I’ve been playing PVP quite a bit this week (164 battles so far), and it seems that the Maw meta is definately dead/dying. Last week at least 65-70% of the hard option opponents in PVP contained at least one Maw, but now that number has been reduced to maybe 25%.
The new kings of PVP appear to be Manticore and Emperor Khorvash. Usually used both in the same team (around 50-60% of the time in the hardest option in PVP). Now change is good, 'cause the Maw meta was getting old, but Manticore/Khorvash is an incredibly annoying opponent to play against, 'cause playing against mana drain is no fun at all.
So, very respectfully, if this is what the devs intended to be the new meta (replacing Maw as the dominant troops in PVP) then this was obviously not tested very well. No offense intended to @Sirrian and @Nimhain, but this seems to have gone wrong somewhere in the design and/or testing phase. Losing all mana that you’ve accumulated every 3 turns is not a lot of fun when you need mana to cast a spell to eliminate Khorvash (with his stoneskin) in the first position. Skulls aren’t really a great alternative here…
Also both troops seem to be OP.
Especially Manticore (empowered, mana cost 9) is just way too cheap for its spell. It can be cast for free in the first turn and then again after 2-3 green or yellow matches. Perhaps this would be better changed to “Fast” and a mana cost of 11-12.
Khorvash is midly OP, IMHO. He does seem to be the only legendary that has three great traits, so maybe “Leader” or “Stoneskin” to something a little less great would be a good idea.
But Manticore is in much greater need of a nerf than Khorvash, cause right now an empowerd base ultrarare is dominating high level PVP, which (to me anyway) seems very strange indeed.
And please don’t take this as a rant/complaint 'cause you think I can’t handle the new meta. I lost only 5 of the 164 battles I’ve played this week, so beating Manticore/Khorvash is not a problem. The problem is that they are no fun to play against and I really do prefer to have fun while playing games…
Super easy to use on our teams also. And… unfortunately seeing the exact same thing as when we needed to counter the last ridiculous Empowered troop (Mercy), which is to use one yourself and beat them to the punch.
Manticore is clearly strong, but I don’t find it OP. It’s a solid control card, and you can’t ignore one that’s on the opposing team. Taking away Empowered would completely short-circuit it, but its mana cost might be upped a little. I find that having more cards on defense that you HAVE to take into account, and can’t just power through, is sound design. Defenders already suffer a huge handicap from having a predictable automated decision-making process. You could pretty much always outplay the baddest baddies (Maw, Mercy, Mab) since you knew how they worked and could generally counter their flow. No difference now, just a greater variety of cards needing to be played around. Manticore doesn’t force a hard counter (by another Manticore, say), since if you leave it alone, it’ll simply drain and stun one of your troops - no instant death there. It just means you have to build up multiple troop spells, so you have a fall-back option. Plus, Manticore doesn’t manipulate the board or do damage with its spell, so it’s not exactly deadly.
Khorvash is well made, has strong abilities, and as a result is more appealing to play than many other Legendaries. Its Stoneskin can be disabled with Stun, and you can punch it down regardless - you can have plenty of power sitting pretty in the last two troops, and use the first two to soak up damage/be impervious (Behemoth style).
What I find unfortunate is that stunning doesn’t remove trait effects that activate at the beginning of the match, like Leader and all the rest. But that’s a different story.
Khorvash can be stopped from charging. Hes powerful, but as a legendary, he should be. His mana drain can’t be targeted and while his spell is very powerful, he can be countered by keeping your generator in the third spot or below and out charging him.
Manticore is extremely obnoxious, whether or not I bring an empowered troop. I wouldn’t call it “overpowered”, but the impervious trait, low rarity, and spell combined puts it far enough ahead on the power curve to be used everywhere. A huge problem with this is because it is good at stalling legendary builds, including stunning their traits and a huge goal of the game is getting and using these legendaries, having it be everywhere is a bit of a problem. If you have a favorable board, its a non issue and you can get things started on your first turn. If you have a neutral board, usually, it just stalls you out for a few turns and delays the match before you can get whatever plan you would normally get going, with the threat of an extremely high attack troop to watch out for, which is fine. But with an unfavorable board, it can easily continually out charge your generator and have you back and forth trade bad gem matches waiting for that lucky 4/5 match or skulls. When I can’t charge any spells that modify the board, I feel like I’m below level 20 again before I had access to generator troops. Manticore just feels like it has set the meta back a couple years. For all the complaints Maw got, it was never this bad, even in the original “broken” state, because when it did devour, you could take your loss and move on in the matter of seconds.
I’m not in favor of heavy nerfs, but I think that both troops should simply have a two higher mana cost - just enough so they can’t indefinitely out charge and mana drain both generators and legendaries alike without even needing the help of a generator themselves. However, this alone probably won’t stop you from seeing them on defense - this will remain the meta until something is perceived as universally better. This can be accomplished by nerfing both into the ground, but I’d rather not go that route. Hard counter is also very much the wrong way to go here for a simple Ultra-Rare troop, especially one that already has Impervious and an absurdly low mana cost.
A huge difference is that Mercy generally accelerates games because she converts (generates) mana, while Manticore takes it away, to such extremes that some games go back and forth several turns with no spells used. Before Manticore was brought in, it had been a long time since I last saw a board jumble, but Manticore’s prevalence has made them a thing again. Even Manticore vs Manticore can be tedious. Spirit Fox is usually a better choice, since by removing a color, all mana matches become easier, allowing better potential to get things started - provided using it it doesn’t just set up a bunch 4 matches for the opponent. Plus, the fox can target manticore, but not the other way around, unless stunned by Khorvash’s trait. Faunessa is also not bad at disposing of Manticore, but isn’t all that good in general.
In the worst of situations, Manticore can force a stalemate of taking gems into a board shuffle and take skulls, killing your first troop (or get them from cascades). I currently have over a 30% win rate with an extremely stupid experimental team using only mana drains with barely any damage (manticore, manticore, succubus, khorvash), and I suspect this is how it is getting wins. You can’t really plan around a bad board or a bad board shuffle. The other 70% are likely finding that first turn window to get things started. I’ll be taking it down after this week, as I can’t imagine how irritating it would be to lose to this team that does nothing but stall, but I think we’ll be seeing more manticore rather than less from most people.
Of course, as I’ve said many times in the past, one thing that people don’t like seeing on defense is just going to be replaced by another thing, so long as it remains teams designed to get wins and only wins, and getting wins is better than getting losses by however small a margin, anything with a decent win rate will just be copied ad nauseum. For any sort of permanent change to happen in that regard, there needs to be an incentive to use underused troops on defense.
It is as you described, annoying! Two empowered drain from the start meant that it took quite awhile to get going. By the time I did, they’d charged up again themelves. It is a tough choice to either mana deny or rush your generator and attempt to beat Manticore.
What made it worse was my main damage troop needs 17 mana so plenty of time to allow manticore to drain! Next time will bring a different team. I ended up winning (buffed Sunweaver) but first two troops died before they could really make an impact, as the Manticores (board was heavy green) recharged so quick for multiple drains and big attack for when I could not avoid leaving skulls for the AI, either from cascade or limited moves.
I think you need to bring a jinx troop to mitigate the chance of mana surges when the spell cost is so low.
I don’t think Khorvash needs adjustments at all, maybe some new strategies on teams would be required:
Remove him from the front.
Drains his mana.
Now Manticore’s mana cost seems like the issue, it already casts his spell because of empowered and can charge it again pretty soon reducing the number of things you can against Khorvash since you can’t outrun him for mana when Manticore prevents you from doing it. Impervious as it currently is makes any troop a little OP since it reduces what you can do about some troops, if the immunities would be reworked maybe some nerfs would be less required and some troops would require less adjusts in the overall.
If Mana Drain becomes the meta, and it’s a mechanic essentialy annoying becase it prevents you from playing your spells, then maybe it’s the right time to consider making Mana Shield pevent Mana Drain as well as Mana Burn.
I’ve suggested before that some traits could prevent two status/effects at once as a form to add more value and sinergy to some troops:
I’ve been noticing troops with Stealthy becoming more prevalent also. Spirit Fox has always been a bit of an annoyance on defense, now I’m seeing Manti/Amira/Spirit Fox combos out there. Definitely beatable but if you’re looking for quick wins these will hold you back a bit.
Also on board with adjusting Manticore, I say start with increasing spell cost from 9 to 11 and see how it goes.
And the idea for Mana Shield to protect against Drain sounds really intriguing!
Well hopefully the devs wouldn’t lump Mana Drain into the Impervious trait like they did with Devour and Mana Burn. The nitpicker in me says that Devour and Mana Burn aren’t status effects in the true sense of the word thus shouldn’t fall under the Impervious umbrella. Would make the Indigestable and Mana Shield traits more important.
Manticore is just anoing but is easily killed. Sure she gets big on attack but her defense not. Emperor is an amazing troop: good on defense, good on attack, breaks strategies… is really good overall. I dont think they need a nerf. Emperor always can be devoured and Manticore always can be true damaged or skulled.
I think the issue is that Manticore and Khorv are both too complete of troops. Manticore’s biggest problems are a combo of (1) Empowered continuing to be under-valued by the dev team when balancing troops and (2) it’s mana costs being way too efficient. It should be Fast and like 12 mana. I think Khorv’s problem is that he’s naturally tanky and has utility due to his traits, then his spell makes him a little too strong with the combo of true damage and stun and mana drain. I think raising the mana cost to 16 or so would be a good start.
As said in another thread, they created some noticeable power creep in their effort to avoid nerfing Maw by introducing counters.