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RadicalX

Balancing Discussion: The T1 imbalance in PvP

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There are quite a few cards, that dominate the meta game and completely prevent variety in the PvP environment. Only Fire and Shadow T1 are viable once people reached a decent level and that is quite unpleasant. We are in a turret T1 meta, where Frost and Nature can't compete. Turrets do have insane damage and tankiness, higher range and don't reward micro management at all. 

 

Phasetower 

-> 900 damage for 60 power is way more than any T1 unit could offer. Due to the splash you can take center wells vs Frost and Nature without any advantage. 

-> Even after the teleport 900/600 stats remain insane especially since there are no Siege units in T1.

-> 40m range can force you to engage into the turrets as they can be placed at the edge to attack your power wells while your units can't reach them. 

-> Even Fire T1 can't beat Phasetower without stationary turrets itself, which is a disaster as Fire should be the faction, that can deal with turrets. The most reliable counter to Phasetower ... is Phasetower. 

-> 50m teleport range every 30s is faster than some Frost units (you can kite activated Imperials with Phasetower ...)

-> Archers are sometimes bugged against Phasetowers. Their damage rotations apply about 2 seconds later (probably as the projectiles travel to the initial position of the tower). This makes it much harder to burst down aggressively placed turrets with your ranged units. 

-> While other turrets are risky and require initial map control and safetly to be built, Phasetower can be constructed at a much more safe spot and Teleport into the important areas or just jump over cliffs to remove some natural safety provided by the map. 

 

Mortar 

-> 1575/700 stats for 50 power is still viable in some T3 scenarios (this may be slightly exaggerated as it requires all shots to hit) 

-> if splash is included, the tower has a 55m range, which gives huge zoning potential, strong siege potential for close well situations and can be abused over cliffs.

-> Center Well + Mortar is gg against Frost on map control based maps and forces nature to play more aggressive unit compositions, that are weaker in combat

 

The Frost nerfs

-> After Ice Guardin and Homesoil got nerfed Frost requires at least 8 T1 slots in order to stay relevant. 

-> Map Control issues still may kill the faction as you can't rush against Mortar

-> Frostmagespam outperforms IGs on big maps in mirror matches and against nature. That results in stationary gameplay that is quite boring to play

 

I personally would like to see harsh nerfs to Phasetower & Mortar in the future & maybe a revert of the IG nerf as it is more micro rewarding than a homesoil revert. Feel free to discuss! 

Dhrkaas, Neox, SunWu II. and 2 others like this

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Hi Radical, thank you for bringing these important points up. 

I've been contemplating writing a post on changing frost t1, so I won’t hijack your thread with that. The essence of my idea was also to buff the Ice Guardian (IG) in exchange for keeping the rather ill thought through home soil nerf. My idea in a nut shell:

1      1 Always let IG spawn with its shield enabled (instead of only near friendly bases)

2      2 Disallow the spawning of IGs within a 40 meter (2x coldsnap radius) radius of enemy power wells. This limitation would be overruled when the frost player has a well inside that radius, so IGs can still always be spawned in defense.

Point 1 would allow frost to contend for a small amount of the (initial) field (battle) and end the complete dependence frost has on taking the first well they can get to, as in the current state of the game frost can’t (reasonably) hold their own on the field. Which leads to the subsequent abusive situations of always leaving frost open to rushes, whether it is a swift spam that runs in between your bases until a well drops or a direct rush that becomes possible thanks to 100 power frost just invested in a well. Not to mention the more often than not situation of getting locked out of the map, which is especially noticable on maps like Haladur where the frost player has to take the first well that is conveniently located right at the base of a choke point that leads to the rest of the map. A choke point which on the other end conveniently has 2 wells & an orb for frost's enemy to take and lock them out.

Point 2 is optional (imo) and might be too restrictive for frost and/or too difficult to implement. But I want to prevent any potential abusive situations of dropping IGs on to enemy wells, even though this concern might be exaggerated as Frost has no swift units to quickly approach wells with.

Could you perhaps elaborate your idea on IG? As I am quite sure IG received multiple nerfs, and I’d like to read your exact idea.

Mortar & Phase

With regards to Mortar and Phase tower, I can only agree. I think it is fair to say that both towers are too efficient so I would suggest the following:

Phase tower – increase the power cost to 75, this would at least decrease the vast efficiency difference between the phase tower and its opposing armies. This would also decrease the spam-a-bility of the card.

Mortar tower – increase the power cost to 80, this would achieve the same efficiency equalizer and spam demotivator. The reason I think mortar tower should cost more than phase is because you often only need 1 mortar to heavily influence a game, considering its vast range, large AoE and large amount of spike damage.

The reason I think we should go for power cost increases as a first iteration of balance is because it is simple to implement, and just as simple to roll back or fine tune. This would dramatically increase the speed at which (these) balance iterations can be rolled out and evaluated, and most importantly will save the dedicated devs time, subsequently increasing the likelihood of the changes actually being implemented. 

PS: A small example of what Radical described in mortar camp shutting down t1 battles vs Frost (and t2 for that matter)

 

Edited by MaranV
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I agree with increasing the mortar's powercost. That lets it continue to function as a defense if someone is building a braindead army to attack you with, and it still allows you to punish someone for taking a well that they really shouldn't have. On the other hand, taking a well and instant mortar can get destroyed relatively easily, and now fire can erupt the mortar at any time (possibly the power cost should be 75 to be equal to eruption?).

It also still allows defense in fire nature when combined with roots (and fire nature needs all the t3 help it can get). Although again, 75 power might be better so it's cheaper than mine.

I don't play phasetower at all (even when trying shadow), so I don't have experience with it. I'm fine nerfing it to unusability, especially because I don't see a necessary role that it fulfils?

Alternatively, ice guardians could be given an ability for something like "if this unit is within 20m of a friendly well, all units within 10m of the ice guardian take 20% less damage from structures." Not sure how abusable that is, but that effect might prevent offensive tower attacks.

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2 minutes ago, Eirias said:

I agree with increasing the mortar's powercost. That lets it continue to function as a defense if someone is building a braindead army to attack you with, and it still allows you to punish someone for taking a well that they really shouldn't have. On the other hand, taking a well and instant mortar can get destroyed relatively easily, and now fire can erupt the mortar at any time (possibly the power cost should be 75 to be equal to eruption?).

It also still allows defense in fire nature when combined with roots (and fire nature needs all the t3 help it can get). Although again, 75 power might be better so it's cheaper than mine.

I don't play phasetower at all (even when trying shadow), so I don't have experience with it. I'm fine nerfing it to unusability, especially because I don't see a necessary role that it fulfils?

Alternatively, ice guardians could be given an ability for something like "if this unit is within 20m of a friendly well, all units within 10m of the ice guardian take 20% less damage from structures." Not sure how abusable that is, but that effect might prevent offensive tower attacks.

Hey Eirias, nice to see you. Given the rather extreme damage output of mortar, combined with its extreme range (making it even easier to defend along with properly micro'd scavengers) makes me think 80 power is the bare minimum if we ever want to call this card balanced. If a fire player makes a mortar while the enemy fire player is near him don't you think he kind of deserves to lose 5 power? The delicious (or horrendous if you are against it) synergy of mortar + roots is also kind of an example why it will still be a viable card at 80 power, right?

Your IG idea is interesting too, but I think it is fair to say that if IG gets realistic field play viability and mortar is 80 power no further buffs are needed for frost - as you won't be forced as much to take a well as you are now. 

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Just now, MaranV said:

Hey Eirias, nice to see you. Given the rather extreme damage output of mortar, combined with its extreme range (making it even easier to defend along with properly micro'd scavengers) makes me think 80 power is the bare minimum if we ever want to call this card balanced. If a fire player makes a mortar while the enemy fire player is near him don't you think he kind of deserves to lose 5 power? The delicious (or horrendous if you are against it) synergy of mortar + roots is also kind of an example why it will still be a viable card at 80 power, right?

Your IG idea is interesting too, but I think it is fair to say that if IG gets realistic field play viability and mortar is 80 power no further buffs are needed for frost - as you won't be forced as much to take a well as you are now. 

Well, the eruption also does 300 damage to the well and any nearby units. But I guess you're right, I'd rather if people didn't make offensive mortars at all, and a mortar in the middle of nowhere can be erupted without hurting anything else. I was concerned with someone running up and erupting the mortar, then running away, but scavengers should be able to intercept and allow the tower to go up.

And I do think it will still be viable at 80 power, but there's also mine, which might just be better (bc you can use it in offense as well).

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1 minute ago, Eirias said:

Well, the eruption also does 300 damage to the well and any nearby units. But I guess you're right, I'd rather if people didn't make offensive mortars at all, and a mortar in the middle of nowhere can be erupted without hurting anything else. I was concerned with someone running up and erupting the mortar, then running away, but scavengers should be able to intercept and allow the tower to go up.

And I do think it will still be viable at 80 power, but there's also mine, which might just be better (bc you can use it in offense as well).

Interesting point, however a mine can be dodged by a player that pays close attention. Mortar attacks can't be avoided, so I suppose that justifies the difference.  

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Well, mortar can only be done in defense (ideally) whereas I could place a mine near your well and prevent you from spawning units on that side of it.

And if mortar is nerfed, in 2v2 mine will become the new problem because fire and nature t1 will switch the mortar slot to mine, and hurricane/roots + mortar is pretty rough.

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Phasetower allows for interesting defense setups but should be punished for going aggressive without support. Maybe if the tower dealt half damage for the vulnerability period. It should probably only be vulnerable for 20s at U3 in that case.

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1 hour ago, Ggoblin said:

interesting defense setups

Those should be considered, too, when talking about balancing that thing. It's imbalanced in defense on midcentered maps like Elyon or a lot of generated ones where nature (and like always frost) can't start with a swift unit (cause nox). Shadow just takes the middle with immediate phase towers, gains map control and now the nature or frost player has to play 3 leagues better than the shadow player if he wants to turn the situation in his favour.

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I agree, phase towers are really hard to deal with and mortar tower is way too cheap, even for example in 2v2 if you use mortar offensively it mostly gets erupted which is still a win of 25 power.

80 power for mortar would be fair indeed.

 

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On 12/20/2018 at 2:51 AM, Ggoblin said:

Phasetower allows for interesting defense setups but should be punished for going aggressive without support. Maybe if the tower dealt half damage for the vulnerability period. It should probably only be vulnerable for 20s at U3 in that case.

This is pretty much the only good idea I've read in this thread. Instead of making mortar or phase 75+ power we could just remove them from the game. Mine is crap in 1v1 and will always be. And concerning Frost, I don't see the only real problem discussed, which is fmage spam vs nature which makes the latter unplayable. All in all, it's really hard to talk about balance when there is no ranked system where we could see which tactics REALLY lack counterplay, because when i for example see a phase tower spammer in ranked, I will take the free win with fire (or at least make him waste 1 deckslot). Predicting enemy tactics and countering them in advance is a thing I dont see taken into consideration at all in all these balance discussions which kinda make me lose hope on getting to a good result.

It's very obvious that Phase Tower needs a nerf, but rather than removing it from the game I'd rather see some minor buffs for some counterplay possibilites, TOO.

Also one point I want to bring up that isn't taken into consideration a lot is that 2v2 and 1v1 differ quite a lot. For example nature + shadow t1 is absolutely broken, still nobody demands a nerf for SoL or Dryad, because nature t1 is so underwhelming in 1v1 due to shadow and frost matchup. So as you can see, this is a rather fragile and really complex system, where it is very much more likely to make it even worse by just nerfing everything we don't like into the ground. Without an efficient mortar and phase there would only be nox/dryad spam in 2v2.

I think I could go on forever complaining in my mediocre english about the too simplified way of thinking that is propagated by some people here. But let's cut it here and see how the discussion turns out. Sorry if I stepped on too many feet :p

Edit: Last point I want to mention is that Frost and Nature are very map depandent whereas Fire and Shadow don't have this disadvantage. This is probably where we should start tackling this issue.

Edit2 bc I cant help myself: Shadow is also the easiest deck to play which obviously make it seem stronger from noob perspective. Similar thing for fire

 

Edited by Navarr
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When it comes to reduction of cards, I do believe that slow is the way to go, and give it time to be tested.

For Phase tower I think removing the shortened vulnerability durations, as well as the damage vulnerability and leaving only a life point buff for each upgrade would be the best way to handle this.  The power cost of PT is 60, yet you usually need 2+ units to deal with it.  This still allows the potency of the card, while allowing it not to completely steam roll certain factions.

Mortar Tower, just widen the spray pattern from 10 meters to 20-25 meters, that should keep it in check and not as potent

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Aside from completely agreeing with Navaar that we really need a ranked system first to have some data and that the dynamics in 2vs2 are quite different, I would also like to add that imo we should do small, incremental nerfs&buffs, like +5 or -5 energy, instead of the huge +30 energy nerfs called for here. It is much easier to keep a card playable that way, and if necessary you can just repeat the nerf until it seems fine. Just nuking a card from orbit really reduces variety, especially considering that the cards talked about here are one of a relatively low number of turrets that are actually viable at all in PvP. Killing phase tower and mortar leaves ... makeshift and what else? Cannon Tower with Nature Frost and CoN with Shadow Frost? 

I would honestly prefer some building counter in nature and/or frost t1, like a timeshifter spirit that only keeps buildings from attacking in a certain range. Or a frost spell that makes units much more resilient against building attacks and disables knockback from them. Not so strong that it becomes an auto include and makes beating buildings easy for them, but strong enough to use it meta dependent and counter tower spamming.

 

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In the case of phasetower I like the idea of giving it half the attack power/extend his vulnerable time after the shift.

For the Mortar there should be a stronger nerf. The cost increase to 80 energy should be a sufficient method. The defensive capabilities create a big imbalance against nature t1, while on the offensive the efficiency of a mortar spam is the bigger problem. As it is now a fire player can take an extra well with close to zero risk (due to the low cost of mortar) against nature (and against frost as well I guess) and is additionally able to defend easily against the snowball effect which should give nature the upperhand in a later t1 stage. 

The idea of giving nature or frost a building counter in t1 does not solve the initial problem. Nature as well as frost would have to spend an extra deck slot, which would further increase the size of the t1 to make it playable against smaller t1 like shadow and fire. Wintertide is already available to lower the damage taken on frost units and to prevent the knockback (the knockback is not the problem against shadow and fire). To give nature and frost a t1 siege unit would be quite fatal for shadow and fire as the support is to strong (remember that sunderer with shields is a good tactic in 2on2, where you have 2 payers to defend the unit).

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On ‎12‎/‎25‎/‎2018 at 7:43 PM, Navarr said:

This is pretty much the only good idea I've read in this thread. Instead of making mortar or phase 75+ power we could just remove them from the game. Mine is crap in 1v1 and will always be. And concerning Frost, I don't see the only real problem discussed, which is fmage spam vs nature which makes the latter unplayable. All in all, it's really hard to talk about balance when there is no ranked system where we could see which tactics REALLY lack counterplay, because when i for example see a phase tower spammer in ranked, I will take the free win with fire (or at least make him waste 1 deckslot). Predicting enemy tactics and countering them in advance is a thing I dont see taken into consideration at all in all these balance discussions which kinda make me lose hope on getting to a good result.

It's very obvious that Phase Tower needs a nerf, but rather than removing it from the game I'd rather see some minor buffs for some counterplay possibilites, TOO.

Also one point I want to bring up that isn't taken into consideration a lot is that 2v2 and 1v1 differ quite a lot. For example nature + shadow t1 is absolutely broken, still nobody demands a nerf for SoL or Dryad, because nature t1 is so underwhelming in 1v1 due to shadow and frost matchup. So as you can see, this is a rather fragile and really complex system, where it is very much more likely to make it even worse by just nerfing everything we don't like into the ground. Without an efficient mortar and phase there would only be nox/dryad spam in 2v2.

I think I could go on forever complaining in my mediocre english about the too simplified way of thinking that is propagated by some people here. But let's cut it here and see how the discussion turns out. Sorry if I stepped on too many feet :p

Edit: Last point I want to mention is that Frost and Nature are very map depandent whereas Fire and Shadow don't have this disadvantage. This is probably where we should start tackling this issue.

Edit2 bc I cant help myself: Shadow is also the easiest deck to play which obviously make it seem stronger from noob perspective. Similar thing for fire

 

Hey Navarro, obviously you can criticize whatever you like. I am fine with phase tower dealing half damage after a teleport rather than a power nerf, but claiming phase tower @ 75 power is equal to removing it from the game is not a fair estimate since it rarely inflicts a cost of below 75 power on the opponent. The same goes even more so for mortar (in defense), the large range, AoE and high damage means it rarely fails to deal severe damage to at least 2 units with 1 barrage, either killing them or allowing them to be mopped up quite easily. Which for frost is at least 100 power and for nature at least 120 (although arguably a bit less considering SoL's efficiency). In the end that equation is perfectly able to be expressed in power costs, regardless of how simplistic that might seem. 

I don't mean to step on your toes either but steamrolling nature with a mage blob was resolved quite a long time ago when (blue) dryad was released, and countering it became increasingly more in the favour of the nature players after the homesoil nerf. Considering it is a key card to help negate the fact you don't have an M damage modifier and you deal 25% less damage permanently. The outcome is greatly influenced by the placement of units on both sides (but primarily frost) and how effectively the nature player root snipes you. By no means is this unplayable for either sides, but you can try it for yourself against a skilled nature player like Natiac. 

I am also unsure what you are expecting from ranked PvP, we already had 5 years (even more) of ranked PvP and the 'counter' was quite clearly displayed in the rankings: don't play frost or nature t1 if you want optimal ELO gain. Which was for example very clearly displayed by looking at 2 (PvP wise) popular decks that offer the choice between any t1 faction; Lost Souls and Twilight. What we saw in the PvP rankings was that almost all of these players went for shadow and fire t1. 

I am also not sure if you are being ironic when saying you will play fire vs a phase spammer, since the entire point of the thread is to discuss frost & nature viability VS fire & shadow. Surely you agree that at least on t1 level all factions should have a reasonable chance against each other, right?

Although I can agree that some maps present more issues for frost and nature than others, they are only underlining core issues, not causing them. The core issue for nature being that their high power investment eventually forces them to attack the mortar, or the phase tower (although the latter is more often used offensively). The core issue of frost being locked out of most maps early, since they are slow and have no field viability to contest the initial field battle with. Which drives the frost player into the mortar/phase when trying to break out. But a mortar/phase nerf won't be the only solution to that since even a 100 power mortar isn't going to give frost an efficient chance to take it down thanks to its lack of speed and reliance on barrier walking for IGs, which is why I suggested IGs to spawn with shields. Trying to change almost every map would cost far more dev time & effort, while still not addressing the core issue.

In closing; You are right about 2v2; Dryad (blue) probably shouldn't buff allies to prevent guaranteed efficiently healed blobs, and I support making that change along with the phase/mortar nerf. 

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1 hour ago, MaranV said:

........

In closing; You are right about 2v2; Dryad (blue) probably shouldn't buff allies to prevent guaranteed efficiently healed blobs, and I support making that change along with the phase/mortar nerf.

Herein lies the Major problem with Balance in BF.  You make a single change to a card and it has repercussions in every aspect of the game.  PvE, 1v1 2v2 4v4.  This is why balancing a card in BF was so damned difficult. 

One of the reasons I made this thread

 

I know its a pain in the arse to clone a database,  But making changes to cards based on mode will be a far easier way to balance then make whole sale changes that improve a card for one aspect and ruin it in other.

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On 1/9/2019 at 10:52 PM, Darian DelFord said:

Herein lies the Major problem with Balance in BF.  You make a single change to a card and it has repercussions in every aspect of the game.  PvE, 1v1 2v2 4v4.  This is why balancing a card in BF was so damned difficult. 

One of the reasons I made this thread

 

I know its a pain in the arse to clone a database,  But making changes to cards based on mode will be a far easier way to balance then make whole sale changes that improve a card for one aspect and ruin it in other.

Out of all the aspects that affect balancing in Battleforge, pve balance is honestly a relatively minor concern. For the most part, pve and pvp have completely different must-have cards. Really, pve is fairly easy if you know the map and there are a multitude of combos and factions that allow you dealing with the challanges from the levels.

There were some neat fringe tactics that got removed because of pvp (Spore Bomb with Nasty surprise comes into mind), but I can't think of a single instance where it massively affected pve.

Having separate card profiles is not a new idea, it was proposed countless times during the days of Phenomic. In fact, I bet that it isn't even possible. Imagine you have 2 different profiles for Thugs. Which profile is stated on the card in the AH? At this point you need to completely re-work and re-design the front end of the game lol.

Balancing a game is an iterative process that takes time. You can only ever approximate balance until you are at a point that is "good enough" in a way that the better player will actually succeed (effective counterplay is all that is necessary). The real major problem of Battleforge was that it introduced a massive influx of cards with each release, impacting the meta and the balance in a significant way. You can't work with an ever-shifting meta. Similarly, EA likely did not have the intentions to have a completely balanced game and wanted to encourage certain key cards to enforce monetization. PvP was primarily a "premium" mode that required you to have expensive cards multiple times (charges) if you wanted to compete in higher levels.

The game is full of overly cost effective and broken cards that can only be countered with other overly cost effective cards. It's essentially a car that is held together with duct tape and works mostly well for the majority of factions. The question is how much effort you want to put into the game. You can just fix the most broken aspects and make it overall more fair, but some things will always end up messy. To truely fix the balance of the game you first need a gameplay narrative and work on a schema for the game and it's factions.

This can be achieved with detailed knowledge of the game, frequent patches and good coordination. I don't know how much time the devs are willing to invest into proper balancing, but at least we got people who have the necessary in-depth knowledge that can serve as a starting point (such as RadicalX).

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2 hours ago, ImaginaryNumb3r said:

Out of all the aspects that affect balancing in Battleforge, pve balance is honestly a relatively minor concern. For the most part, pve and pvp have completely different must-have cards. Really, pve is fairly easy if you know the map and there are a multitude of combos and factions that allow you dealing with the challanges from the levels.

There were some neat fringe tactics that got removed because of pvp (Spore Bomb with Nasty surprise comes into mind), but I can't think of a single instance where it massively affected pve.

Having separate card profiles is not a new idea, it was proposed countless times during the days of Phenomic. In fact, I bet that it isn't even possible. Imagine you have 2 different profiles for Thugs. Which profile is stated on the card in the AH? At this point you need to completely re-work and re-design the front end of the game lol.

Balancing a game is an iterative process that takes time. You can only ever approximate balance until you are at a point that is "good enough" in a way that the better player will actually succeed (effective counterplay is all that is necessary). The real major problem of Battleforge was that it introduced a massive influx of cards with each release, impacting the meta and the balance in a significant way. You can't work with an ever-shifting meta. Similarly, EA likely did not have the intentions to have a completely balanced game and wanted to encourage certain key cards to enforce monetization. PvP was primarily a "premium" mode that required you to have expensive cards multiple times (charges) if you wanted to compete in higher levels.

The game is full of overly cost effective and broken cards that can only be countered with other overly cost effective cards. It's essentially a car that is held together with duct tape and works mostly well for the majority of factions. The question is how much effort you want to put into the game. You can just fix the most broken aspects and make it overall more fair, but some things will always end up messy. To truely fix the balance of the game you first need a gameplay narrative and work on a schema for the game and it's factions.

This can be achieved with detailed knowledge of the game, frequent patches and good coordination. I don't know how much time the devs are willing to invest into proper balancing, but at least we got people who have the necessary in-depth knowledge that can serve as a starting point (such as RadicalX).

 

If it works the way I understand it to work, it will not affect the AH at all.  The card abilities are merely a script.  Each card has a script(s) that controls it.  All that needs to be done is flag the PvP maps, so that the new scripts will take affect.  That is a simple conditional statement. 

Also as noted a change for 1v1 PvP can vastly affect 2v2 and 4v4 and vice versa.  If you truly want to balance the game between PvE, 1v1, 2v2, and 4v4 this is really the only way to do it without screwing something else.  BF is NOT an easy game to balance.  However This is a change which can be done. 

Its really not that difficult to do, I have done it for games in the past.  The question is, how are the scripts stored, how they interact with each other.  The hardest part of this whole thing, believe it or not would be the forge.  As that is neither a PvE or PvP zone.

 

However any further discussion I would like to have in the other thread as to not derail this one, hence the reason I put the link in my post there :>

Edited by Darian DelFord
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