As we've mentioned before, we were really excited to see where the 10 new cards and dozen of changes would send Faeria’s new meta. This past weekend, we watched the Monthly Cup qualifiers as well as the November ESL finals and we enjoyed both very much. We witnessed a wide variety of decks, saw some really unusual and exciting plays, and almost all of the games felt intense. These moments made us happy, as it matched closely with our intended design goals for the latest changes.
However, as pointed out by some of you in the community, we recognize that there are problems. We believe several areas can be improved.
We’d like to make something clear. We are really confident about the targeted shift in direction in Faeria's gameplay, but we feel that this direction was not fully understood by a certain portion of the community - and that is entirely our fault. The signal we sent appears to have been wrong. We should have spent more time communicating to you the intended direction these changes were to steer Faeria’s gameplay.
We absolutely want to ensure that board control and the wells are important elements in Faeria games, and that victories should be achieved through careful planning and deep strategies. We believe that this is still the case even after the latest update, but the true power level of certain cards like Hellfire and Annoying Gnat weren't correctly anticipated and are sending a false message of what we intend Faeria to be and where we intend to take it.
While the developer commentary on the latest patch addressed each change to existing cards individually, we didn’t really touch too much on the new cards themselves or what we wanted to accomplish with them. We thought the cards would speak for themselves, but that turned out not to be the case. Much of our feelings can be encapsulated by highlighting the commentary for Healing Song, for example:
…Many tense games were often fought without either orb taking damage until the final turns. The last thing we wanted to do was let you trade excess faeria for more life. It would just give a bigger incentive to ignore the orbs and focus on harvesting.
This patch changes things. More than ever, life is a resource you can trade for value. Additionally, decks are gaining more tools to pierce a turtling player’s defenses. These new options ensure orbs are going to be taking a lot more damage than usual…
Using life as a resource. More options available that allow you to pierce through a player’s wall of turtle-like defenses. These are new strategies we wanted to push and introduce into Faeria. We want each turn to have a healthy amount of tension, immediate tension, where even in control match-ups life totals can increase and decrease frequently, sometimes every turn. What we don’t want are players to feel as if they have little control over the outcome of the match or are powerless against certain strategies. In general, we are not satisfied with how “swingy” games can tend to be at the moment, nor are we with how smothering the overwhelming power level of some of the new cards can be. Therefore, we will be making some adjustments.
As always, we are tracking the meta. We listen to player feedback, watch streams, and of course continue to play the game ourselves. We prefer to take action only when we feel it is absolutely necessary and otherwise let the meta settle before taking any further steps.
Today’s patch addresses some of the most extreme combos and deck archetypes leading up to the Monthly Cup finals next weekend. Naturally we don’t want to do anything too severe right before the month’s biggest tournament, this is likely the first step in a larger effort. Even so, we expect you’ll be quite happy with the direction of these changes.
Hellfire - Deals 9 damage instead of 10
Hellfire is an example of a card that has 'random' in the text which isn't so random in practise. You have huge control over when you play the card, as well as strategies for defending against a deck which may contain Hellfires.
However, Hellfire was still killing people from 20. The card was designed to give decks that achieve board dominance (a huge pile of faeria against their opponent’s empty board) a way to end the game more quickly than such decks classically have done. It was also a way to encourage decks to actually play cards on the board to defend themselves. While opinions differ wildly over the card, with skilled deckbuilders arguing the entire range from “this card is broken” to “this card is extremely weak” we wanted to slightly tone back Hellfire’s ability to kill you on its own. Two Hellfires are no longer enough to kill you from 20 on an empty board. This is significant to decks attempting pure combo kills.
Dream Reaver - Gift is now "Set a god's life to 10"
Speaking of cards that can kill you from 20, Dream Reaver occupies a similar role to Hellfire. We’ve all seen blue decks that sit back and farm wells forever until the opponent basically surrenders in frustration. This isn’t as much of a problem on ladder, but when there’s pride and money on the line in a tournament setting many players naturally hang on till the bitter end. This doesn’t create a great experience for anyone.
Dream Reaver was designed to end games. While this card was tested internally, and seemed rather fair against the decks built with it in mind, a few days out in the wider world proved that the card felt miserable to play against. Hellfire you can counter by playing large creatures onto the board. Dream Reaver just looked at you and said “die”. To have any chance against the deck, you had to get extremely aggressive the moment you saw a lake.
Setting a god's life to 10 is still a huge change from 20. However, new counterplay options exist (in particular the many ways players now have to damage themselves in exchange for value). It also has secondary value as a self-heal against rush and burn decks. Finally, it reduces the previously hideous impact of multiple Dream Reavers coming down due to Aurora’s Creation. This is a significant change to the card and we’re interested to see how it affects deck construction.
Soul Pact - reverted to the original version "Gain 2f, deal 2 damage to yourself"
We said right from the start that we were highly uncertain about adding card draw to Soul Pact. It was an experiment based around just how far we could push self-damage for value. Yellow’s weakness at card advantage has long kept the color in check. Ultimately the stronger healing options now in the game too easily allowed yellow to get around the self-damage drawback. While we want to find an efficient tier 1 “pay life for faeria” option in yellow, soul pact has proved an unwieldy method of doing this. We’re going back to the tried and true original design.
Annoying Gnat - 3fDD (was 2fD)
Nearly everyone underestimated this insect. While we tested the card extensively, our internal tests often featured burn decks that could exploit the Gnat’s weakness. In the wild lands of the open ladder players are less afraid of being countered by a burn deck. In sheer value terms, a 2/1 flier that doesn’t cost you card advantage is worth more than 2 life. The Gnat’s random summoning has also proven to be a rather insignificant drawback, as nearly every space on the board is within 1 space of a strategic point of interest (a faeria well or an orb).
We’ve increased the gnat’s up-front cost accordingly, making it more of an investment.
Deathwalker - Now 6/4 (was 6/5)
Deathwalker has always had insane stats. A 6/5 for 3 faeria with deathtouch is a huge amount of power. It’s classically been kept in check only by yellow’s difficulty in acquiring efficient card advantage. The Annoying Gnat removes this drawback, ensuring you’ll always have something to sacrifice even in a yellow rush list.
Balancing the Gnat around the old deathwalker proved unwieldy. We felt like the right number would end up being 3.5 faeria at 2 deserts (which is obviously not possible). Applying a slight nerf to deathwalker opens up more space in the design of sacrifice fodder like the gnat, and makes the gnat itself more relevant outside of strict sacrifice combos.
- Re-applied the fix for Last Words that are ran when a creature is transformed (e.g. Ruunin, Annoying Gnat, etc)
- Fix on emote responsiveness (please give feedback/shout if bugs are still there)
- As Soul Pact has been reverted to a previous design, Puzzle 45 is back!
Thank you for reading and, as always, let us know your thoughts.
- The Faeria Team