A different take on PVP difficulty?

So I saw the difficulty slider in casual PVP, and it seems to be just a scalar for the enemy team’s stats. That’s … okay, I guess, but what about something more interesting (or at least different) ?

Statistically, the biggest difference between an early-game and late-game player’s team is the strength of their Global Bonuses (Kingdom, Faction, and Guild bonuses … oh and Pet bonuses too). As you unlock a larger and larger Kingdom Bonus over time, the game overall becomes much easier. DOTs like Poison/Burn/Bleed become weaker relative to your overall stats (to such point where their only utility is to de-Barrier a troop), the daily Bosses fall easily, Sunbird eventually stops losing levels with each spellcast, and “0 base Attack” troops (e.g. Fortress Gate) can suddenly deal decent Skull damage when previously they would just bounce harmlessly off their opponents when lingering in lead position. Your overall battle strategy changes fundamentally, and forever.

So how about a way to help recapture that early-game feel that isn’t more Arena runs? An option to play casual PVP without these bonuses in effect? (Other specific stat bonuses, e.g. team composition & weekly events, can still apply.)

Let’s call this a “handicap”, as it helps level (statistically) the battle between players of sometimes-vastly different global bonuses. For example, imagine these presets:

  • Normal (no handicap) - Your teams battle at their original strength (whatever that may be), like what we have now.
  • Low Level - Both teams are recalculated using a global stat bonus of zero (i.e. counting troop levels/ascensions/medals only). Watch those Boost Ratios and DOTs!
  • Max Level - Both teams are recalculated using the sum of global stat bonuses between you and the opponent.

E.g. if I have a global bonus of +20 to all stats, vs. an opponent whose global bonus is just +5 to all stats, this is hardly a decent battle normally, but picking a handicap (low/max level) technically makes the battle harder (as we’ll both be fighting with bonuses of either +0 or +25 to all stats). Inversely, if the opponent has a larger global stat bonus than my team, a handicap technically makes the battle easier. (Which can be reflected by scaling the rewards accordingly.)

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Those are just numbers. The real strength of a team comes from the kind of aspects, that are not part of the damage calculation. Chaining ability and ways to stop it, thieves and orbweavers playing hide and seek, Zul Goth in general…
As you suggest to include level and ascension boni, it won’t even make an as drastic difference as arena, where some constant boni (number of troops or gems of a certain colour) suddenly become massively powered up.

Tuning numbers up and down may make a difference in how long a fight lasts, but rarely in how it goes.

Correct, but the numbers still help. If you’re challenging the Friday boss, Eternal Death, with just 30HP to your lead Troop and your best DPS spell can only deal 40 damage (2-3 shots to kill), you are in a lot more trouble than if your lead Troop has 60HP and your best DPS deals 80 damage (possible 1-shot).