I did an analysis on the keywords infiltrate and backstab in the past. With my recent gripe about Arclyte Regalia, I wanted to dig deeper into an analysis about it and some other cards that share a similar theme that I believe exists.
Note: This is not a rant, and this is not about complaining. At all. The purpose of this is to look at cards from a different perspective outside of our normal consideration. Any comments that insinuate or relate to butt-hurtedness will be ignored.
Determining the Standard Value Range of Mana - How Much is Mana Worth?
What is the average worth we can expect from each mana we spend? The easiest to examine would be things like spells.
[details=Spells]-Pheonix Fire (3 dmg for 2M)
-True Strike (2 dmg to minion for 1M)
-Circle of Life (5 dmg to minion + 5 hp for 5M)
-Cobra Strike (3 dmg to enemy minion + general for 4M)
-Spiral Technique (8 dmg for 8M)
and two more for last:
-Sundrop Elixir (5 hp for 1M)
-Void Pulse (2dmg to enemy general + 3 hp for 1M)
Going by absolute value, the average value of 1 Mana ranges from 1 per 1 Mana (1/Mana) to typically up to 3/Mana. Sundrop Elixir and Void Pulse and mayyybe a couple other spells break this to 5/Mana. I know that part of this reasoning is that heal is intended to play counter to unavoidable/out-of-hand dmg, so will generally receive better value/Mana than straight damage will. Nonetheless, we have a given range to begin examining (roughly 1-5/Mana).[/details]
Spells TLDR: Average value per mana roughly ranges from 1 per mana up to 3 per mana typically, with rare exceptions up to 5.
Next up, minions and buffing them:
None of us ever expect our minions to last the entire match. If a Healing Mystic manages to swing and kill 3 things and healed us the 2, it did a pretty darn good job. Independently, minions aren’t constant value ratios like Pheonix Fire and similar spells are, they have a much broader dynamic or fluctuating value (yes spells can do this in a manner in game, but we should still acknowledge the difference at independent levels).
Like the spells, let’s take a couple of unbuffed minions and map out their pure value per mana assuming a realistic range of 1 to 3 attacks.
Phalanxar - 2M, 6 dmg = 3 per mana (3/M)
Healing Mystic - 2M, 2-6 dmg + 0-2 heal = 1-4/M
Fenrir Warmaster - 3M, 6 dmg = 2/M
Orb Weaver - 3M, 4 dmg = 1.3/M
Saberspine Tiger - 3M, 3 dmg = 1/M
Primus Shieldmaster - 4M, 3-9 dmg = .75-2.25/M
Inquisitor Kron - 5M, 4~14 dmg = .8-2.8/M
Incinera - 5M, 5-15 dmg = 1-3/M
Vorpal Reaver - 6M, 6-18 + 6 dmg = 12-24 = 2-4/M
First Sword of Akrane - 6M, 7-21 = ~1.1-3.5/M
Spectral Revenant - 7M, 6-16 dmg = ~.9-2.3/M
In general, we have a rough value range of 1-4/M in regards to unbuffed minions. We should note that the value we are getting out of our mana diminishes when traits like Rush are added (purely in vacuum).[/details]
Minions TLDR: Average value per mana roughly 1-4/M
NOTE: We are looking at ALL of these largely in vacuum for sake of simplification and ease.
When we buff minions, we add another variable to the value range per mana. The question is, how far does it increase the upper limit of the current range? As this has a massive number of varying combinations that can be tested, I will only be doing a very few handle.
1-Low Mana Minion + Low Mana Buff
2-Low + High
3-High + Low
4-High + High
(Minions Low being 1-3, High being 5-7, Spell Buffs Low 1-2, High 3-4)
1.1- Phalanxar + Greater Fortitude = 8/3 body = 8-16 dmg for 3 mana = ~2.7-5.3/M
1.2- Windblade Adept + Auryn Nexus = 2/6 to 4/6 body = 4-12 dmg for 3 mana = 1.3-4/M
1.3- Windblade Adept + Roar = 6/3 body = 6-12 dmg for 3 mana = 2-4/M
2.1- Crystal Cloaker + Wailing Overdrive = 7/8 to 9/8 body for 6M = 7-27 dmg = 1.13-4.5/M
2.2- Wraithling + Wraithling Fury = 5/5 for 3.5M = 5-15 dmg = 1.4-4.3/M
3.1- Makantor + Greater Fortitude = 6/6 for 7M = 6-24 dmg = .86-3.4/M
3.2- Incinera + Scion’s Second Wish = 7/8 for 7M = 7-28 dmg = 1-4/M
4.1- Artic Displacer + Wailing Overdrive = 15/9 for 9M = 15-45 dmg = 1.6-5/M
4.2- Makantar + Thumping Wave = 11/4 for 9M = 11-44? dmg = 1.2-4.9/M
What we can see here is an overall slight increase in the upper limit of value per mana when buffs are applied and utilized. In short, we went from around a 1-4/M in unbuffed minions to an upper limit of 5/M.[/details]
Buffed Minions TLDR: Upper limit of value per mana increases to about 5M, making an aprx. 1-5/M value range.
This isn’t necessarily major, but these are things that we should be aware of when examining the range (upper AND lower limits) of a minion or spell.
Note: The addition of opening gambits, persistent effects and such DO impact the value of a minion of course, and are obviously not being taken into consideration. Yes, these cause fluctuations in the value of a minion and therefore it’s value per mana, BUT, like Rush, odds are that when fully taken into consideration, the value will generally fall between 1-5/M, as most stronger effects are provided weaker bodies. We are trying to keep analysis simple but still fairly effective.
The Exceptions - Extended Value
TLDR: Ranged and blast minions hold value differently compared to Effect minions as value comes solely from body, whereas effect minions have a constant value at body and growth in effect. It seems that even minimal usage of effects maintain higher than average lower thresholds than non-persistent effects. With the benefit of no ceiling, value is theoretically infinite.
Finally, we’re getting to the meat of the analysis. You may have noticed some cards and traits that I didn’t place above. Let’s examine the things I intentionally didn’t bring up earlier:
Traits like Forcefield, Range and Blast, effects like Bloodmoon Priestess, Kelaino, Shadowdancer and Grow, and artifacts like Cyclone Mask, Bloodrage Mask and Arclyte Regalia. Lastly, Geomancer and, everyone’s favorite Variax.
There are plenty of other cards and effects as well (usually more as we look higher up on the mana curve), but this is a sufficient handful. Unlike standard melee minions or standard artifacts, these are unique in that they are capable of potentially infinite value, (or to bring it back to earth, a value above the standard 4-5/M upper limit that most cards reach!)
Old reiteration: This is not a complaint! This is evaluation!*
A range or blast minion may never be touched or dispelled, constantly attacking. BMP, Kelaino, Shadowdancer and Grow may never be dispelled or prevented from allowing their effects take place. Masks and Regalia may never be broken off. Geomancer and Variax’s BBS change will never be stopped.
As I’m thinking now, I’m wondering, “What is it that makes these cards so special? None of these cards really ever see a match long enough to reach such a 5/M value exist.” I think the answer is the threat of no existing ceiling. As mentioned, other cards will hit an upper threshold at some point. These cards? No; these threats persist.
To quote a chess grandmaster, Aron Nimzowitsch, “The threat is stronger than the execution.” Admittingly, the quote doesn’t quite fit, but it still fits the theme.
With range, blast, BMP, Kelaino, Grow, etc., when these exist, additional effort must be made to prevent as much of their value as they will (not can) obtain. Vetruvian’s are great examples as their deck currently is incapable of preventing at least SOME value from ranged minions.
Here is when we have to recount the adjustments already made; typically with lower stats and bodies. We should see that this effects the value rate of range and blast, as their source comes from their damage. However, effects do not hold this same approach. Effect minions need to be examined with body AND effect’s value range in mind (not saying they aren’t, again, just examining).
Let’s consider Bloodmoon Priestess. 4 Mana, 3/3 body. On average lower limit, BMP will likely be played in conjunction with Lilith’s BBS with BMP in back. Assuming at least blocking path to BMP, the 2 wraithlings will attack and spawn 2 more.
4 Mana for 2 dmg + 3/3 body + 2 1/1’s = 7 dmg or 1.75/M
Average upper limit, 2 or 3 wraithlings were up previous turn and are able to be immediately utilized.
4 Mana for 3 dmg + 3/3 body + 3 1/1’s = 9 dmg or 2.25M
Note these limits are in mind of one turn. As the game progresses, value increases linearly .25/M per minion. As the enemy will likely play at least 1 minion per turn, it’s completely feasible to see .5/M per round come out of BMP. Now, as mentioned, we don’t really see BMP ever hitting these high value marks. However, examining BMP again and we see a solid value per mana take place with BMP’s lower threshold in comparison to many other minions. I feel that this is worth not overlooking.[/details]
[details=Shadowdancer]Shadowdancer, 5M, 4/4 body:
-Lower average immediate turn limit, 2 deaths immediately (pretty standard),
5 Mana for 2 health + 2 dmg + 4/4 body = 8/M = 1.4M
-Upper average immediate turn limit, 4 deaths (more fortunate),
5 Mana for 4 health + 4 dmg + 4/4 body = 12/M = 2.4M
2 deaths per turn after = linear value increase of .8/M
Slightly lower immediate values than BMP, more value per turn. Now, more likely for this to hit 3, 4, 5/M, but consider lower limit again.[/details]
Note: We can look to do this with any effect where no ceiling exists to calculate their immediate and linear (or Drogon’s exponential) value per mana. I want this to be considered again though to the ceiling-restricted minions and spells that were mentioned before. I am not bringing forth a solution, nor am I considering this a problem. But I AM stating that when we look at cards, a beneficial way for us to examine them is with this question in mind. Largely, “Does it have a ceiling? How much am I getting out of this?” as this assists in proper evaluation of what is good to what is actually broken.
I hope this gave some people some insight and new approach on cards and value range. Please feel free to give constructive criticism in a well-mannered approach. Alongside not responding to the idea of butt-hurting, I also won’t reply to unnecessarily rude commentary/feedback either.
For those who are interested in Variax specifically, I’ll stick it in the spoiler below.
[spoiler]Lilith Variax 7M 7/7 body, alone 7-14 dmg = 1-2/M
3M per turn = 10-20 dmg (could be 30, keeping at 20) = 3.33-6.66/M per turn
1 use + body = 4.33/M min
Assuming 3 shadow creep min 3M per turn = 3 4/4’s = 12-24 dmg = 4-8/M per turn
1 use + body = 5/M min[/spoiler]