History of Degenerate Trasher

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by skeller, Oct 18, 2012.

  1. skeller

    skeller Well-Known Member

    By Vivafringe

    Curious how some of your favorite Puzzle Strike chips came to be? In Hidden Gems, we explore the development history of various chips. This time we take a look at Degenerate Trasher.

    I nominate Degenerate Trasher for best-named chip; during development, it was degenerate and unfair for an astoundingly long time. Degenerate Trasher has broken more games than probably any other chip. I mentioned last article that a recurrent development theme was that deck thinning was powerful! Well, Degenerate Trasher is the platonic form of overpowered deck thinning.


    Here is how the legend began:

    Degenerate Trasher (brown, 6 cost)
    Trash up to 2 chips from your hand.

    With the advantage of hindsight, this chip looks unreal good. What was the reaction when it was released? A collective "meh." As a result, the brown arrow was upgraded to +:psblack:, which pushed the already powerful chip into the realm of ridiculousness.

    Every character can get a 6 buy on their second cycle by buying :ps2gem:s (exercise for the reader: who can get one on their first cycle?). That meant that the degenerate trashing began very quickly. Players could thin their decks down to about 8 chips, and start crashing a 4-gem every turn. The plan was too quick to reasonably rush down, and what late game strategy could compete with combine-combine-combine-crash EVERY turn?

    Players didn’t know what to do. No one wanted to admit that the +:psbrown: version was closer to fair than the current one (to be honest, I have my doubts about whether even a +:psbrown: version of Degenerate Trasher would be printable at 6). And no one wanted to bump the cost of the chip to 7.

    ...wait, why didn't anyone want to bump the cost to 7? It's time to take a detour.


    Above: The original Martial Mastery

    This Grave chip dates back to the version 1 release. For years of development, this single chip had an oppressive influence on design. The following conversation repeated itself ad nauseum over development:

    "I have a great idea for a chip. It does this really cool and powerful effect, and costs 7."

    "Oh, I'm sorry, we can't have cost 7 chips. You see, if anything ever cost 7, Grave could trash his crash gem for it, and get a crazy advantage with it. So you see, your awesome idea is secretly impossible."

    Eventually, people were fed up with a single chip blocking a huge amount of design space, and in version 2, we changed Grave’s Martial Mastery to only trash non-:psorb:s. Don’t worry! Even though he lost the ability to trash his crash gem, he got a nice upgrade to Versatile Style as a consolation prize. With rebalanced Grave, we could now safely bump Degenerate Trasher’s cost to 7.


    Above: The current Martial Mastery

    Unperturbed, Degenerate Trasher continued to cheerfully ruin games. Players were beginning to catch on, and in many games both players rushed for it, regardless of what else was in the bank. And the resulting games were horrific: endless marathons of crashing 4 or more gems at each other in a single turn, but being unable to kill each other.

    There was a small silver lining: throughout all of these repeated Degenerate Trasher games, players began to question whether it was a good rule to allow trashing character chips. At the time, trashing character chips was allowed. And to many players, this just didn't feel right. Trashing character chips felt like voluntarily giving yourself a lobotomy, even if it was the correct tactical choice. And Degenerate Trasher, the most powerful trasher in the game, offered a particularly extreme example. As Lum, when you trashed every single character chip with Degenerate Trasher, were you even Lum anymore? Not really. You were just some boring slimdeck robot. To fix this, we instituted a global rule that made all character chips untrashable. As a result, Degenerate Trasher's largest nerf ended up having nothing to do with what was written on the chip.

    ...but Degenerate Trasher was still overpowered! In a bit of irony, the cost was raised again, making all of the previous hemming and hawing about Grave's Martial Mastery irrelevant. Additionally, people had had enough of the endless Degenerate Trasher games, and so for some time, Degenerate Trasher actually didn’t trash anything.

    Degenerate Trasher (8 cost, brown)
    Remove up to 2 non-character chips from the game.

    The idea was that, if the chips no longer returned to the bank, panic time would trigger and bring a merciful end to a Degenerate Trasher stalemate. This ended up being reverted for a couple of reasons. First, the clause didn’t do a great job of solving the problem. Most of the time, people were trashing :ps1gem:s and wounds, which were endless and did not trigger panic time. Second, as it turns out, the endless Degenerate Trasher games were now much more rare. It’s hard to explain this with any single factor, because the most likely cause was a combination of several things:

    1. Aggressive chips were added to let players rush down more effectively. You could defend by buying combines, but the new :ps$-1: clause (more on this later!) made buying Degenerate Trasher unrealistic at that point.
    2. Character chips were now untrashable, limiting how much you could realistically slim your deck.
    3. The increased cost made players obtain the chip later than before. So as a whole, players were buying the chip when they had bigger decks, again limiting how slim your deck could get.
    As a result, the problem that the clause was supposed to prevent didn't even exist anymore! This brought us back to the version we have today:


    Nowadays, Degenerate Trasher is good but not overpowering. While I recognize the necessity of well-balanced chips, another part of me can't help but feel nostalgic for the times when Degenerate Trasher was truly degenerate. The next time you play a casual game with Degenerate Trasher, consider temporarily house ruling it to cost 6 and able to trash character chips. You'll be both horrified and glad you did.

    Next Article: History of Secret Move
    Previous Article: History of Jaina in Puzzle Strike

    Attached Files:

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  2. rabid_schnauzer

    rabid_schnauzer Well-Known Member

    Reader Exercise Answer: All characters are capable of a first cycle 6 buy.
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  3. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    That's enough to get credit, but not enough to get the gold star.
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  4. ApolloAndy

    ApolloAndy Well-Known Member

    I can't, for the life of me, figure out how Vendetta can get a first cycle $6 buy unless Gloria Saving Grace's him or something similar.
  5. Turbo164

    Turbo164 Well-Known Member

    An opponent using Max Anarchy, a silly Surgical Strike, or a first cycle Riskonade (Sets, Geiger, Val etc) would work too :p

    @ the 7 cost dilemma: couldn't old Grave already get a 4gem as his "do-nothing that becomes DCG" ?
    vivafringe likes this.
  6. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah he could, nice catch! This is a slightly older draft (entirely my fault). I made a small edit to fix.
    Xom likes this.
  7. rabid_schnauzer

    rabid_schnauzer Well-Known Member

    Turn 1: Gloria plays healing touch into Saving Grace (top bag) into Radiant Healing into Saving Grace
    Turn 2: Gloria plays healing touch into Saving Grace (top bag) into Radiant Healing into Saving Grace
    Turn 3: Zane plays Max Anarchy
    Turn 4: Your first turn, have fun with your 9 chips and 5 arrows.

    Isn't FFA mode fun?
    vivafringe likes this.
  8. KaiDASH

    KaiDASH Well-Known Member

    >be grave
    >use VS for +$2
    >use MM to upgrade a 1 gem to a 2 gem
    >Reversal to draw the last chip in deck + the 2gem
    >Play crash

    5x 1gem, 1x 2 gem, +2 from VS, +1 from crash

    10buy first turn. NOT BAD.
    variable likes this.
  9. vgambit

    vgambit Member

    "Most of the time, people were trashing 1-gems and wounds, which were endless and did not trigger panic time."

    So gems and wounds aren't counted as stacks in the bank in terms of panic time? I thought that gems were only endless when used as antes, and wounds can run out if they're all drawn.
  10. Fry

    Fry Well-Known Member

    I think this is the only case where a chip that was degenerate as a character chip got changed into a bank chip and was then via moon logic less degenerate. Reverse situation is Diamond -> Deathstrike Dragon, for instance.
  11. KaiDASH

    KaiDASH Well-Known Member

    There are 24 wounds in the wound pile, so often even in games where there is RA and a character that is very effective with it, not all the wounds would be used.

    For 1gems, very rarely are additional onegems bought so even if the ones trashed don't return to the one gem pile, there would still be 1gems in the pile.
  12. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    Also there's a slight difference in the online implementation we tested on. There, 1-gems really were infinite (well, at least until the server crashes, ha).

    Still, you're mostly right, and I probably should have said something like "mostly endless" instead of "endless." :p
    Xom likes this.
  13. vgambit

    vgambit Member

    You're talking to a guy who has seen both the 1 gem pile and wound pile get used up entirely in 4-player FFA.
  14. Archon Shiva

    Archon Shiva Well-Known Member

    Really interesting article, viva. Keep digging these up, skeller!

    At the table, we combine by piling 1-gems atop each other (makes the game faster when crashing), which if the pile could run out, would be completely wrong. If we ever do run out of physical 1-gems due to this, I have both versions of the collector's edition to draw from... or pennies.
  15. Star Slayer

    Star Slayer Well-Known Member

    These articles are really cool. Thanks, vivafringe and skeller. An especially big thanks to vivafringe, since it seems easy to overlook that he is actually writing all this stuff (while skeller is shamelessly hogging all the likes he gets for posting them).*

    I joined development somewhere in the middle of these stories, so the first half of these articles is like "Interesting... I didn't know that.", while the second half is more like "I remember this! Crazy times!".

    * This is by no means a jab at skeller. It was simply a great opportunity to write "shamelessly hogging all the likes". Though I guess that if I did the same thing in the Hundred-Fist Frenzy article, I would be some repeated jabs...
    skeller likes this.
  16. keithburgun

    keithburgun Banned

    Just wanted to say, I enjoyed this article a lot and I'd love to read more stuff like it!
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  17. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks! This is the third article in a series of maybe 10 articles. You can find everything I've written so far in this topic:

    I like the idea of having everything in one place, so I'll be editing my articles in as they get added to the front page.
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