On Thursday, Scrollstream were lucky enough to be given the chance to show off a proposed scroll for the Decay resource deck, Wicked Being. I say proposed as the purpose for showing it was to see the reaction of players to the scroll and to ask how they thought it can be improved.
The sticking point was that this was previously announced as being a purposely 'Bad' scroll, which has caused a lot of consternation given the belief that a) there should be no purposely bad scrolls and b) there arent enough scrolls to justify spending important development time on one that is.
Unfortunately there appears to be, for some, a misconception of how a game like Scrolls is structured.
To answer the first issue, that there shouldn't be bad scrollss, an article recently referenced by Rastien(1) summarised the reasons as:
Some cards are “bad” because they aren’t meant for you. (Not your playing style)
Some cards are “bad” because they’re designed for a less advanced player. (A learning aid)
“Bad” cards reward the more skilled player. (more detail below)
Some players enjoy discovering good “bad” cards.
Some cards are “bad” because the right deck for them doesn’t exist yet. (Junkyard and Beast Rat?)
Some “bad” cards are simply R&D goofing up. (which is obviously not the case in this particular instance)
The natural first step of any game is to create a path of trial and error for new players who haven't found their playing style yet, and also allow more experienced players, through playtesting, to discover the good scrolls and how to put them together into a viable deck which they enjoy playing. After all, it is a game and enjoyment is the main goal.
For example, preconstructed decks are criticised for not being strong enough to be used at even the lowest levels of ranked play. They do, however, serve as an excellent guide to a resource type's primary characteristics and are powerful enough to complete at least the easy, single player, trials. This gives a new player both a fundamental understanding of the game and enough gold to purchase more scrolls to strengthen their deck.
Other points to consider are that a CCG whose scroll are all equally powered would necessitate each iteration of scrolls to be more powerful than the last, to the point that it could spiral out of control. Also types of play such as draft wouldnt be as much fun as the 'bad' cards create the excitement.
The second issue, there aren't enough scrolls to justify bad ones, ignores that they have to be present from a design standpoint and that the act of discovery must begin from the point the game is created.
Does this then create a specific deck that everybody will eventually discover and play? Well no, as scrolls `only` has approximately 45 in each of the 4 factions (in comparison to the number that established games, like MTG, started off with) and there are still numerous deck builds out there.
If there was an error it's perhaps that Wicked Being was announced as a 'bad scroll' from the start. It's kinda like putting up dead end signs in a maze.
But this might be a symptom of something else, the fact that Mojang are exceptionally open in how they communicate with their community. I would rather that occasional slips, if it could be called that, happen than we hear almost nothing from them at all.
It's also important that people remember that this game is in beta and the bad scroll concept is a recognised phenomena in CCG`s, so a developer making reference to this isn't so shocking. With so many people asking for increased input into the development of Scrolls, perhaps not as many want the 'wizard's curtain' to be pulled back as they first thought?