Game Balance

Discussion in 'Card Hunter General Chat' started by Cribbage, Jul 14, 2021.

  1. Cribbage

    Cribbage Kobold

    I played Eastpass yesterday and enjoyed it a lot. It made me optimistic about the Knights of Unity and how much attention they will give the game. So I thought it might be a good time for me to post some thoughts I've had for a long time on CH game balance (as applied to the multiplayer game).

    First off, why should we care about having a balanced PvP game? In my opinion, PvP games live or die on game balance. Games with strong imbalances lead to low diversity in builds and tactics, which in turn leads to low enjoyment for the players. Eventually people get bored and leave and the player base dwindles - queues get longer, etc.

    So how do we know how good our game balance is? Diversity is the indicator of good game balance. In an ideal game, there would be a very large variety of viable tactics and builds that would give you a fair chance of winning. In a poorly balanced game, there would be tactics or builds that are clearly the strongest (i.e. the game would have a clear meta) and disproportionate number of players using them.

    Some indicators of balance issues include:
    • Certain builds used disproportionately often by high-ranked players. If your most successful players gravitate towards certain builds, it's a pretty sure sign that those builds win more often (both because these players know the most about the game, but also because they have sustained their own success using them). An example of this was the old burft meta - at that time about half the highest ranked players were staking damage buffs and aoe nukes. Eventually this led to some nerfs.
    • Similarly, if there are certain builds that no one uses in PvP, that is either a sign of game imbalance, or that the devs intend those skills to be only relevant to Campaign.
    • People make concessions just to include a certain card in their deck. An example of this was when I first started playing CH, I used to use Elf Warriors. It wasn't because I wanted extra mobility or access to a variety of their unique cards. It was entirely because I wanted to use Elven Manouvers. As soon as Elven Manouvers got nerfed, I stopped using Elf Warriors (or I guess, I started using them the same amount as other races).
    • The game becomes rock-paper-scissors. If you ever hear someone say "This card is fine, because you can counter it with this other card" it probably means the game has balance problems. If you're saying to people they have to build their decks a specific way just to counter a card or tactic you're using, then your tactic is having a disproportionate effect on the game. In an ideally balanced game, the matches get decided by an equal combination of deck building, in-match choices and a bit of luck - they should not be decided before the match even starts.
    What are the current balance issues in CH? In my opinion, using the principles above, we definitely have a few balance issues.
    • Draw-based builds seem to be our biggest issue. The number of them in use at high rank is completely disproportionate. This typically revolves around priests using bless, delegate, altruism and inspiration to stack some many cards on a warrior or wizard that it overwhelms any options the opposing player might have. This effectively creates an IWIN button and massively reduces the role that skill and tactics play in the match.
    • Elvish insight is possibly a problem. People are adding elves to their team purely to build Elvish Insight into their deck. Again, this seems to be based upon creating an IWIN button, because there are some rounds where knowing your opponent's cards (particularly what blocks and moves they are holding) lets you kill a toon that round, skewing the game hugely in your favour from then on.
    • All-Out-Attack might be a problem. I'm not as sure about this but I seem to see it a lot at high level. The difference with this one is that it requires you to get into position to use it (because it can be foiled in a variety of ways) so perhaps does not remove the tactical element. Still, if it is used way more commonly than other cards, it should be looked into.
    • Wizards are comparatively rare. Warriors and Priests are used way more than Wizards, so there seems to be a general balance issue with ranged vs melee.
    What are my suggestions to address balance? I'm not a game designer, so cannot say I have all the answers, but some ideas to consider might be:
    • Reduce max draw per round from 10 to 5. This would still allow draw cards to be useful in the game but would mitigate the tactic of using them to completely overwhelm the opponent in one round.
    • Put a range limit on Elvish insight. That would mean the card still has use, but (a) it might not always catch all players, (b) it would give opponents an in match they can use to mitigate it (yes, it can be mitigated by blocks, but that's entirely decided at deck building time) and (c) would often mean the player gets benefit of insight after some moves have been spent, reducing the chance of them manipulating the whole round to their advantage.
    • Do something nice for Wizards :) Sorry don't have an answer here lol.
  2. fatcat__25

    fatcat__25 Orc Soldier

    I agree with the analysis here. My only thought is that dropping the draw cap would make some draw cards (Demonic Power, Dwarven Battle Cry) essentially useless, unless you had no traits in your deck. Either the cap could be a compromise between what you said and what it is now, or else the problem should be addressed from the other end. That would involve scrutinizing delegate (which is an amethyst card, so it should be powerful), and bless, to see if they can be brought in line with reason.

    Edit: You also see werewolves and howl an awful lot, but everybody seems to agree that those need to be knocked down a notch, so the question is simply how.
    Cribbage and Sir Veza like this.
  3. Cribbage

    Cribbage Kobold

    Thanks for your reply, Fatcat. Maybe traits needed to be treated differently to explicit draw. It's explicit draws that cause the issue. Traits are not really a problem.
  4. Sir Veza

    Sir Veza Farming Deity

    BINGO! About time someone figured this out.
    esthkol, Uncoordinated and fatcat__25 like this.
  5. FcxHiro

    FcxHiro War Monkey

    Just Make it Simple as I want share my opinion.

    1. this is yes card draw game, that rock, paper , scissor happen, its balanced that way. if u want fair (Just Play Chess).
    2. you can judge much for the draw, Like my motto said, It's a matter of how you BUILD your deck, LUCK to draw the card, and the SKILL to use the draw.
    3. Nerf Insight good, for range, good idea, but just for note, insight vs elf = draw card effect only.
    4. Nerf card draw from 10 to 5 = big no, as I am not bless spam or martyr spam (Punishing Bolt, Punishing Strike, and Touch the Death give huge damage).
    5. AoA need nerf I agree, just make it not double but 50 %, example 16 damage hack with AOA = 24 Damage, 16 wih AOA x2 = 36 damage, but will you use AOA ?
    6. AOA attack without penetrating or sure strike = cushion meal.
    7. Since there is Nimbus also that can make a turn wasted, just my opinion, since I rarely bring purge haha.
    8. Good Armor = Wizard Nemesis, Good control = Warrior Nemesis, high damage wizard = your nemesis. if discuss this, vengeance will be nerf to move 1 move haha.
    Especially fire wizard.
    9. Delegate only 1 card from whole deck, but draw it at right time and have a good draw = killing time.
    10. I want Suggest to Nerf Muscle through, my favorite bring out Card (just want to confirm am I the one make it trend ?) haha, 3 move, free, and slide. Wizard nemesis and VP dominating. and Nerf Dodge lol, if you ever understand the experience :v, but I don't know how 5 roll can trigger 5x continuosly :v
    11. Now tell me how this is not rock - paper - scissor play ? Buff/debuff and Purge, draw card and punishing, aoa witt cushion, tough, swarm or block, insight vs elf, teleport with immovable or Stone Feed, Wizard with armor, armor with armor removal.
    12. For New player, keep playing, keep hunting, keep building, and have fun.
    13. Room for Discussion more, and waiting thread for new item List :v

    Best Regards
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2021
    gurjanigurjani and Sir Veza like this.
  6. Cribbage

    Cribbage Kobold

    Individual cards all have their counters, yes. But the amount of complexity possible in a deck of 33 means the game does not actually need to be rock-paper-scissors. Its only when people exploit certain game mechanics to their absolute max that you have to start talking about countering it, which is a sign that the deck in question in unbalanced.

    Draw spam is in use by the majority of the high ranked players. Why? Because it creates absurdly powerful decks. That's not deck, plus luck plus skill. That's deck, deck, deck with a tiny bit of luck and skill. If you can cycle a third of your deck every round, there's very little luck required to get to the cards you need when you need them.
    esthkol, Sir Veza and fatcat__25 like this.
  7. Very well written post, Cribbage. It addresses the main problem which is lack of balance in general. There are overpowered archetypes and any of us that want to win a lot lean on those and it does make the meta boring. Too many cards/items in the game are not competitive because they are part of a weak archetype (acid wiz, bash warrior, ghost, radiation priest, etc). These cards/items are not well supported and so are just junk really in the meta that we have today. I am mostly anti-nerf. I believe that game balance is best achieved by bolstering those weak archetypes with new stuff that helps them (assuming Knights of Unity are planning to release a new set), while also introducing tech (items designed to counteract powerful meta archetypes). What about a priest card that attached a trait to target character: "Everytime this character draws a card, they must discard a card, duration 2."

    Like FxxHiro, I also do not think limiting card draw per turn down to 5 is a good idea. But I am okay with nerfing Bless, the main offender. As for Elvish Insight, I feel like elves do not need nerfing. It's a powerful effect, but like you said it is one of the reasons people will play elves. Otherwise elves are the race that needs bolstering, really lacking strength outside of the "hiding insight priest" and pathfinding/grudge wizards. Players who play those two take on big risk for big payoff, and I do think that is balanced as is.
  8. Frostguard

    Frostguard Thaumaturge

    I thought I'd join in, because this is an interesting conversation.

    I believe that there's an aspect of game balance that's very often overlooked. People talk about how cards are balanced or not balanced, and you often run into people arguing that this or that card has counters and so it must follow that there's nothing wrong with them. A rock-paper-scissors nature is also often brought up, and while it's certainly unavoidable to some extent, I think there's something that needs to be paid more heed when it comes to card games with deckbuilding.

    There are several facets to what I'm trying to say.

    My favorite example is Flatten. Assume that some items with this card are made available for players (warriors, one would assume). Would that be balanced? Now to decide that, first let's answer another question. Would there be counters to it? Oh sure, quite many, in fact! Parry, any block that blocks melee, in fact, Cushioning Armor, Impenetrable Nimbus, Negative Energy Being, Toughness... Need I list more?

    Then, once again: would it be balanced? I think we all can tell that absolutely not. I believe that the chief issue here is the disparity between what happens if you happen to draw the counter versus what happens if you do not. The two potential outcomes that hinge on basically just luck of the draw are massively different, which greatly amplifies the random factor in the game. You have that Parry and it works, their big attack is nullified; you don't have it or you roll one, and you're just dead. That's just no fun. At that point you might as well just flip a coin and let that decide the winner.

    I believe that this is something important to keep in mind. It's not enough if something has counters. If having or not having the counter at one specific time can decide the outcome of the entire game more often than not, then counters or not, that's just bad design. It diminishes the skill aspect of the game, and arguably the deckbuilding part, too, if it's widespread enough.

    That's one thing. Another thing is that as in any properly designed game, bringing counters against a specific strategy is not free. It takes up precious resources, and that can negatively affect your odds against opponents not running that specific strategy. That's all well and good; that's how it always should be. But if a certain strategy becomes prominent enough, it can warp the entirety of the game around itself.

    Let's start with a hypothetical scenario. Let's have three deck archetypes, for the sake of simplicity. Let's call them A (super powerful, almost unbeatable deck), B (deck specifically built to counter A) and C (everything else). Let's say that A wins against everything else at a rate of around 90%, because it's just that good. There are very specific counters to this strategy, and people started running deck B, which can defeat A 95% of the time. However, the counters, while very effective, only really work specifically against what A is doing, and packing them into a deck in a sufficient density to reliably counter A results in a lot of dead cards in other matchups, meaning that B will keep drawing useless cards when matched against anything else, mustering only a meager 15% winrate against C.

    I made the numbers extreme on purpose to better illustrate the point, but my question is - is this a good place to be? Technically it is balanced, but you'll notice that the winner is basically decided before the game even starts. It also leads to some really strange cases when a specific deck can prey on the game entirely exactly because while the counters to it exist, they're just too impractical to include in normal decks, so nobody does it anyway.

    It might feel like idle philosophizing, but I believe that things like this did happen. We all remember the menace that was burfft. Were there counters to it?

    Smoke Bomb! For example. Pretty sure we could think of a few more if we wanted to. But let's face it, filling your decks with Smoke Bombs is just begging to get your head beaten in by warriors. Among other things.

    Point is, if there are counters to a strategy but they're too impractical, too unwieldy, demand too much of an opportunity cost to be included in a deck, then that might still very much be an imbalance.

    A few specific cases. Most of these are personal gripes with some cards, so there's definitely some bias on my part.

    All-out Attack just doesn't feel like good design to me. Sure, you can be clever with it, use cantrip moves or somesuch, but it's just not reliable - and most people I see tend to end up just blasting it in an opponent's face anyway, explicitly banking on them not having drawn blocks or those blocks not working. It's a similar case to Flatten, just less extreme, of course. I have been hit for 28 damage by an All-out-boosted Anvil strike on turn one through a Parry. It doesn't feel good. It doesn't feel good, not because I'm losing, but because my opponent made a decidedly bad move, and got rewarded for it with an almost instant win because the odds were in their favor. With All-out Attack, just too much hinges on that one draw or one die roll. It's like throwing tactics to the wind and leaving the game up for chance.

    I personally (still) find Impenetrable Nimbus obnoxious beyond comparison, and it's a similar issue at its heart. You either draw your purge, in which case the game carries on as normal, or you don't, and your opponent can just do as they please without any heed or regard to consequences or repercussions. It doesn't feel like good design because there's just no way around it. It makes the game altogether binary, in a way, two radically different branches that hinge on drawing that one card or not.

    People have brought it up that Martyr Blessing is probably more powerful than Nimbus. They're possibly right. But power level is not so much the issue here. Martyr Blessing doesn't strip you of all choice, of all agency. You can still damage someone with Martyr Blessing, you can still kill them. You can (and you have to) weigh the pros and the cons. Is giving them extra cards worth the trouble? Can they hurt me more in the timeframe it takes me to deal with them than what would be worth taking? It adds choice, instead of removing it, and if you don't draw your purges, you can still go around it, just at a very high cost and risk.

    I guess that's it for now; just my two cents.
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  9. Sir Veza

    Sir Veza Farming Deity

    My personal hope is that you PvP clowns will get your collective acts together, and stop screwing around with my farming decks! With all due respect, of course.
    AOA? Remove AOA from wolf form, and you can't draw 4 in a row. To draw 3, you'd have to run humans and be VERY lucky.
    Card draw? BM nerfed most of it before they realized the nerfs didn't work and limited PvP card draw. And now people are complaining that that isn't good enough. REALLY?
    Back in the day I loved playing around with infinite draw decks. They were a fun distraction, but usually slower than purpose-designed sure-kill decks.
    Personal request: Please get your sh-t together and stop crapping in my playground. Thank you.
    esthkol and fatcat__25 like this.
  10. Cribbage

    Cribbage Kobold

    Thanks for your reply, Sussurrus. I think balancing means a bit of bolstering and a bit of nerfing. Introducing specific cards as counters to specific OP tactics/builds is actually one of the steps towards making CH a rock-paper-scissors game where the battle is decided largely before the first move is even made. If we can all agree that the most fun battles are those of equally matched players using their skill and wits to decide victory, we should all be pretty wary of making a game where you can be 90% sure of the result just by looking at what trait the opposing priest drew.

    I see a lot of people citing Bless as the problem card for draw, but it's really not. Altruism is probably responsible for more cycling than Bless is. Even Inspiration might be, particularly coupled with Altruism. If we don't reduce the cap on draw, we need to do small nerfs to all of those cards, plus some others like delegate and dwarven cry. Maybe something like this:

    Bless ... only lasts for one round.
    Altruism ... either raise the roll required to 5, or make it discard on 4 and 5.
    Delegate ... reduce number of cards draw to 2, or draw a less effective move with it (maybe a 1 move instead of 3)
    Inspiration ... maybe remove from game and change itemisation so that cards previously with this now have something like demonic draw, so that spamming 4 inspirations in a turn actually has a downside.
    Dwarven Cry ... remove buffs on use perhaps, so that people can't stack 5 nimbles on a dorf who has +5-7 damage per hit

    Personally, I would rather just reduce draw limit, and I'd be interested in why you think it is a bad idea, since the only real benefit (if you can call it that) of having it set at 10 is that people can stack an overwhelming number of cards in one round, which seems like a scenario we should be preventing.

    I 100% agree that Elves do not need a nerf in general, but the way to promote inclusion of Elves is not to give them one trick that people care about and a bunch more that people do not. Insight should be nerfed, but perhaps some of their other skills could be improved or the itemisation changes to make them more accessible. I expect Slippery and Silver Smith would be very attractive if they could be more easily included in builds.
  11. Kalin

    Kalin Begat G'zok

    What if we change Inspiration to Psychic?
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  12. FcxHiro

    FcxHiro War Monkey

    My Last Opinion in this forum since it's kinda bias and personal, Since it's why we Discuss ? :v.

    Don't compare when u can't make a deck, or when u Hesitate to build that kind of Deck. If you hate or you not capable, just progress and less complain, this game take time to progress, nothing instant.
    Even when you fight people with 100% similar deck and composition, it's still like paper, rock, scissor play, there is luck and skill shown.

    Nerf request make sure you see future figure, I ever bully full draw card, 12 card in hand, 1 punish and finishing atk card done. rage quit,
    Martyr, I kill it when I see can kill and not hesitate to attack.
    Nimbus ?, just wait next turn if possible and finish it.
    When you at my length time play, you can see it as good cycle progress.

    It's a matter of calculation and use your brain also, plus emotion control.
    Deck Build, Draw Luck, Skill Execution is as simple like that.

    Just for my self, I see no deck that my prime deck cant fight, same Like Sucre build, he have build to fight for most deck. and there no 100% guarantee win, No Win Rate over 80% over 1.000 Match +++
    Just matter of map issue, and some draw order. and I like to have Fun Build, especially if u see Robauke and RedPhosphoru - Unique Deck.
    I dont have much my prime time to have fun and make some joke play, then I not make much new build.

    See ya, and thank you for the Discuss.

  13. Blizzrd33

    Blizzrd33 Orc Soldier

    In general, I'd like to see more balancing of the weak cards than nerfing of the strong ones.
    BM's approach to nerf cards from time to time was a band-aid methodology which just created more and more items that were junk and just filling up people's collections.
    If the weaker cards got a small or medium power boost, it would encourage experimentation by deckbuilders to use them keep the meta environment active.
    Sir Veza and fatcat__25 like this.
  14. esthkol

    esthkol Lizardman Priest

    As a fellow PvE player, I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. I want the game to be fun for everyone, PvP and PvE alike.

    The rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock type meta is something that comes up in a lot of games, and I don't think it's necessarily indicative of poor design. Rather, I would first consider if the problem arises from the shifting culture about how we play games. For the 'serious gamer', every game becomes an optimization problem -- what is the most efficient and/or effective way to 'win'? In Skyrim, it is the stealth archer. Guides abound for every sort of digital game, even down to the 'kid games'. Even chess has this issue. Here in Cardhuntria, it sounds like draw spam is presently the preferred shortcut to the higher end of PvP play.

    So if it gets nerfed, what build is next in line to take its place?

    I would like to see a solution that increases diversity in PvP play. Perhaps that is limiting card draws to, say, 6 (traits excepted). Or limiting maximum hand size to 4 or 5 (free cards excepted) at all times. Perhaps simply increasing wizard hp -- to indirectly encourage more punishing bolts or control -- would better resolve the issue.
    Sir Veza, fatcat__25 and doublequartz like this.
  15. Cribbage

    Cribbage Kobold

    That's a great idea :)
  16. yakkow

    yakkow Kobold

    The fact that we're seeing so many more 1700+ and 1800+ rating players, has the game become more imbalanced?
    Why the much higher rating players?
  17. Auburn

    Auburn Guild Leader

    Why nerf anything?

    In times past, I started a brand new character and could hit 1600 with them in about a week of play. Yes, to hit 1700, I'd need to get a legendary item or two
    and then build around it, but I wasn't using some secret OP tactic. I'd just get 2 warriors with bejeweled swords and a cleric with some 8 hp heal potions.
    But then, and here's what the nerfers don't seem to understand, then I'd think during the battles, applying strategy and counterstrategy. Avoiding other players
    traps as much as possible and setting my own. It doesn't matter what you nerf, the dominant players will find new builds and play them well.

    So, while I wish wolf and bless had not been nerfed. It doesn't totally matter that they have. But when players develop other builds and dominate with them, don't
    think it's because of the cards. It's not the cards.
  18. Sir Veza

    Sir Veza Farming Deity

    In the case of werewolves, I think it actually was about the cards. Great value, low cost.
    I've removed the Lycan Form cards from my PvE builds.
    It was fun while it lasted, but my straight decks are now better.

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