Balance suggestions for racial skills

Discussion in 'Feedback and Suggestions' started by dmar314, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. dmar314

    dmar314 Goblin Champion

    Right now I think dwarf racial skills are by far the strongest and elf racial skills are the weakest, with humans pretty well balanced and diverse. I understand that dwarves only have a movement of 2, but this should be balanced by the high hp, not by also having the strongest racial skills.

    Suggested buffs:
    Battlefield/Advanced battlefield training: add draw a card.
    Lateral thinking: Each human may discard a card and draw a card.
    Elvish mobility: Enemy elves always move first (does not need to be added to card text, just mechanics)

    Suggested nerfs:
    Dwarven battle cry: All other dwarves draw a card
    Toughness: Limit to one per deck

    Some analysis comparing racial skills that cost a token and tokenless racial skills between the classes.
    Best dwarf skills that cost a token:
    Advanced ferocity - dwarven battle cry, war cry, blind rage.
    Perfect ferocity - battle cry, frenzy aura, blind rage
    Superb ferocity - battle cry, 2x charge
    Perfect toughness - 2x toughness, rusty armor

    Best human skills that cost a token:
    Advanced command - sprint team, flanking move, run
    Command - sprint team, walk team, slowed
    Trained command - dash team, walk team, walk
    Inspired command - inspirational thinking, shuffle team, parry
    Advanced flexibility - 2x leadership, slowed
    Superb command - all out attack, shuffle team, parry

    Best elf skills that cost a token:
    Advanced/Perfect evasion: Slippery, elvish mobility, walk/run
    Escapist - slippery, insight, walk
    Perfect insight - dodge, pathfinding, dangerous maneuver
    Superb footwork - 2x quick run, shuffle
    Insight - 2x insight, walk
    Evasion - 3x flanking move

    The three ferocity cards are probably the best racial skills in the game right now when running three dwarves because of the incredibly powerful dwarven battle cry. If triple dwarf teams dominate the top of the multiplayer board, it will be because of these cards. Dwarven battle cry gives 3 bonus cards for the cost 1 one card with no drawback, unless the other team happens to also be playing dwarves (which really just encourages a stale "everyone plays three dwaves" meta). An astounding +2 card advantage, can be matched only with inspiring presence, and then only situationally. Plus the frenzy aura and blind rage are good for damage stacking, especially when paired with step attacks which dwarf warriors are masters of. War cry is a great card too to counter parry and hard to pin down stacking. The 2x charge option is good for mages, as a movement of 5 can outrun any other race. So the powerful battle cry does not come with any drawback cards (blind rage is not actually a drawback card).
    Perfect toughness is great for dwarf mages, as toughness gives almost unconditional card advantage (it replaces itself while nullifying any enemy attack). This is stronger than normal card advantage, since it specifically invalidates an opponent's attack card. Toughness will also work when being attacked from behind, which is pretty bad for the strategy situation (usually you are safe using a large attack when an enemy is facing away from you). Against a dwarf wizard, one always has to use a weaker attack against them first, which gives the wizard time to escape and is often not doable with only up to two attacks per turn. So not only does the 2x toughness racial skill have two cards which give a card advantage, it also makes life extremely difficult for your opponent. Rusty armor is a weak card to come with the two toughness, but there is still two total card advantage in this skill slot, which is in par with battle cry and more powerful than anything elves or humans have. Combined with the high hp, makes any dwarf ridiculously hard to kill.

    Suggestions to bring dwarves in line: Change battle cry to only draw cards for other dwarves. This keeps is a strong gold card with +2 unconditional advantage that doesn't rely on range or line of sight, but doesn't make it the strongest card in the game. Usually paired with strong cards so those dwarf skills are still strong picks. Change perfect toughness to have only 1 toughness and another gold card instead of two toughness. Will still be a strong pick because toughness is very powerful. (I can't think of a way to nerf toughness in a satisfying way and still have it be gold quality, but limiting it to 1/deck should be enough. Limiting battle cry to 1/deck is NOT enough, it is way too strong at +2 card advantage).

    I like where humans are at in general, since you can pick between powerful team moves, card draw for self, card cycling for allies, or a mixture of extra offense and defense (all out attack and parry). Note that the inspiration thinking cards are well-balanced since inspirational thinking gives +1 card advantage and the items with it have no other card advantage, compared to the best dwarf skills which are total +2 card advantage. The one thing I'd like to see is some of the comically unplayable human cards buffed, the battlefield training cards and lateral thinking. Those both generate negative card advantage, or in other words spend a card while gaining the equivalent of nothing. For lateral thinking you need to spend a card to discard a card and draw a card (2 cards spent, 1 card gained). For battlefield training you spend two cards to give an ally one card. I think battlefield training/advanced battlefield training can be made actually playable by adding "draw a card" to then. Yes, that would promote deck cycling, but it would not be out of line here since those cards aren't pair with any other deck cycling or draw cards. It would be no more of a deck cycler than 2x elvish insight already is. I feel that the battlefield training cards still would be very niche cards even with draw a card added to them! They are just woefully underpowered right now right now. Lateral thinking of course is just pathetic for a silver card. I suggest making it sort of like a "leadership lite" and allowing all humans to discard and draw a card. This would make a playable silver card without generating card advantage and give humans a small racial benefit similar to elvish mobility and dwarven battle cry. It doesn't interfere with leadership since leadership and lateral thinking don't appear on the same items.

    Elves definitely have some strong options with slippery, pathfinding, and insight. Slippery is great for warriors to slip behind a target at the beginning of a round and attack them from behind with a large attack (not so useful against toughness) and occasionally for mages who have been pinned yet have managed to survive until the next round. If your warrior gets hit with frost stacks, all you need to do is make sure you get the first move next turn and you can slide right up to the enemy wizard and attack it. Of course, it's all in all just an occasional positional advantage (no offensive or defensive bonus and no card advantage), but any item with slippery is a strong choice for a melee attacker when paired with other good cards. Pathfinding is also a very strong card (for warriors at least), giving +1 card advantage and often drawing useful step attack cards. Shedding frost is a great bonus too. I'd rate pathfinding as good as inspirational thinking in its effects. Also of note is insight, which is great because it replace itself and can also give enemy information and draw out blocks. It has a niche combo with devastating blow. What is unfortunate about elf racial skills is that you can only get one of the "best" cards (pathfinding and slippery) per deck and they are usually paired with rather boring move cards. The best slippery cards are paired with either elvish mobility or insight as well as.... walk or run. Pathfinding either comes with dodge (which is a great card) and a movement or all normal movement cards. Insight comes with walk. Setting your elf up with these items is, for the most part, setting yourself up to be stuck with a handful of movement cards rather than drawing power cards like toughness. The only card advantage elves have is with pathfinding, and even its synergy with step attacks is diminished by the fact that it is always paired with non-offensive move cards. I'd suggest buffing elves by replacing some of the normal move cards (or even drawback trait cards) on most elf racial skills by some new elf-only cards that make elves worth playing. For example: lightness aura - all movement ignores encumber (armor 1 on a 5+ roll, don't keep). Or elvish finesse (trait, duration 2, all melee attacks gain hard to block 2). Even if you don't make new elf cards at least put some of the more interesting moves (scamper, scuttle) in place of the boring runs and walks. Yes, each race has only 4 cards unique to that race, but humans have access to otherwise hard to get team pushes as well as all out attack and parry (team pushes are only on the helm and all out attack is only on helm and attack skill). Dwarves get access to war cry, blind rage, frenzy aura, charge, reliable mail, and parry (war cry is only on helm, blind rage only on weapons, frenzy aura is only on armor, charge is only on boots). The only notable hard to get cards that elves get are quick run and in one case dodge (quick run is only on boots and dodge is on weapon, helm, or shield). Elves should be masters over encumber even more than just the one-off uses of slippery, mobility, pathfinding (of which only one each can be in a deck, compared with 12+ frost cards). I'd also suggest making elvish mobility consistently make opponent's elves move first, so an elf mage can reliably run away from an elf warrior using it (right now it's just random which team moves first).

    Now for racial skills that don't cost a token:
    Best dwarf:
    Untrained toughness: Shrug it off, parry, reliable hide armor
    Novice ferocity: 2x charge, flimsy block
    Raging battler: Reliable mail, 2x blind rage

    Best human:
    Novice command: run team, cautious sneak, vulnerable
    Untrained command: shuffle team, walk, flimsy block
    Untrained flexibility: Retreat, flanking move, slowed

    Best elf:
    Untrained footwork: Escaping run, dangerous maneuver, walk
    Perilous agility, 2x flanking move, walk
    Untrained evasion: Slippery, walk, superstitious

    Most of the dwarf tokenless skills are solid, offering a range of options from encumber removal and card advantage through parry to pure offense via blind rage to mobility via charge. These are all strong, effective cards to add to your deck for no tokens (I wouldn't say any of them are unbalanced, they are just very strong compared to the human and dwarf options). Pretty much all of the human tokenless skills have either mostly dead cards or disadvantage cards. Novice command is probably best because run team is a solid card, cautious sneak is ok, and vulnerable at least cycles. Untrained command has three cards with very small or niche effects, but at least no drawbacks. Retreat in untrained flexibility is niche, and slowed is a straight disadvantage. Overall the human tokenless skills are not fantastic, and none of the choices are as solid as the dwarf skills. Elves of course have it worst on the tokenless end as well. They have more tokenless options, but I didn't include anything with cowardly and loner because those are extremely crippling (loner combined with elves' low hp is awful and cowardly can shut down any build except dedicated healer priest). It's probably telling that I went through the entire campaign with an elf warrior without putting a skill in the elf skill slot because I didn't want to spend a token and I'd rather have the 3x walk than a crippling disadvantage. Of the three marginally usable elf skills, two of them are epic and legendary, and even those give mostly boring move cards. Untrained evasion is useable because slippery is quite good and superstitious isn't always completely crippling (if you play around it you can kill an enemy and still be ahead after discarding your hand). I'd recommend revisiting human and elf tokenless skills at making them at least as strong as the dwarf tokenless skills. (Or you can replace some of the cards in the dwarf skills with disadvantages such as Ouch! and Trip to make them more punishing like the elves and encourage everyone to use tokens).
  2. eyhung

    eyhung Kobold

    I think this is a really good summary of the racial cards and the developers would be wise to heed this. I just picked up a copy of the Level 18 Epic Perfect Flexibility and thought "Who cares? Two Advanced Battlefield Training = Two awful cards."
    Flaxative likes this.
  3. Flaxative

    Flaxative Party Leader

    Great essay on the racial skills, dmar314. I hope the devs listen!
  4. Dingding123

    Dingding123 Orc Soldier

    Lots of good feedback here. I share your sympathy for elvenkind.

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