March Balance Update

19/03/2020

Spellweaver has a removal problem.

Removal spells are spells that can “remove” creatures from the field. Most of the game’s removal is costed lower than the creatures it can deal with to give control decks a chance to catch up.

This was all good, until there was so much removal in the game that it became possible to kill everything your opponent throws at you. This is a problem in itself, and with a game where the combat mechanics shine the most, even more so. Games without battles are simply not fun.

This balance update has several goals. First, reduce the power level of some removal spells so that more creatures are played. Second, make sure this doesn’t lead to an aggressive deck becoming unstoppable. Third, fix some cards and card combinations that were too powerful and were turning games around too easily, such as Malvina, Houndmaster plus Wilderness Guardian. Also, we tried to not completely shut down existing decks, for now.

It was a complex and delicate task to deal with and we hope we did well with our limited resources. If any case, we are ready to act with more changes as soon as we need to!

Card Changes – Rage

Fireball – cost increased to 3 mana
Symbol of Fury – play boost cost increased to 2 mana
Boar Rider – the card was redesigned
Flame Serpent – cost increase to 5 mana

The dreaded Rage Rush deck has been very powerful even since Boar Rider appeared. Having a beefy 3 ATK/4 HP creature, even with the drawback, meant that it was now very hard to outclass the deck with creatures. The deck had no weak side really, and it easily finished you off with burn.

The changes to Fireball and Symbol of Fury work toward our goal of making removal spells less overwhelming – the cards are used to help clear the board in decks such as Shamans, Burning Rage and some Burkh variants. It also reduces the ability of Rage Rush to skip combat entirely and just clear any defenders the opponent throws in its way.

Finally, Flame Serpent did too much for its cost and often was the last nail in the coffin, acting as a removal spell with some face damage attached.

Hopefully, one can play against Rage Rush in a battle that involves the combat phase now!

Card Changes – Dominion

Amethyst Scarab – gain a mana crystal only if you control another Scarab
Cataclysm – the card was redesigned

We know what you are thinking – we dare change Cataclysm, the main Dominion staple card! So let’s handle this first.

With time, we have grown to believe that Cataclysm should not have been in the game in the first place. This card has probably chased more players away from the game than any other. What is more frustrating that losing everything you have by just one card, especially as a newer player who is thoroughly enjoying the creature combat aspect of the game?

We knew that the card wasn’t fun to play against, but still kept it just because we didn’t want to set limits to card design (and because it was such an iconic card in Magic: the Gathering). However, with the game having less and less players nowadays, it is time for a change.

As a part of our design goals moving forward, we will aim to greatly reduce the prevalence of decks that revolve around keeping the game field empty, or making the creatures on it meaningless. This balance update is a first step towards it, and when set rotation comes, expect more changes in this direction.

What about Amethyst Scarab? Well, you probably know the answer – ramp decks were just running crazy. With Scarab, you had virtually unlimited mana ramp in your deck that also doubled as a hard to stop win condition.

With the change, we tried to keep the card interesting, but only in Scarab-dedicated decks, which makes sense given that Amethyst Scarab is a primary card.

Card Changes – Corruption

Aamon the Immortal – the new hero skill starts on cooldown, only gains 4 life
Sanctum of the Void – skill activation cost increased to 3 mana
Word of Pain – costs one more for each additional target
Reanimate – cost increased to 4 mana

Aamon the Immortal was the hero of choice for all slower Corruption decks. Gaining 6 life along with choosing the hero skill you need was simply too good. This is a relatively slight nerf, because we wanted to keep the hero’s appeal. We hope it would be enough.

Sanctum of the Void was the main card Corruption control used to deal with large creatures, and we’d really like to see mid-range decks, so it had to be touched. Word of Pain is the main card to deal with smaller creatures. The card is too good at 2 mana and too weak at 3 mana, so this is our attempt to do something in between.

Now Reanimate… We realize that this change might mean the end of pure Reanimator decks. However, as much as we like Reanimator, everything gets old and getting your face pounded by Red Dragons and Antriels can be fun only the first couple of times.

I still think that Reanimate remains a useful spell and won’t disappear completely.

Card Changes – Order

Master Tactician – is now a Knight
Steelnor Innkeeper – stupefy power is a play boost that costs 1 mana now
Steelnor Innkeeper, Exorcism – can only shuffle enemy creature cards into the deck
Namirs Blessing – the card was redesigned

Master Tactician is without a doubt a very strong card, the backbone of Soldier decks. With the reduced power level of removal, we had to do something about Soldiers, and this change makes it a little harder to keep Master Tactician around. Master Tacticians won’t give each other a bonus.

Steelnor Innkeeper‘s first change addresses player concerns about the card, which looked completely unfair. It also adds some more strategic thinking in Soldier decks, because you must now hold Innkeeper in your hand and choose the target you want to use it on wisely.

Steelnor Innkeeper and Exorcism were used to recycle creatures such as Elinor, Magi Adept in exhaustion decks like One-Turn Heal. Such decks that wear the opponent out are not good for the game, so we remove this ability which was otherwise of limited use, as a kind of insurance against such decks appearing.

Finally, Namirs Blessing is a card that is bound to create problems with powerful new creatures we add to the game. The problem with this is subtle, but important.

New powerful creatures are a must for the game – they are probably the most exciting cards you could have in an expansion. We need to push some new creature cards to the limit, and inevitably cards that are a bit overpowered get released. When this happens, we don’t want Namirs Blessing to jump out of its corner and make things much worse…

Card Changes - Nature and Wisdom

Untamed Green Dragon – only gets a Might Emblem if it didn’t have one
Steel Sentient – removed the summoned Drone on entering the field

Untamed Green Dragon could very easily define the entire game, and even without the old Namir's Blessing around, that’s not a good thing. It was a killing machine that could keep the opponent’s board clear all by itself, and that’s exactly what we are addressing in this update. Yes, it is a much weaker card now, but it is still interesting and the change was direly needed.

Steel Sentient started popping up in “hybrid” decks between artifacts and something else. This was a sign that the latest buff we made was a bit too much, so we are reverting it to make sure artifact decks won’t dominate in the new environment. We also think it is a bit more fun if you have to actively protect your important cards.

Card Changes - Multi-aspect

Lifeforce Essence – only triggers if an enemy effect destroys your card
Occult Knight – only gets +1 SP with an Order level
Tolutan Raiding Party – only gets +1 ATK with a Rage level
Flaming Satyr – needs to exhaust to put a Target Emblem now
Dragon Assault – no longer requires Corruption, but you have to control a Dragon to play it

The Lifeforce Essence change removes the combo with Murderous Chieftain to get you a 5 ATK/5 HP Swift creature. The card intent wasn’t that anyway – it was meant to protect your side of the board in mid-range decks.

Occult Knight and Tolutan Raiding Party were just a tad too good.

Flaming Satyr was originally envisioned for Target Emblem decks that are continuing to fail to materialize. In the way it worked however, it made Rage Rush decks completely unstoppable. It came online too early, and the first player to play it usually won. Making it work one turn slower feels much fairer – let’s hope it doesn’t become a problem again!

Dragon Assault is the kind of cards that we no longer want in the game. It can quickly undo everything your opponent played, and ironically it only fit in Shaman / Totem decks, which do exactly that well enough without help. With this change, if the card becomes playable, at least it would be in some very cool Dragon decks!

Because every Dragon deck is cool right?

Card Changes – Colorless

Cleanse – removed drawing a card when played with play boost
Wilderness Guardian – only triggers off non-Summoned creatures
Wall in the North – is now a Wisdom card

The Ancient cards in the game have the issue that they are too easily played in every deck and have nearly no downside to being included. After all, in the worst case, they can be used to go up mana! That’s why if they are too useful, they end up in every deck.

With the nerf to Cleanse, we are trying to keep it as an universal “answer” if your decks direly needs one, but now it has some downside (and we work towards our goal against decks that can remove everything the opponent plays).

Wilderness GuardianMalvina Houndmaster was a backbreaking combo that needed to go. Also with Guardian, we’d like you to work a bit more to get the beefy 4 ATK / 5 HP creature, right?

Wall in the North, well, it is one of these cards that makes your opponent’s board meaningless. Our argument for keeping the card for now, is that it fills a niche that could be needed if aggressive decks run rampant. Also, being a creature, there are ways to deal with it in basically every deck.

Why was card X not changed?

There are a couple of reasons we did not change some cards.

Firstly, we realize that you value your cards and hate it when we touch a card you love and use in your decks. This is bound to happen with this update, but let’s at least reduce the chance it kills MANY cards you love at once. That’s exactly the reason we decided to not change many powerful cards, such as Burning Rage and Nightmare Stallion. This decision might bite us back, but we are taking the risk against the much bigger risk of making you hate us and leave.

Secondly, even changing this many cards took a lot of time and effort. Including more card changes would have made the task even more difficult and would have likely caused even more delayed.

And lastly, we have another opportunity to change a lot of cards at once – set rotation, which will happen before the Winter Holidays this year. But more on that later…

I hope you all enjoy the update (overall), and keep in mind that you can unbind any changed cards for the full shrine cost for full 10 days this time. Making progress requires doing bold changes sometimes!

Take care!

Yours, Ivko