Hey all, J_Alexander_HS back today to follow up on the previous post about why the idea that "when everything is broken, nothing is broken" is wrong, discuss how the meta has been shaping up, and talk about the current state of Rogue and more.
You can find the last post in the series here
Understanding the Issue
To recap from where we began:
Descent of Dragons set was created massively power-crept. This was recognizable well in advance of the release.
Shaman emerged as the front runner class, got nerfed 3 times, and Faceless Corrupter also gets nerfed
Following that first round of nerfs, Shaman is still deemed too strong along with Deathrattle Rogue, Ancharr and pretty much every Galakrond class (except Priest, LUL), and we see 7 more nerfs
Following balance changes to 11 total cards within about a 1-month span, we now sit in the middle of the Galakrond Rogue meta, which is dominating the game in terms of play and win rates
People are still talking about more nerfs, and rightfully so, given the state of things.
This state of affairs should help drive home the point that when everything is broken, everything is actually broken. Lots of different broken things don't suddenly make a not-broken game. As I said initially:
But what if 10 things are broken? Now you can’t address just one of them because knocking that one out just leaves you with a meta of 9 broken things instead. All that change would accomplish would be a decrease in variety while not giving players room to explore other, new ideas that are still oppressed by the other 9 broken things.
We are currently in a meta where the balance team is unable to effectively nerf their way out of the hole that the power creep in DoD dug them into. We saw 11 nerfs already, but the meta still isn't feeling particularly balanced. I presume we won't see more nerfs for a while as we want to know what impact the new cards will have on the meta. There's a possibility that cards like Boompistol Bully will be strong enough to help reign in the current crop of powerful lists without requiring more nerfs, but that's still several weeks away, thanks to the staggered, drip-feed release of cards (this type of release schedule sucks for this reason and others, but that's a matter for another post).
That said, If they were to address Galakrond Rogue, that doesn't mean the meta will suddenly fall into balance. The Shaman nerfs should have taught us that lesson. Nerfing Rogue simply means the next broken thing below Rogue moves up, be it another Galakrond deck, Highlander list, or something we haven't seen yet. When everything is broken, some things that are just slightly less broken than the best lists are ready and willing to step up. They just need the very best thing to leave. Would a Galakrond Warlock or Warrior deck be better than the Galakrond Rogues if another nerf hit? Would a Highlander-dominated meta be preferable to what we have now? Those are questions worth asking because it's probably what would be coming from what we currently know.
Moreover, rotation cannot solve this issue. We can build functionally-complete Galakrond Rogue decks with zero cards that rotate in April. That means anything that comes after has to be at least as powerful or better, and that's a scary thought for where it could take the meta.
The Rogue Issue
When it comes to what might be done about Rogue specifically, we want to understand what makes the deck powerful. The answer to that question is simple: a near-infinite supply of resources are thrown at the class, many of which don't cost mana to play. Rogues don't run out of gas and generate huge swing turns with powerful tempo tools.
To put that power in perspective, when I play Galakrond Rogue, one of the most common problems I run into is that I can't empty my hand fast enough (because every card I have generates more resources) to draw even more cards that don't cost mana.
Some people get confused about the power of the deck and blame Edwin. This is an easy mistake to make because seeing a large Edwin is something simple to wrap one's mind around, but he's just along for the ride. You can think of his power within the deck of symptom, rather than the cause. The reason he's powerful is because – again – the deck generates a seemingly-endless stream of powerful, cheap resources. That would be good even without Edwin the deck, and is something we should think about regarding its desirability in the game long term, from a design perspective. The constant generation of resources that didn't begin the deck; decks trying to dump resources rather than manage them; huge swing turns that shouldn't be possible.
(Yes, we know Edwin has been good throughout Hearthstone's history, but it's always in relation to the resources in the game and the answers to him. Recently, the nerf to Prep made his substantially worse – turning him from one of the best cards in the aggressive Face Rogue deck to the worst card in it, which should have been cut but often wasn't because of deck-building inertia. He's good in the Galakrond deck now because it generates nearly endless cheap resources, meaning that "going in" on Edwin is both easier to do and less costly than ever. Not to mention many classic answers to him – like BGH, Keeper of the Grove, Owl, Execute, Hex, etc – have been nerfed, HoF'd, or power crept out of the game without being adequately replaced. Ideally we want to see those answers return, but the sheer amount of cheap resources generated by Rogue is the larger matter)
The real power of the deck is – unsurprisingly – Galakrond. Each Invoke card replaces itself with a Lackey, generating value and tempo. Some of those generate further resources upon being played, doing more of the same. This value can be tailored to the situation in some instances, being both 'fast' and 'slow' resources; tempo or value tools. The sheer number of lackeys generated by the deck ensure that Togwaggle is almost always active (you used to have to play Cable Rats and Miscreants to make him work and those were your only activation tools. Now, technically, you need neither). Tog, in turn, generates tempo and value in swing turns, which might generate more tempo and value later, and we should see where this is going.
When fully invoked, Galakrond generates value and tempo, and face damage, and healing; all the stuff we know that every other Galakrond does (except Priest, LUL). The Rogue Galakrond is somewhat unique in that it can continue to generate useful resources for every stage of the game, in theory, thanks to lackeys. Rogue accidentally ends up being a control/value deck, in addition to a tempo/burst one.
What to do about it
This part is the tricky one because, as I mentioned, the Rogue Galakrond is not the only broken thing out there. Addressing just Rogue wouldn't solve that issue and we'll probably end up exactly where we are again, just with a new deck or class.
The second big issue is that this expansion was – for better or worse – built heavily around Galakronds. There are 5 hero cards, Kronx, synergy cards for 5 classes, 10 class invoke cards, and 2 neutrals. As such, turning Galakronds into non-competitive forces in the game blanks a large portion of the set itself.
The third issue is that there are few outlier cards in the deck, in terms of their performance. Except for Galakrond, the entire drawn win rate of cards in the deck can be within about 2-3% of each other. This isn't a case like Ancharr, Barnes, or Apothecary where one card carried a much larger win rate than the others, especially in the mulligan. Everything is interacting together, making a rather level deck.
The forth, and perhaps largest issue, is that constant nerfing is hell on F2P players. It's hard enough for them to make decks and keep up as is. Knowing that their investment in an expansion can be undone (and might well be undone if they make anything competitive) regularly is a simple way to get them to quit the game.
So, here are some alternative (and no mutually exclusive) ideas which might have varying impacts on remedying the issues:
(1) Nerf all Galakronds (except Priest, perhaps) to 9 mana. This is basically the Dr. Boom Treatment. Could also consider nerfing Kronx's mana. This is also an indirect nerf to all cards that say "invoke," and perhaps should be treated as such.
(2) Remove the Claws from Galakronds. These just seem like excessive and unnecessary additions to what are already good cards. The Cherry on Top, if you will
(3) Change the invoke patterns: maybe keep 2 invokes the same, then the 4th invoke adds the claw, than the 6th invoke increases the galakrond battlecry to what it is currently at 4. Maybe just remove the claws altogether.
(4) Nerf the Highlander Payoff cards: These decks are positioned well to be the best in the format in the event Galakronds get weaker. This is obviously their intended design (they're supposed to be very powerful), but they could easily become dominating in undesirable ways (same as Galakronds). We already know Zephyrs alone encourages people to play singleton decks and more is excessive. They just got pushed too far, and don't let the current crop of power creep let you lose sight of that.
(5) Hope that new cards solves the problem. Most of the best cards now are battelcries, so Boompistol might be a coffin nail against such decks, for instance, locking them out in key turns. New cards rarely do this, but it might work
(6) Improve the economy of the game in major ways. Constant nerfing is very bad for F2P players, and they'll need ways to keep afloat when deck after deck gets ripped from them.
Feel free to add anything I missed
Source: Original link
© Post "When Everything is Broken…(Part 2)" for game HearthStone.
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