The new player experience, and the current state of Gold League

suggestion

#1

I wanted to share some thoughts about the current state of Gold League and the new player experience in general.

Gold League is where most motivated new players go, since it’s the highest league with easy enrollment at levels that you can reach in your first few months of playing. It’s also the first league where team prizes for events are worth competing over, even if they’re still small.

It seems like most of the attention—both here on the forums, and from the devs—is on the high-level player experience, and some things have changed since most of you guys were hatchlings. :wink: There are a few problems that I haven’t seen much recent discussion of, likely because new players are underrepresented here, although maybe I just missed it. Here’s my list:

  1. Way too many level 200s and 300s in low-level leagues. From what I can tell, it used to be the case that advanced players might have lower-leveled alts in Gold. They’d have advantages over most players of their level, in the form of being better at the game, but the players they’d beat could learn from them, and eventually start using the same tricks. Everyone won. Nowadays, advanced players are taking their main accounts to gold. Level 40s are competing against level 300s in events. It’s like having pro athletes come down to break up your little league game; it’s not fun at all, and it’s completely demotivating. New players can’t use the same tactics as these guys, because the main tactic is “be thousands of times stronger than you currently are, with tens of thousands of times more resources.”

We’d prefer not to be competing against sapphire and diamond league players. But if PG can’t fix their league system, they should at least rebalance the prizes to reflect that a bunch of 200+ level jackasses are going to be a lock for 1st and 2nd place and maybe 3rd-5th too. As it stands, those guys are ruining the game for people who could’ve gotten into it.

In case anyone was about to respond with, “can’t you just play for 6th-10th?”, that’s an interesting point that I’m sure will resonate with everyone who, deep in their hearts, has always wanted to give their best for a chance to be #6. I.e., the people who were going to get excited about the game want to at least have a shot at taking first place, whether the prize is a single arcane striker rune or two thousand sigils. Competitions make people want to compete. If the competitive new players realize that they’re going to have to sit through months of big kids beating them up and taking their lunch money, a lot of them are going to head for a game with matchmaking that isn’t a bad middle school simulator.

  1. Divines break low-level balance. You can hatch your first divine dragon at level 28. The moment he hatches, he can solo bases in their 30s and 40s. At the highest level he can reach before evolving, he can solo most well-built bases in their 50s, or badly-built bases in their 70s. This in turn means that in the 30s and 40s, base defense is mostly irrelevant. This isn’t great for teaching new players the game, because that’s when leveling starts to slow down. Players get the idea that defense doesn’t matter, which starts to hurt them a little later. They also get the idea that their divines are indeed gods, so the need to evolve them is less obvious.

  2. Low-level lineage dragons are borderline useless. Kinnara is the first and last important lineage dragon new players get for a long time. You’ll get your first divine at some point in the purple or blue tiers, and he’ll be stronger at level 1 than the maxed form of anything you’ve bred. By the time you can breed Amarok, once the dream of new players, he’s not very useful except as a breeder on some less popular optimized paths. After 100-200 max xp runs, you can start to use him as a low-tier farmer when your divines are resting. This, combined with the minimal token cost and high time cost of breeding in the early tiers, makes a lot of new players lose interest in the breeding portion of the game for a while, only to later realize it’s the core progression mechanic.

There are a few reasons for this. First, the lower tier dragons’ kits are based around towers that existed when they were created. Nowadays, bases start to get relatively strong elemental towers in their 50s, so your cannon, archer, and (everyone’s favorite!) ballista resistances are not very meaningful.

Second, per point 2, lineage dragons are completely overshadowed by divines, who are more powerful from day 1 and can evolve to stay useful.

Third, the early lineage legendaries’ leveling requirements seem to be scaled based on the idea that they’re going to be used for a long time. (E.g., Amarok takes about 250 max XP runs to get to breedable when you get him on an optimized path, or 1250 to get to expert.) However, the existence of divines mean they get outclassed long before they hit that point. An expert orange legendary lineage dragon will beat a level 6 orange divine easily, but by the time time a new player can get the lineage dragon to expert, the divine will have evolved to green and is likely closing in on gold.

  1. Information. There are at least 3 crucial points about the game that new players won’t know unless they search the Internet for resources:

I.) Breeding requires data mining to do well. Breeding guides exist, and you should use one, or preferably 1 guide + Amoeba’s breeding spreadsheets.
II.) Build up, not out.
III.) Warriors, while amazing against low-level bases, fall off around gold tier.

The game itself doesn’t communicate these things well, and in some cases encourages players to do things that will make them bad at the game. E.g., the game encourages you to clear fog far more quickly than you should be building out. It gives you little early quests to build ballistas and trebuchets. There’s a loading screen tip to “keep building towers! One more tower can make all the difference.” (And the wasted time and resources for that tower can make a difference, just not in the way that they mean.) There’s another tip about how warriors are great for brawling through tough bases, which is certainly true at the start but won’t be forever.

Fixes

I’ve thought about ways to address each of these problems that are simple and easy to implement, and which don’t alter the experience for higher-level players in higher leagues. (I know that’s where the money is, but you don’t get more high-level players unless new players stick around.) #3 is hard to do well, but the others aren’t.

  1. For Bronze through Gold leagues, set a maximum recommended level for players for each league, ideally beyond what any legit players who started there will have. (Maybe set the mark at 3x the mean level for the league. Percentiles are tricky because the ideal cutoff varies with how big the issue is.) If your team has players over the maximum level, they’re put in a veteran’s pool for events, wherein they compete against other overleveled players. This way, veterans can play with their low-level friends, and splinter teams can form, without knocking over the kiddie pool.

(This should only be implemented for events, not wars. If a team has lots of high-levels and wants to climb until the opposition is competitive, the game shouldn’t stop them from doing that.)

  1. Keep the total divine sigil costs and XP costs to reach green tier the same, but rescale leveling so that divine dragons start at lower tiers. If divines started at blue or purple tier, the gap period in which bases are indefensible to most attackers will narrow.

  2. Rebalance lower tier dragons and in particular their resistances.

  3. I know there’s a thread about loading screen tips. Maybe that’s a good place to start for helping new players with information. Remove loading screen tips and quests that are actively steering new players in the wrong direction (the ones mentioned earlier), and add these:

“Choose breeding parents carefully! Find a breeding guide online to help you breed better dragons!”
“Concentrate fire! Upgrading towers instead of building many towers makes your base tougher to beat!”
“Warrior dragons are great for smashing low level bases! Past gold tier, hunters shine more!”

Thanks for reading!


League structure roadblocks
#2

This guy gets it.


#3

Nice post (10)


#4

Love this. Totally agree :+1:


#5

My baby account was in gold league and I was amazed at how many level 400s and 300s are there. Teams full of level 100+ players. PvP is hard enough for small players but when the players worth the most points are so high it is discouraging.


#6

well said
ckuldnt agree more


#7

A lot of 200+ (not all, just a lot) are reeeaaaally bad for their level. Don’t be afraid of someone because of a number. I think a simpler fix would be to encourage players to go work in more difficult leagues - improve the event rewards higher up. If the runes and glyps were chosen based on the average level of a league, that would make a lot more sense. Want emerald tier runes? Then move up a league.

So a divine that starts at a lower tier and has more levels?

THIS RIGHT HERE. Absolutely! Amarok should have Dark Flak resist. This needs to be dealt with!

They need to improve the tutorials and actively give information such as REAL base building advice, breeding paths, etc.



Great post.

#8

for me, I just dont like to go to plat and beyond.

I am offline during the weekends. If I go to a team that is on Plat or any team that has wars everyday, I am sure that I’m just going to get kicked.

So instead of wasting their time, I might as well just make my own team and stay in Gold forever.


#9

Not every divine starts at orange - nice example is Anuba.


#10

If anyone is wondering if it’s worth taking the time to read this whole post, the answer is yes.


#11

Completely agree. My alts old team has a very shallow roster for plat 4. My alt at 102 and leader at 124 are highest on the team :sweat:

But we still beat teams with high 100s and low 200s who think they can roll us because we can clear those bases with the right dragons as lead and follow. It was a real fun time. They’re still in plat 4 even though I’ve moved on. More power to hitting above your level!


#12

From a level 48 player in Gold II, this is so, so true. I read the forums very often, but due to misleading and confusing aspects of the game in the early stages, I’ve wasted lots of resources and time.

I’d like to list a few problems that I’ve encountered that are symptoms of what Tinsir mentioned.

  • During the last weeks of the fall 2017 season, I thought clearing one island of fog (five towers’ worth) would give me the badly needed rubies to get a super sigil chest to bring my Chimerak another evo stone- I blew so, so many timers, just to find that I needed all ten.
  • Often, when I get attacked by other players, if I take down a level two or three divine, I’m very surprised and go watch the replay, but if I take down an expert epic or high leveled legendary, I think “It’s just a lineage dragon, of course I took it out!”
  • There are NO ELEMENTAL RESISTS! Bases stacked with ice turrets and other fancy new turrets that I don’t have resists to are far more difficult than well-designed, thought out bases with archers and cannons, simply because I don’t have access to the resists that can help me beat that base.
  • Wars and events are solely determined by player level- activity level, skill, coordination, all fall short if the other teams have a few lvl 150+ players. I have an idea to why this may be true- when I stepped into a Plat team for just one day, the levels are not too different, but the activity demands are far higher. This is most clear in events; while the prizes may be higher, even if you place last, it isn’t much fun to grind with a half hearted team and get 20th every time, though I’m not entirely sure how this can be fixed.
  • Also, not sure if this is true of higher leveled players, but it’s very surprising when I see that a lineage dragon is someone’s strongest dragon- I immediately assume that they are too inactive to get divines.

#13

Nice post.

Maybe another solution for your point #1 would be to fine tune the sub-league matchmaking more so that teams with high level players in low leagues mostly end up competing against each other.


#14

Error, its actually 28. Not to be nitpicky. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


#15

Points Achievements should be capped by league, that would be a start. For example, nobody who “belongs” in Gold II is feeding anywhere close to 40 million food over the course of this event. I think 5 million is much more realistic as a Gold II top prize (500,000 points), 10 million at the very most. Very large accounts would easily reach this figure, get the top rewards and be done with it. If they want to have higher reward tiers be available, they need to progress up through the leagues. Simple as that. Leaving low-hanging fruit for the sandbaggers is their incentive to beat up on smaller accounts.


#16

This is one of the most (personally) discouraging obstacles I encounter that really takes the fun away and the desire to try. The need to do well in order to have a chance to get the divines is really important. It is such a let down to finally have the event arrive only to see sandbagging teams lounging around for easy wins. Those new players and lower levels need to be recognized and represented better. I really hope PG takes this suggestion to heart.


#17

Quick question. Say a 300+ decides he is ready to start his own team. He has 5 or 6 players to join him that are level 200-300. Does he then have to start in platinum with 7 total players? That team would be a sitting duck for war declares. Even with those high levels, his team could only get 35 flames. Every 50 player team would automatically win just because of numbers.


#18

Every new team starts in Bronze.


#19

I know. But the original post thinks that high levels should not be allowed in gold or below


#20

They’d work up from bronze. At first yeah they’d lose wars due to numbers (also win some due to numbers in bronze league without 50 members) but would be an attractive new team so would add members and move up.