Exclusive Interview with Poxnora’s Lead Design, Derek Chin (aka Sokolov)

What follows is an exclusive interview conducted by myself, Insomniac1, featuring PoxNora’s new Lead Design, Derek Chin also known as Sokolov. The interview was conducted by email and has been officially approved.

PoxPulse: As many may know, you were a part of the PoxNora design team in the past. How does it feel to be back, Sokolov?

Sokolov: It’s amazing! The way I play games, I am constantly thinking about them from a design perspective anyway, so being paid to do that while having the power to actually execute on my idea is a dream. When Hawkfain mentioned the possibility for me to take over for CorpsE and work on PoxNora again, I jumped at the chance to do so!

PoxPulse: Now that you are the lead designer, what sort of changes should the PoxNora community expect to see in the near future and beyond?

Sokolov: Initially, the status quo will be maintained as I get up to speed on what has changed since I’ve been gone. My role has changed a lot since I am taking over as opposed to working under CorpsE, so this will give me a chance to get acclimated to my new responsibilities are while I assess the amount of resources available for future goals. I will, of course, be continuing to make balance adjustments as players have expected in the past while I ramp up.
One of my first tasks, however, will be to address the current perception of powercreep. To that end, I plan to establish stricter policies surrounding cost and design of runes to guide balance of existing runes as well as the design of new runes. I will be introducing more of my trademark innovative runes that focus more on lateral increases in power and build off existing runes rather than being auto-include in and of themselves.
In terms of the way expansions are done, that will likely remain the same in the foreseeable future. I believe the structure CorpsE put into place is fundamentally sound and provides exciting new content for players to explore with each expansion. Veteran Poxers also know that, thematically, expansions have their art and theme done pretty early. That said, nothing is coded or set in stone in terms of the implementation of individual runes, so there’s plenty of room for me to infuse my own vision and flavor in the upcoming expansion – even if I can’t change the fact that KF will be getting a really cool looking [classified information].

PoxPulse: What are your long term goals for PoxNora?

Sokolov: I want to see PoxNora continue to succeed and grow. Okay, that’s a bit of a cop-out answer, but I believe that PoxNora is a great game and has potential to grow. Unfortunately, it has always been hindered by accessibility issues – it’s a fairly niche type of game, and its complexity and graphical style, what veteran players love, can sometimes drive new players away. For example, imagine you are a new player. If there is a rune that you played against you really want – how do you obtain it? It’s not an easy question to answer. So these kinds of issues, issues such as the ever-increasing number of abilities on champions, UI/website usability problems, and related concerns are things I will be focusing on.

Additionally, I believe in community involvement and communication and have some ideas on how we can improve the game in these areas. Primarily, I want to encourage and reward players to play a more active in the design process, as well as better communicate what I am looking into and focusing on.

PoxPulse: To many it seems as if the PoxNora team places very little emphasis on bringing new players into the game. What should we expect to see in the future in regards to the new player experience?

Sokolov: I believe this is a fundamental area what needs to be improved if PoxNora is to succeed on a greater scale. I don’t have any specifics I can share right now beyond what I have mentioned above, but rest assured this is on my list.

PoxPulse: Some players have expressed concern that you are against free to play PoxNora. What is your position on free to play PoxNora and should we expect changes to the player rewards system?

Sokolov: Technically, PoxNora is already free-to-play. However, Poxers understand that to play at a competitive level, you need to spend money; it is more like a CCG than a F2P game.
My position is that as it stands, PoxNora does not have the mass market appeal required to make a fully F2P system work financially in SoE’s favor. That doesn’t mean that fully F2P models are bad, or that it will never work for PoxNora, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done before that can occur. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that the gold store isn’t being expanded or will be discontinued; just don’t expect everything to be available on there the way some other F2P games have their setup.

PoxPulse: When designing runes, what is the general process you follow from concept to completion?

Sokolov: Great question! I would actually like to produce a series on the process at some point, so I will reserve this topic for that.

PoxPulse: Will you be continuing the design and development of the new themes introduced with Wild Alliance?

Sokolov: As mentioned before, expansion design will remain largely the same in terms of format. So that means each faction can expect their new set of runes to be designed mostly to work with one another. In the past, this has meant either a brand new theme (Myx), one that builds on an existing race (Imps), or one that builds on existing abilities (Strig with Flight). So in the future, there is definitely room to expand on runes introduced with Wild Alliance, especially if particular themes seem to be popular amongst players.

PoxPulse: Blaine Smith, aka CorpsE, the previous Lead Designer, started a tradition of periodically buffing shoebox runes. Should we expect this tradition to continue?

Sokolov: Definitely. I have some great ideas on how to make the process more exciting and fruitful. Please look forward to it!

PoxPulse: What inside information can you share regarding the upcoming midterm release, Wild Alliance Legends?

Sokolov: This is the first release that will come under my “reign.” Keep in mind these runes will be on par with existing runes in terms of power level and I didn’t have full control over all aspects of these runes. Hopefully you can get a taste of the type of design I will be attempting to guide PoxNora towards going forward.

PoxPulse: What inside information can you share regarding the next full expansion, which has yet to be officially announced?

Sokolov: Image Link

PoxPulse: Do you have a favorite faction? If so, which one and why? If not, please explain!

Sokolov: My favorite faction is Savage Tundra. It’s what I played the most during my days as a player. I branched out more as a Green, since I had access to many more runes. My current favorite
deck is an FS/FW AP denial build.

PoxPulse: What are some of the runes you have designed in the past? If you had to pick one, which would be your favorite and why?

Sokolov: I had a hand in a lot of runes, but some of my favorites are Escape Magic, Azaren, and Waylay. If I was forced to pick one… I’d have to go with Northern Cross Templar. He became a bit more powerful than I originally intended but I think he is thematically interesting and came with the Inquisition ability which is fairly unique in PoxNora. He is a tank with disruption abilities which forces the opposing player to deal with him – which actually makes him able to fulfill his role, unlike older tank runes such as Arctic Turtle which players can just walk around and ignore.

PoxPulse: Should we expect to hear from you often on the PoxNora Forums and in game?

Sokolov: As I said before, I believe in community involvement and one of my goals for PoxNora is to improve communication with the playerbase and get them more involved in various aspects of the game!

PoxPulse: Is there anything else you would like to share with the PoxNora community?

Sokolov: Look forward to exciting new things. I have so much I want to do and I am very excited about the future of PoxNora!

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Playing Poxnora for Free

I’m Broke but I Want to Play Poxnora

So you don’t want to or cannot pay to play Poxnora, but you’d like to be competitive. Fortunately, you can! With the addition of the gold store at the release of Heroes’ Dawn it is now easier than ever to play Poxnora without spending a dime.

The key is getting the runes you need to build an effective deck. To do so, you will need to either save up gold from playing games or have friends gift you the runes, and trade vigorously. Either way, to be truly competitive you need to have competitive runes. The Burning Tree deck you get when signing up (or used to, I’m not sure anymore) simply will not cut it. Fortunately, there are quite a few resources you can use to build up your rune collection.

Player Rewards (Gold Store)

The absolute best way to get free runes is to play Poxnora and spend the gold you earn in the player rewards tab of the website.

Training Grounds Runepool

Perhaps best way to trade for the runes you need is to use the Training Grounds Rune Pool. All of the rules relating to the runepool can be found at the runepool itself. The gist of it is that you can trade your commons and uncommons or even your rares for others on a 1:1 basis. KTCAOP (the one running the pool) is a very nice person and spends their own time and money to maintain the runepool so please be respectful and say thank you.

Rune Trader

The Poxnora website features a rune trader which you can use to trade with other players. The way it works is one player puts up a rune or set of runes for trade, and another player bids some of his own runes in exchange. The player who created the trade then declines or accepts. Multiple bids can be up at a time, similar to an auction, but here you barter for runes instead of cash.


Though you can acquire runes with gold and trade with runepools or other players, often there are those hard to get runes which are still out of reach. tcgbay.com also known as Pox Portal (PP) is a reputable, honest and well stocked store/trade website. They have nearly every rune available for trade. The downside of using this site is that they are a business of sorts. They have to make a profit off of your trades, so it is a bit like a pawn shop or card shop. You give more for less. Also, at the time of writing this article, tcgbay is also what most players base their ideas of “value” on for their runes. Get used to looking up prices here when trading.

Pox Box

Similar to Pox Portal, poxbox.net is a new website out to make a profit. Pox Box tends to be a faster transaction as trades are filled via scripting as opposed to a store representative, but their stock is much lower.

Promotional Sales

I realize this is an article about playing for free, but you really get the most out of Poxnora by paying to play. Every so often Sony Online Entertainment will announce a sale on station cash which you can take advantage of for Poxnora! These sales generally pop up around holidays. If you’re serious about Poxnora, the sales are something I highly recommend.

Words of Wisdom

In the end, the largest impact on your success in Poxnora will come from practice. You need to learn what the abilities/spells/champions in the game can do, and you need to play intelligently. Regardless of whether or not you have the “good” runes, you’ll lose many games if you don’t put in the effort to learn the game. If you’re new, I suggest using the nifty Random Rune feature I built into Pox Pulse to study up (located under the runes drop down at the top of every page).

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Poxnora Draft Tournaments

With the Heritage expansion on the horizon, it has been brought to my attention that Draft Tournaments aren’t very well documented. Many Poxnora players don’t even know what a draft tournament is, or how to participate. Being that I love draft tournaments, this is unacceptable! I’m going to explain all of the little details, and possibly upload images/video later.

What is a Draft Tournament?

A draft tournament is a special format of Poxnora tournaments where each player is given a semi-random set of 30 runes to play with. I say semi-random because the runes are drawn from packs, but the player gets to pick which runes to take from the packs.

How does a Draft Tournament work?

The way a draft tournament works is that each player starts by opening a pack, picks a rune from that pack, and passes the remainder of the runes on to the next player. The next player then picks from the remaining runes, and passes what is left on. This continues until the pack is exhausted. Each player then opens another pack and the process continues. This process repeats 3 times, at which point every player will have 30 runes.

After the “drafting” phase, the tournament continues on just like any other single-elimination tournament. The only exception is that unlike standard tournaments, each player will now have a set of 30 runes chosen from packs, rather than being constructed from their collections.

How do I participate?

To participate in a Poxnora draft tournament, you first need to know which type of draft tournament you are playing. There are currently three different modes at the time of posting this, with an additional format being released “soon”.

The first format is called 9-ticket draft. You must pay 9 event tickets to enter. In this format, you keep all of the runes you pick during the drafting phase. Additionally, for each round you win, you will receive a refund of 3 tickets. The winner of the tournament will additionally receive a limited edition rune which is different every expansion.

The second format is called single-ticket draft. You must pay 1 event ticket to enter. In this format, you keep NONE of the runes you pick during the drafting phase. The winner of the draft tournament will receive two event tickets and a limited edition rune. Second place receives one ticket.

The third format is simply a free weekend tournament which is hosted by the Poxnora team every once in a while. Everyone can participate in these for free at the designated time. You do not keep any runes you draft, but are awarded gold for winning.

To begin playing any of the formats, you must go to the tournament lobby tab through the Poxnora game client, choose your game format, and hit the “enter tournament” button. In order to play, you must have the required number of tickets, which can be traded for or purchased in the Poxnora marketplace. Naturally the free weekend tournament does not require tickets.

Note that some states cannot participate in tournaments due to gambling laws or something like that. If you try to enter and it says you can’t play, you can’t. Sorry :(. The official rules for draft tournaments as well as which states cannot participate can be found here.

Upcoming changes to Draft Tournaments

At the time of writing this post, draft tournaments feature 3 packs from specific expansions which you will draw from. After the release of the Heritage expansion which has been scheduled for early August, drafts will feature 2 of the latest expansion, and 1 special “draft” pack. Details here.

Additionally, the Poxnora team will be introducing Swiss Draft, where rather than being done after losing the first round, you continue playing another two. This guarantees that everyone gets to play three games. They have mentioned that you will win tickets for every win, whether you lose during the first round or not. Exact details have yet to be released. Info here.

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Poxnora Lingo

Today I set up the blog portion of Pox Pulse, and to kick things off I am going to cover what some of the things people say within the Poxnora community actually mean!

I will add to this as time goes on. Alphabetized for convenience.

Flavor of the month. Poxnora players use this term to describe the abundance of a strategy/deck being used in the current Meta game.

Poxnora players tend to say META when describing the best or most competitive runes or battle groups. This is of course all opinion based, and you will often receive different ideas of what is META or not from different players.

One Rounded
The act of killing a champion in one round. Generally, you want to avoid this happening to you, and dish it out. If you can kill a champion before they can act, you are in a great position.

Overpowered. Though generally used while complaining after a loss, the term OP is used to describe something within the game which is too strong or imbalanced.

Power Creep
A reference to the pattern of runes from newer expansions replacing older runes by way of the newer being more powerful. This is somewhat controversial, but most would agree that as runes are released with each expansion that a noticeable level of Power Creep is present.

Poxnora players tend to throw this term around more than necessary. In general, it simply means a rune that no one is using because it SUCKS or has been power crept.

Working as intended. This term is generally used in bug posts where one person thinks a particular game mechanic is a bug, and another person says WAI!


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