Oct 032016

DDO the Card Game: Balance Pass
Just like it’s inspiration, DDOtCG is undergoing a class balancing pass. Or I should say “has undergone”, because unlike regular DDO, DDOtCG can have a complete balance pass over a weekend.

It’s super easy to balance numbers when you don’t even have printed cards yet.

Nonetheless, the need was there. The game has been in development for six months, most of the classes were designed in isolation, and even though I tried to bear all of the other class combat values in mind when creating new ones, I sometimes failed.

This became obvious to me when I was looking at combat values the other day and noticed that there were caster classes that, with enhancements, were about as good at Melee and Ranged combat as were the Melee classes. Which is not right; if you can play a Warpriest and fight about as well as a Fighter and also cast spells, why play a Fighter?

Also, I had allowed some of the top-end numbers to drift too high or too low; the range had become too great. I want a +1 bonus to matter, but if the range is too great then the numbers no longer scale as well. +1 can seem insignificant. Keeping most values in a tight band means any change is significant. There can be outliers outside of that range but they should be outliers and not at all the norm.

And finally there was just some general weirdness, of the kind you can only get by making hundreds of small decisions, each in a vacuum, and then piling them all together and expecting them to all match up. It just can’t be done.

And so, a class pass, with two primary goals:

  1. Melee classes should be clearly the best at Melee while Ranged classes should be clearly the best at Ranged
  2. Most values should fall in the range of two to six



These are the class combat values prior to the balance pass. Note how there isn’t much of a drop-off from the combat classes to the caster classes. Except for poor Wizard who somehow got totally screwed:



And the same chart after. Things are more smooth, the downward trend in values is more pronounced, and Wizard is no longer alone in its non-combat existence.



Enhancements muddy the mix. I feel like the difficulty in playing enhancements – they have to be deployed in specific order – is balanced by their power. It won’t be common for a Character stack to have all three enhancements from one tree. But they might, and I have to look at those numbers too.



In the post-balance view, most of the values are between two and six. There are exceptions, but far less of them than there were before the pass, and especially far few values at zero and at eight or higher. And none above ten.

I did have to change one game text, but only one. Warmaster, a third-level Bard enhancement, did not have game text because instead it had powerful Combat Values. But it doesn’t anymore, not really, and so it received game text to compensate:

Discard to allow one ally to ignore any one Melee or Ranged attack

I am publishing all of the revised class and enhancement Combat Values in a separate post, which you can find here. As I have time I may go back and update the original class postings, maybe, unless it just makes more sense to replace them as I get closer to a play test.


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What do you think?

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