New Champion Balance Program: Success?

BitterSteelBitterSteel Posts: 8,860 ★★★★★
This is a bit of a blurting out of my thoughts on the balance program and it's impact on the game, so if you don't want to read it all I'll do a little TL:DR at the end and you can make a joke about not reading it all/too long/being sorry it happened.

We have had a few months' worth of champions go through the cycle of tuning: Black Cat/Scorp untouched - great, both were amazing. Wong and Rintrah untouched - mostly great, Wong could have done with a couple changes but alright, I understand. Wiccan and Hulkling untouched - perfect, I thought Hulkling may have been the first victim of a tune down but glad to see he made it through, it's a great indication of where Kabama are hoping champs to end up. (I know Wiccan isn't technically untouched but what's getting changed is a broken loop, not good for the game or for him as a champ).

And now we come to Gorr and Valk. Valkyrie is amazing and I hope you all see how amazing she is in the coming months now more have her, she's going to be my next R4 100%. But Gorr is an interesting one, I believe he is the first objectively flawed champion to go through the tuning program. I have heard and understand arguments for Wong, but overall, he still has his place in longer content, even if he's not meant for end game rosters. I could understand either way if Wong got tuned up or left alone.

Gorr's rotation however, while good in RoL-type content, falls apart sometimes elsewhere, but he has a lot of great things in his kit and a lot of potential damage/utility. I was really excited to see how he was dealt with, and with the announcement this evening I'm really happy to see he's getting some attention to his flaws! Kabam have provided some great insight into how they judge if he's doing alright, it's not just a "well he does great in RoL, he's fine". They're looking all around the game to see where he's being used (or not).

When this balance program was announced, I was a little worried that it would be used more to bring good champions down, and not bad champions up. But after seeing Hulkling, Rintrah and Valkyrie pass through unscathed, and seeing someone like Gorr tuned up, it really makes me feel good about this balancing program.

With QS and Galan up next, while I'm not certain they will be untouched (I think Galan's damage may be tuned down or made a little less accessible, since he just dominates BG and War fights - and I say this with someone as an R4, he is kinda crazy), I do actually feel confident that they would be tuned down in a reasonable way; if they were to be tuned down at all. I'm not saying they necessarily should be, I think QS is fine because he needs some more ramp up and skilled play.

Galan, I could see an argument being made for a small tune down, I don't particularly feel strongly either way. But I suppose my point here, is that *if* he were to be tuned down, I think it would be reasonable. If Hulkling and Valk and Rintrah are deemed the level for good champions, Galan would still be crazy good after being taken to their level. His utility is fine, I just think getting access to 180k damage within 40 seconds is a little much. It basically means a guaranteed win in BGs round, so he's an instant ban for most. Like I said, if he was left as is, I could understand that. If he was tuned down a little, BGs would be a little fairer for those without Galan (and maybe mine would get banned less).

But in any case, this post isn't supposed to be too much about whether Galan should be tuned down or not, we can get to that next month when it's announced!

A last point I wanted to make is a bit more of an intangible one (from our end anyway). And if any mods do read this and feel like getting us some insight, I'd really appreciate it. But since the start of this program, one of my main points has been about the impact that this program simply being a thing has on the champion designers. We have often heard Kabam John or other designers talk about what their design process is knowing that Corvus is a champion they've released, or Herc, or Quake and other dominating champions like that. They've said (I believe), that sometimes they feel hesitant to go that little bit extra with a champions ability, because once it's out there, it's staying.

This game is uniquely fussy about nerfs, which I get, I'd hate to have a champion I invested in so much nerfed, even with RDTs. But because of that, I feel like it makes it hard to design a champion and put them out into the game because they may just break the meta in an unexpected way - and that could be bad. So as a result, they may not bump those numbers as high, or they may not add that extra ability they were debating. It's easier to put a champion out, only for them turn out a 6/10 and bump them up, than for them to turn out 11/10 and be unable to nerf due to backlash.

But the program I think changes that. Now, there is the option to create a champion and not worry too much about putting it out into the game because it's no longer set in stone! You could add the extra ability with the option to tune it down if it's more than you intended. You can bump those numbers up without fear of it being in the game forever, because if it's crazy high you can drop it down a little.

Instead of throwing a dart at the board and hoping for the best, the designers can walk up and move the dart closer to the bullseye if needed.

Overall, this is something I'm really interested in, to see if this process of designing has been improved by the knowledge and I guess safety of the program. All I have to go off right now is this theory, but also looking at the sort of champions being released from this year so far compared to last year.

2021 was obviously a banging year, but there were still some misses.

Now look at 2022, and just think about each champ there.

Even the worst have uses. The worst of 2021 was PsychoMan, Skrull. Kinda worthless champions but then look at 2022 - If the worst of the lot is someone like Misty Knight, Cap Britain and Sauron, who still have their fans who are R4ing them (and are probably pretty underrated), I think something is going right with the champion design. (Clearly, just bear in mind that the first 4 weren't under the balance program, and OS and CB were supposed to be, but it was delayed in the end for next month - but the design of them would have been with the intention of balancing)

My point is basically that I think the balancing program is overall a massive net positive to the game. Even if we did start getting some tune downs (because I know it's easy to say it's going well when we haven't had any yet). But I think firstly, Hulkling/Rintrah getting through shows that the target for where a champion can be without needing a tune down is very, very high. And secondly, if a champion is going to get tuned down, it would be for a good reason, and it would probably be only just enough of a change to get them in line with the top champs in the game. Not to mention, that all these changes are going through Betas, so there's even potential for change within there!

I think this program has been a massive success so far, I think it's been great for the game in terms of quality of champions (though obviously can't prove a counter factual of what would have happened without the program - unless any developers want to pop in and give insight about how the program changed their process!). It's also nice to see spare time dedicated to IMIW and Chavez type buffs, while we get bigger ones monthly (ish) for Juggs and Ant Man and Rocket etc.

Bring on more tune ups, and more amazing champions!

Balance program allows designers to make champs without worrying about them being OP in game, this means they can take risks and add a few more numbers or abilities safe in the knowledge they can tine down in future. Add in champions like Hulkling/Rintrah being the bar for what's reasonable in game, we know that amazing champs like that will be fine. Even if we see tune downs, I think it'll be a big positive for the game overall.


  • LeNoirFaineantLeNoirFaineant Posts: 8,315 ★★★★★
    @BitterSteel I just pulled Valkyrie. Is she worth a generic gem?
  • GrassKnucklesGrassKnuckles Posts: 1,867 ★★★★★

    Personally, I never expected to see Wong receive a tune up.

    His ramp up is a bit long, and he isn't a top champion by any stretch of the imagination - but he's also absolutely playable, and could be useful for a variety of content.

    Gorr, on the other hand... Thank God.

    I loved dealing 300k damage in 40 seconds with 3* Gorr but it was the most impractical fight i may have ever done...
  • Mhd20034Mhd20034 Posts: 142
    Not related to the post but do you think I should go for the featured right now or wait for Galan and quicksilver balance update ?
  • Gogeta91199Gogeta91199 Posts: 695 ★★★

    Not to derail by harping on this one point, but Wong should have definitely been subjected to a tune-up. IMO, his kit suffers the same exact problems that are given as reasons for Gorr needing a tune-up in the announcement. That was a definite oversight on their part as far as I'm concerned.

    Also, what spare time dedicated to IMIW? Is this a typo or did I miss some news about my boy getting some love?

    Totally agreed! Buddylee demonstrated that wong is a champ that is neither a proper short fight or long fight champ when he did the labyrinth run. He made a post asking kabam to balance him in a way so he’s either a short fight champ or a long fight one. But kabam left him as is which was disappointing.
    Would still hope they give him a tune up in the future similar to how America chavez is getting one out of the blue!
  • AxewAxew Posts: 228 ★★★
    edited November 2022
    I’m still disappointed Gorr doesn’t have willpower. If anything he should have immunity to regeneration rate reductions.
  • BitterSteelBitterSteel Posts: 8,860 ★★★★★

    @BitterSteel I just pulled Valkyrie. Is she worth a generic gem?

    I think so if you like her! You also want a fair few sigs to go with her. I see a lot of people say 200 is necessary, but I'd say 126 is necessary and 200 is ideal.

    126 is where you only need 2 of the effect to be stun immune/unstoppable counter. That's pretty reasonable to get within the opening 10-15 seconds of the fight if you practice the combo reversal. You can get 2 effects before thing gets his first unstoppable for example.

    That's why I think 126 is the minimum, but 200 is the aim.
  • BitterSteelBitterSteel Posts: 8,860 ★★★★★

    Personally, I never expected to see Wong receive a tune up.

    His ramp up is a bit long, and he isn't a top champion by any stretch of the imagination - but he's also absolutely playable, and could be useful for a variety of content.

    Gorr, on the other hand... Thank God.

    I can understand that completely. I agree, Wong *works* at what he's supposed to. Even if he's not the best for all content, he works.
  • BitterSteelBitterSteel Posts: 8,860 ★★★★★
    mgj0630 said:

    @BitterSteel I'm not hitting the disagree button on you, cause I can at least appreciate your point of view.

    I do however, disagree with you.

    I'll use Wiccan as my example of a flawed program. He definitely shines against very specific champs. In my opinion, he was designed as a targeted Knull counter, as well as any buff heavy cosmic champ. As the owner of a 6*r4 Wiccan, I can say he's fairly limp outside of those matches.

    I'm perfectly fine with champs being targeted counters to other champs (looking at you Hulking vs Peni), but those champs should still be, at a minimum, viable against all champs. Wiccan is not. As a r4, I've never taken him into AQ, and have only taken him into AW if I see the appropriate boss.

    I'll say nothing regarding Gorr getting tuned up, cause while I assume many will be happy, I don't have him as a 6* yet, and therefore, have next to no stick time on him.

    Now all that said, my biggest gripe with the program is the refusal to offer RDTs on champs.

    I still feel this is a fundamental flaw, straddling an unethical line, to release a champ that for a period of time, can only be obtained with real world dollars, then possibly tune them down. An argument can surely be made that they've informed the community that may happen, but I don't think that's enough. Hypothetically speaking, if I pull a brand new champ tomorrow, and that champ is a perfect counter for next week's EoP fight, I'm gonna rank him/her up, with the expectation that he/she will still be viable for other content. If that champ were nerfed when their time came, I'd be livid.

    P.S. Please excuse my run-on sentences, and any grammatical errors. I'm living my best geo-bachelor life at the moment.

    I really appreciate your thoughts on this! Nice to disagree in a polite way!

    So in terms of your first half about Wiccan vs all champs - I do disagree here. I think there's some champions who are usable all over the place, and there are some that you only tend to use for some champions. Torch is the latter, outside of mystic and energy, you're not really using him. That's only about 20-25% of the champions in game. Does that make him bad? Should torch be more viable against other champions? Not in my view. Same goes for Wiccan. Now of course, he doesn't dominate his match ups as much as Torch does.. because nobody dominates like torch.. but I wouldn't say it's too far off. In buff heavy, or armour break heavy fights, Wiccan really, really excels.

    Overall, maybe some players would prefer Wiccan to be useful for more champions, but Kabam's intention with him isn't to be an overall champion - it's to be a specific one. "Wiccan was designed to lean into his Utility more, featuring one of the most accessible Neutralize effects in the game, a few niche Immunities targeted towards Knull, and Regeneration vs. annoying effects such as Terrax’s Rock Field. In regards to his Damage output, we wanted his Damage to spike in matchups where the Opponent has Buffs for your Neutralize to fail and for it to be lower in other matchups." He is really fulfilling his intended use to the millimetre.

    As for your point on the RDTs, you may be a little surprised to find out I agree with you fully! We have some common ground there, and I was considering including my thoughts in the original post. In hindsight, it was a mistake not to, but I have in the past spoke about how I was worried that the program could have a massive flaw by not offering RDTs.

    Here's an example of my thoughts on it I posted a few months ago.

    "If a champion is balanced down, it should be up to the player if they still want the champion invested in. I don’t particularly like the idea of RDTs becoming a regular part of the game, but with Kabam opening the door for regular nerfs/buffs - for every nerf that this program has (hopefully as few as possible), there needs to be an equal number of RDTs that give back sig stones, cats, iso etc. Otherwise this program will be an unmitigated disaster.

    We cannot plan for or be hyped for new champions if there’s a chance we invest in them and then they’re nerfed 6 months later without any mitigation for the player who ranked them. New champions that are really good will just not be ranked out of fear.

    I love the opportunity that this program gives to designers to be braver with designs, try new things in the hopes that it works, but if it’s too OP then they can be toned down later. I think it’s great to bring underwhelming champs up to a level as well and I can’t wait to see what they do with Gorr. But there needs to be a bump in communication about what the process is, and what happens if there is a nerf."

  • SiliyoSiliyo Posts: 1,111 ★★★★
    It’s called a Success until the next Summoner Choice champion comes in and Kabam wants to “tune down” the champion, causing chaos (with no RDTs by the way)
  • SuelGamesSuelGames Posts: 658 ★★★
    Where did u find that list @BitterSteel ?

    Can u post link plz?
  • BitterSteelBitterSteel Posts: 8,860 ★★★★★
    SuelGames said:

    Where did u find that list @BitterSteel ?

    Can u post link plz?

    The list of champions by year? It's the below website, great resource
  • CapriciousCapricious Posts: 189
    Kabam finally made the right call by buffing Gorr. In fact we need more language like what they used for his buff
    This is basically my argument against QS. Too much damage drop off and his kit becomes unnecessarily stressful in many environments. This is the language we need in order to create more “Player friendly” (also known as FUN) champions. The rebalance program up to this point has mostly been a controversial mess where people believe that the program is synonymous with “nerf”. We might finally be moving in a better direction
  • LorddrewLorddrew Posts: 297 ★★
    My problem with these tune downs is that we as a community are beta testing the champions with a price tag, for example sw/qs synergy, was looked at after the featured sale, same with allot of champions that are new, balance after the hype is dry.. and no RDT.

    No best costumer service for me, no service if any.
  • CapriciousCapricious Posts: 189
    Lorddrew said:

    My problem with these tune downs is that we as a community are beta testing the champions with a price tag, for example sw/qs synergy, was looked at after the featured sale, same with allot of champions that are new, balance after the hype is dry.. and no RDT.

    No best costumer service for me, no service if any.

    That’s how video games work now unfortunately. Most games don’t even have full time “test groups” look at the treatment of battlegrounds 🙄. All of that beta testing for it to be a completely different mode upon release.
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