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I know this is an old theme, but the more I play PVP, the more I tend to share the opinion that ocean faction aquamancers are over-powered and over-utilized. It's not just that the card is good and popular, it's that it is almost always game shaping.
The card is one of very few that can exert an almost always dangerous power even when blocked; it is one of very few that becomes increasingly difficult to destroy with every turn that passes, and, due to being elusive is not really threatened by bigger minions on its path. (The only other card I can think of with these traits is living essence which not only costs twice the power points, but can be controlled indirectly by controlling the allied forces it improves.)
Comparing aquamancers to the swamp minion, necromages (a card with similar effect), I note that necromages have strength 2 instead of strength 1, no elusive, no health gain when they use their ability to damage another minion, and cost their player one life when the ability is used. And I still find necromages an attractive card.
So how can one counter an aquamancer (or more likely 4 of them)?
A. General purpose direct damage spells are not bad, but forces one to choose either fire or air as a faction (which has the undesirable effect of severely limiting playable decks).
B. Quick minions with attack strength at least 2, or other cards inflicting damage when played. In many decks these forces serve no significant purpose in the deck other than stopping aquamancers. Moreover, to make it probable I have one in-hand before my opponent plays his aquamancer, (generally speaking, even one turn later is too late), I probably need to take about 6 in my deck, and refrain from playing them until aquamancers appear.
C. Minion affecting traps (unlikely to catch the aquamancer unless your opponent wants the aquamancer to be the unit caught!)
d. Another special card or cards. Fire has catastrophe and inferno, situationally nice cards likely to be disastrous unless the deck is designed around them. Forest has deepwood spider (able to eliminate the aquamancer's elusive escape), hunt which not only must be in hand when the aquamancer is played, but which also requires a forest minion opposite the aquamancer (well under a 50%/50% net chance), or evolve (if you can't beat them, join them). Ocean has crushing waves (which might have undesirable side effects) or liquify (the one card I would likely choose anyway). Underdark does have numerous choices, including darkling assassin (an attractive choice, but only 4 cards does not ensure I have it when needed), primeval ooze (the aquamancer may be able to run where the ooze cannot follow -- behind one of my other forces), darkling slaver (a cost 5 solution to a cost 2 threat), taken under (a temporary solution), lost (temporary and chance dependent), cave in (requiring a second underdark force with cost 3 or less). Swamp really has no adequate counter, although the plague spells eventually remove the threat. Other than its direct damage spells, air can only counter with time loop (which only resets the aquamancer). Jungle has dactyl (costing 4 power to deal with a two power cost threat), or ambush to set up an immediate kill. Some jungle cards like mantid, snake pit, and cursed idol may reduce the effectiveness of the aquamancer's evasive, while strangle vines would remove evasive entirely, but relies a lot on chance to hit the right lane.
I guess my complaint with aquamancers is that there is no counter that does not either require air or fire factions and significant numbers of cards I often do not want for my deck theme. For example, Orange recently played a deck themed around having numerous cheap minions, some good blockers, and pack attack to wear out the opponent. Since she abandoned the idea as unworkable, but I like it, I decide to borrow. So I choose a swamp/jungle deck with 4 pack attack, 4 cloud of bats, 4 zombie mobs, 4 undead tritons, 4 ravenous ghouls, a selection of larger minions and possibly bodyswap, both for damage and to hold off my opponents big stuff until the pack attack can really start to hurt. I don't really want razorsaurs -- the cost 3 inhibits rapid deployment of minions, and I definitely don't want ambush because pack attack will need those slots. I could add 4 necromages and pray that I get the necromage before my opponent gets his aquamancers. Or I could just ignore aquamancers, letting them eat up my weak minions necessary for pack attack to trigger, and their health gain eat up the pack attack damage itself. So I either abandon the deck as unplayable against aquamancers (which is about 70% of the PVP decks I've encountered lately), or I go in with odds stacked against me. Were this the only deck idea thwarted by aquamancers, I really couldn't complain -- there ought to be foils for any given deck. But I claim aquamancers are foils for about 80% of the decks I come up with. And, in my opinion, that hurts the game.
I don't think it would take major changes to adequately tone down aquamancers. One possibility is to take away evasive. Another is to cap their health gain at 3. Charging 1 or 2 power for the use of their special would be another option. Raising the cost of the unit to 3 would still make it a bargain in my opinion, but it at least prevents the playing of 2 aquamancers on the same turn.
Please understand that I love the game; I am simply reporting a feature that I find does decrease my enjoyment of it.
but like u said, if you play nacomages first, then his aquamancer has no use. Then how is an aquamancer ruins your deck?
First, it reduces the game to a pure luck of the draw -- does he get aquamancers before I get necromages. And the more luck, the less strategy. But even that assumes my necromages (which are easily destroyed in one round by any strength 3 minion with at least 2 health) can remain in play. Definitely not an even match-up.
I started with a red deck, but shifted quickly to red blue after 1 day as I soon understood the value of acquamancer.
Have a look at my tournment videos how a acquamancer turned my victory to a miserable failure.
The point is that there are charismatic cards and this will always happen.
The ones of you which played MTG long time ago will remember that the same happened with the Masticore card.
Solution is not only to limit acquamancer but to increase value of cards from other factions. Personally I would ever argue its belonging to the Sea faction. Its color should be red in my opinion because as matter of facts its ability is a fire spell.
Seriously I cannot think about anything equivalent in the Forest or Swamp faction and even Pyrohydra is not that good compared to Acquamancer.
Set acquamancer to 3 power cost, limit health to 5 max and increase power of other cards.
Each faction should have at least 3 charismatic cards more or less of the same value. This is not happening yet.
I also agree that Aquamancer is overpowered and rather dominating.
Rather than capping its health or increasing its cost, I believe its ability should require a cost to use, much like nearly every other creature with a powerful ability. Give it a cost of 1 or 2 and that should balance out its power quite nicely. They changed the Fire Giant to require a double tap and that now gives a choice of attack vs ability and I feel Aquamancer needs to have that same choice. The fact it's free and only has strength 1 means it's a no brainer to use every turn. If it survives its first turn it can nullify most of Air's low HP creatures almost single-handedly.
I agree that Triton Aquamancers is a very good card. I do not agree that it is overpowered and I do not agree that it should be changed.
I can think of non-minion cards from almost every faction that can effectively negate an Aquamancer. And any large minion placed across from it will damage it significantly on each of your turns. Yes, the Aquamancer can whittle away at it in the meantime, but I don't think this is overwhelming.
Perhaps most importantly, I think this should simply be part of the game: identifying problematic cards and finding ways to deal with them. If you expect many of your opponents to be playing Aquamancers, pack some Aquamancer-hate in your decks. If everyone starts doing this, it will create a new landscape for the game, in which cards that are strong against the leading Aquamancer-hate cards will be used more often. And so the cycle will continue....
thinking about counter-cards for aquamancer is the wrong approach.
If you think about countercards then you already admitted the card is too strong.
I think of counter-cards to many cards when deck building: namely, the ones I expect to encounter often, be it because they are the better cards out there, a particular combo, flavor of the week, whatever.
Planning for a certain circumstance is not, in and of itself, proof that said circumstance is insurmountable or, in this case, unbalanced.
Furthermore, there's an important distinction here: Triton Aquamancers either IS too strong and makes the game of Spellcraft, as a whole, unbalanced, or it is NOT too strong and does NOT make it unbalanced.
Yes, if the former is the case, thinking of counter-cards is not the correct approach. But if the latter is the case, thinking of counter-cards and counter-strategy is the ONLY approach....
I can only say, if aquqmencer is op, there are other cards that are op in other factions as well.
In reply to this post by Quintivarium
I've nothing specific to add here but just wanted to say I enjoy the discussion - good analysis coming out in the debate - carry on :)
Thank you for your brilliant contribution, Mike :-)
The point is that when I build a deck I do not think at all about other cards. I split the game in 3 phases:
1) opening - how do I get the set up of the battleground in the first 3 rounds?
2) middle game - how do I consolidate my position in the game?
3) late game - what if my strategy does not make me win and the game gets stalled?
If you guys build a deck by thinking "how do I counter this card?" then that card should be reviewed.
My personal opinion:
there is no other 2-power card which is so powerful. And 3/2-power cards are very useful because you can play 2 of them in the same round. If we had other cards that powerful then this debate would not exist.
But surely part of your setup, consolidating, and winning strategy includes considering what your opponent is going to be doing to try and stop you/kill you in the meantime.
For example, you probably make some card choices based on the expectation that your opponent is going to play some minions. Likewise, you may expect him to play some spells, traps, barriers, items, and/or auras (if not, no one would ever play removal).
More specifically, you may expect him to play some removal himself, and/or small and quick minions, and/or large minions, and/or spell immune ones. And so you create your deck to be able to either deal with these things or win without doing so. Sure, sometimes you draw a Calm Seas or Natural Order and can't use it. This happens less often with Flamespike or Taken Under. But you still play them because you expect to be able to use them often enough to make their inclusion worthwhile, and because sometimes drawing one will completely sway the game in your favor.
Bottom line: when building a deck, most people (I'm willing to wager this includes you, Valentino) give some consideration to the types of cards they expect to see when taking their deck into competition.
And just because Triton Aquamancers can't be as easily classified as other cards doesn't mean it's overpowered. It just means that if you're used to seeing it, especially in tough matches, remember this when deck-building.
"But surely part of your setup, consolidating, and winning strategy includes considering what your opponent is going to be doing to try and stop you/kill you in the meantime."
The problem with this type of argument is that there is a big difference between preparing for general contingencies and planning for specific cards.
I definitely agree that an element of good deck building is considering questions like, "How will this deck deal with combat immunity?", "How might I cope with minions that reach strength 5 or above?", and "How will I cope with hordes of cheap, fast opponents?" But those questions are very different from, "How am I going to deal with those devastating lava imps?" or "What can I do about nasty skeleton crews?"
Given that there are now 280 cards (and growing), it is ridiculous to think one need to consider countering every possible card when constructing a deck. As Valentino pointed out, the fact that aquamancers can and do require this individual attention is evidence that something is out of whack.
In reply to this post by art
I think it is worthwhile to be careful with definitions here. Terms like "overpowered" and "too strong" can mean many different things to different people. For this post, I will use the following terminology:
disproportionate -- significantly more effective than other cards of the same price and type
pre-eminent -- a card almost universally recognized as the best in a game-vital class of cards
dominant -- a card that generally cannot be ignored and around which a game might revolve
I think it is possible for a card to be dominant without being pre-eminent and vice versa.
Look at all power cost 2 minions and compare aquamancers. I think it would be very hard to argue that aquamancers are not disproportionate in this group. Even those who want the aquamancer unchanged have virtually conceded this point.
So the question becomes, "Does being disproportionate justify changing a card?" Precedent for changing such cards exists. Meteor was raised from cost 4 to cost 5 -- a move I very much agree with. Dragonfish were given an additional negative effect (discard card from deck). Stitched golems stat cap was reduced from 6/6 to 5/5. Burrowing under went from cost 2 to cost 3. And none of these cards were anywhere near as disproportionate as aquamancers are. I believe other examples (e.g. taken under, lost) exist from before I started playing the game. The game is certainly very playable without such changes, but more even balancing of cards will result in greater variety of decks and a generally more interesting game.
However in the case of aquamancer, I argue that changing the card is not just desirable, but almost necessary. Let me build that case.
Aquamancers can be a dominant card. While thwarting them by no means will win a game, unsuccessfully negating them will generally lose a game. When the aquamancer's opponent has lots of direct damage cards, he usually plays one, destroys the aquamancer, and the game focus moves elsewhere. But otherwise, the match is often shaped by one player chasing the aquamancer, desperately trying to keep its health down and its special from being invoked, while the other either tries to find safe have / build aquamancer health to a safe level or to inflict devastating damage while the opponent deals with the aquamancer. There are other cards that are situationally dominant: a pyrohydra during burning world, a bone dragon on a deadlocked board, blood orbs as player life gets low. But these cases generally both involve more costly cards and situations that require more conscious, intentional, and counterable design.
Moreover, I believe that aquamancer is not merely a disproportionate card, it has become a pre-eminent card in ways no other card matches.
I believe aquamancers are substantially more powerful than any other strength 2 (and probably any strength 3) minion. Since explicit comparisons with every other strength 2 minion would be very time-consuming, let me randomly (yes, I rolled dice and flipped coins to get this "sample") pick three such minions for comparison.
First is air faction's chronomancer (an unfortunate stroke of luck for my argument as this is also a very powerful card.) Both aquamancers and chronomancers are elusive, hence hard to kill by opposing minions. And both have powers impacting, eventually killing opposing forces on other paths. Chronomancers have one greater strength, but this is almost meaningless -- generally I do not count on either of these forces to damage my opponent, I choose them for their specials. And because of its health gain, an aquamancer is no more threatened by an opposing strength 2 minion than a chronomancer (except that a chronomancer could initially be played opposite a strength 2 minion). In the 5 of my turns it takes for a chronomancer inflicted timer to expire, an aquamancer can inflict 5 damage -- in most cases, both faster and more destruction. Admittedly this is mitigated by the possibility of other cards (e.g. uncontinue) interacting with the chronomancer's power, the chronomancer's ability to affect non-minions, and the chronomancer's lack of need to target a single opponent more than once. But to me, the decisive difference is aquamancer's ability to gain health round after round. If I need to ignore a chronomancer for a couple of rounds, either to deal with other threats or while waiting for the right response card, I suffer a couple of rounds of consequences of its effect. If I need a couple of rounds before facing the aquamancer, I not only suffer its effects, but the aquamancer's higher health makes it very hard to kill -- effectively I suffer the aquamancer for the rest of the game.
Second is underdark's albino cave slug, a 2/3 card with the ability to destroy two cards in my deck every turn. Defensively, it is pretty easy to block, and without evasive, it is quickly destroyed by any strength 3 or 4 opponent. The special power is unlikely to matter unless I am very careless. Except for a gimmick deck, aquamancer will almost always be preferable.
Third is savage kobo (jungle). This 2/1 card with evasive can be a little hard to pin down, but is easily destroyed otherwise. Its special only triggers on play, and worst case, might pull a trap that destroys a minion of my choice that I play. Unless I am otherwise hog-tied, the kobo's two strength is easily countered. While I like savage kobo's, they are no comparison in effectiveness to an aquamancer.
I challenge anyone to suggest a more powerful strength two minion. In fact, I challenge anyone to find a more powerful strength 3 minion.
The power of an aquamancer is reflected by the frequency it arises during play. How many players play a blue faction (even secondary faction) deck without including aquamancers? I know that unless I included blue for some very specific and limited purpose (e.g. lost at sea traps), adding aquamancers improves the deck. I even wonder the percentage of times that blue is chosen solely to have access to aquamancers. And I don't think this is a fad -- it has been going on for several months, and I see no real reason to expect it will abate.
No one card will ever guarantee a win, the game is too well designed (and, frankly, too dependent upon luck) for that. But once everyone chooses the same card, something is lost. Variety disappears, strategies become limited, luck becomes more significant. We are very close to that point with the aquamancer.
In reply to this post by --cwc88--
Again about deck building methods:
"But surely part of your setup, consolidating, and winning strategy includes considering what your opponent is going to be doing to try and stop you/kill you in the meantime. "
Yes, I do add this part of the process but only as final step and I keep it very generic anyway.
I never choose very specific cards such as destroy an item or destroy a trap. Because if I add those the deck becomes too specific and weak agains decks without such cards. If I have "destroy an item" be sure my deck has lavabombs so that card can be useful anyway.
I can add implode for example, but only because I have the assumption that any deck has minions, and only when I build a deck which is weak against big creatures.
BTW: did you notice that aquamancer and implode do not fit well? :-)
A very good deck must be very balanced against any kind of strategy - if you discover that you have a card which is totally useless twice then you should remove it!
Can anybody claim I had useless cards in any of the games I played against you?
Quintivarium made a good comparative analysis, but I would use a different approach to keep it simple:
a) what is the most similar card to the one analyzed?
b) would you use the alternative if you had to choose between the two?
c) if not then you have 2 cases:
case 1: the card analyzed is overpowered
case 2: the alternative card is underpowered
We need an objective process to discuss this.
Answer those questions now:
which of you would prefer necromages to acquamancers?
is necromancer underpowered compared to shadowfiend, for example?
Please note that there are a lot of cards which should be revised. Example?
which of you would prefer Sea snakes to Mantid?
is Mantid underpowered compared to Savage blood drinkers?
In reply to this post by Quintivarium
Quint- I'm not suggesting one need to consider every card in the game of Spellcraft when building a deck. The point I'm trying to make about Triton Aquamancers (or any other card that sees lots of use) is that precisely because a card is seeing lots of use, one ought to consider it when building a deck.
Just like almost every deck constructed will have more minion removal than aura removal (because one encounters more minions than auras), so too should current, competitive decks have more cards for dealing with Aquamancers than with, say, Tentacle From Below (because one encounters more of the former than the latter).
Yes, Aquamancers is probably the best 2 power cost minion. But I believe there are plenty of decks/deck strategies that would correctly not use Aquamancers even if it hypothetically belonged not to Ocean but to one of the two factions being used in the deck in question. Which is to say, there exist a sufficient number of decks for which Aquamancers IS NOT the best 2 power cost minion.
I'm also not convinced that the inclusion of Aquamancers into the vast majority of decks using Ocean* indicates that the Aquamancers are flawed in how strong they are. There are plenty of other Ocean cards I almost never leave out of my Ocean decks, and I can say the same for cards from every other faction. This is due, I'm sure, in part to personal preference, but I believe more to the objective strength of the cards in question in almost any deck or game situation.
Similarly, I don't think Aquamancers are the main draw of Ocean to most players. If Ocean is used more often than other colors, it is likely because the faction as a whole is more powerful than others, in which case Aquamancers would be one of many cards contributing to this scenario.
Perhaps the reason that carries the greatest weight in my mind that I do not think Aquamancers needs to be changed is that so many of the cards that work well against it are almost always going to be useful even in the absence of an opposing Aquamancers: Stormship, Flamespider, Fire Rain, Lightning Golem, Forked Lightning, Wall of Stalagmite, Primeval Flame, Deepwood Spider, Hunt, Flamespike, Detonate, Living Bomb, Burning World, Cinderbox, Cave-in, Darkling Assassin, any minion with quick and strength >2, Liquify, Taken Under, Meteor, Implode (despite Valentino's claim to the contrary--if Aquamancers doesn't have the highest health, it probably hasn't done much damage, either), Darkling Slavers, Time Loop, Nobbling Trickster, (insert cards from Jungle I'm not yet familiar with)...almost all of these cards are reasonable inclusions into many decks and would be even if Triton Aquamancers did not exist. Yes, many of them won't destroy Aquamancers alone after it's grown. Ditto for Pyrohydra and any minion with Spell Immunity.
Yes, Aquamancers is very popular right now. I think that simply opens the door for many other cards to see greater popularity in response, even if it's just that they're being used more often to deal with Aquamancers.
Also, if i were, say, entering a tournament, and I expected most of my opponents to be playing any given card, I'd be delighted, as I would know exactly what types of cards to use/type of deck to construct to deal with most of my opponents.
*side note--I suggest a move away from referring to factions by color. Jungle and Forest both appear green to me, and I expect more color overlapping as the remaining factions are released.
This last post very much illustrates a difference in playing styles between us -- and I think indirectly strengthens the case for changing aquamancers.
Of the "almost always" useful cards you list that "work well" against aquamancers, there are exactly two (primeval flame, liquify) that I would want in the majority of my decks. And one of these (primeval flame) only works against aquamancers if played first and if my opponent decides to play the aquamancer before destroying the primeval flame (a generally unwise move). There are five other cards that I don't mind having in many decks (wall of stalagmites, deepwood spider, living bomb, darkling assassin, nobling trickster). Of these, nobling trickster does not suffice to stop the aquamancer without another of the undesirable cards you listed.
Now let me analyze your list further. You've cited 23 cards explicitly, and as a group, 9 more that have requisite strength and quick (feral elemental, ruby hatchling, giant owl, dragonfly, triton waveriders, aeromancers, storm fiend, razorsaurs, and skyhawk -- but only if you have two items in your discard pile). I will delete primeval flame, cinderbox, nobling trickster, time loop, and burning world. The first two don't work unless the player of the aquamancer lets them work, the second two don't work without a second card that actually destroys the aquamancer, and burning world doesn't do more than offset the aquamancer's health gain. I think implode, taken under, and skyhawk are disputable, but won't nit-pick. And I will add dactyl and ambush from the jungle faction, as well as catastrophe, inferno, crushing waves, decay, and festerplague which you missed. I'll be generous and add energize and overworld elixir as these cards can set up destruction of an aquamancer with other cards I am likely to have. That's a total of 36 cards. Of these, 14 only work if played the turn the aquamancer is deployed, and 7 more only if played within one round. 21 are spells, traps, or minions destroyed in the process of destroying the aquamancer. 36 require a one time effect and cannot be re-used against a second aquamancer. And of these cards that do neutralize an aquamancer, the vast majority cost more to use than the aquamancer did to play. Hunt costs 0 but requires a second forest minion card on the same path. 3 cards cost only 1, but of these, living bomb destroys a friendly minion and energize requires a minion as well. 3 of the 6 cost 2 cards also require the help of a second card. 17 cards require 3 power to destroy the aquamancer, 5 require 4 power, 3 require 5 power, and one requires 7 power.
Let me now use these statistics to form an argument. Because many cards are only effective if played immediately, before the aquamancer increases strength, I essentially need them in hand. Since I am likely facing not one, but four aquamancers, I probably need six of these counter cards in my deck, and even then, I dare not play them out of my hand except to kill aquamancers. Since I am not otherwise likely to select these cards, I find 15% or more of my deck dictated by the possibility of facing one particular card. To some degree, you can blame my tastes for this frustration, but I would argue that it is not the place of a single card to dictate those tastes; that it is the variety of tastes that keep the game interesting. And no other card demands nearly this sort of response. Let me take the pyrohydra you mentioned for example. It is admittedly hard to destroy, but at least 17 cards played against it either destroy or de-nature it (ruby dragon, meteor, catastrophe, volcanic eruption, ancient oak, dragonfish, liquefy, whirlpool, primeval ooze, darkling slaver, taken under, bone dragon, stitched golem, lich touch, festerplague, decay, temporal, air pressure, giant constrictor, ravager, and toxipede), another 4 neutralize it to the pyrohydra’s opponent’s advantage (lava giants, cloud dragons, ancient ghosts, and shadow dragons). There are another 29 cards (not yet mentioned) able to block it more or less indefinitely (until the pyrohydra’s owner can manage to grow it). And 5 more (narrow tunnels, rooted, whirling djinn, doomcloud, and magmasphere) able to block it for as long as the cards don’t time out. So far, that’s 64 cards. And this doesn’t count cards like cinderlings and shimmersquids that are effective counters even without stopping the pyro hydra. Or cards like flamespike that destroy it as soon as the situation arises where it grows. Not only that, virtually any minion or barrier temporarily keeps it at bay. Pyrohydra costs 5 rather than 2.
As a second argument, I think one ought to value a card by comparing its cost to the impact of its presence together with the cost of destroying it. My statistics clearly show that, most of the infrequent cards that even can neutralize an aquamancer cost at least 3 powerpoints. Many of these cards are destroyed in the process, and the others which are not destroyed (except for darkling assassins, ruby hatchlings, and overworld elixirs) use up their “when played” ability. Now the ability to inflict one damage on an enemy minion of choice may not seem that big, but in PVP games it can be huge. Typical minions have about as much health as their powerpoint cost, so in two rounds, the aquamancer destroys its casting cost in enemy minions. I dare say no other card has this rate of return (maybe giant volta, but the volta does nearly as much harm by friendly fire). Moreover, the aquamancer can select the most critical/vulnerable opponent for this damage, while almost any other card can only damage those minions the opponent chooses to pair them against. Let me ask these simple questions. Which would you generally rather face, a giant owl or an aquamancer? A triton warhammer or an aquamancer? A wraith soulhunter or an aquamancer? A stormship or an aquamancer? A dayctyl or an aquamancer? A lava giant or an aquamancer? An ancient oak or an aquamancer? A blessed unicorn or an aquamancer? An ancient turtle or an aquamancer? A razor shark or an aquamancer? An essence eater or an aquamancer? A vampire consort or an aquamancer? A time eater or an aquamancer? An aerovore or an aquamancer? A jungle dragon or an aquamancer? A savage rider or an aquamancer? If most player’s honest answers to these questions differ from mine, I will concede that my opinion on the power of aquamancers may be based upon playing style. But if, as I suspect, most players find aquamancers more threatening than these 4 and 5 cost creatures, the position that aquamancers are not over-powered is practically untenable.
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