Blind Justice overpowered


#1

I believe that Blind Justice, especially with how well it synergizes with other Human cards, is extremely overpowered.

I just started a game where one player built a human deck with Blind Justice (do damage up to 20 leagues based on current valor), Cowardly Noble (generate gold based on valor), and Gnostic Mages (regenerate cooldown). He had spent money on hero points and had purchased a lot of cards, so he had a lot of Blind Justice cards despite them being rare.

At the start of the game, everyone sent their valor to this player, and he proceeded to nuke large stacks around the map. This generated more valor, making Blind Justice more powerful. When he ran out of mana, he would sell valor, which was plentiful at this point. When everything was on cooldown, he would use the Cowardly Noble to generate gold and put more Blind Justice and Gnostic Mages into play. The cycle would continue.

By the time everything was on cooldown, he was sitting on 200 valor (after paying everyone back their 20 valor), had cleared his entire deck, had 3000 gold, and had given everyone 1000 gold each.

Again, that’s hundreds of valor, thousands of gold, and all hero cards in play at the beginning of the game.

Now, this was only possible due to him having spent of bunch of money to get an absurd quantity of those cards, but that just highlights Blind Justice as a total pay2win card. It being rare doesn’t help that matter.

This arrangement of cards made all the other player’s contributions fairly irrelevant. He was able to generate gold more effectively than everyone else, do incredible ranged damage, and was never in need of anyone to supply mana.

Suggestions

Blind Justice’s range is way too high and could be reduced. It’s also too cheap, both in terms of mana and gold cost. Considering that it only gets more powerful each time it’s used, the mana cost maybe should be higher. Having a long cooldown doesn’t have much of an impact when humans also have the Gnostic Mage.

Having a long range nuke unit like Blind Justice also seems too powerful for Humans who are already reasonably mobile (compared to Dwarves and Trolls, who don’t have much of a chance to contribute if they’re far away from the fight). I suggest reducing the range greatly, or even giving this card to another race.

Finally, I suggest limiting the number of one type of card that can be added to a deck at the beginning of the day (4 of one kind seems reasonable). It’s a bit silly that a deck can be stacked with a virtually unlimited number of one type of card. Theoretically, a player could continue spending money on hero points to create a massive deck with hundreds of Blind Justice, Gnostic Mages, and Cowardly Nobles to obliterate the map before it has even begun.


#2

Okay first off, props to that guy for building a really disgusting combo. Jeez.


That said, personally I think Blind Justice is about where it should be. 12 Range is long, but not an entire six-player map, and Valor is not easy to come by in the early game without this sort of chicanery. In the games I’ve played, Blind Justice is a Boss sniper early and midgame, and eventually becomes a legitimate nuke in the lategame as it should.

That’s not to say that the scenario you’re describing can’t happen; obviously it can. But I don’t think it’s necessarily the fault of the Blind Justice; I think that card is just revealing a deeper flaw in the trading systems (both Valor --> Mana and inter-player donations).

Before I start writing code to draw ascii tables, I should mention that there’s already an experimental mode that, while not shutting this strategy down completely, does slow it considerably so one player can’t just win in the first hour. There’s also a plan in the works for exactly the kind of custom deck restrictions you suggest! ( I can’t find the link though). Blind Justice is certainly not the only long-range nuke causing balance problems at the moment, so you’re not alone in thinking it’s an issue!


The Blind Justice’s nuke combo requires selling Valor for Mana after every use of Valor Strike + Wealth of Valor + Restoration. The problem, obviously, is that 120 initial Valor is enough that each use provides more Valor than it costs to buy the next use. Let’s assume you always draw the right cards (you have plenty of gold to cycle through to find them anyway), and say you’ve played your initial Cowardly Noble, Blind Justice, and Gnostic Mage:

Gold | Mana | Valor | Action
-----|------|-------|--------------
500  | 20   | 120   | Valor Strike (1200)
500  | 8    | 132   | Restoration
500  | 4    | 132   | Wealth of Valor (1320)
1820 | 0    | 132   | Play Cowardly Noble & Gnostic Mage
1520 | 0    | 132   | Sell Valor for Mana

1520 | 20   | 122   | Valor Strike
etc...

On it’s own, this would be strong but not game-breaking. Of course, the issue is that after five steps, you’ve now got as much or more of every resource than you started with, which pushes the combo over the line from “strong” to “unbounded growth”, placing it firmly in nightmare territory from a balance perspective.


There are a few ways to prevent this combo from going so bonkers. The first is, as I linked earlier, preventing a player from dumping the entire deck into play before the game is ten minutes old. Obviously that would help. Here are some others that look at reducing the efficacy of the combo as a whole, rather than just slowing it down.

Warning: Loads of text ahead!

1. Nerf Blind Justice

This is the most obvious one. If we reduce Blind Justice’s damage, let’s say by half, to 5/Valor, this is what we end up with:

Gold | Mana | Valor | Action
-----|------|-------|--------------
500  | 20   | 120   | Valor Strike (600)
500  | 8    | 126   | Restoration
500  | 4    | 126   | Wealth of Valor (1260)
1760 | 0    | 126   | Play Cowardly Noble & Gnostic Mage
1460 | 0    | 126   | Sell Valor for Mana
...
8710 | 8    | 25    | Wealth of Valor
8960 | 4    | 25    | End Combo
Total Damage Dealt: 6205

Well… we no longer have unbounded growth, but it isn’t much better for everyone else in the game, either. We can’t pay back our allies’ full Valor donations anymore, but we can still do 6000+ damage at long range before the game really starts, and make thousands of gold to boot. This doesn’t seem like an optimal solution.


Maybe we get better results if we also increase the mana cost. Let’s bump it up to 16 while leaving the damage at 5/Valor:

Gold | Mana | Valor | Action
-----|------|-------|--------------
500  | 20   | 120   | Valor Strike
500  | 4    | 126   | Wealth of Valor
1760 | 0    | 126   | Sell Valor for Mana
1760 | 20   | 116   | Restoration
1760 | 16   | 116   | Play Cowardly Noble & Gnostic Mage
...
6230 | 20   | 20    | Wealth of Valor
6430 | 16   | 20    | End Combo
Total Damage Dealt: 4565

Not great. 20 Mana?

4960 | 8    | 23    | Wealth of Valor
5190 | 4    | 23    | End Combo
Total Damage Dealt: 3630

Still nine full cycles, but at least the returns are down to a somewhat reasonable rate. We have burned through the whole team’s Valor, after all. But there’s a problem: we now have a Blind Justice with an ability that costs 20 Mana and does 5 damage per Valor. Outside of this combo (that is, for 95% of players), the card is now garbage and will never be put in a deck. Not ideal.


2. Nerf Cowardly Noble

Okay, so what if we nerf the Noble so he can’t produce so much gold? I’m going to skip the math here: you have to make the card worthless (about 1.5 Gold/Valor, or 25 Mana/cast) in order to prevent the combo this way.

Honestly, this combo aside, I think the Noble is in about the right place as well. He pays for himself right off (if you haven’t spent much Valor yet), then slumps through the midgame when people are spending their Valor claiming towns, then surges lategame once Valor is more plentiful and you need more gold because, as Humans, you’ve militarized large portions of your civilian population.


3. Nerf Both Heroes

Maybe this is the more obvious solution. Nerfing both the Noble and the Justice should bring the craziness down, right? Well, halving both of their effects to 5/Valor and bumping Blind Justice’s cost up to 20…

Gold | Mana | Valor | Action
-----|------|-------|--------------
500  | 20   | 120   | Valor Strike
500  | 0    | 126   | Sell Valor for Mana
500  | 20   | 116   | Wealth of Valor
1080 | 16   | 116   | Restoration
1080 | 12   | 116   | Play Cowardly Noble & Gnostic Mage
...
1570 | 12   | 59    | Wealth of Valor
1865 | 8    | 59    | End Combo
Total Damage Dealt: 3120

Now, this is livable within the scope of the abuse case. But is it livable for the rest of the population? We’ve still got that trash Justice and now we’ve also got a marginal Noble that barely pays for himself if you drop him as your first hero. In my opinion, neither of these heroes will see play with such weak stats.


4. Make Mana More Expensive

Okay, so how about instead we reduce the exchange rate of Valor to Mana? Halving this rate (ten Mana for ten Valor) reduces our end state to 5830 Gold and 7050 total damage after eight cycles, which, again, isn’t great but at least it’s infinite. Reducing the Blind Justice’s power as well gives us very reasonable numbers. With the Justice at 7 damage/Valor and ten Mana for ten Valor:

Gold | Mana | Valor | Action
-----|------|-------|--------------
500  | 20   | 120   | Valor Strike
500  | 8    | 128   | Wealth of Valor
1780 | 4    | 128   | Restoration
1780 | 0    | 128   | Play Cowardly Noble & Gnostic Mage
1480 | 0    | 128   | Sell Valor for Mana
1480 | 10   | 118   | Sell Valor for Mana
...
4280 | 8    | 16    | Wealth of Valor
4440 | 4    | 16    | End Combo
Total Damage Dealt: 3976

This effectively puts an end to the combo. No on wants to spend all their teammates’ starting Valor for 4k damage and Gold, especially considering that you’ve now killed all the other large sources of Valor on the map. The endgame would be excruciatingly slow. So this solves the problem, but at the cost of nerfing the Justice and really nerfing everyone who relies on Valor to get their Mana (looking at you, Dwarves!). This is probably not an acceptable consequence.


5. Don’t Allow The Initial Conditions

Instead of nerfing the human heroes into oblivion, how about we just reject the premise altogether? The problem goes away entirely if you’re not allowed to have enormous piles of Valor at the start of the game. I think the entire inter-player trading situation is broken anyway: it encourages exactly this sort of weird “lending” behavior for the various scaling heroes (Blind Justice, High Elf, etc.). I think several changes are in order, and this discussion probably deserves its own thread, but my primary thoughts are:

  • Don’t allow resource trading in the first 12-24 hours at all. This is the least effective general-purpose solution, but at least it helps give everyone a chance to play before one person wins.
  • Restrict how much of each resource each player may give to each other player in a given X hour period (ex: 1 Valor/6hr, 10 Mana/12hr, 500 Gold/24hr). This still allows “support” players to donate to the war effort and typical “I need one more Mana to save this town” exchanges, but limits silly hero supercharging.
  • Tax inter-player trade by some percent. I’m not sure what the in-game flavor is for this (bandits? government oversight?), but it would certainly reduce the appeal of the “everyone grab one Elf town and dump all your High Elves there, then we all pass around our collective thousand mana and take turns nuking everything in sight” strategy.

This post got pretty out of control, so I’m just going to stop. These are my thoughts!


(I threw together a Python script to let me quickly test lots of combinations of cost/effect values. If anyone wants a copy I’ll make it available someplace and link it here.)


#3

There is another option for a nerf – make it so Blind Justice (and High Elf) dont generate Valour.


#4

Yeah, that would work as well. Making exceptions in the core rules for particular heroes just feels so ugly and ad-hoc to me. And I have trouble with the fluff: we nuked a thousand zombies from miles away, but this incredibly impressive achievement somehow doesn’t make people want to join our cause?


#5

I see it as occam’s razor. It allows the fundamental change that might be needed, without sweeping alterations to gameplay that impact every other unit and race in the game (such as a trade tax, restricting the number or times a trade can happen, or changing the relationship of valour -> mana).

Frankly, though, I think range already has enough advantages. I’d like to see all ranged attacks generate no valour. But I am guessing that will be a very unpopular opinion for the fans of Dwarves and Elves.

As for fluff? There are easy ways to write around no valour for Blind Justice (and High Elf). Perhaps Blind Justice is a convicted criminal (as the name may suggest) and they are simply performing their act of penance… which is seen by the living community as something less than valourous. Certainly amazing and helpful, but not valourous in this case.

Or perhaps an attack of this nature, by a single individual, isolated, and against a horde so far away – there is no crowd to make the connection. One moment the zombie horde is there, and another, its gone. The person responsible? No where to be seen. And so, the valour that would have been heaped upon the victor over that horde goes unrecognized…


#6

It’s certainly the most straightforward way to fix this specific issue (and the High Elf thing). But it’s the opposite of future-proof: saying “you can’t do X” instead of adjusting the rules to make X hard to achieve just means that when the next thing comes up, a new exception is needed.

Not that this is a deal-breaker for a game necessarily, but as a software developer, I find it morally reprehensible :wink:


#7

What about if Blind Justice and the High Elf simply consumed the Valour and Mana that power them. I think that would be my prefered solution.

Also, we will almost certainly make the deployment restrictions the default.

Also, we are trying not to make the rare cards more powerfull than the common cards because we know that in the long run everybody will have as many as they want of every card. Even free players that play for long enough. I dont want the game to be pay to win, but rarity does add excitement to the collection aspects of the game.

I should also say thanks very much for all the great discussion! We really need folks finding these cool crazy combos!


#8

I like that a lot. Simple and elegant solution.


#9

That would be a very elegant solution. Will you also add a way to only use part of your mana/valour? Because I would imagine that players often don’t want to throw their whole reserve of a resource into a single attack.


#10

There are a lot of good posts in this thread.

I am a little concerned by this. I understand your reason why, but it makes me wonder what the point of being rare is, other than for artificial excitement of having managed to get a rare card. That feels very hollow when I might not use it because it isn’t any better than a common card.

I really like @DrBwaa’s analysis of nerfing the cards, and most importantly of the side effects the nerfing has on the common player-base. I do agree something should be done about this card though. Using up more mana for the damage they do I think is a fair solution, as long as I can choose how much mana (and therefore how much damage) they are going to use. I am a little uncertain if I like the idea of the Blind Justice having a valour cost though. That would be out of line with every(?) other card in the game. Maybe if it just costs 1 mana for every 1 valour you use for damage? I’m not sure how that balances out, as in DrBwaa’s kind of analysis. I also think this just makes the Blind Justice nearly identical to the High Elf though. So this isn’t a good solution, but it’s my quick alternative to spending valour for an ability though.


#11

Excellent analysis, @DrBwaa, and great suggestions. You make some great points about the dangers of nerfing cards.

I’m inclined to agree with @JayKyburz about having rare cards not be more powerful. I’m of the belief that rare cards should instead add variety of game. Unlocking a new rare aught to present the player with new options and new ideas, but not necessarily make their collection more powerful.


#12

Thanks for the feedback @capnbishop and for the analysis @DrBwaa, and for the discussion everyone else!

I am reluctant to make any (large) changes to any of the cards until we see how the deployment cooldown change plays out. I believe this will put a large dampener on the majority of the overpowered combos, so that they won’t happen early game.

I actually quite like @Praetorian’s suggestion that ranged attacks do not generate Valour, or perhaps they could generate less Valour. Jay has been concerned about the game being too ranged-focused and this could be a solution to make Melee more important/attractive. Also, with the square saves, small ranged attacks are also a lot more effective than small melee attacks, where your army would get wiped with little impact.

I did recently increase the Cowardly Noble’s pay rate, as I didn’t think it was getting much use, but I could drop it back down again if it’s too high.

The High Elf already eats into his power generation with the Mana cost of the ability, so the Valour Strike could also incur a (possibly static) Valour cost. But I would like to see how these strategies go in “Experimental” mode.


#13

@JayKyburz I totally forgot about this option, which is pretty funny because that’s my preferred solution! I may have gotten a bit carried away tweaking parameters while avoiding actual work :wink:

I absolutely agree that big changes should probably wait until we see what effectshe experimental mode has. I’m glad to see such a discussion crop up in here; I’ll check back in tomorrow morning when I’ve collected my thoughts on everyone’s input a bit more.


#14

I can certainly appreciate how difficult it is to get this all right; in terms of balance and all the other game design issues here on the forums.

I’ve spent so much time coming up with literally hundreds of ideas in my head. The problem is, the more time I spend thinking about it, the more I realize I don’t have enough information to understand the vision - or maybe just don’t have the same vision - of the game as the designer does.

That said I’ve been much more reserved on offering input into these types of discussions, mainly because I realize that a game designed by consensus probably isn’t going to be as much fun.


#15

I’d venture to say that there is no need to be reserved. Throw in your suggestions and ideas. Say what you don’t like, toss out ideas for things you think might improve it. While your vision may not be the same as Jay’s, it doesn’t mean that your comments will not be helpful. Ideas are starting points, and may lead to helpful discussions and even better ideas that shape the games future. It’s one of the fun parts of being involved in the early release portion of a project like this.


#16

Holy crap, that was a lot of awesome analysis. Nice work.

I just want to throw in some additional experience and numbers in here, for reference.

We’re just now easing into cleanup mode in a game where I stumbled onto the same combination of cards (Blind Justice, Cowardly Noble, Gnostic Mages, and heavy use of Dark Forest Witches to regenerate mana). This is only my second game ever, so I mostly didn’t know what I was doing, and we didn’t even know about Blind Justice at the start of the game, and didn’t think to pool valour until halfway through.

At this point in the game (8 days in), I have ~750 valour and climbing. Maybe 150 of that was donated from other players? I have a Blind Justice in the middle of the map that can hit any enemy unit on the map for 7500 damage.

I abused Cowardly Noble horribly once I figured out what was going on there. I bought 5 of them and we have way more gold than we need. I could generate 37,500 (750x10x5) gold for 20 (4x5) mana at any point, but we’ve all got several thousand gold now and don’t need it any more, so they’re just swimming in a pool in well-earned retirement.

I deployed in the same location quite a bit. (I’m really worried about the deployment cooldown changes making things less fun, but that’s a whole separate topic.)

Early on, I begged for mana from my teammates and handed out a lot of gold. And we’ve all been using Dark Forest Witches as much as possible to generate mana. But I did notice at some point that spending 10 valour for 20 mana for another Blind Justice strike was well repaid in the valour regained from the strike.

Important note: I spent about $15 worth of hero coins on this game, buying cards on the fly. Let’s say about half that was specifically to build this collection of CN, BJ, GM, and DFW cards. So, I’m not necessarily arguing that the game is too easy. We were being crushed (we’re noobs on a difficult map) and I decided I was OK with buying my way to victory. The combination of willingness to spend hero coins and having plenty of in-game gold is what let me survive this game.

I haven’t done anywhere near the analysis DrBwaa has, but for what it’s worth, I favor some solution that results in diminishing return at high valour instead of across-the-board nerfing. I need these cards to be impactful at first, or I won’t use them at all. They just get too godlike later.


#17

After thinking about this a bit more, and noticing a trello card about it, I want to comment on the proposed solution of burning up all the valor the ability uses:

Since Blind Justice’s ability is based on total valor, this means the player will always have zero valour after the attack is used, right? Is that what you want? This seems excessive. It’s especially cruel when you only need to kill a 1000-strength unit and currently have 300 valour. Most of it would be wasted, or you’d have to play a little sub-game of trading valour for mana until you’re at the level you need… And having more than one Cowardly Noble or Blind Justice would not be very useful.

I would favor an approach that consumed some of that valour, like half of it, or used a fixed amount, or had a fixed cap.


#18

I’ve been meaning to say I think using a fraction of valor would be a good way to balance it - all valor would be kind of brutal


#19

Yeah, ideally we’d have a way to set the amount of valour used. Or perhaps set it in increments of 5/10 or something.


#20

You could get your team-mates to hold any valour you dont want to spend.