Feedback on Koth (and a few support cards)

span_argoman Posts: 751 Critical Contributor
So I just got Koth after he was made available in the Vault for crystals. I've been testing ideas with him and notable issues arise quickly. I will try to use quantitative examples for my points as I believe it makes the feedback more objective and hence more useful for the developers.

Mana Gain
Everyone knows this problem. His mana gain is too erratic. If the opponent has Ulamog, Bane of Bala Ged or other cards with Ingest effects, Koth is pretty much dead in the water. When red matches are available all is fine and dandy, but let's look at how bad it is when there are no red matches.

We'll do this by taking some commonly used Red cards and compare the number of matches it takes to fill the card for Koth and Chandra at Level 60 without landfalls and without red matches. We're also ignoring Chandra's ability to get cascades which speeds up her mana generation.
Koth's mana/match: 2
Chandra's mana/match: 3.5

Exquisite Firecraft (6): K3 / C2
Volcanic Rambler (8): K4 / C2.3
Abbot of Keral Keep (15): K7.5 / C4.3
Embermaw Hellion (16): K8 / C4.6
Iroas's Champion (19): K9.5 / C5.4

That's a difference of 1 to 4 matches between the two planeswalkers depending on card cost. That means if it's a slow game, Koth takes 1 to 3 rounds more just to summon one more card.

Now someone might say it's not fair to take away Koth's greatest advantage and make a comparison.
So let's make a less extreme comparison, one where the player makes a red match every other match.
Koth's mana/match: 6
Chandra's mana/match: 4.75

Exquisite Firecraft (6): K1 / C1.3
Volcanic Rambler (8): K1.3 / C1.7
Abbot of Keral Keep (15): K2.5 / C3.2
Embermaw Hellion (16): K2.7 / C3.4
Iroas's Champion (19): K3.2 / C4

So in this more moderate situation, even the most expensive card has a difference of less than 1 match to be filled. That's not much of an advantage for Koth considering his disadvantage when there are no red matches. Especially when facing opponents with major Ingest effects, you are left feeling helpless and are just scrambling to gather enough loyalty to trigger your second ability and hope for red gems to match. All these factors combined lead to the experience of playing Koth leaving a bad taste for many players.

Suggestion 1: Increase mana gain for two non-Red colours (green and black?) to +0.
This changes the match/fill ratio in each scenario to:
(No Red Match Scenario)
Koth's mana/match: 2
New Koth's mana/match: 2.5
Chandra's mana/match: 3.5

Exquisite Firecraft (6): K3 / NK2.4 / C2
Volcanic Rambler (8): K4 / NK3.2 / C2.3
Abbot of Keral Keep (15): K7.5 / NK6 / C4.3
Embermaw Hellion (16): K8 / NK6.4 / C4.6
Iroas's Champion (19): K9.5 / NK7.6 / C5.4

(Alternate Red Match Scenario)
Koth's mana/match: 6
New Koth's mana/match: 6.25
Chandra's mana/match: 4.75

Exquisite Firecraft (6): K1 / NK1 / C1.3
Volcanic Rambler (8): K1.3 / NK1.3 / C1.7
Abbot of Keral Keep (15): K2.5 / NK2.4 / C3.2
Embermaw Hellion (16): K2.7 / NK2.6 / C3.4
Iroas's Champion (19): K3.2 / NK3.04 / C4

For the first scenario, the difference in matches reduces to 0.5 to 2 matches, which is markedly better than a difference of 1 to 4 matches.
For the second scenario, the difference in matches still stays at a max of about 1 match.
So this change would mitigate bad board states for Koth without making him (too) insane in good board states.

Suggestion 2: Increase mana gain for two non-Red colours to +1 but decrease the other two to -2.
This keeps the same expected gain as the previous mana gain configuration, but it increases the swingy aspect of his mana gain. Presumably this was intended considering the +7 for red and -1 for the rest so this alternative at the very least keeps in line with that flavour if not adding to it. Also, players know to match colours which are more advantageous to them so the chances of a glacial pace of mana gain is unlikely except in absolutely terrible board states. This also gives Koth an avenue to recover against opponents with Ingest cards/effects.

Rage of the Mountain: I just about never use the first ability cause I usually rather save up loyalty to use the second ability to hopefully help Koth gain some desperately needed mana. In theory it looks to be a good skill which is adequately costed, but right now the desperation for mana leads to it being overshadowed.
Reshape the Land: The second abiity works fine, but if the mana gains aren't increased then perhaps its cost could be reduced as compensation to increase Koth's mana gain. However, this is not ideal as it will lead to Koth's other abilities being consigned to the fate of never ever being used again. It is better to address the mana gain directly.
Strength of the Mountain: This ability is really good and closes out the game quickly, if you're not dealing with an opponent with Ingest. Of course players will know when to use this and when to spam the first ability instead for damage. I don't see any particular need to tweak this ability.

Non-Koth Card Feedback
These are just cards which I used while testing out Koth and found issues with so I just dumped them together in this topic lol.

Sandstone Bridge: This card is first and foremost a support card which gains you mana. You should be allowed to cast it even when you have no creatures on the board instead of being forced to wait for a creature to be summoned first. Even worse if it's your opponent who has summoned a creature first you have to decide between waiting or giving the opponent 1 bonus damage on yourself. Please address this.

Flameshadow Conjuring: Good in theory but the problem in practice is this, Flameshadow is a 15 mana support giving Haste and Prevent Damage until your end of turn for a newly summoned non-token creature. This means that you have to summon it before you summon your creatures which you want it to be affected by. 15 mana is an Abbot of Keral Keep, almost an Embermaw Hellion, and just a few mana less than some of the costliest Red creatures to summon. And the support shield strength is 2, so it isn't particularly sturdy either for its cost.

This cannot work. The reasons you want Flameshadow Conjuring in play would be:
1. When the opponent has defenders out which you want to deal retaliation-free damage to.
But this can be similarly achieved by burn spells and now removal spells like Scour from Existence without the risk of having the support destroyed before you can summon out your creature(s).
2. Alternatively you might want to summon a Berserker and use it to quickly kill an enemy creature before you take more damage from the enemy creature.
But then again you would have already spent 15 mana earlier on this support which as stated above could have been used to summon this creature probably many turns earlier.
This card is over-costed considering its shield strength and intended effects. I believe a summon cost of 9 to 10 (maybe 8) would be more appropriate considering the standard length of QB battles and how long the support might stay alive, ie. not all that long.