Developer Diaries


Karamelle PvP Update

Dear fellow PvPers,

Ben "Ratbeard" Durbin
Lead Designer
I want to discuss some interesting changes with you that we intend to release soon – first on Test Realm, and then to our Live service.

Before I do that, I want to provide a TLDR version to our PvE players that will explain how these PvP changes will affect PvE: They won’t. (You can go to Diego to train the new spell we discuss below, but you probably won’t need it.)

Now that we’ve explained the full impact of these changes for PvE, let’s talk about what’s coming for PvP.
  • Beginning immediately, PvP sigils will no longer allow any pre-enchanted Treasure Cards (TCs) to be drawn from your side deck (exactly as it works in the Deckathalon).
    • What is a “pre-enchanted” TC? If you’re used to going to Unicorn Way or Golem Court to “enchant” TCs for your side deck – these are the “pre-enchanted” TCs that will be No PvP.
    • You can use purchased, looted, or crafted TCs in your side deck as before.
    • This change affects ALL pre-enchants: damage, accuracy, cloak, transmutes, etc.
    • All current damage enchant spells (Strong, Giant, Monstrous, Gargantuan, Colossal, and Epic) will be marked No PvP and cannot be included in your main deck. TC versions of these spells will also be made No PvP and cannot be included in your side deck.
  • Diego now has a new spell, Solar Surge, which we intend as a main deck replacement for all prior Sun-School damage enchant spells.
  • Because we expect these changes to reduce overall damage in PvP, we will increase the 1v1 Ranked match timer to 45 minutes. This will allow more time for play and counterplay, for players to position themselves for an open hit, and require players to land more hits in order to win the match.
    • We are increasing the match timer by more than is probably necessary. We will review actual match time data in the future and revise the match timer accordingly.
  • We expect that this change to the meta will be dramatic: different deckbuilding strategies; more card cycling; more moment-to-moment decision making; more opportunities to make good (and bad) plays that will ultimately decide the outcome of each match.

These changes will be brought to Test Realm and then to the Live game; we will solicit your feedback to evaluate these changes for fairness and fun; and we will determine after a suitable trial period on the Live game if these changes should be kept, modified, or reverted. As we have said for quite some time, the final days of 4th Age PvP will require us to try lots of new things to make 5th Age the best it can possibly be – and there is simply no better place for us to evaluate PvP changes like this than the Live service.

Now let’s talk about the new spell!

New Spell: Solar Surge

We’ve added Solar Surge as a replacement for the prior damage enchants to address design imbalance inherent to those spells. We’ve known for a while that the damage enchants (currently +300 with a single enchant TC) were distorting our efforts to rebalance spells along strict dpp guidelines. This became particularly evident when we decided to split the Karamelle spells into a path that included a 3-pip Shadow spell. Adding +300 damage to the dpp of a 3-pip spell in addition to the 3.6 pips’ worth of value provided by the Shadow pip was the tipping point. The damage enchants simply add too much value, made even worse because players can stack their side decks with pre-enchanted hits. The side deck in W101 respects no level restrictions, nor card copy limits; it distorts the power of the sideboard; it devalues deckbuilding and card-cycling skills.

Suffice to say, we gotta lotta problems with the sideboard, and we’re hoping that Solar Surge, combined with the new pre-enchant restriction – can solve a couple of those problems as the same time.

Solar Surge works as follows: When drawn from your main deck, and used to enchant an attack spell also drawn from your main deck, Solar Surge adds +50 damage per pip of the attack spell. (Technically the spell will support 0-pip attack spells as well, adding +25 damage.) The maximum value that Solar Surge can provide is +300 damage, requiring a spell of at least rank 6. A Troll spell (2 pips) will add only +100 damage; Glowbugs (a 6|1 Shadow spell) can add the full +300 damage.

This is not a perfect solution. Players will still be able to enchant their rank 6+ spells (including Shadow spells) with an additional +300 damage from Solar Surge. However, there are some significant limits imposed on this power:
  • Solar Surge must be carried and drawn from the main deck.
  • The attack spell you wish to enchant must also be carried in the main deck, and drawn at the same time.
  • Solar Surge must abide by main deck card copy limits.
In conclusion, we’re hoping that these changes shake up the current meta – true, 4th Age might be a bit chaotic, but at least it will be interesting! And we want to reiterate that some of the changes we’re testing here very well may be changed. As always, we will do our best to communicate our design intentions to you clearly, with as much advance notice as we can, and to listen closely to your feedback.


Ben "Ratbeard" Durbin
Lead Designer