Why I do the "1-troop defense" thing in PvP

This post is actually about motivating and rewarding desired behavior. I think most people would agree that it’s desirable for people to put out their strongest defenses and to feel that 3-trophy, more challenging fights are generally worth the effort, over 1 or 2-trophy easier fights, or at least that the rewards match the risk/effort/time.

However, when you look at the reward system, the motivations work the other way. Certain rewards scale up with “challenge” such as glory and money (but not fast enough), and two very important rewards do not scale at all: traitstones and Guild Seals (they are simpliy awarded per battle, not per Troop defeated, and do not scale up from 1-trophy to 3-trophy fights).

I’ve found when I tune a team to rapidly take out a 1-troop defense as quickly as possible (ideally a 1-Elspeth Defense), my overall rewards per hour vastly outperforms anything else I can do. I can do about 65 of those battles per hour, as opposed to about 20 battles per hour using my fastest “3-trophy” team, which takes me on average about 3 minutes per battle to complete.

With 65 battles per hour using the “1-troop” technique, it means I get about:

  1. 4-5 times the gold per hour
  2. 3 times as many traitstones per hour
  3. 3-4 times as much glory per hour
  4. 3-4 times as many trophies per hour

etc. etc. There’s actually no reward that doesn’t come in at a very significantly faster rate, except perhaps souls… but as I now have something like 600k+ souls I no longer track that at all.

So, the point of all this is: the reward system might be reconsidered in a fashion that rewards a win against a 3-trophy, 4-troop Defense in a way that makes it more attractive than simply playing a rapid set of 1-troop, easy wins.

Now, I know many people will say “but I only play 3-trophy defense teams for the challenge. Anything else and you’re not doing it right.” And for those folks, the challenge of those fights is worth earning 1/3 to 1/4 the reward per hour played. But my own play is tuned towards what winds up rewarding me the most over time.

My main goal at this point is to trait out my troops. And for that, what I need the most are battles, not “challenge” and I can get 65 battles/traitstones per hour with this technique.

if they rewarded 1 traitstone per Defense Troop killed, for instance, then of course it would all turn on it’s head, and suddenly you’d be looking for 4-troop Defense teams as you could make more per hour doing that. Or, perhaps the quality of traitstone improves - that is, the chance of getting an arcane and such goes up with the 1, 2, or 3 trophy fights.

Anyway, regardless of the exact tweaks, I’m just pointing out that the current reward system seems to motivate the fastest possible cycling of battles, vs. winning over the most challenging Defense teams. I’m not sure that’s really what they intended, but it seems that’s how it plays out right now.


I have yet to see back to back one troop defence teams to play in 1,2 or 3t pvp matches. They are pretty rare in my experience. How are you able to fight only one troop consistently to arrive at your 65 + pvp matches per hour ?


Now i think your numbers are quite a bit off, but i am inclined to say you might be right with one troop matches edging out 3 trophy matches reward-wise, albeit being much closer than you present it.

But anyways, isn’t that a rather good thing? Even though i rarely use the 1/2 trophy option myself, unless it is a revenge/rival fight, i think it is awesome that these choices are not just a pity option with consolation rewards, but are fully viable options for anyone interested in it.
If taking the 1-trophy fights is your thing, not getting punished for it reward-wise only speaks for the game.
Personally i am more of a 3 trophy guy, in the long run these battles will keep me more interested and motivated and result in me spending more time in the game and getting more rewards that way.

I think two things. First my own defense is a 1-troop variety (either elspeth by default or for instance this week it’s a beast to give people the gem). By having a 1-troop defense, it reduces your own overall troop strength score to be within range of others who do the same, so about 80-90% of the matches that pop up for me have 1-troop offerings (and surprisingly, while most are of the 1 trophy variety, many are 2, or even in the 3-trophy slot).

The other dynamic is the “Rival/Revenge” thing - once i start hitting a lot of the 1-troop teams, they start coming up much more often, as they are matched up deliberately as revenge and rival fights, and they come with glory bonuses!

When I happen not to get any 1-troop offerings, I’ll either spend a gem to cycle the list, and I almost always get one, or I’ll “pause” and just do the 3-trophy battle with my standard fast team of that kind, and continue after. When I was compiling my stats on the different playstyles, I spent more gems than I usually would so that I could get a couple of hours of 100% 1-troop fights in order to calculate how many I could do in a given hour on average. Most of the time I do sprinkle in a few 3-trophies but it’s surprisingly few once I get going.


Sure, that’s a good point. Actually the numbers - for me anyway - are dead on, as I’ve tracked all this for hours with a stopwatch and spreadsheet lol.

I wanted to validate my “sense” of what the rewards were doing, and so I have hard numbers over several hours of play to back up my own stats. However, I’m also VIP 11, so perhaps my overall stats might differ from someone that’s not. I’m also level 1000+ with most of my troops fully traited mythic (at least the ones I use on these teams), so perhaps that might alter things for those that are not. I guess the message is “your mileage may vary”.

And sure, it IS great that different playstyles “work” in GoW, so perhaps it’s not as much of a big problem as just an observation on how rewards trend, at least for me.

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Just as a note, the souls is about a break even unless you intentionally fiddle with it. If you get a lucky board Valkyrie can fill in 1-2 matches even against Elspeth, and with Pharos Ra and/or some necromancy troops in the mix a single cast can be 100 souls.

To answer essle, it’s self reinforcing. Setting your own defense low and playing lower strength teams presents more lower strength opponents. Eric has detailed most of this above, but your picks are also important. If you fight hard(er) 3s then the algorithm tends to sort you harder fights regardless of your defense. Using this week as an example without adjusting my defense while I was hunting snotstones for the beast event I was getting much tougher fights in general, but after I finished that off and started going low those matches came back.

An Elspeth fight for pure speed, a single beast fight for speed and snot progress, or yet another Kerberos/Forest Guardian/Giant Spider deck for a more annoying fight with 4+ snots. And that’s just a random snap of my current offers.


Right, that’s what my typical offers would look like as well. I very often have 2 single-troops to choose from, and sometimes even three. Of course, not always, sometimes it’s 3 4-troop matches across the board, and then I’ll either pop a gem to cycle it if I feel like it or just pick one and do it.

I find, by the way, with my kingdoms where they are for tribute, that I do not spend more gems than I earn in an hour on my cycling of the fights, so I don’t really do it THAT often and in balance I still earn gems per hour, even if not quite so many. But the other rewards - especially the traitstones - tend to make it worthwhile for me.


Speedgrinding PvP is also the fastest way I’ve seen to rack up seals. If you’re participating in GW hitting 1500 fast means you get more bonus seals for daily wins. If you’re under 1500 they count towards your cap, but when you hit the cap you get them free and clear. Hitting 1500 by the end of the week isn’t hard, hitting it in 48 hours takes some work.


@EricBLivingston are you on pc/mobile?

I have heard many times the 1 troop defense theory but have never tried it. I wonder if it works slightly different depending on platform. If you are on pc/mobile or it doesnt make a difference i may try it.

Single troop defenses kinda bug me, especially single event boosted troop, because they take almost as much time and effort to clear out as full teams with the same score (occasionally more) while still offering absolutely no threat. Single Elspeth I don’t mind as much, as functionally it is just a way to repick when you run into it, but even that gets old when it happens over and over and over and the choice is either that or some irritating thing that got boosted by the event.

The relative reward speed as it stands is already in part because three trophy also have a lot of quick charging, random instadeath things you have to use slightly slower, more reliable control teams to be consistent with, or have “speed bumps” in the form of death knight. My average speed for a three trophy a few months ago was about 90 seconds over an hour long test (including all reward and loading screens, counting meta teams, etc). This has dropped significantly for me, probably to beyond the two minute range unless I use an “all or nothing” speed team that can fall apart to a coin flip that the team is unable to prevent because it doesn’t have enough control, and I’d rather not give these people the satisfaction. Plus, full event boosted teams take longer to chew through. Meanwhile, speed for an average one or two trophy has increased significantly, because they have a chance of being a single troop, which can be finished in under a minute if you bring a team specifically targeting dealing with single troops, or single elspeth, which can be finished in thirty seconds after loading screens. Pre-events, my gold speed was faster on the “easier” battles if I used specific speed farming teams to flip them, but only by a little. The gap also continues to widen with each batch of skill bonuses, where the upper and lower bound of gold rewards only increases slightly but usually has you moving more toward the lower bounds for your average three trophy fight, with average match time also increasing (as defensive stats are almost always given in greater quantity than offensive stats).

What I’m saying is, be careful what you wish for. Having the highest score three trophies matches be worth more time wise on at least one front can easily be accomplished by moving the baseline gold reward for single troop or just low score in general defenses down.

The formula probably could be looked at, though, if it is just for the purposes of smoothing the curve between “minimum” and “maximum” payouts. I get my minimum gold reward for everything into the 7k score range and into the 8k range barely changes the total by less than 50 gold. Its not until the mid 9000s where I’m fighting things considered “equal” do I start getting the “big” gold bonuses, which are still not even double what my baseline is, when in reality, the mid 8k teams can be every bit as deadly but are just slightly faster to clear out occasionally. The more global score bonus you have, the worse it is on this front, and the more you benefit by flipping weak matches as fast as possible. A large part of it is guild skill bonuses being worth so much global score bonus, while contributing almost nothing to your offensive prowess.

[details=For Example (863 is my minimum payout):]


I am on PC & Mobile (play on PC and iPhone) and the behavior is the same on both platforms

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Thanks brudda i only nee like 15 more snots then i think ill try it… Hows your trophy count using this method per hour? (Forgive me if you stated this already and i missed it)

Well, it’s important to note that the fastest 3T team I have averages 3 minutes a match, especially now with higher-strength “event” Defenses, and DMs and such requiring strong cleansing and such. For the 3T teams I tend away from the teams that are “glass cannons” and can hit hard and fast on a good board but are fragile and lose on a bad one. I prefer “tanky” teams that win a little slower but are 98%+ reliable.

So, all that said, my 1-troop “shock team” can do 65 matches in an hour, as opposed to 2 matches in an hour for my 3T team.

Which means, that even if I did 100% 1-Trophy matches against 1-Troop Defenses, I’d break even on trophies against an all-3-trophy approach. But in reality it’s better than that, because often I’ll have a 1-troop option in the 2T or even 3T slot. So I can safely say that it’s at least as good, and generally better, while bumping up all other rewards significantly for me.

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“Single Troop defense” is a misnomer. What actually matters is the total score of your team. If you have any low level, untraited troops left, you can easily out a low score defense with four troops and it will have the same effect. I take advantage of this from time to time without resorting to putting out a “single troop” defense ever. For example, I never bothered leveling, traiting or ascending bone scorpion from a few weeks ago, so I tossed a few of those up to help people out as my “low score” defense. The effect is noticeable on your average battles offered (even if “anecdotal”, because nobody has bothered gathering long term data, but when you do it it will be fairly obvious over time), but that doesn’t mean you won’t still be offered the occasional maxed out meta team with a low score defense or single-troop defenses with your high score defense. I do know that I’ve never been offered sub-6k teams on my three trophy with a high score defense team out, but it is a rather frequent occurrence with a low score defense team.

Might not be the best way to farm snots, though. Not many people in the super low score range have full beast teams up in my experience. For that, I’d just refresh in casual PvP until you see “the team” (you know the one) and beat it for your four snots.


Well, it’s not really a misnomer. if you want minimum troop scores, then 1 troop is less than four. I also still have my Bone Scorpion on white, and if I have a single one out there, my defense team’s score is 5,561. If I add even one more, for two of them, my score rises to 6,536, almost a thousand more. So if you’re looking to minimize your overall score, then 1-troop defenses with a white troop is the way to go.

@EricBLivingston thanks for sharing.

I also often do the one-troop-defence thang - but for different reasons.

I agree that pure gold generation may come out a bit faster, though with a full strength defence I get c. 1400 base gold per game, with one-troop defence I get c. 850 base gold per game, so it’s probably closer than your maths indicates, as @Gouki said.

For me: you missed the main obvious reason I set the single common Aurai on defence: variety. With a full strength defence, I get meta crap defences (one of only say three real team combos) for 95% of games. With a one-troop defence, I get way more variety.

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Well, that’s a good point… after the first few dozen beast/kerb defenses, or the stale Khorvash/Mab/blah blah defenses… these formulaic ones really start to just get very tedious and I’ll easily hop on a 1 or 2T defense that’s more varied even if I get fewer rewards… I just hate slogging through psion/famine/death/famine yet again… and again… and again…


Basically equal, possibly better. I’m getting about three times as many fights in, so if they’re 1s it’s equal, and each time you can take a 2 or 3 you get ahead.

Ive been doing this for a couple of hours now and my gold has increased and traitstones obviously all else seems pretty equal so far but i am definitely gonna keep using this strategy :grin:

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Thanks for sharing. I hope that it will not give ideas to devs to nerf the 1-troop defense grinding :stuck_out_tongue: .

I was surprised by this one:

Really? 3 times means that you should do an average of 2.8 trophies for your 65 battles which seems super high (for 4 times it will be 3.7 trohpies -> impossible). A wild copy-paste? :wink: