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Design Philosophy behind each Faction - Why Pure Decks are unattractive - Problematic Cards - Why Batariel Nerf was a bad idea


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I'd like to talk about what each factions gameplay idea is supposed to look like, how some cards don't fit it, and why Pure Decks will always be an ugly stepchild compared to the all-popular splash decks. Keep in mind, this comes from primarily playing rPvE, and from a person who plays Pure Fire or Bandit 95% of the time. 

First: What Pure Decks are supposed to be like:


Pure Decks are supposed to host the most powerful cards of a faction. The less strict a cards orb requirements, the weaker it should be. 
Pure Cards in T3 and T4 should be extremely strong. They should be attractive to give you a viable alternative to playing a splash deck.
The splash decks appeal obviously comes from being able to nap the utilities of other factions to supplement / remove the weaknesses of the other cards in your deck. 
Generally - The stricter the orb requirements, the more power a card should hold, especially in T3/T4
Also - The more orbs required of a given faction, the more it should encapsule the design philosophy of the faction.

 

The Design Philosophies behind each faction:

Fire - High attack. Ability to generate a lot of value if left unchecked or conditions are met. ( Rage mechanic, usually )
Examples: Fire Dragon vs Giant Wyrm. The Fire Dragon is cheaper, yet can reach much higher attack if left unchecked. Cluster Explosion can completely delete everything if conditions are right.

 



Sadly, the benefit of pure decks is way, way too low compared to a splash deck. Every player makes a cost-benefit calculation when they play and build decks. And pure decks just are too much of a burden.

I'll give a negative example:
I can play pure Fire to have access to Batariel and Moloch. Batariel is cool, but not "300 Energy + Pure"- Powerful. Moloch? It's a 350(!!!!) Energy Card, pure, and its stats are arguably bad considering the cost. First of all, it comes with the terrible "Slow" Trait. Secondly, most of the time it gets stuck in CC, and it gets destroyed by melee units in terms of efficiency. 
Once again, it's not that Moloch outright sucks, it's just that it doesn't meet the expectations you'd have of a 350 Energy Pure Unit, outright the most cost in both resources, and you get a sow turtle that doesn't get much done and still needs a lot of support. 
( Sidenote: Why is Moloch even a Fire unit? It's slow and supposed to tank a lot. It should be a pure T4 Frost unit )

Positive example, how a pure (and 3xPure1xAny) Unit should look like:
Juggernaut. Really strong. Can deal with most units, can delete buildings, isn't slow. Actually really powerful and a good reason to play Pure Fire.
Harvester. (TBH, it's not TOO pure given its T2 and you can still branch out after) 
Fire Dragon, it's just a really good unit that can get crazy powerful
Thunderwagon, mows down everything, completely nuts if supported
Pre-Nerf Batariel, same as Thunderwagon really


Basically, the pure units and the next-to-pure units should be the ones we all eyeball when we see our teammates play them. They should be kind of a special occassion.
These cards were designed with the orb requirements in mind. The reason Batariel was allowed to exist was because it's not self-sufficient. A Fire-Player has only limited ways to keep it alive and reach full stacks before it gets CCd or simply dies.

Now, why Splash Decks are OP.
Imo the Balancing in this game should be done holistically. So, not think about each card individually, but with ALL the other cards that exist in mind.

To put it shortly:
Some cards are way too strong given how loose their orb requirements are.
The main culprits being:

Enlightenment  ( Should be removed honestly, I'll talk about this later ) 
Unholy Hero. 
Offering
Rifle Cultists (only due to Offering)
Bloodhorn  
Shrine of War

So, why would I ever limit myself to play something like Pure Fire with Batariel... if I can just play 3x Fire 1x Shadow and have access to Life Weaving, Unholy Power, and Unholy Hero, Offering + Cultist and Soul Shatter? I can have my Fire Dragon with Unholy Hero reach like 25k or what damage, or steamroll everything with Thunderwagon x Unholy Hero to have a budget Batariel.
All while having access to spells that allow me to mitigate damage, vastly increase damage and refill precious charges of my otherwise vulnerable fire units. Oh yeah, and I get Bloodhorn, too. Arguably one of  the strongest T4 units in the entire game.

Some people will argue:
"Sure, but you often play in a team. There, those pure spells and units can shine with other peoples support!"
True! That's how it should be. It should feel really cool and powerful to join forces with your team to combine the power of each faction to create an unstoppable force. That's what teamplay should feel like: Rewarding.
However, this is unnecessary right now, I'll get to this later.

Why is a card like Bloodhorn so easy to access, yet Tortugun is pure? Bloodhorn is arguable one of the best T4 units in the game, yet you can easily fit it into most decks and have a bosskiller and siege unit in one that also happens to move quickly across the map that also scales fantastically with buffs...  Moloch is crying in a corner right now. 

Unholy Hero should at least be 2 Shadow, if not 3. That card is just way too good. It ticks the box for a card that would make you want to play Shadow

Shrine of War should be 2 Fire, probably pure fire. It's the best support in terms of gaining your void back. It allows you to completely unleash hell on the enemy with spells it PERFECTLY fits the fire theme and would be another great beacon of a pure fire deck, yet this building sits there at a single fire orb required.. Wow.

 

And now the card that should've never existed. The card that should be renamed "Pandora's Box"...

Enlightenment ... ( and Amii Monument, in cPvE )

When Thugs got nerfed, the reasoning was "We think power should only be generated from power wells". I get that.
So, surely, another philosophy of the balancing team should be "We think orbs should only come from monuments"

Yet this ugly balancing nightmare of a card exists.
Enlightenment isn't even a pure card either. The issue was never Batariel. The issue was and still IS that everytime you want to play a pure deck for it's powerful T4, you will always have to ask "Why not just play Enlightenment instead and buff it up?"
You can never ever design a pure T4 card anymore without considering Enlightenment. You will always have to consider that somebody can just play 2x Nature 1x Shadow with ALL the great support spells that come with it. Shadow for the mitigation and damage, and nature for sustain, CC and revenge.
Truly, why would you play pure fire for bata, when you can just fart it out with enlightenment and have it be nigh invincible?

This is why it makes no sense to play pure. Playing Splash makes you self-sufficient most of the time. The buff-the-batariel deck was just the tip of the iceberg, the pinnacle of the problematic of splash decks.

The problem being: Some cards that are incredibly powerful are way too loose in terms of orb requirements, and some shouldn't exist at all ( Enlightenment ) 
I doubt the team is ever going to just patch out Enlightenment though, so at least make it 3 Nature.

The team was onto something when they considered Unholy Hero, Enlightenment and Bata as possible targets for nerfs, when it was just the former two that were the problem. Not just in this deck, but that in general make pure decks unattractive. No pure deck can shine as long as a single drop of shadow can boost your offensive and defensive capabilities so much.


TL;DR
Make Unholy Hero 2-3 Shadow orb
Remove Enlightenment or make it 3 Nature
Remove Amii Monument?
Shrine of War should be pure or 2 fire
Bloodhorn should be Pure Bandit given its power level
Generally think over the orb requirements of many cards. 
Revert Batariel Nerf.

In general just adding a single shadow orb provides WAY too much value to any deck to pass up. DPS, Survivability, card refills just with 1 orb. 
Again, thinking holistically: 
We are making sacrifices whenever we choose an orb over another.
What do I lose by giving up the 4th Fire Orb? Bata and Moloch, pretty much.
What do I lose by not going Shadow instead? Bloodhorn, Unholy Hero, Life Weaving, Unholy Power, Mine Field, Offering and Rifle Cultists.

What sane player would choose the first option? It's just ridiculous how weak pure decks are right now compared to splash.

 

Interestingly you pulled the plug on Thugs. It's sad because Thugs and Strikers were a creative take on the fire philosophy of "Generating great value if left unchecked / Potential to snowball". It wasn't Yet-another-rage-mechanic / Stacking firedebuff. Now Thugs lack the identity that should go with being fire. It's a defense-oriented passive now.

But maybe we can hope that Enlightenment will get cut also. Creating monuments out of nowhere should be no less outrageous than generating power from hitting units imo, and it will always be a balancing nightmare for every future pure card that comes out.
 

Edit: All that was achieved by nerfing Batariel was to give even less incentive to play Pure Fire. Now your teammates don't even get to support your amazing T4 unit anymore due to some issue that lied entirely in Enlightenment existing and other cards being too easy to splash.

Disclaimer: Again, this all comes from my take that - Just like a higher energy cost promises a stronger unit - stricter orb requirements should have some sort of pay-off in terms of power.
Otherwise, what's the point of the orbs anyway?
 

 

 

Edited by ManGa
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds to me like you are kinda "new" in skylords reborn and think mostly about the old battleforge.

A lot of things that you mention, like the enlightment bata deck, was already nerfed and the motivation to also play pure decks got way up, especially for fire and nature.

The skylords team already explained that they prefer buffing not so common decks instead of nerfing popular ones (for PvE), with for me 100% understandable reasoning, and they proved their point with a lot of buffs for pure fire and nature, and also some frost and shadow.

Of course you can still play whatever you like most, but as a fire player myself I would always prefer the last orb to be nature or fire before shadow, since the sustain and cc of nature, or the big damage buff of batarial p are of  more value to me then buffing up a single firedragon (when you have like 4 of them anyway). You talk about bata being nerfed, but the changes to the purple one was actually a huge buff for pure fire. Moloch ist of course more of a niche pick and not great for rpve but its an incredible powerhouse in the right scenario, and fits fire extremly well, since you just tank everything while you destroy everything with spells (or fire dragons with unity). I am kinda surprised how you praise the thunderwagon, for me its probably the most useless t4 fire unit, but I guess with the shadow buffs it would actually make sense.

So all in all: If you compare the game right now to the old battleforge, the team actually worked on basicly every single point of yours, and made great progress already. For your hate to enlightment: That sounds a lot like a personal thing, if you dont like it you dont have to play it 😀. Had the same with Amii-Monument and still have it with basicly all colorless cards, you always have the option to ignore those.

SunWu, Metagross31 and Volin like this
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Yeah this feels like a post from 2018, the progress is totally there and also done with a a holisitc approach. For example take pure frost: they made a formerly useless 4th frost orb really great by dreadnougt healing shielded units. Wich also makes him an unatractive target for enlightenment cause his synergy is mostly in his pure deck.

About the thugs nerf: that had to be done cause of pvp, people literally stopped playing because of that card, same for strikers.

Edited by SunWu
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SkylordsRebornDesignPhilosophy.pdf

While our design philosophy document is a bit outdated, particularly the first section, it is does a good job of explaining our reasoning in terms of how we think about the game. I think for your purposes you will find the 3rd section most interesting, which is also the only section I would regard as up-to-date. 

You can view more of our design documents here: Skylords Reborn Design Documents

I would heavily recommend the Frost one as it goes in depth about how we carefully pursued the issue of Dreadnought and our new card Cost of Protection needing to be worth investing in the 4th Frost orb by themselves and how we went about achieving that. 

________

I would echo the two people above in saying that I think you are critiquing a BattleForge that does not exist anymore. We have carefully and steadily rebalanced well over 100 cards and are continually working on more each patch. Our first project was making Pure Frost viable, which I think was one of our greatest successes, and afterward we focused on finishing up Nature (ongoing), Bandits, and Fire.

Not to be disrespectful, but I also think you possess a misunderstanding about the current state of Pure Fire. Fire right now is the strongest it has ever been. We completely revamped the purple affinity of Batariel solely for Pure Fire. It heavily outcompetes Unholy Hero as a combo with Fire Dragons. Our team reworked Fire Sphere to be a CC/damage hybrid spell worthy of 3 Fire orbs which is able to cover several Pure Fire weaknesses. We also majorly reworked Bloodthirst so that combined with Unity it provides a source of sustain that is thematically fitting to Fire. All of this was done in service of a holistic vision which we have for how we think Fire as a faction is supposed to play. 

DefAnske and Metagross31 like this
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I agree with your initial sum up of what pure factions should be, but want to point out "pure" bandit/twilight/lost/stonekin is still less restrictive than pure fire/nature/orb/shadow. 
I also got the feeling that Batariel was only nerfed because of enlightenment. It didn't occur to me that Batariel is heavily overpowered in pure fire.

Some of those issues you point out originate from old Battleforge. The single most important thing, that is often neglected, is not everyone has every card (plus full charges and upgrades). Nowadays its possible to get almost everything with some effort, but back in the day this meant spending hundreds (surprisingly cheap compared to Gacha games nowadays but still). A holistic approach is all good but in a way ignores the majority of the player base.

The initial twilight edition didn't even feature mixed color cards, but pure faction got neglected with the following editions, Rpve didn't even exist then. There are just not that many pure cards and people preferred playing mixed which might be the result of this direction.
At some point new cards turned in a cash grab. Some of the last cards that got released used to be insanely overpowered on release.
I don't think they ever changed orb requirements. There has probably been made some design mistakes, but they rather left it untouched to not piss off players who payed real money for those cards.

Skylords Reborn is better now than Battleforge ever was (though I kinda miss the old twilight edition days).
It still has a long way to go, as there are still many imbalances

Enlightenment
I could see a change where it only reduces the cost by one orb, meaning if you have 2nature 1shadow you get 1wildcard orb so you could spawn an Overlord (2Shadow2neutral), but not a forest elder (4nature).
Same thing with Amii Monument. It made PvE so much easier, you didn't even need t3, just a companion that lent you his Monument (e.g. dwarven riddle) and in combination with enlightenment you can play t4 units where you are supposed to play with t2.
Realistically I don't see it happen. It would destroy too many decks. No matter your nor my suggestion, It would still be OP but frustrate a lot of people.

 

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17 hours ago, Sacriefice said:

Enlightenment
I could see a change where it only reduces the cost by one orb, meaning if you have 2nature 1shadow you get 1wildcard orb so you could spawn an Overlord (2Shadow2neutral), but not a forest elder (4nature).

Im sure it has already been suggested (since basicly everything under the sun will have been suggested regarding enlightenment now) but I didnt see this one before, and I think its a clever solution. Even makes enlightenemnt scale somewhat into tier 4, allowing more wildcard options. 

However, while most people (myself included) dislike enlightenment, its also extremely loved by another part of the community, so I dont know if we will ever see changes to it.
Fun fact: it used to be like 150 power in EA days. 

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6 hours ago, wanky said:

i do not think power costs matters on this card ^^

 

Power cost is just one factor but it totally matters... I don't know if it is possible but if hypothetically Enlightenment costed 0 power? Even if I don't PvP, I can see how completely broken it would be in PvP and PvE... Because you essentially you have access to any (T4 but could be lower tier) card at T3 and pretty much almost any orb beyond 3rd orb is just "throwing away power" (the only disadvantage in this scenario would be the few sec of delay from casting Enlightenment first then the card you really want to play as opposed to meeting the orb requirements and casting what you really want directly).

I do think it causes nightmares for people trying to do balancing but as a player, I would think I am not alone in fantasizing about having the absolute best deck and/or mixing cards that would otherwise can not be mixed. For my casual usage and probably below average skills, I think the increased power is about right to make players have to accumulate about the amount of power to play first T4 card and in most cases, a single T4 card with T3 cards is better than just T3 but don't pose a huge advantage. Your 2nd and additional uses will result in lost power and with 4 charges, that is still about 2 min setup (30s cooldown then it becomes >= 125s once your are out-of-charge). Is a tough act (to allow longer time players to mix it up etc) and balancing but overall, I think SR team is doing a pretty good job and revisiting things if needed.

 

Majora likes this
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what i wanted to say is that it doesn't make much difference in terms of powercosts whether the card costs 250 energy or even 300 clear. The higher the energy costs, the greater the weakening. But I think that if the card is almost useless in PVP, the card itself works as it should. In the end, you only harm yourself when you play it because you don't play the map the way the map designer intended. If you use it anyway, you clearly gain an advantage, whether that's so that less good players can also create an expert map, you want to play even more different deck variations or just to develop fun tactics remains to be seen.

Translated with DeepL

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