The problem with success being linked to cash rather than strategy

I really hope something is going to be done to counter people using all the same characters in PvP.
We all know the problem of newer heroes being wildly overpowered and I’ve always been a staunch advocate that some intelligent team selection can almost always get you where you need but it is getting completely out of hand.
Let me tell you what I mean. On my server (as well as many others presumably), in the Challengers arena the top 5 teams have:

5 Merlin
5 Barbossa
4 Baymax
3 Bo Peep

When a small selection of characters are clearly so much more powerful than the majority the entire PvP part of the game genuinely becomes nothing more than who can spend the most money to get these characters to max power. The problem only perpetuates itself when so many of the contests pay out rewards which further increase the effectiveness of already overpowered characters, and all of the contests are inevitably won by the aforementioned spenders who can win by brute force.
Please don’t get me wrong, I 100% understand the need to incentivise spending and honestly believe that if you spend money then you should have a better experience than if you don’t, that’s only fair. But the difference in experience between a big spender and even a mid spender (never mind f2p) is getting ridiculous and is only going to continue getting worse.

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The problem is with the solution. PB’s preferred method of balancing OP heroes has always been to release a new hero specifically designed to counter it.

That’s why we end up in this mess. We have a counter to a counter to a counter, it’s not a solution and we get the same problem, just with different (newer) heroes, making it even harder for those at the lower end of spending who can’t develop all these new heroes before the next batch arrive.

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Just a quick update to this. The top of the arena has shuffled around a bit but not much. Now the top 3 players all have a similar lineup and all 3 are members of the same guild.
Not surprisingly they are the number 1 guild on the server and just came top in the guild contest.

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Top 3 in challengers.


Top 2 teams are literally using the same lineup, 3rd place has replaced Bo with Goofy, aside from that it’s identical. Please do something to encourage some diversity PerBlue.

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Posting a snapshot of the top 3 players in challengers doesn’t really show anything of value. I don’t know about your server, but on s8 it changes a ton throughout the day (I’ve been bumped to plat 1 numerous times if I don’t continue attacking periodically through the day). There will always be defined meta teams, never expect otherwise. Every team is beatable or challengers wouldn’t shift. The reason you see that sort of consistency is because those particular heroes have more variance which can turn what should be a loss into a win.

Bo peep for example. Very easily countered by any sort of control team, but there are times that her evasion can outright turn the outcome of the battle around. If she evades a Merlin squirrel and your Merlin gets squirrel’d first, you lose. That’s all that this is on older servers. I see all kinds of comps running throughout the day, with and without the most prominent meta heroes. Plenty of them make me change who I attack with, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to change my defense from one that has high variance to one that only counters 1-5 specific heroes.

On newer servers your concern would be valid. The new heroes are not being balanced for newer servers with lower level/gear caps. It can be very difficult to try to balance a game across such a large gap so I understand it (have dealt with it in other games as well). On the other hand, the newer servers are likely the most populated so they should be putting a better effort in. The problem there is, even though there is some variance in team comp, the damage of certain heroes is so high that it’s nothing but a roll of the dice whether your moves go off first or whether you crit and they don’t. THAT is a design problem because there aren’t enough options to counter that issue for them yet due to the limited hero pool.

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The answer is to add a game mode that depends only on strategy.

PvP, both players take turns selecting characters from a pool. First pick gets 1, all other picks get 2 characters. Then there is a battle. Skill counts, not $.

WALL OF TEXT BE WARNED

Your argument is mostly valid I think but the biggest issue here is Merlin. (The rest of the post isn’t necessarily even aimed at you, @Henline)

Bo Peep does seem more balanced than not, being vulnerable to control and all melee attacks, not to mention Baymax and Barbossa. Bo alone does not create a whole different meta. She just happens to counter ranged attackers and do amazing damage. There is some variety in Challengers on older servers as well, there are Bogos and Mauis and Finnicks, etc…
But overall the picture doesn’t look too good.

My teammate’s Arena team ended up in our Surge yesterday. What was it?
The very meta Baymax-Sparrow-Merlin-Barbossa (Ti)-Merida team.

What happened? So, so many wipes.
Our whaliest players wiped on it.
I, fully aware of the danger, wiped on it several times with my Olaf-Elsa, Anger, Aladdin, Gaston, Darkwing Duck (Nick disk, don’t have Mr yet), Joy or Flynn (hoped their Reality boost would help). Only had somewhat easy times using Timon & Pumbaa, Scar and a mirror Merlin-Barbossa counter. (Some of the very few times anyone in our guild could clear it on the first try.)

He himself wiped on his own team numerous times and trust me, he’s the most game-savvy guy in our guild. He knows why his team works so well.

4-5 squirreled enemies in the first 10-20 seconds is balanced, yeah?

It was only marginally better the previous time it happened, about 3 weeks ago when his Arena team happened to have Aladdin in it instead of Merida.
I am not looking forward to Merlin teams populating Arena leagues on the server (and consequently, Surge and CW) when even more people get the memo.

FACE IT: Merlin’s kit is broken OP and there are not enough counters for the Merlin meta with the way it is. No amount of strategizing can help here.
18 seconds of squirreldom is broken (and no one has 200 tenacity to cut that down to 2 seconds or whatever they say helps).
Being able to loop the skill is broken. He should have ONE squirrel active at a time and that’s it. It’s like letting Hiro run 5 Megabots at once.
It should target enemies with some logic behind it, as well.
His crit feeding skill is broken, since it charges too fast with crit-heavy teams.

Oh, just use the newest support Timon & Pumbaa, you’ll say. (Very helpful in Surge where you can use a hero only once.)
Or pray your Scar doesn’t run out of time while AoE Merida or Sparrow spam rains on his team.
Or simply get the Mickey disk for Goofy (in the infamously and needlessly unbalanced friend campaign with enemy Shank). SO EASY.

I’ll say what’s easy, fix Merlin’s numbers. Something needs to go, either the multiple squirrels, or the energy loop thing, or the 18 sec timer, or the severity of the disable – no need to gut him, his concept is wonderful, and there needs to be a decent counter to Sparrow, Moana, Robin (?), etc. But something must give.

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In my opinion, the easiest way to balance merlin would be to make his purple skill not proc from a study or scare. It must be a natural crit.

Maybe also reduce the energy gain but if it can only occur through a natural crit, he wouldn’t have as much energy and also allow options other than barb or bay.

This may even bring other obscure heroes with high crit ratios such as Jack-Jack or stitch into the light.

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I might miss a couple things as I’m on my phone and it’s not the best for referencing a long post, but just a couple thoughts in response.

Jack Sparrow and Merida are not very meta in my experience. While mods can cover some of their weaknesses (I have 3 +2-3 hp mods on my Merida cause I like her as well), sometimes it’s still not enough. Jack Sparrow is not as much of a powerhouse at o8 as he previously was because a lot of his disks are defensive in nature. He has fallen toward the bottom of my powered heroes (I have 33 o8, 4 o6-7 for reference) and is well behind several that only have 1-2* disks (vs his 5*). He’s simply not as strong imo. Likewise, though Merida has excellent offensive stats, she still dies before she can really go to work in almost every comp I’ve run and seen run. I have given her almost twice as much hp as her base stats and still, it’s hard unless you build a super defensive comp or use her against a comp that doesn’t threaten mid-back. Why do I bring this up? Because there are several heroes that when built around shouldn’t have trouble with that comp. I personally think Aladdin is a better choice over Merida for a standard Merlin comp because you get an instant squirrel if try don’t run initial shields. That kind of synergy should exist in the game more imo.

Merlin, Bo Peep, Ducky & Bunny, Timon & Pumba, Peter Pan, Joy (Anger disk), Anger, Mad Hatter, Scar, Beast, Baymax (shields prevent damage = no crits), and Goofy (Mickey disk) just off the top of my head are all great picks to build with.

As to the other point about only being able to use a hero once, that’s what mercenaries are for. If your guild mates are not putting up heroes to help with hard comps, what are they putting up? That’s really the only place you should be using them so it only makes sense to post heroes that are actually strong. If it’s holding your guild back from the progress you want, then address it.

Based on your comment about him starting to populate I can only assume you are on a server other than 1-8 (comments about Sparrow and Moana being too strong as well). I already addressed newer servers in my last post. As much as you might think a developer should think about balance at every level of gameplay, especially if they gate newer servers, it simply isn’t feasible if you want even semi-regular game updates. They “balance” the game for the max tier available with all heroes available. I don’t think anyone would argue that it actually is (you can’t have perfect balance with varying skills), but there are counters available with a full roster.

Merlin’s kit is powerful, but it’s not broken. What broke it was Barbossa’s Tia disk, but as more heroes have come along, he’s been easier and easier to beat. His squirrel is logical as well. Battle with the same team 10000 times and every single time he’ll target heroes in the same order. I don’t think capping his squirrels to 1 is the solution, but I could maybe see a cap of 3 being more balanced in a short-sighted sense, but then you have to think about how the 4th one gets applied if his energy generates before the 1st one falls off and several other issues that arise because of that.

The one additional thing I would argue here is that he should target a disable immune target if it’s the next logical target. If I run Anger on my team, he should spam squirrels into him before he squirrels every other weaker hero on my team. I think him not targeting a disable immune hero is a cheat built into the game that shouldn’t exist. That I think is bad design/coding and should be fixed (and would actually be the best, fairest fix possible imo).

Those are just my opinions on the matter though, we can agree to disagree.

Thank you for your reply @Henline , just want to point that I am on an old server (2), and Sparrow-Merida aren’t indeed the PvP meta, although Sparrow crops up in my Plat I Arena league.

You did recommend all new heroes to deal with Merlin, just like I imagined you would! The epitome of whale thinking. You did recommend the Mickey disk for Goofy which, as I did point out previously, is infamously, ridiculously hard to get – people can’t even get it at lvl 120 and O6.
The only older heroes in your reply being Scar and Baymax. You don’t think that illustrates my point about there not being enough counterplay for Merlin meta?

If you are at O8 already and what not, and are in a t10-t25 guild, doesn’t mean everyone else is at the same level. Meanwhile we do have to fight Merlin semi-regularly at the level where we are. In my guild people post their best heroes, naturally, and if they sometimes happen to be Sally, Mike, Merida, Jessie, or Kevin Flynn, etc., we make do. And so far it has always been enough, but here comes Merlin, and the fact that Barbossa (Ti) enables him matters little, you wouldn’t play Olaf without Elsa either.

That means there needs to be more and better counterplay to Merlin among older heroes as well, OR HE NEEDS A NERF BADLY. The game should not be balanced in favor of new heroes only, that’s power creep at its worst and it alienates more people than it entices.
I wonder what happened to servers 5-6-7 that they needed to be merged, could it be the power-creeped Merlin meta?
(Ducky and Bunny are a whole different can of worms)
:slight_smile:

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Indeed so.

D&B is the Merlin of S19, every lineup in Arena has them, without fail. Each and every fight revolves around their lasers. Use Aladdin to redirect enemy lasers, so your lasers are the first to hit. Use Bogo to postpone enemy lasers, so yours get off first. Fragile heroes such as Zurg are nowhere to be found because they can’t survive the lasers. It’s ridiculous. Olaf/Elsa comps and Merlin comps work so well because of a creative combination of skills and synergies. D&B comps are just flat damage from a skillset reminiscent of Yax, and I hate it.

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