Home Editorial Destroying the Metagame is Your Responsibility, Too

Fire damage is overpowered.

Even worse, everyone knows fire damage is overpowered. Hell, the devs have said so on the forums. “For most situations, yes, we must admit the fire element provides the most consistent damage per second.” You’ve got the initial burn, the long-lasting afterburn DOTs, not to mention status effects and support skills. You’d be an idiot not to run fire.

Number-crunching nerds figured out the best and most optimal selections for pretty much every situation. They calculated that fire does twice the damage electricity does (duh, idiot). So they fit their soldiers with fire swords, stacked with fire enchantments. Their castles all have fire wards, not to mention fire ballistae raining fire arrows on anyone who attacks.

So, of course, it only makes sense to stack fire resistance. How else could you hope to survive against the crushing imbalance of fire damage? 40% resistance would be okay… but 80% would be ideal for tanking your enemies’ nastiest attacks. And since they’re all shielded against your fire attacks, you have to layer in four Elder Flame Enchantments to beat their insane resistances. It all made perfect sense.

But then one day, some stupid noob has a stupid idea. If everyone has 90% resistance to fire, and nobody’s resisting electricity at all, wouldn’t a Lighting Sword, even at 60% of the raw DPS of fire, be significantly more effective? He kept the typical fire-proof armor, but layered his offense with electrical boons. One after another, he felled opponents, most of whom filled his chat with comments like:

  • “What a noob, only an idiot would use lightning.”
  • “Wow, nice build moron. Didn’t anyone tell you electrical DPS is garbage?”
  • “Hey everyone look at this idiot, he thinks he beat me, but it’s just because he’s stupid enough to use lightning!”

But, despite the protestations of these few victims, things started shifting. In just a few weeks, players were tanking not only for fire, but also a little for lightning.  A few weeks after that, some other anonymous asshole had the gall to bring ice damage to a major battle. And just when there seemed to be a balance, with a nice split between every type of resistance, a small guild brought a team composed solely of Flame Mages to the arena. Everything in sight was charred under their insane damage output.

What game am I talking about? Every game, really. Because no matter what you play, there’s probably something a lot like “fire damage” in your title of choice. Perhaps there’s a certain gun with unbeatable range. Or a vehicle that just corners 1.2% better than the rest. There’s a control tower that provides marginally better yield, or a shield that can prevent most low-damage attacks from ever connecting.

When this kind of inbalance is discovered, it makes sense that players flock towards abusing it. Shortly thereafter, it quickly warps the metagame as other players look for ways to defend against the winning strategy.

In many games, the innovation ends there.

But a few crazy people won’t be content with the natural balance of offense and defense. They’ll find a previously worthless tactic that just so happens to thrive in the gaps of the current competitive paradigm. While everyone else is obsessing over range, the strategist is using stealth tactics to sneak up on snipers. While everyone is taking turns sharper, this maniac is choosing cars that will ram more nimble opponents off the nearest cliff. That profitable control tower sure is nifty, but market manipulations may render its cash crop valueless. And who knew shields could be disabled by that shitty level-1 skill “Crotch Kick”?

The point is, you don’t have to accept the metagame paradigm. You don’t have to play the way everyone else insists. You do have to understand why the most popular strategies came to dominate the field, but your next responsibility is to adapt. To invent. To discover. Because the minute you resign yourself to defaulting on a strategy, the minute you leave yourself open to get burned by a random “noob” with a few ideas of his own.

2 replies to this post
    • Really? Which game was he referring to?

      I play most of the games he does, but I’m not sure what exactly he’s talking about. The argument about meta is a familiar one, I’m just not sure if there’s a specific scenario we’re supposed to take it in.

Leave a Reply

Newest Articles

Disciple of the Ring
8 5195

Since I began playing Magic: the Gathering nearly 20 years ago, I've been drawn to blue/red decks. Maybe it's just that I've always favored instants...