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PVE Card Updates – Siege Launch Patch

Feb 20, 2018

Hey, everyone! This is Jared Saramago from the HEX R&D team. Today we are announcing some upcoming changes to existing PVE cards and equipment which will coincide with the release of the Siege gameplay mode. (If you missed it, you can read the Siege announcement here). In this article, we will go over what sorts of things are being modified and why we felt it was important to make these changes.

A Siege Mentality

One of the major goals in designing Siege mode was to make sure that both sides of the Siege equation are enjoyable – both building your own defense and attacking another defense should be incredibly fun. As we began to develop and playtest these systems internally, we noticed some issues when it came to attacking against decks using specific kinds of PVE cards. Many of these decks were chock-full of PVE designs which were originally created with an AI recipient in mind. They weren’t designed with the idea that a human would be on the receiving end, so many of these cards exhibited disproportionately negative play patterns or were powerful in ways that made it difficult for players to interact. It’s one thing to play against the AI and put them into stressful scenarios, but it’s a completely different feeling to experience those scenarios yourself. We knew that we would need to act to mitigate these negative moments and to help preserve the balance (and fun) of our two Siege modes.

Siege

The first important step we took was to decide that Siege would be its own format, complete with its own watch/ban list which we intend to curate over time. This means that we can ban cards from Siege mode without it impacting things like Immortal or Frost Ring Arena. (The opposite is also true; we can have cards banned in Frost Ring Arena but allow you to play them in Siege.) You can expect us to use the Siege watch/ban list more in the future to help maintain the health of the format.

While outright banning cards is an option for us, it’s not something that we wanted to resort to right away. I’m sure that since the announcement of Siege, many of you have been pouring over all your cool PVE cards and started brainstorming interesting ways to use them in this new format. It wouldn’t be very nice of us to immediately shut down many of those dreams by banning cards right out of the gate. Instead, we decided to use a different balancing tool available to us: altering existing cards. We felt that this was the best middle-ground solution for our PvE environment. It allows everyone to use the entirety of their collection, but still protects the delicate balance between attacker and defender within the Siege format.

To be completely transparent, several of these cards were also already on our radar for needing adjustments to maintain the future health of PVE content. We felt it was important to get these changes out now at the advent of Siege mode for the reasons stated above, but I do not want to create the impression that this was the only factor involved.

Turning the Right Dials

Now that you know some of the ‘whys’ behind these changes, let’s talk a bit about ‘how’ we wanted to do this.

First, when it came to reducing the power of existing cards, we tried to take a ‘light touch’ approach. We obviously don’t want an environment where it feels like certain cards are the ONLY correct choices, but we still want these powerful cards to remain viable options for your decks. Finding that middle-ground is a difficult thing to do, but it was something we sought for in these changes.

Second, we wanted to maintain the spirit and identity of the original designs.  You’ll see that most of these changes are simply numeric tweaks and not major overhauls to how cards function. This also means that you likely won’t have to relearn what these cards do.

Finally, while there were obvious cards that needed to be tuned down, we also found some cards that maybe needed a little power increase. The result is that today’s list of changes includes a mix of both ‘buffs’ and ‘nerfs,’ so there are some new toys for you guys to experiment with as well. 

Here are some examples of cards and equipment that are changing with Siege’s release:

Phenteo's Gift
  • Cost changed from 1 to 2.
  • The equipment “Terror Tined Tunic” now puts Phenteo’s Gift into your deck instead of into your hand.

Phenteo’s Gift was at the core of many uninteractive sequences from the popular ‘Terrormill’ decks, which have lived up to their name by having terrorized the Frost Ring Arena for quite some time. Unfortunately, the card was just way too efficient for its cost, and it often lead to some extremely noninteractive games where the opponent had filled up your deck with Terrorantula Eggs before you could really do anything about it. There just wasn’t a lot of risk involved in playing a 1 cost action like this, and the payoffs were often massive. We believe that by reducing the efficiency of this card (and its corresponding equipment), games against the Terrormill deck will be more interesting and a little less one-sided.

Nazhk Lookout
  • Now only triggers on opposing non-resource cards, instead of any card played.
  • The equipment “Scout’s Brooch” for Nazhk Lookout grants a 10% chance to summon a Spiderling instead of a 10% chance to summon a random Vennen.

Nazhk Lookout was another one of the cards that enabled the bury decks to truly outshine many of the other strategies available for Siege defenders. Playing against this card was exceptionally frustrating in that literally any card you played was helping your opponent accomplish their goal (even resources!). Not only that, but it was easy for player who had played the Nazhk Lookout to just quickly empty their hand and get free bury value in exchange. As such, we needed to make a bit of an adjustment to how this card triggered to open up some options of how to play against this card.

We recognize that both this card and Phenteo’s Gift are excellent campaign rewards for the Vennen deck, but even with these changes we believe that both cards will continue to be very powerful options in many PVE formats. But we also believe that modifying these cards was the correct thing to do for promoting a healthier Siege deck-building environment.

Here is the list of other cards/equipment that have been reduced in power:

  • Captain’s Parrot
    • Cost increased from 2 to 3.
  • Spiraling End
    • Now triggers at the start of the turn instead of the end of the turn.
  • Cerebral Jack-Hat
    • The deploy power adds 2 energy counters instead of 3.
  • The Ruin of Ripplewood
    • Now puts each card with cost X into their controller’s hand instead of cost X or less.
  • Contract Killing
    • Now destroys the targeted troop instead of voiding it.
  • Fever Bloom
    • Equipment “Daisy Chain” has been changed to: Deploy – Put a Dementia Daisies into your hand.
  • Spirit of Retribution
    • Equipment “Spectral Ambush Boots” now has a requirement of a single [DIAMOND] threshold to trigger the “When an opposing troop attacks” power.

Powering Up

As I mentioned earlier, we also set about to make some improvements to some existing cards this time around. We especially looked at cards that were prominent campaign rewards but which were falling a little flat. We also collected feedback from players on a wide variety of suggestions. Some of these changes are a direct result of some of your requests. (See? We do listen. Keep sending in that feedback!) Let’s look at some of the cards being improved for the Siege launch:

Form Ranks
  • Troops you control that share a class with you now get +2 [ATK] / +2 [DEF] instead of +1 [ATK] / +1 [DEF] .
  • The equipment “Steel Treads” now gives the +2 [ATK] / +2 [DEF] bonus to anything that shares a trait with you instead of just class. (Both class and race count.)

In the campaign, we introduced some reward card designs that cared about you pairing the traits of the troops in your deck with the traits of your champion. We think these cards can be fun to incorporate into decks, but they were generally not seen as powerful enough to warrant putting into a PVE deck. We wanted to put a little juice into some of these designs, and this new version of Form Ranks has been making it into some of the aggressive Diamond decks that our QA team has been tinkering with internally. (We also beefed up Thornsprout and Emberbrute from this ‘class matters’ cycle, as you’ll see below.)

Containment Sphere
  • Activation power cost changed from 6 to 3.

There were many prominent campaign reward cards that we thought we could make a little better, both so that new PVE players have access to some more powerful options early on, and also so that earning these cards as rewards felt satisfying. Containment Sphere is a great example of this—we chopped its activation cost in half! Just look at the full list of card buffs below and you’ll see several other PVE cards that were given an increase in power.

This is the list of the other cards/equipment that have been improved:

  • Hellshot Catapult
    • Cost reduced from 5 to 3
  • Phoenix Guard Harrier
    • Cost reduced from 6 to 4
  • Dream Bear
    • Stats changed to 6 [ATK] / 6 [DEF]
    • Improved deploy power to: “Deploy – Gain 6 health.”
  • Dream Skarn
    • Increased stats to 5 [ATK] / 3 [DEF]
  • Dream Turtle
    • Increased stats to 3 [ATK] / 4 [DEF]
  • Dream Spider
    • Design changed. New power: “When this deals damage to an opposing champion, bury cards from the top of each opposing champion’s deck until you bury a troop.” Still remains a 2[ATK]/2[DEF] with Unblockable
    • Equipment “Chitinous Gloves” now triggers this new power whenever a Spider you control deals damage
    • Equipment “Dream Galoshes” will allow you to trigger this new power if you discard the Dream Spider
  • Gnome Wayfarer
    • Activation power cost lowered from 2 to 1.
  • Ghost Sentinel
    • Cost reduced from 6 to 5
    • Stats changed to 4 [ATK] / 5 [DEF]
  • Arcanograft Technician
    • Cost reduced from 7 to 6.
    • Removed the resource cost from his activation power.
  • Walking Hive
    • Cost reduced from 6 to 5
  • Graveblade Skirmisher
    • Stats changed to 2 [ATK] / 1 [DEF]
    • Now has Rage 1
    • Now has Swiftstrike
  • Emberbrute
    • If you meet his deploy condition, he now also gains Speed
  • Thornsprout
    • Stats changed to 4 [ATK] / 2 [DEF]
  • Dark Descent
    • Cost reduced from 9 to 7
  • Soul of Raqqar
    • The cost reduction power now triggers while this card is either in your hand or in your deck
    • Base cost increased from 9 to 10
  • Defiler of the Fallen
    • Cost reduced from 4 to 3
  • Gareth Kay
    • Stats changed to 3 [ATK] / 3 [DEF]
  • Moqui
    • Cost reduced from 5 to 4
  • Nerissa
    • Power now triggers when this card attacks, instead of when dealing damage
  • Glendower
    • Stats changed to 2 [ATK] / 2 [DEF]

We believe these changes will have an overall positive impact on the competitiveness of the new Siege environment while also benefiting PVE overall. Our goal is to continue to monitor these formats going forward, and you can expect us to make changes as necessary to create the most fun environments possible.

That’s it for this update. Until next time… I’ll see you on the Siege battlefields!

HEXSirSleepy | Jared Saramago


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