Balance in Clash Royale – An Analysis
Hey everyone, /u/morasar here. I talked about clickbait and youtubers for Clash, but today I want to talk about something completely different – balance. I will be bolding important claims to make an easy tl;dr
Balance is a touchy subject, especially considering the last few cards. People fail to understand how to balance, and often make idiotic suggestions. **Making a card feel underpowered is less fun for the person using it.** For instance, I played the Night Witch Draft Challenge. It was always incredibly fun to use Night Witch and I didn’t feel it was overpowered *when I had it and not my opponent.* This is why you saw people defending Elite Barbarians, saying you needed to “adapt.” They had never faced Elite Barbarians without having it themselves (as a card will counter itself with tower support) and thus didn’t understand that the card was overpowered. All they saw is that the card was fun.
The same problem existed with Night Witch. However, Night Witch could have been handled much better. Instead of making Night Witch a unique card that the opponent needed to respond to with only choice cards, they nerfed her to the ground. A better nerf to her would be an indirect nerf, such as buffing Executioner and Wizard. **Direct nerfs make a card less fun to play, but indirect nerfs make other cards more fun to play.**
The whole point of the game is fun, not balance, and no one understands that. A balanced game where no character is unique is not fun. Would it be fun for you if you could only use Knight and Fireball, as well as your opponent? Not nearly as fun as what we have now.
Having more mechanics and more cards may seem like a balance nightmare, but **all it does is give more options to deal with specific threats.** While this applies more in a game like Hearthstone or Super Smash Brothers, it does apply here as well. If the average player has more options to deal with a specific threat, they don’t need to waste a card slot for a counter and Supercell doesn’t need to make the card any less fun to play. A perfect Clash Royale would allow any player to use any deck (within reason) and there would be no “meta”. Unfortunately, there is a meta as **a game is impossible to perfectly balance.**
Going on that point, let’s look at one of the more recent metas – Zap/Log Bait. This meta defined the game, and it didn’t have as many counters as you’d think. You had to have a legendary to deal with everything and still get a positive elixir trade (Log). Goblin Gang got a nerf because of this, but it would have been much better to do something such as *buffing the cards that deal with those threats.* As an example, Supercell could have made Wizard more viable by increasing his damage and cast speed. While this wouldn’t have helped that much with Log Bait, it would give players more incentive to run wizard than just dealing with a specific deck.
Overall, I think both the community and Supercell are approaching balance the wrong way. There is a much better way to balance a game that retains the fun of every card.