I’m going to take a quick look at the top comp decks currently in the meta, identify what’s wrong with them, and make some suggestions.
Rush Decks (Red, Yellow): Rush decks will always have a place in the meta. Done properly, they exist to punish greedier builds, and should certainly have an advantage in those matchups.
However, in the current meta, we see both of these decks absolutely stomping decks they should be favored against, favored against what should be equal matchups, and capable of winning vs so-called hard-counters. Example, last season, to crack top-8 on the ladder, I ran a red rush deck for my last 20-30 games at a ridiculous 90%+ WR. While this game is in beta, and balance issues will always be present, I think the big issue with rush decks being too strong is that they are the least fun deck type to play against; defense is often draw-dependent, your deck strategy is often inconsequential, and I can see this driving newer players away from the game. Additionally, because of the shorter games rush decks create, there is always additional incentive for ladder-climbers to use these decks. There is some strategy and skill required to pilot these decks, but I would strongly recommend erring on the side of making these deck types underpowered; they will still see play (due to short games), and due to their prevalence, they have been squelching a ton of deckbuilding creativity in the competetive scene.
Yellow Rush: YR has been around forever, and it is here to stay. Many of the cards are designed specifically for face-smashing, and in addition to move-tricks, this really is part of yellows identity. The two cards that stick out in my mind as broken in YR are Prayer, and Doomsday, particularly in conjunction with each other (ie doomsday -> +1 -> follower to face -> prayer). Nerf one or the other, and I think YR would be fine.
Prayer: Ok, so the drawback is that this is a dead card in your hand until you can meet the condition of swinging face. But how much of a drawback is that, in a deck designed to swing face? +2F and a card cycle in an already-consistent deck just feels like too much value. I think that even at +1F it would still see play (1.5 is really the sweetspot). Alternatively, maybe ending the players turn on use (similar to the old soul pact) could be explored.
Doomsday: The premise of this card is interesting. We’ve already seen some of the nasty combos this can set up with Stormspirit, there’s some synergy with Ghoul, and there may be some potential for future cool stuff here. But right now, it sees way too much play in YR. The reason it’s so strong is that it often forces the opponent to make a tough / bad decision; either respect doomsday and potentially not adequately defend vs the rush, or ignore doomsday and potentially get all defenses wiped for a quick loss (either due to the follow up pray combo, or just due to YR’s low Faeria cost compared to most decks). The devs wanted to experiment with a “life for value” mechanic; testing seems to have shown this mechanic can be broken if not used with great care. At a bare minimum, I would like to see doomsday end the users turn, at least giving the defender time to set up something before more haste creatures crash into his face. As an alternative, setting the original mana cost higher (6-8?) could at least allow defenders to prepare / play around it better.
Red Rush: At the last montly, just about every top player suspected Red Rush would be the scary deck that everyone brough to the party. I think it currently has a favorable matchup vs almost every deck in the meta right now. YR, Blue Reaver, and Mono Green are the only decks that don’t get steamrollered by RR (GY sac does ~ok), but a RR with decent draws will tend to come out on top of everything. It’s hard to identify a single problem card in the deck, because it’s just so remarkably consistent across the board, but a few stand out:
Kings Faithful: I might actually have to test this guy out in YR. This is probably the best double-prairie rush card in the game. Even the best counter for it outside of red (falcon dive) is not a huge drawback as then your bombslingers are safe on later turns. Alone, it’s not that broken, but in conjunction with the RR strategy, and the angry synergy, it becomes a monster. I would be interested in seeing the RR win rate with this card in opening hand; I imagine it must be over 60%. It’s hard to suggest nerfs without making it unplayable; Maybe a 3/1 for 4 faeria (a lot of stuff could survive a hit from it), or a 4/2 for 6 faeria, would stop this from being an auto-include 3-of in RR.
Axe Grinder: Another borderline card. Land placement is important in this game, but a 5/4 for 3 mana is absolutely monstrous and there are some situations where it is not practical to shut down the best 4 well-spots. Currently, not shutting down the top-2 is an insta-loss vs RR, and this card is a big reason why. Reducing the buff to a +1/+0 (5/3 final) could be an option. Alternatively, make this more of a niche card, and cut down the base stats: maybe 3/3 if not dropped at opp well, and 5/4 when buffed.
Hate Seed: Angry synergy is great. A 0 mana 4/4 in an already lethally efficient deck is not so great. RR will lose an occasional game where they get stuck on a hand with 2 overcosted hate seeds and a fire bringer, but these are few and far between. The way to beat RR currently is to find an appropriate time to counter attack before the 9/9 and 10/10 fire bringers hit the board, but Hate seeds can completely close off this window. Maybe push the base cost to 7 (more of a risk to run it), add a min cost of 1 (less incentive), or both.
The Green Machine: Green started as something simple and pure; play big fat dudes efficiently. Syland horsemaster was a nice, balanced neutral way to make your fatties move in a way that could at least be somewhat anticipated. Green followed a basic balance rule: Dudes can be big and efficient (Verdun Force, Oak Father), but if they are, they aren’t mobile. Then Kodama came out with Jump / Slam and the same statline as Force, for the same cost, and huntmaster came out at the same time slam was released. Both cards are auto-includes in mono green, and there shouldn’t be auto-includes if the game is designed well.
Feral Kodama:** It’s efficient at 6F for a 7/7, and it comes with slam and jump. Like a Verdun force on steroids, the combo of this with huntmaster means your opponent literally cannot place two things next to each other. I don’t think this was the intended effect. 4 forests is not a problem for mono-green decks. I’d like to see the cost pushed up to 7F (more risk to play it vs hard removal), or a drop in stats to 6/6.
Huntmaster: So many suggestions thrown around over this card, who really knows what is best… but the attempted nerf was not a real/hard nerf. Double prarie + huntmaster = greens fatties can reach virtually any tile on the board, and comboed with slam, reduces the ability of an opponent to play the game whatsoever. This results in boring mono-green mirrors where players fish for huntmaster + buffs to engage in advantageous trades first, and prevents other colors from playing groups of cheaper creatures whenever a slam creature is on the board. At a bare minimum, maybe only allow creatures to be teleported onto a friendly forest. Potentially extend this as far as not allowing a teleported creature to move. Plenty of good ideas are floating around in discord; but this card with slam ends up restricting gameplay in a way that is not fun.
Blue Reaver / Library:
In the current meta, this deck type doesn’t even seem that overpowered. But this is literally because this deck type has forced everyone to play rush decks (or Y move) in order to counter it. An uncontested turn-2 library is an instant-concede, partially because Reaver is such an easy win condition.
Library: It costs less F than any single-card removal option, and only red even has removal options for structures anyways. Library limits the meta-space massively, because you HAVE to respond to it (if you even can respond to it) and it comes out way too early for most normal decks to deal with it. Often, even if you can deal with it early, you’ll do so at the cost of walking into a bad trade, and if it survives even one turn, it has recovered its full value back. Life cost creates a clock, but the clock is too slow to be a major factor, except in preventing (in most cases) more than 1 library from going down at a time. Remove library entirely and you would see a bunch of new comp deck types appear. However, we don’t need to go this far; the idea behind library is interesting. I would recommend either:
a) nerfing production faeria gain to 1 (down from 2)
b) increase lake and faeria cost to 3L, 3F (gives other decks more time to respond)
c) increase life cost to 3 per turn (faster clock, riskier to play)
Dream Reaver: Mostly a problem because of library, and the 2-turn kill threat it poses. I think if library gets a nerf, maybe just drop this to 9 health, so that it cant be easy-mode gabrians for a 1-shot after the life drop. Alternatively, take away the Dash-3 -> Blue has a hard time dealing with body blocks, so if you force them to have an aggresive land to get it into position (maybe Dash-1 at most), then this won’t be such a strong turtle-finisher.
That’s it for now. This game is fantastic; I would just love to see room for more creative deck types out there.