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Community Patch Preview - Week 34

Day by day we are getting closer to the steam release and with the cards now locked behind the progression system, we figured that this would be a great time to start with the Community Patch Preview series. In these series we will be asking a couple of community members to write a small piece about their thoughts on the patch notes and what they will expect with the patch. This week we asked Ash, Cubes, Iojiki and Posey. Ash and Cubes are both members of the competitive House Yggdrassil, whereas Iojiki is a great streamer that does a build around me stream every monday and Posey is the moderator for the subreddit and has been doing a great job with Shardbound Showcase!

You can find the full patch notes here: Patch Notes - Week 34 and the list of updated cards can be found on the Cards page.

Ash

There’s a lot in this patch to like, but I think I’ll mainly stick to discussing the balance changes. Although I do have quite a bit to say on the box system and progression, I’d rather let you all think on that yourselves, so that your feedback to Spiritwalk is a bit more objective. It’s a system that needs to feel good for as many people as possible, so naturally my experience with it isn’t super relevant.

Hey there, my name is Ash, and I’m a member of House Yggdrasil. Before I speak about the changes made this week, I’d just like to touch on the card removals. I personally think it’s a shame that The Eternity Prism has been removed, and I hope we see the card re-appear at some stage. It was a clever card design that promoted certain deckbuilding styles, and enabled certain archetypes on the fringe of viability a little more consistency. Perhaps it might have continued to limit design space, but I think it wouldn’t have been impossible to make it so that wasn’t the case.

Regardless, here are all my thoughts on this week’s card additions and changes:

  • Grand Defender seems mostly insignificant. It has no immediate impact, especially for such a high cost card, and is difficult to manipulate in such a way that you can consistently benefit from its effect. While it does help when ahead on board, there are few scenarios where you are not better served with a different card in its place.
  • Venerated Champion seems like quite a fun card design, and perhaps one that could work if aura effects like Inspiring Banner, High Shepard and Phalanx Leader become more relevant. As is, though, it’s an extremely slow card, and can be manipulated by your opponent to ensure you don’t receive an optimal amount of value from it. Its stats are also quite pitiful for such a high cost minion, and when you consider all of the above, along with the fact that it is lacking in immediacy, it really fails to impress.
  • I really like the Bloodguard remake. The previous threshold was too significant, making the card entirely inconsistent – and the lack of immediate effect was especially painful since it is designed to be generally played as a comeback tool. It’s not a huge pile better now, but at least should be a bit more consistent. It still seems inferior to the neutral Rankbreaker, but if you’re looking for additional 3-drop bodies to run, Bloodguard now seems to fill a decent earlygame niche for Purple. It also has decent synergy with Corpse Explosion, so that’s worth consideration.
  • The Eagle Primal change seems to be bringing the card in a curious direction. Overall, it simply serves to further restrict when and where Juro can jump, and although it is easier to proc it without a board in play, since a Ranged minion will always need a full turn before it can actually attack, having a primal beside the card usually wasn’t a significant limiting factor. I wouldn’t consider this much of a buff – if anything it might even be a nerf.
  • Timebender’s change seems somewhat intriguing. The highly statted ranged body could definitely see play at some point, but I’ll be very surprised if that phase is anytime soon. Ideally with the card you would want to avoid actually killing any minions, so increasing its strength when it does seems to be failing to address the card’s weaknesses. I intend to closely follow Timebender’s place in the game, but don’t think this change is meaningful enough to cause any serious shift.
  • I love the Back Alley Bruiser change. It always appeared to me as a comeback card – yet Stun is a very poor comeback mechanic, as it requires a melee body on board already to make any real value out of it. 4 Damage is considerably more powerful and consistent, yet not oppressive or overly punishing. I’m excited to see where the card goes now, but I can say with certainty that it certainly is no longer completely unviable.
  • Medframe Tech’s ability cost reduction, in junction with the change to Petra’s Hero Ability in a previous patch, certainly seems like it could pave the way for Medframe to be a bit more viable. And yet, this change doesn’t really do anything to address Medframe’s key flaws. The card is unviable because it is a healing 2-drop which requires setup. As a 2-drop, you want to ideally be playing it on curve, but even if you do, it’s likely to be turn 4 or 5 at best before you can actually use the ability. Combine this with how poorly it scales, its lack of synergy with Shroud minions, how it lacks immediacy, and the fact that it is extremely punishing when removed, it is unlikely to surprise many to hear that Medframe is still not going to be a top tier card.
  • The Soultaker change seems confusing – I am unsure as to why they felt the need to tweak rather than change one of the worst cards in the game, as it is certainly not consistently superior now. The change gives it more attack, which is very nice and raises its potential – but also ensures it dies to Exsanguinate, Tempest Hound, Lightdancer, etc. Overall, I think it was likely better before, or at the very least, had enough consistency that one could justify its inclusion.
  • The Swarm Spore change seems like a step in the right direction for the archetype. I dislike how directly a comparison it now forms with Stonecall Seedling (except one is highly superior), as I would hope such hugely different thematic archetypes would have more separating them than the numbers on the stats of the tokens they summon. Regardless, it is quite nice that the archetype have more means to generate a guaranteed Thrall summon, and can indeed threaten to generate a lot of valuable cards if left unanswered – a unique position for a 2-drop to hold.
  • I am highly unsure what motivated the Stellar Replications change. The card was already considered very good at the highest levels, only held back by the number of decks which can reliably make use of it. With this change, Blue are almost guaranteed to never fatigue first, even with just a single inclusion of the card, and removes – or perhaps just heightens – their reliance on a key number of few cards which their power outliers lie in. With two instances of the card, you could reliably target something like Astral Champion, and then much of the remaining game is likely to just be permeated by a sense of RNG. This is probably the only change of this patch I actually disagree with, and I do not look forward to seeing the card in practise.

There were a number of other neat changes this patch, from art to bugfixes, but these are the most impactful from a gameplay perspective. I hope I was clear enough in my thoughts – thanks for reading!

Ash also wrote a great tier list for all the cards, which you can find here

Cubes

Hey, I’m Cubes. Here is a list of what I deem relevant factors in patch week 34.
  • Card additions, changes, and removal.
    • Back Alley Bruiser – The change for this card is very welcome when compared to its predecessor. It was seemingly created as a defensive tool to be used from behind but failed in the respect that stunning an enemy minion wasn’t useful when you had no board to take advantage of the trade. This new iteration of the card seems much more viable in that role.
    • Timebender – Most people I talk to seem very hyped for this change, however I am less than hopeful. Ranged minions have an issue in that playing them is quite a risk. Playing a Timebender on curve with your opponent leading into five mana is asking to get Shiftered, Dancered, or otherwise dealt with in a way where your minion gets no value. In short, I don’t think this minion will see that much of an increase in play.
    • Stellar Replicas – This change is awesome. This essentially means I can bloat my deck with early and midrange options and very few late-game power cards. If my deck ever does go to late-game, I suddenly have seven or more cards in my deck to win the fatigue matchup with, while also bloating my deck with late-game power cards (Which are also great Astral Champion targets).
    • Swarm Spore – This is very important. Swarm spore not being a constant mana investment is an insane change to the card. It is very poor in comparison to Stonecall seedling; however, the difference is there is a myriad of thrall synergy in faction. This is now a card to watch out for.
    • Everything Else – Not much else stood out to me extremely here. Eternity prism will be missed and the new cards are lackluster in my eyes save for Venerated Champion having niche uses in yellow. All around a pretty good slew of changes.
  • Box System
    • The box system in this game has a few good and bad qualities for players at first glance. We are taking more targeted selection over a complete collection since we are getting one card per box. Good for competing on ladder, maybe not as great for collecting. Also, it is worth mentioning that my first glance at this system triggers my intuition for collecting as such: Open boxes, calculate the chroma I will need to craft the commons and rares I can’t live without, and then sink the remaining chroma into boxes. I say calculate chroma because you want to use your theoretical remaining chroma first in case you get any of your targeted cards in your additional boxes.
  • Progression and collection soft reset
    • Progression is a fun part of CCGs for me, and I believe it is an important part of the game in a pre-ladder environment. There is only so much someone who plays the game frequently can strive for when there is no collection to advance as well as no ladder placement. Collections is a great way to occupy players as the rest of the games longevity features come into place in coming development.

In closing, I couldn’t be more excited to get out there and play this patch. I’ll be recording my box rates, crunching numbers, and estimating my budget for when the second reset goes live in a week. I am hyped not only for steam integration but for the models and art coming in the future. Not to mention, ugh, the ability to delete simple decks. It’s going to be a crazy week.

Iojiki

100 boxes is huge. As a guy who loves opening boxes this makes me very happy. But furthermore i think this is a smart move on the devs as it allows them to really test their system before implementing it for realsies next week. The introduction of the treasury is a welcomed addition and it seems like it will be conducive to a healthy business model. I hope that progression is steady but not too fast.

I am intrigued by the promise of a welcome bundle and am interested if steam integration is this patch or not. The notes are a little unclear but if it is im sure ill be buying boxes to test it out.

Grand defender looks bad atm as there is no incentive for opponents to attack it. Other guy is alright at least stat wise. 2/1 melee are 'okay'. Could see play.

Transform keyword removal is good, it was confusing new players. Bloodguard change is okay but the ability will likely never be built around where before it might have. Eagle primal change is welcome. It incentivises using hero ability and can position better itself. Timebender change is huge. It'll be played more and i predict a gross deck with that and soul lasher, probably one I make.

Back alley probably still won't be played unless it can deal damage to heroes too, then it might. Med tech change is great. Soul taker is a welcomed change. Swarm spore change is good, might even be played outside of thrall, stellar replicas change is good but i liked the card anyway.

Eternity prism. It was super polarizing and snowballed hard if you couldn't remove it asap. Reducto RIP i barely knew ye.

Winning games with more than 20 health is way more manageable than perfect health.

Lastly simple decks - ability to change and delete is awesome. Will help new players learn deck construction and will get then out of cluttering up my barracks.

Overall this patch promotes a good fresh slate moving into steam release. I'm excited by the changes and interested to see what new and old players do with the now limited number of cards. I feel that at least for a while the restrictions in cards will give way to new and interesting deck ideas where as before we might have seen similar styles of decks surface.

Iojiki also went through the patchnotes on his stream, you can find the vod here on Twitch. You can also follow him on Twitter at @eeohjeeki and you can find him on YouTube.

Posey

Going to start with cards and then do card boxes.

Card changes that stand out to me:

  • Bloodguard - This was pretty much never played and now stands a chance to at least be considered in control or aggro decks. I see its best use in more aggressive decks where Sabine is at 15 or less health. The ideal setup would be when combined with Advanced Scout or Summoner's Aide.
  • Timebender - This is a huge buff to this cards ability and only makes blue control decks stronger. Not only can Mori play safe on her side of map and bounce minions, but now they cost 2 more for the opponent.
  • Back Alley Bruiser - Another card that will fit well into aggressive play if combined with Advanced Scout. 4 damage is a decent number to take out a lot of minions 4 mana or less. The downside is the damage is done to a random enemy minion, so you're shooting from the hip.
  • Star Replicas - Not sure why this was buffed but 3 copies of just about anything is great; especially for 2 mana.
Card Boxes.
  • First impressions are that it doesn’t feel like you are getting as much content from card boxes as you do from card packs in other games. Being presented 3 cards and only getting to choose 1 seems very limited in comparison to the competition. $20 nets you 45 cards in comparison to Hearthstone where it nets you 150 cards. The concept of choosing the one card out of the three presented is a nice nod to the drafting system of other deck buildering games but I’m not sure it's on par for the current price.
  • The UI is presented very well and will surely satisfy that itch players have when opening new packs. Spells have some great visuals and as more models are added to the game the experience will only get better.
  • The option to reselect the last box is great for any second thoughts or miss-clicks!

Posey is the moderator of the Shardbound subreddit, which you can find here: https://www.reddit.com/r/Shardbound/
You can also find Shardbound Showcase on: YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and Instagram.

Do you think you'd like these series, do you maybe have some feedback or do you want to participate in the next week's Patch Preview, let us know on twitter at @SBUnleashed