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  1. #1
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    Urgent Balance Changes Needed! (Make Shadow Era Great Again)

    Hello and thanks for reading.

    As most of you have noticed, after the most recent balance changes the meta has stabilized once more. Some of the best decks lack counters apart from 1-2 other competitive lists. Teching against those lists isn't efficient with most heroes as it doesn't boost your win % enough to warrant the loss in consistency vs other builds. The top level is sadly made of ready-made lists and only few usable heroes. This isn't healthy for the game, and it will make many older players turn to other games that are more balanced and made with a bigger budget. Shadow Era's strength lies in balance and in the chance to build your own decks that can do well even on the top level. It shouldn't be turned into a weaker copy of other more established TCGs.
    Last edited by Wimbled; 12-22-2020 at 07:21 PM.
    A1: Evolution in Theory

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    1. The Top Dogs that Need Toning Down (aka Rock, Paper, Scissors):

    1.1.) Mage decks that make use of Irum: Lightning Quarry (Loest and Aramia) and their huge resource renewal boost. These decks are meaningfully countered only by Darkclaw among the decks that perform well overall in the meta.

    1.2.) Wulven decks (Darkclaw and Bloodfang) that rely on the huge resource renewal that Lakmire: Training Outpost gives while being able to seek any attachment with Wulven Prophet and recycle Prophet with Bloodpack Shaman. These decks don't have many bad match-ups either, they can be countered fairly well with Sorcerer of Endia and A Legend Rises, which gives Human heroes a big advantage over Shadow.

    1.3.) Victor Heartstriker[/B]. Victor isn't as broken as 1.1. and 1.2. at first glance but he performs too well according to the statistics. The same that applies both to Irum decks and Lakmire decks can be said about him, too: He lacks bad match-ups. If the first two are toned down, Victor needs to be toned down too, for the sake of overall balance. He is good overall, and can tech against most decks without losing much in terms of consistency



    2. The Snakes in the Grass (the already strong decks that will step up and establish a new meta when some of their worst match-ups disappear)

    2.1.) Elementalis. Elementalis is already a counter deck in the top meta, even though it suffers both Irum and Lakmire builds. Victor isn't too good a match-up either. Elementalis' early ally spam with high HP, steadfast allies is difficult to counter for most decks. Forcing him to play non-steadfast ones while buffing Yahari: The Valley of Doom would give many weaker heroes (such as Praxix and Zaladar) a possible answer to the problems that Elementalis and Ythan create.

    2.2.) Zhanna Mist. Zhanna (and Jericho Spellbaneto a lesser extent) are already well established in the meta, and will flourish when 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3. will be hit. She used to be vulnerable vs rush mages and Baduruu, but the introduction of the heal that Crimson Knight provides changed that. Zhanna already heals with her ability, and Adlard provides good heal vs ally based decks. Crimson Knight is very powerful overall, and he turns the table vs weapon heroes and rush mages. That will be too much when 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3 will be hit.

    2.3.) Lance Shadowstalker. The pre-Irum meta was mostly about Victor and Lance. Lance used to suffer Braxnonian Soldier, but this weakness (together with his weakness vs rush decks) were "cured" with the introduction of Dhalia Blackrose. Previously Lance decks used to include sub-optimal cards such as Retreat, later on Stun Turretand Covert Operative. Let's keep Lance strong but tone him down slightly together with the other top decks.

    2.4.) Humans. As things stand human decks are clearly better than their shadow counterparts, apart from rare exceptions. This is mostly due to Unaxio Squireand Sorcerer of Endia. Sorcerer of Endia is an ally with good stats, a sticky, and together with A Legend Riseshe's able to counter both Items and Abilities without being a "tech card" in the strict sense of the term due to his overall usefulness. This should be looked into.



    3. The Medicine (how to make the meta more diverse and balanced again)

    3.1.) Irum: Lightning Quarry needs to be toned down. There's no meaningful way to counter it, and among the top decks only Darkclaw is a seriously bad matchup for Irum mages. Even if you try to counter the location, you've already fallen behind due to the resource acceleration it immediately gives to it's user. It's too late already, and this archetype makes most other heroes and decks unplayable on the top competitive level.

    How to Fix the Problem: Make the location renew only 2 resources instead of 3, or give the opponent a chance to exileit for the cost of 2SE. This change will keep the deck on the top competitive level: You already benefit 3-6 resource/turn for playing it, and opponent has to pay a relatively high price of 2SE for a removal of a card that you played for free.

    3.2.) Wulven Prophet is a 2cc ally with a sticky body of 4hp. It gives you the opportunity to seek any attachment you need, according to the situation. This is too much together with Lakmire: Training Post location that makes you able to play attachments for free or for a reduced cost.

    How to Fix the Problem: Take away the seek altogether or revert the card to how it used to be (seek an attachment and put it on top of your deck). Alternatively completely change Lakmire. The interaction between these two cards is the main problem, not the cards per se.

    3.3.) Victor Heartstriker has been a problem in the past, too. With the hunter class pool he's extremely flexible, and lacks bad match-ups. He will be even more problematic in the future: His ability makes him be the best Hunter, and cards meant for the other Heroes of the tribe are usually better used by him. This is due to the overall strength of his ability: It's good vs all decks that play allies, giving access to draw while preparing any existing ally for an easy kill with his key cards that give you extra benefit for killing opposing allies (mainly Hunter's Gambit and Krugal Braggart).

    How to Fix the Problem: Now it's been clear for a long time that Victor's ability is problematic. Him being able to recycle any Hunter card gives the player extra draw while being able to control what cards he wants to recycle according to the situation. My proposal is to take away the draw altogether, or then make him only be able to recycle attachments. The alternative is to make him only recycle traps or abilities, but I don't think that this kind of change will be enough to keep him balanced.

    3.4.) Elementalis is kept in check only by the three Top Dogs. When they are toned down, he needs to be toned down, too. This doesn't necessarily require drastic measures.

    How to Fix the Problem: Remove Steadfast from Stardust Transfuser. That way Elementalis will rely on 1cc-3cc allies without Steadfast. If a non-steadfast ally with Permeat gets exiled Permeat is exiled together with the ally.

    Revert Yahari: Valley of Doom to how it used to be (it has never been a problematic card, and I don't know why it was changed in the first place. It was mostly used by Zaladar). This means that the non-controller side of the location will make the player draw 2 cards while flipping the location.

    3.5.) Zhanna Mist is one of the strongest heroes in the game, and will be problematic when the other top decks are toned down. She used to have trouble with fast decks and weapon heroes such as Baduruu, but the introduction of Crimson Knight and Adlard greatly changed this.

    How to Fix the Problem: Crimson Knight has great stats (4/6) and two good abilities. Take away the heal. Priests still need to run 5cc allies, as the 9cc turn with Tidal Wave while seeking a 5cc ally and playing it for 4cc with Anmor: Garina Road is often crucial to them. Crimson Knight will be a good option even without the heal, and Priests have access to other good alternatives such as Braxnonian Soldier or even Raven Wildheart.

    3.6.) Lance Shadowstalker Lance has been a tier 1 hero for a long time, and with the other changes he will definitely claim the top spot once more. His strength lies in consistency: He has a good early game (especially with FTA), and has answers vs most deck types. Those answers aren't strictly tech cards, they are cards that have a very high level of overall usefulness (Eriss Fateweaver vs attachments and support abilities, Dhalia Blackrose vs rush decks and anti-Lance cards such as Braxnonian Soldier.)

    How to Fix the Problem: Make Dhalia kill allies up to 4cc, not 5cc. That way Lance will have trouble with Braxnonian Soldier once more, especially as many Rogue allies have low hp and can't attack it. Braxnonian Soldier will be a good way to tech vs Lance for most human heroes, and it will force him to pack sub-optimal cards such as Stun Turret or Retreat once more. This will make him lose consistency and prevent him from becoming too strong in the meta.

    3.7.) Sorcerer of Endia is an ally with high health, decent attack, and together with A Legend Rises he's able to counter both Items and Abilities without being a "tech card" in the strict sense of the term due to his overall usefulness. This shifts the overall balance greatly in favor of humans. With Darkclaw toned down an OP ally to counter his attachments will be no longer needed.

    How to Fix the Problem: Sorcerer with 2/6 stats is an auto-include for most human heroes as it counters everything while having stats that make his removal problematic. With 3/5 stats he would no longer be automatically included in all human decks, and would be more of a tech card (which is good for the overall balance between human and shadow heroes). If necessary, the cost of his ability could be increased by 1SE on top of the stat change.

    Those are my thoughts about the meta. Thank you for the patience, I wrote this piece with the overall balance of the game in mind. Changing something leads to something else becoming better in relative terms, and I tried to predict the impact that the changes would have on the meta, and create a meta that most players would enjoy in terms of gaming and deck building experience.

    Feel free to comment and ask questions!
    Last edited by Wimbled; 12-22-2020 at 07:26 PM.
    A1: Evolution in Theory

  3. #3
    Senior Member Nijjis's Avatar
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    I think you make a pretty compelling argument, and I think it’s clear you have put a lot of thought into the matter. Although I’m in all likelihood biased having been a member of A1 for about the same amount of time as you have, generally I hold your opinion and intellect for the game in high regard. We don’t see eye to eye on every point of contention but by and large I think we agree on more things than we disagree. Of our disagreements, if I had to guess, I would say that 75% of the time I either come around to your way of thinking of my own volition, or I get proven to be wrong while stubbornly sticking to my guns.

    I’m not a gambler but I recognize when I bet against you I’m usually getting bad odds. I think I’ll put my money with you this time.

  4. #4
    1.27 Tournament Champion Raphael Majere's Avatar
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    As a returning old SE player who now primarily plays QM:

    There are still a decent amount of variety of decks in QM. Even many of the guild players are playing fun but fairly competitive decks. I have 4 accounts at varying ratings and score this month so I get to face pretty much players from all types of ratings.

    I do want to talk about NPE in relation to the decks/cards you mentioned.

    Firstly, I must give props to the DT. I stopped playing in 2013, came back recently and it's actually more fun now.

    Negative Player Experience - NPE - will vary from player to player.

    But right off the bat, if any player cannot stand being Santabombed while going second, you can stop reading and give up SE. Because Bad Santa is the OG of SE. It accelerates both players' game and TBH, the "high" a player gets when he santa and gets the card to deal the killing blow is JUST SWEET.

    But at what point do we feel stupid, aka a NPE?

    For me, facing Irum decks that gets the right combos at the right time does that. I feel stupid. Maybe it's not an NPE for you. But Irum is not the problem. The problem lies in how fast the player can refill his hand unilaterally via Amulet.

    The same problem lies with Prophet. I just watch my opponent refill his draw again and again with no need to go beyond 6 resource. (My Lakmire DC uses Machete and JD so I don't even need to hit 6 res)

    There are 3 scenarios when a player faces such "NPE" decks.

    1. He builds the exact same deck and pwns others with it.
    2. He attempts to build a decent counter to the NPE decks while still doing well against other decks.
    3. He doesn't care at all and don't mind winning less often. (he loves his Zal feedback/OTK haste deck)

    Surprisingly, my observation is that many QM players are in (2) and (3).

    The proliferation of Irum and Lakmire decks is IMHO not that bad in QM.

    The crux: who should the game please more? The casual player or the pro players?

    Based on the points above, my version of the concocted medicine would be more mild than Wimbled's.

    1. Irum: needs a change. Either that, or change Amulet. But changing Irum is likely better, because changing Amulet will just result in players using Santa instead. BUT I have no idea why Amulet was even created as such in the first place. It's simply encouraging mage players to constantly explore ways to exploit it. Till the end of time.

    2. Prophet: the proposed change as listed by DT is good. Link?

    3. Sorc of Endia. DT proposed a change, link? I remembered the proposal is decent. He's a little too strong now.

    4. Vic, Crimson Knight, Dhalia - my take, don't change them (yet). Let's not start running when no one is chasing. Vic and priests are not easy to learn for newer players. Dhalia is ok, keeping in mind that Serena and Garth can also use her. Can't nerf Dhalia just because of Lance.

    5. I support Wimbled suggestion about Ele:

    "Remove Steadfast from Stardust Transfuser. That way Elementalis will rely on 1cc-3cc allies without Steadfast. If a non-steadfast ally with Permeat gets exiled Permeat is exiled together with the ally."

    My other random thoughts about current NPE:

    There was a post from DT suggesting boosting t1 allies. Please don't. it's a VERY bad idea because we want to create:

    A Positive Losing Experience. What is that?

    Everyone has experienced those games: "DAMM, THAT WAS A GREAT GAME EVEN THOUGH I LOST!"

    That would be the optimal outcome.

    T1 CagedSavage and T2 Burning Hatred makes me wanna press Alt-F4. Every players wants to believe that he won by "skill" and not by luck. The game naturally tries to build this illusion. Even when I lose, I want to feel smart that I made decent moves for comebacks.

    The game should move in a direction whereby comebacks are realistically possible, because nobody likes to feel stupid losing to T1 CagedSavage and T2 BurningHatred. For the same reason, I believe Nathan needs a change. I have had games (so have most players) whereby I was winning until the game turns upside down due to Nathan fetching Kion. Not cool.
    Last edited by Raphael Majere; 12-23-2020 at 03:46 PM.

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    Thank you for your input guys, really appreciate it.

    Raphael: I completely agree about the NPE part. There are ways and ways of losing a game, and both DC and Irum mages are quite high on my list of annoying decks. I play them myself too, and I don't think that the experience is good for either player. There's very little interaction: You either draw well and march to an overwhelming victory, and then you draw bad and the game is more balanced. In either case the experience is far from optimal.

    I think that the scenario part was interesting: as things stand, it's very hard to meaningfully counter Irum or Darkclaw while remaining competitive overall. That's a big part of the problem. So you either play them, play something like Victor or Zhanna, or then just mentally prepare for worse results.

    I mostly agree with you, and the proposals you made would be a huge step in the right direction. I would go a bit further, but even with a more cautious approach the biggest problems would be fixed.
    A1: Evolution in Theory

  6. #6
    1.27 Tournament Champion Raphael Majere's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wimbled View Post

    I think that the scenario part was interesting: as things stand, it's very hard to meaningfully counter Irum or Darkclaw while remaining competitive overall. That's a big part of the problem. So you either play them, play something like Victor or Zhanna, or then just mentally prepare for worse results.

    I mostly agree with you, and the proposals you made would be a huge step in the right direction. I would go a bit further, but even with a more cautious approach the biggest problems would be fixed.
    You are spot on many observations. I could not have used those words "meaningfully counter" better.

    While I have the upmost respect for DT, I have a couple of reservations, which I am pretty sure are not their fault:

    "How could anyone in the DT miss the Irum/Lakmire DC NPE problem?!"

    Well, I honestly believe it's easy for them to miss it. Correct me if I am wrong, but the DT is not (meaningfully) direct employees of the game, yes? And probably neither are the Playtest players.

    The solution, IMHO, lies not with the DT.

    It lies with Agility. DT do their best for balance, let the card changes go live whenever the DT feels they are ready BUT remain agile to make revisions FAST.

    Most players play to win (duh) and they are the HUNGRIEST to find the most OP combo/decks. Let them do THEIR "job".

    Which I why I appreciate Wimbled trying to look at the "snakes in the grass" heroes/decks.

    If the game can be agile and fast to change cards, the snakes in the grass problem are relatively easier to solve.

    2 things happen whenever cards are changed:

    (a) "WHY DID YOU FKING NERF MY FAV LAKMIRE DC/IRUM MAGE/STUPID CHEESE deck?!"
    (b) Interesting, you nerf my fav deck, time to spectate/watch pros play/come up with new OP or counter decks.

    Some players in (a) will leave the game and never come back. That's ok. Because most of the loyal fans and player base are in (b).

    It's kinda a win-win because doing (b) is actually one of the most fun part of SE.

    I am hence always in support of minor but frequent changes, rather than a major revision after a long period. Because it's very hard for a low-cost small game to balance the game using the "major update" model.

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    Other aspects to keep in mind (returning player here):
    - to have a balanced range of cost for decks. Balanced meta with costly decks is worse than a handful of good reasonably expensive decks.
    - the worst kind of decks to let dominate a meta are decks that can be played more or less on auto-pilot by most players.
    - the forum is not very active, meaning meta-decks are not known so quickly that people can find the counters and help diversity

    I also think that frequent changes is better, even experimental changes. A very good example of a CCG with good balance and quick adaptation is
    the (arguably recent) Mythgard.
    From what I remember SE has never been very balanced, with extreme polarizations at times, only changed with new cards or card changes.

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    Senior Member Kylt's Avatar
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    Can’t you just counter them with other location decks?
    IGN: Kyltz

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raphael Majere View Post
    You are spot on many observations. I could not have used those words "meaningfully counter" better.

    It lies with Agility. DT do their best for balance, let the card changes go live whenever the DT feels they are ready BUT remain agile to make revisions FAST.

    Most players play to win (duh) and they are the HUNGRIEST to find the most OP combo/decks. Let them do THEIR "job".

    Which I why I appreciate Wimbled trying to look at the "snakes in the grass" heroes/decks.

    If the game can be agile and fast to change cards, the snakes in the grass problem are relatively easier to solve.

    2 things happen whenever cards are changed:

    (a) "WHY DID YOU FKING NERF MY FAV LAKMIRE DC/IRUM MAGE/STUPID CHEESE deck?!"
    (b) Interesting, you nerf my fav deck, time to spectate/watch pros play/come up with new OP or counter decks.

    Some players in (a) will leave the game and never come back. That's ok. Because most of the loyal fans and player base are in (b).

    It's kinda a win-win because doing (b) is actually one of the most fun part of SE.

    I am hence always in support of minor but frequent changes, rather than a major revision after a long period. Because it's very hard for a low-cost small game to balance the game using the "major update" model.
    I completely agree with you. That's also why I don't like the idea of making a huge update with a lot of strong 1cc allies: It will have a very big impact on the game balance, and its impossible to predict what will happen. What the game needs is balance, and small and swift updates are the best way for reaching towards that goal.
    A1: Evolution in Theory

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmo K View Post
    Other aspects to keep in mind (returning player here):
    - to have a balanced range of cost for decks. Balanced meta with costly decks is worse than a handful of good reasonably expensive decks.
    - the worst kind of decks to let dominate a meta are decks that can be played more or less on auto-pilot by most players.
    - the forum is not very active, meaning meta-decks are not known so quickly that people can find the counters and help diversity

    I also think that frequent changes is better, even experimental changes. A very good example of a CCG with good balance and quick adaptation is
    the (arguably recent) Mythgard.
    From what I remember SE has never been very balanced, with extreme polarizations at times, only changed with new cards or card changes.
    Hi! Thank you for your answer. Personally I think that the worst decks that can dominate the meta are decks that make for extremely one-sided games: Irum and Lakmire decks are good examples.
    A1: Evolution in Theory

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