Hi Card Hunters,
Good news – here is the long-awaited plan to rein in rampant card drawing builds in multiplayer. Sorry for the delay, but it’s a complex topic and we approach nerfing cards very cautiously.
Let’s take a step back and recap what our goals are.
Firstly, we want to make sure that the multiplayer game isn’t dominated by a single type of party. It’s dull when you must play the same build to be successful.
Secondly, we want to make sure that builds which are successfully aren’t dull to play against.
Card drawing “engines” can cause problems on both these fronts, but particularly the second. Even if they aren’t entirely dominant as a strategy, they are dull to play against since they don’t involve interaction between the players.
In Beta, we had to do some significant rebalancing to squash out of control card drawing as a strategy and we made extensive changes to Inspiration, Altruism and Martyr Blessing, amongst other cards. We hoped we’d found all the issues before we launched, but, unfortunately, some remained.
Clearly, we have to watch carefully over any cards that allow you to draw more cards without some sort of limitation as to what those cards are (more on that later). In addition, triggered card drawing that operates from something that you control yourself (like Martyr Blessing used to be) is highly problematic.
Two cards in particular that we believe have been causing problems since launch are Unholy Power and Demonic Feedback. They both allow arbitrary card drawing, at very little cost. Let’s look at these cards in a little more detail.
Unholy Power is a card that allows you to draw two cards for the cost of one damage to the target. It has a long range of 8 which allows you to not only get two more cards, but ensure that they get to the character in your party who needs those cards most. It’s a very powerful card, but what really causes the problems is when it is used to draw cards for a character who has the potential to draw another Unholy Power or another card drawing card (like Demonic Feedback, for example).
Demonic Feedback is basically Unholy Power with a drawback – that it does 5 damage to the caster. That’s a nasty downside but it really isn’t sufficient to compensate for the great primary effect. It’s a paper titled card, which means that it should be pretty bad, but it’s nowhere near that grade in reality. As is, it’s probably a silver or gold card and kind of a no-brainer to include in a priest build.
Finally, the kicker is that you can get these two great cards with one minor drawback for no power token cost using the Demon Charm Of The 2nd Circle. Demonic Revenge is supposed to really hurt you for using too many Unholy cards but the reality is that most of the time it is going to only do 2 points of damage to you – and that damage is going to be easily prevented by armor or by some other form of damage prevention. In addition, being a Trait, the card replaces itself, which makes it useful in its own right.
The simplest solution would be to just nerf this one item by adding a power token requirement to it. While this might solve the immediate problem, we feel that it wouldn’t be a long term fix. Instead, we’re planning to roll out a suite of changes to various cards to address this. I’ll itemise the changes below and provide a justification for each.
This is the worst offender. It has two major problems: it draws too many cards, and for too little cost. So, the changes are on both these fronts:
- Change to only draw one card instead of two.
- Change 5 self-damage to 5 unpreventable self-damage. Unpreventable means no armor, no nimbus, no way to stop the damage.
- Change range from 8 to 3.
You’ll notice that with the range change, this is essentially now a version of Inspiration, only with self-damage. We feel that 5 points of unpreventable damage (and the fact that it doesn’t trigger Altruism) makes this card much more balanced.
This card is much less of a problem, but we still feel that it’s a bit too good for its grade. In particular, the one damage to the target is not much of a drawback given armor and other damage prevention effects. So, it’s getting some minor changes to increase its drawbacks:
- Change from 1 damage to target to 3 points of unpreventable self-damage.
- Change range from 8 to 3.
You’ll notice that this card is now much more like a better version of Demonic Feedback. Because we switched to self-damage, we’ve decided to rename this card to Demonic Power. Demonic cards hurt the user, not the target.
The chance of having an Unholy card in hand when you draw this is dependent on your deck, of course. But taking two extra damage for that card is a pretty minor penalty. The intention of this card was to punish you heavily for using too many Unholy cards. Ultimately, though, we think we may have set an impossible goal. It’s very hard to build a card that punishes using a lot of Unholy cards without going too easy on builds that only use a few. So, we’re going to revise this card to just do straight up Unholy damage – and 5 points of unpreventable damage at that.
What are the net effects of these changes on the Demon Charm Of The 2nd Circle? It’s going to draw you one less card and do a lot more damage to you. But, we’re not going to stop there. We still think this item draws too many cards for you with the Trait effect on Demonic Revenge. Therefore, we’re also going to replace this drawback with one that I’m pretty sure most of you would consider to be worse: Demonic Miasma. Yes, this is one unpleasant drawback that only redeems itself in that you can sometimes play it out for one damage or to trigger a block from an opponent.
Does all this make the charm unplayable? We don’t think so, but I think it puts it back into the realm of where it should be, given that it requires no power tokens.
What about other components of card drawing builds? We don’t think these are as problematic, but we do want to tinker around the edges. Here are some other changes in the pipeline:
Dwarven Battle Cry
This is a great card if you are playing all dwarves and your opponent isn’t. It’s downside is supposed to be that it’s basically a wash if your opponent is also all dwarves. However, right now it triggers blocks from your opponent, which kind of negates this downside. So, we’re adding the new unblockable keyword to this card. As you might expect, this means the card can’t be blocked and, therefore, won’t trigger blocks from your enemies.
I should note that the net effect of this card is inherently limited by its availability. You can’t pack more than one in any dwarf deck.
This card can net a lot of cards in the early game. In the mid to late game, it’s limited in its power since it also causes enemies to draw if they are close. However, as with Battle Cry, this drawback is limited by the fact that it also triggers blocks. Hence, it is also going to get the unblockable keyword.
Some of you have suggested also increasing the range of Inspiring Presence, to make it harder to play without washing over onto your enemies as well. That’s something we’ll keep in reserve if it looks like this card is still encouraging turtling / drawing strategies too much.
Finally, here are some additional changes to some of the game’s drawback cards. You might note now that Demonic Revenge is probably much worse than the other drawbacks that inflict self-damage, notably, Ouch!, Brain Burn and Demonic Pain. These are not cards that are commonly played right now, so you might wonder why they also need adjustment. Essentially, we feel that any drawback card that is also a Trait, i.e. replaces itself, has to incur a very significant cost. After all, you’re probably going to draw a much better card than the drawback you started with. What we’ve been seeing with the Demon Charm discussed above is that self-damage has to be very significant to make up for this replacement ability. Since we needed to adjust Demonic Feedback, we also need to adjust these drawbacks. Here’s what we’re proposing:
Increase self damage from 2 per Attack card to 3 per Attack card.
Increase self damage from 2 per Magic card to 3 per Magic card.
This card, which used to just do 3 damage is being cut and replaced by the new, harsher, Demonic Revenge. Any items that used Demonic Pain will now use Demonic Revenge.
Now, one last change. Again, this isn’t a card that is being abused at the moment, but we want to take this opportunity to build in a safety check.
This is a card that draws when it prevents damage. Although inherently limited, because it doesn’t have the Keep keyword, we want to make sure it isn’t used as part of draw builds by changing it to only draw on enemy sourced damage. So it’s rule text now specifies that the draw is only triggered by damage from an enemy controlled card. No more inspiring your team by beating up your allies!
We know these changes may cause a deal of pain to those of you who have built decks around these cards and, for that, we apologize. Our goal is to minimise the number of these changes we have to make now that the game has been released. In this case, we feel that they are necessary for the long term health of the game.
The changes will be previewed on the test server shortly (I’ll post when a build containing them is up there). If you are at all interested in these changes, whether you agree with them or not, we would highly encourage you to check them out on the test server and let us know what you find.
We’d love to know your thoughts before we finalise these changes, so please let us know what you think! The best place to do that is in this thread on our forums, rather than the comments here.