Doombringer brought one of the most exciting draft formats that we’ve had to HEX, however we believe that it can be even better. With our next patch we will be adjusting some of the champions for draft as well as making a few tweaks to help bring some new archetypes to our constructed format.
Here’s the rundown of this update to champions:
Finally, we have a change in our approach to fixing and updating some specific bugged cards which will be detailed at the end of this article.
Blackberry Knight has been the most played champion in all limited environments. He allows players to create an army of extra bodies, which proved more potent than we intended. In the past we’ve shied away from charge powers that could win the game on their own, so we are shaving off some of his power to compensate.
Rabid Rider has been another of the champion’s that’s been overperforming. While we want games to come to an end, Rabid Rider made this happen a little too quickly and consistently. We are shaving off some of the attack from his buff to slow him down slightly.
Each of these champions were showing up a bit below where we wanted to see them, so we’re giving each of them a little buff. With these changes, and in conjunction with tuning some of our other champions, we hope to open up some of their interesting playstyles to more play in both limited and constructed environments. While we don’t think these changes will necessarily make these champions into constructed staples, we believe that these small improvements will allow deckbuilders to give them another look.
Finally, we wanted to revisit some of the “Familiar” champions and give them a little love. These champions ended up being less powerful than we had hoped. Instead of simply changing the cost of charges, we’ve updated their designs completely.
Darien now gives a random Boon as well as +1 [ATK] / +1 [DEF] , and if you control a Familiar, you’ll get an additional Boon and an additional +1 [ATK] / +1 [DEF] buff on your target.
Markul, on the other hand, can now target troops. We’ve increased the cost of using Markul by one and reduced his starting health some, but he still grants you a bit of health while removing a troop or draining your opponent.
The change we made to Markul made him a bit too close to Rhiannon, but we already knew we wanted to change Rhiannon’s recipe, so this meant giving Rhiannon something new to do. Rhiannon now gives your troops +1 [ATK] and Crush for the turn, or +2 [ATK] if you control a Familiar.
Lady Avalanche has been a dominant champion in the constructed scene for some time. Lady Avalanche gives Momentum decks an extra way to ramp, while also turning one of their troops into a growing threat. This also allows additional triggers from Diamond-Wild Momentum decks with cards like Exalted Pathfinder and Merry Caravan, both of which line up perfectly with Lady Avalanche’s current charge cost.
To slow down these decks, we’ve moved Lady Avalanche’s charge cost up by one. This change leads to a less explosive turn 4 and means that the Momentum decks won’t be able to quickly turn around and use their charge power again in a turn or two. This extra turn should allow aggressive decks an extra turn to put pressure on these Momentum decks and for control decks a bit more time to gain control.
While we knew we wanted to tune Lady Avalanche, we also looked to some older champions that would be safe to give a little bit of love. While there were a number we could have revisited, Isabella the Cursed caught our eye as one that seemed like she was a bit off as far as charge costs go.
Finally, today we also wanted to let you know about a change in our approach to fixing and updating specific bugged cards. We want to be open and transparent about our principles for ensuring the most fair and fun game experience for everyone, so we felt it necessary to give an extra layer of clarity on why we are making this change.
When it comes to changing cards in HEX, we are committed to not altering PVP cards for balance reasons. We do retain the right to alter Champions, gems, and PVE cards, but when it comes to PVP cards we are dedicated to avoiding any balance changes once the cards in your hands. If a PVP card does cause gameplay issues within a format, we can, as a last resort, add the card to that format’s Banlist. We are still dedicated to those tenants, and before discussing anything else, we felt it important to reiterate that none of those policies are changing.
Recently, we uncovered a unique circumstance that caused us to take another look at our capacity to modify live cards in specific situations. It doesn’t diverge from any of the ideals listed above, but we realize it may differ from some of your expectations. To better explain the situation, let’s look at the card that spawned this case: Brilliant Annihilix.
Brilliant Annihilix reads, “This can’t be blocked or targeted by non-prismatic cards.” However, this power is implemented in such a way that it does not stop the card’s controller from targeting their own Annihilix with their non-prismatic cards. The card doesn’t behave in the way it’s written, so we added this bug to the Known Issues list and then set about finding a resolution to this problem.
As we investigated possible code solutions, we determined that fixing this issue would be very costly and time consuming. It would involve changing some underlying game rules that would theoretically impact many other cards and mechanics. The resources needed to implement, test, and deploy such a change would cause huge delays to other features and game improvements already in the works – things like Cosmic Coins, the Merry Melee game modes, and even the creation of the next card set.
Our options were limited. Undertaking such a fix would likely do more harm than good for the game in the long term. Leaving the card in such a bugged state was also not ideal as it would continue to confuse and frustrate players who were unaware of the bug. We also dismissed the idea of outright banning the card as we wanted to uphold our promise of using the Banlist as safety valve for our constructed formats, not a dumping ground for bugged cards.
At the same time, we were evaluating the card in its current bugged form from a design development perspective. Functionally, Annihilix was still preforming its intended goal: to be an efficient Diamond troop that is difficult for opponents to remove or manipulate using non-prismatic cards. The bug didn’t drastically alter the cards power level, nor did it change its overall intent or play patterns. The way the card was behaving was not the major issue; the issue was that it was confusing for players when it didn’t behave as worded.
These factors lead us to what we believe is the most viable solution – to alter the text on the card so that it matches how the card currently works. After the next patch, Brilliant Annihlix will read “This can’t be blocked or targeted by opposing non-prismatic cards.”
By making this change we helped improve game clarity (the text now matches how Annihilix behaves in game) while also preserving valuable engineering resources for the long-term growth and success of HEX.
Accordingly, we may use this method to solve additional, otherwise unsolvable issues in the future, but we plan to exercise this option sparingly, under very specific circumstances, and only when all other avenues have been fully investigated and exhausted. It is not our goal to use this method to avoid properly testing cards, or to use this as an alternative to fixing card functionality bugs. This is not a method for balancing cards, nor is it an alternative to banning a card.
With that said, there is another card that has long needed fixing, one that I’m sure many of you have already had in mind while reading this. Along with Brilliant Annihilix, we are going to be changing the text on one other card at this time so that it too behaves as written: Grave Nibbler.
In the end, we believe that this approach will lead to a fairer experience for everyone as this new philosophy will prevent cards from acting differently from their text for long stretches of time.
Thank you very much for reading. Until next time!
Got any questions? Want to chat with other players? Then discuss this article in our Forums! You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, our YouTube channel, or enjoy regular streams on our official Twitch channel.