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[Official] Balance Discussion - Three Musketeers and Mortar (includes March balance changes hints)

JcttehTheWiseJcttehTheWise Posts: 2,007Moderator
edited February 22 in Card Balance Discussion
Original source:
Hey everyone! I am back this week as promised to cover the state of the meta and upcoming balance updates.

One thing I really want to emphasize early and often – the stats you see on third-party websites tell only part of the story. I love these websites as much as you do and use them daily for deck ideas, but the stats they represent are often far more extreme (high and low) than in reality. When I see screenshots of cards with 70% win rates (or something like 19% win rate for weak cards) I cringe a little bit. We are hoping to help these sites improve their data, but in the meantime you can sleep peacefully knowing that NO cards have a 60% win rate in Challenges - some are in the high-50s though. The lowest win rate in Challenges is Heal at 32% - the lowest ever recorded was 8 cost Recruits at 26%.

Two big hot topics are Three Musketeers and Mortar. Let’s tackle the Musketeers first. Last month we increased the cost of Three Musketeers from 9 to 10. The intended effect was to bring 3M down from its perch of 59%+ win rate month after month, and the result is that 3M sits currently at 40% win rate with an extremely low use rate. This is obviously more than we wanted, Three Musketeers is one the most leveled up cards in the game and we never want to dismantle your favorite deck.

That said, we want to give more time for players to adapt. Every nerfed card will plummet down the use rate charts temporarily. Cards are also impacted by perception – the widespread feeling that 3M are weak will lead to more people avoiding the card. Many cards in the past have looked awful after a nerf and recovered somewhat - that may or may not happen here.
Even if Three Muskteers recovers a bit in the stats, we agree as a team that the forced Elixir leaking that occurs when a player is at 10 Elixir is clunky, unintuitive, and overly punishing. We have discussed options ranging from bringing back Elixir overflow (the 11th Elixir) to reverting the nerf and trying a different solution to balancing 3M. Some of these solutions would require a client update, so let me just set the expectations that Three Musketeers will NOT be changed in the March balance update. As a team, we are not happy with the state of Three Musketeers and will continue to iterate until we find a good solution. One of the many suggestions would be to change 3M to a different character like Marksmen and change the stats independently of Musketeer. For a variety of reasons, we are not considering this solution right now. We would rather try to solve 3Ms issues through the variety of tools at our disposal before considering making a new character for the card.

Another popular topic for Twitter and Reddit to discuss is Mortar. I see many CRL pro players and top ladder pushers calling for a nerf to Mortar. After digging through the data, I cannot say I agree with them. Mortar in Challenges has a 3% use rate and 50% win rate – basically perfect for a Siege card. When I sort to the very top of ladder I can see a huge jump in use rate – to 11% to 18% depending on the trophy range and time of the month. There was a great Reddit post this week that illustrated the change / Mortar is much more popular at the very top of ladder than in more normal trophy ranges.

Even when Mortar jumps up in usage, the win rate stays solidly around 50%. I cannot seem to validate the notion that at the very top of ladder the best Mortar players are unbeatable. If this was true, Mortar would have a high win rate when you microscopically zoom into the Top 100 players, but that does not appear to be the case. Though Mortar has had several high-finishing ladder seasons recently, it has been in the hands of extremely skilled and dedicated players. Those players would likely have finished highly with any tier 1 deck; they just happen to have mastered the most popular F2P deck. If Mortar is overrepresented at the top of the ladder then we need to provide more viable counters to that sort of gameplay, but I do not feel its appropriate to nerf a card that only seems to be a product of a specific metagame. Put simply, that is more of an economy result than a balance result. With Mortar Bait being the most F2P-friendly deck, it has become the choice of high-skill players looking to build a max deck to compete on the ladder.

The March balance update will not include changes to Three Musketeers or Mortar. We are not happy with the status of 3M, but we will keep working on it. We are satisfied with Mortar for now but of course that could change based on future metas. If Mortar rises to a position of imbalance then we can look into nerfs, but for now it appears to just be a powerful and unique strategy that happens to be popular in certain metagames.
We do have some very exciting and impactful changes that will have wide-ranging impact on the metagame (yes, Barbarian Barrel will be nerfed). The next balance update will arrive Monday March 4th as usual!

Thanks for reading this longer post, if you are curious here are the top 5 win rate cards in Challenges over the last week:

Goblin Giant (59%)
Snowball (59%)
Flying Machine (57%)
Guards (57%)
TIE – Battle Ram, Barb Barrel, Bandit, Lava Hound, and Poison (56%)

And the bottom 5 win rate cards (in Challenges)

87. TIE – Witch and Elite Barbarians (39%)
88. Bomb Tower (38%)
89. Rage (38%)
90. Mirror (37%)
91. Heal (32%)


Both 3m and Mortar won't be included in the March balance changes. SC is concious of the bad situation of 3m, but Mortar is in a good spot according to stats. We can confirm a barbarian barrel nerf for March balance changes, and probably a buff/nerf to some of the lowest/highest winrate cards listed above.
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