Hey folks, this is Maxmillion here, a Game Designer on GoTA. With the implementation of AvA progressing very nicely, and the design team delving deeper into the specifics of balancing, we’d like to take some time and talk about our approach to the size-related changes. One thing to keep in mind is that while these certainly have a large effect on the experience and balance of AvA, they are also very easy for us to adjust phase-to-phase based on what we see happening.
In terms of our overall goals, we want to make AvA more interesting, more engaging, more exciting, and have success be a reflection of a player’s individual strategy as well as their coordination with a team, in addition to strength and amount of activity.
Four primary questions in this category have been discussed by the team at length regarding the new AvA:
- Why can an Alliance receive prizes in multiple regions?
- Why are Garrison Points different from Command Points, and why is it that curve?
- Why is the maximum Sworn Swords per Camp set to 1000?
- Why is the maximum Participants per Alliance set to 100 players?
These questions are all interconnected, with any one value directly affecting the others, so it’s difficult to address them in isolation.
Before going into the questions, here’s a quick refresher on Garrison Points. The formula we’re using for the first phase is: GP = 7 * (Level ^ 0.42) - 7. These Garrison Points are independent of Command Points. We are planning for talents that add CP to also add GP.
Prizes from Multiple Regions
One reason we wanted this change is to give even the best Alliances something to strive for. In prior AvA, we saw how top Alliances could absolutely dominate a region and the spread of VP down the ranks was far too steep.
At some point a couple top Alliances in each region pull ahead, and the competition basically ends. Now these super-competitive Alliances can meaningfully compete in multiple regions, giving them something to strive for, while making the competition more intense within any individual region.
An important note here is we don’t intend winning multiple regions to be easy. It should be a challenge to win 2 regions, and winning more than that will require serious teamwork and commitment. As well, any Alliance in more than one region becomes a bigger target. “Hey, Alliance X has shifted their focus to the Westerlands, let’s hit them hard in the North!” If we see that this is not that case, we will definitely look into adjustments.
In addition, all Alliances have some strategic choice: Do they want to put all their focus on a single region, or spread across multiple? Maybe instead of being rank 5 in one region, they’d rather be rank 10 in three regions.
Some of the concern about allowing Alliances to compete in multiple regions is based on former AvA rewards, where there were only two awards in the same region. In the new AvA’s rewards, placing in the top 10 or the top 25 is pretty desirable - you’ll get some great rewards! Like Tales, I’m sure we’ll see heavy competition for the top 25 spots, as well as #1 or #2.
Before going into the remaining 3 questions, we made a few example Alliances see what a few types of Alliances would look like under the currently planned values. These are meant to illustrate some of the balance concerns that led to our decisions, not as suggested builds or as representations of specific in-game Alliances. I’ll refer to these archetypal Alliances in the following examples. I’ve made up fake names for each of these to make them easier to remember. There’s no relation to the actual fealties.
NOTE: We’ve done a great deal of analysis on levels and participation of players both currently and during past AvA Phases. Even if a player has reincarnated since the last AvA Phase, we still store every “character” to see information such as their level before the reincarnation.
This is a top Alliance made up of 100 participants with an average level at 1500.
- GP at level 1500 is 144 points, so that’s 14,400 possible Sworn Swords in total.
- With the Camp Garrison Limit at 1000, this Alliance could fill nearly 14 and a half camps.
- They could have 4 regions completely filled with Sworn Swords with a 5th mostly filled.
An Alliance like this would require almost all the highest-level AvA players in the game to group together instead of being distributed among Alliances. Based on past phases and current player data, an alliance at this size and level is unlikely to form, though we need to account for the possibility. This Alliance would be highly competitive across 4 or 5 regions, but in any individual region would be faced with tough competition from other Alliances at a similar power level.
This is a small Alliance made up of only 25 participants with an average level at 1500.
- GP at level 1500 is 144 points, so that’s 3600 possible Sworn Swords in total.
- This Alliance could fill around 3 and a half camps at 1000 SS each.
- They could have 1 region completely filled with some overflow into another.
The Targaryens are an extremely competitive, highly focused group of top players. They stay small and are very coordinated, putting all their effort into a single region. Any overflow Sworn Swords are building up rewards in a second region, and may swap into the primary region based on their strategic needs. It also means if a few players need to be inactive for a period, other members could fill their spots.
While they won’t get top rewards across multiple regions, in their primary region The Targaryens would be competing for the top few ranks.
A full Alliance of 100 participants who are spread across a variety of high levels, with average at 750.
- GP at level 750 is 105 points, so that’s 10,500 Sworn Swords.
- This is 73% as many Sworn Swords as The Dragons
- This Alliance could fill 10.5 camps at 1000 SS each.
- They could have 3 regions completely filled with another half-filled.
The Lannisters would be among the top few ranks of a region, with high-level coordinated players. Based on our analysis, there could be a small number of Alliances around this level and size competing in each region, though it would require noticeable reorganization of existing alliances.
This Alliance will be able to divide players among their 3 most competitive regions, with individuals swapping based on strategic needs. They have enough high-level players, as well as frequent reincarnators, to rise through the rankings. Their success against Alliances like The Dragons or The Targaryens will heavily depend on item builds to win a higher portion of attacks, as well as coordination to hit their rivals with the most effective attacks.
This Alliance has 50 Participants, averaging around level 500. They have a solid group of top-level players, along with relatively lower players in 200’s and 300’s that are rapidly rising.
- GP at level 500 is 88 points, so that’s 4,400 Sworn Swords.
- They could fill nearly 4 and a half camps at 1000 SS each.
- They could have one region filled, with a second half-filled.
Some highly competitive Alliances are likely to be similar to The Starks. They may be larger Alliances but with only a small portion active in AvA. They’re committed players, but aren’t overly interested in just expanding their size. They are likely to be a just few of these Alliances competing in each region.
Like The Lannisters, they have enough high-level players that with coordination, they could be extremely competitive in their primary region. The Starks' top players could get them right at the top of the rankings competing with The Dragons and The Targaryens. If they decide to focus the top players on one region, the rest of The Starks can still perform well in a second region, as newer players learn the ropes of AvA and experienced players try different strategies to rise through the ranks despite more limited resources.
The Wildings are a full Alliance of 100 participants, averaging around level 250. There is large range of players in this Alliance, with some above level 1000 and some newer players in the double-digits.
- GP at level 250 is 64, so 6,400 Sworn Swords overall.
- This is 44% as many as The Dragons, or 61% as many as The Lannisters.
- This Alliance could fill just over 6 camps at 1000 SS each.
- They would have 2 regions filled.
We expect The Wildlings to be a very common style of Alliance. These 100-person Alliances with a wide range of player levels are likely to make up much of the top 100 in each region, and the most dedicated would break into the top 20. They have enough GP to fill two region’s worth of camps but find the top-tier competition challenging due to a shortage of high-powered players. They might decide to compete equally in both regions, or to choose one region that the most powerful players in the Alliance focus on.
The new GP curve is our replacement for the older SS limit per camp. In old AvA, each player was limited to 50 SS per camp. The highest level players would end up being forced to keep track of SS across many different camps in multiple regions. We felt this was overly limiting for individual players who might find it easier (and more fun) to focus most or all of their SS in one place.
One major advantage from the addition of Garrison Points is that participating in AvA no longer limits participation in other areas of the game as long as the player owns enough Sworn Swords. Players can now simultaneously send SS on Quests, Adventures, and PtP using Command Points, while having a completely separate SS resource to spend in AvA. This is also useful for low-level players with limited SS who previously had to abandon other pursuits if they wanted to meaningfully participate in AvA. This is also useful for high level players who can continue to gather upgrade materials and silver throughout the phase.
Command Points grow linearly, which means a level 2000 player has 405 CP, compared to a level 1000 player with 205 CP, or a level 250 player with 55 CP. This results in an immense size difference between players. When running adventures, it’s a useful benefit. But within AvA it caused major balancing issues.
Take the example of The Dragons, with average level 1500. If we used CP, they would have more available Sworn Swords than could fit in all 27 camps. Only 3.3 players would be needed to fill an individual camp. That’s extremely cramped! This goes for the 25-player Targaryens as well.
How could we solve this? Well, let’s say we raise the Camp limit to 2000. Now a top-level Alliance (remember there will probably be only 2 or 3 Alliances at most that have that high an average level) fits more comfortably. But The Starks, a still high-level competitive Alliance with 50 players at average level 500, and The Wildlings, who are likely to be represent much of competitive Alliances, would not even be able to fill a single region. Let alone smaller Alliances of lower level players (the vast majority of the players) who will struggle to fill even 1 camp. Consider that of active players above level 200, 90% are below level 500.
Raising GP for lower-level players wouldn’t solve the issue since their GP is already significantly higher than CP until the 200’s. The vast majority of players would end up an insignificant part of AvA, which lines up with what we saw in old AvA.
With the GP curve, level still has significant value. Level 1500 has nearly twice the GP of level 500. Player level is not, and should not, be the sole measure of a player’s strength. With a relatively smaller set of SS, it becomes increasingly important to have Talents, leveled up Sworn Swords, and good equipment. These are all things players achieve as they progress in GoTA.
We think that this particular GP curve strikes a good balance. The Dragons can be spread across 5 regions, competing seriously in all of them, while the small and focused Targaryens pick one region to heavily compete in. The Wildlings have enough GP to focus on two regions, where they can compete in a meaningful way, but their disadvantages are that they need more coordination (there are more players per camp), and being lower level they will have fewer resources and less effective attacks.
Maximum Sworn Swords per Camp
The maximum sworn swords per camp has seen a decrease from old AvA’s 6000 to new AvA’s 1000. Within old AvA, the focus on a single region meant that most of an Alliance’s sworn swords should fit in that one region. Given that Alliances can now compete in multiple regions, and that we want to encourage Alliances to compete in multiple regions, this is no longer the case. If camps have a 2000 SS limit, The Wildlings would barely be able to fill a single region. Alliances like The Starks, that are half-full and still high level at an average of 500, wouldn’t be able to fill a single region. A small Alliance like The Targaryens, who would be among the top few Alliances in terms of level, couldn’t fill 2 camps.
Even with a 1500 SS limit, 25-player Alliances couldn’t fill a region and only a small number of Alliances, with average levels above 500, could fill one region.
The 1000 SS limit means that top-level 25-player Alliances can compete effectively in the region of their choosing, though it would be difficult to compete across multiple regions. 50-person Alliances at a high-level can compete in two regions, and 100-person Alliances can be very effective in 3-4 regions. Meanwhile, new Alliances of relatively lower levels can still pick a region and make a great showing of themselves.
Maximum Participants from each Alliance
With the new Participation limits at 100, we wanted to encourage every participant to play an active role. Given the lower size, players can no longer join a powerful Alliance, contribute a single resource, and expect to get all the rewards - or at least, not without some consequences from that Alliance. Our data from past AvA phases shows that even with the 500 participant limit, most Alliances had fewer than 100 participants who sent at least 1 attack. Even during the busiest 3 hour period of the Terror Phase, only three Alliances had more than 100 Participants send at least 1 attack (with the top Alliance having 147 players send an attack). Even taking into account the entire Phase, only 9 Alliances had more than 200 characters who sent at least 1 SS action, and only another 8 had more than 100 characters with at least 1 SS action.
Setting the limit at 100 does reduce the number of active participants for a small number of Alliances, but it also has important impact on other areas. With 200 Participants, an Alliance like The Dragons (full participants, average level 1500) could completely fill every camp in every region. Even The Wildlings (full participants, average level 250) would fill 3 regions. This favors the larger Alliances too much. They can compete across so many regions it significantly increases the chance of a single Alliance dominating many regions. Additionally, we think it just spreads players out too much, making it harder to it’s focus on coordination and communication in each region which is part of the fun.
If we assume a portion of 200-participant Alliances doesn’t actively garrison many Sworn Swords, it still doubles the amount of players that can be contributing upgrade materials, healing, and donating to the silver pools. This puts smaller Alliances like The Targaryens at even more of a disadvantage.
We would also have to adjust the planned rewards so that 200 people in a top Alliance dominating most regions don’t consistently become increasingly overpowered. We might have to lower the prizes per region which especially hurts smaller Alliances who can’t compete in multiple regions.
Thank you for reading all this! Hopefully our reasoning behind these updates is clearer. We’re always listening to feedback and once AvA begins we will be carefully analyzing what happens. With the new AvA, we have made many aspects of balance, including all the values mentioned above, easily changeable so that the team can quickly make adjustments phase-to-phase. Even many features that are unchanged from a player’s perspective have been re-engineered for efficiency and flexibility, with a particular focus on allowing us to quickly make balance changes.
The team is hard at work on making AvA the best it has ever been. We’ll have more updates coming soon on topics like Action Effects and VP Balancing!