At its core Songhai is a really cool and flavorful faction, I love combos, and backstab is the perfect example of board utilization, but
This is a problem, effects that completely ignore the board and positioning absolutely do not belong in a tactical board game, and neither does swingy RNG.
General Songhai Issues:
Before I start there is a difference between toxic and overpowered, songhai verges on overpowered frequently but less so then the big meta decks, however they are much more toxic. Toxic = a lack of counterplay that involves burst and or ignores the board.
The fact that they repeatedly receive nerfs yet still remain at or near the top shows that there is really an issue with their core. I have never wanted Songhai to get nerfed, I simply don’t want spellhai to exist, and I want the faction to be stronger but to actually have counterplay and actually play duelyst, which is a tactical board based game.
Small things could go a really long way here, instead of jux/mist completely ignoring the board lets make them only teleport two spaces but give an additional small buff to minions they target. Bam the cards are more powerful now in most situations but now have counterplay and are actually cool. They need less burn spells that go face, but do more damage overall, something like making lantern fox give Kage Lightning rather then phoenix fire. Having some burn is fine, but when the faction has enough to be its primary gameplan to kill the opposing general that’s a huge problem.
Zendo is the single most infuriating card in the game and is inherently toxic as not only is there a lack of real counterplay vs him, he actively makes you unable to position or make decisions which is the exact opposite of what this game is about. At the very least he should be seven mana to match the rest of the grandmasters.
I personally don’t like aggro decks, and many people loath control, their tends to be two types of players, those that hate songhai, and those that hate vanar. But both should absolutely exist. Songhai is inherently geared towards aggro and as long as its kept in check and or was reworked to utilize the board rather then ignore it they would be just fine.
Between Zendo and the other board ignoring effects I don’t even like midrange songhai or position focused Kal, but I certainly dont take an active issue with them like I do with spellhai. Regardless of powerlevel; unlimited range, and unconditional effects that can go after the enemy general just shouldent exist. These decks could easily be made more powerful but much more healthy without loosing any of their identity.
Spellhai Problems, the worst of Songhai:
8gates ability to kill someone from at or near full with no board while being completely surround and dead the next turn simply shoulden’t exist. Its actually a fairly common occurrence, and even if it wasn’t the mere possibility is just not ok.
First and foremost by far the largest problem in the game, not because it is more overpowered then the big three decks of the meta, but because it is toxic solitaire completely based on draws and execution and has no counterplay, is 8gates and to a lesser extent mantra. While some tech exists its either really bad or is like magesworn and is great but most decks just cant run it. Then there is also the issue that tech for it is to narrow, unlike AOE, dispel, removal, and healing which is great general purpose stuff effective agaisnt a wide range of things, meaning that even if they introduce good counters it still wont fix the problem.
People like to bash on rush and other high burst combos, but all of those use the board and have good counterplay with positioning and general purpose tech, or are at least fair and linear.
If they just wont strait up change gates/mantra at the very least boulder hurl needs to be minion only, and abjucator needs to reduce one selected card, or one random one per turn and get some stats in return. 8gates is definitely the problem card here, if it didnt exist mantra would probably be fine, but abjucator still pushes mantra into the toxic position of garbage and slow or god hand and you loose and there isnt jack you can do about it.
Now many people like to skew my words, but let me be clear, I am not asking for them to be nerfed, nor have I ever claimed they don’t take skill to master. And I call them Toxic, not overpowered. But the skills the faction teaches are much more akin to a card game then they are duelyst which I think is a problem. And yea duelyst has CCG elements, but what makes it special is the board.
General Meta Thoughts and Fixes
The meta is really healthy and diverse, the big three decks (azure vet, flawless vanar, aggro cass) all need a small nerf to their kit, and gates/mantra needs some addressing. If we got that the game would be incredible. Its still one of the the most balanced and diverse metas we have had in ages. Only eight gates really feels like completely unfair solitaire completely based on the songhais draws and execution and nothing to do with the opposing player.
Id much rather see some small health based adjustments rather then gutting of archtypes so my suggestions are:
*Skywing needs to only discount things summoned next to it to prevent turn 1/2 blow out.
*Phantasm needs to only affect non token minions.
*flawless needs to be reverted to pre change, luminous charge needs to be three walls at 4 damage.
*Mana deathgrip shoulden’t stack.
*Then if ALL the others get hit, and only then, lavalasher could due with a small stat nerf.
I love combo, and as long as there is decent counterplay, there is nothing wrong with it. Other then gates everything has good counterplay. Mechs are easy to tech for, everyone should be teching AOE since its good against both walls and azure, and azure is only a problem when it happens t1/t2 before AOE is available. Rush can be played around with good positioning and versatile tech. Deci/Spikes I am not a fan of but its a linear effect that feeds your opponent cards and if your low on health you just cant do it so its at least fair and is one of the few things that keeps starhorn in the game.
Vanars combos and control shell are really not the issue, its just that every expansion they get a couple of new cards that are to overtuned with some really silly interactions, usually right after the faction gets a small nerf and put in a healthy spot. I really hope they don’t go after ghost seraphim as its really not the issue with vanar, it has existed for ages and barely saw play for a long time, Its a wonderful and perfectly designed combo tool that is super cool, its only a problem now because charge/flawless are bonkers.