It’s really lousy in the worst way possible: It’s just not fun. In fact, it’s anti-fun. FG/Kerby with rage-inducing Fast Devours; Justice League, Kraken, Wisps, & Goblins for mega loops where you watch as your team is dismantled with no recourse; Mana Drainers like Psion, Famine, & EK meant to slow you to a crawl and/or induce rage with RNG drops that devastate your team.
It’s especially bad in GW, where the effects are much more devastating, but PvP is also filled with these 6-ish teams. Then add in the changes to gem spawning/cascading and it only makes the problem worse. For everything people have complained about recently, this is the only one I see as a truly mortal sin.
Wisp, with it’s scatter brained AI, can be the most destructive opponent, or sit by fully charged doing nothing.
We need that immune to mana drain effect they were talking about developing, impervious back, and some other ways to punish multiple turns of gem spawning.
Dark Monolith is cool, but if he never gets a turn, and if Justice can buff well beyond the damage the Dark Monolith can do, then its not much of a counter.
I’m hoping that now that Unity is out, the troops and abilities get more focus. I had seen a one off comment by Salty that there were 150 troops lined up for a buff. Who knows when we might see any of them.
The real problem is that stuff just gets filled in 1 or two turns by random chance, that taking a single obvious 3-match can result in anything between 2 and 30+ mana by cascades, random spawn effects of troops can be absolutely game breaking in either way, as can explosions, decisions and thoughtprocess never felt so meaningless before as it does now.
Ironically my strongest and most stable teams now are those that do the most random shit, explode some stuff, spawn some stuff, damage along the way, it is just moronic.
Most of the time it’s ok, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that the game is different now. However, it is highly frustrating when a forest troll fills in a single turn, and then along with krakens loop you to death in the same turn. IMO this is even more frustrating than playing against FG/Kerberos, or the pre-nerf bone dragon; it’s just that with 4X speed at least it’s over quickly.
For item 1 I just cannot understand why this wasn’t fixed mere hours after the update deployed.
At this stage, I would advocate the below changes, although I know that these would make a lot of players really angry:
A hard combo breaker to prevent the number of ‘actions’ within a turn (e.g. 5). It would make a lot of people angry, but it would bring back some strategy. Do you take that match 4 or do you cast a spell?
Traits that activate on 4+ matches, when a certain colour is matched, and when an ally casts a spell can only activate once per turn.
This is exactly the problem with the current state of the game for me. Complex multi-turn setups and long spell chains where I sometimes had to look two moves ahead were my bread and butter for so long, and the teams I enjoy playing. But exploding stuff or troll spawning and watching the pretty colors fall is far more time efficient and takes far fewer (and far less complex) decisions. You still can play methodical teams, and they still can be effective, but taking a loss with the former is also much more frustrating because you are carefully enacting a play, then a skydrop ruins it (as well as taking up more of your precious time, when we are now “intended” to play 25% faster). Taking a loss with the latter you can much more easily shrug off because the steps were random anyways, but wins are also empty and hollow. So instead, you play teams where you swipe once and then just kinda throw spells in the general direction of your opponent.
There is also the matter that I don’t engage well with the game when I’m fairly certain that if I turned over complete control of my team to the AI after the first turn that they would have the same outcome as if I had played the game about 90% of the time. Its not that it is not still enjoyable on some level, but a lot of the time it feels like I am on the outside looking in.
The other problem is that things that punish the use of random spawners (namely, freeze, and namely, mostly mab) also punish the use of careful spell chains. Careful spell chains are even harder hit by freeze because they generally require several swipes to position for the next spell. I’ve powered straight through being frozen with my spawner and exploder teams, so long as I freeze them first, and the AI side having freeze with spawning teams goes the same way if they start casting first.
This would kill the game all the way for me. And, as I said with the soft “spawn streak breaker” being capped at five spawner casts, the more effective teams get so much out of these actions that this would be over. Meanwhile, methodical teams require lots of actions. This hurts careful teams way more than it hurts spammy teams and would only further cement gameplay in the other direction. For a kraken/troll team, I’d just drop the turn once on purpose, pick it up next turn and finish wiping them if they weren’t already all dead in the first five actions. For an exploder team, I’d still have full mana at the top of my next turn (five actions per turn is also more than they would normally get on average anyways). For a spell chain that requires me converting and moving into places, I’d be stopped halfway to getting a devastating setup to the point where it just wouldn’t be functional anymore. This is not the right way to go. If you limited the actions even more, you’d have roughly the pacing of arena, which is terrible.
This either. These traits are balanced off multiple activations in a turn. Blob match calculation giving 10+ activations is the problem here, not their ability to trigger two match 4+ traits off two completely separate match 4+ instances.
Looping was never the problem. The problem is when it is so devastatingly effective that you almost always win in one board cycle, before running into a point where you might not have alignment and be forced to give up the turn. The other time it becomes a problem is when it is so braindead easy that you don’t have to look at the position of gems on the board and be aware where they will be after your next board action to do it effectively (and thus becoming a viable AI strategy). Using a converter chain to progress through a board also requires at least some degree of thought and planning (less so with seer/spider and alch/hellcat, but still there).
Remember Treant/Alchemist/Valk/Banshee? Very effective early game team, required careful planning to keep the chain going, could easily run into a wall where you would need a reset before continuing. Super slow, did very little spell damage, required methodical play to maintain advantage. Not a problem in the least. Then we have alch/hellcat/gard, or seer/spider/krakens. Okay, still requires a bit of concentration to keep up, you have to give up the turn at some point, and you usually have to cycle through more than one board in order to finish. A lot easier, but you are still planning out each step. Requires enough foretought that the AI probably can’t do it well. Then we have goblins and kraken/troll. Throw spells and see what sticks. Five green gems on the board? No problem, that can still be enough to net me a game ending loop. Freezing them is only viable if you can do it before they started, which, on an neutral start, is generally after they miss a cast and hand over a good board to you, which doesn’t happen. A single explode event filling an entire team from 0 through cascades kinda brings exploders into this category as well.
In short, I don’t think we are ever going to get the same level of strategy that we had before under the Unity ruleset. Even nerfing some of the more dominant options that are more likely to cause huge spikes won’t help when the spikes can still occur randomly. Any kind of new, pace-killing restrictions placed on how effective you can make any given turn through actual planning would render the game moot to me, because to me, that is the game at its core, and what the game has always been - maximize the impact of your turn, minimize the impact of the AI’s, or both, with faster being better.
Personally, I don’t mind that exploding teams are “on meta”. I find them quite fun and enjoy the randomness on offense. My issue is that this feels like the first time in the game since Webspinner where I’m routinely getting looped to death. And that is a miserable experience. Exploders were viable back then, so I’m not sure it’s exploder themselves that are the problem.
I also see the Drainers and Devourers as being equally if not more obnoxious than being looped to death. As you say, at least it’s usually over quickly. Psion and Kerby really stand out (largely b/c of skull skyfalls and FG, respectively).
I love strategic battles, unfortunately it seems like strategy went out the window when SkullFall, AI Mana Cascade, and AI Loop were added. There’s nothing fun about getting obliterated with no chance to recover. It’s like walking into a gunfight against a Howitzer.
I’ve spent less time on GoW last week and this week than I’ve spent on the game in months. This needs to be fixed.
Mana is gained too fast. Masteries are too high. Heck, I think I’d prefer the game without mana surge.
A spell that enchants or gives mana is actually a wasted turn, better off to just go for a lucky cascade.
I should clarify. I don’t mind explosion teams being viable, not at all. They shouldn’t be overwhelmingly dominant versus chains that require a bit more thought. The problem with exploders is that just clearing a lot of space can cause such a big overwhelmingly dominant event based on what falls afterward which can decide a match right then and there, after a single explosion event. I’m getting famine completely filling off a ragnagord cast at about a 30% or more shot now, which usually accompanies an extra turn. Balancing troops through giving devastating effect high mana costs is meaningless when hundreds of mana can come tumbling in at any moment, and then you can just use that mana to close out the match. Exploders themselves are not the problem in this regard. General “instability” of new falling matches, and the overall availability of mana is. I’m going to pin at least part of this on blob matches as well, since as little as seven gems in the correct configuration can generate 20+ mana. On Adobe, this same configuration would have given you credit for a flat 5 gems matched, so 9 to 12 mana usually, which may have been cheating you out of some mana, but overall felt much more balanced.
Sadly, I don’t even think this can be fixed without causing a huge divide in the playerbase. If you “fix” it, suddenly a bunch of other troops that people were having fun with are suddenly completely nonviable. We saw the same thing with the initial spawner autolink fix, and that was in for seven days, and we even still get the occasional mentions of how great spawners were in the past. People were mourning Fizzbang and she was in for literally just a few days. Unity has been on PC for months, and has been all console has ever known. I’m sure even I would feel a sense of loss with the pacing being slowed down, especially with the recent task nerfs requiring an even greater baseline of play to keep pace with what you were doing before. Its a tricky situation to be sure.
I totally agree with you. It’s honestly nuts how good Ragnagord has become after being irrelevant for like a year. I do think the surge on 4+ seems like one of the culprits, but I think anyone playing the game a lot also immediately can tell that the game “feels” different in ways beyond that.
I also wonder to what extent cause and effect is muddled. I suspect players have latched on to the spawners and Fizzbang because the meta sucks so much and they brought back in some fun (essentially by being so OP you could crush the meta). I think if you shift the power balance away from the most obnoxious troops that are currently omnipresent, it opens up a lot more possibilities and a “nerfed” version of an exploder or spawner is much more viable.
As I’ve already said, I think the meta is so anti-fun and soul-crushing that I welcome anything else. I’m excited about the prospect of seeing what lies beyond Psion, Famine, Kerby, Kraken, & Mab.
The meta is actually more varied now than at most times in the past. Repetition isnt the monotony issue it has been. But too many egregious effects or insta-win enemy loops combining with spiky RNG are killing the fun.
Agree with pretty much what @mithran says. Loops that require skill and forethought and decision-making to be encouraged - I’d include seer/spider and hellcat/alch in that. Loops that require spamming spells without looking at the screen to be minimised. These lead to loss of player agency and eliminate what little tactical element GoW had.
That said, I’d add:
mana drain has been significantly overcooked without ever providing counters to it, and just causes too much frustration
devour I have less concern over, though would rather it was tactical or conditional rather than just RNG
gem spam algorithm seems back under control, but trolls make too many gems - needs tweaking, an average creation of 11-12 is too high
the real problem accentuating all this is the RNG and cascade increase (and 4 match surges) since the unity switch over - too many game swinging spells or mindless AI loops that can fill from nowhere with nothing you could have stopped or foreseen, too many sky skull drops suddenly killing your first troop or psion draining you when you carefully set the board to avoid it
We have been promised a counter to Drain. Like, quite some time ago. Through Mana Shield making troops immune to mana drain.
Instead, we have Impervious bugged.
Also, devs see no problem with a troop that has Charm, starts with 6/9 mana, dispells all enemies and provides extra turn. While being stealthy.
Will the community be okay if the new troop has:
Impervious, Entangles on Skulls, Stealthy;
Ability: Death Mark all enemies, Stun and Silence them. Gain an extra turn.
Will everyone just say "Well yea, the meta just shifted. I can beat it if I get even luckier RNG toss than I need today."
Obviously - there always is a meta. But I do not like forcing new meta without addressing the old troops. Wisp is obviously overpowered.
Compare the mechanics and traits with it’s mana cost and counters. The league of the troop is outside the game. The only competitor is the new Fizzbang.