Not two weeks after the last Clash Royale balance changes, Supercell has announced more adjustments to its lesser-used cards. These tweaks will go live with the upcoming July 4 update, along with the much-anticipated Tournament Mode (details from Orange Juice here) and upcoming Tournament Week. Not surprisingly, none of the cards being buffed can be found on our previous list of power rankings. In fact, the most popular card being buffed (Dark Prince) was used in only three of the top 100 ladder decks.
Skeleton Army: Skeleton count increased to 21 (from 20)
SC: We found him! The missing 4th Skeleton joined the army.
Woody: This flavorful, but insignificant buff will do little to improve the Army, despite the fact that many in the community see the need for a buff to the level of the skeletons.
Goblin Barrel: Elixir cost decreased to 3 (from 4), Goblin deploy time increased to 1.2sec (from 1sec), removed impact damage
SC: Our previous change didn’t hit the mark, so we’re trying something a bit wilder! 3 Elixir puts the Goblin Barrel on par with the Miner for surprise attacks and value, while still remaining counterable by Arrows, Zap or Fire Spirits.
Woody: Now this is a buff! The tiny reduction in deploy time from the previous change was almost meaningless, and the removal of its impact damage is negligible. But the decreased elixir cost is HUGE for decks that can bait cheap removal spells and then punish with a flying trio of green meanies. I expect the Barrel to return to its former glory in some decks up through Arena 5. However, the Miner will still outshine it in most Arenas above that.
Giant Skeleton: Damage increased by 20% (doesn’t affect Death Damage)
SC: Getting to the enemy’s tower is quite challenging for the Giant Skeleton – as it should be – but at least with this change he’ll be one-shotting Goblins on the way.
Woody: I’m perplexed by Supercell’s explanation here. Under Tournament Rules, the Level 4 Giant Skeleton hits for 133, so a 20% damage buff should make him deal 133 + (0.2)(133) = 160 damage, while Level 9 Goblins have 169 hitpoints. However, even if he can one-shot Goblins, I don’t expect him to be reaching Towers much easier. This minor buff will do little to bring the big skelly back into the metagame.
Dark Prince: Damage increased by 8%
SC: Until our last round of changes, the Dark Prince dealt half as much damage as the Prince. This change brings his value back in line with his golden brother.
Woody: This modest change won’t reduce the number of hits it takes the Dark Prince to kill his preferred target, Barbarians. The recent buffs to P.E.K.K.A and Prince were not enough to revive the double-prince archetype, but perhaps this will help bring it back to the fore. The Valkyrie still outclasses Dark Prince on defense for three reasons: she moves slower, has more hitpoints, and swings for damage in a full circle.
Bomber: Damage increased by 9%
SC: Despite a few boosts already, the Bomber hasn’t seen a big uptake in usage at the top. Extra damage will make him even more deadly and hopefully a compelling choice again.
Woody: Unfortunately for the Bomber, this change will not help him swarmy ground units any faster. He will be able to drop tanks and Towers faster, but that’s not his role in the first place.
Wizard: Attack speed increased to 1.6sec (from 1.7sec)
SC: A faster attack speed should increase the Wizard’s value when compared to his more attractive cousin, the Ice Wizard.
Woody: Will we be hearing “Fireball!” more often in the Arena after this change? Doubtful… the 0.1sec attack speed increase amounts to amounts to just over a 6% change in DPS. Plus, the Wizard already kills most threatening, swarmy targets before they reach him. I don’t see this change making much of a splash. (Note: Thanks to /u/terp02andrew for correcting my math here!)
Inferno Tower: Hitpoints increased by 6%
SC: In the next update, Zap and Freeze will both reset the Inferno Tower’s damage. We’re giving the Inferno Tower some more hitpoints to compensate for this, and for its low use rates.
Woody: Supercell is disguising a major nerf as a buff with this change. Causing Zap and Freeze to reset the Inferno Tower’s damage will likely erase its already low use at the top of the ladder. The problem with Inferno Tower is very rarely that it doesn’t soak enough damage, but rather that swarms distract it from its preferred target. When this change fails to bring the Inferno Tower back to the metagame, I predict a 0.5 range increase. This would give it more time to respond to tanky threats and finally be able to re-engage the Royal Giant (Supercell, pls).
Elixir Collector: Now affected by slowing and speed up effects (Poison, Freeze, Zap, Rage, Ice Wizard)
SC: The Elixir Collector has very high use rates. It hasn’t been affected by slowing or speed up effects (until now: 7/4), so this change will tone it down a little bit and also bring consistency with the Inferno Tower change above.
Woody: Could this finally be the nerf that Elixir Collector needs to see it dethroned from the top of the card power rankings? Rage is virtually unused, and even less so anywhere near a friendly Elixir Collector. These changes amount to a nerf that may finally be the death knell of the pump, which has already suffered from the growing use of Poison, Miner, and Zap at the top of the ladder. At least one can dream.
Tombstone: Hitpoints increased by 9%
SC: The Tombstone has tough competition as a 3 Elixir defensive option, resulting in low use rates. Extra hitpoints should make it more appealing and an interesting alternative to the Cannon.
Woody: This is a fantastic buff for an underused card that needs to offer just a bit more value in order to justify its defensive use. This change doesn’t improve it much against troops that target buildings, but the increased hitpoints will make it more viable against swarm decks that rely on chip damage and light pushes. And perhaps just seeing this card buffed will encourage players to take another look at it.
Bomb Tower: Hitpoints increased by 6%
SC: The Bomb Tower is seen extremely rarely at the top, but has a pretty good showing in the early to mid levels. A small hitpoint increase should make it more relevant and interesting in the high Arenas, without overpowering it in the low Arenas.
Woody: A minor increase in hitpoints will not be enough to return the Bomb Tower to relevance in high Arenas. Royal Giant is still just too good against it, effectively shutting it out of the metagame. In addition, this balance update is seeing buffs to Giant Skeleton, Dark Prince, Bomber, Wizard, Inferno Tower, and Tombstone. Each of these compete (at least partially) for the same spot as Bomb Tower as a defense against swarms or distraction for troops that target buildings.
So who are the big winners and losers for these Clash Royale balance changes? I predict that Goblin Barrel will see much more use in lower Arenas and sporadic use in higher Arenas; Dark Prince will see some increased use in higher Arenas, but will not dominate the as it did before; Inferno Tower will be wiped out; and Elixir Collector will drop slightly in use but still remain popular. As far as bigger shifts in the metagame, expect the buffs to splash damage to make big, beefy units (e.g. Prince, Royal Giant) more prevalent. Get ready to see more Musketeers and Mini P.E.K.K.A on defense as well as fewer Barbarians marching toward your Towers. Three Musketeers, Lava Hound, Balloon, and Lightning are the sleeper favorites to benefit from these changes.