Game balance: transforms are powerful

Predendum: having absorbed the feedback, I retract the nerf call. The team described may be near-maximal in terms of wins per game and resources per game, but not in terms of resources per time since the games take more turns (and more thought). So that’s what balances it.

tldr; troops that transform all of one color into another should be changed to transform “X + magic” gems instead to rein them in.

I’m close to burning out on GoW because I’ve hit on a particular set of three troops that I can use together to defeat anything. This week I streaked straight from rank 15 to 1. Not enough challenge anymore. There is a high skill cap to the combo, which is the only factor keeping me interested for now.

Here’s the team (numbers reflect level 15).

[Any green-only, purple-only, or green-purple troop, + their banner]
Alchemist (red-brown) “Transform a selected Mana color to Yellow. Gain 10 gold.”
Valkyrie (red-yellow) “Transform a selected Mana color to Blue. Gain 4 Soul(s).”
Sunweaver (yellow-blue) “Increase Attack, Armor, Life, and Mana of an Ally by 6.”

Here’s the strategy:

  • Match red and brown to power up your transformers. Never match-3 blue or yellow if you can avoid it, you want as many of those gems on the board as possible.

  • Never transform blue to yellow or vice versa except as a game-finisher.

  • Never cast a transform unless it gives you an extra turn.

  • Never pass up a transform that DOES give you an extra turn. Even if you can’t use the mana. Your goal is to relentlessly reduce the color diversity of the board. You can manually make match-4/5’s in between transform casts as long as you don’t leave yourself with a board that can’t give you a free turn via transform.

  • Do pass up opportunities to give away the turn via match-3 skulls, when you can do anything to get an extra turn instead. You want those skulls to stay on the board so that when you do your giant transforms, they chain into skull-matches during an action that gives you an extra turn.

  • If you hit a stall (no way to guarantee an extra turn) and there are two match-3 skulls available on the board, let opponent match the first while you cast Sunweaver’s buff on your striker. The 12 total health+armor you get will offset the hit, and then you can hit back with +6 attack.

  • Learn how to see ever-more-obscure extra-turn opportunities. (See addendum at bottom.) This is where the skill cap comes in. If you cast a transform and then the other player takes their turn, you’re doing it wrong. (The one exception is that a single low-gemcount transform in the early game, giving nothing away to your opponent, can prepare the board for your subsequent takeoff.) When you have one or both transforms ready to go, and you have cast at least one transform so far this game, then there is usually a way to guarantee an extra turn on your next action – it just may be hard to find.

  • Use Sunweaver’s buff on your front troop if you’ve already gotten your transforms rolling. If the opponent has taken off before you, buff Alchemist instead. The plus 6 mana alone may be enough to trigger Team Transform and win. However always buff the front troop if the opponent’s spells are oriented around killing your other troops first.

Here’s how it goes down:

You each make a few matches, maybe trade some skull hits. Opponent may cast a spell. One of your transformers becomes active, and you either cast it right away for a free turn or have to sit on it for a turn or two until you can. That removes a mana color from play, making further extra turns much easier to find and chain into. After you’ve cast your first transform, the only times you ever let the opponent take a turn are when you take a turn to cast Sunweaver’s buff, or you get an occasional stall where you can’t guarantee an extra turn and can usually settle for a match-3 skulls.

Sunweaver’s buff is perfect for Team Transform. Every transform removes a color from play, relentlessly increasing the density of Skulls until chaining into match-3 Skulls is inevitable (while you only take actions that give you extra turns). Thus Sunweaver’s +6 attack on your striker is greatly magnified in value. Alternately, +6 mana can be the burst of nitro that you need to get your extra turns rolling. +6 health AND armor on the target troop protects your investment. You’ll often be able to cast the buff again after a single turn of your opponent’s, which is essentially game over.

The only spell that interferes with this team somewhat is Entangle, since the team has no direct damage (unless you put some in your first slot). However all you have to do is wait it out while buffing with Sunweaver like mad – you can generate health/armor faster than you take damage – so this is not really a threat.

What’s crazy is that Alchemist and Valkyrie also generate free gold and souls when they cast (both from spell text and from tons of match-4/5’s). So clearly the designers thought that, being neither buffs, debuffs, nor direct damage, their transform powers were underpowered for their slot – as they should be for a resource farming team! If I’m careful not to kill the opponent too fast I can finish every battle with capped gold and souls. I chain into a map not uncommonly too.

Looking at it from a game design perspective, this team is a big problem. 1) The strongest combo overall shouldn’t also be generating extra resources (in three ways no less). 2) There should be rock-paper-scissors, where nothing is strong against everything. 3) It shouldn’t be possible to deterministically chain turns to this degree.

There’s an easy fix that’s in line with other spells. Change “transform all of a color” to “transform [X + magic] of a color”. When there’s more gems than that number you could still -probably- make yourself an extra turn via transform, but it wouldn’t be a guarantee anymore, resulting in a more reasonable number of turns given to the opponent. If the intent is to leave the gold/soul generating parts of these spells intact, X + magic should be made a low enough number that while the troops are still reasonable to use as mana feeders, they no longer rank among the most powerful combos in the game via guaranteed turn chaining.

Note: “remove all gems” is nothing like transform and doesn’t need a nerf. 1) it’s much harder to find a guaranteed extra turn with a remove, and 2) it’s “remove a color and replace with random stuff from the top” rather than “remove a color and replace with one other color”. The latter is far more effective at changing the board into a volatile match-chaining zone with just a few colors left plus skulls.

Candidates for first slot:

Tyri (green-purple) “Remove all Gems of a chosen color. Gain 10 gold, boosted by the gems removed.” It’s hard to cast a remove without handing the turn to the opponent along with a rarefied board. However you don’t need to cast the spell in this slot, and at 11 attack (with banner) she’s already brutal with the rate you can generate skull-matches in a single turn. You can often win with her in front without casting Sunweaver’s buff at all. But at only 16 health+armor, she will get killed sometimes when the opponent takes off before you, forcing you to win by buffing Alchemist (woe!). You don’t need her spell to max gold per game.

Boar Rider (purple-green) “Remove a row, and deal 8 damage to the first enemy. Gain an extra turn”. It’s a spell you can cast without giving away the turn, but you can reach 100% win against everything without it. You can occasionally remove a row in a way that sets up a match-4 as your next action, but not often enough to make an important difference. At 19 health+armor (with banner) he’s a sturdier meat shield to survive until your first Sunweaver buff, but only has 7 attack.

Dark Song (green-purple) “Deal 10 damage to an enemy. Deal double damage if they use green mana.” Sexy, but superfluous to the team since it gives away the turn. At 25 health+armor (with banner) she’s great as a meat shield to take hits until you start casting your other spells. 7 attack.

…or your favorite [green and/or purple] troop/weapon. Just remember that if the spell gives away the turn, don’t plan on casting it more than once per game.


Make sure your visual cortex understands that any of these shapes qualify for an extra turn, and can spot them when composed of any two colors (one of which blue or yellow but not both):





You also need to watch for these single-color shapes, which can indicate that a one-step chain to four of a kind is available, via a match-3 or a transform that creates a match-3, which causes this shape to fall into place.





nice ill try this build. :smiley: what kingdom u pick with that build? +2 red?


We’re aware that gem transformations are really powerful at the moment (Webspinner anyone?). We have put a fix in 1.0.7 that should help address this.

I’ve been using alchemist since I got it. At first for the extra gold but now just because it is so powerful.

My team the last two weeks (for pvp ranking) have been:

  • Orion
  • Orion
  • Alchemist
  • empty slot
    Divine fields flag and Khaziel as homeland
    I only use 3 troops and still have (at least) 95% win rate

If you want a challenge try attacking with only 2 troops.
With only 2 troops (1 orion + alchemist) I have about 50-60% win rate but it requires a bit of luck since if Orion should die from a random skull rain it is pretty much game over.

I really like the idea you described to change transforms, even if it would totally screw up almost all my teams ^.^

// BlueDog (lvl 169)

Hey, an interesting, well-written and detailed post… but it’s not just the fault of one design combo that lets you win 95%… the AI is (currently) not that bright (or lucky, since a balance change) so there’s plenty of combos you can set up, and plenty of viable teams…

Adding Sunweaver to this set-up is interesting… but it still has no clear win-condition without being reliant on skull drops (no consistent ability to deal damage often and on-demand) so even though you’re holding the turn, you may often not be dishing out damage and are exposed to bad drops (or human error, in my case).

I’ll give this one a go for a while and see if Sunweaver’s buff improves things, but my experience of pure turn-chaining teams before (the age-old combo is with the Banshee) is that it takes far longer to win, which bores me (with my short attention span). I’m running teams with exploders or magic buffs and ways of dealing damage very quickly - and still have 95% win rate (actually 100% unless I meet a Webspinner that gets on a roll).

Might be useful to see some timing stats with your team (if you have the patience to do so) - do a few PVP runs and time how long it takes to get 10 wins a few times. If you get lucky (with a buffed lead troop and skull drops) this could be quick - but could be tediously slow…

I’m running a few fast teams at the moment - the best for sheer damage seems to be Sun&Moon+Ragnagord+Hobgoblin+Behemoth - a consistent 10 wins around 20-22 mins.

And one last (emotional) comment - if you are concerned that running your win win win turn chaining team is boring you and you might stop playing - why not just play some other teams? your pain feels a bit self-inflicted to me…


[quote=“mattlistener, post:1, topic:971, full:true”]
troops that transform all of one color into another should be changed to transform “X + magic” gems instead to rein them in. [/quote]

While I acknowledge that “transform all ” troops are somewhat overpowered, particularly in combination, I wouldn’t like the fix to be changing them all to transform “X + magic” random gems.

The fun of playing an Alchemist or Valkyrie is choosing the best timing and color to change to maximise combos, something that’s not possible with troops/weapons like Rock Borer or Prismatic Orb.

We’re not change any spells to be like that. We like Alchemist and Valkyrie’s spells. We just adjusting at how much more powerful gem spamming is and the fact that some builds can cause extra turn chains.

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While it wouldn’t address the OP’s deck, I think a sensible approach is that no transformer / gem creator should power itself. If it makes green gems it shouldn’t use green for mana. The powering itself rule is something you should consider across the board when it comes to granting mana. The sunweaver’s OPness seems to stem from the same problem (plus it doesn’t cost enough for what it does). Webspinner wouldn’t be nearly as broken if it didn’t make the very green mana it needs to make more green mana.

Personally I don’t see too much of a problem with the OP’s deck. It requires quite a bit of attention and is entirely hooked into one strategy. The cards work together well, but don’t power themselves, and the loss of any one card could shatter the system. I would imagine it has a very high win rate just like any other well thought out, organized, and finely tuned combo deck will under current settings.



Yeah +2 red would be my plan. Working on leveling Pridelands tho.

The deck doesn’t need a clear win-condition, nor is it overly reliant on getting enough skulls. Each transform you cast makes the next even easier. As greater and greater fractions of gems are removed from the board at once, the density of skulls rises to the point where chaining into matches is inevitable. I sometimes win games without manually matching skulls at all.

For similar reasons, it’s not a flaw that the transform chain fails to be self-looping. Often enough I chain into plenty of red and brown matches (or am set up with 4/5 brown/red matches I can make or chain into manually). It’s not infinite, but it’s got enough longevity to overcome everything.

Having troops get killed is not an issue because Sunweaver isn’t direct damage that needs to be continuously powered. If she has cast her buff once, I hardly need anyone else but the buffed troop anymore. If she’s cast it twice, gg.

You’re right that the burnout is somewhat self-inflicted. I might try a different approach, might try a different game, we’ll see once 1.0.7 drops. Apparently they’re not changing transform spells, but they’re doing something else that limits the effectiveness of gem spamming and extra turn chains? Hard to guess what that might be.


Very interesting and detailed insights. I use a similar method with the following team;


This team achieves similar results albeit with 2 big hitters.

Interesting, I may give it more of a try - Sunweaver is a recent addition (and clearly over-powered) so it’s likely this works far better than this style of build used to…

I wasn’t saying it wouldn’t work - if anything I guess I disagreed more with the impression I was getting that this meant the game was broken and you’d found the unbeatable combo… There are plenty of things in the game that need fixing (in the view of most of us on the forums, it seems) and there are plenty of well-built deck combos that will win consistently, as both I and @Razlath observed…

Well done for constructing this effective strategy (I hadn’t thought of it, or seen it out there in PVP) - personally I think I prefer builds that blow stuff up more and perhaps run faster… I also like builds that need less skill and careful watching the screen, as (1) it slows things down, (2) I tend to play while watching TV or movies and (3) my children play my game too…

You’re clearly skilled and thoughtful in the game so I do hope you don’t burn out - stick with it as I’m sure there’ll be many more great things to come… (Soon, hopefully, as the devs tend to wryly say…)

As for the fix to gem spamming and turn chains… Either (1) build in some kind of ‘diminishing returns’ so that successive turns generate less and less mana or (2) tinker with the code so that when gems are created they have less chance of appearing in matches (especially 4+ matches).

(1) would address lots of broken bits, and weaken constructed teams like your OP, but feels harder for our busy devs to code…

(2) feels more likely and would (eventually) address the Webspammer issue we all hate, but wouldn’t address targeted gem changing like your OP…

@Nimhain any views?

In the words of my old WoW days…

Less QQ, more Pew Pew

People will never be satisfied. First you complain about game being too easy, then cries broken when you run into the web spinner or transformers.

Seriously, I actually look forward to running into webspinner opponent. You should look at it from a different point of view. Those are pretty much the only encounters that can keep me on my toes in this game.

If anything , I would like to see more broken mechanics. The game is just too easy otherwise without them.

More Kerebros-like cards please! Or perhaps some new doom counters ability that can one shot anything if certain condition is satisfied.

It’s sad that I can pretty much plays thru practicality any encounter half-awake, and only wakes up on the goblin-webspinner combo

I don’t see the point of balance if it’s just going to make Everything mediocre. better AI would be one fix. But implementing more power combos would make the game more challenging imo

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I half agree… But most people like winning… And having the rewards; it’s seriously frustrating investing four minutes of my life into a match and losing…

Actually it’s not so much the losing to Webspammer that’s sore, as the boredom of watching it take endless turns…

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Another merit of Boar Rider as the front troop: he can make a vertical match-3 skulls fall into place without giving away the turn. Particularly sweet when there’s two match-3 skulls set up that don’t interfere with each other, so you can use them both instead of trading hits with the opponent.

I’ve now played a handful of games with the Team Transform post 1.0.7, at Warlord 1 difficulty.

The above-quoted adjustment looks to be a modifier on how much mana you get from matches created by transforms. @Nimhain care to share what the modifier is? (We know it was .7 for explodes.) Does the modifier apply to chained matches that come after a transform?

This change does rein in the team a bit. There are more occasions where it loses steam. Add in the fact that there’s now difficulty levels, and my concerns about “not challenging enough” are addressed – well done!

With more experience, it looks like mana gains are as before, contra what I wrote above.

I do notice that you cannot get a gold bonus for more than 1 match-4 or more than 1 match-5 in a single action, has it always been that way?

(You can chain into multiple match-4/5s and get gold for all of them, but if you do a transform and make 2+ match-4s at once, you only get 4g.)

What we did is it decreases the chance that gem spammers will create 4 of kind matches.

So we know that people are having issues with certain gem spammers. We wanted to wait for this patch to came out before we make any balance changes.

We are paying attention to what’s happening in game and the feedback we’re seeing and will make changes accordingly.

This just doesn’t work.

With the new team bonuses four webspinners get + 3 Magic and now spam 14 green gems.

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