Finnelis wrote:I think this remains an interesting subject and I have to wonder why, at the design stage, they made pet swap so damn costly when they obviously designed pet to work in combos.
I think it's interesting too, especially looking at how far pet battles have evolved since then.
It's worth noting that in 5.0, this design did sorta kinda work. Damage was relatively low; a turn was 'worth' more-or-less 20% of a pet's health, and the design was conservative. Weathers such as Darkness/Call Blizzard dealt 9 base damage instead of the current 25 or 30. To get the main advantage of these weathers, you had to swap, because pets with 'good' movesets (ie Weather+weather-dependent ability) didn't exist yet (Kun-Lai Runt), or else were stuck at uncommon and were never used (Snowman, Raven). Swapping gave you a big benefit relative to the 'average' move, ie weather-enabled Nocturnal Strike or Deep Freeze were massively powerful compared to the other available moves (except Ghostly Bite--but this was also stuck on an uncommon-only pet at the time).
At some point very early on, they increased weather damage from 9 to 25/30. This was an attempt to get people to play with weathers, by making the weather itself a worthwhile button to push. But it had bad consequences.
Maybe the uncommon Snowman/Raven/Ghostly Skull were given especially good movesets with the assumption that they'd always have subpar stats? In any case, they decided to add rare stones, and they let stuff like Fel Flame slip through. The result was that Weather by itself was a good button to push, *and* there were now pets with both a weather and weather-dependent ability. So they'd gotten away from their original conservative design. From here, there were two main possibilities: either a) reign in the power level by nerfing weather combos, or b) embrace the new power level and design pets with 'good' movesets from here on out. Clearly they went with (b).
The big advantage of the original design was that it was very easy to balance -- moves combined in mostly predictable ways, and that made it easy to recognize when a moveset was too strong. The disadvantage is that it was boring. Pets bonked each other in very predictable ways; there was hardly any opportunity for a clever player to gain an advantage by combining moves in interesting ways. The current design is much more wild. Damage has gone way up, and there are many many more interesting abilities to take advantage of. It's harder to balance, but it's also more fun, imho. Thankfully they do a good job of addressing the truly stupid abilities (ie Fade), so even though balance isn't perfect, it's not degenerate. Moves can be crazy strong, but there are counters -- we place a lot more value on utility and avoidance moves now, for example.
I wrote an eye-bleeder long ago discussing these sorts of balance issues -- I think it was during 5.1 or 5.2.viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2765
section 8.vii is the discussion of weather (2nd page, first post).