Color Pie Balance

I love a good color pie, but I think the distribution of abilities in Faeria could use some work. The goal of a color pie isn’t to create rock, paper, scizzors (RPS) match ups, its to create diverse game play which is possible without RPS color match ups. Keeping this in mind, the fact that red decks simply can’t deal with a giant creature should be seen as a flaw of the current color pie, not a feature.

I believe that the key to a good color pie is to recognize how some mechanics serve similar or interacting game play roles and allowing each color to achieve this gameplay via a different combination of those mechanics. For example, Buff (giants in general) and hard removal serve interacting game play roles. Giants are answered by hard effects (transforms, and generic removal). If the ability to make giant creatures is inversly correlated with the ability to remove giant creatures, then each color can feel unique, while each color match up remains balanced.

Something similar occurs with mobility and cheap removal. Mobility and cheap removal both serve the same gameplay role of all allowing players to effectively control the board. As a result, when a color lacks both of these things (green pre mobility buffs) that color becomes totally unable to effectively fight for the board and is terrible as a result. If each color was as mobile as it was good at playing cheap removal, then each color would have a similar ability to fight for and control the board. Good color balance, while maintaining a distinct color pie.

In terms of what this all means, I think yellow and green should have their mobility swapped. Instead of green getting dash, which is ultimately weak mobility, I’d rather see green get charge and yellow get dash. While voice of truth, or other cards in a similar design space, should probably be given to red and taken away from green.


Really great piece. RPS match up aren’t for a fun meta.
I think Faeria do better in that aspect because of the board but it could always use some ameliorations !

I like how each color has an identity.

AFAIAC, the more different they are the better, and as long as it’s ultimately balanced (ie, there’s no consensus that any one color or color-matchup is UP/OP), you don’t need to balance every sub-component. Especially as you can simply add a few cross-color cards to make up the deficiency.

However, for the red vs giants, perhaps that could use a fix. While red could possibly use a giant reducer I don’t think they need a remover. They have all the AoE.
Perhaps a skill that deals X damage per turn forever to a unit. Say 6 faeria for a permanent 4 damage per turn, not including the turn it was cast.

As for the mobility, I don’t see an issue. Ability to control the board can vary between colors, as long as everything is ultimately balanced.

when you say giant, I guess you must mean something like huge 15/15 cards that apex predator or soul eater can become.

If there is any direct way to deal with a threat like that, then you need to have other means of potentially winning the game; from controlling the board to simply pushing your own win condition first before that giant hits your orb.

… and then there is always queens assassin …

but the colors are unique, though some share similarities. I am not sure if it is appropriate to make each of their unique assets equally available to all, (which they kind of are a little bit via neutral plains cards.)

I’m not arguing that each color should get equal access to every mechanic. Quite the oppisite. I’m arguing that the distribution of assets is sub optimal. I’m arguing that green should get more mobility than it currently does, yellow should get less mobility than it currently does, green should get fewer answers to giants than it currently does, and red should get more answers to giants than it currently does. For every ability I give to a color, I take away that ability from another color. Abilities are being shifted from one color to another, not given to all colors. Which means that my changes would retain a well defined (though different from current) color pie.

nah green with charge is not a good idea, cant imagine giants with charge/grovecaller gift controlling entire board (literally), and yellow with dash actually helps them build aggresive lands easier (e.g. summon creature, dash up, then build a desert beside well)

You have succesfully pointed out how each color would benefit from the swap. Yellow decks get to do what they want to do, and green decks get to do what they want to do. I don’t see the problem here. Shouldn’t colors have tools to let them accomplish what they are trying to accomplish?

you dont see the problem? why does red have removal for small creatures,but have trouble removing big creatures? because its balanced that way. “Shouldn’t colors have tools to let them accomplish what they are trying to accomplish?” this sounds very naive.

i dont want a game where green has charge. that is so bad. green has many giants. it already has grovecaller movement trick. basically grovecaller + charge controls the entire board, either teleporting creatures into a valuetrade or into face/lethal

as for yellow, yellow rush is balanced bc you can counter it by landblocking. you dont really want to be charging from far away anyway as yrush. but if you have dash to dash over enemy lands and place your own deserts, it would be powerful (which is why i run 1-2 templars in my yrush)

yellow rush and green midrange are 2 decks idont think needs to get buffed,or want to see buffed

I’m not talking about making changes to cards or archetypes here, I’m talking about making deeper changes to the color pie, which would effectively require a shift to the current understanding of how faeria is balanced. In practice, this shift in color pie would be best accomplished in the same way color pie shifts in MTG take place, slowly, over the course of a few sets.

I adressed this in my original post. RPS is balanced, but balance is still achievable without RPS, and its still achieveable in the context of a well defined color pie. None of the proposals I’ve made reduce the mechanical delta between colors, they simply shift mechanics around to where they are most needed.

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Just to clarify, I’ve been talking about 4 specific mechanics: Giants, “Hard” effects, mobility, and cheap removal. To be clear, hard effects are effects that have the same qualitative impact regardless of creature size, meaning transforms and traditional hard removal like LN. Here is a quick ranking of each color in terms of how much that color gets each mechanic…

Giants : Green > Red > Blue > Yellow
Hard effects : Yellow > Blue > Green > Red
Mobility : Yellow > Blue > Green > Red
Cheap removal: Red > Yellow > Green = Blue

…I’d like to shift this…

Giants : Green > Red > Blue > Yellow
Hard effects : Yellow > Blue > Red > Green
Mobility : Blue > Green > Yellow > Red
Cheap removal : Red > Yellow > Green > Blue

…By making these changes, each color has a well defined mechanical identity, each color has things they are good and bad at, but RPS match ups will likely be removed. Green may be better than every other color at making giants, but every other color is better than green at answering giants. Blue is reliant on mobility to control the board and interupt opponents harvesters, but ever color is better than blue at removing those mobile creatures in exchange. While red is reliant on cheap interaction to control the board and can’t easily control the board with creatures. Yellow can answer basically anything, but can’t just over power you with giant creatures in exchange.

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Do you currently believe any color or matchup is overall UP/OP?

You’re making two pairs of mechanics ({giants+hard effects}, {mobility+cheap removal}), then saying each pair should be balanced by itself. I don’t see why. You can balance, say, lack of mobility by doing something totally different like enhanced faeria collecting or just more damage or literally anything. There’s no reason to require it to be balanced vs cheap removal. Otherwise you’re kinda reducing the degrees of freedom available for color design.

I can partly understand the issue with giants - even if green/red is balanced, if there’s only one decent green strat vs red (giants) then it’s less strategic. But I think the large-but-not-huge unit strategy also works so I don’t fully agree with the issue. And, as DavidFindley points out, Queen’s Assassin is available to red (and plenty more if you borrow some from other colors). If you don’t think green has any option vs red except for giants then that would be bad, but you could make that argument separately and we could analyze it.

Balancing takes huge effort and lots of time, so shaking everything up has a major cost.

All the above is IMHO and I’m only slowly crawling up the ranks so my actual knowledge of the high-level balance isn’t great.

Keep in mind, that I don’t think anything in the game at present should be changed. As far as I’m concerned, the cards we have exist, are reasonably balanced, and will serve as a starting point to move forward from. The color pie shifts I’m proposing would need to take place over the course of many expansions. Balancing is hard, but needs to be done for these future expansions anyway, so there isn’t a ton of added cost to shifting the color pie.

My argument isn’t so much that the current game is imbalanced (though it is in the GvR matchup) so much as it is an argument that imbalance can be avoided, in principle, by noting when mechanics are linked and distributing them approatiely. When two mechanics, M1 and M2, serve similar/interacting gameplay roles, its possible to distribute these mechanics amongst the colors in a way that retains balance while giving each color a specific identity. That distribution is…

M1 : C1 > C2 > C3 > C4
M2 : C4 > C3 > C2 > C1

… All i’ve done is apply these principles to mechanics that I have observed are linked. Regardless of what M1 and M2 are, if they both allow a color to achieve some game play, then all colors will have equal acess to that game play. Cheap removal and mobility both let a player control the board more effectively. If one color has better cheap removal and better mobility than another color, that other color has no real hope of controlling the board. The other color will simply never have initiative. But if one color is more mobile, and the other color has better removal, then both players will end up having opportunities to gain initiative and control the board.

First I want to point out removals have their downside. They are situational, and is dead in many situations. They have side effects like giving opponent a jump 2/2, or a sturdy 5/5. Or cost a lot 6f 3 lands. Or have restrictions: choking and aurora’s trick. Hence existing removals are not the best answers already in many situations.

Second the quantity of threats (giants/things that clock you fast) and removals is very hard to balance. In hearthstone, because how weak their removals are against flooding and powerful boards, many decks often play themselves by dropping the most stats on each turn. Why do we not see such plays in Faeria even though the orb has only 20 health and many creatures can be 5 to 7 attacks easily and hard effects are few? I think it’s because the board, and giant high attack creatures are not pair with mobility usually, hence you have time to draw removals, or you can ignore a defensive giant. If your giants are also fast. Blue and yellow has less time to draw removals, and defensive giants can quickly go offense.

This brings me to my main complaint about your proposal: a color should never be associated with large creatures and mobility. The reason that yellow and blue can have mobility and still feel balanced is that their creatures are relatively easier to deal with. One of the main reason that mobility burn works is because mobility pairs well with sturdy creatures. Now if you have one single color that has both, you will get: 1. imagine the current blue and yellow, but instead of having 2/2, 3/3 jumps, 2/4 charges, green will have much larger charge minions, so they are now strong against AOE, small removals and can be anywhere fast. 2. red will be unplayable, because now red cannot deal with giants (voice of truth a buffed 5/10 or 7/7?) and also cannot dodge fights from them via pressuring and make lands on the other side; 3. yellow and blue will have so little time to have hard effects against green that if they don’t have a board and have right removals at the right time, then they lose (basically perfect starting hand and top decks or bust).

TL;DR - a color should not have both mobility and giants.

Your theory has been tested and has already been found wanting.

Source -

Green is the color of giants and desperately needs mobility in order to function. Yellow on the other hand doesn’t need mobility and its simply an accident of history that it has mobility.

In general you are making the same mistake as Roder. I’m not arguing that existing cards should be changed. I’m not discussing surface level gameplay balance. I am discussing arguing about the mechanics themselves and how they interact with each other. Specifically I’m arguing that mobility and cheap removal serve the same role of board control, while giants and hard removal allow colors to go over the top and answer players trying to go over the top respectively. These mechanics are linked. If the distribution of the abilities in the color pie respects those links, then each color can feel distinct and be balanced against each other without as much risk of creating RPS matchups.

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If that’s so then a fix is needed. But you’d need to convince people of this somehow - it’d be a good idea if they kept statistics for tournaments and possibly battle to check things like this. I can’t say, I’m still pretty new and I only just got rank 10.

Where linked means the two cancel out. Yes, you can balance this way - but it’s very rigid and prevents radically different races/colors. For example, A color with poor mobility and poor unit removal can still be balanced - e.g. by having great defense and lots of direct damage. But with your method a balanced color like that is ruled out. In essence, balancing by your method removes acceptable choices, and IMHO would make colors less interesting (even if it would make balancing easier).

To reiterate the example:

I don’t see that as a problem if they have a fair ability to win without controlling the board.

It’s an interesting way to look at it, but IMHO I don’t think it’s a good principle.

All non-combo decks, and most combo decks, seek to control the board. Not being able to compete on the board is a basically an auto loss.

Not necesarily cancelling, so much as interacting on a similar gameplay axis. Mobility doesn’t cancel or get cancelled by cheap removal. However, they are both useful in the pursuit of the same gameplay objective, controlling the board.

Maybe, but no such color exists. The closest is red, but red has great removal. And if you had been playing for as long as I have, then you’d know that when reds removal is inefficient in a meta, Red itself is bad in that meta, even though it retains all of its direct damage and lack of mobility. (reds removal hasn’t often been bad.)

In a competitive game where there are nearly infinite specific ways to play and creativity plays a factor, inevitably a meta comes about made of the top competitive “builds”. No matter how mechanically balanced a game of this nature is there will always be a meta, because there will always be a limited set of choices that are good enough to compete. A meta can allow a large number of possible builds as a broad meta or a narrow meta that allows very few, and while heavy mechanical balancing like what is being suggested here might create a larger number of competitive choices, the variation of builds would become far more normalized as choices in color become less specialized. Make no mistake what you’re suggesting heavily alters the identity of some of the colors, you said so yourself. Heavily divergent identities between colors creates a larger pool of possible playstyles, though it has little effect on how broad or narrow the meta becomes but rather alters the current meta playstyles and makes the competitive choices more divergent and interesting.

My argument is this: it’s far more valuable for the longevity of a game when the meta remains somewhat broad but rather than trying to expand the scope of the competitive choices to instead change what choices remain viable: to shift the meta. An everchanging and diverse metagame is the most important factor when it comes to the longevity of a competitive scene in a game, the changes keep the game fresh and interesting for old players and keep them around longer. The idea that any game with choices will actually be balanced enough for every choice to have a place in the metagame is a naive idea that everyone subscribes to at first. But ultimately when you look around, the lasting games with creative choice in playstyle all have one thing in common, and that’s a focus on metagame shift.

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While having factions with different specialties keeps things interest I agree with Ramora that every faction should at least have an in-faction way to deal with common strategies, even if they’re not particularly good at it.

Red not having a way to deal with giants in RvG may or may not be unbalanced, but it definitely doesn’t feel like good design either.

Currently the RvG match up feels like it’s decided by who gets the better draw more than anything. Obviously this sort of luck will always be a factor in a card game, but it’s more exasperating in this particular match up when if your opponent gets a good start you have little to no options to make a come back. At least for a mono red player.

Our only option for when green gains field control via giants is to try and go for direct damage. The problem is that the giant strategy severely hinders our own tactics. If we’re not able to kill your units we can’t make use of Blood Singers or Seifer’s Wrath. If you’re able to kill our Grim Guards in one hit we’re not getting value out of them either. This is further compounded by the fact that Green has excellent taunt monsters, hell one of em even becomes nigh unkillable as we go for poke damage.

I mean I suppose you could field Battle Rager, but that particular card ain’t that great in any other match up. Green doesn’t need to compromise their strategy or put in cards to counter red because their strategy inadvertently does it anyway. Green actually has a built in way to counter direct damage in the form of some decent healing cards that have use in other match ups.

Now I admit that I’m new, but I’ve played my fair share of similar games that I feel safe in saying this is a bit of a oversight. Red vs Green may be close enough to 50/50 to be balanced, but it’s not exactly fun or strategic to sit and pray that the cards fall in my favor to have a shot at winning.

Perhaps we could shift the meta by shifting the color pie and changing how colors accomplish things?

In all honesty, I’m not sure how your argument is supposed to interact with the topic of this thread. I’d agree that a diverse evolving meta game is a good design goal to have. I would place equal weight on both ‘diverse’ and ‘evolving’. I just don’t see how that interacts with my claims about mechanics and their distribution in the color pie.

Sure. I still think that, in a general sense, while pairing traits by axis and then balancing those axes would work, it is unnecessary and restrictive - leading to less diverse races/colors.

For the current state of this game, sure. But I’m just talking in general about your balancing method. Because, in this case, it is entirely possible to create a color that can win with poor board control.

I think it might be worth discussing RvG separately.

Are assassins & protection not a viable giant defense?