As mentioned elsewhere, I can write a whole thread on Delves – so here we go!
I’ll start with a contextual history, before jumping into ideas for what can be done.
History and Design
When Factions and Delves were first introduced, there were no power-boosting Potions. While an average player could certainly increase their Delve level somewhat during Events (I can’t recall if these were present at launch or not), reaching level 500 required using Daily Delve Sigils to progressively build up. If you missed an Event, or were a new player, it would take 16-17 days (3 Sigils a day) to go from level 20 to 500.
However, with the right troops and the right team, this was very much doable. In particular, late-game players found this challenging but achievable.
When it came to the Pure Faction team attempts, it was very much a different story. I suspect that the designers did not anticipate how powerful teams like Irongut’s would be in Delves, so did not realise how big a power gap there would be between an unrestricted Delve team and a Pure Faction team. Presumably, they expected players to have to push their Hoards up to level 400+ just to reach level 500.
The Fix that Didn’t
The “fix” that the devs introduced was adding Potions to the Faction Event Shop Tiers.
Unfortunately, this fixed completely the wrong problem without truly addressing the actual problem.
As I said, Level 500 Delves were/are completely doable in late-game without Potions and without Faction Events, just using Daily Delve Sigils. In contrast, Pure Faction cannot reliably be done this way from about level 200 (sometimes even lower) with a Hoard level around 100.
Introducing Potions made it possible for those with enough Gems (roughly 2,000 each time) and time (roughly 8-14 hours, depending on many factors) to max out the Reknown of a Faction at launch – or even on a Tuesday. And because Pure Faction L500 is so hard without Potions, it put a tremendous amount of pressure on people to do exactly that.
This is dumb.
First, doing 150 to 450 battles in a weekend is a huge time commitment, and a very boring grind. This feeling gets worse with each new Faction, discouraging people from continuing to play the game.
Second, maxing a Faction on a Tuesday is simply not an option for most players. Most people work, and few have the patience for this kind of marathon effort. Even with hyper-focus, I’ve only managed this once, so far.
Third, as new players join the game – or reach the required power level to attempt L500 Delves – they find they’ve missed the opportunity of launch weekend.
Fourth, while Potions do significantly speed up the grind from L20 to 500 (Urskayan Crown/Rowanne reached all the way to level 500 in Eldrazhor, with Hoard L155 and Zhul’Kari L15), it is still a grind, and still repetitive if you ever need to do it again.
Fifth, once a Faction is done, we never revisit it. It’s dead content after a single weekend for many players. That’s a lot of developer effort for something that disappears from our minds far too quickly.
Sixth, Daily Delve Sigils are now essentially useless for most players.
Finally, Pure Faction L500 is still very hard, slow, and based too much on sheer luck.
So the “fix” of Potions made something that was already fairly easy, no challenge at all. It forced us into a painful grind that makes us not want to play the game. And it didn’t make Pure Faction attempts any easier, relative to unrestricted teams.
I’m afraid to say, that’s a pretty big stuff-up!
I see two key problems with the whole Delves set-up:
- We only get one realistic chance at reaching max Reknown: launch weekend.
- Pure Faction is much harder than using an unrestricted team – by many orders of magnitude!
A third, more indirect, problem is that the way players approach Delves today is very much out of line with how the Faction eco-system was designed. The prime indicator of this is the low value of Daily Delve Sigils.
How to Fix Delves
Obviously, there’s dozens of options, all with pros and cons. But let’s try to address at least two, and maybe all three, of what I see as the Key Problems. Obviously, I’m not advocating all of these ideas operate simultaneously! And any numbers (like “double”) would need tweaking.
Simple Power Boosts
- Allow Class Talents to operate with Pure Faction teams, even though the Hero is not present.
- Allow Weapons or Classes from the parent Kingdom to be used directly in a Pure Faction team.
- Double the Kingdom Level Hoard Bonus for Pure Faction teams.
- Double the Hoard level if you spend all 3 Daily Sigils and use a Pure Faction team.
Note that all of these address only the second and third problems. What’s more, going down this route, you might as well remove Potions entirely from Faction Events!
Most of these should only apply after a given Delve has reached L500 with a lossless run. That is, all but Pure Faction Reknown should be maxed.
- Apply Potions to Daily Sigils for a Delve during its Faction Event. (Con: You end up with a lot of unused Sigils.)
- Offer an option to spend multiple Sigils at a time to skip levels during a Faction Event. For example, after completing L20, spend 10 Sigils to jump straight to L100, another 10 to 200, etc. (Pro: This maintains the “Gem sink” aspect of Faction Events.)
- In a Tuesday Faction Event, allow the player to spend half as many Gems to regain the full Potion effects they had during the previous Faction Event.
- In a Tuesday Faction Event, allow the player to spend less Gems for the same number of Potions, but for no extra Sigils, and allow them to skip levels.
The biggest issue with these ideas is that they ignore the tiered-Rewards aspect of the Faction Event, in favour of giving the player another chance at Pure Faction L500. Essentially, they only solve the first problem, while making the third significantly worse.
That said, level-skipping is an acceptable option under the current system.
I believe the best approach for addressing all three problems is to create a system that makes Pure Faction L500 achievable using Daily Delve Sigils.
- Event scoring is not disrupted.
- There is far less pressure to max out a Faction at launch.
- Players get a choice.
- Players are less likely to quit because they get sick of the Faction Launch grind.
- Newer players aren’t faced with the daunting task of trying to max out a Faction on a Tuesday.
- The value of Daily Delve Sigils is restored.
Cons to Address:
- Players will spend fewer Gems at Faction launch.
- Some added complexity to explain to players.
- Some new coding modules.
I think the simplest idea may be to add an extra shop to each Faction Event. This shop would allow you to buy Potion-like bonuses that only function in Daily Delves for that Faction, and only when using a Pure Faction team.
- These bonuses might last one week (in which case they could be added to any Shop interface), or for a given number of attempts, or until that Faction comes back around in Tuesday events.
- To access the bonuses, you might need to spend all three Daily Delve Sigils at once, or just one (so over a week you might get 7 attempts or 21).
- To access this shop, you might need to have the Faction otherwise maxed in Reknown, or it could be available at any Delve level.
- The price could depend on your Delve level.
- Later top-ups might or might not be available.
- This shop might give extra Event Sigils (though fewer than the Event Shop), or it might give none at all.
- The price might be paid in Gems, or in Arcane Traitstones.
I would change the order of Potions in this shop, as well as making the pricing more linear. For example, make every “tier” cost 100 Gems. You could even let the player choose which effects to buy.
If the shop tiers are ordered, as now, I would basically interleave Tier 7 bonuses (which are essential to have any chance of L500 Pure Faction) in between the other bonuses. For example:
- +7 all Skills
- +7 all Skills
- +7 all Skills
13+. +7 all Skills
Or, just include the +7 in every Tier, and increase the price.
- Nothing has been done to fix the Pure Faction L500 problem that doesn’t also undermine the original design of Delves.
- While boosting the power of just Pure Faction teams would help, there is still just one realistic opportunity for Pure Faction L500: at launch.
- A shop that gives boosts only to Pure Faction teams and only when using Daily Delve Sigils has many advantages, and can be priced in a way that satisfies both players and the publisher.
- There are other options, but what I’ve described is hopefully a good benchmark for assessing them.