Rune Balancing - Part 1

TLDR Summary:

Rune balancing can be very tricky, especially given all the complexities related to interaction with passive and active abilities. We know with some certainty, however, that currently the following rune stats are out of balance and need to be adjusted in terms of their values and/or function: Skill, Damage, Damage Reduction and Resist. The other stats may also need to be tweaked to make them more fair and balanced. This post attempts to give a view on if and how rune values might be adjusted to make all rune types valuable and balanced. I’ll do in several parts because of the complexity of some of the discussions. This post covers Attack, Defense, Health and Skill, and at least for those four stats, DB appears to have done a good job balancing the rune values and I wouldn’t recommend any changes at this time in those stats (other than fixing the combat formula related to Attack and fixing how Skill functions in general).
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In this part I’ll cover the easier rune stats, which are: Attack, Defense, Health and Skill. They are easier because they are whole number stats versus percentage stats. Percentage stats start to become complex as you approach the extremes. Also, most of the percentage stats can be measured against the four base whole number stats, so once we’ve discussed the first four we can then use those as a basis for comparison to the others.
One assumption that must be understood at the start is that at least for the whole number stats, the benefit a rune stat brings can be measured by the percentage it increases the stat it is modifying. If we know this, we can compare the relative benefit among various stats. This also means that there are diminishing returns to adding more and more of the same stat. I’ll illustrate this with an example. A common question I hear is whether it is better to increase Health or Defense. The answer depends on the starting Health and Defense of the hero in question. We can use Table 1 and Table 2 below as an example.

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In Table 1, I’m using made up base Attack, Defense and Health numbers. The Defense stat is the average value for a Greater 5 Star Legendary Bulwark rune. The Health stat is a plug amount that makes it equivalent to the Defense stat in terms of damage mitigation (gets the “damage to kill hero” amounts to equal for both Bulwark and Life runes). I also show the formulae used in the right part of the table if you are interested in the math. So in this table, you can see that you would need to have a Life rune with 1,392 Health in order for it to be equivalent in value with a Bulwark rune with 455 Defense. Since the average Health on an equivalent Life rune is only 1,125, we are better off adding more Defense to this hero at this point. At the bottom of the table I show the percentage value of the rune stat amounts to the base stats they modify. In both cases those values are 25.6%. This illustrates what I mentioned above, which is that for runes to be equivalent in value, they need to modify their base stats by the same percentage.
In Table 2, I use the same data from Table 1, except that I assumed we added three Bulwark runes, all with 455 Defense values, to our defending hero. The question now becomes should I add more Defense or Life? If we add another Bulwark rune with 455 Defense, it only gives us a 14.5% increase in Defense. We would only need to find a Life rune with 788 Health for it to be more beneficial than adding 455 Defense. Since the average Health on a Greater 5 Star Legendary Life run is 1,125, it would be fairly easy to find. So in this case, you can see the effect of diminishing returns. We are better off adding more Life.

If we can accept the above assumption about relative rune values, we can now apply them to the population of heroes in Dungeon Boss. On this score, I think DB did a pretty good job of balancing the four whole number stats. Table 3 below shows the average values for 5 Star Legendary runes compared to the average base stats for all heroes.

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You can see that in all four stats, the percentages for Greater runes are between 20% and 26%, with Attack, Defense and Skill being extremely close. The results are also consistent for Improved and Superior runes. The Health percentage is a bit lower than Defense, but I think there is a good reason for this. Health is a little more versatile than Defense, since Health can mitigate damage from various effects (like burn and poison), where Defense does not. Because of this, I think it makes sense that the Health stats on runes be somewhat lower than Defense. I’m including Skill in this analysis knowing that at least right now Skill is of minimal value. As far as we can tell, it only marginally increases the Crit value. It is supposed to do more, like improve healing, ability to apply or resist buffs/debuffs, etc., but it doesn’t appear to be working at the moment. Assuming Skill get’s fixed, then we can at least see that the value provided by runes with the Skill stat are comparable to other runes.

So in conclusion, I think DB has done a good job in setting the rune values for these four stats and I wouldn’t recommend changing those values. I do think Skill should be fixed/clarified and the combat formula be changed to make Attack more balanced, but those are different topics.
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