Balance Changes for Early February Update, How’s it Going to Impact the Game?

Just a few days ago, I made some predictions for what we could expect for the next balance update.  Well lo and behold, today the Clash Royale team gave everyone a heads up on the changes to expect for the next update!  Here’s the full list of the changes that were announced (and there are A LOT), with accompanying explanation from the Clash Royale team, and my personal thoughts on each one:

Arrows: Damage decreased by 4%
CR Team: Arrows are the most popular spell card in the game, and we felt you simply get too much value for the three Elixir cost.

MoEsport: At 3 cost Arrows were much too effective for taking out weak characters, and could even potentially finish off a tower.  4% doesn’t sound like much, but that extra damage decrease can be the difference between being able to take out Archers and Bombers with one shot, depending on what level the cards at at.  It’s still hella effective for taking out Goblin Barrels, Skeleton Armies and Minions though.

Freeze: Radius decreased to 3 (from 4), duration increases by 0.3 seconds per level (from 0.4 seconds)
CR Team: Freeze is one of the most popular cards in the game. High level Freeze was too powerful due to the long duration of the spell. Additionally, the big area of effect makes it too easy to Freeze the tower and catch all defending troops at the same time. Freeze will still be a strong play, but it’s now more open to counters.

MoEsport: This should impact the dreaded Freeze/Balloon/Hog Rider decks, which were so efficient in weaving their way around everyone and everything to take out towers.  High level players are already learning to adapt against the 4 radius; the 3 radius will just make life a little easier for everyone against these decks.
Wizard: Damage decreased by 7%
CR Team: Wizard is the most used troop among the top players. It’s slightly overpowered and has made the Bomber and Musketeer nearly obsolete.

MoEsport: Ouch for Wizard players.  Not surprised by Wizard getting a nerf as it was ranked #2 in my last power ranking, but 7% damage decrease is a big hit.  I’d expect to see a big drop in Wizard usage coming up.
Barbarians: Hitpoints decreased by 4%
CR Team: Barbarians are the second most used troop at the top, and are also a bit too strong. In a lot of cases they simply offer too much value for 5 Elixir.

MoEsport: Again could have seen this coming as Barbarians were #1 in my power ranking, with 18 of the top 20 players using Barbarians.  They’ll still be an efficient tank and counter, but the decreased hit points will help other cards get an upper hand on Barbarians a little easier.
Bomber: Attack speed increased to 1.9 seconds (from 2 seconds)
CR Team: Bomber’s use rate is quite low – partly because of the Wizard is a much stronger alternative. After this boost, the Bomber should be a more enticing option.

MoEsport:  I’m not a Bomber user but have seem a number of players utilize it pretty well.  0.1 seconds doesn’t sound like much, but one extra bomb dropped by Bomber could potentially wipe out a few more Goblins/Skeletons.

Golem: Hitpoints, damage and death damage increased by 43%
Golemite: Hitpoints, damage and death damage decreased by 43%

CR Team: Many Clash of Clans players felt that the Golem didn’t live up to its lore. Golemites were way too strong and often dealt more damage than the Golem itself! We’re transferring damage and hitpoints directly from the Golemites into the Golem.

MoEsport: I also agree that the Golem didn’t live up to its lure, but I don’t think this necessarily helps Golem, as it’s still bait for Inferno Towers, Minion Hordes and Barbarians.  As they stated, Golemites were the ones dealing the real damage, and by weakling them by 43% enemies can basically let them be after the Golem has been destroyed.  The increased death damage is intriguing, but overall this feels like more of a nerf than a buff.
P.E.K.K.A: Hitpoints decreased by 13%, cost decreased to 7 (from 8)
CR Team: P.E.K.K.A is one of the most iconic Clash characters, but unfortunately it wasn’t visible due to low use rates. You rarely encountered P.E.K.K.A in the Arena. It’s a massive risk to invest 8 Elixir into a card that’s so easily distracted by small troops. 7 Elixir should reduce the risk enough to make P.E.K.K.A a solid addition to some decks.

MoEsport: Pretty much agree with the CR Team assessment.  The lowered cost should make P.E.K.K.A a pretty intriguing heavy hitting option to be paired up with Barbarians, Skeletons or Freeze.
X-Bow: Hitpoints decreased by 15%

CR Team Players with the X-Bow card unlocked have used it in almost half of their matches. Seeing as the X-Bow is quite a specialized card, both to use and to deal with, we didn’t think it was cool to see it in so many matches.

MoEsport:  This is a welcomed change as the X-Bow is single-handedly the most hated card in Clash Royale right now.  As the CR Team stated, it’s being used way too much, and even though there are ways to counter it, it’s just way too effective of an offensive weapon when catching people off guard.
Inferno Tower: Lifetime decreased to 45 seconds (from 60 seconds)
CR Team: One of our balancing principles is, “offense over defense”, but the Inferno Tower’s very high use rate among top players doesn’t match this principle. Top players are facing Inferno Towers in roughly half of their matches and the battle can become more about getting the Inferno Tower down instead of the Crown Tower. A shorter lifetime makes it harder to build a new one as soon as the previous one is destroyed, tipping the scales back in favor of offense.

MoEsport: The change makes sense, as players stacking one Inferno Tower after another can easily be the most frustrating defence anyone goes up against.  The Tower will stick make a great defence against Giants and Balloons, but at least now it won’t be sitting around for so long after it’s done it’s job.
Cannon: Cost decreased to 3 (from 6), range to 6 (from 7), lifetime to 40 seconds (from 60 seconds) and hitpoints decreased by 55%
CR Team:  Cannon has been one of the least used cards, so we wanted to re-work it and give it a clearer purpose. A cost of 3 should make it more interesting and a significantly different alternative to the Inferno Tower.

MoEsport: This should make Cannon a quick defence against incoming Barbarians and Giants.  Still can’t target flying troops though, so not sure if this change to help Cannon make it into the rotation of top player’s decks.
Mortar: Cost decreased to 4 (from 6), damage by 40% and lifetime to 20 seconds (from 40 seconds)
CR Team: Mortar has also been one of the least used cards, as the X-Bow is simply a more compelling choice in most cases. A cheaper cost and shorter lifetime should clearly differentiate it from the X-Bow and make it a tempting play on both offense and defense.

MoEsport: My nomination for buff that will most increase a card’s usage.  The Mortar deals area damage and has the range to hit Crown Towers, and now at only 4 cost it’s a great option for finishing off those Crown Towers blocked by layers of defence.
Mirror: Level of mirrored Common Cards increased by 4 and mirrored Rare Cards by 2
CR Team: Mirror is a super fun card, but unfortunately it doesn’t see much use. Because it’s an epic card and almost always a lower level than your commons and rares, it makes sense that it would also boost those cards to appropriate levels.

MoEsport: Top 10 player longisland07 should be thrilled by this news, as he’s probably one of the few players I’ve seen that has utilized the Mirror well in the past.  The 4 level increase for Common Cards is especially intriguing, as a Mirror can instantly summon a pack of high level Barbarians or Minion Hordes.
Bomb Tower: Attack speed increased to 1.7 seconds (from 1.8 seconds)
CR Team:  Bomb Tower has been one of the least used cards. We hope this small boost encourages more people to try it out.

MoEsport: Similar to Cannon, Bomb Tower’s inability to hit flying troops still make it a pretty weak option compared to other defensive towers.  A change I would suggest for this card is to have it spawn a Bomber when destroyed – wouldn’t that be cool!

Barbarian Hut: Hitpoints increased by 10%
CR Team: Since Barbarians are losing some hitpoints, the Barbarian Hut’s hitpoints are being increased to compensate.

MoEsport: The 10% HP increase more than compensates for the weaker Barbarians that the hut churns out.  I expect to see a good few more Barbarian Huts in future play.

Overall Impressions:

Again I have to give credit to the Clash Royale team for being so on top of monitoring the game, and announcing changes to players well in advance of the implementation date so players can adjust their upgrade plans accordingly.  Despite all the changes, one thing that was completely untouched but I predicted would be affected were spells.  I noted in my predictions that many players (myself included) are simply relying on bombing/shocking/burning Crown Towers for damage as opponents stack up on defence.  With the towers and Barbarian nerfs, I foresee even more reliance on spells in competitive gameplay.  Time to level up those Fireballs and Lightnings!

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