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redditJuly balance wishlist: Addressing Graveyard's randomness and Rock-Paper-Scissors. Ladder-oriented reworks and more!

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Heya! The second quarter of 2021 is closing in and we've had time to digest the meta. This is my wishlist for July. With quarterly balance changes, I included more and bolder suggestions. Sorry they aren't as easy to digest. I also wanted to point out improvements to some long-standing problems.

My most important points are in bold italic (as a sort of tl;dr). Please read my full reasoning before discussing a particular idea! I love these discussions and nowadays I have them far less often than before, so I hope they are good this time!

Here's a rundown of nerfs I considered but chose not to: Electro Giant, Heal Spirit, Miner, Mega Minion, Goblin Cage, Fisherman, Bomber, Fireball. Ask me in the comments.


Graveyard RNG removed:

  • Initial spawn speed brought back to 2sec. 16 skeletons spawn in total (from 15)
  • The spawn locations are fixed at 4.5 distance from the center (from 4-5) and may only be displaced if a building occupies them
  • The order is also fixed but it flips based on which lane the spell is played on
  • Visualization I made

What I believe to be the most important change in this wishlist. I really don't think I need to justify this one. These changes completely remove RNG and I find them chaotic enough to keep the old spirit of Graveyard. If it makes the card too strong or too weak, there are other stats that can be tinkered with, but I think only bumping up the skeleton count by one is fair.

Graveyard RNG is relevant. Focus not on the bad placement here, but that a different RNG would have completely changed the outcome.

Wizard rework/buff:

  • Cost reduced to 4
  • Range reduced 5.5 > 5
  • Hitspeed slower 1.4sec > 1.7sec
  • Initial Attack slower 0.4sec > 0.7sec
  • Damage -6% (234 > 220)

GC 3d stats over the last 2 months: Usage 2-4%, Win 15-24%

5k ladder usage: 36% | 7k ladder usage: 2%

Wizard should be buffed, but he is already the most used card in the game in some parts of ladder and a buff wouldn't help. I've suggested reworks like this many times already, but I think it's just so important. This is a medium-risk rework with an immensely high reward. The changes reduce Wizard's elixir cost to 4 and rewind most of the buffs he got over the years. Why 4 elixir?

Costing 5 is a problem in mid-ladder: Players in this range just fail to understand the importance of elixir. I think the reception of the recent Bomber rework shows this: weeks after its cost was reduced, mid-ladder usage decreased 40%, but top ladder usage increased 300%. Wizard is overrated because players don't understand what a burden the 5-elixir cost is.

Costing 5 is a problem in competitive: But competitive players understand. Wizard is nonviable because he has the poorest hitpoints for 5 elixir by a LONG stretch. Unlike other fragile cards, he doesn't have a long range and can't fly, so he can't stay in relative safety. His health is more in line with 4-elixir cards and at a 4-cost, he would be similar to Electro Wizard and other cards that demonstrably doesn't have Wizard's issues, at least not to his extent.

Aftermath: Since Wizard is the most popular mid-ladder card, less wizards would help with other meta problems. It would mean, for example, less Valkyrie, Mega Knight, Mini P.E.K.K.A. to counter him. All of this would make playing Royal Hogs and Elixir Golem less punishing, etc.

Skeleton Army rework/buff:

  • Cost reduced to 2
  • Skeleton count reduced to 8
  • Deployment pattern now symmetrical
  • This seemed risky so I playtested it, interactions after this bloc

GC 3d stats over the last 2 months: Usage 9-11%, Win 39-44%

3.5k ladder usage: 51% !!! | 5k ladder usage: 24% | 7k ladder usage: 11%

Looking at 5k vs 7k ladder, Skeleton Army doesn't appear as disjointed as Wizard, however, a little before 4k, Skeleton Army is used in over half of all decks. This is insane. You must look all the way back to 2k, where less cards are available, to find a different card be used as much. It's detrimental for diversity in low ladder and quite overused in mid-ladder. I think it's about time Skeleton Army gets the same reputation as Wizard.

I'll try to summarize why I think the game doesn't need a 3-elixir Skarmy, why I think the game needs a 2-elixir Skarmy, and why I think 8 skeletons is a fair amount.

Skarmy is polarizing: it can defend some pushes extremely well, even if it's dealt with a bit late, but a single spell destroys it. There is little placement or macro strategy, it's efficient, and almost a universal answer. Because of this it really leverages mindless playstyles. This is something no one benefits from.

My rework shakes what Skarmy is about. Like how Bomber became THE super cheap splasher, Skeleton Army would become THE super cheap swarm. Small spells become neutral trades, but might still be worth it. Skarmy is still effective in a lot of the same ways, but it can no longer instantly destroy big pushes. It would not be a universal answer, but also you would not need 3 elixir to utilize its features. A bigger fraction of the skeletons die before deploying, but they no longer block each other's way.

Overall, 8 skeletons seemed the most fair to me. I showed my experiments below. They also show promising signs that the 2-elixir Skarmy will have some micro strategies, enabling good players to use it more efficiently and reducing the ladder discrepancy even more.

Here are the dynamics and interactions I tested with my 2-elixir Skeleton Army:

  • Played alone, they can't reach the princess tower. Therefore little counterpush potential
  • Against small swarms the Skeleton Army previously countered, like Three Musketeers or Rascals, it now needs additional support
  • Still very effective against unsupported tanks
  • Goblin Giant can only be countered effectively if the backpack goblins are distracted
  • Elite Barbarians get countered for 0 damage if you play it on top of the targeted elite barbarian
  • Night Witch gets countered for 0 damage if you play it before she spawns bats
  • Lumberjack, Battle Healer, and others win a 1v1 interaction without the help of towers.
  • Goblin Gang makes it disappear if it's played right on top, but on the side, it does a decent job

Addressing Rock-Paper-Scissors

What exactly am I addressing? Well, in Clash Royale, some cards counter others, and that's alright because decks negate this by having cards with different roles. No one stops you from making a deck with 8 Golem counters, but such a deck would perform poorly in most matchups.

The problem is that some cards counter certain key strategies so much that their sole inclusion in a deck makes some matchups incredibly one-sided. This is what I define as Rock-Paper-Scissors.

I think there are two main offenders right now: Earthquake Vs X-Bow and Mother Witch Vs Graveyard. It's especially bad with Earthquake, because as a spell, there exists no counterplay. On the other hand, Mother Witch can be countered, but she is overpowered.

Earthquake changes:

  • Building damage -15% (238 > 204)
  • Crown Tower damage +6% (58 > 61)
  • No longer damages underground Tesla

GC 3d stats over the last 2 months: Usage 2-4%, Win 46-56%

Earthquake will be like before the last change, except with 10% less crown tower damage. After the last rework, Earthquake once again became so good against buildings that its sole inclusion in a deck made certain matchups unfair. I'm changing this back.

Also a win for OCD. Buildings now receive simply 3x damage and Crown Towers receive a standard 30%, like with all other spells. The numbers now have clear relations.

Mother Witch changes and bugfixes:

  • Cursed Hogs hitpoints -15% (520 > 440)
  • Curse duration: 5sec > 7sec, reduced particles communicate when it's about to wear out
  • Bugfix: Cursed Hog no longer affected by the death explosion of the unit it was summoned from
  • Bugfix: Curse now defaults to the higher level (from Mirror or in 2v2)

GC 3d stats over the last 2 weeks: Usage 18-20%, Win 59%

Mother Witch is primarily strong against swarm decks, especially Graveyard. Since skeletons die in one attack, changing the curse's duration doesn't matter. The increased duration and the bugfixes only benefit her against tougher units, reducing the matchup-dependence.

It also makes for a nice consistency with the 7sec spawn times of the other witches.

So this mostly nerfs her in matchups she dominates and keeps her unique mechanic relevant.

Basic buffs/nerfs

Giant Skeleton buff: Bomb damage +23% (444 > 545)

GC 3d stats over the last 2 weeks: Usage 1%, Win 27-40%

I think the bomb should be a more important part of Giant Skeleton, so I buffed its damage to be closer to that of Fireball. Barbarians and Mother Witch still survive.

Elite Barbarians nerf: Range reduced to Melee Short

GC 3d stats right now: Usage 21-23%, Win 55-57%

Elite Barbarians are OP. This change brings "consistency" with Barbarians in terms of range.

Firecracker buff: Internal changes to make her movement and shooting more predictable

GC 3d stats over the last 2 months: Usage 2-5%, Win 34-47%

Sight Range reduced 8.5 > 6.5, Projectile Speed +15% (6.67 > 7.5 tiles/sec), Shrapnel Projectile Speed +9% (9.17 > 10 tiles/sec), Starting Explosion Radius increased (0.65 > 0.8)

It seems that most people dislike how uncontrollable and unpredictable Firecracker is. By reducing her sight range, she won't run to targets far away from her attack range. The faster projectiles and bigger explosion radius make it so her splash rarely misses its target.

Barbarian Barrel nerf: Slower deploy time 0.5sec > 1sec, Width increased 2.6 > 2.9

GC 3d stats over the last 2 months: Usage 26-34%, Win 53-57%

Always a top 5 card, always an insane winrate for the last year, always other nerfs take priority. This card has gone under the radar for way too long and it's time to address it.

The slower deploy time makes distracting the barbarian easier, also, left ignored, he would only score one swing on the tower. This is pretty big, so I compensated it a little by slightly increasing the width to span a more standard 1.5 tiles.

Bomb Tower buff: Lifetime increased 25sec > 30sec

GC 3d stats over the last 2 weeks: Usage 1%, Win 38-49%

While all active buildings have a 30sec lifetime, Bomb Tower has 25sec. It needs a buff anyway.

Guards buff: Faster first attack (0.4s > 0.3s)

GC 3d stats over the last 2 months: Usage 1%, Win 26-49%

Guards aren't versatile, so having a low usage is okay, but they should still be viable.

Bugfixes and tweaks

Lava Hound change: Sight Range increased 5.5 > 7.5

Lava Hound bug explained here

Symmetry tweak to 6 cards: Deployment flipped based on the lane they are played

  • Barbarians, Bats, Goblin Gang, Royal Hogs, Minion Horde, Royal Recruits

Cards with 2 or 3 units in them abide by this rule. These six don't, which results in different interactions depending on the lane they are played. For example, if you play Recruits to stop a charging Prince in the last moment, it will only work on one lane no matter their placement.

This is one of a few issues that make the two lanes nonequivalent.

Cannon buff: Faster initial attack 1sec > 0.6sec

Cannon is missing a loadtime stat, making its first attack the same as its hitspeed. Cannon Cart has a 0.6sec first attack, even without wheels. The two cards are inconsistent, even though the developers wanted to make them consistent. So I'm suggesting this change.

Tornado nerf: Crown Tower damage reduced 35% > 30%

Devs forgot to change it when spell damage was nerfed across the board.

submitted by /u/Mew_Pur_Pur
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