Editor’s Note: MoEsport would like to extend a warm welcome to our new contributing writer Woody! Woody is an accomplished Clash Royale player who leads Reddit Alpha, a Top 200 clan in the global rankings. Woody is also currently in first place in the Super Magical Cup Leaderboard. Be sure to follow and subscribe to Woody’s new Twitch Channel!
Get ready for a much-needed reset to the metagame! One month has passed since the last balance change and Supercell is now ready to move forward with changes to the Clash Royale cards it considered overpowered and underpowered. The changes will go live next Tuesday (6/21), but don’t wait until then to craft a new deck! Consider our take on the changes below and get a jumpstart on dominating the Arena!
Hog Rider: Damage decreased by 6%
SC: Hog Rider is currently the top choice for tower destruction! While we really enjoy seeing more offensive and action-packed games, we’d ideally like to see a bigger range of offensive cards used. The first step to achieving this is toning down the Hog Rider a notch. The second step is making some of the lesser-used offense cards more enticing.
Woody: Supercell’s “offense over defense” dial was turned up to 11 after the last balance update, but this change should help bring readjustment. The daring Hog Rider has consistently performed well on the card popularity rankings among top leaderboard players and sees a great amount of use from all players in Arena 4 upwards. Supercell’s additional buff of cards popular in beatdown and siege decks may help to finally revive the stagnant metagame.
Prince: Damage increased by 9%
SC: Prince terrorizes the early to mid Arenas, but as players become more experienced, he becomes less threatening. More damage will help him slice through even the toughest of Barbarians again!
Woody: Rather than reversing the previous charge speed nerf, Supercell has chosen to further increase the damage of one of the hardest-hitting units in the game. The Prince is expected to make a triumphant return to the decks most frequently used in the metagame, and alongside a buff to P.E.K.K.A could prompt a resurgence of the double-prince/P.E.K.K.A deck. Keep in mind that any direct buff to a card is an indirect buff to cards that synergize well with that card, so this change might help boost the Dark Prince, who has recently fallen out of favor compared against the Valkyrie.
P.E.K.K.A: Damage increased by 8%
SC: This change will allow her to kill a Barbarian with each swing (at Tournament Rules levels) and make her an even more formidable offensive option.
Woody: This has been a highly requested change among veterans of the tournament crowd and Supercell has now agreed to give P.E.K.K.A the much-needed buff! At the same time, this change weakens Barbarians and reduces their effectiveness as a counter to beatdown decks. This change is also bolstered by an upcoming nerf to Skeletons (discussed below) that will reduce their spawn count to 3 (from 4) as the P.E.K.K.A’s greatest distraction fades closer toward obscurity.
Goblin Barrel: Goblin spawn time decreased to 1sec (from 1.2sec)
SC: As one of the original hallmark cards for Clash Royale’s sillier side, we’d love to see barrels flying across the Arena once again!
Woody: Goblin Barrel remains very unpopular in higher Arenas because it is so easily countered by the prevalent Zap and Arrows for an easy elixir advantage to the defender. This change will slightly decrease the window defenders have to respond to the airborne attackers, but don’t expect this small tweak to revive this card. Players seeking a troop to deploy on their opponent’s half of the Arena are expected to continue using Miner, which offers a larger pool of hitpoints to tank for other troops who can dish out the damage. Perhaps if the barrel itself travelled faster or dealt more damage on impact…
X-Bow: Deploy time decreased to 4sec (from 5sec), hitpoints increased by 18%
SC: We were a bit brutal with our earlier X-Bow changes, to the point where it’s very rarely seen nowadays. We’d like to see it appearing in battles from time to time, but not too often as it is such a specialized card. It will still be challenging to use, but hopefully more viable in the right hands.
Woody: This change has been a long time coming for fans of the siege archetype, many of whom turned to the dark side to use the newly buffed Royal Giant. The X-Bow was given a stealth buff to its range (increased to 11.5) after the last update, and while the Tesla cannot be placed directly in front of this long-range attacker any more, it is possible to place it diagonally in front of it to draw some oncoming fire. Splitting the difference with its pre-nerf deploy time (5sec) the new 4-second deploy time will still provide ample opportunity for defenders to respond, while punishing those who do not. The increase in hitpoints will mostly be relevant when the X-Bow is targetted with spells like Lightning, Fireball, or Poison–those cards will still leave an appreciable amount of health left on the structure.
Mortar: Deploy time decreased to 4sec (from 5sec)
SC: Same principle as the X-Bow.
Woody: While the principle remains the same, the implementation of this change is arguably a bigger buff for the Mortar, which has a lower cost than the X-Bow and relies more on chip damage. The 4-elixir investment into a Mortar offers a greater range of defensive options relative to the 6-elixir X-Bow and will provide siege players greater opportunities to get their favorite card to lock onto the intended target. The deploy time reduction is a minor buff to the DPS of this card in some edge cases where a defender’s troops just barely destroy a Mortar less than a second before it launches its final attack–after this change that attack will still be made.
Furnace: Lifetime increased to 50sec (from 40sec)
SC: Our previous boost clearly didn’t make it good enough. Adding 10 seconds to the lifetime will potentially allow for stacking of multiple Furnaces, leading to some different and interesting slow-push gameplay.
Woody: Following a series of balance changes to both the Furnace and Fire Spirits, Supercell hopes to hit the sweet spot with this additional improvement to an underutilized card. The stated intent of the change is to provide Furnace with the opportunity to support beatdown-style pushes, perhaps supported by huge tank troops. That may come to pass, as every high-hitpoint troop is getting a stealth buff thanks to an upcoming “bugfix” to the Inferno Tower that will reset it’s damage scaling when Zapped. This particular change may prompt Furnace to enjoy a slight uptick in usage, but whether it achieves widespread popularity will be determined by greater shifts in the metagame. My prediction is that low-hitpoint troops will be less popular after the update and so Furnace may be a a situational card lacking in good situations for its use.
Guards: Removed pushback effect when their shields break
SC: Removing the pushback will allow the ruthless bone brothers to get in a couple of extra jabs, and hopefully compete for a spot in your Battle Deck.
Woody: This change is essentially a DPS buff to the Guards, who will reach their target faster and stay on it longer without being knocked around as much. However, this buff runs somewhat contrary to the soul of the card, which is to provide an AoE-resistant level of protection for other units. I don’t expect this change to have a very significant impact on this card’s usage rate.
Witch: Damage increased by 17%
Woody: This buff is huge and could finally give the Witch enough firepower to make her relevant in the metagame again. Witch is arguably the most versatile card in the game with a relatively sturdy body, the ability to spawn a swarm of Skeletons, and the ability to deal splash damage to both ground and air units. Her underwhelming performance is almost directly attributable to her lack of high damage output so I expect this change to make a big impact on the usage rate of the Witch. As a side note, the reduced number of units spawned from the 1-elixir Skeletons card also functions as a minor buff to Witch, who may be able to provide the distraction necessary to ward off the newly buffed Prince and P.E.K.K.A.
Lava Hound: Damage increased by 28%
SC: The Lava Hound itself isn’t scary enough right now – compared to the pups – and can sometimes be ignored. This change is relatively small, but it brings the damage of the hound and the pups in line with one another.
Woody: This change is one of the least significant made by Supercell in the upcoming update. For a frame of reference, the Lava Hound’s damage would need to be increased by 67% just for it to have the same DPS as one of his pups. This is because the Lava Hound has a 1.3sec hit speed, while each pup has a 1.0sec hit speed. Don’t expect to see this tanky flier in many more decks by means of this change alone.
Skeletons: Spawns 3 (from 4)
SC: They offer too much distraction and damage value for 1 Elixir!
Woody: Skeletons have become insanely popular at all levels of play thanks to their cheap cost and great strengths in distracting heavy hitters and taking down units that target only buildings. I have loved playing these cheap guys in almost every deck archetype known to the Clash Royale world and as such I must agree that this change is necessary to keep them adequately balanced. The Skeletons will still serve as a fine distraction, but their reduced numbers will now make it much more difficult for them to take down opposing troops alone. I expect that Skeletons will see reduced play (unlike the Cannon which counterintuitively became more popular after its last nerf) but remain relevant in the metagame.
Cannon: Hitpoints decreased by 8%
Tesla: Hitpoints increased by 8%
SC: We’d like to see the Cannon and Tesla as interchangeable options depending on your deck preference and needs. Currently the Cannon offers more value and is the clear choice. This change will hopefully make the decision more interesting.
Woody: Supercell has been trying for several seasons to increase the popularity of the Tesla relative to the Cannon, and they may have finally hit the sweet spot. Cannon will undoubtedly remain viable as a response to incoming ground-based attacks, but there will now be several new factors in favor of the Tesla: The hitpoint buff relative to Cannon will help the Tesla endure longer on the floor of the Arena; the potential resurgence of beatdown-style decks makes a defense with a greater range, longer duration, and higher DPS very appealing; the potential resurgence of siege decks may see defenders turn to Tesla as their preferred tower for protecting their Mortar or X-Bow; the nerf to Hog Rider reduces the appeal of Canon, especially since the Royal Giant was untouched; and finally the stealth nerf to Inferno Tower also discussed in the “Furnace” section above.
Overall, I applaud Supercell for the changes they have decided to make to restore balance to the game. Although I would have liked to see an additional buff to Rage and nerf to Royal Giant, I trust that these changes were exhaustively play-tested and their decisions were based on data not available to the playing public. I remain optimistic that these changes will bring about a reset to the relatively stale metagame and prompt additional experimentation with cards previously designated “useless.”