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New Balatro patch makes big improvements to difficulty at all levels

The first major Balatro patch is out now for all after extensive testing, with “meaty” balance changes across the poker roguelike game.

New Balatro patch makes difficulty changes across the board - The Stuntman Joker, wearing helmet and shades.

A big Balatro patch has just arrived for all players, making sweeping changes to the best roguelike game of 2024. Surprise mega-hit Balatro has won hearts and minds with its clever blend of playing cards, poker hands, and Slay the Spire-style roguelike deck building, and it’s managed to outpace even the likes of Helldivers 2, Manor Lords, and Like a Dragon Infinite Wealth as my most-played game of the year so far. After several weeks of testing on the experimental branch, a heap of changes and upgrades has finally arrived for all players on live servers.

Balatro patch 1.0.1f is the culmination of several patches that solo developer LocalThunk has rolled out via the game’s experimental test branch. It features a huge number of changes to stake difficulty, joker balance, skip tags, shops, and just about every piece of the breakout roguelike game. Finally cooked to perfection, the patch has now been delivered to our live server plates, meaning if you – like me – have been eagerly awaiting the full release of this update, the time has come to dig in.

There’s a lot to sift through, but the most immediate changes up-top are the adjustments to the game’s difficulty. The two most notorious difficulty bumps, orange stake’s increasing pack cost and gold stake’s lower hand size, have both been removed. Now orange stake causes some jokers to appear as ‘perishable,’ meaning they’ll only work for five rounds, while gold stake turns some jokers into ‘rental’ cards that cost just $1 to pick up but have an ongoing $3 upkeep fee every round.

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Ante scaling has also been reworked – the base white stake difficulty has been made slightly easier in the midgame, while green stake and purple stake are now a little easier at the start but tougher towards the end. Fortunately, you’ll now always see a regular buffoon pack in the first shop on every run, which should ensure more consistency in finding a joker to get you going at the start of each attempt, and the skip tags that guarantee a certain joker rarity or edition appearing in the next shop will now also make that joker free.

There are a lot of balance changes to dig through but the biggest one worth noting is that both straights and straight flushes have been made a lot more viable thanks to buffs to their respective planet cards, Saturn and Neptune. With higher mult scaling for both, you can now win a lot of runs just on the strength of leveling up the hands themselves, turning two of the most underloved hands in the game into potential powerhouses.

Blue seals have also been given a much-needed upgrade. Rather than offering a random planet card when held in your hand at the end of a round, they’ll now create the corresponding card for the last hand you played in the round, making them dramatically more useful as a way to consistently level up your favored hand type.

Balatro patch notes 1.0.1f - A player gets a high score using a stack of Jupiter cards held in hand.

Balatro patch 1.0.1f is out now. As mentioned, there are a lot more tweaks across the board in the full patch notes (it’s good news for the likes of Invisible Joker and Hanging Chad, but bad news for Vampire and the four suit-specific Sinful Jokers). It’s also important to note the most significant change of them all – Square Joker is now actually square, a change that’s mostly just aesthetically pleasing but will also make it easier to spot when it’s flipped over.

If you’re still skipping over the Balatro Blank Voucher, find out why you should be interested in it. Alternatively, take a riff through the rest of the best card games on PC in 2024.

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