Hi all, I know this is an old thread, however I felt the need to jump in and share a thought that I haven't seen until now.
Everyone I have been playing for now have exclaimed that they think the elves are underpowered. Now all of my friends, including myself, are new to the game, playing it for two months now. So I wasn't quick to jump to conculsions and tried to think logically about the elves, and some other races in particular:
- As this is a "Save the elves" campaign, I will start with them. The main reason for the elves to feel underpowered has been pointed out - card draw. They have few early card draw cards, and the Pegasus is so damn expensive, compared to the rest of the races. Yes, dwarves can't draw units, but they can draw gold, which fuels their ranks, and gives them combat advantage even early on (not regarding PvE or PvP, bare with me). However, the true reason the elves feel so slow is different, and it could not be changed by any expansion. It was also pointed out, but not discussed enough. Here it is, my fellow deckbuilders: The Deepwood Archer;
- So what has the poor archer done to be so neglected? Well, let's take a few steps back and look into much wider perspective, going beyond card games and board games, let's just think about games. Why is every piece in chess valuable? Because it works in synergy. Some are stronger, some are weaker/slower, but you need ALL of them, for they give you positional advantage. Therefore we can say they are balanced (strength to numbers). But the archer lacks something, and it is kicking power. For 1 strength the ability you get is really situational, and works well only with high-influence cities which are hard to get early on. So they are not viable early-game unit... But are they worthy in late-game? Doubtfully yes, as 1 or 2 in your deck can serve as cheap cannon fodder as well as help you refresh a 2/3 influence cost city to purchase another card or save a few valuable ones while still gaining something before that. Yet they still clutter the deck and almost every other card, even the one-gold piece is better than them in 90% of the cases.
- So, I have played at least 20 games in a row with the elves in the vanilla game (do not say that the expansion fixes them, beacuse a) it doesn't completely, b) a faction must be balanced in every version of the game because all individual units must be balanced by themselves) as well as the expansion and tried every strategy I thougt. And I hadn't had a single case in which I would like to buy more than 1 archer for the whole game, even while throwing them at the attrition die monsters. Compared to the rest of the cards in the deck they are just... lacking, as a single sorcerress is marginally better than two archers, in terms of combat strength, deck speed and influence gain (yes, it is hard to get 2 cities with the long-eared guys so you can get more than 3 influence from 2 cards). This is the place to mention the best strategy I found - buy sorceress, use them early to take strongholds, spend influence to keep them in hand, destroy them at turns 4-6 for two 3-gold cards. There - the early strength for strongholds/ neutrals is covered with them, you clear the deck later on and get to 5-gold hand by turn 5. And this strategy allowed for a small deck that does not require ANY cities to get in the zone. So... no cities, no great archer value.
- OK, so this was vanilla, and I was really looking forward to taking the expansion and be proven wrong - that there is a synergy. And then I saw the Forest Guardian and my ships sunk - no, it is amazingly beasty card, but negates the importance of archers even more. So now a single guardian allows for a pegasus + 2 darnatis combo for 1 influence... alright, let's not jump to conclusions. Maybe archers are good for the elves economy? The mercenary cards seems to give more sense to refreshing influnce, but then again, why shouldn't I just get a sorceress? The deck will be smaller, I will have the 2 additional influence I need so badly for whatever reasons, and also I will have a 2 strength unit. So, my point is not that the Stormy chick is good, that she is, but that the archers do not represent enough value by themselves. They have seen a couple of ok turns, where they allow me to take one neutral card and refresh my stronghold to be able to keep a card in hand. Doesn't sound like much, now, does it?
As I really like the elves, I tried, and compared them to the others. Bottom line - I think you are right to say they are amazingly good race, but none of it is thanks to the archer. I would really like to see a strategy, involving mass archers in a reliably working deck, so if someone thought of something, please share.
Now, that I have shared my point, I think that the archers need a bit of a rework to be viable. Will this make the elves too strong? I like one of the solutions suggested above - change their ability to spend 1 influence for 1 strength. It will allow them to get a bit more descent early game, without breaking the late game, and will certainly reduce the incoming damage from early player aggression against them. Please notice that any analysis I have made does not make a gameplay comparison to the other races for each must develop well on their own and not be compared like "in battle Forest Guardian is better than the Giant Troll because...". If we can reason why a unit is good by itself and for the rest of the deck, it is enough for the balancing act.
Cheers and happy playing!