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Supercell Discusses Witch, Hog Rider in Terms of Balance

MasterCalMasterCal Posts: 2,138Moderator
In case you didn't know, Supercell hired a new member to the team a couple of months ago. You may remember him from the Radio Royale video a couple of weeks ago. Seth aka TheRumHam was a YouTuber prior to joining the team, and his focus has been on balance. He is helping out with transparency in terms of communication.
TheRumHam wrote:
Hey gang! I have noticed Witch is a very hot button topic right now. I have heard feedback ranging from "Witch is the most broken card ever" to "Witch is even worse than before". I want to be transparent with you all, so let's go over WHY we buffed Witch, the GOALS of buffing her, and the STATS since the balance update went into effect.

Why did you buff Witch?

Before the balance change was announced, in Grand Challenges, Witch sat at a 5% use rate (55th out of 85) with a 31% win rate. An 'average' card is 9% use rate and in a healthy band of 45-55% win rate, so by both metrics she was well below where she needed to be. Additionally, she appeared in ZERO of the top 100 most popular decks - so it wasn't like she was finding success in niche usage.

The story was similar in Classic Challenges - 13% use rate was above average (this is attributed to new and F2P players starting with Witch and sticking with her eternally) but the win rate was still unacceptably low at 37%. Despite being the 27th most popular card, the only cards with a lower win rate in CCs were Heal, Mirror, and Barbarian Barrel.

Ladder was another anomaly. Looking at Electro Arena to Ultimate Champion, she was even more popular (17th overall) but still struggled to find success. She had the lowest win rate of the top 20 cards, and her TrophyScore (a metric we use to determine average trophies gained or lost per game by playing that card) was a paltry 0.1. For comparison, the three cards above her in 16-15-14th place were Minions - Bats - Knight with TrophyScores of 0.7 - 0.4 - 0.8, respectively.

So we had a card that people started the game with and tended to stick with deep into their lifespan. She was an iconic character from Clash of Clans, and had some cool mechanics that just weren't clicking when the rubber hit the road. We felt there was a good opportunity for a rework that would add a lot to the meta game. We are especially aware of 'power creep' and don't want beloved original cards to be made obsolete by new releases. Reworking Witch created an opportunity to add a 'new' card to the game that many players would already have leveled up.

Why did you buff her the way you did?

As we stated in our Balance AMA, we try to design cards that are unique and provide a different experience when using them. For our rework, we wanted to focus on what made Witch stand out - her Skeleton spawning. Before the rework, she was an underwhelming splash attacker that sometimes tossed out Skeletons. We felt the game did not need another splash damage ranged attacker but could use more dynamic Troop-to-Troop combat cards and spawners. By regularly flooding the field with Skeletons, it changes the layout of the battlefield post-deployment more than single body troops that run into each other.

The health buff to be outside of Spell range was purposeful for two reasons. First, we felt that 5-cost support characters are hindered by their vulnerability to Spells. As long as a 5-cost support can be killed by any combination of Zap/Log and Fireball/Poison, the meta does not need to adapt at all to deal with them. Lightning has a very low use rate (3%) because there's no situation where you need Lightning over Zap/Fireball. We placed her health so that she would be something you could Lightning but otherwise had to fight with Troops.

Secondly, we felt if she died to Spells, it would yet another swarm/Spell Bait card. By NOT dying to small Spells, she can't be Spell Bait. If she increased the usage of splash damage Troops like Valkyrie, Mega Knight, Wizard, Executioner, Bowler, and Magic Archer that would be an indirect nerf to swarms. If she increased the use of Lightning, that would create more spell diversity from the standard One Small and One Medium that has existed for well over a year in CR.

The goal was to create a support Troop that was distinctly different from a ranged attacker like Wizard or a powerful melee attacker like Prince. Witch is meant to be behind a tank and if ignored, steadily ramps up damage via Skeletons until overwhelming the defenses.

Okay, so is she OP now?

Witch definitely saw the single biggest jump in usage that we can recall. She leapt up 47 spots in Grand Challenges from July 1st to July 2nd, from 59th to 12th. She peaked a day later, but has been dropping since then:

July 2nd: 18% use rate, 12th most popular
July 3rd: 21%, 9th
July 4th: 18%, 13th
July 5th: 17%, 15th
But that doesn't make her OP. Her win rate in GCs looks healthy, indicating the meta is adapting to her presence:

July 2nd: 51%
July 3rd: 49%
July 4th: 48%
July 5th: 46%
She appears in the 6th (Giant - Lumberjack - Witch) and 17th (Valk - Graveyard - Witch) most popular decks, neither deck has an unhealthy win rate. Aside from that first 51%, there has not been a single day in either Grand or Classic Challenges that she has had a 50% win rate. She does not appear to be game breaking strong.

Over on ladder, looking at 4000-4499 range (where most League players are due to the season reset), she is at 15% use rate with a 47% win rate. Her TrophyScore has moved up to a healthy 0.7, indicating she is roughly at a normal power level. This may result is some short-term turmoil as the overleveled Witches on ladder are vaulted up to a more appropriate Trophy level, but that will even out as she does not seem to be breaking the Challenge meta. At 8-12 Win range, she's already back to a 10% use rate - if she was truly OP her stats would be higher at that range (as a larger majority of the 17% use rate would be making it deep into GCs).

It is unclear now where she will settle, but the GOAL is that Witch ends up in the 30th-60th most popular cards with about a 47% win rate. Ideally she is good sometimes in the right decks, but not widely powerful across multiple archetypes. We do not want her to be a Top 10 most popular card because she's a bit niche in her purpose, and should not be a meta-defining card. She can definitely be frustrating if you don't have an answer to her, but that is also true of LavaLoon or Three Musketeers, decks that the metagame has adapted to handle. I believe Witch will also fall into this category over time.

My biggest fear is that if she is too good, the meta will become a mix of Bowler, Executioner, and Witch, all of which are difficult to counter defensive Troops. We are also watching low Arenas to make sure that Witch is not breaking the early game, so far there is nothing indicating she is a problem but it is too soon to make a call. So far the data indicates that Bowler is the counter of choice, going from 1% use rate in GCs to 6%. Lightning has risen from 3% to 5%, and Valkyrie has bumped into the top 10 after being just outside of it. If Witch use continues to drop, I'm sure these other cards will be affected as well.

Does this mean you are completely happy with Witch and she won't receive any changes?

It is too early to say - we usually wait for about 2 weeks to make any judgments on the success or failure of balance changes. If she holds as a top 20 card, there may be a small haircut. But if she ends up identical to Night Witch (37th most popular, 48% win rate, with a spot in a popular archetype) I would consider that a massive success, saving a classic card from being obsolete. Right now she is trending in that direction, if she continues to drop 1% per day she will be an average card in about a week.

We did take some important learnings from this rework - taking a card that is already played and massively changing the win rate can be a shock to the system. Players who voiced concerns about having to suddenly adapt and not having the gold or cards to switch it up - we hear you and those are valid concerns. There are several cards we want to rework, and hopefully this experience can inform future balance changes and how we approach changing already owned cards.

If we do nerf her, I would likely not lower her Health. I think that part of her design has been a big success, opening up other underused cards as deckbuilding options while increasing spell diversity. Her Skeleton spawning may be reduced or reworked, her basic attack could theoretically be weaker or slower, to really emphasize that she relies on Skeletons to deal the damage. But nothing is planned for the August balance changes right now because quite simply there's no indications she is that strong. Happy hunting out there, see you in the Arena!

-Seth, CR Balance Team
pv7u5U6.jpg

CR Stats PB: 4609 KT: 12. Card lvls: Mostly 11 with some lvl 10 Rares and lvl 12 Commons 88/89 cards unlocked. IGN: Hardcase Royale.

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Comments

  • MasterCalMasterCal Posts: 2,138Moderator
    rmbam4h9xshk.jpeg

    tl;dr

    Witch after the buff received a huge increase in her use rates and win rates right away, but they have leveled off after a couple of days. If they get right at the "healthy mark" (around 9% use rate and 45-55% win rate) then the balance change would be a success. If not, she could use a slight haircut nerf, but no plans for the moment.

    Hog Rider is strong in Ladder, but not dominating challenge gameplay, so no nerf or buff coming to Hog
    pv7u5U6.jpg

    CR Stats PB: 4609 KT: 12. Card lvls: Mostly 11 with some lvl 10 Rares and lvl 12 Commons 88/89 cards unlocked. IGN: Hardcase Royale.

    Please read the Forum Rules

    Want to see if you are on the forum leaderboards? Post in this thread to see if you have enough to qualify.

    Follow me on Twitter: @MasterCalCR. Discord: MasterCal #7507
  • VengeanceVengeance Posts: 1,403Member
    Its nice to see sc communicating with us!
    YIoX9bC.jpg
    Signature done by JcttehTheWise
  • ferrell34ferrell34 Posts: 1,257Member
    What a slap :crsmirk:
    EarthThis signature is my city
  • dude2050dude2050 Posts: 560Member
    wait what ... how long has rum ham been on the team
    1o8Am0P.jpg
    this awsome sig is made by the amazing DeltaDroid4
  • ferrell34ferrell34 Posts: 1,257Member
    dude2050 wrote: »
    wait what ... how long has rum ham been on the team

    If i recall, Rumham joined in 2018. Of course, if you doubt him for being fresh you can't.. since the team must provide data about any changes happened in the game especially if he's the man behind the balance changes. I think he's the best one so far.
    dude2050
    EarthThis signature is my city
  • dude2050dude2050 Posts: 560Member
    ferrell34 wrote: »
    dude2050 wrote: »
    wait what ... how long has rum ham been on the team

    If i recall, Rumham joined in 2018. Of course, if you doubt him for being fresh you can't.. since the team must provide data about any changes happened in the game especially if he's the man behind the balance changes. I think he's the best one so far.
    yeah agreed just didn't realise
    1o8Am0P.jpg
    this awsome sig is made by the amazing DeltaDroid4
  • killerkiller Posts: 1,059Member
    A little depressing that the people in the 4-4.5k range will never see more diversity... hog, ebarb, hog, ebarb.....
    vouz81kqd95y.png
    Two decks:
    Ram/exe/miner/tornado/ggang/poison/log/goblins
    Rhogs/tesla/valk/musk/fireball/zap/ggang/bats
    Signature art by JcttehTheWise
  • TheTrueBrawlerTheTrueBrawler Posts: 561Member
    killer wrote: »
    A little depressing that the people in the 4-4.5k range will never see more diversity... hog, ebarb, hog, ebarb.....
    People who can adapt to any meta will survive and thrive.
    People who can't will never get better no matter how hard they strive.

    All those people can easily surpass anything the meta throws at them if they can adapt to the meta and pass the trophy range. This includes whatever meta you think is dominating that trophy range.
    I use some color code in my posts. Here is a small key to help you understand what some colors mean in my posts.
    Card Statistics - Tournament Standards/Maximum Level
  • killerkiller Posts: 1,059Member
    killer wrote: »
    A little depressing that the people in the 4-4.5k range will never see more diversity... hog, ebarb, hog, ebarb.....
    People who can adapt to any meta will survive and thrive.
    People who can't will never get better no matter how hard they strive.

    All those people can easily surpass anything the meta throws at them if they can adapt to the meta and pass the trophy range. This includes whatever meta you think is dominating that trophy range.

    My complaint is about the never changing diversity one has to endure for literally years

    vouz81kqd95y.png
    Two decks:
    Ram/exe/miner/tornado/ggang/poison/log/goblins
    Rhogs/tesla/valk/musk/fireball/zap/ggang/bats
    Signature art by JcttehTheWise
  • TheTrueBrawlerTheTrueBrawler Posts: 561Member
    edited July 18
    If Hog Rider is meta down in whatever trophy range you are in, then adapt and push through it. Because Hog Rider is so weak, he is rarely seen among the truly skilled players. These include trophy ranges well above 5k, and grand challenges. By pushing through the ladder, you will eventually get to the truly skilled players where the meta accurately follows the huge diversity that is grand challenges. In other words, at least a 66% reduction in Hog Rider users.

    There's nothing else I can say or do to help you because your trophy count is based on your skill and capability to adapt to anything the game throws at you.
    I use some color code in my posts. Here is a small key to help you understand what some colors mean in my posts.
    Card Statistics - Tournament Standards/Maximum Level
  • killerkiller Posts: 1,059Member
    Truebrawler- I have trouble pushing through the range as I only have 2 maxxed cards. I’ve been as high as just under 4700 but there most of my opponents have 3-6 more cards maxxed then me. I have no problem admitting I’m not good enough to be regularly beating people with that much of an advantage over me.

    If I have to break 5k to get to diversity then its going to be a long time as none of my epics are even close to lvl8. (And the closest legendary I have to lvl4 is 8 away). So unless I want to drop a lot of money it could be another year or so.

    In the more of the same.... just played 14 ladder matches. This is a record as of late: 10 hog decks out of 14. So monotonous.
    vouz81kqd95y.png
    Two decks:
    Ram/exe/miner/tornado/ggang/poison/log/goblins
    Rhogs/tesla/valk/musk/fireball/zap/ggang/bats
    Signature art by JcttehTheWise
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