There’s a lot of debate on the forums about which dinos need to be buffed or nerfed, and by how much. These arguments often come down to certain matchups or traits, but I wanted to examine this topic from a more objective standpoint. What does the balance curve for JWA look like, and based on that curve, which dinos need rebalancing?
I started by listing out every dino, along with it’s rarity and tier (based on the Gamepress 2.2 tier list). I chose rarity and not “rarity + hybrid level” or “rarity + exclusivity” to keep things simple, though these factors could easily be incorporated into a similar analysis. Using the Gamepress tier list seems to be the most objective way of ranking dinos without access to internal usage statistics, but does have some subjectivity. It’s also the 2.2 tier list, so some dinos will have likely changed in rank since then (e.g. Thor, Grypo). I plan on re-doing this analysis with a more up to date tier list.
I plotted rarity against tier, with rarity on the x axis and tier on the y axis, for each dino. This generated a balance curve for the game, showing how strength increases with rarity. This curve is shown below. Keep in mind that for rarity 1 is common, 2 is rare, 3 is epic, etc. Tier is similar, with 1 corresponding to the “Hatchling” tier, and 10 the “Tyrant” tier. The orange line is the average tier for each rarity. I plotted error bars around this line, equivalent to 1.5x the standard deviation for each rarity. Why 1.5x? Frankly, 1x standard deviation seemed too restrictive, but it could also be used (for example, it would mean that Beta tier commons would need Minor nerfs. Although maybe that’s a fair assessment?). Anyway, here is the curve that I found. I apologize for the quality.
Based on this curve, any tier that fell above or below the error bars was determined to statistically need rebalancing. Tiers 1 tier above or below the error bars were determined to need “minor” nerfs/buffs, and those 2 tiers above or below the error bars were determined to need “Major” buffs. Keep in mind that this is relative; needing a major buff doesn’t mean something needs to be nerfed into the ground, it just means that it’s current strength is significantly stronger than the rest of it’s tier. It also doesn’t mean that so-called “balanced” dinos wouldn’t benefit from getting changes to make them better/better to play against. This translates to the following:
Common: Balanced = Hatchling -> Beta; Minor Nerf = Alpha Low
Rare: Balanced = Survivor -> Alpha High; Major Buff = Hatchling; Minor Buff = Scavenger; Minor Nerf = Elite Low; Major Nerf = Elite Mid
Epic: Balanced = Beta -> Elite Low; Minor Buff = Survivor; Minor Nerf = Elite Mid; Major Nerf = Elite High
Legendary: Balanced = Alpha High -> Elite Mid; Major Buff = Beta; Minor Buff = Alpha Low; Minor Nerf = Elite High
Unique: Balanced = Elite Mid -> Tyrant; Minor Buff = Elite Low
Apex: Balanced = Elite High -> Tyrant
Applying this to the dinos, I was able to determine which dinos needed which balance changes. Keep in mind that I personally don’t believe that all these dinos need the level of balancing determined statistically, or even that they all need balancing at all. This is just what the results showed.
Before I start, since the Tier List is based on PVP, some raid dinos were determined to need buffs that might actually be fine, although they could be made more competitive in PVP. These dinos were Bajatodon, Dsungaia, Entelolania, Irritator, Ouranosaurus, Skoolasaurus, Tenontosaurus, and Tragodistis. You might still think some of these need buffs anyway, and that’s perfectly fine.
For commons, the only dino that needed rebalancing was Glyptodon with a minor nerf.
For rares, Irritator needed a major buff. Tenontosaurus needed a minor buff. Andrewsarchus and Purrolyth needed Minor nerfs. And Marsupial Lion and Suchotator needed major nerfs.
For epics, Koolasuchus and Ouranosaurus needed Minor buffs. Brontolasmus, Diplodocus, Entelochops, Indominus Rex G2, and Thylacotator needed Minor nerfs. Sarcorixis needed a major nerf.
For legendaries, Bajatonodon and Skoolasaurus needed major buffs. Darwezopteryx, Dsungaia, and Tragodistis needed Minor buffs. And Allosinosaurus, Dracoceratops, and Monolometerodon needed Minor nerfs.
For uniqes, almost all of them were balanced. The only one that fell below the curve was Entelolania needing a minor buff. You could also make an argument for some of the “Elite Mid” uniques like Erlidominus, Indoraptor, and Deinorachierus needing buffs, but they were within the curve, and someone has to be on the bottom. It’s just more noticeable with how few uniques there are compared to other classes.
For Apexes, all of the ones released as of 2.2 were balanced.
So with that all in mind, what isn’t on the list? One notable one was Woolly Rhino: despite how annoying swap in attacks can be, it’s overall strength was still within reason, at least according to the tier list. I also already mentioned the “Elite Mid” uniques. Are there any others you can think of?
So what do you all think of these results? Do you agree that these are the dinos that need rebalancing, or are some of them completely off? Personally Sarcorixis, Marsupial Lion, and Suchotator seemed like the biggest outliers to me as far as being above the curve goes, but I’m curious what your takeaways are.
Statistical Balance 2: Hybrid Boogaloo
As promised, I conducted the same analysis again, this time separating hybrids from non-hybrids. I chose this level of discrimination, and not for example including superhybrids or event exclusives, because hybrid vs non-hybrid is the most Ludia tends to distinguish groups by within a rarity. Plus, if I did include these other qualifiers, some of the groups would end up too small to yield meaningful results. And I person feel like even event exclusives should still be balanced within their rarity: they should be on the high end, but not balanced to an entire tier above everything else in their rarity. With that out of the way, here’s the analysis:
I used the same methods as before. Here is the curve that I generated:
It overall appears generally the same, though it was interesting to see that rare hybrids were on average stronger than non-hybrid epics. That makes sense to me though since rare hybrids can sometimes be harder to obtain, so I don’t have much of an issue with it. Plus, they aren’t even a full tier stronger, so they’re functionally the same overall, which again makes a lot of sense.
As far as balance goes, Commons, Legendaries, Uniques, and Apexes were all the same, since they only have either hybrids or non-hybrids in their rarity, so I won’t spend much time on them (Parasaurolophus Lux couldn’t be included, since it hasn’t been placed into a tier yet).
For commons, Hatchling through Beta tiers were balanced. Glyptodon again came out as needing a minor nerf (though speaking from my own personal opinion, nerfing a common at the Alpha Low tier isn’t really neccesary, though I would warn Ludia to watch put for power creep).
For rares, things start to get interesting. Rare non-hybrids showed pretty much the same range as before, with Survivor through Alpha High being balanced, Irritator and Tenontosaurus needing buffs in the major and minor nerf categories (but as raid dinos, this rating is still questionable), Andrewsarchus needing a minor nerf, and Marsupial Lion needing a major nerf (now is probably a good time to remind folks that these aren’t my own opinions on what needs to be balanced, this is just the results of an objective statistical analysis on a comprehensive and generally respected tier list).
For rare hybrids though, everything fell within the balanced range! I think this is because the rare hybrids were quite variable in strength, but are also small in number, so there is no strong statistical average of what a “standard” rare hybrid would be. If we had more rare hybrids, this might change, though I personally agree with this result. For posterity though, if I had applied a 1x standard deviation instead as my error bars (which may be more appropriate for the small sample size), Inostherium comes out as needing a minor buff, and Suchotator comes out as needing a minor nerf.
Epic non-hybrids kept the same range as before, with Beta through Elite Low being balanced. Koolasuchus and Ouranosaurus again were categorized as needing minor buffs. And Diplodocus, as the strongest non-hybrid Epic, needed a minor nerf.
Epic hybrids are perhaps where we saw the most change. The balanced range was Alpha Low through Elite Mid, with the high end being one tier higher than before. This means that on the low end, Edmontoguanodon needed a minor buff. But on the high end, Brontolasmus, Entelochops, Indominus Rex G2, and Thylacotator no longer needed Minor nerfs. However, Sarcorixis was still statistically determined to be in the “minor nerf” category (though this is still one step down from major nerf, and more accurate in my own personal opinion).
I mentioned before that the Legendary tier remained unchanged, and that’s true. It is worth mentioning though that with Skoolasaurus and Bajatonodon needing major buffs, Darwezopteryx, Dsungaia, and Tragodistis needing minor buffs, and Allosinosaurus, Draceratops, and Monolometerodon needing minor nerfs, that Legendary is currently the “least balanced” tier, at least in terms of the number of dinos outside of the balanced range (though the rare tier is more widespread, but with fewer dinos outside of the balanced range). There are likely a few reasons for this. One is that there are actually quite a few legendaries. Most of them are quite concentrated in the Elite Mid and Elite Low tiers though, so it’s basically the opposite of the rare hybrids, where the standard deviation is quite small. But given the large number of legendaries contributing to a larger sample size, this assessment is more statistically accurate than the one for the rare hybrids.
Uniques and Apexes are still unchanged. Entelolania still needs (at least) a minor buff.
Tldr (though I reccomend that you do before you comment), here is a summary of the results:
What do you think? Does this second analysis seem more accurate than the first? What do you think of the balance rankings? I found it interesting that Marsupial Lion is now the only dino rated as needing a major nerf, though I personally don’t feel like it particularly does (maybe a minor nerf, if anything). Its also worth noting that out of the 226 dinos included in this analysis, only 18 were statistically determined to need some kind of rebalancing. That’s only about 8%! And it’s even less when you exclude raid dinos and others that probably don’t actually need to be rebalanced (this analysis and even the tier list it’s based on don’t capture the entirety of strength in JWA). I know we as a community give Ludia a lot of flack (and oftentimes rightly so), but to me this is pretty dang impressive. I’m sure you’ll let me know your thoughts down below.