I'm going to discuss how some of the Events and Units changed in price over the testing period. This all happened a long time ago for me (I think it was autumn 2010), but for many of you who were first exposed to the game via the iOS app, it's still pretty fresh.

We tested the Jungle Elves at the same time as the Cloaks. Some of our most dedicated testers came out of this period, namely the Wake Forest crew and some quiet and consistent contributors you guys may never hear about.

Initially, everyone was afraid of the Jungle Elves. Chant of Haste used to let you choose 4 Units and move them all up to 2 spaces. No restrictions. It was like Goblin Rush, but better, and I already thought that Goblin Rush was one of the better Events for the Cave Goblins. Unlike the Cave Goblins, the Jungle Elves had very powerful Champions and a very tricky 3-cost Unit: the Lioneer.

Heman's Ride

We didn't have to play too many ten to twenty minute games before we decided that Hasty Lioneers had to go. At first we tried conferring a special ability which wouldn't stack with RIDER onto Units for a turn, but that felt too weak. Tried moving 2 spaces for just 3 commons with under cost 3 for a bit, but eventually decided to add the current functionality for a single Champion or Summoner. The final Chant of Haste marked a departure from the simplicity of events like Heroic Feat, while removing some potential for abuse. The hasty Lioneer still lives on with Chant of Deception if you so choose, but it's a little harder to set up.




There were 3 copies of an old Event. Nobody used it, and it felt almost like a Fallen Kingdom event anyway. It got replaced with Chant of Negation and Chant of Salvation. These were more fun, and the latter was a great twist on a Hero is Born, especially in a deck with a bunch of Events that function as a big back of tricks anyway. Over time, our testing group got more accustomed to sealing off the potential lanes of attack that the Jungle Elves could use, so surprise assassination losses dwindled, though the threat remained.

Thanks to Chant of Life and three Champions that could roll 3 dice or more per turn, some of our more experienced testers fell back on old strategies of grinding out games with their Champions. Joe K. would kill his own commons to avoid Magic Drain, build many of his events as magic and use Shikwa with Abua Shi's Chant of Growth to throw 4 dice per turn at range, while supporting with either Makeinda Ru or Miti Mumway. Due to the Champion-friendly nature of Abua's event set, we bumped the cost of MR and Shikwa to 6 from 5, and dropped MM's life to 8; he had formerly had the same stats as Krung, despite his special ability never being a detriment.

None of the three commons in Abua Shi's pack ever changed. The Lioness's free movements and 2 AV, the explosive power of the Lioneer, and the Archer's Arching Shot all had situational applications. Playing with the Archer for many games did eventually give me the idea for a Cave Goblin common.

During testing, I felt that one of their most even and interesting match-ups was versus the Tundra Orcs. Due to the JE's lack of Catch-Up Events and sometimes slow start, TO players often got aggressive if they drew their Freeze cards early. Abua Shi would help out offensively here and there because the TO generally had predictable threat ranges and few ranged units. So instead of going for a quick Assassination victory, this generally aggressive faction would use MR and Shikwa as Smasher and Champion-killers in order to hold on for a close end game.

At the time, I thought that the PE and TO still ruled the roost, with the Fallen Kingdom and Vanguards still being the two weakest factions released. Since the Cave Goblins had two of their best match-ups against the JE/CL and played much differently than every other deck, the play-tester opinion of them increased quite a bit at this time, and we liked playing them. Following the Thorkur nerf and even JE match-up, the Guild Dwarves also seemed to be trending more towards the middle, and we felt that both of the new decks were in the middle too.

Oddly, because Joe was one of the few players to play them as Champion-heavy as he did, I actually worried that the JE would not be a newbie-friendly faction. I figured that people would shut down their early aggressive plays and players wouldn't build magic or know how to generate an income without CUEs, but the opposite happened. Early on most people in the public still complained that they died early to Lioneers and Hasted units, and the JE record against the Phoenix Elves on the Google document was much better than I expected.

In hindsight, I think we nailed it. The Jungle Elves stand out as a faction that hovers around the middle to high end of most player's tier lists, and one I point to as a standard of balance that we should aim for. Few people complain about them being under or overpowered, and although the Champion-heavy strategy remains their most popular in some high level play, their event set, varied commons, and unique Summoner stat line and special ability still cause them to employ a variety of tactics in different match-ups.

Abua Shi