Are the soul card balanced?

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Are the soul card balanced?

Postby DanTheTimid » Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:02 pm

I keep hearing mixed messages about how our cards have changed from the Japanese game. Other then will-o-wisp which no one has denyed being significantly weakened, I've been told both that nearly every other card has and hasn't been changed to some in some way (the old well "yes AND no" reply). What hasn't been a mixed message though is Soul Skills. From the beginning we were told by the GMs that the Japanese did a complete overhaul on the Soul Skills on our cards with the goal of making them more balanced then they are in the Japanese game. So we've basically been their guinea pigs but if it makes the game better balance I've been all for it.

Now that we've played with them for a while I think its time to ask, do you feel the soul cards are balanced?

My personal opinion? No. I think some people over act about them, the level of advantage/disadvantage they create isn't quite as bad as some seem to make it out to be, but they truly do need more tweaking if true balance is desired. The thing is... I can't help but wonder if this slight imbalance wasn't intended. The reason being, the best soul skills seem to be on 4 and 5 star rarity cards.

So of course I can't go making claims of imbalance with out some examples.

Pure Damage Dealing:
Bounty Hunter / Elena, Strike Samurai / Thunderbolt, Peregrine Paladin / Larut
Why they are good-
These cards are all rarity 5 and yet all considered by many to be the best damage dealing soul cards in the game. All 3 will not hit your own units if your opponent has none, hit their unit for 40-60 if they only have one, or potentially hit atleast 2 units for 30-40 if they have 2 or more. Larut has the versatility of doubling up on a single unit or spreading out between 2 units of his choice anywhere on the map. Elena and thunderbolt don't control their targets but you can't spread out your units to avoid getting hit by both and 40 damage is more then many common damage dealers deal.
Why others are bad-
The common damage dealers generally either hit a single target for a conditionally huge amount, or a row/column of targets for 30 damage. This sounds pretty reasonable in theory but in practice they both have huge draw backs. The single target soul cards, aside from having conditional damage and only hitting 1 target, also have the huge downside of hitting your own units if no enemy units exist. Seriously, those effects are not so great that they deserve such a potentially devastating downside. As for the row/column cards, as great as they work in the beginner area, once you play against seasoned players you'll find that its actually quite easy for players to break up their armies in such a way that theres rarely more then 1-2 units in any given row/column, and even when there is usually atleast one of them they don't mind getting hit for 30 anyway.
Conclusion-
Occasionally the common cards will be on par with the rare ones, but MOST of the time against any half way decent opponent the rare cards are going to be far more effective. Like I said at the start, the imbalance isn't huge, but it is indeed an imbalance. The rare cards are just better.

SP gainers:
Roaming Predator / Asuet, Wise Swordsman / Steel, Solar Prince / Verlaat
Note: I'm not counting the "revive, then +2sp" cards, even though they are great too, because they do require significant skill to pull off correctly and have the downside of fizzling if used incorrectly. Plus I just wanted to pick the top 3 from each category.
Why they are good-
This is a little more subjective, there are some decks where you could argue you'd rather have just +2sp then +1sp and another great effect. I'm not sure I agree with that stance, but regardless, for the average deck, the effects these cards give you in addition to sp is far more useful then having 1 more sp. Asuet does 40 damage to a target unit, thats quit a bit of damage and its targetting, heck its arguably better then the single target pure damage dealing common cards since it can't target your own units. On top of that your getting +1 sp. Steel is giving you that same row damage you got from common cards, only with an sp on top of it! And Verlaat, well his extra effect isn't THAT great... but he's a 2LP card. Infact his effect is identical to that of the 1LP Ruby Carbuncle all but obsoleting it.
Why others are bad-
If you don't have access to the above 4 and 5 star rarities and want some sp your options are extremely limited. Your choices are any of the +2sp effects, or Ruby Carbuncle and his efffect which is the same as Verlaats only you get only 1LP instead of 2. With the 2sp cards its true you gain sp a tiny bit faster, but you gain no field advantage what so-ever and you've still got your opponent soul cards waiting to devastate whatever you use that 1 extra sp to play. As for Ruby Carbuncle, you could argue there are situations where you might want to activate the effect sooner making Ruby a better choice then Verlaat, and maybe so, but most of the time I'd much rather have an extra LP to work with.

Return effects:
Dragonrider / Wasseir
Why its good-
Ok there aren't many return effects, but Wasseir is easily one of the best early game cards in the game and deserved to show up here. Activated early on, Wasseir effectively sets your opponent back an entire turn. Bouncing cards is so much more powerful in Alteil then in most other card games due to the 1 per turn card play limit the fact that the amount of sp you gain per turn does not tend to increase as the game goes along, by bouncing their card and not refunding the 2sp they got and spent that turn, its almost like your negating your opponents previous turn and thus allowing yourself to take 2 turns in a row. Time walk anyone?
Why others are bad-
Well theres slim pickings here. I've had Invisible Druid used one me before by lawtia players. Its an incredible card if your opponent iczer attacks into it, but that requires alot of luck and won't work against repeat opponents. As such people usually combo it with soul bind to bounce a card of their choice. Not a bad combo, but all your really doing is converting your soul bind into non-level restricted Return. For a 1lp card I expect a little bit more then that.

Three LP cards:
Witch Queen / Catherina
Why its good-
To be honest, I rarely see 3lp cards used, but if I was going to use one it would have to be Catherina. Every other 3lp has some sort of potentially negative effect, some can be gotten around more easily then others, but with Catherina theres almost no downside at all. Theres only a handful of cards right now that interact with your cemetery, and other then Skeleton Master, the rest are all soul cards. Since 3lp cards are typically used in the final soul card slot if used at all theres really no conflict with anything but Skeleton Master, and even then since his targeting is limited her effect is just as likely to help you (get unwanted cards out of his targetting range) as it is to hurt you (get wanted cards out of his targetting range) if you are using him.
Why others are bad-
Having no positive soul skill is bad enough, but having a negative one really makes it hard to justify running 3lp cards. A few can be avoided, Sphynx doesn't hurt you if your running no defense anyway, but even in those cases your deck options are restricted over Catherina who really doesn't even care if your running Skeleton Master, the only card she has any real conflict with.

Two LP cards:
Every 2LP card that has an effect
Why its good-
Its got a positive effect that can help you.
Why others are bad-
Its got no effect to help you. Seriously, having 2lp cards with out effects is pure laziness. As long as the other side is useful at least the overall card is still balanced, but if they really wanted to balance the soul skills I don't see why they didn't at least give every 2lp card some sort of effect. How about a few "hit random column of enemies for 30 damage". Or maybe "hit 2 random units for 30 damage" or something along those lines?

Those are just my usual long winded thoughts, please feel free to share your own on the current balance among soul skills.
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Re: Are the soul card balanced?

Postby ANIMEniac » Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:31 pm

Like any other CCG there will always be powerhouse cards. If there weren't, there would be no reason to make super rares or have people want to buy and chase them. It's kind of like in YGO, where everyone needs Jinzo or the like to compete. Those 4-5 star cards are very advantageous.

I don't see anything wrong with having changes. It could be we are getting the changes the Japanese had right form the beginning so it won't be "unbalanced" like it was it first came out in Japan. Or possibly they want to see how overall gameplay can be effected and possibly implement it in Japan.

About not having Souls on every card is being "lazy" is just a bad assumption. It's just not very "profitable" to come up with Souls for every card. It is like why does YGO have monsters with effects and some w/o? It's just that's what that card does. If having 1 LP gives you good effect, and 3 usually is negative, then i guess 2 should be in between somewhere (hence most have nothing). Some have effects, but that can be used as "chaser" cards. People who want to 2 LP effects will have to try to obtain a good effect one.
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Re: Are the soul card balanced?

Postby teasel » Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:33 pm

also while i think that with 100 random card that isn't going to happen,in a sealed tournament with say 50 cards maybe the cards with SS are also the ones you want to play... personaly i don't think there are enough SS to make discussion like these anyway as most cards held the same skill (magic doll/monk,haste soldier/ancient spearknight,BCP/witch) and the only skill which really sucks are the LP 1 stat boost
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Re: Are the soul card balanced?

Postby Candi » Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:46 pm

To some degree I have to concur with your opinions, but on the other side of the fence I am placing my stake.

In terms of balance, making the assumption that all things should be made equal is a good way to approach it on a theoretical basis - but when you do that you lose out on some of the other important points that may go into balancing.

So let's take it from the top - best damage dealers are 5 star cards - yes. Thunderblt, Elena and Larut are kings of the early game damage hill - and Larut can even run second or third SC effectively. I wrote an article yesterday about those two cards (as well as Wassier, the low level return you talked about later on). These four cards are the best options for a standard decks first SC slot, hands down. On top of that, three of them are 5 star and one is 4 star in rarity. Is this fair? Yes, I think so.

You brought up great points about 3 LP cards - taking an extra LP is something you do to offset the fact that you are running 4 1 LP destroyer cards and would like some survivability, and Catherina is hands down the best 3 LP card in the game, only interfering with the Skeleton Master and LeBeau SC. She's also a 5 star rare, is this fair? Yup. (You knew I was going to say that). Although, Catherina I think will become less of an awesome 3 LP in short order, her Soul ability alludes to more graveyard effects in the future, but we have guys like Sphinx for DEF-less decks and the worst 3 LP out there - Skeleton Master, the self inflicted Turn to Dust +1!

SP Gainer's, you are 100% correct again. Optimal SP boosting options are those three - I see Steel's and Asuet's quite often and they do pack a nasty punch. Balanced? Yes, I do think so.

When looking at Soul abilities of LP 1 cards vs. LP 2 cards you can 9 times out of 10 see why the LP 1 card is the way it is. Take Steel, 30 random row damage and 1 SP vs. it's 2 LP counterparts, say Berserker 30 random row. So at the cost of 1 LP you get 1 SP. Reasonably so if you ask me. A lot of balance comes down to how much LP it grants you and its rarity. If higher rarity cards were not better than lower rarity cards then what's the point in making them rare? There would be little incentive to purchase packs to get them if you got no advantage over those who do not have them, because lets face it - most players buy cards for advantage. As we all know, this is a totally different argument that is brought up at least once weekly, so I'll leave that fish to be fried elsewhere.

The only two "balance issues" that you brought up that I find strange is the Ruby Carbuncle vs. Verlaat. Which is strange because at least with most high rarity cards soul skills you can compare them to similar skills and at least justify to yourself the LP difference, but here it's obscene. And the 2 LP no ability cards, which does make sense to some degree since 3 LP => negative effect and 1 LP => awesome effect while 2 LP => alright effect. I wouldn't call it total laziness, gotta save some goodies for future sets right? Personally, I always play with a 2 LP card that has an effect and ignore the effect-free ones. The option's always there from the starter (Moonlight Warrior or Berserker - no deck uses both), so I don't really see it as a big issue, maybe an annoyance when you think "WOO! Look at all the non-grimoire's I have, must have some useful Soul abilities.... nope, not really - damn 2 LP no abilities filling my collection!"

So yea, my 2 cents is up there somewhere.
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Re: Are the soul card balanced?

Postby Phades » Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:46 pm

teasel wrote:... and the only skill which really sucks are the LP 1 stat boost
I wouldn't discredit the effects of EX: Vordor or Rougeerst so easily when played properly.
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Re: Are the soul card balanced?

Postby Candi » Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:52 pm

Phades wrote:
teasel wrote:... and the only skill which really sucks are the LP 1 stat boost
I wouldn't discredit the effects of EX: Vordor or Rougeerst so easily when played properly.


Quite right phades, even the regular Lion Baron and Vordore can be used very well if timed properly. Every card has it's use, just gotta find it.
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Re: Are the soul card balanced?

Postby Phades » Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:57 pm

Candi wrote:If higher rarity cards were not better than lower rarity cards then what's the point in making them rare? There would be little incentive to purchase packs to get them if you got no advantage over those who do not have them, because lets face it - most players buy cards for advantage. As we all know, this is a totally different argument that is brought up at least once weekly, so I'll leave that fish to be fried elsewhere.
You do not need 3 of the same copy of a 4-5 star rare to be effective within the SS chain. The same can not be stated on the field. Many of the more rare cards are potentially desireable within certain decks on the field, forcing the player to collect more. SS can be inserted anywhere in nearly any deck. The argument for rarity vs effects is rather moot when considering SS cards, due to the nature of how the 4-5 star cards are distributed. It is not like you get a SS backlash on those more rare cards, like you would on the field as well. Basically everyone will randomly obtain the more rare cards for SS use eventually, but some will just simply have decks +1 until the game becomes older compared to everyone else.
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Re: Are the soul card balanced?

Postby DanTheTimid » Fri Aug 29, 2008 2:05 pm

To ANIMEniac, I'm not sure Yugioh is the best game to use to justify balance, unless your trying to make an example of a game with terrible balance. In Yugiohs defense eventually they realized that the tv shows popularity could only keep them afloat for so long and that their bad balance was killing the game. As such they implemented a ban list and new sets are FAR more balanced then old ones, with effect-less cards generally having much better stats then effect cards and or being the key card in some powerful combo to justify their use. Thus even in those cases, the bad stats and lack of effect is being justified, non-effect LP2 cards have no justification. I suppose in the future they could have cards whose effects are dependant on you having non-effect cards in your soul cards, but that isn't the case right now.

I would like to make something clear based on the type of posts I'm getting:
I'm not saying I'm upset over the balance issues, I'm just bringing them to light.

This isn't a normal real life card game, its a virtual one, where if a card is too strong or too weak it is possible to go back and alter it to make things more balanced. Will perfect balance ever be eachieved? Probably not. Doesn't mean we can't try to make it as balanced as possible. Heck the whole reason we have new soul skills at all is because the Japanese weren't happy with so many cards having useless soul skills and so many having over powered ones. They weren't happy with the fact that from what I heard almost all the top japanese decks use exactly the same soul cards. Well right now I'm starting to see the same thing happen in the english game, the top decks seem to include combinations of the same soul cards. I explained in great detail the reasons this is occuring so as to both justify my claims and perhaps give those in charge of balance some insight into ways they might make slight tweaks to bring things closer to balance again.

As for the rarity issue, I should add that I'd be less annoyed with the fact the rare cards seem so much better... if they were theme specific. For example, an effect that only works at night/morning is alot more reasonable to be a little bit better then the rest since it can only be effectively used by a specific theme and does require at least a little set up/risk. The problem with the cards I mentioned is that any deck can use them and with out any risk or set up have them be more consistently useful then their closest non-rare counterparts. This results in games becoming more boring as most everyone is using the exact same cards.

Its also worth noting I didn't even bring up Killing Machine / Lebeau at all in this thread. Thats not to say I don't think he has some balance issues, but he's not showing up in nearly every top deck like many of the cards I did list are. Plus I think everything that can be said about him has already been said.

Thank you all for your replies and thoughts however.
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Re: Are the soul card balanced?

Postby Candi » Fri Aug 29, 2008 2:50 pm

DanTheTimid wrote:They weren't happy with the fact that from what I heard almost all the top japanese decks use exactly the same soul cards. Well right now I'm starting to see the same thing happen in the english game, the top decks seem to include combinations of the same soul cards.


This is true, and I feel that reservation as well - I guess I am just holding out that set 2 will change that, and I hope it does otherwise we're in uh oh territory. Cookie cutter files are annoying, mostly because they are cookie cutter files.
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Re: Are the soul card balanced?

Postby Wisp » Fri Aug 29, 2008 3:06 pm

In the sealed tournament, I had a black cat that I used as a soul card. She had such an interesting affect!! And now that I have one - lvl up bonus - I'm thinking of putting a deck together that would benefit from it!

Now, my new main deck may be similar to some of the top players decks, but I've been told that my stratigies are very different... of course we all know we shall have to be adaptable when the new set is released! Do I see something about a second coming? D:
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