Thoughts on the past month's changes (Part 2 of 3 - Hero Balance; feat. Flatline)

Welcome to Part 2.

In the interest of keeping any discussion directly on-topic, I’m going to post my thoughts in a few separate posts, organized by topic; this one will be with respect to hero balance with a focus on Flatline.

Part 1 of 3 - Alliance Wars
Part 2 of 3 - Hero Balance; feat. Flatline <~~ You Are Here
Part 3 of 3 - Gorgon Wakes & Tokens

Part 2 of 3 - Hero Balance; feat. Flatline

Hero Balance Changes

This, specifically, refers to the hero balance changes that were released as a part of the August 2019 Update.

First of all, I want to celebrate the fact that some currently underused heroes are getting some love (albeit slowly). It’s good to see heroes like Beck, Chesterfield, and Halloway receive some much-needed attention. More importantly though, I’m thrilled to see a more measured take on some historically overpowered heroes. Here are my general thoughts, in no particular order.


Beck rocketed into the spotlight with the introduction of Alliance War since she has, by far, the highest base power of any hero in the game. This change is a step in the right direction, but likely won’t be enough that we start seeing her in either PvE or PvP. She simply doesn’t have a good niche and is overshadowed by other, vastly superior mech DPS heroes. Also worth noting that her bronze is quite possibly the worst skill in the game and seems to have been overlooked.


Chesterfield’s changes to Illumination Flare look amazing. It looks to serve a great purpose in countering cloaking despite my distaste for rock-paper-scissors style balancing. I’m hoping it’s enough to pull him into the meta, but I’m not convinced he’s useful enough beyond that skill. Cautiously optimistic here.


Disappointed with this. The “fix” to Holo Doubles feels like a lazy workaround to avoid actually addressing the bug. Halloway is in desperate need of a buff so it’s underwhelming to see him get mentioned without actually getting addressed. Currently his only purpose is to catalyze Ronin’s Honorbound and that looks to remain the case.


Good changes to Kaishi but he meets the same fate as Beck. Overshadowed by other heroes that do his job better.


Kurtz is one of the few heroes that yet eludes me so I can’t speak from experience. Happy to see this oversight patched up, but he’s likely still too strong. And the response of “well he’s the big bad guy dur durrr” does nothing but showcase ignorance in game balancing. When heroes are used in PvP, it is fundamentally flawed to have one hero deliberately stronger than the others. It’s just bad game design.


Shank, if I’m being honest, fails to be on my radar. Hopefully this makes him viable but I don’t think it will be nearly enough.


I think Ronin is finally in a pretty good place. Set up right, he’s still arguably the biggest DPS threat in the game, but this change moderates the level at which he keeps all of his squishy support alive. The health reduction across the board here is a smart way to approach Ronin’s strengths without reducing his characteristic ultra-high damage output.


This is a very good change, but I don’t think it will do the job in unseating the king of PvP unfortunately. Mandrake’s cloaking is not a problem because of its duration, it is a problem because it drops all AI attention off the hero the moment it activates.

A far bigger help against the overarching issue of cloaking would be to allow skills to target invisible. This would add some real strategy to the mix and give a lot of value to heroes that can Mark. Nightingale, for example, could target an invisible hero and mark them, removing the cloak and refocusing AI attention on that enemy. Food for thought.


“But wait, I don’t remember seeing Flatline in the balance notes”

That’s exactly the problem.

Again and again, we see a failure to address this criminally overpowered hero. Nerfing Clear was an insultingly insufficient change and hopefully this post will address why. (I want to note that I think Clear is in a great place right now and I have no problem with it.)

In general, well-balanced games have multiple viable strategies; and within those strategies are multiple viable implementations. Since every hero is different, each should have a role. Inevitably, some heroes will be very strong in certain strategies and weak in others depending on how their niche fits into the overall composition of the team. Ronin for example is only strong if used correctly, surrounded by squishy support heroes.

Flatline violates this basic balance fundamental. She has no niche. She slots perfectly into any team and Stay With Me (her gold skill) is strong enough that she gives a direct improvement to virtually any team she is added to. A healthily balanced game should have a variety of equally viable playstyles. The problem with Flat is that she is the single best healer in every team.

Stay With Me is Anti-Strategy

Stay With Me is the issue. It’s a crutch for bad players and a barrier holding back actual strategy for good players. It is not a cleverly-synergized niche. It’s a blanket, universal undo button. It hand-holds poor team design and compensates for a lack of planning by requiring zero effort whatsoever to be used successfully.

Final Thoughts on Hero Balance

There’s one more thing I want to mention with regards to hero balance as it ties in specifically to the problems that make Flatline so strong.

Too many heroes have now been released that are “must-kill-first” style. Mandrake was the first and dominated the meta for ages. The winner of every match was whomever killed the other Mandrake first. Flatline is similar in that without killing her first, your damage likely won’t be able to outpace the ridiculous undo-button that is Stay With Me. Kurtz is perhaps the worst offender in recent memory. If you don’t kill Kurtz first, his skills will wipe your whole team effortlessly.

So what happens when you have too many of these high-priority targets available? Who do you target first in a team that has Kurtz, Flatline, and Mandrake? Cloaking, infinite-resurrections, or Kurtz’ team-wipe; you get to pick which breaks your spirit.

These style heroes need to be done in moderation and should only be done with heroes that fit a very specific niche role (see notes above for how Flatline is not this). Otherwise you run into what we’re seeing now, where the spiderweb of interconnecting high-priority support skills creates an impenetrable mesh.


Right, let’s see here…
Chesterfields fun is now really damaging. Mine deals around 11k per shot, which doesn’t sound like much, but Chester field can shoot extremely fast and reload quickly. This lets him almost shred weak energy heroes quickly. His flare is a bit weird, I can still target with it, and AI will try to dodge it, but does bonus damage apply to target or all enemies?

Flatline is really annoying, but with a sufficient DPS mech hero you could kill her first. Or damage another hero, wait for her to use gold to cripple her, then finish her off. It is difficult to get the timing right though, and if another healer like keel or moss pulls their healing before you can kill her ur as good as dead.

I usually agree with what you post in your post. but in this I totally disagree
Nerf to flatline? flatline overpowered hero? really?
I believe that there is no need to nerf any hero. The problem is the bad players (among which I include myself), which some do not assume that there are other players better than them and that is why they lose.
But no, instead, they lament and ask Ronin, Flatline, Mandrake, Kurtz, etc. to nerf

What is the problem with Mandrake + Flatline?

So you’re arguing then that the game is perfectly balanced? I’m curious how you reconcile why Flatline and Mandrake are in seemingly 90% of teams if they are balanced?

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Porque tienen sinergia con casi cualquier otro heroe. Igual que Siren, la cual aparece en el 90-95% de equipos de mas de 100k

Sorry, i forgot translate. My bad

i think it’s the frustration factor fighting them. Considering their duo makes death cheap for their allies, its not warranted. At least Mandrake can be resolved by manual targetting, but Flat? Her “weakness” supposed to be is that she damages herself to revive allies and she has no heal of her own. Care to remind me what her gold does?

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In terms of the metas i think the game is well balanced the way it is. I did face a lot of challenges to beat the ronin, drake, flatline meta but with time i figured my own way around to beating them. They are tough opponents no doubt but that’s what makes it fun. I have all three heroes pretty well levelled up but choose not to use flat or drake much at all in my pvp squads. Guys try different teams. At different star levels, different skillsets work better with sync with other heroes. Only major overpower right now is Kurtz but I’m cool with that coz he is supposed to be the big bad guy for now. He will see his share of nerfs once we all unlock him (through war) . Stop going all “nerf this guy, nerf that guy” let’s focus on buffing the underpowered guy, the one’s that hardly get used [like the castellan buff (loved that btw)] it makes those heroes more fun to play with and opens up new strategies.


If i had that flatline ronin team, your dogface wouldnt have lasted 10 seconds

Exact! But instead he went for Mandrake …

I just want to point out that Night already CAN target an invis hero and mark them. I do it all the time. I agree with the rest of the sentiment though. I think making invis heroes targetable with a special ability, even if it’s only from player controlled heroes, would finally balance Mandrake out so he isn’t used on EVERY PVP team.

I beat Flatline teams all the time, that doesn’t mean I think she is balanced. There are tons of factors that go into any given match. Sometimes the stars align and all your AI actually help you focus a hero down. Sometimes it’s a great elemental match up. Sometimes your opponent is just terrible. Sometimes chance effects like a stun will go off.

I do particularly well vs the Mandrake/Flatline/Ronin team because I run Panzer as my only DPS. Being mech she rips through both energy heroes pretty easily. The other heroes I use are Heimlock, Flatline, Night, and Drake. I was using Ifrit instead of Flatline, but I do significantly better with Flatline now. I am sure this is in part due to Ronin not having bonus damage vs her, like he does Ifrit, but also because Flatline is VERY powerful right now.

I think a good way to tell if a hero is OP is to look at PVP rankings. If you see Flatline on every top team in a PVP tournament, there is probably an issue. If she is on every team when she doesn’t even give any bonuses, then there is definetly a problem.


The issue with nerfing her will be in other modes of the game. Right now 90+ Helios would be even harder without her. Not just there but in campaign mode as well. Pvp is not the only mode in this game. Nerfing hero’s affect all aspects of the game. One of the reasons I’m against most nerfs.


True, but Helios and only a few of the last missions on hard mode are challenging at all. I don’t think that is enough reason to keep a hero as is when they are clearly OP. Plus, after the next level increase, all of these things will get easier.

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