First, an overview
Let’s start with some numbers:
The Soulforge requires 330 Runes to fully upgrade. Cursed Gnomes drop 10 - 15 Runes, for an average of 12.5.
Cursed Gnomes are rare. While the true numbers haven’t been revealed, player reports suggest that Cursed Gnomes show up roughly every 500 fights on average. The “celebration boost” likely doubled the chance to find one, making the standard rate roughly one in every 1000 fights.
Infinity Plus Two once claimed that the average player fights 25 battles each day. This includes Dungeons (no gnomes), Quests (no gnomes), Challenges (no gnomes), Delves (no gnomes), World Events (no gnomes), Boss Raid (no gnomes), Invasion (no gnomes), Tower of Doom (no gnomes) and Bounty (no gnomes). A generous estimation of the number of fights allowing gnomes would be 10, for sake of simplicity.
So, how long will it take the average player to open up the whole Soulforge?
- 330 Runes / 12.5 Runes from each Cursed Gnome = 27 Cursed Gnomes required
- 1000 fights / 10 fights each day = one Cursed Gnome each three months
- 27 Cursed Gnomes at three months each = almost 7 years
Good news though, there’s probably going to be a few days each year with a higher chance to find Cursed Gnomes, like during Vault Events. Let’s be unusually optimistic and assume that the average player only needs a total of 5 years to get there, this really helps to appreciate this part better:
It’s worth noting that the average player has only unlocked the ability to craft everything within the Soulforge at this point. After 5 years of preparation, the average player can now finally begin with the real work, farming a few more years worth of Runes to actually craft something. Don’t we all love stories with a happy ending.
Second, an attempt to salvage the wreckage
While the 0.1% of unreasonably active players will require less than 5 years to fully unlock the Soulforge, it’s probably not a good idea to tailor this whole feature to their play style.
1.) Unlocking Soulforge levels isn’t a goal for players, buying something in the Soulforge is. Which makes it an Exceptionally Bad Idea to require players to spend the very same currency needed to buy anything at all on unlocking. It’s like offering to sell something in your local grocery store, except that you first have to spend a few years of income on a Grocery Admittance Badge. And it doesn’t help that the peddler doing his rounds sells half of the stuff way cheaper anyway with no strings attached.
The kill counter system to upgrade the forge up to level 10 worked well. Players could make progress in any game mode, each day, in a reliable way, without having to waste hours on the hope that some secret spawn rates actually got configured correctly for once. Those in a hurry could still throw gems at it. Levels 11 - 20 should work the same. Possibly slap some huge kill counters on to make it take a long while, just don’t make it use up the Runes required for actually crafting anything. Change the one-shot recipes to consume a minor amount of Runes instead.
2.) Look at the recipe costs, especially for items that require repeated crafting:
- Crafting medals requires 5 medals one rarity tier lower, which is overpriced enough on its own to make players avoid it. When upgrading troops, a medal can already be replaced with 3 medals one rarity tier lower. Crafting also asks for Souls and Celestial Traitstones on top, plus several heavily gated Runes. Is this a trap for those mathematically challenged?
- Crafting a Forge Scroll requires 100 Writs. We get 10 of those every couple of weeks as Ultra-Rare Adventure Board task. It also asks for Souls and Celestial Traitstones on top, plus 5 heavily gated Runes. How are players ever supposed to be able to craft 55 Forge Scrolls to upgrade a single Doomed/Cursed weapon, let alone several dozen of them?
- Crafting the cosmetic pet requires Souls, Celestial Traistones and a whopping 10 heavily gated Runes. For a single copy, so those actually into collecting visual fluff that doesn’t provide any gameplay benefit whatsoever can feel the pain 31 times, while ascending the pet to max level.
If you really do need to prevent players from using the Soulforge more than a few times each year, for consumables that are actually needed in large quantities, at least make the extra cost on top of the artificial bottleneck resource reasonable. A special occasion shouldn’t need to feel special in a bad way.
3.) Make Runes obtainable somewhat reliably. Possible options:
- Add a single Rune to each Vault battle reward.
- Replace the Daemon Gnome (what is it even doing there?) in Epic Vault battles with a Cursed Gnome.
- Make a Cursed Gnome battlecrasher show up each day, capped at 1.
- Replace a reward in the 7 day login calendar with Runes.