Just sticking my oar in again after some more frustrated posts. I think it would be worth stepping back and casting a forensic eye over the situation. I’ve probably gone a bit over the top.
This game, at it’s core, is a spatial and mathematical puzzle (imho @zodd) - can you link the coloured tiles in a manner that maximizes their numerical value within the rules of the game. To win the game, you must achieve a mathematical total before the opposition.
A secondary element of the game is ‘base building’. This allows the player to acquire means of improving their chances in the core puzzle game. In E&P, the scope for variation in the order and number of buildings is highly regulated with players at various stages having near identical bases to their peers but it provides an additional element of strategy, albeit this is predominantly an illusion.
Heroes, special attacks, mana and items are simply names and artwork attributed to additional numerical values. By gatekeeping access to means of increasing chances of victory - heroes, items etc, the developers add a sense of ‘progress’ into game, despite the fact that game is essentially identical whether you are in the highest echelons of 7DD or on day one.
The value of the game, to any player, is a function of your enjoyment of the mathematical puzzle, the strategic element of base building, the fantasy art work and the social element of teamwork, interaction and, of course, this forum.
Game designers have harnessed the psychological affect of several hormone producing activities in order to make their games compelling.
Firstly, adding random elements to the core game in the form of board tiles assures that even teams of a disparate value can compete, up to a point, enhancing a sense of victory .
This is coupled with the additional, highly randomised, nature of obtaining more ways of improving your score. There is, therefore, an element of ‘luck’ which induces high emotional swings in invested players. By inducing periods of frustration and disappointment, the game also manages to increase the feelings of elation that follow victory or receiving a positive item or hero.
Their is also an emotional response in players to the artwork (see https://forum.smallgiantgames.com/t/its-not-me-its-you-heroes-you-just-dont-like/28919/25 for a demonstration of how much fun we have with these images). The game would function perfectly well without any corresponding images of muscular heroes, monsters and the occasional cleavage, however humanity’s in-bred empathy produces an irrational loyalty and connection to characters. We also seek escape from the mundane and find this by connecting the mathematical algorithms playing out before our eyes with scenes of imagined heroism, daring and jeopardy.
All this means that many of us have a strong emotional connection to the game, what we consider ‘fair’ and an innate sense of injustice when the many, many random of the game produce results adverse to our desire.
By making it possible to purchase the possibility of progress, the developers include a method of increasing a players emotional investment still further. The risk-reward hormonal feed back system is well documented and known to be highly addictive.
This system is a calculated gamble on behalf of the developers, for every player who finds the feed back loop insufficient to balance their enjoyment, many more will continue to find the risks acceptable and the reward justified.
Anyway, so as someone who likes the fantasy genre of games, books and films, enjoys the maths element and is having a whale of a time chatting and writing all this, I’m sticking with the game.
When it gets dull or too frustrating, I’ll walk.
If you are currently seething about wars and loot, which is often understandable, just take a step back and consider whether you can still enjoy just smashing the tiles together and admiring the pictures
P.s. another detailed discussion of gambling in gaming by @Gryphonknight can be found here https://forum.smallgiantgames.com/t/curiosity-red-tape-catch-22-loot-boxes-not-casino-gambling-not-collectible-cards-not-harmful/29633