WARNING: LONG POST
To preface, in this thread I will talk about the state of current generals and factions, and why I believe that certain situational bloodborne spells (referred as BBS) have caused factions to fall into a trap, resulting in the current meta state. I will also bleed into other areas, such as what I believe the strongest faction is currently and how they are the epitome of the aforementioned trap, view on how 2 particular neutral minions fall into this trap, and suggestions for balance. I will also be referring to the faction who I believe is the perfect balance of two generals, and should be the example for the other factions.
The certain ‘situational BBS’ that I’m talking about are Ziran’s (Lyonar alternate general), Kaleos (Songhai main general), Starhorn (Magmar alternate general), Sajj (Vetruvian alternate general) and Kara (Vanar alternate general). The first 2 are situational due to their requirement of minions on board, Kara’s is situational due to the requirement of summoning a multitude of minions in one turn, Sajj doesn’t have enough health support to go control (among other Vetruvian issues, like range) and Starhorn’s is situational due to it being the only BBS to give your opponent an advantage by giving them a card. One of the major problems with these situational BBS is the fact that they cater to only a specific archetype, whether it be healing, move/backstab, draw/zoo, control/artifact, or zoo/walls. However, their situational nature isn’t the only thing that holds them back from being better: the bigger issue is the fact that their counterpart general has a generic BBS that doesn’t need an archetype.
To explain this a bit better, let me refer to the Abyssian faction, the only faction to have a perfect balance between the two generals. Cassyva and Lillithe have their own respective archetype, that being Shadow Creep and Swarm, yet both have access to tools to play each other’s archetype. Furthermore, while their BBS’s cater to their respective archetype, they can also be used in other decks as well, leading to other faction archetypes like Burn and Big/Ramp Abyssian.
Now, compare the faction BBS’s to others. Vaath, Faie, and Argeon all are focused on dealing damage, with Vaath and Argeon increasing the attack of a minion or general permanetly while Faie’s BBS deals direct damage and requires the opponent to play around (positioning wise). Zirix and Reva create bodies on the board, creating board advantage, with Zirix’s Iron Dervish having dervish synergy and Reva’s having range (which is especially threatening in a faction with combo tools like Inner Focus and Killing Edge). Before the BBS patch, they had their own archetype to themselves, yet were still at a higher power level then their counterparts. That is, until the Rise of the Bloodborne occured.
When a faction or archetype sees little play, it is known that CPG will release powerful cards to buff it. After all, the same thing occured on a larger scale with Shimzar’s release, giving the almost-dead Vetruvian faction extremely powerful tools, such as Falcius, Pax, and Nimbus. The same is true with the RotB expansion: powerful cards like Tectonic Spikes, Entropic Gaze, Variax, Nosh-Rak, and Trinity Oath were pushed to help support the lesser-played archetypes. While it may have worked for Swarm Abyssian, it achieved little to nothing for the Vetruvian, Songhai, and Vanar faction in terms of supporting the lesser-played general. What’s worse, while it initially seemed that Ziran and Starhorn would finally see play, too much support was given to their archetypes, to the point where Argeon and Vaath could use their new tools better. In fact, if it wasn’t for Decimus, I have no doubt in my mind that Starhorn would barely surpass Ziran in terms of overall power.
Which leads me to my main point; these generic BBS are the reason why cards like Holy Immolation, Tectonic Spikes, Entropic Gaze, Scintilla, and Trinity Oath (to name a few) won’t be nerfed. If they are, it will kill the playstyle of the alternate general. Remember Mana Vortex, the key combo card in Songhai pre Shimzar nerf? It was nerfed because Reva, a general that could summon a 1/1 ranged body, could abuse the cycle and mana reduction effect to an extent beyond Kaleos’s use. Post nerf, Reva was hit hard, yet it was Kaleos that truely died from the nerf (along with the Saberspine Seal nerf, which again, Reva could abuse with her ability to summon a 1/1 ranged body). Now we have Vaath, a general who has gone full-on aggro with Starhorn’s draw cards, and Argeon, who (to me) is the strongest and S-tier general simply because of the tools meant to be for Ziran. The moment Holy Immolation and Trinity Oath are nerfed, Ziran will drop heavily in power, but not Argeon, as he can always rely on Roar Tigers the same way Starhorn relies on Decimus to burst down enemies at a distance. Neutral minions are suppose to support decks and win conditions, not become them.
What are my suggestions to solve this issue? I have several ideas, although they may not be as thorough as I’d like them to be.
1.) Rework Lyonar, Magmar, Songhai, and Vanar BBS
I left out Vetruvian, because while Zirix has the superior BBS in the faction, they are the closest to the Abyssian faction in a sense of being able to play each other’s archetype and having other archetypes accessible in-faction (albeit not the best). However, the other 4 factions have BBS that will continue to outshine the alternate general, to the point where they don’t have a faction identity. Vaath’s resembles the growth keyword, yet the faction is to jumbled for it to support an archetype that isn’t aggro or burst related. Argeon and Faie share a similar fate, and if Reva did not create a minion, I believe that mana vortex would be able to revert to it’s original combo potential. Also worth mentioning that while it has wall synergies, I feel that Kara’s BBS is much better suited for Argeon if CPG wants to push Argeon to a more zoo-based faction, and that Kara’s should push enemy minions 1 space/become mesmerize (this way, it would still have wall synergy by being able to bring enemies closer to your immobile walls).
2.) Faction Rework Instead of Expansion
The more cards that CPG release and the less they pay attention to their faction identities, the worse the game state will become. While Vetruvian has their identity, a large portion of their core cards do not support this. Similarly, with the above general BBS rework, cards would have to be balanced in order to accommodate for their changes. The rework would specifically focus on Vanar, Lyonar, Magmar, Vetruvian, and Songhai, (NOT neutral minions) as the Abyssian faction is at a state where both generals are viable and do not need a rework.
3.) Rework Tiger and Decimus
Starhorn wouldn’t be this strong currently if it wasn’t for Decimus. We wouldn’t have to worry about Thumping Tigers or Roar Tigers if the Rush keyword wasn’t what it is. Decimus should be reworked so that it can support decks, not be their sole win condition (as should the same be true for every other neutral minion). The same applies to Tiger, and the state of the Rush Keyword will continue to limit design space for the future of Duelyst. Many players have suggested amazing reworks, the most notable separating the two factors of Rush: being able to move immediately and being able to attack immediately. This rework would be the better choice in my view, as you have minions that can automatically reposition themselves and others that can immediately attack.
Again, these are my views on the matter. I encourage you all to share your thoughts on the matter, and I implore CPG to really look into the above issues that I addressed for the sake of their game’s state. Today is the 16th: meaning that we will either receive or not receive a mid-month patch. If a nerf patch is released, I want everyone to examine exactly how it will effect certain generals, and if you see any parallel to any previous nerfs (mainly Mana Vortex and Siphon Energy, and how it hurt Kaleos and Sajj respectively in terms of power).
TLDR but not really; Argeon, Vaath, Sajj, Reva, and Vanar BBS’s (specifically Faie) are hindering their factions due to their “generic” (not pertaining to a specific archetype) bloodborne spells and causing stronger synergy cards to be produced for the lesser played archetype and general (with more specialized/situational bloodborne spells that pertain to a certain archetype). However, these stronger cards also cause a power increase in the higher played-general, leading to problems in terms of faction nerfs to key cards (Mana Vortex and Siphon Energy), the release and abuse of strong cards (Trinity Oath, Tectonic Spikes, Holy Immolation), and the use of neutral minions as win conditions instead of supports for a win condition (Saberspine Tiger, and Decimus, the primary source of Starhorn’s current power).
The expansions, reworks, and BBS have left all factions (except Abyssian) out of place in regards to their identity to the point where CPG must fix them before releasing new cards, as the more cards they release, the more cards they will have to fix when it comes down to it. The goal is to have all faction generals reach a level of flexibility and specialization that the Abyssian faction has, which I believe is the golden example for how generals should function in their faction.