Berserk Open Beta Tournament — The Good, the Bad and the Buggy

On January 30th 2021, 23 players from all over the ‘Verse responded to Vulcan’s call to take part in the first open tournament for Berserk: Vulcanites Unleashed. An exciting new Blockchain based CCG being developed. A part of the ever growing Vulcan Forged Ecosystem.

The game is still in Beta, with a target release date of Feb 15th 2021 for the integration of blockchain, front end card library, scoreboard and true ownership of NFT Cards. But that didn’t stop these 23 brave mortals from stepping up to prove their worth to the God of the Forge.

23 Players came together from all over the world for a day of card games. With each game being streamed from both sides for audience members to observe. Over 200 games of Berserk were played, with an average game taking approximately 8 1/2 minutes, the quickest game of the event was over in under 2 minutes, whilst the longest slog-fest went on for over 20. An estimated 150 cups of coffee were consumed (mostly by the event coordinators), 8 awesome NFT cards were won by the top 8 players, and a lot of fun was had by all.

Most would I think agree, that very little went wrong with this event. Players knew what they were getting into, and everyone came with positive spirits willing to work through any issues that came up. A couple of games had to be reset due to unfortunate desyncs, mostly between the longer distance players. The lack of dedicated tools for Tournament hosting meant a slightly more arduous sign up process. The choice to use double elimination for the Top 8 was met by some disagreement due to the lengthy nature of the competition. But on the whole a very positive event, that has provided a lot of very interesting data.

There were a couple of well known bugs going into this event, players were warned to plan accordingly, but nevertheless many chose to risk the bugs in order to have access to the strategic benefit from those cards. The undead (Creature is able to attack on the same turn it is played) cards broke many a heart with their inconsistent summoning, and the variability in Lava gain cards in the early turns cost a few some strategic turn 1 plays. But for the most part, the majority of the games went very smoothly. It was great to see the community come together, and if something went wrong be willing to work it out among themselves in an amicable fashion.

Meta Analysis

This event marks the first time since the start of the beta, that players have had an opportunity to really dig into which cards are most popular. To figure out which strategies work, and which were found wanting. A real trial by fire for the players. facing round after round of brutal opponents, each as determined to win. It really highlighted the strengths, and possible flaws of some strategies.

Let’s have a look at some of the numbers

As part of the Beta testing, players have access to the full 60 cards included in the initial release of Berserk. Able to pick and choose to their heart’s content from even the rarest and most powerful cards. This was truly a Tournament of Titans. Each Quadrant of VulcanVerse is represented by a collection of NFT cards that players can own. As well as a selection of “Neutral” Cards, non-NFT cards that can be used by anyone to play the game for free.

The Hades Quadrant pulled ahead as the most popular collection of cards — Unsurprising considering stand out cards such as Edge of Night, Shade Warrior, and Funeral Barge of Acheron , which turned the tide of a few battles during the tournament — However the other 3 lands mostly held their own in terms of popularity, with the majority of the loss coming from the Non-NFT Neutral cards. Which are on average weaker than the themed cards.

Despite playing a pivotal role in a few games, Funeral Barge of Acheron was a bit of a sleeper card in this event. Hades in general seemed to heavily favour the top and bottom end of available cards. The middling rarities proving underwhelming for most players

A whopping 19 of the 25 total copies (There will only ever be 25 of these minted into existence on the Blockchain) of Edge of Night were used in this tournament. The most popular Legendary card by a fair margin. Each deck can only contain at most, a single copy of each legendary. Meaning 19 of 23 decks in play included a copy. Making this likely to be a highly sought after card.

Shade warrior was also the most popular common card used. But there’s going to be a fair few more of those in circulation. So it’s safe to say there will be less broken hearts over that card come release day.

A lot of the relative popularity of these cards is likely down to where they fall in the Lava curve. This tournament was dominated by a heavily front loaded curve. With many players favouring aggressive plays, often with quantity over quality. The more Lava expensive cards proving unpopular in the face of sheer volume. (N.B. This is mostly due to the uncapped way in which decks work during beta and the curve is likely to shift following a planned update to enforce the deck limit. See Lava Curve discussion further down for more detail)

The Desert of Notus was the least popular quadrant in play at this tournament. But it wasn’t without its star cards. Storm Surge being the 3rd most popular card in the entire tournament. A rare card (350 Editions), Storm Surge is a 0 Lava card that provides +2 lava, allowing players to accelerate their game play on any turn and was seen in 16 of the 23 decks played. Scorpion Stance, a 4/6 Taunt Card for 5 Lava being the other popular Notus card among players. Blood of the Cockatrice was the least popular Legendary God card in the entire event. With just 1 solitary player running a copy. However, that player did make it to the final. So maybe they saw something nobody else did.

As the only 0 Lava card in the game currently, it is unsurprising that Storm Surge saw a high level of popularity during this tournament. The late game options for Notus also proving particularly popular in comparison to the offerings from the other quadrants

Arcadia as a collection saw some of the most widespread use. With 7 of the 10 cards being used by at least 10 or more players. With its relatively smooth distribution across the entire curve, and high playability at all Lava points. It definitely made a name this tournament as the most viable collection of cards. Often able to provide a card that complemented almost any strategy. Stand out cards included Pipes of Pan, Summer Storms, The Summer Palace and Bushwhack Wolf. Again, capitalising on that early game aggression, favoured by so many players.

Sunfire Strike proved to be the most popular Legendary God card, with 13 players running a copy. Having that total board wipe as an ace in the hole made for some really exciting momentum swings in matches.

Other than the God card however, the top end of curve was still neglected. Although, not as badly as the other quadrants.

Boreas is a slightly strange set in terms of Lava distribution. With a noticeable gap between 5 and 8 Lava. Building a mono deck is likely to prove very difficult with just these cards. It is a very aggressive set however, able to generate high value in those early turns, and so at least a few cards made it into every single deck in the event. Hilltop Fort of the Amazons, a 1/6 Taunt for just 3 Lava, proving to be a favourite among players. With Rip and Rend and Cantankerous Mammoth providing an explosive opening for many.

Boreas had the most popular Mythic (200 Editions) cards of any quadrant. But considering Hilltop Fort of the Amazons (THE most popular card in the entire tournament, run by 19 of the 23 players, with almost all of them running 2 copies) is a mythic, and the Boreas collection also has the highest number of Mythics of any quadrant (tied with Notus). This is unsurprising.

By far and away, the name of the game this tournament was aggression, and lots of it. Over 2/3 of all cards played were between 0 and 3 Lava. With a significant peak at the 3 drop point.

This is partly a symptom of the way in which Beta has been carried out. At the time of this tournament, Deck Count and Graveyard are not yet enabled. Meaning players were able to cycle through their decks indefinitely. The lack of deck limit, combined with the high draw rate and lava available in the late game, has led to a front loaded curve. that favours dishing out high numbers of cards every turn. aiming to churn through the full deck as often as possible. When players have to start sticking to only 30 cards, I expect this style of play will change rather drastically.

Lava Curve for every deck in the Tournament
Lava Curves for the Top 8 Finalists

There is very little difference between the average curves and those of the top 8 finalists. the top 8 ever so slightly favouring a more aggressive curve on average. With almost every finalist running 2 copies of Storm surge, a high number of 1 drops and a high number of 3 drops (in order to capitalise on the first 2 turns)

In the initial card set for Berserk there are 2 types of cards, Creature cards, which have an Attack and Health value, and Spell cards, which provide an effect, but do not place anything on the board.

The distribution of Creatures vs Pure Spell cards was approximately 80:20, and this held true across almost every individual deck. Very close to the card distribution within the set.

To try and drill down deeper into the types of cards used I’ve added (unofficial) Subtypes to each card, based on what they do (In addition to whether they are a creature or a spell card). Based on the style of play we saw this tournament, it should come as no surprise to see Buff, Taunt, Summon, and Lava Gain cards as the most popular.

As a percentage of their actual representation in the set, Taunt and Lava Gain cards were massively popular in the decks seen during this tournament. Whilst Stun and Lifesteal cards proved underwhelming to most in the face of such a fast tempo

Rare (350 Edition) cards were significantly more popular than expected.

But a closer look at the subtypes and Lava distribution of the Rare card category probably explains why.

With all 3 Lava Gain cards, Pipes of Pan, Trapjaw, and Cantankerous Mammoth all falling into the Rare Category, it’s easy to see why they were a player favourite.

Top 8 Decks

The Deck List for Each finalist in descending order

In 1st Place — Day Devil, our first ever Berserk Tournament Champion. With their deck “Devil Smash”

2nd Place — Mukti, one of the widest spread decks in the entire event. Utilising 21 unique cards in a 30 card deck. whilst you may think this would water down their chances of pulling off key combos, it would seem the flexibility allowed them to respond to most situations in a reasonably effective way.

3rd Place — Odin, one of the only players not to include a God card in his build. Odin’s Deck utilises a (relatively) high number of Non-NFT, Common and Rare cards. A good starting point for those looking to build on the cheaper end.

4th Place — Scotts

5th Place — Selroche

6th Place — Capt Thor

7th Place — Haradeas

Last Place — Slave4e, the only player in the entire tournament to not run a single card higher than 5 Lava. With the max number of Lava gain and Rage cards allowed, this hyper aggro glass cannon build just didn’t quite have the staying power necessary when facing off against the other finalists.

Conclusion

This was a very exciting event, with a lot of interesting data. Pulled together in very little time and made to work despite the limitations. In true Vulcan fashion.

Everyone had a great time and some awesome prizes were won. I hope the dive into the card usage was interesting and will help guide some changes to strategy among the playerbase. If there’s anything on here you’d like to know more about, feel free to ask over in the Berserk Discord Server https://discord.gg/NCmpqDJZD9.

I look forward to many more tournaments to come, and can’t wait to see how the strategies evolve as the game develops.