All right. Let’s warm up. Roll your eyes, nice and big. Hold it. You were going to do it anyway so let’s get it out of the way.
This week’s bounty and raid were fairly miserable for me, marked with a lot of losses out of nowhere. When I start losing, I start paying more attention. I want to see what’s going wrong and adjust around it. I started noticing some patterns in the AI that are… curious, at best. I think the intentions are good, but they also sow the seeds of player suspicion.
Imagine, if you will, a board with an obvious 3-skull match and an obvious 3-green match. They’re on opposite ends of the board and won’t disrupt the other if taken. No obvious cascades anywhere. Which would you expect to see the CPU take? My bet’s on the skull match. It should know if it takes the green match, I get the skull match.
(Are there situations where you might let the skull go? Sure. Maybe you’ve got Rock Solid and maybe you’ve got a troop that needs 3 green to get online. We’re not in that situation. This is just a plain choice between two matches.)
I’m finding the CPU skips skull matches an awful lot. When you do that, there’s always some small chance that the gems you displace cause a cascade + free turn to fall. It’s rare. It doesn’t happen more often than it should for the CPU, in my opinion. But here’s the thing: when it happens after the CPU appears to make a “stupid” move, I’m way more likely to cry unfair. It makes it look like the CPU had psychic knowledge of what would fall and knew the green match would lead to a free turn so it could get green mana AND a skull match.
It’s weird when, say, it takes a vertical 3-match underneath an obvious skull match. Why didn’t it take the skulls? 90% of the time I get the turn back and I’m “whew”. 10% of the time a skull falls out of the sky and I’m mad.
Why’s the CPU ignoring obvious skull matches? I think the devs might’ve done this because if it plays “too smart” players won’t be happy to lose more. But as I’ve outlined above, when it skips an obvious move and turns out better for it, a player’s natural inclination is to think something fishy’s going on.
The CPU shouldn’t be missing really obvious matches. It’s not just skull matches. I’ve seen it miss obvious 4 or 5 matches on occasion. I don’t think it’s psychically predicting skyfall: more often than not the only result is I laugh at how dumb it is. But one last time: when the CPU has really good luck after making a really stupid move it sticks out. Especially when you’re forced to play a lot of matches in game modes where you have comparably bad troops like Bounty. My games have been longer and I’ve seen a lot more of the CPU’s moves lately, and it’s just… weird.