Before I begin, please understand I’m not coming at this from a place of frustration or malice, I’m coming it from a place of love and genuinely want this game to grow and prosper as much as it possible can. It’s meant to be read more like an open letter, and hopefully not too rant-y.
I love this game. I love it so much I got my wife into it, and together we’ve spent thousands of hours happily matching gems until our fingers figuratively bled. Guild Wars came and we were pretty happy. It was a little more stressful, but now some of the matches actually meant something. Every move had to be carefully calculated or we would risk actually gasp losing a game that day. The game was a little easy, thanks to the old algorithm, but that was ok.
I genuinely couldn’t understand why people wanted to quit just because of Guild Wars. Typically adding features bring people in, not push them out, so I disregarded them, disregarded their warnings as sour grapes. Then the fire nation attacked…but really, I played on the Unity build on PC. Suddenly I was losing to sky drops left and right. My 95%+ win rate (on offense of course) suddenly dropped to below 80%. I know I was still winning the vast majority of my games, but I started fearing the sky drops, knowing that just one ****ing skull would ruin my day because the Psion on the other end was always waiting.
I started to feel something surprising - frustration. I play this game to unwind. I play it to relax after a long, probably shitty day at work. The more I played on PC, the less I actually looked forward to it. Logically it doesn’t make any sense - I’m still winning a majority of my games - at 4x speed no less. My gold income was up, my contributions had never been higher, but it just felt worse.
There are a couple factors at play here. Forgive me because I don’t know the technical terms, but one of them is the phenomenon in which you remember the low percentage bad things that happen more vividly than you remember the good, and the other is a feeling of loss of agency. When I lost games on the old build, it was either because I played very poorly and made terrible decisions, or a 1-in-100 sky drop happened and the stars aligned for the computer. I was ok with that. One of them was completely my fault and the other happened so rarely that it made for a funny story I could share with my wife. Either way, when I lost, I could still feel good losing.
Compare that to the Unity build: Now when I lose, I feel it’s because there’s nothing I could possibly do. To have that feeling in 20%+ of your games just feels shitty. I no longer feel that nearly every game is in my hands. I don’t feel like I can affect the outcome as much as I was used to.
Combine the new drop algorithm (or fixed, depending on your point of view) with mana drain/devour or other grief-based teams, and you get a recipe for frustration that transcends the fun you have matching gems. My wife is so frustrated with Goblin Week that she wants to quit for good. I told her just to take a week off from Guild Wars and see how she feels, but I can guarantee you that if you release another set of troops as broken as this week, you’ll have another whale gone. Raid Boss Fizzbang has already 1v4’d a couple of my teams and it did not feel good.
I write this not as a threat, but as a real report from a real player who absolutely loves the hell out of this game. The social aspect is great. The concept is awesome, but with this Unity build, the execution? Not so much. Here’s my advice to hopefully keep from losing more long-time supporters of this game:
Tweak the algorithm to make it slightly more in favor of the players, like it used to be. The hardcores won’t like it, but this is a casual game at heart.
Rethink how best to deal with grief-based teams. I’ve read multiple threads with countless good ideas from limiting troops to one per team (something you the devs already said you wouldn’t do), to tweaking the match-up algorithm to not face the same troops so often.
Test troops that give an extra turn long and hard before releasing them in the future… Having a 1 HP Fizzbang suddenly up to 1000 points in every category because she got one lucky sky drop is killer…and plain bad design. Take away her extra turn. This week has almost made me want to take a long break from this game, and I’m usually the one in my guild trying to talk people off of the ledge.
Thanks for reading and I genuinely hope at least some part of this gives you some insight on how to create a better user experience for at least some of your players moving forward.
TL:DR - Unity Gem algorithm feelsbadman. Takes away a feeling of agency and feeds negative feedback loops longer than a Fizzbang combo.