How do they choose which heroes to nerf?

*Warning: I’m not a game historian. I’m also just returning after a six month break. Therefore, I may be somewhat wrong about who’s been nerfed and who hasn’t been.

I’m not here to complain about anything in the hopes that something will change. I’m a bit agnostic at the moment on whether certain heroes should be nerfed or not. But, how do the game makers decide on which heroes to nerf?

It seems to me that some heroes like Vela and Telluria are declared to be “overpowered” and nerfed, while other heroes that are also overpowered, like Odin, Alfrike, and even to a certain extent Frigg, for example, are left alone.

Is it just political, in that enough people complain so the game makers do something about it? Or is there a certain system in place or a rationale behind these decisions?

Thanks in advance.

~Stash

I believe the factors involved in choices about which heroes to nerf depends most on two factors:

  1. What ticks off the most people who got the hero in question?
  2. What amuses the most people who didn’t get the hero in question?

That’s my observation, based on my reading of the forums. :slight_smile:

Beyond that, I can’t speculate to any high-spending-versus-complaining-volume algorithms that may be in place.

Good gaming!

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By collecting dollar or data.

Must be one of those or both :wink:

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Nerfs tend to come a good while after heroes are released. They take their time to be absolutely sure a nerf is necessary, and then they carefully approach how the nerf should be done. They get a lot of flak from their players, but they are not hasty people.

Post-release nerfs are given rarely and reluctantly. Nerfs come for some heroes that dominate the meta so hard that even the old “best of the best” just can’t seem to match them.

I was here through the whole Telluria/Vela fiasco. Frigg/Odin are not nearly as devastating to the player base as Telluria & Vela used to be, but I expect that’s because it’s far easier to draw a monthly than one out of 16 Valhalla heroes. Telluria was everywhere at the top when she came out, but it’s much harder to draw Frigg or Odin.

I’m not sure whether they’ll follow the same pattern here as they did with Telluria/Vela. But back then, they put nerfs in beta and took a little time testing a number of different nerf tactics. I doubt they’ll go that far for Frigg & Odin. I’ve fought Frigg & Odin and I personally believe their damage output is in dire need of a decrease (and not their defense & mana effects). However, Frigg & Odin aren’t going to get as much attention because they’re a little easier to work against and they’re much harder to find.

Here’s a history of buffs & nerfs if you want it:

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“However, Frigg and Odin aren’t getting as much attention because they’re a little easier to work against and they’re much harder to find”

They aren’t particularly hard to find in the 2700-2800 cup range. Seems like most teams up there have them, and/or those ninjas.

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Really it depends.

Part of it is player feedback driven but really the main driver is by data metrics that SGG monitor.

The two examples I’ll use are Telluria/Vela & Frigg/Odin given they are the most recent ones.


In the case of Telluria/Vela, the metric they were using was appearance rate AND victory rate.

  • Essentially, the two heroes appeared on too many defences (i.e. destroyed game variety) and won too many fights (i.e. were “overpowered” in combination).
  • There were multiple stages of nerfs aimed at reducing both these metrics.
  • After the first round of nerfs, it appeared that the “win ratio” metric was acceptable BUT the appearance rate was too high, hence the second round of nerfs.

Click for Notes/ Evidence/ Staff Statements

May 2020 Balances (First Round - V30)

October 2020 Balances (Second Round)

Active Player Lounge Discussion on “Nerfing”


In the case of Frigg/Odin, the metric was victory rate, but specifically when they appeared together on defence.

  • Notably not worried about appearance rate (difference is HotM vs. Valhalla Hero)
  • One stage of adjustments so far with data monitoring ongoing.

Click for Notes/ Evidence/ Staff Statements

Jan 2021 Balance

APL Discussion on “Nerfing Strategy” Regarding Frigg/Odin

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It seems they focus on overpowered heroes in defense. There are certainly some over powered offensive heroes, but no one care because we don’t see what beats our defense.

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Most of SG’s decisions are based, it seems, on a profit analysis. They’re aware that exciting, strong new heroes make them a lot of money. But at the same time, they’re also aware that heroes can be too powerful and can make the game frustrating for players upset by gross imbalances in hero level.

With a lot of the heroes who’ve been nerfed in the past (Boldtusk and Li Xiu early on, with Guinevere about a year later, with Telluria and Vela the next year, and with Frigg and Odin more recently), I think SG hoped the heroes they released would be strong and exciting without upsetting the game balance too much. But over time, it became clear that players were upset by the outsized impact of certain OP heroes, and so SG was pushed to act. They tend to move slowly and to tinker with small nerfs, hoping to eventually find an equilibrium that works for the majority of players.

I think SG would be smart to listen more to beta testers and to be more responsive to the feedback they get with heroes they’re considering releasing, and they seem to be trying to make a better effort, though they’re dealing with a wide variety of players and frustrations right now.

Hope that helps.

Edit: @Guvnor explained it all very well above. If I’d seen his response before posting my own, I probably wouldn’t have bothered stumbling through my response. :sweat_smile:

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