April 2017 - last edited April 2017 by EA_Spectre
From a look through the different steps of designing the look of PvZ Heroes, to lane by lane mechanics being explained, we have your questions answered. Will Sneaky be nerfed? Find out below as the PvZ Heroes team take you through their answers to some of the key questions you recently asked.
PvZ Heroes Team: Hi! Sometimes designers on the team submit cards that are interesting, but ultimately wouldn’t play well. For example, a designer once submitted this:
It’s a flavorful idea: that this famously fragrant fruit is too stinky even for Zombies. But this card wouldn’t play well, since it’s not fun for the zombie player to be locked out of their playing cards. It’s also not fun to have nothing happen in a lane except endless tiny hits for 1. So this card didn’t get into a set.
PvZ Heroes Team: Every Plants vs. Zombies game shares many of the same classic characters. But each game interprets them with a unique art style. While shaping the look of PvZ Heroes, one early step was to experiment with lots of takes on the basic Zombie and Gargantuar. This helped us get their art style right before expanding out to lots of other characters. Here are some early takes before we got to the final style!
PvZ Heroes Team:
PvZ Heroes Team: Plants do always want to stay fresh (though Zombies are happy to decay). We can’t really comment on specifics, but the PvZ Heroes team is working hard on cool new stuff to make the game even better!
PvZ Heroes Team: We use data to monitor the win rates and popularity of all the Heroes and cards in the game. The short-term way for us to affect those win rates and popularity is to make cool, new Weekly Event Cards that can power up certain Heroes and Strategies. For example, a few months ago Hearty Zombies were lagging a bit behind. In reaction, we made new Hearty event cards like Gargologist and Defensive End to open up new Hearty strategies around getting huge monsters out quickly. We’ve seen a lot of players combining Gargologist with various Gargantuars across all four Hearty Heroes. We don’t currently publish win rate data for Heroes, Classes, and cards. The reason is that it could take away some of the sense of exploration of many players enjoy in figuring out the most powerful cards and combinations for themselves.
PvZ Heroes Team: Hi! Our design team has a lot of experience developing many other collectible card games. We set a card’s initial cost, Strength, and Health by thinking about what role we want the card to play, then comparing it to existing cards in the same role. For example, if we are setting stats for a new 5-cost Strikethrough Plant, we compare it to all existing Strikethrough Plants and all existing 5-cost Plants. Then we set its stats based on how good the new ability seems compared to the previous ones. Then we test the card internally to see how fun it is (or isn’t), how powerful it is (or isn’t), and adjust accordingly.
Another key goal is that we want many cards to be “conditionally powerful”, meaning good in specific situations or specific decks. This is more interesting than a new card being the best card of all time for every purpose in every deck. Too many all-powerful cards would make deck building less fun because it would be too obvious that you should play with the best all-around cards all the time.
PvZ Heroes Team: The overall Plant to Zombie win rate balance is currently an incredibly close 49% to 51% (…though it’s up to you to guess which is which!). When we’ve seen certain Heroes or Classes be a little behind, the short-term way we’ve addressed it is to make Weekly Event Cards to help them. For example, a few months ago Smarty Plants were a little behind, so we gave them some especially strong Weekly Event Cards, like Mayflower and Sportacus. They helped boost Smarty Plants up.
PvZ Heroes Team: We generally prefer to affect Hero balance by making new cards, but we keep a close eye on Heroes’ win rates. If it becomes necessary, it’s possible that we might adjust Hero Superpowers for balance reasons.
PvZ Heroes Team: Each class has its own abilities and its own areas of the game where it’s the best. Our goal is to have every class be “overpowered” in its own unique way, with all the classes being balanced against each other as a result. We keep an eye on the win rates of the Classes, which are generally quite close. As we make new cards, we try to help classes and strategies that need it the most.
PvZ Heroes Team: We like having “answers” or “silver bullets” against lots of deck types that are powerful or popular. This way, if a player gets frustrated about facing a particular opposing strategy a lot, they have some good weapons to take that strategy down. We like having these silver bullets be interactive, so they provide an advantage against that strategy, without completely shutting down that whole deck. For example, Bonus Track Buckethead turns off Plant Bonus Attacks while he’s in play, but Plants have lots of ways to take him off the board and continue the Bonus Attack shenanigans. He just slows them down. We want both Plants and Zombies to have silver bullets against the other side’s strategies, and we talk about that a lot while developing cards.
PvZ Heroes Team: Brainana is stronger and stronger the more Tricks the Zombie opponent is playing – especially expensive Tricks. Brainana is a lot worse against opponents that rely more on playing Zombies or Gravestones than Tricks. Because Brainana costs 6 and is only a 3/3 body, decks that attack more aggressively with early Zombies are a good countermove against Brainana.
PvZ Heroes Team: Our stats say that every Class has its good matchups and bad matchups in the current metagame. Sneaky has a lot of powerful early attackers and Gravestones. Certain Plant strategies are especially good against those attacks. For example, Bonk Choy in Mega-Grow is a good way to destroy Headstone Carver on turn 1, before it can power up their Gravestones. Grave Buster can destroy Gravestones outright. And Kabloom’s direct-damage cards can be good against Sneaky Zombies’ low Health. That said, we do carefully monitor win rates to learn how we should make new cards.
PvZ Heroes Team: In our Soft Launches, we did change cards for balance reasons, based on win rates and subjective analysis. After our worldwide launch, we have held back from that so far. One reason is that the win rates across Classes have been pretty well balanced. Another reason is that it can be frustrating to have cards change after players have already bought them. That said, we do watch card win rates carefully. We prefer to affect win rates by making new cards that help boost or reduce the power level of various strategies. But it’s also possible that we might see data that would make us go ahead and change existing cards for balance reasons.
PvZ Heroes Team: We do like to have counters to many popular strategies in the game, and Plant Freeze Decks are a popular strategy, so it is definitely something we have considered.
PvZ Heroes Team: We know this is a strategy that can be used with Regifting Zombie, especially combined with Mixed-Up Gravedigger. We’ve talked about whether we should make an adjustment to let players with a full hand Super-Block, but for now this is how it will continue to work.
PvZ Heroes Team: Players can redraw their starting cards (aka “mulligan”) to smooth out the costs in their opening hand, so that they don’t get stuck with all 6-cost cards and get run over without being able to play. The reason we don’t let you mulligan your starting superpower is that it would make different game sessions too similar to each other. For example, your Solar Flare opponent would be more likely to Sunburn your Zombie on turn 1 or Neptuna would be more likely to play Octo-Pult on turn 1. One of the great things about collectible card games is how the same decks can play out very differently against each other from game to game, and we wouldn’t want to hurt that by making individual games more “samey.” Having the initial Superpower appear after you have finished your starting hand mulligans provides some mystery and unpredictability about which Superpower you will get while you form your opening hand.
PvZ Heroes Team: Sure, though beware – the details can get a little tricky! Sometimes multiple cards want to use their abilities at once. In that case, you do the abilities in order from the left lane to the right lane, just like combat. If multiple cards in the same lane want to do something, you do the zombie first, then the front plant in that lane, then the back Plant in that lane (if any). We nickname this “Typewriter order”, because the abilities get resolved in order like an old typewriter: going down the left lane from the Zombie side to the Plant side, then going down the second lane from the Zombie side to the Plant side, etc.
Note: When playing a card, you always do that card’s “When played” ability before doing anything else. When a card is hurt or destroyed, you always do its “When hurt” or “When destroyed” ability before anything else.
For example: Say there’s an Arm Wrestler in play. You play a Bluesberry in that same lane. Both the Arm Wrestler and the Bluesberry want to use their special abilities. Since “When played” abilities are always first, you do the Bluesberry’s “When played” ability to do 2 damage to the Arm Wrestler, destroying the Arm Wrestler. Then the Arm Wrestler’s “When a Plant is played here:” ability would try to make Arm Wrestler bigger, but it can’t because the Arm Wrestler is already destroyed.
PvZ Heroes Team: While an Event Card is in an Early Access Bundle or Weekly Events, we don’t let it be craftable for a period of time, to keep it special for the players who unlock it in those ways. After a waiting period for each Event Card, we do make them all craftable over time.
PvZ Heroes Team: In our soft launches, the game actually did work this way, with players opening Superpowers in packs and picking Superpowers of the appropriate Classes to use for each deck. Some of the feedback we got on this system was that the Heroes lacked identity. Nowadays when you play against a particular Hero, you can form a specific expectation of what that Hero’s superpowers are and how to beat them. For example, Brain Freeze has two Superpowers that affect Plants on the Ground, Frozen Tundra and Acid Rain. So you should be especially careful about playing Plants on the Ground while fighting Brain Freeze.
PvZ Heroes Team: Nope. 10 Classes is already a lot!
Thanks for all your questions and thanks for continuing to support the game. We hope this helped give some insight into how it all comes together!
- The PvZ Heroes Team -
Thanks for all your questions, everyone. Have fun reading the answers!
You can discuss the answers from the PvZ team here.