Total War: ELYSIUM – November Major Update

Elysium

James High
November 10 2020

Headline changes: ship happens

  • Ragnar Lothbrok, legendary Viking King, sets sail for Elysium! Ragnar is a furious fighter, who avenges the death of his comrades by launching waterborne raids. Ragnar is scary to face, so don’t get salty if you lose.
  • Do battle on the high seas! This update has a Ship theme, with many new Ship cards being added to the game. Can you mast-er a ship deck?
  • Getting stability shipshape: This update contains a large, consequential change to how event queues are handled on the client. Previously, if there was a mismatch in the game state or something unexpected, the client would lock-up. Our original theory was that these occasions would be rare, and when they did occur we could easily fix them. The beta has proven this wrong, and we are well aware this is a high priority issue to players. This update contains some new tech which instead gives the client the ability to recover when such a situation occurs. This will sometimes cause the game to briefly pause, but it should continue, and the game won’t lock-up. It’s difficult for us to test fixes like these at the scale needed to truly validate how well they work, so we’d like to hear feedback from the community about whether you all feel there’s been a meaningful improvement in stability.
  • Ferry impressive Premium cards: you can now upgrade cards you own into premium cards. These don’t affect gameplay, but are a great way to show off to your opponent.
  • Updated rank seasons:
    • Ranks now show the number of stars (wins) needed to advance to the next rank, and tooltips explain at which ranks losses will also lose stars. We know – it’s aBoat time.
    • Coming in the next season (December) a new rank will be added above Eagle: Dragon. Dragon Rank works slightly differently – rather than stars it has 100 prestige levels, with players starting at prestige 1. You gain prestige by winning battles, and lose it if you lose battles. This should serve as an additional way to differentiate our highest-ranked players.

New cards

  • Ragnar (Vikings General) and Avenge (Signature Card)
  • Coastal Smugglers (Empire, Rare)
  • Doomed Rearguard (Medieval, Rare)
  • Flotilla (Timeless, Common) and Dhow
  • The Jomsvikings (Vikings, Legendary)
  • Karve (Vikings, Rare)
  • Knarr (Vikings, Common)
  • Penteconter (Ancient, Common)
  • Sea Storm (Timeless, Rare) and Sailor
  • Seadog (Timeless, Rare)
  • Holy Protectors (Troy, Rare) and Temple Guard

Balance changes

  • Achilles
    • Now has +1 Action
    • Design Notes: Achilles was underperforming for a (9) cost Legendary, in some cases because his Unbreakable ability (without which he isn’t effective) was difficult to keep active. This change achieves two things. Firstly, it greatly increases his effectiveness if you can activate his Unbreakable ability. Secondly, it increases the likelihood of playing allies on empty lines, because Achilles can make one attack, then move (or vice-versa) with his extra action. A bug-fix in this update (that Pyrrhic Victory no longer destroys Unbreakable units) also assists him slightly.
  • Aide-de-Camp
    • Old: 3/3, “Daybreak: Restore ALL the Health of BOTH Generals”
    • New: 3/5, “Daybreak: Restore 9 Health to BOTH Generals”
    • Design Notes: The ADC has remained one of the most polarizing cards in the game. Our design philosophy for Daybreak cards has always been that there should be a tension been playing and using the card on-curve and its Daybreak effect. Kurdish Hillmen is a good example of that working. ADC clearly broke those rules because you often only cared about the Daybreak activation. This change makes the card more incremental: you tend to need multiple activations of it to get the effect you got before, making it more about eking out smaller Health gains and keeping the ADC alive for more than one Daybreak. It also makes it more difficult for the ADC to drag-out games. In return, the ADC gets a little more Health to make that tension work.
  • Angry Mob
    • 6/6 -> 5/6
    • Design Notes: This card was buffed in the last update, and that appears to have been a little too effective, so we’re toning down its damage slightly.
  • Conscription
    • (4) cost -> (5)
    • Now deploys four Citizen Soldiers, and five when planned (up from 3/4)
    • Design Notes: Conscription was losing its place in the meta slightly, and falling out of favour. This is smaller adjustment intended to make the card a little more impactful, as 4.5 Soldiers for (5) supply is a slightly better rate. (5) cost is also a slightly more useful cost for Plan cards because it falls just after Daybreak.
  • Court Eunuch
    • 1/2 -> 1/3
    • Design Notes: Again, this card was just slightly underperforming and felt like it needed a small adjustment.
  • Davout
    • Iron Defence now has Plan, which gives the Palisade +1/+1 if planned. You can now target to place the Palisade anywhere you want.
    • Davout’s Signature Card always counts towards his passive, whether it’s been used or not (so he has a permanent 1 out of 9).
    • Design Notes: Giving Iron Defence a Plan effect was a suggestion from the community to allow Davout more synergy with Plan decks, which we liked, as was the ability to place the Palisade anywhere. These are both modest but useful buffs. The check for his hand size always counting the Signature Card is a gameplay and useability change, rather than a significant buff. It’s looking tentatively like Davout may be creeping up to being one of the best Generals among skilled players, so a buff for him is not badly needed, however we’d rather the gameplay was right, and – if Davout does end up overperforming – we will look at other ways to address that.
  • Camel Nomads
    • Old: (6) cost, 2/3, “Herald: Shuffle BOTH players’ hands into their deck. They draw that many cards.”
    • New: (5) cost, 4/5, “At the start of your turn, each player shuffles a random card from their hand into their deck. If they did, they draw a card.”
    • Design Notes: The most popular and beloved card we’ve made in Elysium – the Camels have spent an infamous few weeks disrupting the meta and dragging out games with their painfully long combo. It was clear from the outset that the Camels’ design was divisive, broke lots of norms within the game, and was initially overpowered (and remained strong even after a multiple nerfs to the combo deck), so we’ve made the decision to rework the card to take it closer to the original intent. Camel Nomads was meant to be disruptive to hand-buffing decks (like Plan decks), as well as have some other secondary synergies, with cards like Supply Train and Mounted Brigands. However, we misjudged the Supply Train combo, and that became the sole use of the card, often generating near-infinite Supply. This essentially removes the combo entirely, though keeps some small-scale interaction with those original combo pieces, but in a much more incremental way.
  • Dawn Raid
    • No longer draws a card
    • Design Notes: This is targeted at Lagertha, who makes by far the best use of this card, and – with recent changes to other Generals – may well become the best-performing General at high levels of play, and so likely warrants a nerf. Removing the card draw here makes the card less powerful, and reduces the power of Lagertha’s ability to empty her hand in day 1.
  • Dong Zhuo’s Persuasion
    • Old: (1) cost, “A random card in your hand costs (2) less this turn”
    • New: (2) cost, “Two random cards in your hand cost (1) less”
    • Design Notes: Dong Zhuo – after initial concerns about this power level – is settling into being a somewhat below-average General at all skill levels. This is a small buff to Persuasion, making it better for eking out long-term advantage, and useful even on turns where you’re not combo-ing off.
  • Whirling Duel:
    • (1) cost -> (0)
    • Design Notes: Another slightly underperforming card, that wasn’t quite worth (1) in many of situations. We’d like to see how well this works, particularly as it now allows it to be played much more easily in conjunction with other cards in one turn.
  • Flogger
    • Now also damages and buffs adjacent Structures
    • Design Notes: This isn’t a large buff, but felt intuitive and does open up a couple of interesting plays (who hasn’t taken a whip to a Friary wall at least once in their life?).
  • Greedy Sellswords
    • (9) cost -> (8)
    • Design Notes: Despite previous buffs, this card still wasn’t quite competitive enough. We’re unlikely to be able to drop the cost any further, so hopefully this should make it playable enough.
  • Guillotine
    • 1/8 -> 2/8
    • Design Notes: Guillotine has a place in some decks, and is a fun design, though often ends up being a little too easy to kill, especially given that it often needs two Daybreak activations. This change makes it just that little bit harder for melee enemies, particularly Flankers, to deal with.
  • Guthrum’s Hit and Run
    • (2) cost -> (1), the attack buff now expires at end of turn (instead of Daybreak)
    • Design Notes: The previous nerf to Hit and Run was a little controversial. It appeared to have the correct effect: Guthrum fell to almost exactly in the middle of the pack of Generals, at all skill levels, so in that sense was successful. However, this patch contains nerfs to a few cards which are quite important in many Guthrum decks (notably Javelineers, Marauders, Saga), and we were concerned the previous buff would end up being too much after those changes. This change is smaller, though still a nerf over the original version, which should hopefully put him in about the right place. It’s also worth noting that Hit and Run at (2) was less fun to use, so there was a gameplay concern here as well, and we don’t want to nerf the fun out of using Generals.
  • Heavy Crossbowman
    • Its Mandate buff, granting Stun, is now permanent, rather than lasting until end of turn
    • Design Notes: Mandate decks need a few more tools, and this card wasn’t really doing much, so it felt right to give a noticeable buff.
  • Hector
    • 3/14 -> 4/14
    • Design Notes: As with Achilles, Hector wasn’t quite feeling impactful enough, despite being an original design. 4 Attack is quite a sizeable difference over 3, so we’re hopeful this should put him in the right place.
  • Horse Scout
    • 1/3 -> 1/2, but gains Fast
    • Design Notes: Horse Scouts is one of the best Timeless cards in the game, with extremely concerning win and usage rates. We’ve struggled for some time to find a nerf that wouldn’t make the card unplayable: making it a 1/2 or (2) cost felt too punishing in testing. 1/2 and Fast ended up feeling to us like the right level of change – the card is worse overall (on account of being much, much easier to kill), but still useful, with some utility it didn’t have before. However we intend to keep an eye on how this change goes, as there’s very little room to manoeuvre and it’s quite possible this change ends up having unpredictable effects.
  • Huscarls
    • 9/7 -> 10/7
    • Design Notes: Huscarls is another card that’s stubbornly underperformed relative to a lot of its competition. Partly at fault is some other strong Viking mid- and late-game cards that we’ve also been addressing (Ubba, Saga) but it still felt an additional small buff might be enough to put this card in the right place.
  • Javelineers
    • (1) cost, 0/2 -> (2) cost, 1/2
    • Design Notes: As with Horse Scout (and Menace below), Javelineers was another problematic and extremely widely-played Timeless card, a class of card we treat with a lot of caution because it can have a deleterious effect on gameplay and deck variety. This is a noticeable nerf, with the intention of keeping the card playable, but leaning a little more on synergy, and less of an auto-include.
  • Last Stand
    • Health buff: +3 -> +2
    • Design Notes: Cards with “draw a card” as an additional effect are consistently proving to be stronger than expected in Elysium, most likely because the Reserves mechanic makes the average quality of each card draw high. Last Stand is getting played a lot, and its win rates are a little too high for a (2) cost, a slot that’s competitive and where it’s very important we see variety from game-to-game.
  • Marauders
    • Old: Raid, Herald: Gain a Supply
    • New: Herald and Shattered: Gain a Supply
    • Design Notes: Marauders is key to both Lagertha emptying her hand and Guthrum Herald combos, and has settled into being a massive overperformer at the (2) slot. This design – which removes Raid but gives it a Shattered activation – is actually an older design pre-dating the closed beta. It’s weaker overall, but the addition of a low-cost Shattered effect gives that deck some additional useful tools.
  • Menace
    • Can now only move targets back (not forwards)
    • Design Notes: Menace is enormously popular, and has strong win rates, on top of it drawing a card (making its floor very high). A number of possible changes were on the table here (increasing cost, removing the card draw), but they felt over-the-top. We tested restricting it to being only useable on Units, but the loss of being able to effect Generals was much worse for gameplay. This change – only allowing you to force targets backwards – ended up being the best way to nerf Menace. The key is this change keeps most interactions, like the ability to rescue your own General and get it off the front line. However, it removes the most problematic function of Menace: forcing an enemy General off the backline, which gave it too much utility as a finisher.
  • Penthesilea
    • 1/20 -> 2/18
    • Design Notes: Penthesilea has solidified herself as a low-performing General, and we felt a buff was needed. There’s not much wiggle room on Generals outside of adjusting Health (which is why you tend to see that used quite a lot), and any changes to Penthesilea’s passive or Signature Card felt dangerous. This change is experimental, and gives Penthesilea a unique combination of stats, which tends to make her better at being aggressive, until her health gets too low, wherein she can switch to getting value from Blood Oath. In testing this has felt ok, and like a proportional buff, but with such a novel set of stats the results are difficult to predict, so we’ll be watching her closely.
  • Religious Fanatics
    • 2/2 -> 1/3
    • Design Notes: The Fanatics have steadfastly resisted making much impact on competitive play, so this further buff aims to make them slightly more survivable.
  • Marie Antoinette
    • Revolutionary Mob 2 Attack -> 3 Attack
    • Design Notes: This buff was intended for the last update, but a technical issue prevented us from doing it inside a mid-season update. Marie is another General in need of a buff, and it felt most appropriate for an increase in power to come from the Revolutionary Mob. We wanted a static change that immediately gives a boost in power, as increasing her ability to snowball (through the number of Peasants deployed, or the Signature Card) felt like it would double-down on situations where the Mob is already advantaged, rather than swinging a decisive game.
  • Saga
    • Cost (7) -> (8)
    • Design Notes: The last of the dramatically overperforming Raid cards (even for a Legendary) – Saga was in need of an adjustment.
  • Sea King
    • 2/4 -> 1/5
    • Design Notes: This card will come in to sharp focus with the dramatic uptick of Ship cards in this update. This small change makes the card slightly more survivable in order to gets its bonuses online.
  • Second Wind
    • Restores 3 Health -> 4
    • Design Notes: Second Wind has continued to struggle to find its spot, so this small additional adjustment should help there.
  • Sun Attendant
    • (2) cost, 2/2 -> (1) cost, 1/2
    • Design Notes: We were hopeful that the previous change to Sun Attendant would be a small nerf to Sun Ren overall. It’s ended up essentially being balance neutral (the survivability loss hurts, but it’s offset by better face damage). This is a slightly more dramatic nerf, and makes the Attendants more reliant on being buffed. This no doubt will have an effect on Sun Ren, and as ever with Generals there’s not much room to manoeuvre and any change is highly impactful, so we’ll be watching her closely. Additionally, the cost reduction here doesn’t particularly effect Sun Ren, but makes Sun Attendant a much more competitive choice as a standalone inclusion in decks (where they’re underused currently).
  • The Brave
    • Gains Plan, which deploys an additional 18th de Ligne
    • Design Notes: The Brave’s performance has been underwhelming, and the addition of a standard plan bonus (+1 unit) felt like a small buff, and allows the card to slot into more decks.
  • The Old Guard
    • Old: 6/8, “Has +2/+2 if you have a Planned card in hand”
    • New: 4/8, “Plan: This gains +2/+2 for each other Planned card in your hand.”
    • Design Notes: In the vein of Marshal Ney, we took another look at The Old Guard to be a slightly more unique design, that leveraged Plan in a more interesting way. This makes the bonus more conditional, but more scalable, and is another way we’re adding significance to thinking about how many Plan cards your opponent holds. This is not really intended to be an overall buff, but a gameplay change to make this Legendary more interesting.
  • The Young Guard
    • Old: Daybreak: This gains +2 Attack
    • New: Daybreak: This gains +1 Action
    • Design Notes: This is, overall, a slight buff (to a card that needs it) and improves synergy with cards in the Empire era.
  • Vigilant Watch
    • Old: After an enemy moves, this deals 2 damage to it
    • New: After an enemy moves, this deals its damage to it
    • Design Notes: This is a change some players wanted to see. This makes it more consistent with other similar effects (like Horse Archers) and increases the number of interactions (both positive and negative – i.e. Demoralise now works on Vigilant Watch). Likely this will be roughly balance neutral, but feels like the correct gameplay. We can re-evaluate if a deck is found that buffs Vigilant Watch, but most likely the gameplay will be much as before: get your Vigilant Watches out, keep them alive, and assemble your movement combo.
  • War Clerics
    • (5) cost -> (6)
    • Design Notes: The previous buff proved unwarranted, with War Clerics’ win rate quickly becoming too much not long after the change. Clerics is a slightly unusual case where it took the playerbase much longer than usual to find where this card slotted in, hence our (wrong) initial feeling that the card was too weak.
  • The Wild Geese
    • (8) cost -> (7)
    • Design Notes: We’re happy with where the redesign of Wild Geese ended up – it’s a much more unique card as a result. For an expensive Legendary we felt its impact on competitive play needed to be a little higher.
  • Xiliang Cavalry
    • 4/6, “Whenever you play another card, this gains +1/+1 and Stun this turn”
    • 1/8, Stun, “Whenever you play another card, this gains +1 Attack this turn”
    • Design Notes: This is a slight rework, though the card will fit into exactly the same decks as before. This change increases the reliability of the card – making its floor noticeably higher because of the higher starting health and permanently having Stun. We want the card to be very slightly better than it is now in order to help out Dong Zhuo, and if this rework doesn’t get there we can look at a further stats change, though built on this more reliable base.

Bug fixes

  • Pyrrhic Victory no longer destroys Unbreakable cards
  • False Dawn sometimes wasn’t playable when you had an unplanned card in hand
  • Cards drawn as a result of Camel Nomads (and similar effects) wouldn’t always take on the cost changes of Stone Bridge or Border Guard
  • Scribe would trigger its effect when destroyed, which was inconsistent with all other similar effects

Other changes

  • The store button now has an alert when a daily reward is available
  • Inspiring Champion and Rally Point have had their descriptions amended to improve clarity
  • Deck slots raised to 20
  • You get alerted in the collection if you go for a long time without using your crafting currency
  • Improved the appearance of Signature Cards when used
  • Improved the look of the wall dividing the two player lines