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Blue vs Black box

I’d like to try and frame this question as delicately as possible, since I’m not raising it to merely cause trouble but rather to try and gain some insight into the game development process and the progression of the codex meta. So here goes.

Why was it decided to package blue and black together as a set? Was it just a case of not realising the extent of the lopsided nature of the matchup at the time of making the decision?

I just find it puzzling that this wasn’t caught sufficiently early to (a) try and tweak the matchup in blue’s favour or (b) not changing anything but just avoiding putting them in a set together.

I guess my concern is that some proportion of the potential codex audience might have been put off this great game by the fact that the most lopsided mono colour pairing was their first experience. I’d be interested to hear comments from anyone who did in fact play blue vs black as their first matchup, just to see how they found it as a new player.


Yep. It’s generally agreed on these forums that Blue is both weaker and harder to pilot well than Black. It’s rough. That said, one player, @Nekoatl has has had some success against @FrozenStorm’s Black.

It’s worth digging in there for strategies, and into their more formal games. Search the Codex category for “MMM1 Blue Black”.


Some very limited success, I might add… just enough to prove that an occasional Blue victory is possible, when Blue goes first. I can only speculate that perhaps casual Blue vs. Black play tends not to be as lopsided as practiced Blue vs. Black play as the reason why some kind of tweak wasn’t made to balance these colors against each other. The Blue vs. Black box is labeled as an expansion, though, so I have to imagine that it would be pretty rare for new players to start with this pairing.


I’ve been following their MMM warmup and matches and I think the result (10-0 black :anguished:) really underlines how difficult the matchup is for blue.

I take the point of it being an expansion, but some non-zero (albeit small) number of people will end up receiving it as a gift from someone who doesn’t know any better or maybe they just really like blue and black in magic and want to start with their favourite colours (even if blue in codex is quite different from blue in magic).

One of the goals of codex was to make a game where you wouldn’t lose before you started playing. As far as I can tell from the data if you are blue P2 and your opponent is black you may as well concede right there, and its not much better for P1 blue. If this was some multicolour deck that had these issues I’d be a lot less worried, but the fact that its between two mono colour sets which are actively distributed together makes it seem much worse.

Now obviously there is still a lot to love about codex and the result will be that blue continues to be avoided in tournament outside of strong multicolour combos. However I definitely think the game needs, no deserves a fix for this problem.


To be fair, during the 10 game run, I had some exceptionally bad luck. Under normal circumstances I would expect 9-1 in favor of Black, but that’s not much better… You have a point about P2 Blue losing before they start, and I do agree that this issue deserves some attention.


I wish I could chime in and make a better case for Blue here, but sadly I cannot. There are multiple different matches that I’ve played, even going back to the old forums, and the only success blue has had has been with some of the map cards.

I’ve tried discussing this topic in the past. I’ve tried searching out balance answers before. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s anything to be done about it, @thehug0naut, so I wouldn’t hold your breath on that. I tried to bring it up before the game had shipped, but really it had already been sent to printers at that point so it was too late anyway.

With all that said, I do still think this is a phenomenal game overall, and a lot of fun to play. I really would have loved for the mono-matchups that shipped to all be great representations of the great balance in the game as a whole, and I think Red vs. Green accomplishes that. It’s a ton of fun and has a lot of variety. I also think White vs Purple is just fine to be together. I’m pretty resigned to Black vs Blue being pretty far off at this point though. I’ve played enough of it that I think I know at this point that Blue needs a lot of things to bounce their way to even carry a slight advantage into the end-game, and even there it becomes a bit of a coin-flip. Black has great choices at all stages of the game, and especially has everything it needs to shut Blue down early. At Tech 2 in an even game, Blue has a slight edge, but it really takes awhile to get going.

My ongoing offer still stands to play this matchup with anyone at any time, if they think they have the answers for Blue, as I genuinely want this game that I love to reveal more balance in this matchup than I’ve seen.


A free tower to start the game given to blue, in either first or second player, is one house rule I have thought of that would balance it maybe.


The real problem is that even Blue’s units that are strong against Deteriorate (Traffic Director, Porkhand) lose against SacTheWeak. So you need heroes. And none of Blue’s heroes can stand up to Vandy+units.

Has anyone tried nothing T1, going into max Quince+Units Turn 2, teching 2x Mind Control or Free Speech?

Mind control isn’t going to nab anything interesting on T3, and free speech isn’t actually killing the large pile of damage that black is building up. The problem blue tends to have is that black kills blue stuff without losing any black stuff. Shadow blade/deteriorate/sac the weak are all very effective at removing lots of blue units, and vandy plus a handful of cheap things are very effective at killing even big heroes.

Here’s another possible change to mull over, less drastic than the tower thing. Deteriorate can’t target illusions. Suddenly spectral aven becomes too powerful, probably, but pushes black to tech sickness to deal with illusions, or midband orpal, instead of just always having a free answer to illusions.


Regarding why it wasn’t caught in playtesting:

There’s a lot going on in playtesting. The Meta shifts a ton. Not just card changes make this happen but rule changes as well. Blue for awhile was extremely powerful (at least Truth was) so nerfs hit them and maybe it went too far. Black (the color I personally played the most in testing) was insanely strong for huge chunks of playtesting and it seems the nerfs to them weren’t taken far enough. iirc what ended up really swaying the mu in favor to Black was nerfing Justice Juggernaut, it used to be able to patrol, Black supposedly (I never faced this card) have extreme difficulty dealing with JJ so it was nerfed to not be able to patrol. With what has been discovered now this might not even be releavent though.

I think it would be great if balance changes could start to be worked on in the near future (6 - 12 months) because with the number of tournament minded people playing now it will allow for a much larger number of high level games being played. With the nature of the game an upgrade pack would be easy enough to do which should satisfy all (hopefully) players.


I would be thrilled if such things were worked on in that time frame. I had come to terms with the idea that it would not change until 2020 at the earliest.

And I don’t begrudge the nature of playtesting, I get that. I am very surprised to hear justice juggernaut was causing problems, but i had not really considered what problems it causes as a patroller. Blue benefits from stalling overall, so yea, i could see how that might cause problems.


The issue against early game’s black Vandy+Jav+Haunt is that you might never get to Tech II, and if you do, you spend all your money on Juggernaut and it dies to SacTheWeak. d:

I like the thought of Deteriorate not hitting illusions.

Alternatively, I think having one or two units in Blue’s starter that cannot be sacrificed would be nice and niche.

Or an ability: “If this is sacrificed,…something that hurts your opponent].” I like this, but making the opponent discard is stealing black’s flavor, trashing their worker is stealing red’s flavor (though I really like the idea of the worker no longer getting bribes from a Magistrate and leaving the workforce).
You could do: “If this is sacrificed,…[something that helps you].” Like gaining a bunch of money?

Of course, none of these addresses Deteriorate, which makes it easy to safely kill the units it doesn’t kill outright, so the Deteriorate nerf still sounds better.

I kinda think I’d like to see a boost to Musketeer. Like: “When this dies on an opponent’s turn, one of your heroes with no +1/+1 runes (choose randomly if you have more than one) gets Long Range and a +1/+1 rune.” Put that damn rifle to work.

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not targeting illusions sounds a bit too much, probably. On second thought, maybe something a little more minor, like “illusions cost 1 more to target” as a rules text change on deteriorate. I also like this because it feels like it has interesting impacts to dreamscape.

A sacrifice effect could just be a “dies: X” effect, but that strays into adjusting matchups that aren’t blue v black. You could also get some wierd hero synergy where orpal midband and garth doom grasp are paired with the blue starter in order to take advantage of whatever starter unit provides a boost from sacrificing.

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Ah, yes. This wasn’t a thing during much of testing (fuzzy on the timeline). Haunt didn’t always cost 0. He bounced around from never played to played but only as a sac target to the beast he is now.

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Since @FrozenStorm and @Nekoatl just did that huge set of Black vs Blue games, I asked them to give their thoughts on rebalancing the matchup. Here’s FrozenStorm’s, here’s Nekoatl’s, and here’s my analysis of their suggestions. Full disclosure: I’ve never played either color before, but I thought it would be worthwhile to reorganize it all by spec and throw some of my own thoughts on the issue in. Nekoatl at least seems to agree with most of it, so I’ll call it good enough!

Since I’ve already spent hours on that post, I’ll just say that it seems like a cop-out to do anything like “can’t target illusions” that will be meaningless noise in the majority of matchups. Imagine a new player seeing that version of Deteriorate and asking why it says that, and you have to explain how this one matchup was horribly broken until that was added, and it feels wrong because it only affects one spec… It’s a mess, imo.


Hey guys I can fix the matchup for you.
Nerf Vandy, (remove resist 1, make midband at 4, maxband at 6), nerf Dark Pact (costs 1), nerf deteoriorate, (costs 1).
Matchup fixed, easy.


This is worth a try.


I’d really like to see @FrozenStorm and @Nekoatl test out these changes in pbf matches. At the very least, if those changes were proven viable, forum matches would have a chance at being balanced better.

I am not really a fan of changes that drastically affect other matchups. the resist 1 and changing the cost of midband feel like overcorrections. Deteriorate and dark pact costing 1 seem reasonable, and have less direct impact on other matchups.


Vandy is known very, very strong, pretty much agreed to be the best hero.
Mainly because she has everything, including really great spells.

Even if not the midband change, which I still think is a good idea for the amazing stats she has, the Resist 1 is definitely unnecessary and should never have been there to begin with.