predicting

Boldly predicting the next nerfs

Some say they are bold in predicting the power level of Hearthstone’s upcoming cards. Others, like Trump, go further, attempting to predict the entire meta. I, however, scoff at these mere mortals. While they scuffle in the dirt, I shall perform the grandest prediction of all; not only what cards will be good, and how the meta will evolve, but the inevitable nerf patch. My incredible powers of foresight will infallibly divine what and how Blizzard shall nerf or rotate cards. (Disclaimer: powers of foresight may be inaccurate. Gamehaus accepts no responsibility for any golden crafts).

Duskbreaker: 4 to 5 mana

This dragon may be too fiery at 4

“Dragon Priest is a strong archetype that we want to support. However, Duskbreaker has been overperforming at 4 mana. We found that players felt that little they did until turn 4 against a Priest mattered. Additionally, we don’t want to compel Priests to only run Dragons, and we think that changing the cost from 4 to 5 mana will allow other Priest archetypes more opportunity to shine.” – Future Ben Brode (probably)

Duskbreaker feels a lot like the Spreading Plague or Maelstrom Portal of the set; an incredibly strong anti-aggro tool given to a class that was already over-performing. The ability to stall early game board snowballs was one of Priest’s few weaknesses, and this perfectly slots into that niche. Obviously stronger in a Dragon Priest shell, Raza Priest could relatively easily build a limited Dragon shell around it with cards like Netherspite Historian, Primordial Drake and Drakonid Operative.

4 mana for a Hellfire and a 3/3 is frankly disgusting value, even with the required Dragon synergy. Compare it to the old Blackwing Corruptor, which cost 1 more for only +2/+1, wasn’t a dragon and only targeted one minion. That card was an auto-include in Dragon decks, and was far less powerful.

Duskbreaker provides exactly the kind of board sweep Dragon Priest wants on 4 to push into its turn 5 and 6 power plays. Even if it isn’t drawn, Netherspite Historian can discover it. It’s the kind of card a meta is defined around, and we may see a tough time for all tempo and aggro decks as a result. A nerf is almost inevitable.

Jasper Spellstone: 1 to 3 mana

“Druid as a class is meant to have limited removal options. Jaspar Spellstone allowed them to deal with large minions far too easily. We want to keep the classes distinct, and preserving Druid’s identity means lowering the power level of their hard removal. In light of this, we are increasing the cost of Jaspar Spellstone from 1 to 3.”

Druid nerfs in 2018? It could be more likely than you think. After all, Druid is arguably the most-nerfed class in Hearthstone history. Jasper Spellstone threatens to add to its tally. The card doesn’t look too scary on its own; going from mediocre at first to high value when upgraded. But like with Spreading Plague, it shores up a core Druid weakness. Firstly, let’s look at the card in its base, non-upgraded state. At 1 mana for 2 minion damage, it’s very comparable to Living Roots, a card that used to be played in Jade before rotating out. But the card’s true power is that it quickly scales up.

While decent early, its usefulness multiplies with other strong Druid cards like Branching Paths, Ultimate Infestation, Malfurion the Pestilent and Earthen Scales. Even a single upgrade makes the card incredibly potent; a 1 mana Shadowbolt in a class that is meant to have poor removal. After two upgrades it’s a 1 mana fireball on their Scalebane. Aggressive classes will be caught between going wide, and losing to Spreading Plague, and going tall, and losing to Jasper Spellstone. The card offers Druid a huge amount of sustain to reach its late-game Big or Jade minions. It’s essentially a Druid Shield Slam. As such, a nerf will likely be necessary; and with recent memory fresh, Blizzard likely won’t pull any punches.

Druid probably shouldn’t get a Shield Slam

Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Hall of Fame’d

Best off reunited with her best buddy Flamewaker in Wild?

“Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a strong Mage card, and we like how it encourages the use of spells. Unfortunately, the mana discount limits the design of cool, interesting spells. In order to allow us to print exciting spells for Standard, we’ll be moving it to Wild where the craziest combos belong.”

One of the scariest prospects of Kobolds and Catacombs is that Quest Mage will no longer need the Quest. Leyline Manipulator allows for Exodia Combos without a clunky spell generation engine and going down a card. Exodia Mage could look a lot more like Freeze Mage, and be far more consistent as a result. The deck might not be overwhelming, but Blizzard has always been leery for OTKs. Infinite damage even more so. If the deck becomes a lot more consistent, even the upcoming Ice Block rotation may not be enough to quell it.

Since Blizzard tends towards addressing the Classic and Basic cards, it’s likely Sorcerer’s Apprentice will come onto the chopping block. Not only does it allow that OTK, it raises design space issue for other spells that could otherwise go “infinite” with the right triggers.

Hall of Fame seems like the most sensible outcome

Some other random Basic card for no reason

Team 5 is nothing if not unpredictable. Like how Hex was nerfed out of nowhere in the recent balance changes while Ultimate Infestation went unchanged. Or how Molten Giant had a cost increase despite Handlock struggling. It’s likely that just to spice things up, they’ll nerf a core (if arguably overpowered) control tool for a struggling class out of nowhere for little reason.

I don’t know, Equality or something?

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

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shulk

Smash 4: Improving Shulk

Smash 4 is an incredibly balanced game, especially in comparison to previous entries in the series. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any room for improvement. Throughout the first eighteen months of the game’s life, Smash 4 saw numerous balance patches that buffed and nerfed various characters. However, these balance patches stagnated shortly after the release of Bayonetta. This has slowed down the conversations about balancing the roster to some extent. The rumors regarding a Nintendo Switch port of Smash 4 have been circulating for quite some time. Most people can agree that it’s fun to imagine and speculate on what an enhanced port can offer. Among the many things that are fun to speculate on include balance readjustments. I’d like to talk about what a balance readjustment would look like for Shulk.

Shulk is a mechanically unique character thanks to his Monado arts. How players use Shulk’s Monado arts is part of what makes him such an entertaining character to watch in competitive play. It’s simply exciting to see how players use certain Monado arts in certain situations. This mechanic gives Shulk’s play style an identity of its own. It is also one of few areas of Shulk’s move set that doesn’t need to be adjusted. The amount of time allowed for each Monado art in addition to their advantages and disadvantages feel perfect as they are now. With that out of the way, let’s talk more about what needs to (or doesn’t need to) be changed for Shulk’s move set.

Shulk Shouldn’t Hold the Monado

One of the most common suggestions that I’ve heard on how to improve Shulk is to make him actually wield the Monado when fighting, instead of having it holstered on his back. While I see and understand that perspective, especially when considering every other sword-user in the game wields their sword, I think it’s integral to Shulk’s design that he keeps the Monado holstered.

The game Shulk derives from, Xenoblade Chronicles, is one primarily focused on wonder and exploration. Combat is a supplement to the game’s emphasis on exploration. Most of the time in Xenoblade, the player is looking at Shulk (or other characters) running across the world with their weapons holstered. With this in mind, I think it only makes sense for Shulk to keep his weapon holstered. It represents both the game he comes from and who he is as a character. Design-wise, it’s only fitting.

I understand that most people want Shulk to wield the Monado since that would inherently make his attacks come out faster, thus giving him better frame data. However, I trust that Shulk having his weapon holstered was incorporated into his design in order to properly represent Shulk’s original game. Because of that, I feel that we shouldn’t consider Shulk holding the Monado when thinking about improving his move set, particularly with his frame data. Instead, I think a more optimal solution should be to improve the speed at which Shulk pulls the Monado off of his back.

Jab and Tilts

With his stance out of the way, let’s talk in more detail about Shulk’s actual move set. In terms of his options on the ground, Shulk is quite middle of the road. He has a frame-5 jab, which isn’t the best in the game, but far from the worst. The move itself does a decent twelve percent of damage. As far as jabs go, Shulk’s is serviceable as is, and I don’t feel it needs any particular improvement from how it is now.

Shulk’s tilts, on the other hand, need some refinement in regards to their frame data. Shulk’s fastest tilt is his down tilt, which has its hitbox active on frame 10 and 11. The down tilt itself is great for comboing into aerials, so I feel that this tilt is the only one of the three that can be left alone.

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Moves like Shulk’s forward tilt don’t need much revision, but still need a little bit of improvement. Image: YouTube

Shulk’s forward tilt has an active hitbox on frame 12 and 13 and deals a solid 13.5 percent of damage and a rather meager knockback. I would prefer this forward tilt to come out at the same speed as Shulk’s down tilt. The forward tilt could go out as fast as frame 9 or 10, with the damage output being lowered to 11-12 percent of damage. This would help make forward tilt safer and thus more reliable as an option. As is, Shulk’s forward tilt feels a bit stronger than necessary. Aesthetically, it appears to be an attack that should come out quicker than it actually does.

Lastly, Shulk’s up tilt currently has its hitbox active on frame 11 and 12. It deals the least amount of damage of all the tilts at 8.5 percent, but deals the greatest amount of knockback. Aside from possibly making the move come out a frame or two faster, I think this up tilt needs to cover a slightly wider area to be more effective at intimidating opponents.

Dash Attack and Smash Attacks

Shulk’s dash attack suffers from having quite a bit of ending lag, making it far from optimal to use in most situations. To make this attack has an active hitbox on frame 15 and 16. While this dash attack has been buffed before, I think it still needs a bit of improvement. Similar to Shulk’s foward tilt, I would gladly take the active hitbox to come out sooner, by about 4 or 5 frames ideally, and a reduction to ending lag, in exchange for a reduction in a two or even three percent reduction in percent damage. Dash attacks across Smash 4’s roster are best when they’re quick and effective at setting up additional moves, neither of which can be currently be accomplished with Shulk’s dash attack.

In regards to Smash attacks, I don’t feel like there’s too much to change. Shulk’s Up-Smash and Forward-Smash are a bit slow but are very strong to compensate. The only Smash attack with Shulk that I feel needs some revision is his Down-Smash. The damage and knockback are fair from this attack, but it’s far too slow to consistently rely on. Additionally, it has some brutal end lag after the attack has finished that goes on far longer than it needs to. This is one of the few instances in Shulk’s move set that I think the attack should only be tweaked through giving it quicker active frames and a reduction on end lag, with nothing in exchange for it.

Aerials

Shulk is surprisingly very good in the air thanks to his effective aerials. Currently, his neutral air and forward air are his two best aerials. For his forward air, I think the move needs to be sped up a few frames. Ideally, I think this move would be optimal for having an active hitbox on frame 11 or 12. As for damage and knockback, I don’t feel that anything needs to be changed.

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Shulk’s neutral air is great, but what if it could be jump-cancelled to allow for more options? Image: YouTube

I feel that his neutral air comes out fast enough, given that the move’s hitbox stays active until frame 30. However, I feel that it needs one significant revision. Shulk’s neutral air is an effective attack, and great for spacing, however, the animation goes on for 30 frames, with no way to cancel out of it. Shulk’s neutral air would allow for a great variety of options if it allowed the player to jump-cancel the attack. I’ve had many instances, especially when in using the Jump Monado art, where the I have downward momentum, but I’m in the middle of the neutral air animation, and can’t end it. This has caused me to fall to my death numerous times. Moreover, I think it would help improve Shulk’s ability to space opponents and give him more effective approaching and movement options, something that he’s in need of.

To prevent this move from being overpowered if it were to allow a jump-cancel, I would suggest, once again, lowering the overall percent damage dealt from neutral air. In regards to Shulk’s back air, I think it’s another move the only needs to have a quicker active hitbox. Ideally, I would like to see it have its active hitbox on frame 16. This way, it stays strong but is still the slowest aerial option for Shulk.

Up air and down air are both good in terms of frame data and damage output. My only suggestion would be considering if the hitbox can be wider. As is, the hitbox for both up and down air are quite narrow. Outside of making the attack a little bit wider, I don’t feel that these attacks need to be touched very much.

Specials and throws

As far as suggesting changes for Shulk’s special moves, I’m pretty run of the mill. The only specials worth considering changing are Shulk’s up special and side special. Air Slash, his up special, is a good move, but it doesn’t grab onto the ledge like most up specials in the game. This adds an unnecessary layer of riskiness to Shulk’s recovery. Other than making the move grab onto ledges normally, I don’t think Air Slash needs any revision.

 

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Back Slash is one of many of Shulk’s moves that needs slightly better frame data. Image: Nintendo

Shulk’s side-special, Back Slash, is one of the greatest moves in Shulk’s kit in regards to making mix-ups and reads against other players. But its poor frame data holds it back a bit too much. Currently, the active hitbox comes out at frame 22. While Back Slash’s frame data has been improved since launch, I still feel that it needs a bit more improvement. Optimally, I think the move would be great at frame 18, retaining its current knockback and damage power.

 

Lastly, I think Shulk’s throws are fine for the most part. His most effective throws are back throw, for comboing into aerials, and down throw, which can be a kill throw when in the Smash Monado art. I would only suggest revising Shulk’s forward throw’s angle, to be more conducive to following up into an aerial. Other than that, I think Shulk’s grabs are fine as is.

Closing Thoughts

I’m of the mindset that games can be balanced through how you distribute options to characters. Weaker characters in Smash 4 simply have less options at any given moment than, say, top-tier characters do. Improving Shulk’s frame data and possibly giving him a jump-cancel out of his neutral air could give him greater options that could result in more players picking him up. So many people talk about the “potential” of Shulk being one of the best characters in Smash 4, but his frame data has always held him back from many players being able to reach his potential. Hopefully, these revisions could help make that potential more reachable for Shulk players.

But what do you think? When it comes to balancing characters, hearing other perspectives is always important. Do you disagree or agree with the revisions I’ve suggested? Join the conversation and let us know!


 

Featured Image courtesy of Nintendo.

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Nerf dodgers

Not every controversial card gets the nerf hammer. Sometimes, the community’s least-favourite meta-defining additions simply go on existing in their original state. Be it due to techs, rotations, meta shifts or the developers having bigger fish to fry. Meanwhile others are changed harshly, even if considered far less overpowered. What cards have consistently avoided changes despite outrage? And how did they avoid the wrath of the balance change?

Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem

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The terror of turn two, Totem Golem was never nerfed

From the moment it was introduced, Tunnel Trogg was making decks. Shortly after its release as part of LOE, there were already preliminary versions of the Aggro Shaman that would dominate the ladder for years to come. Strong one-cost minions always have the potential to be meta-defining, and Tunnel Trogg was no exception. With premium, sticky stats along with a terrifying snowball effect, it allowed for explosive Aggro openers.

Totem Golem, released earlier in the year with League of Explorers, was the perfect synergy. Tunnel Trogg into Totem Golem was a near-unbeatable one-two punch of early-game pressure. While several supporting Aggro cards were nerfed such as Tuskarr Totemic and Rockbiter Weapon, this core team was never touched. As a result, Aggro Shaman remained highly competitive and frequently tier one for almost two years.

So how did they escape changes? Part of the reason lies in how weak Shaman was prior to Tunnel Trogg. No doubt the developers didn’t want to spoil its time in the sun. By the time it was clear that Aggro Shaman was dangerously dominant, it was to be temporarily suppressed by Midrange Shaman, confusing the issue despite relying on similar cards. After Aggro Shaman found a resurgence in Mean Streets of Gadgetzan thanks to some other cards on this list, the developers considered it too close to the Standard rotation to alter Totem Golem or Tunnel Trogg. As such, this dominating pair made it into wild after almost two years of domination without any balance changes at all.

Ice Block

Ice Block is controversial, but never quite impactful enough on the meta to justify a nerf

This one is intensely divisive. Some see it as the savior of Control in a world of Aggro and Midrange. Others consider it to be antithetical to good game design, an inherently frustrating and unfair card. Whatever your opinion of it, the card’s huge power is undeniable. It defined old Freeze Mage, once the only consistently effective burst-based combo deck. Now it props up a variety of Control, Combo and even Tempo Mages. The main source of divisiveness comes not from its pure power level, but the way it renders entire boards of damage useless. You’re helpless to interact with their hero as they burst you down over multiple turns.

RNG card generation has made things even more frustrating. With the potential of four or more of these defensive secrets per game through cards like Primordial Glyph, Babbling Book and Cabalist’s Tome, some games can feel completely lacking in interactivity. But despite these frustrations, it has never seen a balance change.

Part of the reason is its relatively limited impact on the meta. Freeze Mage and its contemporaries never truly dominated to the extent that decks like Midrange Shaman or Pirate Warrior did. A high skill cap, limited flexibility against Aggro and hard counters like Secret removal or Control Warrior kept it relatively constrained.

Now Ice Block seems to be on the dev’s hit-list, but its success now may work in its favour. As an iconic Classic card, Team 5 say they will likely consider moving it to Wild instead of changing it. This lets it live on in perpetuity, as well as granting it another season of Standard before the end-of-year rotations.

Patches the Pirate

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It’s hard to think of a nerf for Patches that makes sense

Patches may be the single most impactful Hearthstone card of all time. Currently, around 30% of the decks on Ladder run it according to hsreplay.net. In the past, this has been even higher. Patches’ power is hard to properly calculate. He typically costs zero mana and zero cards (as well as thinning your deck). His only downside is the requirement to run Pirates, and the possibility of drawing him. The massive disparity between Patches the free minion and Patches the Stonetusk Boar is represented in deck winrates. Typically, the winrate nosedives below 50% when he’s drawn and shoots up when he’s pulled from the deck.

As incredibly powerful, virtually mandatory, meta shaping aggro card, it’s hard to see why Patches was never changed. But things become clearer when you consider the nature of the card. Patches is a 1/1, meaning that the stats could not be reduced without utterly destroying the card. The mana cost is almost always irrelevant, and when it isn’t, Patches is not an issue. If anything, increasing the mana cost would simply be a buff to Evolve Shaman. The only other sensible option would be to remove his Charge, but considering his voice lines, concept and art all imply charge, that would be an unsatisfactory solution.

As it is, it’s likely we’ll not see any changes to Patches until he fires off to take charge of Wild with the next Standard rotation.

Jades

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Some jade cards are significantly undercosted; but changing them would be delicate

There are a number of Jade cards that are powerful. Beyond the oft-griped about Jade Idol, there are the incredibly efficient Jade Claws and Jade Lightning in Shaman, and the ubiquitous Aya Blackpaw. While the former is credited with near single-handedly killing off Control decks, Claws and Lightning’s incredible tempo made them strong in almost every Shaman deck. Aya on the other hand is arguably better than a tri-class Savannah Highmane, offering huge stats split across three awkward bodies.

There are two main reasons why these controversial and powerful cards haven’t seen significant balance changes. Firstly, they were largely propping up otherwise mediocre classes. For a long time, Druid had little to offer other than Jade. Meanwhile, Shaman is only just competitive with its single Evolve archetype. Despite being incredibly strong cards, when they were part of overpowered decks, other cards took the heat instead as designers were slow to nerf flagship new mechanics like Jade.

The second reason is down to Jade’s ‘parasitic’ nature. As each Jade card’s power is heavily dependent on the density of other Jade cards, nerfing one can have massive consequences. Even making a single one slightly too slow or over-costed is enough to prevent Jade from working. Just look at Jade Rogue; simply the lack of a third class Jade option meant that despite efficient Jade tools, it never took off. Even Shaman’s slightly over-costed Jade Chieftain led to Jade Shaman being far less successful than Jade Druid.

For these reasons, the developers seem to be more keen on printing counters to Jade and hitting adjacent cards than altering itself. That philosophy recently saw Spreading Plague, Hex and Innervate hit instead of the core Jade options. If that mindset persists, it’s unlikely we’ll see any future changes until they rotate out next year.

 

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com. Title image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment. Deck stats via hsreplay.net.

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balance

Is Hearthstone operating on a complaints-based balance system?

Tracing back all the way to the 7.1 patch, the changes made in Arena are definitely due to the complaints of the playerbase rather than a confirmed case of metagame-warping cards. While “feeling bad” about losing to something is certainly an aspect of gameplay that the developers should keep in mind, it’s not easy to strike a balance between removing cards that the community finds problematic and outright neutering specific ones just because they are powerful – and this is a discussion worth having again now that the Death Knights are getting removed from Arena.

Arenarcissism

One of the long-running issues with the game’s draft-based format is that the developers eventually shied away from actively curating the card pool, even though they had a successful attempt at it in September 2016, removing 45 cards – some good, some bad – in order to make the classes closer to each other. Simple, understandable, logical, easy to adjust and change: it’s a shame they ditched this method and opted to adjust offering rates both based on card type and individual cards, with the rates of the latter micro-adjustments not even being available to the playerbase unless they collect their own data via sites like HSReplay and ArenaDrafts.

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Should we ban Tirion as well? Source: hearthpwn.com

The problem with this, of course, is that if losing to a card “feels bad”, knowing that it’s rarely going to show up in the draft makes it even worse when they actually are dropped on you, especially because it becomes an incorrect strategy to play around them due to their rarity. It also led to an interesting development where the officially noted changes are almost exclusively centered around the community’s complaints: the offering rates of Abyssal Enforcer and Flamestrike have been slashed to half forever, no matter how the arena metagame might change with new releases and adjustments, while certain cards like Vicious Fledgling – and now the Death Knights – that did not have obscenely high winrates but were “bad to lose against” have been completely banned.

Here’s the main issue: where do you draw the line? If you’re going to eventually ban or neuter most of the powerful cards in the format, all you’ll accomplish is that previously less annoying cards will take their place as the villains. This isn’t a sustainable nor a necessarily productive way to balance a draft-based format: directly curating the pool, with sets or specific cards occasionally rotating in and out would be a much more interesting and effective approach. The new, Arena-specific cards also seem like a good way to go, making such extreme decisions as these outright bans even more excessive in the process.

Keep in mind that most of these concerns are validated by the developers’ previous work: these decisions are final in their mind. We’ve never seen a reverted nerf in either of the large formats, and that’s probably not a good thing.

A brief history of Constructed nerfs

If you look beyond the beta period of the game, Hearthstone’s long and checkered history with card adjustments is a sad sight to behold with each changes coming long after a particular card or deck has warped the metagame, with the developers eventually turning them into unplayable junk. Warsong Commander, twice. Starving Buzzard. Undertaker. Big Game Hunter. The list could go on – and this doesn’t even account for the head-scratchers like the changes to Molten Giant, Blade Flurry or Hex. In general, these changes have rendered the cards completely useless and crippled the archetypes they were involved in.

The usual explanation by the developers is that they can only change so many stats and just a single added mana or one reduced health is a large increase in percentage. I would argue that this isn’t really an adequate reason why Blade Flurry’s cost had to double while also losing a critical part of its effect. With regards to our current discussion: if these changes weren’t final, if Team 5 was open to re-evaluating them and changing the cards once more at some point, an overkill like this would not be a problem. As things currently stand, if the community complains long and hard enough, the developers will actively butcher an archetype forever, no matter its winrate. I guess it’s a sign that they are paying more attention to Arena that they are displaying the same attitude over there as well. The main takeaway from all this? Be careful what you wish for…

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A hypothetical Switch port of Smash 4: Character balance

When the Nintendo Switch was announced in October of last year, many anticipated the announcement of a port Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. After all, in the Switch’s teaser trailer, we saw what eventually became Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Imagining a port for Smash 4 didn’t feel out of the question. Over a year later, we still have no confirmation on whether or not a Switch port of Smash 4 will come to fruition.

While we’re in the limbo of waiting for a Smash-related announcement, whether it’s a Smash 4 port or an eventual Smash 5, we might as well take this time to talk about how the foundations of Smash 4 could be improved. For now, I want to imagine what Smash 4’s balance could evolve if it were ported to the Switch. I will primarily look at Smash 4’s balance regarding its roster of characters.

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In the Switch’s reveal trailer, many thought this part of the trailer would reveal Smash 4. Image: Nintendo

I think every corner of the Smash community can agree that Smash 4 has the best balance in the series. Smash 64 and Melee only see a select portion of the roster prevalent in competitive play. These games don’t have awful balance, but it’s clear that high-level players can only seriously compete by using certain characters. Brawl’s balance was notoriously bad, with Meta Knight being played in most competitive matches. This poor balance led to Brawl being modded so much. Smash 4 is considered to be the most balanced game in the series. The variety of characters that are played in tournaments, big or small, reflect this. So how exactly can Smash 4’s balance be improved from where it is now?

Resuming Balance Updates

As balanced as I think Smash 4 is, it obviously hasn’t always been that way. When Smash 4 was first released, there were many characters and certain combos that were unfairly good. Diddy Kong’s infamous down-throw into up-air “hoo-hah” combo comes to mind This combo was relatively easy to pull off and killed fairly early, making many people frustrated with Diddy Kong as a character. Nevertheless, Diddy Kong was picked up by many high-level players due to the ease of getting KOs. This made Diddy Kong quite a prevalent character in tournaments in the early months of Smash 4’s life. There were other balance issues that were quickly fixed, such as Fox’s jab-lock and Bowser’s down special that could easily break shields, among many other fixes.

As time went on, things such percent damage, shield damage, throw angles and more were tweaked through balance patches/updates. To me, each patch throughout Smash 4’s life has been an exciting event. Looking at all the changes made to the game, and seeing how the competitive community adapts is interesting. Moreover, the frequent patches made competitive players more engaged with the game. The patches also encouraged certain characters to become played more. Marth is a great example of a character that has benefited from patches. He was arguably mediocre at launch, but thanks to the buffs he has received through patches, he is now considered by many to be either high-tier or top-tier.

In a hypothetical Nintendo Switch port of Smash 4, I would like to see balance patches return. The last significant patch to the game was released shortly after Bayonetta was released, over 18 months ago. This port of Smash 4 could recapture the excitement of seeing characters get buffed or nerfed and seeing the competitive community adapt to all the changes made.

Empowering the weaker characters

Okay, so we will continue having patches, but what will those patches change? Many would like stronger characters such as Bayonetta and Cloud to get nerfed in addition to having weaker characters such as Jigglypuff and Zelda to get significantly buffed. Ideally, I think it’d be best to see both of these happen to some extent. However, I would give more focus on buffing characters that are considered bottom, low and middle-tier.

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Should balance patches focus on making non-top-tier characters better? Duck Hunt and Mega Man are just two characters that can be made better. Image: Nintendo Life

The thing about Smash 4’s roster is that no character is fundamentally flawed. Almost every character’s moveset is unique, entertaining to play as and can be played well given enough practice. The only things about the lower-tier characters that need to be improved are the likes of what we have seen previous patches do. These include improving frame data, the strength of moves and even movement speed. I’m convinced Jigglypuff can be a great character in Smash 4 if her damage and knockback output was increased on all of her moves. In Smash 4, she ultimately plays quite similarly to her high-tier Melee counterpart. Smash 4’s iteration of Jigglypuff just needs a lot more oomph. Making her Rest nearly as powerful as, say, Little Mac’s KO Punch would be a proper start.

There are many mid-tier characters in Smash 4 that I’m convinced are quite good in the right hands. Link, Duck Hunt and Pac-Man are three characters that I really admire watching. Their focus on resource management makes them unique to play and watch. It’s a joy to see these characters played in tournament, and I’d love to see them become more common in high-level play. A way to do this, of course, is improving parts of their movesets here and there.

Other characters like Shulk, Luigi, Ike, Lucario and so many others are all fun to play and watch. I don’t feel that any character needs to be entirely reworked. We just need to keep seeing small improvements to these characters’ frame data, damage output and knockback output.

Moving forward

While I share some of the irritation of seeing certain characters more often in high-level play (Bayonetta, Cloud, Rosalina, etc.), I don’t feel like the solution is to make those characters much worse. What I love so much about Smash 4 is the diversity that we see in competitive play. Buffing non-top tier characters will encourage players to pick up characters that may not have played before. If more characters improve through balance patches, the competitive scene can become significantly more diverse than it is now.

And who benefits from more diversity in competitive play? We all do. For players, they get more experience with different kinds of character matchups. For viewers, the inclusion of more characters being played at tournaments makes every match feel different to watch. Seeing a greater variety of matchups is entertaining to viewers. Improving the weaker characters in the roster will only make the variety of characters that we see in tournaments become greater.

balance

A more balanced roster leads to more character diversity. More diverse matches make watching and playing the game more interesting and varied. Image: VGBootcamp

This isn’t to say that there will still be some characters that are played more than others. I’m not sure that it’s possible for a game to be perfectly balanced and have every character be equally good. With a character roster as large as Smash 4’s, I don’t think anyone can expect that. What I would like to see in regards to the roster’s balance is for the floor to be raised; I would like to see Smash 4 balanced to the point that no character can be considered “bad” or “not usable if you want to actually win a tournament”. Smash 4 as it is is close to that, but there are still many improvements that still need to be made.

Improvements to the game’s balance are one of the biggest reasons why I would love to see Smash 4 get ported to the Nintendo Switch. Of course, there are many other reasons to want a Smash 4 port, which I plan on delving into in the coming weeks.

For the game’s balance, do you agree or disagree? What characters would you like to see get rebalanced, and how so? Join the conversation and let us know!


Featured image courtesy of Nosolo Gamer.

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#SavetheDisruptor

Playing Protoss in Starcraft 2 has always felt like an abusive relationship. For months we’ll be on top of the world. One day we’ll be skipping through a meadow with our trusty ‘Ruptors, then wake up tomorrow to find a Tier 3 water balloon. At the beginning of Legacy of the Void, we were given a shiny new toy: The Disruptor. This unit almost immediately became my favorite. It had enormous potential to change the course of the fight, while at the same time running the risk of whiffing completely or dying before detonation, costing you a hefty 150/150 for no damage whatsoever. It was a difficult unit to use, especially in conjunction with the Blink Stalker force that it most commonly complemented.

More games than I can count my Disruptor-based Army would get surrounded by Speedlings or out-muscled by a skilled Terran’s Marauder splits; but still I would try. That tantalizing memory of that juicy center-mass detonation on  Roach/Hydra five games ago… would always keep me coming back.

 

And then Blizz just went and did this…

 

Essentially what this means is that your purification nova, instead of detonating after a timed fuse, will explode as soon as the center of the ball touches an enemy unit. It splashes against the first thing it hits, utilizing AT MOST half of the ball’s overall area. The “new” Disruptor is terribly unsatisfying and even causes a fair bit of friendly fire when triggered by units like Zerglings or Zealots.

Anyone who has played the test server knows how ridiculous and disappointing this change is.

To explain better than I ever could, one of the great pioneers of the all mighty ‘Ruptor…

Ladies and Gentlemen, MCanning:

Why?

This change is not meant to “revitalize” the Unit and make it more common in the Korean scene where it is all but absent. It’s not about balance or counterplay, this change is primarily about Silver league armies blowing up in the blink of an eye. It’s about “game-ending potential” versus poorly controlled armies. Really? Not only are there dozens and dozens of ways to lose a game in the blink of an eye, but many of them are far more lethal than a good ‘Ruptor hit. Should we get rid of Storm too? Doom drops? Cloaked units? Proxies?

This is not Hello Kitty Island Adventure, this is Starcraft 2. Mistakes have consequences. When you suddenly lose a game to any number of units and strategies, you LEARN! The Disruptor is one of the easiest units to adjust to: split, pick up or go air. Maybe don’t have your army standing still and clumped without vision of what’s near it.

Of course, I want players of all skill levels to enjoy Starcraft 2 and to be able to ladder without anxiety. But removing one of the most entertaining units to use and one of the most exciting mechanics to spectate is not helping anyone out, it’s nerfing the game.

 

This change will kill the Disruptor

Say goodbye to game changing, crowd cheering booms. The Disruptor will vanish, never to appear in professional play again.

Removing the Mothership core and adding Shield battery seem like very promising ideas, but please… don’t take the Disruptor.

 

 

 

Photos Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Video Courtesy of McanningSC2

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Volcanosaur and mid-expansion boredom

For a game of near-infinite possibility, Hearthstone can get stale fast. A focus on infrequent high-content, high-quality expansions keeps Hearthstone excellent, but leave long stretches of little change. How can Hearthstone beat the mid-expansion blues that sets in between releases?

Content Doldrums

expansion

Aside from more decks with this guy, the meta doesn’t seem to have changed drastically

While Adventures used to spread card releases over four weeks, the new all-expansion model has no such spacing. After the initial period of post-expansion experimentation and novelty, the meta settles quickly. The instant communication of vast amounts of info online leads to the most powerful decks spreading uncontrollably. Within days the dominant archetypes are close to refinement. While exceptions occur, especially with more complex combo or control decks, the fact remains that the Ladder experience becomes monotone fast.

Balance changes can help with this, but often don’t go far enough. After the 9.1 balance patch, there was little innovation. While Keleseth Rogue and Midrange Hunter grew in popularity, the main effect was a shuffling round of archetype distribution. Players looking for the total displacement of consistently dominant archetypes like Jade Druid, Pirate Warrior and Murloc Paladin were disappointed.

Too many months

expansion

Adventures spaced out content more effectively than Expansions

But even if the balance patch had completely upended the meta, the Hearthstone gameplay experience would still settle down into staleness once more. The simple facts are that there are only three content releases a year, with three major balance patches in between if we’re lucky. That leaves, on average, about two months between any change to Hearthstone’s card base, and four months between major changes. These stretches of no mechanical additions to Hearthstone may not sound like much at first.

But the ratio of established vs experimental metas is extremely lopsided. Let’s be charitable and assume that each major expansion release has a period of experimentation and flexible deckbuilding of 1-2 weeks. Even if you add one week of experimentation for each balance patch, that only leaves 6-9 weeks of experimental meta in the 52 weeks of the year. And that’s not the end of the world; but it’s certainly not ideal for promoting diverse play.

Volcanosaur to the rescue?

The answer could lie in the days prior to the release of the Journey to Un’goro expansion. Volcanosaur was given out to all as a free pre-expansion bonus. Interestingly, it was playable despite no other Un’goro cards being available. It was a small change, but the experimentation it opened up introduced a freshness that made the build-up to the release that bit more exciting.

This could be the secret to spicing up ladder. Spacing out small parts of content releases to allow pockets of card releases could allow experimentation and disruption. Blizzard could pre-designate a subset of, say 10 neutral cards. Then, without needing to patch, they could set in advance a time when these cards would become craftable and obtainable from packs. Two at a time, once a week would allow a month of weekly excitement as previously unseen cards would be dropped, allowing for experimentation and disruption.

Events could be more than Emotes

expansion

What if events came with new cards as well as rewards?

Outside of specific card releases, there could also be more variety possible via the holiday-themed events in Hearthstone. Arena is practically begging for temporary rule or drafting changes. Rule changes that are not drastic enough to be worth a Tavern Brawl, but nonetheless open up new and interesting possibilities.

For instance, a “Dragon week”, where Dragons have a huge offering bonus, could create a temporary unique experience (perhaps only after Drakonid Operative rotated out). Or heroes could start with five armor; or perhaps one more card was offered in the mulligan.

Whatever these potential rule changes or card additions were, they would not necessarily need to be perfect or even good ideas. When mid-expansion boredom sets in, any change is better than the same old meta for four months straight.


 

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

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Is there a good way to nerf Druid?

Picture a scene. It’s a few months from now. Assume Druid, specifically Jade Druid, still dominates the meta, with few counters. Mike Donais, Ben Brode, Dean Ayala and the rest of Hearthstone’s design team sit around a table. They’re throwing around ideas and discussions behind Druid’s past, present and future. The howls of dismay from their user-base at Druid’s dominance demands action; and they have decided not to wait until a new expansion to shake things up.

They would have a delicate problem on their hands. Druid’s power hinges on a number of key cards. Worse, many of those cards are integral to the class’s entire identity. Sure, you could eliminate Jade Druid from the meta by nerfing Wild Growth, Innervate and Swipe. But without these cards, Druid would likely just feel like a reskinned Hunter.

Meanwhile, nerfing other cards without touching the core Druid package could lead to yet more oppressive Druid decks in the future. So what cards could be on the chopping block for Druid?

Innervate

Innervate is undeniably powerful – but may be ingrained in Druid’s identity

For some, Innervate is at the crux of issues with Druid. A staple of basically every Druid deck ever, Innervate is about as powerful a tempo tool as you can get. Two mana for one card is incredibly strong, especially early on. When it’s pushing out a snowbally minion, landing a crucial buff, drawing cards with Auctioneer, or finding lethal with Malygos, even more so.

Some, (like Reynad) argue that Innervate is fundamentally not fun and overpowered as a card. As a counterargument, Innervate could be seen as a strong but defining card for Druid, as mana ramp and manipulation is their hallmark. Changing or rotating Innervate would free up design space, but at a cost of Druids power level being reduced on a permanent basis.

Pros of a nerf:

  • Frees up design space
  • Reduces disparity between best and mediocre early game
  • Makes cards like Vicious Fledgling less difficult

Cons of a nerf:

  • Hits all Druid archetypes, not just problematic ones
  • Permanent reduction of Druid power
  • Erodes class identity

Jade Idol

Jade Idol has been at the forefront of many players’ ire. Its unique infinite threat generation is no longer unstoppable, thanks to Skulking Geist. However, it’s still at the core of one of the most potent anti-Control archetypes in the game, and the current most popular deck on Standard Ladder.

A reduction in the ability of Idol to generate infinite threats would be the only nerf that would make sense. It would reduce Jade’s winrate versus Control, while leaving other new Druid archetypes alone. However, this would only have a limited impact on the deck’s overall winrate. It would also make little sense immediately after the printing of Skulking Geist.

Pros:

  • Hits only Jade Druid
  • Makes Jade less polarizing vs Control
  • Maintains class identity

Cons:

  • Low impact on overall winrate
  • Skulking Geist already exists
  • Will rotate out soon anyway

Ultimate Infestation

Ultimate Infestation draws complaints, but may not be the root of the problem

This card is one of the newer additions to Druid’s arsenal. It’s also one of the most controversial. I’ve discussed it before at some length. While it is arguably not especially powerful compared to many other 10 mana cards, the comparison has some flaws. It synergises incredibly well with Druid’s ample ramp tools, and it requires no synergies to be played to great effect.

The debate over whether or not this card is overpowered may change depending on how the meta reacts to Druid’s current dominance. If it speeds you considerably in response, the card may not even see too much play. What’s more, it’s a tricky card to change. As a 10 mana card, its cost cannot be increased. And as its flavour relies on the number five, changing all aspects to four would probably be overly heavy-handed.

What’s more, Druids that wanted additional card draw could easily swap back to running Gadgetzan Auctioneer. However, it would undeniably cut into Jade Druid’s oppressiveness. Overly powerful card draw like Ancient of Lore have proven to be worthy of changing in the past.

Pros:

  • Reduces power level of other ramp cards
  • Doesn’t affect Druid’s Classic toolset
  • Card draw has historically been overly powerful in Druid

Cons:

  • Many card-draw alternatives
  • Hurts non-Jade Ramp Druid
  • Not overpowered compared to other 10 mana options

Spreading Plague

Spreading Plague shores up a key Druid weakness to big boards

This card has been behind much of the class’s rise to prominence. Its ability to recover massive amounts of tempo while throwing up huge Taunt walls against aggro massively improves Aggro matchups. Pirate Warrior, once deemed a soft counter to Jade Druid, now has an unfavourable matchup against the deck. Spreading Plague means that the traditional Aggro strategy against Druid (namely, going wide) no longer is as effective.

Instead, Decks need to focus on building compact, “tall” boards. Murloc Paladin is perfect for this, but even so, struggles against the card. A reduction in spreading plague would reduce Druids consistency against Aggro and allow it to naturally become less greedy. Unfortunately, reinforcing the popularity of Aggro in this way may just strengthen another type of Druid in Aggro Druid. Jade Druid would likely become yet more polarising against Control too.

Pros:

  • Big impact
  • Allows meta to self-correct
  • Reinforces Class Identity of Druids having few tools to deal with wide boards

Cons:

  • Makes Jade more polarising
  • Encourages Aggro Druid
  • Pushes meta towards Aggro in general

 Honourable mentions

A number of non-class cards are also problematic. Cards like Aya Blackpaw, Gadgetzan Auctioneer and Jade Spirit could also come under scrutiny. However, due to the collateral damage of other classes being impacted, they are unlikely to see a change; at least until the next standard rotation.

Artwork courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

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ban

With the upcoming changes in Season 5, should another ban be introduced?

Repetitive drafts

One complaint you get from spectators in Smite is that teams have the same Gods being played over and over again. This is a complaint you get in a lot of MOBAs. You see it frequently in Smite and Hots. The things these MOBAs have in common are a reduced hero pool and less bans compared to the big two Dota and LOL. Smite has a decent hero pool of 91 Gods, while this doesn’t quite match up too LOL and Dota which are in the low 100s. It is not a bad start, maybe going into Season 5 when smite will have a roster of 100 or over is the time to look at adding the extra ban . Adding an extra ban will hopefully increase the amount of Gods that see play, because teams will have more bans to play obviously. The question is would this just mean we would see all the same God’s banned but just more, I think probably not. As once we get into 10 ban territory we start to move out of S+ and S tier gods. Thus allowing for more of the teams own flavour and thought process to be shown.

This would also filter into ranked as most of the time there is a definitive ranked ban meta. We all know the heroes who are going to be banned at the beginning of a draft and the ensuing riots and GG’s in chat that will follow if not banned. At least with three bans at the start, some flavour and thought could go into the bans, instead of the current cookie cutter.

This would also encourage wider God pools from competitive down to ranked. If a player is known to have a weak God pool then it would become much easier to ban them out. Under-performing because you were repeatedly banned out is not something any competitive team would allow for long. It also should reward teams with more strategies and who are fundamentally the better team due to having to be more versatile.

Ban

Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

In ranked, God-spammers would be in a far more precarious situation. The fear of having your favoured God banned in that third spot would be significant. Also a third ban in the first phase would free up the second ban phase a lot more. Roles that haven’t picked could be targeted more because anything particularly powerful that has not been picked would probably already be banned.

Draft theory

Draft theory is something that would only really be noticeable in the competitive scene. Adding another ban just creates more variables and makes the draft a more interesting mini-game to watch. When you take more off the board early it creates interesting situations. One way this interaction works is through teams’ first picks. With first pick only picking one and second pick having two, the question of banning power picks takes real importance.

Is the second pick going to target ban in hopes of leaving multiple strong heroes on the board? How is first pick going to try and get value off that first pick? Is it going to be target banning the other team or trying to remove Gods they consider powerful regardless? While we see some this already, that extra ban just intensifies the game and adds more to depth to it as another phase would have to be added and probably the second ban phase having to come earlier.

It would also allow for much more focused comps, with the ability to ban out 5 Gods teams could really specialise their comp in a draft.  Being able to remove some of the bigger burst and then into anti-heal God’s if you are trying to build a healing comp would be incredibly helpful. Watching this unfold and how teams tried to hide their strategies deep into the draft is something that would be great to develop even further in the SPL.

Balance

One possible knock-on interaction this gives is the mid-low tier Gods will be put into focus when it comes to balance. There will be more playtime and demand for the mid tier Gods as the top tier will be banned out. The greater demand should encourage Hi-Rez to look at some of the Gods who are weaker to try and make them viable again. Hi Rez doesn’t want Gods who are never played. We all know the curse of having one of your favourite Gods get buffed too heavily and realising it’s going to be a month or more before you get to play them in ranked again. This would also become more apparent because with five bans a really overpowered God should never make it through the draft. Overall another ban should through necessity, hopefully create a narrowing of disparity in God strength.

Top image courtesy of forums.2p.com

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ultimate infestation

Is Ultimate Infestation overpowered?

ultimate infestation

Ultimate Infestation is part of Druid’s dominance

Malfurion is king. According to HSReplay.net, the Druid class overall boasts a massive 54% winrate. Many archetypes such as Jade Druid have seen yet higher winrates, propelled by their ability to farm Control. In an early, unstable and greedy meta, this is invaluable. Naturally, the community is already beginning to complain. Jade Druid was never a popular archetype in the first place. Despite Skulking Geist, Jade after Jade still crushes new unrefined Control decks. Complaints now centre around the new Druid Epic Spell, Ultimate Infestation.

The power of Ultimate Infestation is even more staggering than its 10 mana cost. Aside from dealing a respectable five damage on top of summoning a 5/5 and granting five armor, the true power of the card lies in its draw. Five cards is a huge amount, and gives the Druid gas without having to rely on difficult and inconsistent Auctioneer combos. Copypastas, reddit posts and the like involving quoting Blizzard’s rationale of changing Ancient of Lore.

But for all the salt, is Ultimate Infestation actually overpowered?

Simple addition

When compared to cards like Sprint, Ultimate Infestation looks very strong indeed

One approach is to look at how the raw value of the card stacks up. Ultimate Infestation is, from one perspective, three cards in one. Sprint (which draws four cards), Shield Block (which draws one card and gains five armor) and Firelands Portal (which deals five damage and summons a five drop). Simply summing up the total mana cost of these three cards would give you 17 mana. Purely on paper, Ultimate Infestation is running at a significant discount.

Arguably, the card is even stronger than this analysis would suggest. Playing those three cards costs three cards, whereas Ultimate Infestation is only one. The ability to go from one card to five means that spending your cards to cheat mana also becomes stronger. Druids can feel safer Nourish-ing for mana or spending Wild Growths liberally. Should they run low on gas, Ultimate Infestation is always there to provide backup. Even when rushed out with Innervate, the net card advantage is huge. From this angle, the card definitely looks overpowered.

There’s one thing that is misunderstood, however. 10 mana is not equal to a three mana card plus seven mana card. These cards are fundamentally hampered by their massive cost.

The biggest number

Bombs like Deathwing Dragonlord look strong, but good luck reliably getting the effect off

10 mana is huge for a number of reasons in Hearthstone. As 10 is the mana cap, it’s impossible, or at least very hard, to play anything alongside them. Not only that, but they have a chance of clogging up your hand for multiple turns. While it’s definitely frustrating to get hit by them, the times where it silently lets you snatch a turn nine lethal goes unnoticed. As such, the most important aspect of a high cost card is its immediate impact.

Cards like Tyrantus or Deathwing Dragonlord see almost no play, despite their power. This is because when you play a 10 cost card, you are likely doing so from behind. A 10 mana card needs to have some means of stabilisation or board impact built into it. Otherwise, your opponent can simply ignore it and snowball tempo or kill you.

For all its massive value, Ultimate infestation doesn’t affect the board all that much. Only half of the card has immediate effect on your opponent’s minions or lethal calculation. Five damage and five armor is potent, but is essentially just a Holy Fire. In many situations, that’s simply not enough to save you. Especially for Druid, the class that has the most issues with removing big boards of big minions. Often, your card advantage is for naught. The opponent can use their next turn to fill up the board while you’ve only removed one mid-size threat and played a 5/5.

Equal among peers

Ultimate Infestation

Ultimate Infestation is arguably just a worse Varian Wrynn

The best way to evaluate Ultimate Infestation is to compare it to other 10 mana cards that saw competitive play. The most obvious example is Yogg-Saron, but the extreme variance makes it hard to judge.

Take instead a card like Warrior’s former Varian Wrynn. This card saw fringe play in Tempo and Control Warriors. While he draws fewer cards than Ultimate Infestation and provided no Armor, the King of Stormwind has massive, immediate board impact. By summoning up to three minions straight to the board, he could instantly generate huge value. Decks that used him could throw up Taunts, summon Charging minions like Grommash or pull damage effects like Ragnaros. This is arguably a far stronger effect, and came with a 7/7 instead of a 5/5.

Or look at Doom, the Warlock spell from Whispers of the Old Gods. Not only does it immediately impact the board by utterly obliterating everything on it, it also draws cards; easily far more cards than Ultimate Infestation. While no board presence or Armor is gained, it’s far superior against a board that’s out of control. Doom can even be cheated out with cards like Bloodbloom. With competition like this, it’s easier to see why Ultimate Infestation does so much for the cost.

Outclassed

Ultimate Infestation

Ramp allows Druid to make more use of big effects, especially ones that draw cards

The reason Ultimate Infestation feels so strong is down to the class it’s in. While N’zoth, Bloodreaver Gul’dan or a well-timed Deathwing can be far superior, Ultimate Infestation is powerful because it synergises so well with Druid as a whole. Druid’s ability to cheat mana by ramping or with Innervate boils down to trading cards for mana. Ultimate Infestation allows them to reap dividends on that investment. It lets them regain the cards they lost ramping.

It also doesn’t help that powerful 10 mana cards like Ultimate Infestation are particularly nightmarish for Control decks to deal with. In a meta dominated by unrefined greed, it’s natural that this card would win games.

The downside is that Druid has a harder time recovering from the tempo loss of spending 10 mana. Aggro and Midrange decks can often use this opportunity to set up or find lethal.

Sometimes, overpowered is OK

Ultimate Infestation is overpowered. Compared to the rules of linearly scaling power and cheaper cards, it is extremely strong for the mana cost.

However, Hearthstone has proven over and over again that 10 mana cards have to be ridiculous to see play. If Ultimate Infestation was any less strong, it would likely fall into the territory of Tyrantus and Deathwing Dragonlord.

If you’re frustrated by Ultimate Infestation, take comfort in the fact it may not last in the meta. Aggressive midrange decks may rise to put more pressure on Druids. Their meta dominance will fall and players will cast fewer and fewer of these spectacular spells. And when the next tempo abomination rises to smash your face in on turn six, you may feel nostalgia for this huge, clunky spell.


Artwork courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment via Hearthstone.gamepedia.com.

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