The way the game works now, a creature’s health is the only stat that actually changes in battle. Sure, it can be regenerated, and the max HP remains the same, but changes in health, whether due to Regen or damage, aren’t status effects.
This means that they aren’t affected by cleansing, swapping and Immunity.
The only way a creature’s effective attack and speed can be changed are due to status effects, buffs and nerfs like Ferocity and Distraction, Shields and Evasion, that can be Cleansed, removed by swapping or Nullified.
The actual stat remains unchanged.
I think if the other stats—not just health—were also flexible and actively changing in battle, it would allow for fun new passives and ways to make certain creatures relevant without completely changing their counters.
For example, the Ankylosaurs. They get completely wrecked by anything with armour-piercing or defense-shattering moves (which is a lot of dinos) and now rending moves too. Nullification and Distraction means other dinos like Raptors can deal significant damage to them too, without taking much in return.
How to fix this? One idea is to give them a passive that lowers opponent base damage each time they take a direct hit, kind of like how claws and teeth would wear down or even break off against an Ankylosaur’s bony armour.
This effect would be uncleansable, and would even affect Immunes, although the damage equivalent of Regen could be introduced to counter it if necessary.
This change would prevent chompers from destroying all tanks willy-nilly, while encouraging the use of indirect damage, i.e. DoT. Since DoT hasn’t been that relevant for a while, I think that would help the meta be more…interesting.
Of course, not all Anky hybrids would inherit this ability, and it can always be watered down to reduce opponent’s base damage by a lower percentage. Alternatively, opponent base damage could be lowered by a number determined by level, meaning a level 30 Ankylosaurus would do take less damage from a T-Rex than a level 20 Anky.
Then again, this might all be unnecessary, and an alternative to rebalance the Ankys is to give them Immunity to Distraction and buff their damage, which could also work, but I think the stat flexibility is better in the Immune meta.
Thors, Maximas and Indoraptors would be permanently affected by an encounter with an armoured Ankylosaur or Anky-hybrid early in a battle, which would definitely make for more strategic battles.
But this stat flexibility isn’t just useful for reworking the Ankylosaurs: you could introduce a whole bunch of passives and moves, with creatures being able to permanently increase or decrease stats like speed, health and damage, and Nullification/Cleanse/Swapping would have no effect!
Think of the pelycosaurs like Dimetrodon, which become more energetic the longer they bask in the Sun. They could have their speed and damage rise by a certain percentage each turn they spend on the field to reflect that theme.
There’s a whole bunch of possibilities, and suddenly Immunity is no longer the be-all end-all when it comes to stat changes.
Criticism and Suggestions are welcome.