Monday, October 22, 2018

The Bad News Bears Go To Dantooine - 2


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So lets talk about Ships.

Everyone hates the Ships minigame. Everyone has also been pretty vocal about that since they introduced it. Let’s talk about why.
A normal Arena match is played with five characters against five other characters (unless you’re playing something like a raid and therefore attacking the computer). Ships started out that way as well, with five ships against five ships, with a carrier for each side. Every fleet needs a carrier – currently the most powerful and popular carrier, without question, is Thrawn. You do see Admiral Ackbar and Tarkin as well, but very rarely Mace Windu.
Poor Mace. Between Clones and Jedi, the Galactic Republic faction actually has a strong fleet – just not Thrawn strong.
Anyway. When Ships started, the max time for any game was 7:30, up from the 5:00 of timed Arena combat. Between the carriers and reinforcements (something unavailable in any other part of the game), ships games naturally run longer. At the beginning, they ran so long that they had to nerf half the ships’ defensive capabilities and reduce the opening number of ships from five to three. They lowered the max time down to 5:00 at some point in there, and it plays better now but games still run a lot longer than Arena contests.
If I had to describe the experience, I’d say if the regular game was baseball, the ships minigame is baseball for people who really like sabermetrics. It’s the same game, roughly. Galaxy of Heroes is a wonky game in a lot of ways – by which I mean it encourages a wonkish mindset. It’s OK for things to be kind of boring or even kind of elaborately boring to an asinine degree, because what they’re trying to do is entice players to spend money. Much of the game, for me, and I imagine for the developers as well, consists of testing the patience of even the most committed free-to-play users, such as myself.
Ships takes the regular game and adds another layer of fiddly shit in order to scramble expectations. The presence of static carriers and the use of reinforcements does give combat its own distinctive feel, but it also makes for longer games. That’s only a bad thing if people aren’t having fun, but the fact is that the earliest incarnations of Ships were terrible. It was a slow game seemingly for no other reason that defenses relative to offensive capabilities were poorly balanced. People avoid Ships still because, frankly, it just wasn’t very fun for a very long time.
But something important regarding Ships, which I believe I’ve mentioned before: the Fleet Arena is the only source for Fleet Arena tokens, and those are the only tokens you can use to buy Zeta materials. And as I know I’ve mentioned Zeta abilities represent the most significant upgrade in the game.
So if you’re following along so far, let’s now talk about the game’s single biggest Achilles heel.
The developers manage a pretty tight grip on the metagame, and they do this primarily through making powerful new characters that lead the game precisely in the direction they want to go. Sith were dominant in the meta for a long time – and still are, as of this writing – but they’ve been putting a lot of effort into rebuilding Jedi the past few months. They’re not completely competitive yet. Twenty-two out of the top twenty-five teams on my Arena node are currently led by Darth Traya, with two led by Bastila Shan and one lonely team led by good ol’ Emperor Palpatine. 
Jedi have been on the receiving end of a concerted effort to reboot the faction for a few months, after being completely unplayable for most of the game’s existence. General Kenobi has always been good, but General Kenobi was also the only playable Jedi for long stretches of the game’s history. They started with goosing Grand Master Yoda’s stats to make both of his Zeta abilities more effective. His Leader ability still isn’t anyone’s favorite, but otherwise they succeeded in making him a lot more formidable. Actually kind of a tiny green cyclone of pain, which is probably what Yoda looks like to you if Yoda wants to beat your ass.
Beat your ass I will, but enjoy the exercise of violence I will not . . . much.
But, everyone already has Grand Master Yoda, and a lot of people even already had his Zeta abilities, so that one upgrade wasn’t going to push anyone to spend a lot of money. Which is why they introduced Bastila Shan right after, telegraphing her significance before putting her on sale for a month.    
And that makes sense. They want me to drop either crystals (which cost money) or, preferably, human money. There’s no way to get enough crystals to be able to afford to buy the latest character packs when they appear – and I will point out, the character packs in the store often do not include set amounts of shards. Right now the going rate is 1,299 crystals for anywhere from 5-330 character shards. And I probably don’t have to tell you the payoff for those isn’t always the best.

Or you can pay $19.99 American dollars for 30 shards, guaranteed, which is about the going rate. It varies a bit depending on how hot the character is. After the first month or so they start selling premium characters in the Shipments store for a slightly better freight – right now you can get 4 Bastila shards for 320 crystals, so you can do the math on that.
The only way to get that many crystals, the amount you would need to ever be able to justify actually buying new character shards in the store, is by winning in the Arena. First place in the Arena – which goes out every night at 7:00 PM – gets 500 crystals and 900 Squad Arena Tokens. (Squad Arena Tokens aren’t that valuable except for the fact that the Squad Arena Store is the only Store that sells the Prestige ability materials which you need to upgrade your Carriers for Ships – there was an old lady who swallowed the fly.)
By contrast, coming in First in Ships gets you only 400 crystals, along with 1,800 Fleet Arena tokens. (Remember, Zeta mats cost 2,000 Fleet Arena tokens and every Zeta ability requires twenty Zeta mats. See what I mean about the math starting to stack up?)
If you’re thinking, wait a minute, 400 really isn’t a lot less than 500, well . . . that’s a very good point. Because the thing with the Ships minigame, it’s simply a much smaller game. Ships didn’t start until the game had already been going for a while, and there just aren’t as many ships in the game as characters. Even once they started releasing ships at a steady pace alongside characters, there are just fewer ships in the Star Wars universe than characters. Around the time of the release of Rogue One they added nine Rebel characters to the game, but only two Rebel ships, to give you the idea. Now, you needed many of those characters to fly their ships, but fewer than nine.


Galaxy of Zeroes

If This Goes On - II

The Bad News Bears Go To Dantooine


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