Let me start by saying that this is not a complaint. It's feedback, as requested. I will also preface the whole thing by saying one more time that the change to First Strike was a brilliant fix that I would not have thought of. Spectacular idea. In my opinion, the problem was almost perfectly fixed. All we needed was fine-tuning. Either reduce the buff itself *or* only maybe only allow 2 stacks. Or something like that. See how that played out. Get feedback from players and tweak iteratively.

Instead, "Many sweeping changes to abilities, items, and status effects have been implemented".

I will admit that I am a huge fan of Weaken. I spent hundreds of hours upgrading ~15 items to Bone Charm. There was at least one fighter with Bone Charm on every team I had. That's a major investment of my time and it's going to take even more time to replace them all because, as a result of this change, it's a lot harder to acquire World Event tokens. I lose fighters and sometimes entire teams in World Events. Alliance battles are way harder without stacked buffs and weakening Bosses substantially.

Ok. I'm at the top of the leader board. All 51 fighters are elite and (were) well equipped. I'll be fine. I have a new thing to work on. Believe it or not, it's refreshing to lose an fighter or two to AI. But that only applies to me, Silhouette and maybe Jooje.

Here is my real concern:

For everyone else, from the top twenty with several elites, to a mid-level player with a few 3rd evolution, level 40 fighters and especially to someone who is just starting now, the game got orders of magnitude harder. Everything you need to advance in the game is A.) much harder to acquire; B.) way less of an advantage than is was previously and C.) now it'll only work 50% or less of the time

Multiple new players have asked for my advice over the last 6 months. The previous recommendation was to buy the Wolf Pack and Dragon Pack or grind enough WE tokens to to buy the wolf, evolve it to Sabreclaw, buy Infernus, add either Scorch or a fighter with Battery II. That team was the key to finishing all the campaigns, maximizing WE farming, and winning the vast majority of arena battles - thus acquiring the much needed Orbs to level up fighters, do better in World Events, rinse and repeat.

I have no idea what to recommend to a new player today. The route that all of us took to advance in the game is no longer there. There are no more OP teams. The most damage I can do in a round is ~1K whether it's area attack or individually. Ok, Shaman Koh gets more than that, but only near the end. And my opponent is coming back at me with 50%-75% extra attack that I cannot weaken significantly if at all. Again, for me it's probably good thing that the game is harder and I have to rethink my strategy and grind out 10K worth of powder to replace all my Bone Charms.

But what path would YOU recommend to someone who is just starting or at that mid-level, not-quite-strong plateau?

Big devastating, dramatic combos went from round 3 to round 7-8 or more, to not nearly as devastating ever. The whole concept/strategy of building up to a strong combo is gone. Buffs went from OP to almost insignificant. Weaken x2 or 3 used to cripple opponents for 1 action. There were varying degrees. Injury often prevented healing. But not always. Now, maybe you'll get injury that reduces healing by half, probably not. But it's never gonna be more than 50%. At best you're going to have 50/50 chance to apply a 25% weaken? If you just killed an opponent, they're coming back at you with 50-75% more attack. How will low to mid-level players get Orbs? They're gonna lose most of the time in the Arena...

I'm fine. I'll grumble as usual but I have a HUGE advantage and I am the most capable of adapting. Are these changes doing anything to attract new and retain old players?