As I sit here exploring, grinding gold, with my gold team, I notice that my Skeleton Key sometimes gives me a treasure map. It’s one of eight weapons that have the “Treasured” weapon trait/upgrade, which provides a 10% chance for a Treasure Map when using the ability.
Four troops also have something to do with treasure maps. Captain Skullbeard, for instance, creates 5 skulls, plus 3 more for every treasure map collected (that’s 35 skulls max – although he then explodes the gems, so he’s pretty useless).
Lil’ Johnny Bronze does one even better – he creates 8 skulls, plus 4 more for every treasure map. There’s no “up to” on him either (like so many troops that create a max of around 14 skulls), so you could potentionally create 48 skulls. Then he has a 20% chance to give you a treasure map. Marid and Tyri also have a 20% chance at a treasure map.
Go into a battle, look at the top of the screen. Gold, Souls, and Treasure Maps. They must sure be important if they are one of the three resources you can obtain during battle. In fact, getting one is pretty difficult outside of pure chance, you need to have a lengthy cascade of gem matches (7+), not something you can just plan on.
You can also buy Treasure Maps – 51 maps in total, for $5. What a deal. They must be pretty special – they give access to one of Gems of War’s “mini games” – alongside things like the Soulforge, Arena, Dungeon, etc.
So why does no one actually use treasure maps? I’ll admit, when I first started playing, I was hooked on them and I thought I was really on to something. “I can go infinite with these babies, if I just get enough glory from each treasure hunt, I can buy another map!”
Now, Arena is already pretty bad and needs a dire rework, because one of the things that really annoys me about Arena is that you get zero class experience. You get a good amount of trophies, some souls, a little gold, but nothing else – no glory like from PvP, go tokens like in explore, and only hero XP.
But Treasure Hunts are even worse. You don’t get any hero experience either. What can you get from Treasure Hunts? Gold, Souls, Glory, Glory Keys, Gem Keys, Gems, and Traitstones.
Just like the standard board, there are 64 gems to match, and your rewards are based on how many of each item you have when you run out of moves. You’ll have a mix at the end of Bronze, Silver, and Gold coins, then Pouches, then Brown, Green, and Red chests, and finally Vaults.
What are the rewards like?
If you ended the match with 64 Bronze coins, you’d get 64 gold. Well, that’s really bad. Maybe it gets better. If you ended with 62 Silver Coins, you’d get 3x that amount: 192 gold. Okay, that’s just awful, I get 8200 gold per minute doing explore, on top of every other reward.
Well, maybe with the other rewards, it’ll get better… 64 Gold Coins would get me 640 gold. Ugh, this is terrible. Maybe pouches are better. A pouch gives 30 gold, so 64 of them is 1920 gold. Okay, but not all of those will be gold, some will be souls. If it’s half and half, then we’re looking at 960 gold, and 96 souls.
But you know, most people don’t end the match with a board full of pouches, in fact, that’s impossible, because they would all combine. But looking at the max value helps us determine just how bad the rewards really are.
This is because there is a “max” to the amount of rewards, a hard cap. As you go further into the match, your rewards increase by an amount dictated by how much time you’ve invested and how many moves you’ve made. This is evident by the fact that some players have done crazy things in the number of Vaults they’ve gotten, which can award either 40 glory, 5 gems, 6 glory keys, or 2 gem keys. But the amount of time it takes to get 1 vault increases for each vault you already have.
This is also why the most efficient way to farm for gems is to simply end the game with the most green chests possible in the shortest amount of time. Why? Because 3 green chests gives you a chance at 0-3 gems, but 1 red chest only gives you a chance of 0-2 gems.
For a game that pushes treasure maps so hard (and we’ve also seen them introduced now in Campaign tasks), you’d think they would actually be fun and rewarding, but that is simply not the case, or I wouldn’t be sitting on 9718 of them. If they were worthwhile, I would have 0 them, because I’d use them all.
Treasure Hunts need to work, because they are a part of the game, simple as that. But they also take us out of the game. Once you’re in a Treasure Hunt, there is zero connectivity, game wise, to the rest of the game. You don’t have a hero, you don’t have a class, you don’t have troops, the game rules even fly out the window, because when you match gems, they don’t fall the same way (because a gem is left over in its place). The only connection that Treasure Hunt has to the actual game is the minuscule rewards, and the bevy of places that try to give us treasure maps.
I don’t believe the solution is simply to increase the current rewards, as they are so out-dated. There are no chaos shards, writs, or deeds in treasure hunt rewards. In fact, there are tons of things that aren’t there: vault keys, chaos shards, orbs, jewels, pet food, ingots, forge scrolls, writs, and deeds.
And the rewards aren’t the only problem: spending any amount of time in a treasure hunt is time you aren’t able to spend leveling your hero, your classes, or earning trophies. In fact, the more time you spend in a treasure hunt, the worse it becomes. The rewards are the opposite of exponential. As you fill the board with higher rewards (red chests and vaults), you run out of room, and it takes more planning to make more matches, but the rewards often don’t out-pace the time investment. How long does it take, for instance, to get a single vault, which gives you a chance at 5 gems, vs how long it takes to just get 5+ green chests?
If the game is going to continue referencing treasure hunts, selling treasure maps, requiring hunts for tasks, etc. it needs a monumental overhaul of treasure hunts from the ground up.