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Defense team variety -- how can we encourage it via game design?

With its rewards and stats, GoW encourages players to choose the most effective defense team they can muster.

This leads directly to defense team sameness – the more so as you go up in levels, where players have more complete libraries and better information.

What GoW should be doing is encouraging players to make defense teams tha create worthwhile gameplay experiences for attackers. Actual challenge is only one element of this, novelty is another big one.

Let’s brainstorm here – what are some ways that the devs could change the incentives, so that what results is much more varied defense teams?

Are there ways they could change the landscape on a per-player basis, so that what defense team works best for me vs. what defense team works best you would work out to be different things, while still being fair? (Even if we had identical libraries, that is.)

Maybe they could adjust the reward returns for defense wins by how common is your team? So if you’re running a very common (effective) defense team you’ll win about as much as can be hoped, but have no novelty bonuses – however if you come up with a wonky defense team that few-to-none are using, which only wins half as often, you could come out well ahead of the common/effective defense player due to novelty bonuses.

Other ideas?


I see a decent variety:

Gorgotha led anti-skull teams
Double Maw w/ Mercy teams
Infernal King teams
Double Mab + Valk teams
Jarl loop teams
Classic goblin teams
Worm teams (rare)

I like the idea!

So sick of Maw teams devouring 2 or more units on skulls alone …

It should be limited to a once off too so that Maw can only ever take out 2 units total …


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This variation might simply have to do with missing ingredients for “better” teams. Eg I still don’t have Maw, but I do have Mab, so that’s my defense team.

In this respect, some teams only work with specific traits on the troops. So, real endgame is further away than it may seem.

Team variety is ultimately driven by needing to respond to a variety of situations. When any generic option is better than most situational options, you’ll see strategies converge around that generic best option. Increasing the variety of situations the player must deal with, and making those situational effects strong enough that it’s inadvisable to just ignore and steamroll over them, will encourage the creation of more diverse teams.

The AI is also very simplistic, and will misuse many troops, limiting the teams it can be effective with. Improving the AI, giving it either more complex strategies, or having it pick a strategy based on the team, would make a wider variety of defense teams effective. Allowing the defending player to select a strategy for their defense team would give players another knob to tweak, which would make the defender feel more involved in the outcome.

Hard counters encourage diversity, but if they’re too hard and obvious, they have the effect of limiting choice. Every team doesn’t need to be able to beat every other team, but there should be a variety of effective options for any given situation.

Hero classes were presumably an attempt to make players different from each other, and the limitations on class switching were supposed to encourage players to pick one and stick with it, but it doesn’t mesh well with the team-building nature of the game, and only matter when using the Hero in a team anyway. Giving the player some choices that affect all their teams could be interesting, but would probably run into the same problem of players wanting the optimal choice for each team at all times, and thus either switching frequently, or asking for it to be selected on a team-by-team basis. Team options similar to banners gives players another choice to make, but there’s going to be an optimal choice, and people will figure it out eventually, so it wouldn’t necessarily increase variety.

Situational effects dependent on the battlefield have been suggested before. Different board shapes, or extra rules that may be favorable to different troops or strategies, would give the player something additional to plan around, or make generic teams less effective. It may also encourage a wider variety of home kingdoms. However, there will still probably be an optimal choice, though defenders will have to choose whether to prioritize defense wins or tribute.

Ultimately, I think the highest defense wins are going to come from hard-countering the current invasion meta, either because people don’t scout, or misjudge how their invasion team will fare against an unfamiliar defense. If a defense meta forms, an invasion meta will form around it, and the first ones to change their defense to something that counters the invasion meta will rack up some wins, until the meta changes again. That adds an active and creative element to defending, but it requires harder counters, and will lose some effectiveness if people start scouting more. That people don’t feel the need to scout is a symptom of balance problems.

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i run this team on defence for now.

Pretty simple fix really…

We already have a variety of troops and we have a variety of kingdoms.

  1. Add environmental variables both negatives and positives, to any given kingdom that affect BOTH teams.
  2. Make the environmental variables change each season (quarter?) so they are not constant
  3. Allow players to create a KINGDOM SPECIFIC defense team for every kingdom

Players would not have an incentive to use the same team everywhere… players wouldn’t even necessarily use the same offensive team everywhere then either… nor would they use the same defenses annually.

Dev’s have the fictional space and board… they just need to leverage the map and add some variables to encourage folks to take advantage of different perks / bonuses in a kingdom.

All the sudden, game gets WAY more interesting and diverse in PvP… or any fight in any kingdom, really quick!

Why not make it positive to the defence “home field advantage” and negative to the opponent “away game”

To be honest, I think that would be a mistake. Environmental variables should be global… thus allowing both defense and offense to consider them. Defense knows they are working with a limited AI… but that doesn’t make the same oversight mistakes that humans make. Offense can think intelligently about gem flipping and the alike, and we already know is heavily weighted toward imbalance to the offense. I’m not suggesting we change that dynamic at all, it works.

Global variables would inject a knew thought process for both offense and defence though.

Example of 1 possible global effects could be:


  • each player will have a random team member be ignited every turn
  • all blue mana using cards suffer -2 to all stats

Now, when you built def team there, you might not want to rely on blue cards, and you might build a team which was immune to burning to fight in the lava.

You get the idea I’m sure. A global negative and positive per kingdom would definitely skew what folks felt was desirable, effective and thus, change the dynamic from static Offense and Defense teams.

It’s not meant to imbalance win / loss percentages, just get you to think differently and use different cards more often.

Perhaps, and i like your idea and knew what you meant. I was thinking more field spell like design. Such as umi or umiiruka, which have a positive effect on you (assuming you build your team as such) and a negative effect on the opponent (assuming they run into it without thinking) However the positive can effect both players and so can the negative if defence plays their team like that. The biggest problem i have with your idea is [quote=“Tactica, post:9, topic:9225”]
global negative and positive per kingdom would definitely skew what folks felt was desirable, effective and thus, change the dynamic from static Offense and Defense teams.

would cause complaints. Other than that it would be a sound idea. Note though that the cards i showed do not need to be lifted directly and copy pasted into the game. You can have quite the variety for feild spells in the game if those spells are kingdom specific.

I think someone recently suggested removing scouting from PvP. This would encourage people to use more unorthodox defense teams to perhaps catch a more traditional offensive team off guard. I’m not sure I would agree with removing scouting from PvP (although I personally never use scouting) but this would be one way of helping address your concern.

I never look what the opposing team has. There are enough offensive team combos now, that you simply don’t care what the opposing team has. It’s all about whether you can execute your team’s offensive plan right now.

I don’t care if the opposing team is 2 mercy and 2 maw, all mythics… all traits… whatever. It just doesn’t matter… as soon as you get to the point of building “destroy all” type builds, in the present mechanics - without advantage / disadvantage modifiers to further make me change my build… What the opponent has simply doesn’t matter.

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True… sad but true. I never scout, not cause I want to keep my 50 golds but simply cause it’s unnecessary. Who cares. Soon as your plan works, it kills anything anyways.

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I find no reason to remove scouting at this juncture as in its present state is still a little expensive for what it used to be. I mean it used to cost gold not the whole it cost like 10 gems thing when they dropped the update on us. I think it was 10 gems, might have been 5. I would wonder if we were to write up what each kingdom’s “field spell” is then what would each kingdom’s spell end up relating to. Would a swamp do this but to spells.

LOL, well all I can say is all change causes complaints. Ever work with the public… on any project? Heh…

You’ll never please everyone, but, if it gets more folks playing and business and sales are up, then its a good change for the business.

This free to play game, definitely generates income. They are conciously aware of how much and how often folks spend. They also want high player counts because though there are folks who will never spend a penny, there are also folks who value time over money and they too play games… with the larger pool of players playing… you bring in a larger quantity of folks paying.

The more enjoyable the game is, and the more variety it and its mini-games have, then the more players you attract.

I’d like to see them give it a try on a kingdom or two… they can start with the icy north, the hot south… the overgrown west or the treacherous lava fields and magic heavy east… it’s a natural progression for a game world like this with a variety of locations… for the locations themselves to have meaning more than resource and troops.

I also think players would have a lot of enjoyment experimenting in an every changing and varied manner of kingdoms… vs always using the same offense and defense and playing the same pvp day in and day out.

The only way to improve team variety, both offense AND defense, is to make the AI smarter than a 5-year old.

I’m not even joking, my 5-year old daughter wins PvP matches…


Scouting (nearly) doesn’t matter because some teams can beat any team. If defenses were more threatening then scouting would be more worthwhile, or obliatory.

The counters to Mab and Maw just announced are nice. But since scouting exists they won’t do much good on Defense except against the occasional non-scouter. Even the, the countering traits don’t protect the whole team, so Mab and Maw can still destroy most of your team, especially working together. We’ll see if the other additions/changes bring more viable options.