Metagame Panalysts - Level Up Rule Change

Written by Ver

Created 29 June, 2023

Last updated 25 July, 2023

A champion leveling up will no longer wake it up.

Ten simple words, decreed by Weebs of the Shore, effective June 26th, 2023. In their article, they outline how the rule existed to replicate the flavor of leveling up in a RPG, similar to being re-invigorated or having your mana restored. However, they felt that the mechanic gave undue power to some champions while not benefiting others enough or even at all. Ultimately, the rule had to go, to balance the field and free up design space for future cards. You can find the official announcement here.

In this article, the first of many for a series I call “Metagame Panalysts”, we will dive into the thoughts and comments from a group of competitive player respondents. I sent a survey to a hand selected pool of competitive players, asking them to rate the impact of the rule change for each element and champion on a 7-option scale ranging from “Significantly Worse” to “Significantly Improved”. The data and comments contained in this article come from the 15 responses by competitive players to this survey. First up, the elements:

Water appears to benefit most from this rule change. WotS has stated they wish to slow the game down slightly, and the Level Up rule change does just that. As the slow, steady and methodical element, it stands to reason that a slower meta would favor water. That said, most responses indicate this is a slight improvement, and a third of the players surveyed feel this doesn’t impact water at all. One anonymous player noted that “Water has a disruption in Freezing Hail, forcing champions that rest themselves often for attacks or abilities to consider even further the risk vs reward.”

Wind appears skewed towards a slight negative impact from this change. As an element, only wind has access to 2 cards impacted directly by the level up rule change. While all decks can access Dungeon Guide, as a norm card, wind also has access to Beseech the Wind. Many players considered Beseech to be their 5th+ copy of dungeon guide, but Beseech can materialize any card, and even pay for it using floating memory. 

Fire takes the worst beat from this change. As the most aggressive element, it wants to go fast and any change that slows it down can be seen as one that places it worse into the meta. Many commenters specifically called out Fire Lorraine, specifically infusion style lists. Limelight, seemingly unfazed by the change stated it “only really affects Fire Lorraine, slows the game down a turn and gives Rai more time to breathe.” Speaking of Lorraine, next we have the mainline champions:

The data here is pretty straightforward, general consensus is that Lorraine is worse off after this change, though most (11/15 surveyed) assess the impact as slight. Some comments touched on the split between Infusion builds and Ensoul builds, indicating that the change makes it harder to get free casts on Infusion and that Ensoul may be the new go to build, or in the case of Wind, more Phalanx Captain Human Ally builds. On the flip side, Rai stands to gain from the change, as he rarely rests, constantly crams, and will still cast his Arcane Blast for free and/or Fireball for 15 damage. Feedback on Zander is mixed and Silvie seems to not be impacted much at all, or very slightly improved at most. Multiple comments touch on the Fire Lorraine vs Fire/Arcane Rai matchup: 

“The counterbalance to Arcane/Fire Rai, Fire Lorraine, has been impacted quite heavily and we will need to see how the field adjusts. Wind Lorraine is still a serious competitor in the current field, and will need to see how it plays out against Arcane/Fire Rai.” - Anonymous
“The main impact of this change is for fire Lorraine, speed and aggression is the key tool of any fire deck and for Fire Lorraine losing the ability to use the level 2 bonus in turn three slows her down, plus ability to free infusion etc. Already Fire Lorraine was behind Wind Lorraine and Fire Rai but now this change puts her down further and puts Fire Rai ahead due to Rai's biggest counter being aggro decks like Fire Lorraine.” - Anonymous

Both of these comments touch on Wind Lorraine, and in fact we had already observed, at least in some areas, a decline in Fire Lorraine in favor of Wind Lorraine. Looking at the GATR Deck Power Rankings, in May Fire Lorraine held a lead over Wind Lorraine 110 points to 81 points. But after 10 June, the gap had closed significantly, with Fire Lorraine barely holding out 147 to 145. Based on this trend, and these sentiments, we may see Wind Lorraine finish her coup and overtake Fire Lorraine on the podium. And this was already in motion before the level up rule change. Or, perhaps, Rai will find it is his time to shine. 

Last, but not least, we have the alternate champions:

In general, the sentiment appears to be that most decks are not impacted, or shift slightly. Perhaps Merlin and Allen do benefit from the change though. Allen rarely swings himself, and a little breathing room will help with his big beasties crashing in for big damage. Merlin rests for her ability, but rarely rests before going to level 2. Teikei mentions erupting specifically, stating that “It makes merlin slightly better potentially because the shift from infusion based plays can help slow down the meta just a little bit giving erupting a half turn-one more turn is big.” 

I hope that this article has been Enlightening and Inspiring. Thank you to those who responded to my survey! Even if I did not quote you directly, your comments influenced my own. If you have suggestions for future editions of Metagame Panalysts, please send them here.

Correction 06/30/2023: There was an error in deck power rankings calculation where monthly decay had been missed for 01 June, effecting the scores of all decks. Previously the gap between Fire and Wind Lorraine was stated as "175 to 166". The gap (at 10 June) has been corrected to the accurate values of 147 to 145. Following The Weatherlight Enterprise: Road to Ascent Houston held on 25 June, the gap widened again to 177 to 150.

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