With the upcoming patch (which is likely not a balance oriented patch,) I’d like to weigh in a wee bit about some balance changes that I think would benefit the game in 2017. I don’t intend for these to be taken too seriously, as I’m not a well-known, or even a great player (I spend more time spectating than playing to be perfectly honest.) What follows will be a series of small changes and some rationale.
Ramping in Duelyst is Too Much
The single biggest issue I’ve had in Duelyst since I’ve started playing last June, isn’t that the game paces too fast, or the insane out of hand damage combos, or even the power level of any individual card- it’s how insanely good ramping (mostly through cost reduction) is in Duelyst. In this suggestion/thought experiment, I’m simply going to go over changes to move the game away from cost reduction spells- with exception for Vortex (since that is a very Songhai-flavored effect.) With that in mind, Abjudicator, Crystal Wisp, Kujata, Manaforger and Mana Vortex will not be touched.
Goal: Move the game away from cheating mana costs- slowing development of cards that are balanced by their mana costs.
The Center Mana Tile
The center mana tile should probably go. Player 2 is immediately one mana ahead of player 1 for the entirety of the game. Often, if player 1 can bully the board on the first turn, they get to take the center mana tile in addition to the the top or bottom. In Lillithe lists, it isn’t unheard to take all 3 mana tiles in a single turn!
While I get that First Turn Advantage is a very real thing, beginning the game with a one and two drop, or a three drop is often enough to curtail that. The center mana tile often works too much to Player 1’s advantage anyways, forcing player 2 to take it immediately if for no other reason than deny it to player 1.
Suggestion: Remove the center mana tile
Goal: Make the game less reliant on 2 mana minions, and less apt to blowouts via one player developing on multiple mana tiles in the same turn. To no longer punish player 2 from having to make their first move anywhere but towards board center.
Darkfire Sacrifice leads to Abyssian decks that are greedy on the number of 6-7 drops that they play, and both from the position of playing Abyssian and playing against Abyssian lead to games that are simply one-sided in the worst of ways. While jamming a midrange Variax-based Lillithe deck (called “DJ Flash”, as a reference to both Variax being a Grandmaster, and Wraithlings becoming “Furious”, after “Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five”; ) what I found is that if I could defend a mana tile, and then DS/double DS, into Variax, that would force an opponent perform an OTK in the next couple of turns. Lurking Fear is simply limited to Dying Wish minions, and only reduces the costs by 1- not having nearly the same effect as Sac.
Sacrifice a minion you control, add it’s ATK to each nearby friendly minion
Goal: This Darkfire Sacrifice might not be optimal, but it supplies another string combo piece for swarm (something that certainly isn’t missing.) There are probably better designs or errata, but it moves Abyssian away from jamming playsets of 7 drops without commiting to slowing the game down.
Magmar gets a pretty absurd power level out of it’s 4 drops and Makantor Warbeast. I’m certainly against changing the Warbeast, but with the advent of Bloodborn, Magmar’s improved cardflow pushes ramping Elucidators and Warbeasts between spell-based damage bursts. I’d like for something that still works with Taygette, Warbeast and Fangs… and maybe Dreadnought too? :3
Target friendly minion takes 2 damage, and gains Rebirth
Goal: Egg support. Creates burst with Wild Inceptor and Morin-Khur, adds extra steps to handling cards like Taygette for the opponent. Gets Magmar away from early Warbeasts and Elucidators for face pressure, and into building more resilient board setup oriented burst.
Board Oriented Burst
Perhaps, the most complained about thing on the forum and reddit is out-of-hand damage. But, I feel like that tends to miss out on why liquidating a hand into pure damage is so feelbad- because board development based burst exists, and is quite interactive and fun.
For example, consider the difference between Ironcliffe Guardian + Divine Bond, and Saberspine Tiger + Roar. One requires dropping a fatty onto the board, and then hoping it has enough HP by the next turn, or some kind of healing factor with the wombo combo. Saberspine + buff, or multiple Saberspine Tigers just leads to anti-climactic ends with little to no setup or counterplay.
Goal: Not to eliminate out-of-hand damage, but to change key parts to make the game significantly more about the push-pull of setup and removal.
Does anything need to be said? This bad boy has broken buff spell after buff spell, BBS after BBS. There isn’t another single card that has broken nearly as much, and not another culprit that has avoided reevaluation so much. From Kara and Zirix’s old BBSes, to Argeon’s Roar, from every version of Third Wish up until when it specified Dervishes. This card limits the developer’s design space, it unnecessarily punishes some slow decks, while over-enabling others.
5 Mana 3/4
Goal: For as long as Saberspine Tiger has the wicked combination of Rush and ATK equivalent to it’s mana cost, it’ll simply be a minion that wears buffs a little too well. This version of the Tiger is less efficient, but still wears buffs well, but as a more mana intensive play. Gone are the days of double-Tiger lethals, but this variant is far more suitable for midrange strategies- eatting small minions are supplying pressure to the opponent while demanding to be traded into. While it might not be quite the efficiency powerhouse, there’s no doubt that this kitty still loves to hear Argeon’s Roar, or feel the Kinetic Surge. The clearest winner here, however, is Kaleos, whose blinking Tigers eat up small minions and with the health buff scales even better with Onyx Jaguar, Juxtaposition, Mist Dragon Seal, and Obscuring Blow.
Probably going to end up getting me flamed, but Elucidator, like Flash pushes Magmar too hard onto dumping tons of damage onto the opponent’s face in it’s current state. Thing is, Elucidator has sweet art, and is somewhat pivotal to Magmar’s identity as a core set rare- and I’d like to suggest a change that makes it stick even more clearly to the core of it’s Magmar identity.
3 Mana 5/4
Opening Gambit: Deal 4 damage to your General
When Elucidator becomes the target of a Spell, it deals 2 damage to that spell’s controller
Goal: Trading one type of speed for another, this Elucidator is a superb beatstick that uses it’s life as a resource, and fuels “Painmar” with it’s punisher effect of making itself a particularly unfriendly target for spells. It comes down on the cheap, punishes the opponent for over-reliance on spell based removal and bullies the board by being huge. Techs well against Vanar.
The current Tectonic Spikes is lovingly called “cancer” by most of the Duelyst community. It’s an infuriatingly card efficient burst combo with the likes of Decimus and 1/2 drop spam. It pushes Mecha-horn into overdrive, and doesn’t really fuel Vindicator and Visionar quite as intended because of how much better it combos with every other route. While Magmar needs some drawpower, the card possibly goes far over the call to do so.
Deal 2 damage to a minion in the same row as your General. If that minion is destroyed by this spell, draw a card.
Goal: What else do minions like Visionar and Elucidator have in common? They need proper removal to setup. Thumping Wave has proven that it’s okay to give Magmar efficient disruption. This punishes low health minions, especially ranged ones without entirely plugging the hole in the sense that Plasma Storm or TWave do by catching Widowmakers or buffed Heartseekers. Adds reach to Vaath’s BBS as a sortof removal tool, and can be card efficient to be a quality of life improvement to Magmar, without pushing 9 damage combos, and feelbad mill effects.
*Increase Enfeeble’s mana cost to 5. Functionally a wipe, just too mana efficient. Totally negates the usefulness of beatsticks and Mechs- counters high health minions too easily.
*Increase Concealing Shroud’s mana cost to 4. Ice Block is cool, but in it’s current form, it’s able to be chained into Alcuin Loremasters, artifacts, and Warbird procs too easily. The effect is cool, and the fact that it’s dispellable is nifty, but the opportunity cost to setting up it’s combos is frankly too low.
*Increase Bloodmoon Priestess’s mana cost to 5. Having played this for the last month on multiple accounts, the setup value is absurd. The opportunity cost to jamming it and then making a bunch of trades is insanely low.
*Turn Sunbreaker’s ability into an Opening Gambit, or make Geomancer’s ability static like Sunbreaker. Either way sortof works, but the inconsistency doesn’t make sense. If Geomancer wanted to be protected, it would make sense for it to be a 5/4, but Sunbreaker definitely isn’t statted to be a minion that wants to be protected, so why it carries a BBS-related ability that requires protection is fairly backwards.
*Going to make a thread in the next few days about an overhaul to Vet’s Base/Core, and minor changes to a couple of Denizens cards. Vet’s current state is something of a cluster, both in power and identity. The goal here is going to be giving Vet a more consistent identity that translates better with the rest of the game. In the meantime, I can keep dreaming of Circle of Dessication costing 6
Hope that you enjoyed my thought experiment! Dissent welcome, other ideas welcome too! I doubt CPG will actually peak at this thread without dismissing it in the first few paragraphs. If you managed to suffer through this text wall, I thank you.
Happy Dueling! Happy belated MLK day to our friends Stateside.