For Troq, I recall we were considering removing his J ability and making Fast J 2.4 speed. If we do that, maybe we should give Slow J +2 damage to compensate it losing the ability? Seems like Troq rarely has reason to reveal Slow J without the ability. One notable exception is the Oni mu where the +2 Slow J damage makes it more even.
Alternatively, we could make the J ability only affect Slow J and make Slow J slower so the ability feels more crucial. I’m thinking 4.4 speed so it lines up with 2.4 Fast J. 4.4 allows Zane Q, Val K, and Gwen Slow J to beat Troq Slow J.
Last idea, 1.0 speed Q? Not crazy about it but just throwing it out there as a possibility.
Before reading this, note that it’s incredibly long and I started writing it months ago, so apologies in advance if there are any mistakes (spelling, grammatical, or factual) or if I repeated myself. I need to get this off my computer and my mind once and for all.
Seriously, this post is massive, though it may not be obvious how massive at first.
This gave me an idea:
What if we combined my Flame Trap with Smoldering Embers?
First pass at a combination
J* Flame Trap [During Combat]
If Flame Arrow deals block damage, the opponent doesn’t draw a card from blocking. Whenever the opponent dodges while this card is in your discard pile, they take 2 damage. You can’t power up with this card. (It’s too hot.)
I’m going to try following the advice of the article I linked earlier and start by assuming this is a terrible idea that’ll break everything, then convince myself (and hopefully at least one other person?) that it’s actually good enough to be worth it. This is the first time I’ll be attempting this approach, so it’s as much an experiment on my part as anything, and I’m expecting that I’ll have something different at the end than what’s shown above.
Why am I doing this?
At this point I think others have said enough on why Jaina has problems, and I’ve already said quite a bit about why I think herJackneedsimproved. To summarize, her Flame Arrow seems like it’s meant to fill a similar function to Grave and Geiger’s Jacks, but where those two deny the opponent the chance to draw from blocking and deal at least 3 damage, a blocked Flame Arrow gives the opponent card advantage and only does a net of 2 damage if Jaina buys the Jack back (or gives them even more card advantage if she doesn’t buy back). That difference in card advantage is significant enough that even if it did more (net) block damage it probably would still be worse than Grave’s Lightning Cloud unless the block damage was made ridiculously high. Moreover, it’s bad flavor if the archer character basically never wants to shoot arrows at people, and while it sees some use as a combo ender when she doesn’t have many Kings or Aces, it almost never gets combat-revealed if anything else is available. When a character’s signature card gets used most often as power-up fodder, there’s definitely a problem.
Having Smoldering Embers on 10 exacerbates the problem of Jaina having too few blocks because she’s actively encouraged to throw away an entire rank of blocks against every character except Rook. Because Smoldering Embers prevents discarding to power up she has to use them either as throws or pump fodder for Knee Bash or Dragonheart if she wants to be certain they’ll end up in the discard, since blocking with them returns them to hand unless the opponent is brave enough to throw her.
Moving the effect of Smoldering Embers to a rank without a block frees Jaina’s 10s to serve as dedicated blocks and removes the feeling of obligation to use her slowest throw and/or play pumpable moves early just to get it in the discard. Moving it to Jack in particular gives better flavor (you can imagine her arrows leaving small flames on the ground that the opponent has to try to avoid stepping on, plus the “it’s too hot” bit makes more sense), makes Charged Shot a better dodge follow-up because it deals damage both on hit and when they dodge on later turns, and prevents her from using her signature card as mere power-up fodder. Adding an effect that prevents the opponent from building hand—similar to Grave’s Lightning Trap, which is part of why I’m proposing the name Flame Trap—finishes the work of making this card worth combat-revealing since there’s now a legitimate reason to use it over her other cards early-game. Normals are still best for building her own hand due to normal draw and straights but they either deal less block damage or are way slower, King is still the best on a successful hit and is fastest but doesn’t help with the card advantage problem, and Jack would now be the second fastest option that gives the least payoff on hit but the best on block due to denying the draw from block and dealing high chip damage.
Moreover, the choice of whether to buy back a Jack would be more interesting than for any of her other cards; keeping it maintains hand size and allows Flame Arrow spam to prevent the opponent from building their own hand, while discarding it sacrifices both hand size and the card’s combat utility to set up residual damage for later in the game (and avoid self-damage, of course). It’s a tricky decision, one that can be affected by a lot of different factors within the game state, and there’s often going to be grey areas where it’s unclear which choice is better… In other words, exactly the kind of situation where Yomi is at its best.
Why isn't it already this way?
Ironically, I think the main reason that Jaina has always had Smoldering Embers on her 10 is the opposite of the reason she’s always been without an ability on her Jack. It seems to me (and I could be completely wrong about this) that Jaina was one of the earliest Yomi fighters to be developed, so she fits fairly close to the “standard mold” set by Grave. Normal attacks on 2-6, dodges on 2-4 and blocks on 7-10, and then specials and supers are all attacks. The only major differences between the two are that Grave’s 5 and 6 blocks were replaced with a dodge and a named throw respectively and that Jaina lacks an ability on her Jack. Obviously there are other differences, like how all of Jaina’s abilities are completely different from Grave’s, but it’s clear that the design process was “like Grave but more aggressive.” Smoldering Embers is on her 10 because Mental Toughness is on Grave’s 10. They are siblings, after all, so it does make sense that they’d have a lot in common. However, it seems like the reason she doesn’t have an ability on her Jack is to try to differentiate the two from each other. Perhaps Sirlin thought that the higher chip damage and option to recur them would be sufficient to make up for not having an ability like Lightning Trap?
It's not enough. It's really not enough.
I’m reminded of Sirlin talking in a podcast episode about creating a new unit in Codex for the white faction to use. They already had a go-to unit in white’s Ninjutsu spec called Glorious Ninja which had both haste and swift strike, meaning that it can attack as soon as it’s played and doesn’t take damage from whatever it attacks as long as it can kill that thing (normally combat damage is simultaneous). They still needed to make something for another white spec, Strength, that would also be a go-to unit for that spec. As a thought experiment they asked (to paraphrase), “If we took away haste from Glorious Ninja, how much extra attack power would we have to give it to get it back to the same level of usefulness as the real Glorious Ninja?”
The answer they found was that there was basically no amount of extra attack they could give it that would make up for having to wait a turn because of losing Haste. Adding 1 or 2 points wasn’t enough. Doubling it wasn’t enough. Any arbitrary amount they chose was either not enough or was so powerful that it was obviously game-warping and broken, so they realized that they’d have to instead come from a completely different direction and give the new unit they were making some completely new set of stats and abilities instead of continuing down this line. The end result was Doubling Barbarbarian, which both fills the go-to Strength unit role they were looking for very well and has the best name ever.
I don’t think Lightning Trap is as strong of an ability in Yomi as Haste is in Codex, but I do think that a similar problem is showing up with Grave’s and Jaina’s respective Jacks. As of 2nd edition, the differences between Lightning Cloud and Flame Arrow are as follows: +0.2 speed slower, -2 damage on hit, +2 damage on block, removal of Lightning Trap, addition of option to buy it back with Burning Vigor. In other words, Flame Arrow is less likely to win combat and is worse than Lightning Cloud if it does, and if it’s blocked it trades the ability to deny the draw from blocking for only 2 more block damage, which isn’t even enough to make up for the Burning Vigor damage if you buy it back. However, I think even if the speed and damage on hit were the same you’d still run into a similar problem to Glorious Ninja. How much more block damage would Flame Arrow have to do to make up for the lack of Lightning Trap? I don’t think it’s possible to get enough without having horrible flavor at best and breaking the game at worst (I’m pretty sure the answer would be more block damage than damage on hit, and there’s no way that would ever fly).
At this point I feel I need to address an objection I saw to an earlier version of my idea, before I thought to merge it with Smoldering Embers:
Apologies in advance if I come across as harsh here, but I really don’t like this for a number of reasons, the first of which is that it was a one-sentence dismissal of an idea I spent paragraphs and hours working on. Secondly, we already have Troq in this game—a character whose Lockhorn Skewer special throw is an exact copy of Rook’s Windmill Crusher, right down to damage, speed, a word-for-word identical ability, and neither one knocking down the opponent when both character’s normal throws do—so officially, there’s no support for rejecting an idea for improving one character because “that’s someone else’s trick” (though if anyone were to say that Lockhorn Skewer should be differentiated from Windmill Crusher I would be in full support). Finally, earlier in this same topic, he said this:
By all rights, according to this post shouldn’t you be in favor of my idea? It makes her more like Grave, but not identically so (even before merging Smoldering Embers into it you were still dealing more damage to both yourself and your opponent, speeding up the game, and now it also has the wrinkle of a real decision between returning it to hand or not), and it adjusts a card that was mostly useless before, so any rushdown potential she has is unhampered by this change but her ability to zone is improved significantly.
…OK, rant over. I needed to get this off my chest, and I might not have reacted this way if the response to my idea hadn’t felt so flippant about it and/or I hadn’t accidentally stumbled across the older post while re-reading earlier in the topic. Honestly, now that I’ve had time to reflect on things I’m glad this was said even if it hurt me at the time, because it forced me to do some soul-searching and study of the other characters to evaluate whether my idea was actually worthwhile.
TD;DR of the above, no amount of fiddling with damage and speed values is going to make up for the lack of an ability like Lightning Trap, and the only solution I can see is to either return Lightning Trap to it with a new name or to make a new ability of similar value. The epiphany that reading Niijima-san’s post gave me was to, in a sense, do both by combining Lightning Trap with Smoldering Embers—and I’ve already laid out in the previous section why this kills two birds with one Flame Arrow.
Why is this the best way to do it?
If you’ve read my previous posts, I’ve been refining the idea of giving Jaina’s Jack an ability for a long time. I checked the revision history on the post where I first suggested it, and here’s how it looked in its very first draft:
Flame Trap [End of Combat]
If either side of this card deals block damage, the opponent doesn’t draw a card from blocking and you may search your deck for a Jack. (Shuffle your deck if you searched it.)
It’s come a long way since then and had some interesting detours along the way. The last post I made about it before this had removed everything that was obscuring the real point of it, which was the part that prevented the opponent from blocking, and you can see the reasons for each change I made in the posts themselves (this post is already too long, I’m not writing it over again). At that point it was too similar to Grave’s Lightning Trap, but merging Smoldering Embers fixed that while also providing lots of other benefits.
I first started writing this post back when Niijima-san made the post quoted above, and I took a break from writing it for a couple of months. I’ve had time to consider the ramifications of my suggestion and whether there’s any more room for improvement, and there’s only one thing that I can see that remains a sticking point: Rook.
Poor, poor Rook. I’m sure he’ll be better than ever with the changes discussed for him, but I suspect this change to Jaina would give him almost as bad a matchup against her as he currently has against BBB. To summarize, in 2nd Edition the only ways he has to beat Flame Arrow are two attacks that outspeed it (Thunderclap and Wall of Vines), two special blocks, and Rock Armor. All of those except Wall of Vines and Rock Armor are completely non-renewable, and both of those can only be set up again after using them if he can build a hand, which is exactly what Flame Trap is meant to prevent. Meanwhile, Jaina can keep using Flame Arrow as much as she likes whether or not she wins combat with it, which is very different from how Grave can only reuse a Lightning Cloud if it’s normal blocked. Finally, because Rook doesn’t have dodges there’s absolutely no reason to let a Jack go (short of the self-damage being lethal) because its effect while discarded will never apply to him. I’m sure the other grapplers and Quince wouldn’t like it either, but they at least have dodges to tempt Jaina to discard the Jacks.
The core of the problem, as I see it, is that she can get back her Jack no matter what if she combat-reveals it—Grave’s Lightning Trap ability is balanced out by only working on block, meaning that whether Rook uses something that beats Lightning Cloud or just runs a throw into it he at least gets the Jack out of Grave’s hand (mysticjuicer has gone on record multiple times saying that throwing into Grave’s Jack is a combat win for Rook). For that reason, I believe the best solution is to make Jaina’s work the same way by only allowing it to be recurred on block. In other words, Jack gets added to the list of cards that are exempt from Burning Vigor, it’s also added to Burning Desperation, and a bit of extra text is added to Flame Trap that lets it return to hand if Flame Arrow deals block damage. That should prevent any potential for them getting out of hand, and now Jaina players will have to actually care when they use Flame Arrow against Rook instead of just throwing it out constantly.
Over 2000 words later (!!!), here is the result:
My current proposal
At the end of combat, if you attacked, you may return any of your combo cards to your hand other than Jacks, Queens, or Aces. Take 3 damage for each card returned this way. Burning Desperation
If you have 35 life or less, you may also return Jacks, Queens, and Aces and take 4 damage for each.
J* Flame Trap [During Combat]
If Flame Arrow deals block damage, the opponent doesn’t draw a card from blocking and you may take 3 damage to return this card to your hand. Whenever the opponent dodges while this card is in your discard pile, they take 2 damage. You can’t power up with this card. (It’s too hot.)
This is independant of any other ideas for how to improve Jaina (so the wording is all derived from the 2nd Edition text for existing abilities), though I wrote it with the assumption that at minimum Flame Arrow would become 2.4 speed and 7(6) damage. I also like having Charged Shot be a much slower knockdown attack, something along the lines of 9.6 speed and 10(9) damage would be good as an early dodge followup, and I think that making Dragonheart 0.0 speed would help some of her bad matchups as well. Maybe 2.2 speed Crossfire Kick would be good too, but I’m not as sure of that one—it could break something in a way I’m not aware of. Regardless of any specifics of other changes, though, I’m confident that Flame Trap on a 2.4 speed Flame Arrow would help fix at least one of Jaina’s bad matchups, against Geiger, quite a bit (now Flame Arrow trades with Fast Time Spiral instead of just losing to it, and he can’t just block Flame Arrow while building hand anymore, so he has to change things up).
This won’t make Jaina suddenly become a good character. It does give her more reliable access to blocks now that she doesn’t feel any need to dump a rank of them, and it makes a move that was mostly power-up fodder actually worth using while also improving the most lopsided matchup, historically, in all of Yomi 2nd Edition. I don’t know what more she needs, but I hope something I’ve written here is able to convince whoever reads it that this would be a good step in the right direction.
(Also, I found this tweet within 10 minutes of posting this and it’s way too accurate… )
I wasn’t really feeling the Flame Trap idea before but I must admit this implementation seems pretty slick! I had concerns about Rook/Quince mus but you’ve clearly accounted for those pretty well, I feel like they wouldn’t be too bad. And it certainly makes Jaina feel more in line with her zoner brethren Grave/Geiger like she is in FSFG.
I really like 2.4 speed 7(6) damage Flame Arrow, with the Flame Trap ability and innate tweak you proposed.
For Slow J, I think it’s okay to make it not super slow since Jaina can’t buy Slow J back normally due to the innate tweak. That’s a noticeable nerf to the move and makes it more of a hail mary / bonk (which honestly feels better, I consider this a plus!). I like 5.0 speed 10(9) damage 3 CP Starter KD. 5.0 speed means it trades with Crash Bomb, beats Oni 5, and loses to grappler 4-attacks. 7.4 speed might be good too since it loses to Quince Q bonk and grappler 678 straights, while still beating DeGrey PCP and Oni 8/10.
Anyways, it’s certainly an idea worth testing. I’d say you should add some version of it that you’re a fan of to the bureau of balance for posterity, if you’d like.
That was the main goal—to take a card that was almost worthless and use it to make her feel similar to the other zoners, especially her sibling Grave, while still giving her a unique take on it—so I’m glad it feels that way for you too!
I’ll admit that I’ve been so focused on polishing Flame Arrow that I hadn’t considered Charged Shot much, so reading this had me saying “oh right, she can’t buy back either side, why hadn’t I thought of that?”
I’m inclined to prefer 7.4 speed to stay on the safe side for balancing the grapplers and Quince, but either way would probably be fine. That would give us something like this:
(I’m assuming Can’t Combo since that was agreed on by those who suggested KD Charged Shot, but I could be convinced to leave it as a 2cp Starter if someone had a good argument for that.)
I’d like to, but right now the Bureau doesn’t have anything about Jaina. While I certainly know a lot more about Jaina than I did before starting on this project I’m still not sure I know enough about her to write a complete and accurate summary of her situation in 2nd Edition, and I also would need time to summarize that essay I wrote into something short enough to explain the Flame Trap idea without overwhelming readers.
That makes sense, I agree that 7.4 would be the best place to start.
The new Slow J:
-can’t be bought back
-is much slower
-is now her best dodge followup (higher opportunity cost when she plays in it combat)
-has to compete with buffed Flame Arrow (again, higher opportunity cost)
-doesn’t benefit from the newly added KD if she chooses to followup from it
I feel like this justifies keeping Slow J as a Starter. I said 3 CP Starter earlier but I actually think leaving it at 2 CP would be fine/better.
But that’s just nitpicky stuff. These things would have to be ironed out in testing anyway, what’s important is that the concept seems sound.
What if Troq’s Lockhorn Skewer beat normal attacks that deal 4 damage or less, instead of “normal attacks of speed 5.0 or faster”?
It still works just like Rook’s Windmill Crusher the vast majority of the time, preserving the parallels he is supposed to have with Rook, but loses to a few specific things in particular matchups:
-Zane’s 6/7/9 attacks can now beat Lockhorn Skewer even when Troq is KD
-Ven’s Claw Trip 7-attack beats Lockhorn Skewer
-BBB’s Robo Headbutt 7-attack beats Lockhorn Skewer
-Other mostly inconsequential interactions in Rook/Val mus and the Troq mirror
This lets us nerf Zane in good conscience since he does much better against Troq with this change. The Ven change is positive too. The other positive is that it makes Troq’s K different from Rook’s while preserving similar gameplay. On the negative end, BBB Robo Headbutt beating K is probably undesirable, but maybe not the end of the world? Depends how much BBB is buffed / Troq is nerfed aside from this.
I think you’ve convinced me at this point. I just wish we could test all this… Maybe I’ll bug my friends who have physical Geiger and Rook decks to use them against my Jaina for some games, first a few without any changes and then some more with the consensus Geiger/Rook changes and these changes to Jaina.
Ooh, I like it! Needs testing, of course, but it seems to be a mostly good change. As I said in my wall of text, I’m all for changing Lockhorn Skewer to not be identical to Windmill Crusher, so having them be similar but unique intrigues me.
I actually love coming back to this thread and seeing some really good ideas for Troq and Jaina.
@fenixoftheashes the other character with high damage normals is Oni, do you think 3 and 4 attack beating K actually matters for the matchup? Or is it fine because the 10 damage would be dealt anyway with the current K throw.
@hobusu I really like your suggestion for Jaina’s J (the lastest version where slow J is 7.4 speed, 2CP, KD). Flame Trap gives her zoning ability and works to balance her early game against the grapplers since they can throw/dodge/special block out of the hand suppression. Imo this is a great first step for crafting v3 Jaina.
Edit: I’ve added the Jaina suggestion to the BoB thread. But I was thinking that given fast J would be non-returning when it wins combat (in the early game at least) we could actually make it 2.2 speed as per @ClanNatioy’s original request! This would give Jaina the very desirable (imo at least) faster arrows but slower tatsu compared to Grave.
I think Lockhorn Skewer losing to Oni’s normals would be fine if Troq Armor still applied to Slow J instead of being removed completely. I’ve never understood why it affected both sides, but I also don’t get why people want to remove it from both sides when the fast side both having it and being fast enough to undercut a lot of other attacks was the problem. Sirlin said in this article that Troq Armor was really important to give him a way to deal with BBB’s normals, so removing it entirely seems hasty.
Thanks for doing that! I’m sure you already know that I made a couple of tweaks to it.
I could see that working, but I’m hesitant to let it trade with Rook’s Thunderclap. It’s probably fine, since @mysticjuicer claims that throwing into Lightning Cloud is a combat win for Rook and this version of Flame Arrow deals 1 less damage than Lightning Cloud and can’t recur on hit anymore, but it would be easy to accidentally make it too oppressive.
Losing a throw to deprive Grave of an otherwise recurring J in the early game isn’t really comparable to clashing Thunderclap with a 2.2 speed Jaina J. The reason is that if you throw Grave to try and deprive him of his J, at worst, you get hit with a straight for a bit of damage and he gets Aces. If you throw Jaina in the early game to deprive her of a J, she can hit you with huge damage and buy all those cards back.
If you want to make Jaina a better zoner, she has to be reasonably throwable by grapplers, and I just don’t think she is.
I feel like that didn’t come across really clearly.
Basically, Rook only has J and AA in the early game to contest Jaina in the early game. In the late game, he is desperately hoping he can get a successful 5-block against Aces, or hope Jaina messes up so he can Rock armor with Joker back-up. Making his J10 J78 harder early, worries me.
Midori has Q, AA, and can clash J. In the lategame, he’s hoping to land FDB raw or off a dodge. Same with Troq, except his J wins in the early game.
Alright, so my initial fears that 2.2 speed would be too oppressive were valid after all. Good to know! It would have been nice if Flame Arrow could cleanly beat Fast Time Spiral to make the Geiger matchup even better, but it’s not worth making the Rook matchup terrible (especially since having a trade is already improving Jaina–Geiger).
Do you have any thoughts on the Flame Trap idea, especially as it applies to Rook and the other grapplers? Also, can you think of any ways to make Jaina “more throwable”?
Since it seems relevant to this discussion, I went ahead and made a list of all moves in 2nd Edition Yomi that are at speeds between 2.2 and 2.6 inclusive, which may be useful for other matchup discussions as well:
I meant to respond to some things in this thread a while back but forgot til just now.
Did you have 2.4 Flame Arrow or 2.2 Flame Arrow in mind here? 2.4 Flame Arrow clashes with Midori’s J as you said, but wouldn’t make Rook’s J combos harder since Thunderclap outspeeds 2.4 Flame Arrow.
I personally don’t think the proposed Jaina J rework would pose much of a challenge to Rook at all, but I’m one of those weirdos who thinks Rook-Jaina is even in the current V2 game so who knows.
Here is Hobusu’s proposed J changes for reference:
Note that unlike most matchups, Rook’s special blocks are actually preferable to real dodges given these Jaina changes. His special blocks serve the purpose of dodges which are naturally good against Jaina, while avoiding her intended counterplay of recurring Jacks and dealing damage when the opponent dodges. They also let him play around Jaina’s chip checkmates when other characters would just die.
I also think it’s not entirely clear cut whether this Jaina is “more throwable” than current Jaina. This Jaina can’t buyback Jacks until she’s under 35 life which reduces her combo damage potential and ability to use Slow J as a bonk like she does now.
I guess it would come to testing to see whether 2.2 or 2.4 was the better speed for the move.