Balance Changes (June 30th) - Designer Commentary

Hey everyone, we’re back with some more explanations for design and balance changes.

Our major theme with this patch was to reduce the impact of highly random effects in tier 1 play. We don’t mind the occasional Unbound Evolution, that card is a calculated risk we’ve talked about before. However, it has become clear that the high RNG blue cards are so powerful that playing them isn’t a choice if you want to run blue - it’s become something more like a necessity.

We don’t mind it if someone can make a deck full of random cards, but when the best blue decks often involve 40% and higher random effects (with playsets of both Spellwhirl and Tale of the Old Turtle making them basically impossible to play around too) that’s a much bigger issue.

You’ll notice that many changes were made in this patch to reduce the impact of pure luck on high level play. Card games are largely about responding to variance and uncertainty, that’s what makes them fun, but there’s a time when you can have too much of it. We believe Constructed is where players should have the most control over their fate.

Let’s dive in.

##Siege Engine
Went from a 3/6 to a 2/6.

When Siege Engine was played on turns 2-3 in Pandora, it usually led to someone losing the game all on its own. If you had the cards in hand to answer it, you’d normally win. If you didn’t, you’d normally lose. It ultimately proved to be far too swingy in the early turns of the game, and because it’s an epic in pandora we couldn’t realistically ask players to draft with the card in mind. However, its potential to deliver a free win made the card too important to ignore. As a 2/6, the siege engine gives you a lot more breathing room.

Changed to:

Cartographer - 3 Faeria
Last Words - Add an explore card to your hand.

We’ve lost track of the number of interesting multicolor designs we’ve come up with… And then said, “but they’ll be broken with the current Cartographer”. Being able to make 1 special land of each color is only fair if there are no good reasons to play all four colors. Cartographer was changed to make room for this multicolor design space.

This version of Cartographer is a lot less explosive, but it provides an intriguing new tool. We’re all familiar with how valuable an Explore card is. Cartographer asks you to pay 2f more than a Farm Boy, but with the promise that you’ll get 2 faeria and an extra prairie back for your investment.

##Ruunin’s Champion
Changed to:

Ruunin’s Champion - 4 Faeria, 1 Forest
Whenever this creature attacks a god, add a random green creature to your hand. It gets +2/+2.

Ruunin’s Champion’s previous version was harder to get near the opponent’s orb (it had a higher forest cost) and cost more faeria. Since the card relies on you having enough faeria to actually play the buffed creatures it adds to your hand, a less expensive version of the same design ends up being a lot more playable.

#Shamanic Dance
Changed to

Shamanic Dance - 2 Faeria, 2 Forests
Give a creature +0/+4 and taunt.

Shamanic Dance used to cost 1 faeria more and provide +0/+5. This version of the card is much stronger for most decks that don’t involve the One Toad Kill. The One Toad Kill is our term for the deck that kills by giving +18 life to a ninja toad and then playing a Gabrian Enchantment to make a 20 power attacker with haste and jump.

This combo was as ridiculous as it was powerful. Even with the Stormspawn nerf it could lead to surprisingly consistent turn 5 kills. Toning down the OTK deck while also buffing a key card for less insane decks seems like a good idea.

18 life used to take 4 cards, with 2 shamanic dance and 2 Tiki Piper (which give +0/+4). Now the combo takes an additional card to assemble.

##Gemsilk Faerie
Now gains +2/+2 when it triggers, but does not gain protection.

Gemsilk faerie was consistently dealing 6 damage for just 2 faeria in its protection version and was very hard to counter efficiently. Meanwhile it could easily win you the game with its value if it triggered, putting a huge emphasis on its random element. This combination with aurora could leave you with a 6/6 flying, charge 2 protection (or even an 8/6 if you buffed the faerie before it triggered). This would often end the game on its own.

Simply gaining +2/+2 means the faerie is much more reasonable. It also takes some of the impact off of RNG in the top tier blue decks.

No longer draws a card when it dies

Stormspawn + Feed the Forest was a +4 faeria boost for no card disadvantage (you spent 2 cards, you drew 2 cards). This combination also let you cycle deeper into your deck, powering combo engines.

The card draw on Stormspawn was far more valuable to combo engines than non-combo decks. Normally a deck full of high cost cards, which might be interested in Stormspawn, doesn’t have a shortage of cards in hand (it can rarely play all of its cards if they’re that expensive). Consequently, we felt this change was the best way to tone the combos down without heavily impacting fairer uses of the card.

##Mirror Phantasm
Changed to:

Mirror Phantasm - 7 Faeria, 2 Lakes
Gift - Transform a creature into a 5/5 Mirror Phantasm.

When Mirror Phantasm was a 4/4 that transformed a creature into a 4/4, it was mainly used as a way to deal with your opponent’s creatures. Occasionally it could be used on your own. With this change the reflection is reversed. Now Mirror Phantasm is better at buffing your own creatures, but can be used to keep your opponents honest if you absolutely need an answer to a big guy.

Changed from 2 Lakes to 3 Lakes

We like Wavecrafter a lot. However, we noticed there was a huge difference between a Wavecrafter played on turn 2 and one played on turn 3. On turn 2, many decks simply don’t have the lands they need to play most of their cards, even if they want to try and use all their faeria in that turn. Adding a lake to the Wavecrafter’s cost solves this issue.

##Tale of the Old Turtle
Changed to:

Tale of the Old Turtle - 6 Faeria, 2 Lakes
Draw 3 cards. Creatures drawn cost 2f less.

The previous Tale of the Old Turtle added 3 random blue cards to your hand and reduced their costs by 3f. We liked that core gameplay, but didn’t like how difficult it made to play around your opponent’s deck. With both Tale and Spellwhirl, 20% of your opponent’s entire deck could easily be adding random cards to their hand. We like players to have the opportunity to mix some variety into their gameplay, but 20% of their decks was too much.

One of our goals with this Tale was to reduce the chance of both it and Spellwhirl being played in the same deck. Spellwhirl is a staple of event-matters decks, so we decided to make Tale encourage creatures.

Moved to rare

Frogify was a bit too powerful in Pandora, allowing blue to easily win the godzilla-like wars of giant creatures. We pushed it up to rare to give the big guys a bit more breathing room.

#Humbling Vision
Moved to common

Humbling Vision shifts down to common in order to keep the frequency of blue answers the same. There are still just as many commons and rares that can help you deal with big guys, but the one that could handle any giant threat is now at rare and the one that only solves half of your problem is at common.

#Fire Elemental
Changed to:

Fire Elemental - 4 Faeria, 1 Mountain
Gift - Create a mountain.

Another card we were happy to see lose its RNG. Fire Elemental’s previous design was hard to use and had a major random element. This version works great for the angry decks (decks which care about having creatures with higher attack than life) and is a much more playable card overall.

#Dune Drake
-1 Desert

Many patches ago, when we first changed Explore to give you a prairie and 2 faeria, we were worried about the possibilities of a turn 1 Dune Drake as player 2 (along with many other things that hadn’t before been possible to play on turn 1). We added a desert to Dune Drake’s cost to be on the safe side.

#Three Wishes
Brand New Card!

Three Wishes - 0 Faeria, 2 Forests, 2 Lakes, 2 Mountains, 2 Desserts
Gain 4 Life. Copy the top 3 cards of your opponent’s deck. They cost 2 faeria less.

This was one of those designs that Cartographer was preventing us from making and we’ve had a ton of fun playtesting it. Three Wishes offers you incredible value and variety, a burst of life to help recover against rush decks and the satisfaction of killing your opponent with their own cards. All you have to do is meet the land cost.

This card also gives you a glimpse of what your opponent has on top of their deck, information that skilled players can use to their advantage in planning their next moves.

Three Wishes introduces the first way to go truly infinite into Faeria. We’re looking forward to the videos.

##That’s All Folks!
We’re looking forward to seeing the crazy 4 color concoctions you come up with, as well as less random blue deck in the top tier. This patch was mostly designed to shift the power of the current format, rather than radically buffing or nerfing any single deck. We’re still keeping an eye on Apex Predator and similar powerhouses, but overall we’ve been quite pleased with how much variety we’ve seen in the top tier decks.

See you in the game.


Great changes :slight_smile:

I really enjoyed SuperToad decks. They were sweet. Combo ought to be a supported archetype. SuperToad wasn’t even very good. Now the deck is absolute trash.

I agree with some changes - a little disappointed yellow wasn’t Nerfed though

We had a lot of fun with the One Toad Kill, but after a lot of deckbuilding polishing and playing dozens of game the vast majority of testers agreed that the deck was too powerful and consistent.

Don’t get me wrong. The deck would have probably been busted with the new version of Tale, and I expected Stormspawn to get nerfed because StormSpawn + Feed was the most broken thing you could be doing with any of the “combo” decks, but the deck was unique and fun to pilot and watch. Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to hope we get decent combo cards in a future expansion or something.

The only thing I’m very surprised by was the lack of any updates to pandora. All you did was a rarity shift. while that shift is nice and balances the colors, you didn’t address any of the underlying problems of pandora. Maybe in a future patch…

Why Ruunin’s champion not is under full disenchant cost? It’s 1, not 5…