Developer Diaries


Karamelle PVP Update #2


Ben "Ratbeard" Durbin
Lead Designer
Welcome fellow PvP’ers to a follow up installment of our Dev Notes. Let’s talk a bit about the feedback that we received since the last update, some of the known issues (bugs and otherwise) that we’ll be addressing, and talk a bit about the current meta.

Before I get to that, let’s go ahead and drop the usual disclaimer for PvE players: Nothing in these Dev Notes will affect your PvE experience in any way. You can stop reading here – or read on, if you’re curious about the context behind the conversations you may hear your PvP friends engaging in.

Critical Hits and Block

You may recall that in our last Dev Notes (link), we talked a bit about the new Crit and Block “dashboard” and how we could use parameters to tailor the feel of critical hits to your taste. In that update, we separated the heavy math stuff into a quote-block. We’re not going to do that this time, because there’s simply too much important math to discuss.

We recently tweeted a poll to gather player feedback on critical hits. Parsing the results of this poll, we see:
  • Over 80% of respondents felt the damage should stay about the same;
  • Over 50% of respondents felt that critical hits should happen less frequently.
Based on this feedback, we’re going to tweak the critical hits parameters to produce the following results:
  • Critical hits will happen less frequently;
  • The damage will remain about the same;
  • Blocks will also happen less frequently.

Change #1 is accomplished by changing the base Crit parameter (from Lvl/100 to Lvl/185). Across the board, impacting all schools equally, the “cap” for crit chance is reduced from a soft cap of 95% to a soft cap of ~75%; in practice, based on the amount of Crit stat that most players have, your Crit % is likely to drop to the 45-55% range. If you want to try out a Crit build, you’ll be able to get closer to that 75% soft cap (and, as before, you’ll be increasing your crit multiplier at the same time).

Change #2 is accomplished by increasing the Block scalar to reduce the influence of the Block stat. Increasing the Block scalar (from 3.0 to 5.375) means that it takes more Block stat to reduce the chance of critting. This has the added benefit of “nerfing” Ice (proportionally) more than other schools who cannot accumulate as much Block. (More on Ice in a moment.) Note that the damage – the crit damage multiplier – for any single critical hit occurrence will “stay about the same.”

Change #3 necessarily follows from #2. To reduce crit % and keep expected damage (I.e., the expected value or EV of critical hits, on average and in aggregate) about the same, we reduce the Block chance. Fewer crits will land, but a larger number of successful crits will not be blocked. This is accomplished by changing the base Block parameter (again, from Lvl/100 to Lvl/185). This does not change the damage of any single critical hit, but on average (over many hits across the course of a match, or even over many matches) the effect of critical hits will be lessened.

I will mention here that I think there’s a high likelihood that – despite specifically asking for this – players will not like this change. In the system as originally designed, critical hits happened more frequently, yes – BUT we allowed high Block to mitigate the damage from crits, even if you didn’t actually make your Block roll. From an RNG perspective, the prior system included one “assured” result (or close to it – the critical hit roll) and one “random” result (the block roll). If we reduce the frequency of critical hits, we will be moving the system back to two random results (the crit % and the block %). There’s a likelihood that this is going to make crits feel “more RNG” or more “swingy.”

The good news is that it is fairly easy for us to make these changes – so we can try something else, after another suitable trial period.


First, in the category of “Known Issues,” players should be receiving an “Opt In” prompt for matches above their Tier or Rank. We have implemented a fix for this issue; please let us know if you continue to have problems.

Second, in the category of “Planned Changes,” we intend to implement an Opt In prompt for Level mismatches (in addition to Rank and Tier). This change will come in a future update.

Third, with respect to Opt In in general, we intend to remove this option from players at Private and Sergeant rank – in other words, new players cannot Opt In to a mismatch. This change will also come in a future update.


The last update saw the introduction of the “no pre-Enchant" rule in PvP, the addition of the No PvP tag to damage pre-enchants, and the introduction of the Solar Surge spell which was designed as a replacement for those damage pre-enchants.

At this time, we intend to continue with these restrictions.

Once again, we want to reiterate that these restrictions may not be permanent for 5th Age; however, we do want to continue with these restrictions in order to give players more time to adapt to the “deckbuilding meta” and for us to collect more feedback.

This change disrupted the meta, but over time, we heard more feedback like this:
    Wanted to give some feedback on the enchant change. So far I’m really actually liking it. Even tho I used to be 100% against it. It’s promoting deck building and slows the games down a bit which is good. . . . It is also nice not having to make TC every time I want to do a match. I’d almost be against Solar Surge TCs. I feel like this [current design] makes people have to manage their main decks better with holding 6 copies of the enchant.

This (unsolicited) feedback tracks well with what we had hoped to accomplish with this change. For those of you who gave the change due consideration – despite the other admitted difficulties with matchmaking; who put your Rank and Rating on the line to help us test – thank you!

Apart from the feedback we received on the change in general, two more specific pieces of feedback came in fairly frequently:
  • Please make Solar Surge into a TC, so it can be included in side deck; and
  • Please make Solar Surge available to Private and Sergeant
#1. At this time, we have no plans to make a Solar Surge TC. Making it into a TC would allow players to pack the enchant TC into their side deck, to draw it at will, and to greatly increase the “overall damage output” of the spells they keep in their main deck. In short, players are asking for “more damage, more reliably.” This would destroy the purpose behind the change in the first place. Remember that this change took place in the context of the changes to Crit and Block which (as expected) increased the overall damage that every spell would do (via the increased crit rate). One could argue that, since we’re reducing the likelihood of crits in the next patch, there’s room to increase damage-in-deck once again; however, we are still receiving feedback that damage is too high and the meta is too fast-paced. We turned two damage dials in the last update; let’s turn one dial back and see how it plays out.

The emphasis here really is “at this time.” As we mentioned in the last Dev notes, there’s lot of things we might want to try with respect to the sideboard, including level-locking certain TCs or introducing card limits in the sideboard. Should we decide to move forward with other such changes to the sideboard, we’ll certainly reassess Solar Surge in the context of those changes.

#2. Players often ask, “Why isn’t Solar Surge available to Privates? I can’t compete against Veterans who have this spell.” This is a multi-layered answer:
  • We do not want legit PvP newbies to have to immediately concern themselves with how to use enchants (or build their decks around them);
  • We do want players to feel incentivized to rank up (and earn this spell);
  • We do not feel that Solar Surge is an insurmountable advantage to those with the spell (any more than higher level, better gear, better pets, lore spells, or any number of other differentiators are); and furthermore,
  • We expect the new matchmaking system (along with a robust queue) will tend to pair skilled Privates and Sergeants without Solar Surge against unskilled Veterans with Solar Surge.
The essence of this philosophy is this: Those with more skill will move up the queue to face players with more stuff. Pick any grouping of players who all have more or less the same stuff, and you’ll see that those players naturally fall into strata of skill. The least-skilled players at the bottom of this group will be picked off by the most skilled players in the next grouping below them, who have just a little bit less stuff – but possibly more skill/experience – than the guy just above them.

Meta Changes

Match Time – We have set the Match Timer back to 30m.

Our data shows that the vast majority of matches do not require more than 30m to complete, let alone 45m; and our feedback suggests that players are extremely frustrated when they get “locked in” to a 45m match.

We have added the NoPvP flag to the following TCs:
  • All –90 Efreet TCs and “off-school” Efreet TCs
  • Ice Bird
  • Frozen Bats
  • Ice Elf
  • Arcticzilla
  • Enfeeble
  • Aftershock
  • Shift
Players have been waiting for this change to the –90 Efreets for some time; enough said on that.

Our data shows that Ice has been consistently at the top of the PVP rankings for years. Ice has quite a few problems (of our making) that we’re trying to correct – some more quickly than others. Obviously, until we have a chance to overhaul Resist in a stat audit – which we feel is the single most important change to Ice – we'll likely have to take targeted shots at Ice along the way. That is the intent with these NoPvP cards – we're just looking to take a bit of the “offensive tempo” away from Ice. We realize this is insufficient to “fix” Ice; nevertheless, this is a trend you should expect to see us continue in both the short and long term, as we try to shift Ice back into a more defensive school identity.

Enfeeble, Aftershock, and Shift fall into the same category, to some degree. As TCs, these spells are too widely available to all schools (diluting the school identity of schools who should have them), offer too much value in tempo, and are frankly too much of a “hard counter” to certain schools – thereby diluting the identity of schools that are countered by them. As an example, it is difficult for Fire or Death to leverage their identity as “over time” schools when a Shift spell (available as a TC to any other school) can ruin their entire strategy. This forces Fire and Death into strategies outside their proper identity.

(One could argue that, by this mentality, Triage should also be on this list, but there are obvious and important differences between Shift and Triage. We'll save that discussion for a later day; perhaps when Triage does end up on the NoPvP list!)

Once again, we want to reiterate our commitment to communicating our design intentions clearly and in advance, and to listening closely to your feedback. Though we cannot always deliver exactly what the players suggest, or as quickly as we all would like, we not only listen to your feedback, we are relying on it as we get ever closer to a successful launch of 5th Age PvP.


Ben "Ratbeard" Durbin
Lead Designer