Gather Around: Let’s Talk Power Creep!

In case you were unaware, power creep is a fancy little denomination for the process of lower-ranking content being suppressed and made even more insignificant when game developers release more layers of content on top of it. It can pose a serious issue when the underdogs are trying to catch up and get to a point where they can fend for themselves, or when newer players roll in and have to go through the entire process from scratch at a disadvantage that their higher-classed peers did not have.

There’s a certain steepness to the mountain that one climbs in this game; there are, no doubt, very few hikes you’ll experience in real life that are even a fragment of the hike you take as a Dragon Lord. It’s a daunting task!

First and foremost, when it comes to having admiration for games such as this one, I come second to none. However, I’d be willing to joust for that role if anyone else feels the same! But having firm support for a cause doesn’t necessarily entail refusing to see the imperfections, either; no body of work is ever fully above the rest.

In the gaming industry, I believe in the principle that after a while, there has to be some form of a revolution in the way things are rolled out so as to sustain a vigorous playing environment. Ideally, how much steeper can Mount Drudemore get before the great and revered Nature God, Arborius awakens in his angry state, shakes everything astray, and Danzig is left with no other option but to send Amarok and his squires off to war against Arborius’s henchmen, Chunk and Ettin; a battle that could spell the end of Atlas in all its glory? If that’s not what the objective is for the future of this environment, we may need to break the mold to ensure it never plays out.

Let’s start by addressing the core components contributing to power creep in this game. The first contender is:

TIER EVOLUTION: Frequency and Retention

Frequency: Click to expand for further detail.

We are now approaching what would logistically be the end of Tier 20, as we should be making way for Tier 21 this upcoming summer season. That speaks volumes for the vast majority of the player base; it speaks for mostly everyone except the whaliest of whales who have the leeway literally at their fingertips to rise above every competitor, and the most archaic veterans who have made their own dents into the game over time, but it most especially speaks to the underlings who are all out of reach from those already at or having surpassed the tip of the iceberg (which theoretically would include even the “whaliest of whales” and the “most archaic veterans”). This rapid frequency in the rollout processes is a whale of a problem.

Depending on factors such as activity and level of effort, it may take a player one year in passing to get to a minimum level of roughly 400. This sets the stage for Empyrean-tier dragons to roll in, and this is also about where that wretched grind starts to set in; the grind that’s notorious for putting a stop to every faithful player’s quick flow, turning them faithfully unfaithful in all of their future considerations.

When this grind, which everyone in this game knows and loves, is combined with the quick output of content at the peak of the game, it makes it tiredly difficult for the underdog to catch up and keep up. It makes it even more prohibitive on the newcomers who open the game to get their first glimpses; I’ve read accounts of some newer players quitting effective immediately after they’d discovered the hidden grind (hidden until it slaps you in the face at the point of reaching it), some existing here on the forums.

Given that there have been a handful of minor refinements made to alleviate the grind, I think the issue lies more in the frequency of tier launches than the grind itself as a natural and inevitable part of this game.

Retention: Click to expand for further detail.

When I say “retention”, I’m really pointing toward the inability at endgame to retain dragons for long enough to actually enjoy them and get a tangible feel for how they perform in battle before they become unviable.

Although it is true that endgame constitutes just a minority in the population of this game, their experience is as significant as everyone else’s, if not more. The underlying issue, and a common denominator among each and every player at endgame, is that dragons don’t show enough sustenance when quickly overlaid by the next procession of dragons (and accordingly, new tower levels) just a couple of months later. This issue isn’t at all exclusive to lineage dragons, either; I’ve seen the concern voiced regarding seasonal divines as well.

As it has a sort of interrelationship with frequency, I don’t feel inclined that this needs much more explanation.

TOWER LEVEL ROLLOUTS: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Perhaps one of the lesser issues in the bunch, so there’s reason to be lax here, but it’s still a very small systematic part of the issue in whole.

Courtesy of the improved cadence, or as I referred to it, “the good”, the ascent through the tower levels itself (i.e. “the bad”, which isn’t reversed by the good just because it’s a good thing) isn’t half as ignoble as it could be thought, but somewhere else in the system lies another problem, and this is where things get particularly ugly. If you have an aversion to ugliness or anything of its like, I’d advise you to stop reading here… or not.

Every successive tower level contributes to power creep in that it makes the climb from underdog to top-dog even more outstretched. Much similarly to the conundrum addressed under the “frequency” subcategory in the previous segment, newer players—and even those in the actual process of development (i.e. midgame)—will find it a hassle to progress against odds that are continually stacked against them. That is the pure embodiment of what “power creep” truly represents, so enough has been said on this matter.

EXTRA RUNES AND GLYPHS: its Effect on Gameplay

Runes and glyphs, while beneficial to every player in-game in a seemingly harmless fashion, and definite requisites for dragons that heavily rely on them, are crucial contributors to power creep in this game.

The simple fact that the existence of an exotic rune outclasses the existence of a mythic counterpart serves as a wonderful example of power creep in runes. However, this isn’t even the root of the problem. The actual root of the problem here is how prevalent these things have become. It’s gotten such that seasonal mythics now depend on them to be at peak performance level; combine this with the Ascension Tokens, which are in a league of their own when it comes to power creep (making the things that allow mythics to thrive harder to reach), and you have exactly that. It also doesn’t help much in the way of defense that the only exotic defense runes have been in exclusive rune branches, and their availability has been severely restricted in any other way.

The power levels of a dragon with an exotic rune and a dragon with a mythic rune, or anything inferior to mythic runes, will be skewed by a long shot, and it won’t matter what the stats are on the dragon. As long as one dragon has better runes than another, it’s going to outperform its competitor every time. Speaking of things that skew dragon power, that brings me to the next culprit responsible for power creep.

ATLAS GEAR: the Underlying Problem, and Why it’s Such a Grand Ordeal

Gear is yet another candidate that brings pleasure and ease to one player and accounts for the strict and uneven competition of all the rest. Gear places a group of superior players on a throne and leaves every subordinate player wishing they had the majesty required to be within that group of players, as they realize there’s not much they can really do except submit or die trying to fight.

Gear is also unsustainable for most players who may find it difficult to procure the necessary shards required to craft or upgrade it; this is especially applicable to those without Atlas access. Factor in the range of different rarities of gear—especially the highest of the rarities: up to Elite, but liable to change at any rate—and the increasing difficulty to obtain one on each level, and you have a recipe for power creep.

ATLAS PRIMARCHS: Their Impact on Atlas, and How They Contribute to Power Creep

Atlas primarchs may seem like harmless little trinkets at first that you pawn off on the enemy, but they’re much more than that. They’re the kiss of death.

When you start off in Atlas, you’re immersing yourself into a completely different aspect of the game that’s much more dynamic, and the power creep here is perhaps much more substantial than in the core game due to it. In Atlas, you’re up against a multitude of different player levels, equipped with a smorgasbord of different types of primarchs.

If you’ve been around the map, or scanned around for more than 30 seconds total, you probably know how many different primarch combinations there are: bronze siegers, silver trappers, gold taunters, etc. And it’s blatantly obvious that with the climb up this “tree” (as depicted in Atlas), primarchs become more powerful; more offensive benefits are awarded such as extra storage for troops and higher combat powers. Due to the general concept of Atlas, these things contribute greatly to power creep. With each consecutive advancement up the tree, power creep’s stranglehold on those not at the top of the tree tightens.

Power creep is a pressing issue that exists in just about every interactive multiplayer game. It can be a total buzzkill when you go to face it, and it’s clearly inevitable to be the source of it when you’ve progressed so far past it already. At any rate, power creep is one of the issues that has my vote to be prioritized for further inspection. In a game such as this, that jungle never stops growing. I am more than certain I neglected to mention some contributors to the issue, but these were a few of them that exist in large measure.

Now Playing: “Thriller” by Michael Jackson


Power creep is a effect of escalating content being used to drive engagement and provide the illusion of a actual long term objective.
The effect of escalating content is power creep……

So to stop power creep you need an actual viable objective and map that doesn’t have unbalanced engagement……
Because escalating content like gear and runes will never provide a long term objective! Lol

This power creep is the direct result of a defensive objective that will not support long term play!
And that’s a very clear view of power creep jalen amazingly accurate as usual :crazy_face:


Agree with your assessment of power creep.

Its a tough one to balance perfectly.

Atlas gear for me is the main one as it doesn’t have an effective way for non spenders to be competitive.

There should be more grinding methods in there to earn troops and gear.


And this is why many games went away from this unsustainable model and instead are offering a gameplay that is mostly “skill based” plus cosmetics that dont impact the gameplay and are there as trophies.

You are right about everything in your post however it is literally impossible to change the underlying mechanics of this game that rely on purely releasing of new tiers and levels and power creep items in between to make it remotely interesting for end game people.

Such fundamental change as noted here would actually require the game to have an objective other than to reach a top tier.

From my personal perspective i ve been playing for 3 years, im in N-1 and have level 130 towers with gear runes and jazz. And i watch players in N tier walk through my base defended like its a walk in the park. It is dishartening specifically because the power of dragons and towers keep growing exponentially which leads to wider gap of end game power vs the rest.
What is there even to say about smaller players.

End of rant.
But is there really a solution ?


Exactly. You look at many games and there is some work to be done to hit end game. Maybe a few weeks or months but then everyone is there.

From there it is skill. Most first person shooters use this model and they are often the top grossing games.

Spenders and non spenders both need to feel valued for a game to thrive.

MMORGs or RPGs are more similar to WD but they dont mandate big spending. And often the next seasons gear is 1-4% better. So skill is king. Everyone gets that seasons gear with grinding and it only takes 2-4 weeks.

Ironically with tiered games like MMORGs and RPGs you buy the game and own for life. Or pay a monthly subscription. WD is unique in that it sells a sub and packs and esclates tier at an excessive pace.

In WD the focal point is spend over grind especially in atlas.

Less so in traditional main game where the balance between grind and spend is much better but obviously main game is tarnished by atlas gear.

As Malik, yourself and RetiredDwarf all say - having a long term objective is essential.


The one thing I was actually interested in about this season was when I read that the mythics would be leveling into tier 21 and thus gaining quite a bit of extra shelf life. I was even going to go for Kry’s exotic glyph since he was actually going to last long enough for me to enjoy him and get use out if him.
But then as usual PG pulled the rug out from under our feet and we found out that was a lie (sorry but that was no typo, that was fraudulent advertising). And that killed any interest I still had in this season and Im certainly not going to waste the rubies now to go for the glyph when he wont last that long just like usual.

I truly dont understand why anyone would bother spending on these dragons or their runes when their shelf life is so short.


At least with apple iphones we only replace them every 12-24 months.

WD dragons, assuming you get the dragon near the end of the season they have a shelf life of a month.

Even for a whale if you buy it on day one it has a shelf life of 4 months max.

I agree I’m not spending big on something I need to bench in 1-2 months.

Given how much difficulty PG is having with making viable dragons having them last longer probably is a decent solution.


I think this is not the main issue in WD :thinking: there are lots of tweaks needed but we are not at a point where huge power creeps happen


Yes :+1:
There’s absolutely a solution.
A offensive objective not a defensive objective
A long term objective not a short term objective
A singular objective not multiple defense objectives
Balanced engagement not unbalanced engagement
Positional mechanics not open movement
A simple easy to build map with each players base present on the map seeking that singular objective of attacking and we reward attacking not short term defense as defense will always be a short term objective unless we want peace…. Lol
We want war and conflict I believe :man_shrugging:
It’s rather simple actually :rofl:


I would argue that if you don’t have atlas elite and without a viable way to grind the difference on a mid tier team then there is a pretty significant power creep.

Without atlas elite people need to beg their teams for gold to level prims and some people are too proud to do that.

Without atlas elite exotic gear is unobtainable unless you have decent savings.

If atlas kept tiers of teams separated then its fine but they don’t. We have top TAs taking castles from 250-500 rank teams on a daily basis.

This is where the power creep is most noticeable.

If atlas more simply kept teams fighting equal power then this would not be so noticeable. ( imagine Diamond teams getting paired with Platinum teams on the pvp main game event )

This is what happens in atlas and unlike main game atlas has consequences attached to outcomes. Often loss of castles which feeds into loss of players.


In total, this is a great summary of how power creep is contributing to player experience now. With respect to towers though, power creep is also occurring with tower release not just the levels being added. Turrets were in general stronger than lumber towers, flaks even more so and Electrum towers stronger, in general (this tier of towers is less consistent with the power creep), again.

My understanding of power creep also qualifies the discount strategies as power creep, too. They, albeit, indirectly shift the emphasis or usefulness of prior content by fast tracking you trough it. While other reason may be the causal factor, discounts don’t rectify it they only truncate the time between early and end game.

Maybe not in isolation, mate. When you think about all the incremental increases from compounding sources over the 8 years of this game’s life, it all adds up to a much more significant amount of power creep and content escalation. This radically changes the time for a new player to get to end game (18-24 months at last check?).


This one correlates with speed meta. If there was no requirement for fast runs, exotics wouldn‘t be as mandatory as they are

Just sticky this eloquent post. Could not be stated better.


I have been thinking more about what I like about, and what I want from WD lately.

The closer I get to max dragons and max towers (not maxed base just the actual capped tower level). The more I feel as if I am approaching the end of what I find fun.

My first mythic was Lockjaw, I have used him for quite some time and only just retired him from my go to dragon last season (he still does well enough 1D for my level).
I am currently 3 & 1/2 dragons through Artisan now.

I don’t like the idea of retiring dragons more regularly, however every season is one less season of time I have with those hard earned dragons.

I know there is more to do in this game, atlas, gear grinding. 1% sort of stuff. But it isn’t what I find fun. I think I have liked the “chase” towards end game (or what I feel end game is for me).

I think that at this point in time the season I reach the tower cap will be the season I go on sabbatical for a while. That way when I come back refreshed I will be in chase mode again. It’s unsustainable, but it might just be what the best option is in regards to the love I have for this game.

All the power creep all the stagnation of Atlas. Just doesn’t seem like it is actually worth playing at the top level.


that chase may be there longer than you think. I finally reached the cap at 138, then it moved to 140, and I am level capped at 139’s. Leveling gets harder and harder.

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Currently around 21 months and at the end of Verdant tier with atlas elite spending. Seems it takes about two years to get close to end game. But catching up those final few tiers without the discounts is another story.


This….The rate of increase on required levels is exceeding the ability for even the above average player to keep pace. It was not always the case. Up until recently a player was able to build a little more and stay ahead.

Watch and before long those long time players who always had max towers will find they cannot maintain the minimum level for the max towers. They will also find that to keep up they will have to spend or change significantly their strategy to build king a bunch of mini towers. This at best is a short term solution. That will peter out when eventually they have to merge or transform.

Building up and not out was always the strategy but watch and see it will not work because there is just not enough XP at the higher levels with the amount of timers you spend.

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