As we all start to see the gameplay impact of the new guard changes, I thought it would be beneficial to start a conversation about the impact on players with the goal of respecting PG’s stated objectives of this change as well as longer term plans for atlas.
To start, here is a quick summary of PG’s stated goals. Please comment if there are long term atlas goals I may have missed so they can be added to the discussion.
- Reduce atlas stagnation
- This is believed to be defined by limited castle turnover through conquers.
The guard changes allow for easier guard hits by reducing the requirements to hit castle guards in atlas.
First Impressions of the change:
The immediate result of this atlas change has been that many castles are now protected by primarchs with more troops. It has eliminated the old defensive strategy of using many primarchs with very low troops to counter attackers. The old strategy was effective because it created a large burden on the attacker to clear so many primarchs for little glory in order to hit guards and possibly conquer a castle.
As a result of this defensive strategy change, players have found:
- They have more enemy primarchs with higher troop counts to attack, improving the glory earned by attacking.
- They can effectively attack guards directly with much lower risk of failure. Where before an attacker might have to risk 50k troops for guard hits, now often the risk is much lower - ranging between 15k and 30k troops.
*Castles are much easier to bubble due to this change. The lower number of troops killed before and lower frequency of guard hits allowed more castle owners the ability to defend their castles to avoid bubbling.
The impact of the change:
- Because it is much easier to snipe for glory due to the higher defending primarch troop counts, some players may be less likely to attempt a castle conquer. They will fill their revive capacity quicker glory hunting.
- Castles bubble much easier. Where before it would often take multiple attacks to bubble a castle, by hitting guards directly, a small group of players can bubble a castle within a minute of landing on the castle.
- Increasing the ease and liklihood of castles bubbling makes it easier to reach teams with deep castles that were previously rarely if ever attacked due to the difficulty of reaching them.
- There is increased burden on players and officers due to the increased frequency and number of cooldowns required when castles bubble.
Analysis of the impacts:
- Being able to more easily hit enemies for worthwhile glory is a positive for atlas. 1k troop sniping is not a fun game mechanic requiring hours of gameplay for minimum reward.
- Being able to hit guards more easily may increase castle turnover by allowing the guard counts protecting castle to more easily be drained.
- Possible reduction of the prevalence of guard swaps as teams have to rehire lost guards daily to protect their castles.
- Due to how easy the default “castle guards” base is on T2 and T3 castles (due to the lack of a marshal base) makes defending castles ineffective. Teams are given a choice of always having an officer, governor or marshal watching the castles to immediately disable the shield, or accepting that they will bubble almost immediately. This is a significant increase to the burden of play because even if an online player sees the attack and uses @group to notify their team, one or two attacks per attacking primarch will be complete before the defending team is able to see the notification, log in and react.
- The greatly increased number of cooldowns per day will significantly increase the burden of play for team leaders. Whereas before attackers would often need to attack defending primarchs initially before hitting guards, now significant guard loss can happen immediately. If the defending team is not online staring at the castle on cooldown, the castle could be taken before the team can even log in and attempt to defend. 20 attacking primarchs can destroy 2 million castle guards in 6-9 minutes (assuming there is no lag).
- Decrease the castle cooldown time drastically to mitigate the increased burden of “always being online” associated with increased bubbles. I’d propose the new cooldowns are 1/3 of the existing length.
- This would have limited impact on the ability to conquer a castle under the changes. As mentioned above if all of a T2 castle’s guards can be cleared in minutes, a long cooldown is no longer required to be able to conquer a castle. There is no need to spend hours slowly sniping low troop count primarchs to create the opportunity to contest a castle.
- The shorter combat period would promote larger fights between a smaller number of teams. If the battle is over in 15 minutes instead of 4 hours, there is less time and likelihood of significant mega alliance involvement. Instead the attacking and defending teams would face off in an epic battle for the castle. The short intense fight would further promote utilizing larger troop counts to attack and defend making these battles more worthwhile even if the castle is not conquered.
- For effective battles as proposed, atlas lag must be fixed to the point that the attacking and defending teams’ respective 5TAs can access the castle with little issue.
- Even if the conquer attempt fails, with the short cooldown period and increased battle intensity, the attacking team could easily try again another day. The increased guard losses mean the defending team cannot simply rehire all of their guards immediately making the odds better favor the attacker next time. This still increases the likelihood of castle turnover reducing the stagnation in atlas.
- This would reduce the increased burden of play on the castle owners. Shorter cooldowns paired with more cooldowns to do means leaders don’t need to be staring at their castles on cooldown for much or all of the day.
- One likely side effect of these proposed changes is that teams mostly composed of players in a single time zone would benefit more than teams with players from across the globe. If your entire team is from the same time zone and is online at once they would be more effective at conquering and defending castles during these short conquer windows because more of their players would be online at the same time.
Most players who enjoy atlas like attacking and earning glory. They dislike staring at their screen for hours in case something happens. The guard changes have changed the standard defensive strategies allowing for more glory to be earned by attacking castles and made it easier to reach previously unreachable castles to attack. However as a consequence the burden of play has significantly increased - especially for team leaders - because it’s no longer enough to be “on call” but rather you must be in atlas staring at your screen for hours.
The increased number of cooldowns per day has increased the number of conversations about whether the benefits of having castles justify this increased burden of play.
An ideal balance of minimal stagnation requires castles to be desirable to have and not just a source of glory. This requires changes such as these guard changes making conquers more likely, but they must be balanced by the rewards of holding castles factoring in rewards for holding a castle as well as the burden of play required to defend a castle. Without this balance, we will see more and more castles become “hot potato” castles that teams want to attack, but not to conquer and hold.