In an era obsessed with ‘the meta,’ Chivalry 2’s shuffle mode is a godsend

I was confused the first time one of my Rainbow Six Siege friends shouted "Heart of the Cards" and then let the pre-round timer expire without picking an operator, which meant they'd be assigned a random one. It's a Yu-Gi-Oh term, they had to explain to me, which refers to the idea that you'll always draw the card you need when the stakes are high.

Well, that's obviously horseshit. Heart of the Cardsing in casual Siege frequently sticks me with operators I definitely didn't need or want. But to hell with it: Clash it is! It's fun to embrace randomness even when it fails you, something exemplified in another game I've been playing a lot of recently: Chivalry 2.

One of my first questions about Chivalry 2 was: "What's the best weapon?" It's a natural place to start in a game whose central theme is variety. There are different kinds of bows, swords, axes, blunt weapons, polearms, sidearms, and even wieldable level stuff such as rocks, candelabras, and other players' limbs. Who wants to spend hours mastering a certain sword only to later watch a deep dive YouTube video which says that it's a Fool's Sword for hopeless buffoons? Not me, so I spent many early hours in Chiv 2 deeply concerned with weapon choice. Who was at the top of the scoreboard? Was it polearm users? Was it axe wielders? Was it archers, and if so, how dare they? 

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As fun as it is to fall in love with one weapon, which Evan identifies in the tweet embedded above, looking for "my" loadout was starting to stress me out. My attitude totally flipped, however, when I discovered Chivalry 2's shuffle mode. I turn it on every time I play now, and I'm enjoying Chivalry 2 more than ever.

I genuinely think I’m better at Chivalry 2 with shuffle mode on.

With shuffle mode on, your subclass is selected randomly each time you spawn. You don't know what you're going to be until you appear as a knight or footman or vanguard or, yes, even a dastardly archer. That's OK, though: Even I, an archer-hater, don't mind being a villainous bowman when shuffle's turned on. Heart of the Cards! Maybe archery is just what the moment called for? Well, it isn't, because archery is never called for, but since it wasn't my choice, I don't feel guilty about standing on the sidelines shooting pointy sticks at everyone who's doing the real fighting, frequently missing and hitting teammates. (One caveat: Either I've experienced some wild statistical anomalies, or there's an annoying bug where shuffle mode gets stuck on crossbows.)

I genuinely think I'm better at Chivalry 2 with shuffle mode on. Rejecting the meta (or even personal preference) has lifted pressure that was leading me to overthink and make errors. When I'm trying to "solve" a game like Siege or Chiv 2, I'll sometimes expect a class or weapon to work a certain way, and then stubbornly spend round after round trying and failing to make my assumptions true. I end up mad at myself or at the game for being "unbalanced" or "unfair" or whatever lets me assign blame to a block of data on my SSD. With shuffle mode on, though, I've been getting into a zone where my loadout guides me into battle instead of the other way around. I'm not trying to make a certain weapon "work" or to prove anything. I'm just playing, and I do pretty well when I'm focused on mechanical skill rather than demonstrating the genius of my metagaming masterplan.

ABOVE: Without shuffle mode, I never would've bonked these guys with a shovel. (Another good time ruined by an archer! And yes, I have already been chastised for briefly playing in third-person.)

The same is sometimes true in Siege. I can't say that I automatically do better when I Heart of the Cards it and end up with Warden, a man whose special power is glasses, but it does cause me to try operators I might otherwise shy away from, and relieves some of the pressure of making good picks. It's the difference between insisting on playing quarterback in a pick-up football game and someone pointing at you and saying, "Hey, you, you're the quarterback." In the latter scenario, you can't be blamed if you fumble the first snap, right?

Maybe it's a little obnoxious to use self-imposed randomness as an excuse for screwing up in a team game, but we all protect our egos somehow, and it's just more fun to me when we can say "screw it, Heart of the Cards" sometimes. (If you've got a full squad and they're up for it, you could do random squad strats, too.) Gaining tiny numerical advantages is such an obsession in this era of gaming that I once watched someone drive Rocket League cars in circles to see if any of them had a slightly lower turn radius than the others. Enough is enough: The Jäger looks cool, and that's all I need to know!

I wish Chivalry 2's shuffle mode went even further and randomized loadouts (right now, it seems to pick whatever subclass loadout I've already set up), but the basic idea is great. It reminds me of that meme barber instruction: Just fuck me up, fam. The phrase is used to point out disastrous haircuts, but the bad-haircut-haver's attitude is enticing: They relinquished control and accepted what they got, a stoic approach to personal style that I respect. At the very least, it's a fun way to play Chivalry 2, and I hope it catches on. In any game with loadouts, I'd at least give it a try.

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