Hey all, myw here. Played for nearly a year now, Regular S-rank lurker, and since the month’s patch came out with no balance touches so I won’t be wasting my breath for at least another half month, I want to talk about what I think are the current Ills in Duelyst, and how it could become better. I assert that Duelyst is primarily a healthy game and most of the ills stem from a few cards. I’ll give the list of unhealthy cards first, and then I’ll explain why.
Here is my list of cards, in approximate order of "toxicity"
Reaper of Nine Moons
Shadow Sister kelenio
4 Winds Magi
A lot of players feel similarly on many of these cards, but I’m sure some of them are strange picks. I’ve also denoted cards that aren’t 100% problems so much as dangerous synergywise with ?*. An important thing to note is that not all of these things need to change. Changes to top cards is a rippling effect, and stuff towards the bottom are not pressing.
These cards are all on the strong end, but inherently being strong isn’t a bad thing. Cards like healing mystic, primus fist/shieldmaster, Pandora, spell jammer are strong too, but less complained about. The difference, and what I believe is one of duelyst’s core ills, is frustration. Another way to put it is: “fun to play against.” This is a problem that pervades duelyst and turns off players from spending more time, even if the game was mostly skillful and fair. The negative moments stick with you.
Frustration comes from a couple of different aspects, many of which extend into their own large playing issue. Most cards are problematic in several aspects. I’ll be talking about a few faces of that frustration here.
Power level: many of the cards here are simply too powerful and act as power spikes. Power spikes are frustrating because the power of the games plays can be overly determined by draws. Under any balance philosophy, this should be mitigated. Key examples: Kron, nimbus
Limited Answers and Snowballing: This may be the most pervasive problem in Duelyst, even though power level is the most obvious. In the most reductive state, minions can either be beaten by spells invested from hand, or minions on board. In Duelyst board is so important that it will often be part of the answer to whatever your opponent tosses your way. But, many cards can be played to only have one or two answers, and without those answers the game spirals out of control. Now, these cards might even be balanced by their average case, but the frustration of not having a specific answer falls under the same issue as Power Levels: game plays are overly determined by draws. Limited answers are also often part of the card’s power level, but that should generally scale more closely with cost and cards invested. Egregious examples: Nimbus, Shadow Sister
A secondary issue with power levels and limited answers is that when those cards are popular and dominant, they take up deck space to play or tech against, making players feel less in control of their meta decisions, which is inherently unfun. A big example at the moment is Kron. You want to play 3 Kron, and usually you want to play Kron answers, assuming your deck is slow at all. That’s already a lot of dedicated slots, and that isn’t accounting for the dispel you need to pack to beat Vetruvian’s train of strong effects, or Songhai’s scaling-out-of-control minions.
RNG(Variance): People left hearthstone because variance, or RNG, was the name of the game. A little RNG isn’t bad, but RNG with high variance rips decisions from players hands, and bad scenarios feel bad for both players. The earlier the variance happens, the worse it is, too. Key examples: Jaxi, Reaper of the Nine Moons
Uninteractivity: It’s not fun to be beaten by combos you couldn’t react to, especially when they are particularly fast/efficient. Songhai is the usual culprit here. I think enough people have talked about this topic that I won’t need to bother.
Now, I’ll explain why each of the cards listed are particularly frustrating/damage the game.
Kron : Obvious. It’s too strong, dominates deck slots, and has massive RNG swing potential with good spawns (ranged or forcefield), and will snowball the game.
Nimbus : Similar to Kron, but slower and potentially more frustrating over all, as Obelysks by design are snowballing cards. A damage trigger effect with 8 health on 5 mana need not exist, especially when the minion it summons is so powerful. A lot of people say “It’s too slow” or “It’s not strong against the fast meta,” but that goes both ways: It’s such a strong card that, along with Kron, forces the deck design to be either faster, or removal heavy. Such a large contraint on playstyle, along with Kron, is not fun and chokes the life out of the game.
Kara: Snowball the general, and probably too powerful alone.
C. Burst : RNG nonsense thrust into a position of strength with the egg changes. There’s way too much variance for this to be healthy.
Zen’rui: Swing the minion, primarily harmful to the game due to the number of cards it removes from viability, and forces certain minions to be unfairly strong to be played. For example, Shadowsister and Dioltas are probably on the strong end, but are beaten back by Zen’rui’s unfair checking potential.
Mirror Meld(?*) : A new combo card, and potentially too strong as one, due to it’s uninteractivity and snowball potential.
Chakri Avatar(?*) : Snowballs far too hard too early, and a big part of why dispel is so important.
Reaper of Nine Moons : The (possibly second) biggest case of RNG in the game. It does not need to be this way. I believe it’s been argued that it was better if some people hated the card and some people loved it than neutral feelings all around. While that may be true, Its not very healthy when 9/10 players hate this card. RNG can exist, but this crosses most people’s threshold for bullshit.
Lantern Fox : Similar to nimbus but comes down earlier.
Shadow Sister kelenio : incredibly frustrating as a card, and probably overstated to balance it around Zen’rui.
Dioltas : Overstated, and only “balanced” because of Zen’rui. Too strong and eats away at deck diversity.
Jaxi : Way too big a RNG swing for how early it can come down.
Divine bond(?) : These two go together, because they are only an issue because the other exists. It’s fairly uninteractive as a combo, especially with Aegis Barrier. It’s not a horrible balance issue, it just isn’t fun to play with or against.
Abyssal crawler : 1 mana : snowball the game. Like chakri, it’s too fast for a must remove card.
Death fire crescendo : Ultimate snowball card. Low on the list due to how it needs to be built around.
Owlbeast Sage :
4 Winds Magi : These two have the same issue, snowballing the longer they persist in a very dominant fashion. They are this low because they at least need triggers, unlike Kelenio.
I don’t actually expect most of this to be changed, and I know some of these items are influenced by my personal biases, but I strongly believe those cards towards the top objectively need to go. They have such a large influence on deck building and luck of the draw that they have a strong negative influence on the enjoyment players get out of the game.
Thanks for reading.