Breakdown of the latest round of Clash Royale balance changes (5/18)

Well that didn’t take long!  In just less than 2 weeks since the last balance change and introduction of new cards, the Clash Royale team have announced another round of balance changes which will take effect next Wednesday (5/18).  As always, here is our breakdown of each of the announced changes.

Royal Giant: Damage decreased by 4%

CR: He’s great again! Maybe a little bit too great. We don’t want to tone down him down too much, as his use rates and win rates don’t suggest he’s overpowered. A small damage reduction should reign him in a bit, and we’ll continue to keep an eye on him.

MoEsport: This is inline with our comparison of the Royal Giant to Mortars in our latest Card Power Rankings: top players seem to have no problems stopping the Royal Giant, but it’s a pain to deal with for lower level players.  My personal problem with the Royal Giant is that the higher level it is, the more difficult it is to counter.  I rountinely play players with cards 1-2 levels higher than me, and no matter how well I play against their Royal Giant, I can’t trade against him simply due to the fact that my troops can’t deal enough damage to his tanky body.  Instead of a decrease in damage, I would have liked to see a decrease in the Royal Giant’s attack speed or Hitpoints instead.

Freeze: Duration decreased by 1sec

CR: Hog+Freeze can be a devastating combo when pulled off correctly and is highly used at all levels. We don’t want to deter offensive gameplay, so instead of adjusting the Hog Rider, we wanted to first see how a change to Freeze would shake things up.

MoEsport: HUGE nerf for Freeze that will totally change the meta of the game!  It’s no secret that Freeze is currently one of the most “OPed” cards in the game (especially at high levels).  The 1-second decrease in duration for Freeze will make the card much less at lower levels, but possibly still effective for top players (duration decreased from 7.1 secs to 6.1 secs for a level 8 Freeze).  Personally I think it would have been better to keep the duration of a level 1 Freeze at 5 seconds and lower the incremental increase of the duration to 0.2 seconds instead of 0.3 seconds.  Also note that CR stated that they “wanted to first see how a change to freeze would shake things up”, so expect there to be even more follow up changes to the spell for better or for worse.

The biggest beneficiary to this nerf?  Our favorite spell Zap!  Instead of spending 4-elixir on Freeze, I can see more and more players electing to utilize the 1-second “shock” of Zap to get in that extra Hog damage instead.

Furnace: Elixir cost decreased to 4 (from 5), hitpoints decreased by 14% and lifetime decreased to 40sec (from 50sec)

CR: The Furnace has a very low use rate so we decided a small re-work was in order. A lower Elixir cost, combined with decreased hitpoints and lifetime for balance, should make it a viable choice.

MoEsport: I have not experimented with Furnace nor play against it very often, so it’s hard to say what kind of impact this will have on the card.  Given that it will now be 1-elixir cheaper than the Goblin Hut, players needing some back-up for their Royal Giants and Giants may now want to experiment with playing the Furnace instead….

Fire Spirits: Area Damage radius increased by 25%

CR: Their damage is good, but they don’t always hit everything you’d like them to. This change should make them more reliable.

MoEsport: …especially now that that Fire Spirits have been buffed!  While cheap to play, Fire Spirits are hard to control as they go after the first thing they see, unlike Zap which allows you to deal damage instantly where you want AND give you that 1-second shock advantage.  The radius increase is a welcomed addition, but if I was to redesign the card, I would have Fire Spirits deal continuous damage to the targets it hits (“the burn”) in the same manner as Poison.  Just like Zap, the added damage doesn’t have to be much (ie. 20 damage over 4 seconds), but it will add an extra strategic element to the card, and help differentiate it even more from other 2-cost cards such as Goblins/Spear Goblins/Zap.

Guards: Hitpoints and damage increased by 8%

CR: Low use rates across the board. The ruthless bone brothers could do with some more hitpoints and damage to make them truly ruthless.

MoEsport: The card plays decent on defense, but the card just doesn’t do much on offense (good luck sending them out against a Royal Giant!) and rarely makes it through to the opponent’s Crown Tower due to its fragile body.  An 8% increase in HP and damage is sizeable, and may make Guards a cheaper alternative to the once-again popular Barbarians.

Miner: Hitpoints increased by 6%

CR: The Miner is a really fun card and people are still figuring out the best uses for him. He’s in pretty good shape overall, but a few more hitpoints should help him find his place in the Arena.

MoEsport: Many Players who have unlocked the Miner have found success playing him, especially in combination with cards that are able to draw away the Crown Tower’s targeting (Giant, Minion Horde, etc.)  I feel the Miner’s HP was already decent considering his low cost, but I guess the CR team wanted to entice more players to buy and use this Legendary card.

Lava Hound: Hitpoints increased by 3%
Lava Pups: Hitpoints increased by 9%

CR: As an 7 Elixir Legendary Card we don’t think the Lava Hound is impressive enough yet. In particular, his “second phase” when the Pups pop out could do with a boost to make him a more enticing choice.

MoEsport: Same goes for Lava Hound.  Everyone was pumped about this card when it was first announced (a flying Golem!), but Lava Hound is not only relatively easy to counter, but leaves players very vulnerable as it can not block ground troops with its body like Golem and P.E.K.K.A does.  Again, I don’t think HP buffs are the best solution for increasing card usage, and I don’t foresee too many players jumping on the Lava Hound bandwagon after this buff.

Elixir Collector: Hitpoints decreased by 9%

CR: Use rate at the top is incredibly high – the most used card, in fact – making the Elixir Collector seem like too much of a compulsory choice (evidently our last change wasn’t enough). We don’t want any card to feel like a such an obvious choice, so we’re shaving some more hitpoints off.

MoEsport: Again this is consistent with our observation from the Card Power Rankings!  Cruecial noted in our stream that spells like Arrows and Fireball can essentially counter the Pump after its first round of HP nerf.  With another 9% of hitpoints shaved off, the Pump now may even put a player at an elixir disadvantage!  Many top players rely on the elixir advantage from the Pump to execute their decks; if this nerf does finally decrease the usage of the Pump, then we can expect to see significant changes to the playing styles of these top players.

Knight: Hitpoints increased by 10%

CR: The Knight is a great well-rounded basic troop, but his simple functionality can be overlooked by the snazzier cards you unlock later on, and as a result his use rates are very low overall. We’d like to see more of this mini-tank in the Arena.

MoEsport: More HP increases!  Valkyrie started getting a lot more love after a significant HP increase, but her AoE damage capability also makes her a better option on defense and better combination with cards like Freeze.  The Knight’s problems are that it is only one troop, moves too slow, and is too easily countered by cheaper cards like Skeletons and Spear Goblins.  Some players may now find use with Knight’s tankier body, but there are just simply many better options out there for melee troops.

Bomber: Damage increased by 10%

CR: Bomber is currently an underrepresented basic troop which offers so much in the early to mid game. More damage should help him to compete at the top also.

MoEsport: A pretty sizeable buff for Bomber which will very likely increase its usage rate, especially as a counter against Barbarians and Goblins.  It’s also proven to be a good back-up for Giant/Royal Giant decks, so expect to see this combo a lot more after the next update.

Cannon: Hitpoints decreased by 5%

CR: With the Royal Giant’s meteoric rise in fame, the Cannon has remained very popular, despite our last round of balance changes, and is the second most used card at the top. We’d like to take a few more hitpoints away and make it less of an obvious inclusion in so many decks.

Tesla: Hitpoints increased by 5%

CR: Tesla doesn’t currently stack up as a compelling choice next to the Cannon – a combination of this small boost and the Cannon’s hitpoint decrease should make choosing between the two a more interesting decision.

MoEsport: The CR team pretty much summarized everything regarding the above 2 changes.  Everyone’s using Cannon as their go-to tower, and hardly anyone’s been using Tesla since its big nerf.  This change just inspired me to write a strategy article comparing on the defense towers in the game!

Golem & Golemite: Hitpoints increased by 5%

CR: The Golem’s use rate is relatively low, in part due to the popularity of direct counters such as the Minion Horde, and also because the new Tournament Rules and max card levels decreased the relative strength of Epic Cards. A small hitpoint boost should help the Golem become more viable.

MoEsport: Again not much to add on to the official CR explanation.  A 5% HP increase is not a huge boost, but will at least make Golem decks a little more competitive.

Witch: Damage increased by 10%

CR: The Witch is an excellent early game pusher, but doesn’t get much playtime in the higher Arenas. More damage, plus the Skeleton boost below will hopefully make her an interesting choice at more levels of play.

MoEsport: Yet another Witch buff!  This has been the 3rd buff for Witch, and may be the one that finally push the needle and encourage players to use Witch.  I have already been seeing some good utilization for Witch with Giants/Royal Giants, so this buff may very well make her a better option than Wizard and the now-popular Musketeer.

Skeletons (affects Tombstone, Skeleton Army, Witch, Skeletons): Hitpoints and damage increased by 5%

CR: More bones in the Arena equals more fun.

MoEsport: The 1-cost Skeletons are already pretty popular, but all the other Skeleton cards (Tombstone, Skeleton Army, Witch) are not.  Aside from Skeleton Army (which is still easily countered by Arrows or Zap), I can foresee increased usage for the other 3 cards.

Tombstone: Hitpoints increased by 10%

CR: Tombstone has fallen out of favor, but because it’s such a staple counter for the Prince in the early game, we’d like to see it as a more viable choice again. Additionally, this change should make it a possible alternative to the Cannon or Tesla in some decks.

MoEsport: The return of Tombstone!  Ever since the skeletons released upon being destroyed were decreased from 6 to 4, players have pretty much stopped using the card.  I find it interesting that the CR team identified Tombstone as being the staple counter for Prince though, as before the nerf, everyone counted on Tombstone to counter Hog Rider!  There are already many cards that can effectively counter Prince, but with another Cannon nerf, Hog Rider will now have an even easier path to the Crown Tower!  Hopefully with the increase in HP and Skeleton damage, Tombstone can serve as a counter to Hog Riders again (and this is coming from a Hog Rider user!)

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