CoC: Thoughts on the new Legends league system

In Clash of Clans, how matchmaking works in Legend league (5000+ trophies) has been reworked. The reason for the rework was that matchmaking was taking a very, very long time (10+ min) to find a base for you to attack, which is far too long to sit around and do nothing with your mobile device.

Here is how it works: Now when you hit Legend league, instead of being able to search for bases to attack, you get assigned 8 bases daily, and you can only hit those 8. You also get attacked up to 8 times by other Legend players, but you no longer lose whatever loot they take. Additionally, loot is no longer determined by how much the other player has, but by the strength of your base (upgrade levels), meaning that every base you attack has at least 300k+ gold/elixir, 5k+ DE to loot. How many trophies you earn is also different, and now scales on how much damage you do vs how many trophies the base you are attacking has.

The result? Legend league has made CoC’s far more fun for me, for a few reasons.

First, removing the option to skip to another base solves the “what if the next base has more loot” dilemma, which is a big thing in the original matchmaking setup. This was especially true when matchmaking was slow; waiting 10 minutes only to find a base with basically no loot was terrible.

Second, staying in Legend league and climbing in trophies is now more about skill than time. With the hard limit of 8 attacks, and getting attacked up to 8 times daily, players can no longer game the system by staying online for long periods of time, or simply having more time per day to attack over and over to slowly climb. Now to climb, you actually have to perform well in your attacks, and build a base that does a good job defending. I do wish they would lower the limit to maybe 5 attacks per day, as 8 is a lot, especially if you have clan war attacks to do as well.

Finally, by removing the link between how much loot you have and how much you lose, this frees up base building a lot more. You don’t need to protect your storage anymore, while at the same time your attackers will still want to hit those storages to gain loot. This means you can set traps and lures around your storages, while when attacking you can be smart and try to bait out those traps. That kind of ‘cat and mouse’ gameplay is fun, and a huge improvement over the previous design/farming meta.

I honestly thing CoC would be a better game overall if this system was used in lower leagues. Maybe not at the absolute lowest, but limiting it just to legends seems almost like a waste. Hopefully if enough of the feedback is positive, SuperCell does expand it into more of the game.

Posted in Clash of Clans, Combat Systems | Leave a comment

Fallout 76 is dead

Fallout76 was free last week, so I took it for a spin. It was exactly what I thought it would be (I played for all of about 30 minutes, so this is a really in-depth review!)

The big problem, one that might be fixed soonish, is that F76 does not have NPCs like all previous Fallout games (and all RPG games since the dawn of time). Knowing this, F76 immediately feels empty. You start in the vault, but you are the only human in it. Robots guide you along, as you walk a linear path picking up your starting gear before exiting out (Also: nothing says ‘this is a shit-tier Fallout game’ like starting on a linear path that spoon-feeds you until dropping you outside).

That initial experience is just shockingly empty compared to previous Fallout games. In Fallout 3, you also start in a vault, but as a child surrounded by other humans, including your family. Shortly after leaving the vault, you had to a fairly large settlement of humans that gets you rolling. Fallout: New Vegas has you literally starting in a human town, with the first interaction being with a doctor, and then you go on to save/destroy said town and its people. In Fallout 4, the game starts in a pre-war town filled with people, the first cutscene/interaction is all about people/family, and the first gameplay out of the vault is about finding people as well. In F76, its gtfo out of the vault, you have junk to go collect. I think. Who knows, since there is no one to tell you why you might care to be here.

If you ever wondered what a Fallout game would be like if you removed all the story, all the reasons why you might play and care, F76 is the answer. It’s the same gameplay, the same systems, basically the same world, just empty of reasons to care. And the problem is, Fallout was never about the great shooting mechanics (they suck compared to a shooter), or the deep character building (min/max’ing in Fallout is boring and broken, with the system usually shining in allowing you to do silly stuff for RP reasons), or the crafting (like 99% of crafting systems, it blows and is just a reason to make you hate the inventory management system).

I imagine F76 can be salvaged, but only if the RPG is added back into the game, which would be an almost 180 turn from what Bethesda set out to achieve with the game. Which looks, that’s fine. It would be good; another actual Fallout game, even if it arrives a few years after the games actual launch. But for now, F76 feels as dead as a world hit with a nuke :rimshot:

Posted in Fallout 3, Rant, Review | 14 Comments

News review from E3 2019

Lots of news coming out of E3, so let’s talk about some of it.

First up, Cyberpunk 2077 has Keanu in it, and is coming in 10 months. That’s doubly awesome. The game itself looks almost too good to be true (so its 100% going to disappoint some people who buy way too much into it and expect it to do all things they can image), and we all know its going to be a buggy mess at launch. At the same time, yea, I’ll be there day-one, because even with whatever flaws it has, its most likely going to be an awesome time, warts and all.

Next up we have Bethesda walking back a lot of things about Fallout76, especially around the decision to not include human NPC quest givers and major storylines. While its good that eventually F76 will have them, I’m still unsure how well they will fit retroactively into a game designed NOT to have them. Considering how many mistakes the devs have made, I’m at best cautiously optimistic here. The Battle Royale mode is… well it should be a joke but sadly its not. One step forward, two steps back here.

Dying Light 2 was announced. I liked the first, so the second is on my radar. This is one of those “hoping for more of the same, but better” situations, as I wouldn’t change much about the original in terms of design. I do like that how you solve quests seems to have a massive impact on the map/city. If that’s as meaningful as they make it seem in the video (it almost never is, of course), then that could make the game a fun one to play multiple times through.

Finally, Outerworlds is coming out in October. It will be on a soon-to-die platform in 2019, and then officially release on the PC platform everyone is using in 2020.

Posted in Mass Media, Random, The Witcher | 3 Comments

Baldur’s Gate 3 announced, might be out in November?

Larian Studios, the people behind Divinity: Original Sin, have announced they are working on Baldur’s Gate 3, which will also be on Google’s Stadia streaming platform (a platform I have zero interest in). BG3 might also be a launch title, meaning it could come as early as this November.

The only info we have right now on BG3 is the teaser trailer, which is some nice CGI, but doesn’t tell us a whole lot about the game. That said, I do have some faith in Larian simply based on D:OS2, and also because of the leap they took in design from D:OS1 (a game I felt was massively hurt by its constant attempts at comedy) to D:OS2 (still had jokes, but jokes weren’t the focus like in the first game). Hopefully BG3 is even less jokey, and at least the trailer is more horror than anything else.

Ideally for me, BG3 is an expanded D:OS2 set in the Forgotten Realms IP. Give me similar combat, give me a party made of pre-set characters with backstories (including your own character), maybe improve the crafting (or remove it entirely), but basically stick to what made D:OS2 work. We shall see, and hopefully we will see it ‘soon’.

Posted in Mass Media, Random

What I’m playing, May 31st 2019

Gaming update time.

First up I finally hit Gold in League of Legends. It took a lot longer than I expected (170 games), in some parts because I derped around on different champions for a while until I ‘got serious’ and focused on playing Malz-mid and Amumu-jungle, my two best champs. I’m not sure how high I’ll climb, but at the very least it needs to be a few ranks higher, if only to not be in the same league as the wife, who hit gold recently as well.

LoL is what it is, a finely tuned, ridiculously balanced game with a stupid amount of champions and ‘content’. It’s a game you can take super-serious, play very casually, and anything in between. For me it’s the perfect “play a ranked match 3-4 times a week” game. The game truly has transcended being a game and become a hobby you come back to over and over again, while at the same time being one of the premium eSport platforms (watching the Mid-Season Invitational was very entertaining).

Moving on, my buddy and I have wrapped up our time with Civ VI for now, having won a few deity-level games. The game overall is excellent, but the poor AI in the later stages keep it from being a game we can play over and over again. We ‘beat’ it, and its time to move on. Maybe if a significant patch hits, or another expansion, we will return, but for now the game is on the shelf.

Battle Brothers has taken its place. While a single-player only game, its one where we can hang out in Discord and talk while we play it. The stories and situations it generates keep the conversation going, and the game is complex enough that he often has questions about it as a newer player.

Looking at the game’s Steamcharts page, I’m happy to see its more popular (by peak players) today than it ever has been, showing that each expansion has built up the playerbase, and former players likely return to take it for another spin. I think (hope) we will see more DLC, as while the game has been expended greatly since release, its still has a LOT of areas it can go in and further expand.

Finally, a few buddies and I play some Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) matches when time allows. Like LoL, I think PUBG is become that hobby game you return to over and over, and one that supports all levels of commitment. And like LoL, it’s improved so much since release, and has found its footing in terms of updates that keep it interesting while sticking to what makes it work.

Posted in Civilization Series, League of Legends, PUBG, Random, Site update | 4 Comments

WoW Classic: The gentle nudge towards being social

WoW Classic beta has started, and people are posting about it. This post from Rohan, who’s blog I can’t comment on without jumping through a dozen hoops thanks to the Blogger platform, highlights a major reason why I think overall Classic will be more successful than current WoW; the subtle design that nudges people towards grouping and being social.

The post talks about a typical “kill 30 of X” quest, and Rohan comments that due to zone chat not working, solo’ing the quest is kind of boring (bonus boring points for doing it as a Pali). We know now that years later, this ‘problem’ would be solved by Blizzard in a few ways. First, the time to kill anything goes way up for everyone, so it simply doesn’t take as long to kill 30 of something in post WotLK WoW as it did prior. Second, the quest design goes from 30 to 10 mobs, or from 30 of a specific mob to a smaller number of anything that remotely looks like a goblin. Finally, every class is able to solo efficiently, so regardless of what you are playing, the pace is basically the same, and that pace is set to hyperspeed compared to Vanilla. Oh and you basically can’t die, because death = bad and progress = good.

Grouping with other players inherently has some disadvantages, right? First you need to actually form the group and be in the same place, which takes time (sometimes a pretty long time if people are being slow). Then you all need to be on the same quest, or want to accomplish the same thing (run a dungeon for example). That doesn’t just automatically happen, so again effort is needed. Finally you have whatever game design roadblocks exist, be it kill credit only going to one party member, mobs only dropping one quest item, or an XP penalty for being in a group.

Short-sighted game design ‘fixes’ the above issue by making the game more solo friendly, or by making grouping as easy as possible (group finder, everyone gets credit, everyone gets the item, you only need one item, etc). The result is a streamlined game, where you are never more than a moment away from ‘the good stuff’, and all the ‘bad stuff’ like waiting for a group or looking for mobs is gone.

I saw short-sighted because we know what has happened to WoW, and most will be re-reminded come Classic.

What Vanilla did so well was that while it allowed for solo gameplay (unlike EQ1 back in that time), it encouraged and rewarded grouping. You generally benefitted by being in a group, especially a decently organized one (guild group). This push towards grouping lead to people finding guilds, which lead to social hooks sinking in and people staying active and playing/paying longer. You’d run a dungeon you don’t ‘need’ to help a guild member, while in a world where everything is solo, you only run that content if YOU need it. That leads to you consuming content much faster, and eventually ‘running out’ and moving on from the game.

While I have long stated that WoW being as popular as it was happened due to a combo of good game design and luck, the fact remains that the baseline design of Vanilla did have a lot of good things going for it, and in contrast to today’s MMOs, a lot of that good design was around pushing people to be social.

Which is pretty ironic if you think about it, as back in 2004 WoW was viewed (mostly correctly) as overly solo friendly compared to its peers. Perhaps the upcoming success of Classic will, wait for it… inspire some Classic clones and we get a decent, actual MMO titles at some point. Crazy huh?

Posted in Blogroll, MMO design, World of Warcraft | 4 Comments

Battle Brothers: Initial impressions of Warriors of the North expansion

The most recent Battle Brothers expansion, Warriors of the North, is exactly what I want in an expansion for a great game; more of the same. I think the worst thing an expansion can do to a game you enjoy is really mix it up, because that always runs the risk of changing the stuff you liked into something new that you don’t.

WotN’s biggest addition is alternate starts. Prior to this expansion, every game of BB started the same, with the same ruleset. Now there are a bunch of different starts, with unique game rules and starting units. The start I have the most experience with right now is the peasant militia, which allows you to field up to 16 units in battle (vs normally 12), a roster of 25 total, but you can’t recruit higher-tier backgrounds.

The big change for that start is of course being able to bring 4 additional units to a battle, as that is HUGE. The drawback is that since you can’t hire the top-tier backgrounds, I’m expecting that late-game things might be difficult. On the other hand, 16 brothers with top-tier gear is still very powerful, and while you won’t get those ‘perfect’ recruits (Hedgeknight or Noble with great starting stats/stars), a lot of the lower-tier backgrounds can still turn out really powerful if you find the right hire.

Additionally, since you can’t hire the more expensive backgrounds, your wage costs stay low, especially at higher levels (high-tier backgrounds scale up faster in cost), which means more funds for buying better gear or hiring new recruits fishing for awesome stats/stars.

I’m very much looking forward to the other origin starts, especially lone wolf and the raiders.

The other major addition is the new enemy faction; barbarians. The have a very aggressive approach to combat, with most of their units being somewhat glass cannons. This makes them more dangerous than raiders, as raiders tend to be more balanced/random in their gear, while barbarians favor 2h weapons and usually don’t use shields.

What’s cool about the new faction is you can also loot their gear, which brings new options and looks to your band. I haven’t faced the higher-tier barbarians yet, but even the lower level thralls do drop some decent armor and helms to help you in the early game.

Much more as I continue to dive in, but if you enjoyed Battle Brothers, you absolutely must get WotN.

Posted in Random | 1 Comment