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Nudging the tiller - balance

Yes, relative to the starter. That sort of implies [neutral] / X / Y doesn’t pay any penalty, so may or may not need to special case that. I think it might be okay if taking the neutral starter got you out of paying the extra gold?

Neutral starter is already very good. I wouldn’t want to make it any better.

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Neutral starter is versatile, but in terms of pure power, I think it’s weaker than colored starters by design. Compare Helpful Turtle to Savior Monk, for example, or Fruit Ninja to Fox Primus. (Same deal with Neutral heroes, River Montoya and Troq Bashar only have 2 abilities, whereas all other heroes have 3).

True. I guess you would say that for multicolor decks, first non-neutral pays extra, but neutral+color isn’t multicolor & so the penalty doesn’t apply.

This makes nimble fencers an even more attractive t3 play.

I have a long standing series of games vs @flagrantangles on morningstar sanctuary where we mostly play my Green vs his Blue. In my experience Blue is really good at stopping me doing some specific things, but it’s usually fairly trivial to play around or switch to an alternative strat, particularly with Green’s massive economic advantage (Rich Earth is the MVP vs Blue). This can often leave Blue with no advantage to their board state depsite spending significant resources and often with wasted Tech choices.

Outside of Newsman and Free Speech (and sometimes Spectral Flagbearer) Blue doesn’t have much to use against heroes/spells while they have a load of stuff to deal with units or exploit opponent’s strong units. They also have no answer to upgrades and ongoing spells once they hit the board. I’ve also recently been thinking that Law Tech II/spells might be overpriced due to being balanced around the additional gold from Tax Collector, which is unfortunately one of the easiest things to play around.

My solution to these issues would be something like:

  • Jurisdiction becomes Community Service but for spells
  • Tax Collector always triggers even if the opponent doesn’t float gold (they have to pay it next turn)
  • Hallucination can deal with upgrades and ongoing spells as well as kill units. Also I feel it needs card draw so Quince won’t tank your hand as much to cast Dreamscape+Hallucination.

My current working versions:

Jurisdiction - Law Magic - Spell - 2g
Look at the opponent’s hand or discard pile. You may play a non-ultimate spell from there. (You still pay its cost to play it).
If you choose an ongoing spell your Law hero can channel it until your next upkeep.

Tax Collector - Law Tech I Unit - Administrator
Arrives: Steal 1g from an opponent. If they have none, you still gain 1g and the opponent must pay 1g during next upkeep or lose the game.

Hallucination - Truth Magic - Debuff ◎
Draw a card and choose one:

  • Up to two tech 0, I, or II units are Illusions this turn. (Illusions die when they’re ◎ by spells or abilities.)
  • Destroy an upgrade or ongoing spell.

Flangles and I are going to be testing these vs my Green over the next few weeks, but in the meantime I’d be really interested in feedback, particularly from experienced Blue or Black players. Also possibly Purple players as I always felt Blue was pretty strong vs Purple.

Tagging @frozenstorm @nekoatl @zhavier @metalize to hopefully comment

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Tax collector becomes ultra powerful. That would be an always tech in any matchup for me, especially as player 1, because it almost guarantees stopping p2 from gaining the tech 2 advantage.

I’ve always thought it was a little ridiculous blue only had newsman to deal with upgrades. But flavorwise I like jurisdiction for destroying upgrades. Or generals hammer

Not sure about stealing a spell from an opponent. Kinda neat

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That Jurisdiction change seems like a harsh nerf to an already awkward & expensive spell. Searching the opponent’s cards means you either lead with Lawful Search (or other spyworks) or you risk whiffing and wasting your $2. At least with the current behavior, you know exactly what you’re getting before you commit to pay the $2, and you get a long-term benefit of (presumably) upgrading the average quality of cards in your deck. I will note that Jurisdiction is likely meant to be played alongside Insurance Agents, which make the extra cost manageable and by which point you have room for a 2nd hero to replay the newly added spell when it cycles around again…

I agree with zhavier, that Tax Collector change is a major buff to an already strong tech I pick. Peace and Truth each offer methods of returning cards to hand as well, Law offers an option for floating a card until the ideal circumstances to play it, and just knowing you’re running Tax Collectors has a deterrent effect on the opponent floating gold and patrolling as Scavenger (if you want to be really sneaky, you can tech just one Collector and leave the opponent on guard against an imagined 2nd copy). So, I really think this buff is unnecessary.

Hallucination gets a bad rap, but I think it’s actually not a bad card. If Dreamscape is in play, Hallucination is a very efficient and flexible spell to kill units with (compare to Ember Sparks which also costs $1 per unit, but is limited to only targeting patrollers; Boot Camp is a little better, except that it’s a different hero’s spell, which makes it more awkward to combo, and while Deteriorate is a competitive choice, it has a decidedly smaller effect). If the opponent has some means of killing Sirus Quince, Hallucination is also more efficient than Dreamscape to enable Illusion kills via other targeting effects, and doesn’t have the drawback of exposing your own units to being target-killed if Macciatus, the Whisperer is not yet available. Adding the card draw risks making it OP. And, while I’ve also wished Blue had some means of upgrade removal rather than just upgrade prevention, the fact is that Black, Red, and Neutral don’t have any means to deal with upgrades at all, and if they can live without upgrade removal, Blue certainly can. Btw, while Reputable Newsman can be awkward to use, mono-Blue does have tools to enhance its performance, e.g. returning it to hand and replaying it to counter some revealed opponent’s card, dumping +1/+1 runes on it to insulate it from Sacrifice the Weak and similar effects, using Eyes of the Chancellor to make it invisible…

They’re interesting ideas, but I don’t feel like they’re improvements over the current cards, balance-wise.

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Thanks for the feedback @zhavier and @nekoatl.

I had a feeling the Tax Collector would be too strong as written, but just making it a 3/3 statline has always felt bland and counterintuitive to it being an “administrator”. I’ve always had a problem with the Tax Collector ability because I feel like spending all your gold is a good thing or at least not actively harmful. That and it feels like there should be a penalty for not paying your taxes.

How about changing the wording to “Arrives: Steal 1g from an opponent. If they have none, they must disable their weakest unit.” (Use same rules as sac the weak) or “Arrives: Steal 1g from an opponent. If they have none, all your Administrators have +1ATK”.

The former gives blue another way to board limit their opponents and the latter makes the opponent choose whether they get a 2/3 for 1g or a 3/3 for 2g with tribal benefits. The attack bonus could even be for other administrators if self buffing was too strong. Out of the two I feel like the angry civil service is maybe the more fun concept but “disable the weakest” would maybe more impactful to Blue’s game plan.

I’ll need to have a think about the comments on Jurisdiction and Hallucination a bit more before I comment further. One thing I should make clear is that I was mostly focussed on how the cards could be more useful helping Blue fight the pre-tech II game as that’s where they struggle the most. So I guess I discounted the likelihood of Insurance Agents helping with Jurisdiction.

I used to think Tax Collector was underpowered after comparing it to Overeager Cadet. If your opponent has gold to steal, you get a 2/3 unit for a net cost of $0 (you and the opponent each pay $1 which cancels out). If they don’t, you’re paying $2 more for 1 health, which is a bad deal. But, floating gold and patrolling as Scavenger are both powerful strategies for getting quick access to more expensive cards and buildings, and Tax Collector suppresses those options, slowing your opponent’s economy. So, I think Tax Collector offers enough total value that it doesn’t need a buff. Both of the proposed additions are quite powerful, and even if I did still think of Tax Collector as underpowered, I’d say those enhancements are too powerful to add without increasing the cost to at least $3.

Jurisdiction and Hallucination are terrible choices for the early game, agreed, but this is fine. Blue is a bit weirdly designed in that its tech 0 units are more utility-oriented than combat-oriented compared to other colors, with their tech 1 units offering excellent combat efficiency. As such, I think opening with a strong hero (not Quince) for aggression or turtling up with a Tower and Scavenger/Technician cannon fodder for T1&2 followed by quick deployment of low-cost tech I units is the way to go, generally speaking. Trying to use Blue non-basic spells to be competitive in the early game generally doesn’t work well in my experience; their spells generally seem designed to combo with specific mid- and late-game strategies or to counter specific threats. I say generally because a well-timed Elite Training or Injunction can yield a powerful swing under suitable circumstances, but they’re somewhat risky. Quince in particular should be avoided until at least tech II, as he’s very gold-intensive and produces much better value in conjunction with tech II units, especially Macciatus, the Whisperer.

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For Law, especially, (the threat of) punishing your opponent for not spending all of their gold is important. Injunction and Judgment Day both punish over-extending; Tax Collector complements that by punishing under-extending. Without actual offensive pressure, it’s Law’s way of stopping people from ignoring early game & saving up for for lategame.

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I dont agree with the comparison’s and analysis on hallucination and upgrade removal. Black and Red can get away with no upgrade removal because they can play to overwhelming force. Also black does have upgrade removal, in Tech 3 admittedly. Neutral is a spec not an entire codex, and therefore doesn’t make for a fair comparison.

Blue doesn’t do overwhelming force. Theme wise, Reputable Newsman is fine as blues upgrade solver, except its preemptive, meaning your opponent can set up their plans to counter it. What would enhance the flavor of blue would be to build a structure of interlocking preemptive blocks. Newsman as the only piece, with no tech 1 or 2 support doesn’t make sense. Theme wise, blue is trying to funnel the opponent into predictable actions, and then capitalize on those actions. Community service is a great example of how that can work really well.

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Right, I forgot Zarramonde, the Obliterator could destroy upgrades (Jail him!). I have often wished that Mirror Illusions could copy Reputable Newsman and make use of his effect, but I wonder if being able to block multiple costs simultaneously would be too oppressive for opponents to reasonably play around. In some ways, though, prevention is better than a cure where upgrades are concerned. Recently, I’ve won a few games where I dropped a Might of Leaf and Claw or two and destroyed my opponent’s base in the same turn. Upgrade removal wouldn’t help at all in that situation, but upgrade prevention would. Reputable Newsman definitely has the drawback of advertising what you’ll block, so the opponent can just avoid it, but then Blue also has the potential to change that value to whatever the opponent retools toward.

I have to disagree about Blue not doing overwhelming force; Peace can repeatedly swarm the board and massively buff units with Flagstone Garrison and Drill Sergeant. It’s just that Blue doesn’t have much in the way of early aggression, which makes for a difficult start against colors that do.

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Fair enough, the peace engine is viable, thats why it gets splashed with other things, mostly purple starter.

Its just getting to that point thats so problematic.

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Here’s an amusing(to me) change… Give reputable newsman Deathtouch. Don’t change anything else, just add deathtouch. As is, he can’t actually kill you, but if he gets an ounce of strength, he can tear you down completely. I think this is a cool flavor change. I will also admit newsman probably didnt actually need a buff, but still.

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That makes me think you could also let Building Inspector more easily do damage to damaged buildings, somehow. I’m not sure he needs the buff either, but he could be a bit more useful late-game. Makes Peace’s alternative building-destruction strategy a bit more viable, perhaps?

That one got a laugh out of me at least :joy:

On the topic of newsman, would changing it to a 1/3 or 2/2 (obvs without deathtouch) help vs Black Starter?

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I mean, you could, but everything interlocks with everything else. If you try and fix the blue vs black, then the green vs blue could suffer, for example. Or blue vs purple.

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Deathtouch Reputable Newsman is amazing, I love it! Not just for the humor, it also seems pretty flavorful – people seem to either not care about disreputable Totally Reputable News™ at all or care about it a lot. Maybe newsman specifically doesn’t need a buff, but I can’t stop grinning so that has to count for something, right? :smile:

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Oh hell yeah I’m very aware of the fact that the changes all interlock with each other and with different matchups. Maybe it’s not clear from how I express myself, but the way I’ve always dealt with complex multifaceted problems like this is to find the set of answers to the most significant problem (Definitely Blue vs Black) and then ideally pare them down to the list which doesn’t also lead to other problems elsewhere. If a perfect solution does exist, it logically must be somewhere in that first set. If one doesn’t exist, at least we could come to the conclusion that we need to solve one of the new problems to solve the original one.

That and it’s basically impossible to hold all the variables in your head at once, so you have to start somewhere.

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