In this article, we’ll discuss an upcoming balance change to The Rocket, a dominant long-distance club.
First, you may want to catch up with last week’s post, where we discussed motivations behind making changes, as well as compensation we’ll be paying out to anyone who invested in The Rocket.
Notably, at the time of that post, we believed we’d be making two changes. We’ve changed that decision, for reasons explained below.
Changes to The Rocket
The Rocket has gained a small amount of base Power:
However, the Rocket Boosters ability now provides less Power based on the stats of adjacent clubs:
The change to Rocket Booster is a big cut, and the numbers look drastic. Despite what it may look like, our goal is to leave The Rocket as a top-tier long distance club on most Par 5 holes. If we overshot that mark and over-nerfed, expect to see further balance adjustments in coming weeks. We may continue to adjust Rocket Boosters to ensure The Rocket remains a high-quality club.
Anyone who upgraded The Rocket will receive back 100% of the silver they invested in upgrades.
Change Motivation #1 — Club Balance
This might go without saying, but we want Golf Shootout to have lots of fun, useful clubs. More usable clubs means more interesting bag-building, fewer dead cards in packs, and hopefully a more fun play experience.
Since March, we’ve applied a lot of buffs — fifty-five to be exact. This has led to a lot players experimenting with previously-unused clubs.
Here’s what the daily club-usage chart looks like at Level 7:
You can see a few thick lines. The Gold and Yellow in the middle are Lodestar and Lowball, while the brown at the bottom is Skyfury.
However, there are also lots of other clubs seeing at least a little play. As a rule of thumb, we occasionally look at how many clubs are seeing play in at least 3% of bags, and at Level 7, there are 42 clubs that see at least that level of use.
Meanwhile here’s what it looks like at Level 9:
The picture here is a drastically different. Here, just 18 clubs see at least 3% of bags. Most can’t compete against the titanic clubs available at the top.
The thickest line, Meteor, is the yellow-green line running through the middle. Meteor sees play in almost 75% of bags at Level 9. However, we have no plans to nerf Meteor. It’s extremely fun, and we think it opens up more possibilities than it shuts down.
Unfortunately, The Rocket appears to have had the opposite effect. It’s so powerful that it has crowded out the use of many, many other clubs. Between Level 7 and Level 9:
- The use of other Woods drops by 74.1%.
- The use of Hybrids drops by 88.7%.
- The use of Drivers drops by 62.5%.
Most of this gets absorbed by The Rocket.
This isn’t to say that there shouldn’t be powerful clubs, or even that we don’t want The Rocket to be strong. However, we’d like to experiment with The Rocket being less dominant and allowing a few other clubs to come out to play.
Change Motivation #2 — Future Difficulty Modifiers
For a long time, we’ve been interested in introducing gameplay modifiers to Tournaments, Duels, or Challenge Tiles that might result in holes that take more than two strokes to complete. For example, one modifier might be 25% stronger gravity, while another one might make the world itself 50% larger.
These kinds of modifiers seem to us like a fun, simple way to add variety to the game while we continue to work on longer-term improvements to Clubhouses and game physics.
As we explored these options, one thing became clear: no matter what distance-related challenge we threw at players, The Rocket was the best club at solving it. The special thing about The Rocket is that it doesn’t just reach the green on any Par 5. It hits far, far beyond. Several standard Rocket bags, like the one shown below, can reach distances of over 1,000 yards.
For this reason, we think that there’s a comfortable middle ground. We can allow The Rocket to reach the green on Par 5s without letting it easily go double that distance. In the future, this will allow us to create game modes where 3- and 4-stroke games are a reality for higher-level players. We hope those modes will be one step among many to keep the game fresh for years to come.
Side Discussion — Weren’t There Two Nerfs?
At the time of writing last week’s article, we had considered nerfing Homecoming. Since this club has a huge Power stat anywhere off the green, it’s been The Rocket’s partner in crime, and nerfing it was one way we considered reining in The Rocket.
However, playtesting showed us that this was a very un-fun nerf. By changing Homecoming, we hadn’t really made The Rocket less powerful, just less reliable. Rocket was still able to achieve unbelievable distance, but doing so required relying on Windstrike, The Seeker, and other situationally-powerful clubs. These clubs reward you for knowing the conditions around the tee during bag selection (how near to out-of-bounds for Windstrike and how many trees for The Seeker), and we felt that rewarding this degree of memorization was un-fun.
In the future, we actually plan to allow players to adjust their bag any time before making their first shot. However, until that is implemented, we don’t want to increase the need to memorize the tee conditions of every hole.
Side Discussion — What about Magnesis?
Many players wrote to us assuming that we would be nerfing Magnesis. However, we don’t think Magnesis is as big a problem as The Rocket, and it might not be a problem at all. It’s obviously a good club, but stats show that it does less to hurt the usage of other clubs. Additionally, Magnesis is hard to use. Overcoming its challenging swing timing is an art unto itself.
At some point, we may revisit the question of Magnesis, but it’s very doubtful we’d make a large change like we’ve made to The Rocket.