Blood, sweat, tears and other fluids are overflowing here at the 1939 Headquarters as we prepare for the next big batch of updates for your enjoyment. It’s been awhile since our last update, so a lot of things are changing. As tradition dictates, let’s start with going over the many changes to existing cards you will be seeing.
First, a quick note on Blockade. As you may have noticed, a changed version of Blockade went out in the last patch, without any heads up in the dev blog, or first iteration of the patch notes. This was simply because this change was accidentally put out. Blockade was being worked on internally for changes, but was not slated to go out until this patch. So a work-in-progress version went out, which thankfully was more or less functional, but was not the final version of what the card was meant to do. Long story short, Blockade will change (again) this patch to what it is intended to do, while the effect it has had over the last week and a half will go on another, new, card (spoiler: the new card is shown later in this dev blog).
Speaking of Blockade, it seems like a logical segue to start with showing its latest incarnation, so here we go:
Changing Blockade is something we knew we wanted to change some time ago, as part of curbing discard a little bit. There are new discard relevant cards coming in this update and future updates, so it was time to adjust the number of discard cards a little bit. Discard is also intended to be a secondary power for Britain and two powerful discard cards (Blockade and MI5) was a bit too much. Instead, we are giving Blockade an effect that we want to promote more as a British power - that of affecting cost of cards in the enemy hand. You can see another example of this kind of effect in the new card spoiler later on. It’s not ideal that the effect is random, but we don’t support selecting specific cards yet, so this is what we’re going with.
There was a bit of debate whether Blockade should keep the damage effect, as a big part of the current update is about curbing the power of removal orders. We decided eventually to keep the damage effect on Blockade, mainly because several other British removal cards are getting nerfed. Let’s check them out:
Precision Bombing goes into a pretty narrow band of decks, but boy is it good in those decks. Being able to kill anything for just 2 kredits is incredible value, and with the abundance of cheap bombers around, meeting the condition is not that hard.
The old Naval Support was at its best, paradoxically, in bomber heavy decks, as you could attack without risk with a small bomber (even into a unit with Heavy Armor, inflicting no damage) and then finish the unit off without any risk to your units. This, coupled with the fact that Britain simply had too many removal orders and a wonky effect that confused many players, resulted in us changing the card completely. This new version can act as a powerful boost, especially in guard heavy decks. 8/8 84th Infantry Regiment, anyone? Yes, please!
The new design can actually act as a soft removal. Note that it can target any unit, not just friendly units. So using this on an enemy unit with high attack, but low defense can be quite effective in the right circumstances (nice Kumamoto Regiment you have there, shame if something were to happen to it…)
Skua is like that annoying friend we all have that can do everything you can do, just a little bit better. Picking off small units? Check. Stopping a Tiger in its tracks for a turn? Check. Bomb anything with no reprisal, all for the low cost of 3? Check and check. Well, no more! F**k you friend, you will cost 4 from now on!
17 Pounder was changed not that long ago, when we merged artillery and anti-tank. The idea then was to create a targeted deployment effect, but because of the limitation at that time of the unit then being stuck in hand if no suitable targets were in play, we decided to go for a random effect instead. Well, now that targeting is no longer a requirement, we’re changing the 17 Pounder to what we originally envisioned for it, while at the same time reducing the effectiveness of the British removal suit.
More removal than British is being hit. Let’s look at the rest.
Most of you likely saw this coming, the previous incarnation of Tactical Strike probably more than any other card is the reason for people playing a German deck. We want to keep the damage as is, to make the line usage more meaningful, and we want to keep the draw to emphasize the German draw theme, so increasing the cost was the natural thing to do. Just like when we changed Death From Above, this makes Tactical Strike worse as early defensive play and makes it harder to do multiple things in a turn, both things we like.
Sky Barons is an extremely efficient tempo-swinging order that slows down games and punishes “go big” strategies. We still want to maintain its important role of keeping bomber decks in check, so the new effect reflects that (and even expands it to any air deck), but at a cost where it is more of a metagame call on when and how to use it (similar to for instance For the King).
This change is also something many of you probably foresaw when you heard we were swinging at removal cards with our nerfbat. From the People is ubiquitous in Soviet decks and for a good reason. Any card that is an automatic 4-of in pretty much any deck it can be in raises a red flag and as sad it is to see such an iconic card change, it is time for it to go.
The Hammer on the other hand has not quite lived up to its bill. Now that we have more of the card base and better understanding of the metagame, having this deal 6 damage makes a lot of sense. With this change and the one on From the People, it is Hammertime in the sun.
This is a pretty significant change, but a needed one. Bounce needs to be curbed a bit and a mass bounce like this is not something Japan should have in its arsenal. The new version of the card is much more fitting with what Japan is about. With all the blitz Japanese infantry can muster, they can aggressively attack into the frontline or go for the kill by blitzing the HQ out of nowhere. It is important to note that both the immunity and the move/attack effects only last until end of turn.
That’s it for changes to removal cards this time around. We’re not foreseeing a huge amount of further changes to removal, but some might happen. What is important to state though is that nerfing removal as a whole is likely to result in strengthening of buff cards, so we will keep a close eye on them in the wake of the recent changes. But let’s continue.
First, we are taking steps against two of the more popular decks, Japanese burn and British control. Not because they have be dominating, but more because their popularity is mainly due to a handful of unbalanced cards.
Churchill has stayed the same for a long time (I actually remember it as a 2/7 back in the day), but it brings too much value for its cost. It hurts weenie aggro decks, which we want to strengthen a bit and it enables turtling strategies too much. The extra cost, plus the change to The Hammer, should bring it back into the fold of mortal cards.
Akita is hands down the best of the common units in the Japanese aggro decks (or any Japanese deck for that matter). We want to keep its offensive threat, but make it a little less efficient in trading blows on the board. With the number of 1/3 units out there, plus things like Bloody Sickle, Akita is now a much more reasonable unit.
This change isn’t a nerf per se (the damage evens out on the whole), but it is part of reducing random effects were we feel they don’t belong. This change makes these units still a potent threat in burn decks, but will hopefully reduce a bit the negative aspect of games swinging on unfavorable RNG.
Next, we have a couple of more changes to cards to streamline the game and keep it easier for players to understand.
This is the last of the cards that could boost your enemy as well as yourself, so For Prosperity has now been edited in the same manner as the other cards in previous updates. We still think global effects have a place (there is actually an example of such a card among the new cards coming in this update), but it needs to be on cards where the effect makes more sense.
This is the only card that did partial repairs, plus it was not clear to many players it affected your HQ as well (the only German card to increase your HQ health). We want to streamline repair effects to always fully repair, for clarity, and HQ heal is not a German ability. We kept the cost the same, the card is now slightly worse (it was rare you needed to repair more than 3 and you lose the HQ heal), but the new version can be more powerful in the right deck.
Finally, we have a few stat changes to balance some units better.
This is one of the best cheap infantry units out there, with an ability that can easily allow you to snowball into insurmountable lead if left untouched. This can still happen of course, but now the unit is a tad more touchable at least.
This unit on the other hand has been underwhelming for a long time. Giving it a little love is important to make newer players feel less bad about running it and it helps balance the draft mode a bit better, once we open that up.
This unit was hit pretty hard when we did a balance pass on Artillery a while back and we feel it is fine to dial it back a little bit.
Ok, time for the good stuff, let’s start looking at the new cards, beginning with sort of a hybrid change. Airstrike is getting a new name/picture, but retaining the same functionality and cost.
The old Airstrike card is being repurposed into a new effect:
This card is one of the reasons why we’ve been carefully adjusting both bounce and discard effects, so there are not too many of them, but this new Airstrike is very much in line with the German theme. As with all countermeasures, the trick is in figuring out the best time to use it. If you can time it so that you only activate it once and it catches an expensive unit, you’re getting a great value for it’s cost, but if you end activating it a few times only to bounce a cheap unit, you’re not getting your money’s worth.
So what will happen to people owning Airstrike now? They will get the same number of Air Blitz cards when we update. The same is actually happening with a few other cards. Four cards currently in the card pool are being retired and replaced with new cards. These are cards that either used temporary artwork not available for us to use or we wanted to remove for various gameplay reasons. Note that some of those may return at a later point. Here are the cards in question, and the new cards they will be replaced with. This means that you will get equally many copies of the new card as the retired card when we update.
This is a pretty straightforward swap. Blitz is actually pretty relevant for anti-air units, now that they fire on air units flying over the frontline.
Having to replace existing cards with new ones gives us an opportunity to add in more cards to strengthen specific themes or strategies, or to act as a foil. The latter is especially true for the US, as they are intended to have many “silver-bullet” cards, aimed at punishing specific tactics. The M36 Jackson is a good example of this. On its own its stats are nothing special, but against dedicated discard decks it can be devastating. So using them is very much a metagame call, but it is nice for players to have some answers in the tool box if certain types of decks become too dominant. Note that the effect adds the unit to the support line, it does not count as deploy.
Here is another example of a silver-bullet, albeit one that can also be used more proactively. In most cases, your HQ being immune on your own turn matters not. But against burn decks it makes them think twice about running units like Ki-43 Hayabusa out into certain death, as is common now. You can also get around the self-damage downside of cards like Bloody Sickle and Su-76, making the 8th Cavalry a lynchpin in a new type of deck.
Speaking of self-damage cards, here is one that we spoiled some time ago. Soviet was in a sore need of a heavy hitting infantry unit and finally they have one.
We’ve seen five new cards so far, there are 13 more cards coming and I’ll show you 11 of those here. The other two will be revealed in other media, so stay tuned to the Streamer thread here on Discord.
Let’s start with the new units coming and end on the orders.
Those of you with keen eyes and keener memory will recognize the card art here from the old incarnation of Lightning Conquest. This new unit further strengthens the theme of Japan of cheap, aggressive but vulnerable infantry units.
Here we have a cheap artillery unit with a nasty sting for tank units.
We spoiled the first version of this some time ago, it was quite a bit stronger then, we adjusted it a bit after further testing. It is still very strong and can be devastating against order heavy decks.
As mentioned above, blitz on anti-air is pretty good and with 4 attack this card is also quite a threat. And if you manage to trade this with something good the destruction ability ensures you come out ahead in the card advantage race.
Japan is perhaps most used for aggressive decks, but they are also decent in more controlling decks, with cards like Takasa Regiment and Sendai Regiment. And now those decks have a new best friend in Type 3 Chi-Nu, which can be quite a roadblock while in the support line.
It is important to have plenty of cost/strength variations in mid to late game units, to allow for arms race meta-gaming where those kind of decks try to one-up another with slightly more expensive versions over time, until a cheap aggro deck comes along to go underneath and pushes the reset button. This new Spitfire variant is one more piece on that puzzle. With the numbers on this unit, it can be quite the beast.
The Komet can come out of nowhere, but then it is out of sight and takes some time before making a comeback. This fits thematically very nicely for an unreliable early jet unit, but it also fits the direct HQ threats of German decks perfectly. In the right circumstances this can be a repeat Air Blitz (aka Airstrike).
Fighting in Russia in the winter is no joke, as many armies have learnt at their peril. This effect is global, so it also damages your own units and HQ. It can be used either as a cheap defense against aggressive weenie decks, or in decks where you are fine with damaging your own units. This and 33rd Recon Regiment are best friends.
Despite being wary of removal effects, we felt there was a need for a pin-relevant order. This effect was on a Japanese unit at one point, but it makes sense to have it on an order instead.
Wait, wasn’t the idea to nerf removal? The answer is yes, but there is a caveat. First of all, Soviet as a whole has the least amount of removal of all the nations, which is one of the factors why Soviet is played less. So there is a bit of leeway for them. Secondly, Soviet need more good payoff cards for going wide, something that is supposed to be a theme for them. Mass Attack, with its ability to go directly to the enemy’s face, provides that payoff.
This is where the Blockade effect ended up. It is perfect for a commando deck, which is something we want to support for the British. Giving more ways to stick those pesky No. 10 Commando gives the deck a bit more redundancy.
That’s it for now. We realize the rapid card changes in the last few weeks can feel very chaotic. We’re using the opportunity while finalizing the card pool for the Base Set to balance the game as much as possible. Once we have the full card set in, in a few weeks, you can expect things to calm down considerably. Until then, we hope you bear with us and continue to send us your excellent feedback, it helps our efforts greatly.
We aim to update the game tomorrow, so look out for the full patch notes then. See you on the frontline!