level 50+ people with Citadel Levels and a full spell library primarily focus on creating mass blobs of mono-color mana, effectively recreating their game space to their advantage. As a new player, you are at the mercy of the gems on the board. With your two starting spells, you often find yourself matching 3 other colors that you get virtually no benefit from (other than Ultimate mana gain) and feels very frustrating when you make 6 or 7 matches in a single turn (“so many moves!”) but they are all off-color (“so little benefit!”). Furthermore, when you do unlock those spell slots, they just stare at you, like dead empty eyes telling you how inadequate you are. I am now Level 15 and I’ve picked up a few extra spells, mainly thanks to the Dungeon Event that had spells as Loot Table Rewards. Interestingly I picked up a Channel Darkness and a Cloudkill so it looks like my next class to play will be Assassin!

  • So many Keys, so much Vault!
    With the increase in match times, I have more than enough keys to handle my basic chest needs (principally wooden and iron). The introduction of Events is both rewarding once you can handle the Tier 1 fights (I was able to beat them regularly at Level 10) and takes up time; most importantly no keys required. The addition of the extra chest slot means that you have a better chance of being able to store and open those much needed ruby and diamond chests. I am not “grinding” (playing for hours a day) but instead treating this more like a daily play account so that helps as well. I highly recommend joining an active guild at the earliest opportunity to get a few gold keys for those much needed first minions.

  • Shop Til You Drop!
    The shard Daily Deal options denominated in gems are a real benefit and quite useful. When I first played I didn’t spend gems on shards ever; there was no little need. You were able to beat content easily with Level 1 spells and mostly Level 1 gear. Now, however, you can feel the pressure to get some additional levels on your gear (armor and resistance) and weapon and spells (for that extra damage). The Minor and Lesser Shard packages at x50 for gems is very affordable and a great use of gems for the new player. It doesn’t feel overpriced based on your gems earned and actually becomes something you look forward to seeing in the shop. As I mentioned in my shop post and confirmed by my experience here, too many uncommon/rare Scrolls/Runes are in the shop offerings (you get more than enough based on pace of play from the new Events)

  • PVP is the Worst
    There is something deeply dissatisfying about matching a ton of gems in your first couple of turns, still not getting enough mana to cast a spell, and watching your life be chipped away in chunks until you are dead. It’s like a form of slow cruel torture. Would it be much better if I had 4 unique color spells to at least benefit all this gem matching? Maybe not much, but it would at least be something. As it stands right now, I don’t see how the average new player plays PVP and doesn’t want to just quit then and there. It’s bad. It needs some fixin’.

Summary (TL;DR version)

  • All in all I don’t mind the slow change of pace to start. Really having to think about every single move is not something you have to do as much after the first turn once you unlock Citadel and acquire more gear/spells/etc. BUT! …
  • Please put back 4 starting spells, period. It’s not gamebreaking, but it may just be game saving, not only for the player, but for the game itself
  • The new Event system is good. Lots of rewards for the early player (especially those much needed spells when they rotate in). The addition of these time intensive events don’t require any keys and are really helpful to get a new player going.
  • The Shop provides a lot of benefit to the new player; don’t be afraid to spend gems early on the Shard packs, or a minion. Be careful though; lots of overpriced stuff you don’t need. Also, don’t waste your gold on Scrolls/Runes; get them from the Events.
  • PVP sucks terribly; do enough to get the Tier rewards and then be ok with giving the middle finger to the dailies for Honor unless you just have a lot of time to burn.
  • (EDIT) Forgot to mention, given the emphasis on weapons since the 0.36 patch, the lack of available weapon shards is just painful. Also, since you don’t get the weapon crafter follower until Chapter 9, you are really at the mercy of RNG to progress your weapon.
    Sure you could pay the US$5 for the Starter Pack but will it be the color you want? and it will still be stuck at level 5 until you get more shards.

If you are a newer player, let me know what you think!

4 Likes

It will take a bit more time to get there but I think the real killer of 0.36 is the inability for a new player to complete the story and even get the Citadel unlocked. Not a concern for players that reached it before 0.36 and/or have alt characters to provide the high level gear to help with levelling.

I started in 0.35, so two spell slots at the start was already a thing then, and being at the mercy of drops to find additional ones to put in the extra slots when they finally did drop. I think I made it through to about Chapter 10 on my Assassin using a totally mixed bag of spells before finding the discord and a kingdom and switching to a single colour to do stun lock. Even with that guidance it still relies on you having found the spells, as another change prior to 0.35 is that spells must be found and no longer unlock just from reaching certain levels with that class.

Rarity of gear from drops and the ability to upgrade it is the next stranglehold on advancing. The highest gear I found from drops up to L50 was Rare in most slots and only uncommon in a couple. I had enough shards to get most to L25, but as of 0.36 that simply isn’t going to be good enough to survive Ch15 battles and the final dungeon.

PVP is a massive gamble when levelling up. With the matching focusing so heavily on gear score I regularly got matched against players more than double my level. L20 vs L45+. Sure the gear score might be similar, but it applies to weighting to level difference - the extra health, colour masteries, power. As of 0.36 that becomes an even bigger mine field since new players will not have any of the gifted “adjustment” items, while many of their opponents will. New player comes across a pre-0.36 player with the Runic Mace and it may well be a 1-hit-kill in the first round.

Chest capacity is very restrictive. Not yet knowing the true value of keys, or having enough spares, if you get “lucky” and find ruby/diamond chests that could stop your play for the day with so few slots. Maybe deliberate to push more to buy the VIP pack and unlock the extra slot?

Item storage - thankfully Northelm has been improved just after the update, but gear was micro-management after every fight with 1 or 2 available slots.

Hey. I started 3 days ago (so I never knew anything other than 0.36), long time Puzzle Quest 1, 2, MPQ, MtGPQ and Gems of War player :slight_smile:
Here’s my experience thus far, I hope it’s helpful:

The Good:

  • I actually like the difference in typical match-3 gameplay, the whole “2 seconds, make multiple matches and the board is all yours” mechanic. It adds a lot of thought and tactics to the whole thing. Feels a lot more like chess than mindless match 3 and that it takes some skill.
  • The graphics are much nicer than your average match 3. It’s quite nice really.
  • It takes a while to get used to, but the diagonal matches are a welcome addition as well - more options, more thinking, and lower likelihood of stale boards.
  • I like the story, it’s relatively standard but well written and not something you need to rush through to get to the “actual gameplay”.
  • I am happy that things are introduced gradually, and that there’s no major rush through the story. Slow but constant progression is a good way to go and having a long story is a good thing - but see below (there are major balance flaws to the progression atm).

Suggestions:

  • The game is entirely balanced to single color stacking, so it makes every gem that isn’t that color feel irrelevant, and makes stale boards much more likely.
    I’d highly suggest to change it so each gem match awards 10 mana of its color (as is) but say 1 or 2 mana of every other color - and a minor amount of damage based on masteries.
    Would greatly minimize bad board impact and make it so you still want to match other gems - and make it so multiple colors generate more overall mana than single color, helping its viability.
  • An option to speed up the gameplay animations would be very welcome.
  • The moment you unlock a new spell slot, you should really get a common class spell to go with it. I was quite lucky with my spells and Ruby+ Chests, but it was a scary / frustrating couple of levels to get that 3rd and 4th spell in. And it would make the gameplay so much more fun.
  • During the story talk scenes, it would be great if you had a button to go back or scroll back up. It’s easy to make an accidental press and skip dialog - then be forced to close the app to see it again.
  • I like the limited tournament, where it’s not just the same kind of game. We need more variety and events with differences / limitations in gameplay, since the gameplay can get quite repetitive otherwise.
  • When you store a chest in the loot screen, you should still be able to use a key. Right now, if you are skipping through the animation and the Wooden Chest ends up automatically stored, you need to close everything and open it again just to get it opened.
  • When you have no keys and need to store a chest while all slots are already occupied, you should be able to use gems to finish one of the current chests as well. Currently you can only
    scrap it for gold - even if it’s 5 minutes away from completion.

Major Bugs or Annoyances:

  • Battle Pass rewards are LOST if they go over your cap. Having Battle Pass + as a new player means losing all the extra food, ore and gold since they will not go over your cap like Store Purchases…
  • I am lucky to be a moderate spender. Without the Starter Pack weapon, I would have seen a grand total of 1 weapon up to lvl 22. They just don’t drop at all in chests. And I have opened multiple Diamond and Ruby Chests.
  • Due to no weapons in loot, no Lesser Weapon Stones are attained. At level 22, I have a lvl 8 weapon and not enough shards to upgrade it any further, leaving me woefully underpowered. I’m lucky I took Assassin - any skull based class would be nearly unplayable.
  • Starting to feel stuck at lvl 22, both because of the weapon and the dungeon / campaign scaling, and the gear not keeping up with it.
    Might be a bit too early to “feel forced” to create a new character to grab more stones, but it’s starting to feel necessary.
2 Likes

Great feedback Norinth. You’ll probably want to fire up that second character. Things are not likely to get better for you in regards to collecting shards, and unless you get lucky in a chest, getting better gear can be really slow going too. I had all 5 characters fired up before I ever beat the main storyline with my first guy. It helps to pass the time while you’re waiting for shards and gear that make your main account relevant again.

Levels 15-20 Update

I reached Level 20 and finished Chapter 4 (finally the Ore starts trickling!). Progress has actually been a bit easier but I believe that’s due to a bit of foresight (the benefit of having played the game a lot) and some luck! Here’s the highlights:

  • Maybe all those Scrolls/Runes aren’t so bad after all
    In order to have enough shards to level certain items I have been using the Upgrade/Salvage method (Upgrade a piece of gear to Level 3 or 5 using Minor Shards and then salvage to get back a small number of (typically) Lesser Shards. A new twist on this strategy has been to upgrade common gear to Level 5 and then Evolve it to Uncommon and then salvage it; this has worked quite effectively and has been thanks to to my pile of Uncommon Runes. Even after using this strategy, I still have more Runes than I have the Minor Shards or Gold to benefit

  • Timely Evolves
    Using the method above I was able to level a couple of pieces of gear based on Lesser Relics that I had found (thankfully I was not spending my gold on keys or runes but saving it for these timely Relic finds in the shop). Two evolves later and I have a Rare Royal Pants and Rare Guard’s Shield. I lucked up and both were Red Mastery. Given that one of the items was an accessory, my damage with spells almost doubled giving me a huge lift. Here’s my current loadout at Level 20 (technically Level 21, I’m a cheater!)

  • Finally, some Spells!
    The events have really paid off now with some timely spells. As always everything comes down to RNG but my spell loadout is a lot better than before. Many of the spells were common so I at least raised them all to Uncommon Rarity. Cleave replaces Spinning Attack for me (allowing me to pop that Rage gem and get a jump on Barbaric buff) and I found a Fireball! Looks like I’m putting that Assassin on hold. Here’s my current Spell loadout:

  • Planning Ahead
    Since I have the benefit of foresight, I’m doing my best to put it to work. I found an Altar Candle in the shop for the Gem price (334 Gems); while I would normally never pay gems for Lesser Relics, a Savior’s Helm is just too valuable in the game now to pass up. I am now 4 levels aways from being able to Evolve my Savior’s Helm to Rare (fingers crossed for Red!). Additionally I picked up a Lesser Relic associated with Council of Scales, so I’m focusing on levelling a Dragonguard Breastplate which will be a nice boost to my armor (and my survivability) at my stat level and will take advantage of my patchwork armor masteries

  • Weapon Shards, Weapon Shard, whereforth art thou Weapon Shards!
    What more is there to say that I and others haven’t already said. The lack of weapon drops and weapon shards is just painful. If only I could use all these Spell Shards instead!

There you have it. As this is entirely a free-to-play approach I have been liberal in my gem expenditures in order to make my character as competitive as possible. Perhaps this is not the wisest course in the long run but it made the most sense as a sort of test behavior to see what the possibilities were going forward.

I will check in again at Level 25 (which might be a little bit as I am on vacation the next few days :sunglasses:)

5 Likes

0.36 rendered Citadel upgrades mostly meaningless for players with low-rarity gear because those bonuses currently are percentage based. Low percentages times low stats results in very minor buffs that would be mostly undetected by the player. Even if a player now had access to those extra stats, they likely would not be enough to enable clearing of the final chapters just on the strength of Citadel buffs alone.

High-rarity gear makes the Etherian world go around in 0.36. Citadel buffs only serve to make that high-rarity gear a little bit stronger.

Can confirm that this is a solid strategy as I do this as well. This also works in at the high end-game to squeeze out a few extra Greater/Major shards out of things using normally dead weight minor shards giving them renewed purpose in the game.

Levels 21-30 Update

I reached Level 30 and finished Chapter 7. Things are much harder now and I had a few consecutive deaths on matches from slow starts which finally prompted me to start levelling the Assassin (Level 6 currently). However, I really want this to be about pushing through one character in the current environment so after some tinkering I found a spell build that worked well and have plowed on to Chapter 8. Here’s the highlights:

  • Gear levelling is getting much tougher
    Here’s my current setup:


    I’m almost in full Rares after much effort through working the shop, buying virtually any shards I can (Gem prices too) as well as Relics. I have even bought the 10k gold buy for 250 gems now twice in order to pick up Lesser and Greater Relics for current and future evolves. The issue right now of course is Shards. So many shards are needed at this point to level anything and Greater Shards are virtually non-existent. Of course it’s a double whammy since (as I’ve pointed out repeatedly) Greater shards are overpriced in the shop which really hurts my limited gold and gems. On top of that, I have decision paralysis around my weapon. I have the shards necessary to level it to 20 but I’ve been holding out hope for something better. No luck to date.

    Fortunately my aggressive efforts to level gear have worked out pretty well and thanks to a recent spell change, I’m still able to defeat the content in front of me pretty efficiently. My enemy gear score is up to 850+ now (my gear score is 574) so hopefully I can keep up!

  • A new spell to the rescue!

    Starting with Chapter 7, things started to get a bit rough. Even with my Rare Scorching Ray (an exciting find from the Event), my mana generation to start was just going too slow and I was getting three-shotted before even getting rolling. Thankfully, I had also found a spell I have never used before (It previously was only available to Berserkers at Level 50 and by then I didn’t need it) but it has proved to be a lifesaver. Here is my current spell setup:

    Relentless Assault has made all the difference for me now. It’s only 105 mana and generates 3 Red and 3 Blue gems and also has the added benefit that when Rage is active, you acquire the Haste buff for two turns, which increases your mana gain by 50%. We all know the benefits (and perhaps necessity) of mono-color builds at higher levels but early on, mono-color is really limiting and results in too much wasted matching early on. This change not only lets me take advantage of more mana matching (and Savior’s Helm Big gems) early, but it also really keeps the mana flow going throughout the fight. Additionally I decided to focus entirely on physical dmg which benefits from the armor reduction (albeit small) of Relentless Assault. Using Spin Attack and Cleave to pop those Barbaric Rage gems ensures timely casts of Relentless assault and the benefit of the Haste buff. It’s fun to find a new way of doing things but of course this all came down to luck (finding this particular spell). Had I not found it I’m sure I would have come up with something but it might have been less effective and less fun.

  • Food Deal Here I Come!

    I decided that I was going to be aggressive as possible with my Followers knowing that I was going to run up against limits to Follower progression pretty quickly. And I was right! Here are my current Follower levels:

    (Astute observers may notice that my Auri is already Uncommon. Out of pure chance, of the less than a dozen Eveline crafts that I have done, one of them produced an Auri crystal. Crazy, I know).

    I have just about hit the limit of follower progression by spending all my earned Honor on Food and using some of that gem-bought gold as well to push them forward. Why be so aggressive? Because now I can take advantage of the absurd structure of the kingdom Food Deal. Why play the game, slogging through match after match of Wooden Chests when I can sit back like some slum lord and rake in my gains with virtually no effort! I purposefully found a kingdom that was half full so that I could take advantage of this stupid Food Deal structure. As I pointed out in my frustrated thread below, who needs Ruby Keys when I can just get a free Ruby Chest every day to open with my vault (which is hard to fill by the way because matches take so long, Wooden Chests are so common when doing the Story, and Event chests don’t even need Keys)!

  • How Many Citadel Levels Will I Lose?

    Something that I have started to think about a lot is the fact that I’m already Level 30 (technically almost Level 32) and I’m only partially through Chapter 8. Between the daily Events, Challenges and PVP, and the increasing difficulty of Story matches, It is highly likely that I will hit Level 50 with numerous chapters remaining. When I originally levelled all 5 classes at on my primary account, I finished the Story with my first class just about at 50 and I often finished the Story with the other classes needing just a bit of extra XP to hit 50. I have never been in the situation of looking at the potential of playing perhaps hundreds of matches and getting no progression (in terms of XP) out of it. With no stored XP mechanism, I could be playing as many as 5 Chapters and daily content along the way gaining no XP and getting no benefit to my Citadel once it actually unlocks. It feels like a pretty big problem.

As I said before, this is entirely a free-to-play approach and I have been liberal in my gem expenditures in order to make my character as competitive as possible. After completing Chapter 8 and doing a number of gem-reward Challenges along the way, my gem balance is currently 328. And I feel pretty good about it :slight_smile: Cya in a few levels!

4 Likes

Just a quick mention: My character is Level 31, I’m doing a Tier II Dungeon Event with an Enemy Score of 662, and two of the shard drops that I have received are of Superior rarity. Devs, if you can’t get the alignment correct on shard drops and level, then you MUST make shards downgradable. This is honestly ridiculous.

2 Likes

Must know about me:

I’m a gamedev so my feedback might go a bit too deep. I will give feedback according to bugs,fun factor and polish and soundeffects.

Bugs:

none

Gameplay:

-interesting that you can drag elements diagonally. It’s not intuitive but that’s also a good thing cause it makes it challenging and different than most other games of the same genre

  • the healthsystem is a bit strange. I figured out you first have to go through the shield but it’s not intuitive

  • the advice text is sometimes a bit quick. If I haven’t read it before I would like to control when I skip it

  • it needs a bit more information. For example I can see which enemies are next in line but this was never explained to me. I didn’t see the top right after 5 fights. really minor thing tho

  • it is pretty difficult to calculate how much damage I’ll be doing. It would be nice to have a bit more explanation on this or something that shows how much I’ll do

Sound effects:

it doesn’t feel that rewarding if you do a big combo.

Art:

  • Map looks really cool
  • Gear system looks really cool
  • I’m not the biggest fan of the chest opening. It’s a bit too flashy for me and hurts my eyes.

Aside from that it’s a nice and unique game

Patch 0.37 when

/20char

Seen 4 people this week, newer players, comment about hitting Level 50 but only being through Chapter 11 at most, one mentioned only being on Chapter 8. Hopefully there is something in the works to allow players to accrue xp to the Citadel while working to unlock it.

EDIT (9/1/2021): Good News!

4 Likes

A few factors that will impact on that.

Players who like to play for many hours over their initial days will likely make quite fast progress through the story and earn most of their XP from it. There will be daily challenges to do and PVP, but the faster you progress through the story over fewer days, it limits that additional daily XP. Technically there is unlimited XP from custom skirmish and dungeons, but just focusing on the daily content pushed to you.

But for more casual players that only play for a little bit each day, split between story progression and the daily content, it will take them longer to progress through the story but far more opportunities for daily XP. These players are likely to hit L50 in the story much earlier and so hit this invisible barrier where all the battles they do from then until the end of the story losing all that XP.

For comparison my first character (0.35) Assassin hit L50 in Ch12 having done most of my daily PVP, but before the new daily skirmish/dungeons became available. While I could do custom skirmish and dungeons I didn’t do much of those planning them for after L50 content.
For my Paladin I ran through the story and completed it on L45. This character had done almost no content outside of pure story mode, since my Assassin did the dailies. Also helped by having the gifted 0.36 gear, so breezed through the first 12 chapters without a challenge.

What we need to see now is how possible it is for new 0.36 players to beat that final hurdle of completing the story without the gifted 0.36 items.

Levels 31-40 Update

I reached Level 40 and finished Chapter 9. Things are progressing at about the same clip in terms of difficulty of matches. The Assassin is getting some playtime as well (Level 16). Here’s the highlights:

  • Status Quo| Hitting a Wall

    Not much has changed in terms of spells and gear. Here’s my current loadout.

    I continue to be aggressive about utilizing Gem-denominated purchases in Daily Shop Offers (e.g. Shards, Relics, etc.) to level my gear and spells. The additional armor and spell dmg have made a difference even if it feels a bit trivial. However, the lack of Greater Shards is becoming a real issue. There is just no source to reliably find them and the possibility of doing Epic evolves for a nice boost is very remote (if I wasn’t actively levelling gear I could be flexible based on what Relics I find but then I wouldn’t be able to progress, a catch-22). I have now spent Gems on Gold 3x (250 Gems buys 10,000 Gold) to buy every Greater Relic that shows up (used for evolving Rares to Epics) but I currently have a total of 3, none alike. Given that my chests are 10 levels below my current level I’m dependent on the Shop more than ever for resources unless I want to run level 20 Skirmishes over and over until I run out of keys (thankfully I have amassed a few there; 79 Wooden Keys, 45 Iron Keys, and 20 Golden Keys). I am also starting to get Major/Superior Shards as drops which are entirely unusable. Downgradebility please!

  • My Story is Your Story is @Norinth’s Story

    A very active new kingdom-mate has written a wonderful feedback post as a new player since 0.36. You can find it here:
    Conclusions of a new lv 50, full 0.36 player without gifts

    As I was reading through his feedback, it really captured so much of the similarity of my experience so far that predicting Levels 40-50 seems pretty clear. PvP is useful for the rewards but especially tedious in the restricted format (just kill me already!). Events are useful but take so long and the shards you get are pitiful. Given the time investment and the necessity of gear levelling, these events should be much more generous. I’m investing in my followers but already reaching the point that I will have to play the other classes sooner than later. All in all, the sense of “discovery” is starting to wane as gameplay is now approaching the dreaded “drip” of whatever random useless items the day gives me to salvage.

  • At Least I Won’t Be Wasting XP!

    As mentioned previously, the prospect of hitting 50 with 3-4 chapters remaining was a frustrating thought. Thankfully it was recently announced that the Story completion requirement for unlocking the Citadel is being removed. Hallelujah! Does this lessen the reward of completing the Story? Maybe, but then why not add new rewards! Easy fix! Once again, I have all the good feedback ideas.

Not much else to add at this point. I’m crafting as much as I can with Xione and Soulchaser for additional spells and weapons (and weapon shards). My next goal will be to push to 50 and see where I end up in the Story. Most likely it will be well short of Chapter 15. See you then!

3 Likes

I love it!!! enjoy the game all of you

1 Like