Variety Incentives - Defense

This is complex, but after a number of discussions with folks about Guild Wars and the current boring meta, I think it strikes a good balance for PVP / Guild Wars.

  1. I don’t want to change it where defending teams get points. I like the idea that only attacks count and how successful an attack is begets more points. It gives more incentive to lower-ranking guild members to at least TRY, even if they can’t win most of their games. They can still contribute if they win 1/5 games (beyond the top 10 brackets, at least). Incentives/bonuses are therefore still applied to the ATTACKER, not the defender.

  2. Create a “meta attack bonus” (call it whatever you like) for PVP. This would apply to every PVP fight, including Guild Wars.
    Scan every defending team once/hour.
    Count the number of times a particular 4-card team is set for defense (GW and PVP). Seems like there is a sort of a process to do this now which “scores” teams. We could just add a couple of steps:
    … ρ = rank of each unique team where 1 = most copycat team
    … Ω = rank of first team with single entry in the table or lowest number of copies if none unique
    … Δ = 50% ÷ Ω
    … Bonus β = Δ(Ω ÷ ρ)
    This would max out at 50% or whatever other constant is used to calculate Δ. Hide the math for non-geeks. Just display a % or other feedback rating denoting how unique the team is or is not. β would be applied to gold, souls, trophies, pvp points, experience, and guild wars points as a bonus for defeating this team.

  3. For Guild Wars, scan the guild you are fighting at the time of the fight.
    Σ = Count of team you are fighting
    Guild Attack bonus = βΣ
    This removes incentive for any guild to field more than one copy of a PVP team. They could still field Famine or Kerberos based teams, but they must have some variation in the rest of the guild. Most likely, those teams would remain for Guild Paragons, but lower ranked members would be leaned on to pick something else.

Example 1:
2x Kerberos/Forest Guardian/Giant Spider is the most common combo for a given week. Beating this team gives a 50% “meta attack bonus.” Because a loss is still worth more than the 50% metric, this won’t “force” people not to field that team. They still might get RNG-based losses with it as Devour is kind of nutty right now. However, every person in the guild now also fields that same team. So, 30 times a 50% bonus = 15X points for beating that team. That means there is a significant reward to the attacker for beating it; much greater than depending on RNG loss via Devour.

Example 2:
Another guild’s Paragon is fielding Death Knight/Famine/Death/Famine. However, this player has consulted with their guild to make sure none of the other players are fielding that same team. A Champion is fielding the Kerb/FG combo. Everyone else has to make something up. Now, when you play against their guild, you get two unique teams, a team based on “bonus of the week,” a Kerb team and a Famine team. At least there is SOME variety, and they are not giving away too many points.

If you found references to OP, BS, and Mab, yes, it was intentional. Long live the Winter Court!

honestly i did not get very far but with this game having so many bugs and the multiple times that devs say they have limited time to look at some issues do you really think they will have/take the time to scan every defense team every hour

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Obviously, the scan is done by program, not a human. Also, I’ve played for about 2 years. This is a game play idea that many people would like to see (or similar). Go troll elsewhere.

I can’t see how this would work.

For me to change from my defence that wins almost 50% of the time, so I’m reducing players, that attack me, guild wars scores by almost half as they’re not reaching the paragon battle.

So you would need, under your proposed system, giving the attacker at least 100% bonus. Think my maths work, :slight_smile:

But the thing I dislike about this proposal is it penalises players for setting challenging defences. This shouldn’t happen in a mode that actually rewards defence wins.

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I may be in the extreme minority on this, but I don’t think Guild Wars defenses should be artificially incentivize moving away from “meta” teams by giving point bumps for beating them. Guild Wars one area specifically where I don’t think variety should be the focus at all. This is a “competitive” mode and this is what a “competitive” mode is going to entail as a product of both the game and human nature. The people that are already in the “like” camp for guild wars are more than likely not going to agree with this, and the people that dislike it still have a litany of other reasons to dislike it. Plus, it opens the door for massive levels of exploitation through artificially boosting a certain guild far higher than they should be because some guild happened to set the same defenses, whether or not they did it intentionally.

I’d also like to say that the troops themselves aren’t the problems. None of them. We won’t gain anything long term by nerfing the “problem” troops because of their efficacy in a guild wars setting. Plus, it sets a really bad precedent that all troops be designed paced for the Guild Wars aspect of the game rather than normal PvP. I would have gone with slightly altered abilities for some troops in guild wars troops specifically or even asymmetric design for guild wars defense troops (almost universally making them more deadly while also making them less random) but I highly doubt we would see the necessary dev resources put in to enact this (nor would I want them to at this point for something limited to just Guild Wars). They could also enact some weekly bans for guild wars specifically, especially when meta overlaps event boosts. Again though, this probably won’t go over well with at least some of crowd that already likes guild wars.

At this point, my best case scenario for Guild Wars is that we have get the people that actually like Guild Wars continuing to enjoy it and have everyone else shrug and realize “it is what it is” and that hopefully it becomes wholly optional by releasing the exclusive troops through other means (ie crafting).

As for normal PvP, I think this idea would work wonders there. We would need to stop any potential exploits. If the bonus is dependent on usage in PvP alone, four times (whatever) could easily be put up as a collaborative effort and give a disproportionate amount of rewards for the difficulty/clear time of said defense (ie., thread on forum "everyone use 4x peasant as their defense team). Basing it on overall usage plus win rate would still allow “soft exploiting” where someone could retreat a bunch of times to pad a teams stats, but game wide, I think this would be a drop in the bucket and a concerted effort would waste more time than its worth, since after you farm a bunch of wins off it the score is going to go down. Therefore, overall win rate for any given configuration should at least factor in to any kind of reward bonus. It doesn’t negatively affect the user in any way to continue to use their “meta” defenses, but the person on the other end would still be more appropriately compensated for what almost always amounts to an extra expenditure of time or effort. At the same time, since event boosted teams would generally have next to no usage but do require at least some extra time or effort associated with clearing them out because of their increased life and armor, event boosted troops should also give a separate, small, stacking reward bonus regardless of win rate. If an event and meta happen to overlap, you’d see a rather sizable reward jump for your “boss fight”. It would also soft incentivize the devs to not have event bonuses that overlap the meta :wink:

It would also be interesting if this applied somewhat on the offense side of things, since choosing which team to play is a huge majority of your gems of war experience past a certain point - way more than defense team outside of the few outliers (eg., the meta). This one could be based on usage and overall battles won across the game, but this might be damaging to the overall community because you might be reluctant to share your “secret team” and have the rewards go down. Having rewards based personal usage would also feel to some like penalizing them for playing the troops that they want as they watch their rewards dwindle further and further. Perhaps just an underused troop bonus based on the global (invade) troop usage stats over the past week (new troops being set toward the lower middle of the pack) might work. No need to give any further reward modifier to event troops on offense, because the underused ones are generally underused because they are slow rather than because of their ability to win a battle.

The attacker gets up to 15X bonus if your whole guild uses the same setup. If only you use it, they only get 1.5X.

I fully disagree with this. I play many competitive games, and I do not find them falling into the rut that Guild Wars is.

I want to be clear on a few points:

  1. I don’t have trouble winning. I’m 5/0 almost every day. Sometimes, there’s an RNG win because of a 5-drop for the AI and Kerb/FG combo puts up a Devour on the AI’s first turn. This is also why people run this defense: They know there’s a chance it can win without anything the attacker can do about it. At least on a stacked Famine team, I can play a couple of summoners (Abysnia works great) and dish up enough damage, eventually. With Kerb, there are some games that are no-chance, so I drop about 1 game/2 weeks to that nonsense.

  2. This is a game. It should be fun. Competitive doesn’t have to mean Repetitive.

  3. Getting people to change their defenders could be as simple as banning the top 20 cards for 2 cycles if they are the top cards for a cycle.

I actually change my team pretty often to line it up with the weekly meta. I did it for Cat Week and for Whitehelm/Divine week. My Whitehelm team actually returned about 66% win rate that week. So, there IS incentive to change, sometimes, but it doesn’t seem to line up with most players. They are content to copycat someone else in their guild, and that makes it boring AF.


So… quick insight into what we’re currently thinking here…

This is very insightful, and THIS is one of the 3 key big-picture things we need to address in a “best-case” solution.

  1. General troop balance issues
  2. Mechanics that are highly valuable when used in conjunction with a given meta (in this case the Guild Wars scoring system)
  3. A lack of feedback on how your defenses are affecting the outcome, coupled with a lack of clear reward for those defenses, which creates a certain inertia (i.e. “I’ll just copy his defense, because it looks cool, and because setting defenses is boring and doesn’t really give me anything”)

Fact is that @Paazabel is quite correct, we can see the best-performing defenses (in terms of wins at the higher levels) are the ones that are customized for the week’s events, or customized for a color-day (e.g. adding Amira on Blue day)… or both, obviously… but not the meta defenses. We’re just so %@#%#ing BAD at rewarding you for this behavior in Gems!!!

HOWEVER, as in point 2 above, the meta devour defenses in GW feel really valuable because Kerberos can get a quick random snack and mess up somebody’s perfect score, even though he’s unlikely to win. Similarly in high level PvP, where the meta evolved towards speed, mana drain is extremely effective at ruining somebody’s day!

To answer these issues, I don’t believe that the solution is necessarily:

  1. A bunch of troop nerfs… general troop balance issues aside (which we tinker with on occasion), have you noticed that for every thread saying “Nerf XXXX”, there will be a bunch of responses yelling “No!”. And I guarantee there are more in the 99.9% of our players who aren’t on the forums! I think the solutions here are more about mechanics and less abotu individual numbers.

  2. More counters… I generally dislike heavy-handed counters that make something completely obsolete, so don’t expect any of those any time soon. And while we DO have some more counters on the way, because more variety is good, I don’t feel these are a real solution to the problem, because (while I personally enjoy countering teams), many of our players do not seem to find enjoyment in that, which is fine.

  3. A heavy nerf to (or removal of) certain mechanics… because mostly they’re quite fun to use for players at a number of level ranges, and just doing this isn’t really addressing an underlying problem, which is something I speak to in pt #2 above…

"Mechanics that are highly valuable when used in conjunction with a given meta"
I think this is really the problem. The meta gets stuck, and the mechanics that are currently valuable in that meta cause certain troops to rise up and become prominent.

Currently, because it’s hard to actually have your defense WIN in end-game, AND because we’re bad at telling/rewarding you about that even when it does happen, the prevailing wisdom is (quite rightly) try to get kills with insta-kill mechanics… Things like devour become highly valued, and the meta becomes stuck.

I think the solution lies in finding ways to make it fun & rewarding to experiment with new stuff. And partly that might even be about presenting players with more options of teams to fight, where there is no implied obligation to “always take the 3-trophy fight in slot #3”. We’re working on some ideas there.

Weekly events have “un-stuck” the meta at certain level-ranges, but they’re NOT un-sticking it in the top 6 Guild War brackets. So we’ve done a good thing for 99% of the playerbase here :slight_smile: but the 1% up in the top brackets (who are highly represented on the forums) are having a poor experience. That’s obviously not something we want, and we’re actively working on stuff right now… it’s NOT a trivial issue to solve, and frankly I haven’t played too many games that ever solved it to a large degree, but hopefully we’ll have some ideas to share shortly.


@Sirrian any plan in the future to add a watch replay feature. I asked several time and never got a clear answer. I think if we could watch our defense fight and see what happen i would be more interested to try different combo. Especially in GW, we got no clue how well our team perform


I think that’s part of a solution right there!

Like all these games, creative players will evolve a meta, and giving them tools to help them test out new things, helps them do just that.


Quote of the day.:grinning:
Variety is the spice of life. Fighting the same team over and over again is repetitive and not fun.

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@Sirrian - Thanks for taking the time to reply. To the second poster on this thread, I have had a variety of issues with this game over the past two years, and this team has done a lot to take care of me. You folks care, and that buys a lot of patience with me.

Agreed. This is just a nerf of Card X that is on Card Y instead of Card X. The effect is the same.

I’m glad you agree with my reason for posting, but this line makes me feel like you guys will actually fix it. If all you want is to run bomb bots for quick wins, have at it. But I view this game like Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone. You collect cards because they are interesting, and it is fun to get them into a deck from time to time. I suppose you could play those games with a single “beat all” deck, but both games have different ways of dealing with cards that are “too powerful.” Often, banning them, or allowing them only under certain circumstances.

I’m sure it isn’t. However, one thing I’ll say is that I’m not in the top 6 brackets. Intriguingly, since I’ve come out to the forums to file my grievance, this week has held a lot more variety. But last week, I must have fought Kerberos 200 times between PVP and guild wars on two separate accounts. And while I won the overwhelming majority of those games, it isn’t interesting. I’m not driven to play PVP 40 hours/week vying for the top slot. So, I want some variety. I guess if I was playing thousands of games/week, then the “easy win” team is fine and we just move on. But my enjoyment of the game is not from racking up thousands of trophies/week - it comes from new challenges and decks that at least make me think about my next move.

My 2 cents is that it has to come as a change to the GW mechanics. I don’t want to NEVER face a Kerberos or Famine team. That’s NOT what I’m asking. I think those cards are fair game to face even on a semi-regular basis. However, as more and more teams seem to become THOSE teams, things are getting stale - even below Bracket 6. I realize that I’m often my guild’s Paragon, that I was the guild founder, and that I’m one of the most active members. I’m sure I could get into and meet req’s for a top guild. However, that’s just not appealing to me at this time. Maybe last week, I was just in a more competitive bracket with guilds who wanted to move up (as noted, there was more variety, this week). But something has to give.

I look forward to changes,they can’t come soon enough. However, I’m really curious about this:

I’ve read many posts from players in sub top 6 brackets indicating Famine/beast heavy teams. So how accurate is this 1% number? Are they really no longer regularly seeing these teams?

I think “how much is too much?” is quite a subjective question, so it’s difficult to answer. FWIW, here are a few observations that are more meaningful.

I’ve been examining teams used down through the brackets. After bracket 6, a drop off in meta teams begins. By bracket 30, you might average 1 devour troop per day in GW. By bracket 40, it’s 1 every 2 days. Keep in mind there are about 300-400 brackets in the game, so these brackets are relatively high up still. Brackets 25-40 are quite interesting in that they contain a lot of players who are in the L200-L400 range, many of whom have quite extensive collections of fully levelled, traited troops, and who are often quite creative in the teams they field on defense. They DO NOT have a high number of games per week, so do not choose to participate in high level guilds, but many of them are quite long term players. I would NOT characterize them as “casual”, probably just not able to devote more than 20-30 minutes per day to the game, because of their real life schedules.

I’m fairly certain that if everyone had the “bracket 25-40 experience”, we’d all be very happy, but the players in those brackets are playing for different reasons than the players at the top, and that’s one of the key factors here. We’d like for the game to appeal to all groups, naturally, and we DO NOT want to try and change the REASONS you are playing, so it’s more likely we might try to change some rules and THEREBY change the way high-tier players optimize their strategy.


Just to clarify this statement: This “watch replay” feature would let our opponent guild see the various invasion teams our guild have theorycrafted?

It is kind of weird. Last week, it was everywhere. I had one guild where it was every team. In fairness, the “weaker” members of said guild did not have everything fully traited, and therefore, not quite as dangerous. However, it is still a pretty awesome team for younger members of other guilds, so I can see how they all wanted to run it.

This week, we’re technically in a “higher” bracket than last week, but there’s a lot more variation. I have no idea what caused the change.

What about the overall impact skill bonuses have on the meta? When you first start out the game and all the way up into mid level, it is not uncommon for a non-hero lead troop to be taken out by two skull hits or single target spells. As you unlock more skill bonuses, two hits becomes three, then four, then traits multiply this further. This exists for spells as well - kingdoms give you 10 possible magic, but 16 life and 20 armor, guild gives 2 possible magic, but 8 life and 8 armor, and sentinels give a possible 10 life and 10 armor to 5 magic. The higher the skill bonuses get, the less the original values of the spells matter as well as anything boosted by anything that isn’t another skill. Instakills benefit the greatest from this type of scaling both because the troop using the ability can quickly nullify another troop and the troops themselves are harder to deal with with straight damage.

As an example, the oft-cited beast team “counter” Scarlett is not only herself vulnerable to the teams main gimmick, charges slower, uses different colors than what charges the biggest threat so can’t charge and deny at the same time, and also has potential to fall short of being able to kill Kerberos in one shot for a lower rank fighting a paragon or two equal ranks fighting on non-red day. Or, you know, when they have event boosts. And Amira, even on blue day, unless the paragon is fighting someone of much lower stats, is going to have something else soften most troops up in order to kill them with her spell, even on blue day. Some counters just break down when super high stats are in the mix given the ratio of defensive stats given to offensive stats, but deathmark and devour are always a “be immune or don’t get hit” type affair, because by that point it is out of your hands.

Looking forward to the barrier changes that will finally give both these some counter play that doesn’t revolve around straight immunity, but honeslty I’m skeptical. There have been trends for defenses for as long as I’ve been playing Gems of War that always dominate a great majority of battles and no amount of nerfing or counters has ever done anything but simply make something else popular.

This is exactly why I think a defense incentive for anything other than fielding what you truly believe to be the most effective team and winning in Guild Wars would likely be a mistake, but also why I don’t expect to see a lot of movement in the stuck metas. Playing to win is the core of guild wars for most of the people that enjoy it. Giving more information about how defenses are doing will help some people get creative, and many others will simply follow suit. Its not like person A’s troop B at the top end really differs much outside of a few stat points because of their Guild Wars rank. Maybe the shifting event boosts will be faster than people can copy, maybe they won’t.

However, PvP, even ranked PvP, generally has a much less “win at any costs” mentality, as defense is mostly tertiary to the mode as a whole both in terms of ladder climbing and reward gains. I think we could greatly benefit by rewarding players more for winning more with a semi-unique configuration on defense on one end, and rewarding players more for beating teams with a higher win rate on the other. The “toughest thing you can think of” is still a valid option if you like to see those high defense numbers and you’ll still get your rewards, but you might get a bit more free stuff if you put out a different configuration still capable of having a good win rate. On the other side, people that still have to fight the “meta” teams (or just “tough” teams) would at least get more rewards for doing so.

And if you feel it is not in the spirit of competition to do this for ranked PvP, then please consider doing this in casual PvP - after making it comparable to ranked reward wise in every way (including seals, glory, rivals and revenge bonuses) except the top 1000 leaderboard rewards so people that don’t care about this particular competition can remove themselves from the rat race without having to put forth an equal amount of effort for less rewards.

  • rewarding attacker (not defender) for defense uniqueness is very dangerous and suspicious to me and i do not recommend any form of it until devs clearly state that giving “easy points” to the enemy is prohibited (in guild wars), if there is a chance ppl could “game it” it would better not be implemented

  • scanning every player defense each hour is super horrible idea and i hope it will never ever be implemented. look back at the issues where we had servers overloaded - now this would couse such issues every hour? remmember even now when the servers are overloaded at the weekly reset some task rewards dont come over? the max i can imagine is scanning the team once a week and - if you dont wanna lock it - just give it the “worst, most common meta” score if defender changes it during the week

  • generally scoring the defense for its uniqueness is a nice idea but i hope it would rather reward the defender (for successfull defense wins for example) while he/she fields it

  • also i would like other ideas that were posted all over the forum to be implemented instead or along with this one if there was gonna be any changes/incentives to defense fielding

I’d also like to point out that the current troop system nudges you in a not-so-gentle way towards reusing the same defense over and over again.

There are only 20 team slots, I’m using about half of them for various mono-color invade team, some for PvP, some for Explore. I’d probably set up varied defense teams for each day, I’m out of team slots though. So it’s either juggling team setups throughout the week (and probably horribly messing up due to the team reset glitch) or using one of the annoying all-purpose meta teams. Laziness wins.

There’s just one active hero class. I might like to throw an Assassin, Archer, Mechanist or even Orbweaver into my defense team. However, I’m not going to get up precisely at daily reset to switch over to the hero class my daily team would be based on. And not doing so would weaken my defense team quite considerably, I might as well just field a random team. Hello Death Knight, enjoy your permanent stay.


This is already done, to some extent. All teams are scanned for team “scoring.” I don’t know how often that scan runs, but it behaves like a continuous calculation on a microservice. I don’t know what is under the hood, but the “Mongo” card tells me this wouldn’t be as big of a deal as you suggest. :wink:

There is no easy fix. This is my suggestion based on the notion that we want Guild Wars participation among “middle” guilds and not just the very top. As such, most defense-based-points schemes would penalize them for not having the cards of higher players. Right now, you don’t have to go 5/0 all week to contribute something to your guild, which encourages greater participation. I like that aspect of it. Therefore, my system penalyzes copy cats by rewarding their opponents. Could it be “gamed?” Yeah, probably. But I’m of a mind that the system is current “gamed” by Devour, anyway.

Other suggestions, like banning the top 20 most used cards for a few weeks, would really hit the middle groups who may only have a handful of legendaries in the first place. Banning Mab on a given week, for example, would really cripple those players who have Mab and not much else.