Balance Update September

Greeting, Mortals!

It’s time to shake up the balance and make the meta fun again! We mentioned we have a few balance updates coming your way and this is a wacky one. We’ve heard your pleas for more Public Test Realms before these changes go live. For this update, the PTR was open for a limited window – Thursday 8th September until Tuesday, 13th September midday AEST. We watched closely for feedback from everyone, so we thank you all that participated.

With this patch we’re trying to tune down the access to consistent OTK combos to a few domains where we feel they fit, bring up more underused cards from Mortal Judgement, and continue hunting for the fun of the game.

Buffs

  • Balance Note: Underutilized MJ leggy boost incoming!
  • Hector, Prince of Troy – Stats Change, Text changed
    • Change stats from 7/7 to 6/6
    • Changed text from “Roar: If any of the creatures in your void have blitz, protected, twin strike or ward, this creature gains those.“
    • to ”Roar: If any of the creatures in your void have blitz, flank, frontline, leech, protected, or twin strike, this creature gains those keywords.”

  • Balance Note: After testing the semi-reversion on PTR we saw that a lot of feedback was simply that the old Hector was more exciting for the community. Given that we feel it’s not any less balanced as a design we’ve decided to fully revert this to its old-school pre-CSR design. Welcome back Hector (:
  • As Seen on PTR: Change text from “Roar: If any of the creatures in your void have blitz, protected, twin strike or ward, this creature gains those.“
    • to “Roar: If any of the creatures in your void have blitz, leech, protected, twin strike, or ward, this creature gains those.“
  • PTR Balance Note: Remember how poor Hector fell out of the meta with Core Set Refresh? Well, this is a semi-reversion.

Nerfs

  • Ekrileth, Spawn of Pendroleth – Text Changed
    • Change text from “Frontline. Ward. Roar: Gain +1/+1 for each card in your hand”
    • to “Frontline. Roar: Gain +1/+1 for each card in your hand.”

  • Balance Note: As we struck Nythos from the patch, we decided to sneak in a necessary change to Ekrileth – a card that has potential for massive stats should probably not also be able to ignore spells unless it’s much higher mana cost!
  • Unrestrained Power Text Changed
    • Change text from “Give +2 strength to your relic. Empower 3: Then, double the strength of your relic.“
    • to ”Give +2 strength to your relic. Empower 3: Double the strength of your relic instead.”

  • Balance Note: This one’s a slight tune down of something we consider a ‘healthy’ OTK – it’s forced to interact with the board and blast you completely out of nowhere from hand except on very rare high-power draws. Doubling effects are always very dangerous though, and cutting down this card’s self-synergy should go a long way to making this less oppressive.
  • Inescapable Duty Text Changed
    • Change text from “Pull a creature from your void to your hand and give it +2/+2. Empower 3: Pull another creature from your void to your hand, and give it +2/+2.“
    • to ”Pull a creature from your void to your hand, and give it +2/+2 and soulless. Empower 3: Pull another creature from your void to your hand, and give it +2/+2 and soulless.”

  • Balance Note: The embalmer/duty loop is an interesting one – it takes turns off tempo to provide infinite value, which is a fair way to find a win condition. However, with our games being time limited to 45 minutes and the rest of the core design pulling towards most games being settled far before that, the infinite loop pulls in a design direction that’s contradictory to the core of the rest of the game. This could be a fun little quirk in a less oppressive card, but as this grinds games out to a time-out finish pretty often, we feel building in a natural end-state to the loop is necessary.

  • Balance Note: MJ and CSR printed a lot of hidden cards. So many, in fact, that you can now make a deck entirely out of hidden creatures that have average or above average stat lines and hidden. This puts a lot of pressure on any opponents to have a high density of sweeper effects, which are currently not available to most domains. This and the following changes are aimed at tuning down hidden deception’s early curve so that opponents can compete.
  • Selfless Guildmate Text changed
    • Change text from “Hidden for 1 turn. Roar: Give +2 strength to another friendly Guild creature.“
    • to ”Roar: Give +2 strength to another friendly Guild creature.”
  • Switch Duelist Text changed
    • Change text from “Hidden. At the end of each turn, swap this creature’s strength and health.”
    • to ”Hidden for 1 turn. At the end of each turn, swap this creature’s strength and health.”
  • Balance Note: This is a reversion of a CSR change. We’ve found the ability to fire-and-forget this card for 1 mana and cash it in for guaranteed 3 damage to face + value is too powerful. Hidden for 1 turn is already quite a lot of evasion for a 1 drop that can push 3 damage and swap to being sticky, and the combo buff cards like Guildmate can make this card almost impossible to deal with from turn 1.
  • Land of the Dead Text Changed
    • Change text from “Select up to six 1 mana Anubians from your void and summon them to the board.“
    • to ”Summon up to six 1 mana Anubians from your void, and give them soulless.”
  • Balance Note: After PTR, we’ve decided that summon 6 and soulless is where we want this card to be. A common refrain from the community around this is that Anubian death can still win with one Land of the Dead – Yes, that’s their intended win condition. 
  • As Seen on PTR: Change text from “Select up to six 1 mana Anubians from your void and summon them to the board.“
    • to ”Summon up to five 1 mana Anubians from your void, and give them soulless.”
  • PTR Balance Note: Mathematically the raw stat package of Land of the Dead was far above average for a 6-drop, often summoning 12/12 worth of stats before even factoring in the text value. In the initial design proposition the fact that it was split 1 drops was considered a limiting factor, but two things have become obvious to us through testing: Any Anubian deck would be summoning those 1 drops regardless of whether they were running LotD or not, and split bodies is an effective form of evasion in GU, as only premium removals like Rapture Dance or Carnage Sweep are capable of dealing with 6-wide boards. We actually explored many options for LotD before settling on this tweak, some of which were very out there redesigns – we may discuss these more in the Deep Dive stream!

Changes

  • Enlightenment Text Changed, Mana cost changed
    • Reduce mana cost from 4 to 3
    • Change text from “Give -5 strength to a creature and remove frontline from it.“
    • to “Discard two cards. Look at your deck, and for each card discarded, pull a card to your hand. Shuffle your deck.”
  • Balance Note: After the PTR test, we decided that the capacity to pull without discarding was a dangerous design that would expose broken combos in the future or limit Light’s design space, so we’ve reworked enlightenment from the PTR test version to require discards to fuel the draw.
  • As Seen on the PTR: Reduce mana cost from 4 to 3
    • Change text from “Give -5 strength to a creature and remove frontline from it.“
    • to ”Discard two cards. Look at your deck and pull two cards to your hand, then shuffle your deck.”
  • PTR Balance Note: This change is more of an experiment in adding card selection to Light. Obviously, this card is actually drawn negative, but due to Light’s ability to generate cheap low-value cards in hand through echo, we see options for Light players to increase the quality of their hand through mechanics like this.
  • Nythos, Mage-Weaver -No changes made
  • Balance Note: After testing the Nythos change, we’ve unfortunately decided this design is too strong. Back to the drawing board for Nythos!
  • Alika, Scarlet Thief & Echo Text Changed
    • Change stats from 3/4 to 2/3
    • Change text from “Echo. At the end of your turn, this creature steals 1 strength from the strongest creature and gives it to the weakest creature.“
    • to ”Echo. At the start of your opponent’s turn, they pick one –
      • Delve a relic or a rune and give it to your opponent.
      • Your opponent draws a card.
      • Discard a card. ”
  • As Seen on PTR: Change stats from 1/4 to 3/4
    • Change text from “Echo. At the end of your turn, this creature steals 1 strength from the strongest creature and gives it to the weakest creature.“
    • to ”Echo. At the start of your opponent’s turn, they pick one:
      • Delve a relic or a rune and give it to your opponent.
      • Your opponent draws a card.
      • Discard a card. ”
  • PTR Balance Note: Alika doesn’t see much play and we feel this is an interesting design not seen elsewhere in GU. This rework is very much an experiment, however, even more so than the other balance reworks, so let us know what you think!
  • Metamorphosis Text Changed
    • Change text from “Target a creature. Delve a creature that costs 1 more mana and then transform the target creature into that creature.“
    • to ”Transform a friendly creature into a random creature that costs 1 more mana.”

  • Balance Note: With GU’s logarithmic mana curve this design is far more powerful than similar designs in other games. Without the delve and the enemy target, it should see more usage as a fun meme or a late-game control tool rather than a very flexible piece in any magic deck.

Non-user facing changes

We’ve made a major change to how we implement effects on cards that change stats which standardizes the underlying implementation making development easier and opening up more design space. It impacts ~900 cards which cover creature buffs, refreshing mana, damage, healing etc.

That’s all for now folks, see you next time!

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