So, I’ve been reading through other Suggestion threads, especially all the battle-balancing related ones, and I’ve decided to offer up my two cents based on other, similar metagames I’ve played before. Here are a couple of principles I’ve seen used to pretty good effect:
- The metagame cannot be ‘solved’ in any way.
Basically, this means that there cannot be a dino, or type of dinos that dominate the meta they’re in.
By that, I mean a dino/dino type (e.g. raptor, bleeder, tank etc) that is so powerful and easily accessible that players have to dedicate a significant proportion of their team slots (I’d say 3) to specifically counter this dino/type of dino. For example, pre-1.2, you either had to have a bunch of tanks or a bunch of raptors (or both) to face the raptor-filled meta. Right now, in 1.5, I think we are somewhat in the same boat with Spinotasuchus (Tryko is really nasty too).
Spinotasuchus basically forces players to bring multiple Immunes and/or fast hit-and-runners to face it down, and even then, thanks to its Critical Impact, it might still come out on top.
- Every dino/dino type should have reliable counterplay.
Now on to Tryko. This dino is hard to beat in large part due to the fact that it lacks any true, reliable counters (with the exception of Spinotasuchus, which is usually a 1-for-1 trade). Its armour makes it much harder for any Distracting dino to kill it, its counter can make life hard for any hit-and-runner and its dual Instant Invincibility + Instant Distraction gives it the ability to almost always mindgame any dino which has a chance at beating it (e.g. Indoraptor - should you use Cleansing Impact on turn 1, or Evasive Stance?).
Spinotasuchus also has this problem to a lesser degree, in that a lot of its upper-tier would-be counters (Immune dinos) can be killed by Spinotah using Critical Impact, especially if the opponent is even one level lower (e.g. Erlidominus). For a counter to be truly reliable, it has to be able to beat the countered dino even at a slight level disadvantage (e.g. think of how Tryko can beat Stegodeus even at significant level disadvantage)
- There should be more than one way to skin a cat. Or counter any particular dino.
This is sort of an extension to point 2 - thanks to the random 4-dino draw, there should be multiple, reliable methods of beating any one dino to minimise the impact of an unlucky hand (e.g. if you’re facing a tank, you might not get your theropods, but you might get a bleeder). Indoraptor used to have this problem, when basically only Monostegotops (nullifying) beat it reliably, but Spinotah (DoT) is also a pretty reliable counter nowadays.
As mentioned above, this is an issue with Tryko, in that it’s hard for any dino other than Spinotah to one-on-one defeat a full health Tryko reliably.
- Every dino should have its own differentiating point(s), especially within a rarity and niche
In other words, every dino should have its own special selling point, especially within niches. An important part of this is moveset - e.g. Purrolyth vs Grypolyth; identical movesets make a dino’s design feel lazy and stale.
Within niches, every dino of a certain niche should have a certain uber-niche that justifies its use over similar dinos. For example, with theropods, do you want a heavy tank (Tryko), a more versatile & varied moveset (Tenotorex) or a little extra speed to go up against fellow theropods (Thoradolosaur)?
Problems with this can be seen especially with tanks and hit-and-runners - if I’m picking a Legendary tank to put resources towards, I usually have to consider if it’s better than Stegodeus would be on my team. With Legendary hit-and-runners, Dilorano is the current gold standard, making Paramoloch’s less varied (and hence less versatile) moveset pale in comparison.
4a. Every move in a moveset should have its own use.
Lookin’ at you, Ready to Crush. Except for beating Tryko and Trago while it’s on Tryo, Ready to Crush brings relatively little to the table that Ferocious Strike doesn’t already provide (that extra crit chance is nothing compared to the effectively 1.5x damage).
- The overall power of a dino should be correlated to how hard it was to obtain.
While Ludia seems to have done a pretty good job of this with their metascore, I do have a few issues with their system, namely, Alankylosaurus, Monomimus, Tuoramoloch/Paramoloch and Magnapyritor.
What all these dinos have in common is that one of their ingredients is arena-exclusive, which makes it much harder to create and evolve these hybrids/superhybrids. This doesn’t seem to be reflected in their stats or movesets, which makes them feel rather underwhelming for the effort put in. Going down the list:
-Alankylo: An okay tank; its dual shields do allow it to face certain situations involving Indominus/Erlidominus, but it lacks any particularly useful niche. Unlike Stegodeus, it doesn’t have the damage output to threaten most opponents; it lacks the health/Distracting attack to be a true wall (a la Nodopatotitan/Dioraja); it lacks the varied movepool to pull off any particular niche (like Ankyntro’s mindgames). In other words, it doesn’t bring anything significant to the table that another tank wouldn’t already provide.
-Monomimus: It has the moveset and abilities for quite a few niches - Nullifying vs Cloak/Evasive dinos, Distracting for theropods and Immunity for bleeders. Unfortunately, its low health (and to some limited extent, inadequate damage) prevents it from accomplishing any of that. Erlidominus and Indominus can kill it with a few well placed whacks, most theropods can two-shot it, and the main bleeder in upper tier arenas, Spinotah, can tear through it with Critical Impact. Evasive Stance is nice but isn’t reliable enough to save it. Still, it’s one of the better Arena-exclusive based hybrids.
-Paramoloch: Compare it to Dilorano. Except for Instant Charge, which it honestly won’t be using to maximum effect very often (as a 126 speed dino), how is it any better than Dilorano? It lacks any versatility in its moveset, and its stats are disappointing for a dino which is fairly hard to create and level.
-Tuora: Again, compare it to Diloracheirus and Utarinex; thanks to their distracting moves, they have more uses than Tuora. While dual 75% stunning is nice, in reality the odds that both of those moves stun is just 56%, which isn’t nearly as reliable as a Distracting move. It lacks the health/armour to be a tank/wall, and suffers from an inadequate damage output as well.
-Magnapyritor: This is, I think, the best of the Arena-exclusive hybrids, which isn’t saying much. However, Magna does suffer from the Tryostronix issue; which is to say it lacks the damage output to fully utilise its DSR and API to be a wallbreaker. Additionally (perhaps more crucially), it lacks the health to stay on the field long enough, which makes it hard for Magna to face dinos one might’ve thought it could counter such as Indoraptor (2HKOes with any 2 attack combo) and Spinotah (2HKOes with Crit Impact + Strike). Given how hard it is to create (requiring all that Irritator DNA, even with what we get from events), getting an Indoraptor clone with 23% less health minus the Evasive Stance is really underwhelming.
As an anti-example to the above dinos, look, once again, at Spinotah. It’s telling that Spinotah is the only Legendary in Metahub’s Tyrant tier - while we might disagree over whether it should be there, most upper arena players would probably agree that it’s overpowered for its rarity. It trades well with nearly every dino, even the Immunes (see above about critting on Erlidomimus & Magnapyritor).
Anyways, that was a really long-winded way of saying that certain dinos of the arena are broken and that some hybrids/superhybrids aren’t worth the time and effort involved in creating them…so what about solutions?
- Ensure that no dino/dino type can counter/check dinos which generally counter that dino’s niche
The examples I’m going to use here are Tryko and Spinotah. For Tryko, while it seems like a pretty standard theropod, its dual Instant moves enable it to mindgame a lot of dinos that would otherwise easily check it. I’ve already given the example of Indoraptor; other similarly mindgamed counters include Diloracheirus/Utarinex. Against most theropods, both would happily fire off their Distracting moves, but when facing Tryko, they have to consider Instant Distraction (especially Dilorach, who could use Superiority Strike to cleanse that debuff).
Spinotah has a similar issue. I’ll go into more depth regarding Spinotah later, but basically its speed + 60% Critical chance on Critical Impact allows it to kill a lot of the Immune dinos which would otherwise counter it (Erlidominus, Magnapyritor, Monomimus to a lesser degree), especially if it’s at a slight level advantage.
- For every dino, ensure that there’s another 2 decent, accessible dinos out there which can reliably beat it, even if the dino is at a slight level advantage (<= 2 levels)
Tryko does suffer from this problem, but at least it has Tenotorex, Thorad and Spinotah to check it. Spinotah is far more dangerous in this regard; at even a 1 level advantage, Spinotah OHKOes Monomimus, Erlidominus and Magnapyritor if it lands the crit on Critical Impact (and 2HKOes at equal level) as well as 2HKOing Tryostronix and Indominus. These Immune dinos aren’t much of a counter if they go down to their intended target at just a -1 level disadvantage. (Compare that to how Tryko, Thorad and Tenotorex match up against Stegodeus, even at a -5 level disadvantage - why does one class of dino match up so well against their intended target while another doesn’t?)
I’ve heard complaints about Lethal Wound doing too much damage, but honestly that isn’t the issue with Spinotah. (Suchotator and Dimodactylus both carry Lethal Wound, and neither is anywhere as broken as Spinotah). The issue is really with Spinotah’s speed + damage + Critical Impact. The combination of these three is what allows Spinotah to break through its (presumably) intended counters. One way of dealing with this is to simply nerf Spinotah back to 1150 damage, pushing it to focus on DoT as its intended niche.
- Ensure every dino has its own selling point over similar dinos by increasing the number of unique moveset combos and move rotations.
One way of doing this would be to allow more moves to trickle down to the hybrids/superhybrids e.g. Paramoloch and Tuoramoloch with Shielding Strike? Count me in. Change up movesets of hybrids rather than reusing movesets (Purrolyth & Grypolyth, pre 1.5 Dilorano & Dilorach), and perhaps more importantly, shake up move rotations. It gets pretty stale using the same hit, stun, run combo on 3 uniques and 3 legendaries (Tuora, Utahrinex, Dilorach, Dracocera, Dilorano, Paramoloch).
- Increase the metascore weighting for arena-exclusive ingredients.
As I mentioned above, a lot of arena-exclusive hybrids/superhybrids are underwhelming given how much effort it can take to obtain those ingredients, Pyrritator perhaps being the only exception. Alankylo, Paramoloch, Tuora, Monomimus and Magna are all underpowered in their particular niches, especially when compared to the alternatives. While maybe Alanqa shouldn’t count as a full-blown Legendary (or Gallimimus as a Rare etc), having these ingredients given maybe 50% more weight might buff their hybrids’ stats enough to make them viable.
Side note: while yes, events do exist for a lot of these exclusives, 1) not everyone gets to attempt every event and 2) even then, the DNA stocked up isn’t nearly enough to evolve these dinos very far, especially the superhybrids (ask anyone who created Magna and/or Tuora)
- Don’t create dinos that can’t perform well in the niche their stats/moveset pushes them towards (especially hybrids)
I’m talking about Magna and Tryo in this instance; both are fast immune dinos that have DSR and so seem inclined towards being wallbreakers. However, neither has the stats to perform wallbreaking well - that extra speed doesn’t do much for wallbreaking (except perhaps against Tragod); and they lack the health or the damage for this purpose (for example, Tryo loses to Stegod at just a -1 level disadvantage). Anyone who creates these dinos and expects, from their movesets, to get a powerful wallbreaker is sure to be sorely disappointed and annoyed at the ‘waste’ resources poured into them.
(While you could argue that you should look at the stats before creating any hybrids, most people don’t have detailed knowledge of any one hybrid’s stats before creating it…you would, however, know its moveset if you’ve faced it in battle before.)
So anyways, those are just my two cents based on the other turn-based strategy multiplayers I’ve played in the past. I’d like to hear what other players think, and Ludia, of you guys are reading, I’d love to have your opinions on the points above as well.