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Overhauling or rebalancing Battlegrounds/rPvE


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Still editing the post, as I fat fingered and pressed submit prematurely...

Greetings,

after wanting to share my thoughts about the current state of Battlegrounds for weeks now and postponing it ever since because I am lazy, I finally got the drive to write this one up here.

I want to share my thoughts and suggestions of multiple aspects of its current execution and how they can be improved because let's face it: it is far from perfect. This is not a thread about "hurr durr, nerf Lost Souls , because they are so hard on difficulty 9, the second highest difficulty of them all" and certainly won't start with phrases like: "I don't make suggestions, because I don't get paid when they get implemented."
Obviously the feasibility varies and while some may be easy to integrate, others may be harder or even impossible to realize.
I would like for this thread to become the go to discussion thread about Battlegrounds/rPvE and where it is supposed to go. I am eager to hear about your opinions, ideas and suggestions.
Anyways, here we go:


Map generation and its quirks

Let's start off with something where I think most if not all of us can agree upon; map generation. It works for the most time, but there are times, where your monuments are really close to enemy camps. For Tier 2 and beyond this isn't much of a problem - in solo just build a bigger army than usual and for multiplayer your team mates may assist you with a coordinated push or help you hold your turf. But there are times where your first monument gets immediately attacked on game start before you even summoned any units in which case the game is pretty much over for you either because the camp has long range units that immediately pull the camp or the camp spawns right on top of your monument. This is an issue almost exclusive to difficulty level 10, but I have experienced it twice myself on difficulty level 9 against Lost Souls as well. While it is an extremely rare occasion on difficulty 9, it is much more common on difficulty 10 and happens regularly enough to be a concern. Personally I see this as a priority issue, if Battlegrounds/rPvE ever sees substantial changes.

Other than that, it'd great to see more random/diverse generation. Seldomly you have maps where the path of your team mates directly connects to your Tier 2. I even had a map where my team mates' path after Tier 2 directly went to Tier 4 instead of intersecting at Tier 3. I'd wish to see more of that or completely different spawns, where two or even all four team mates spawn at the same location and have to push a single, more fortified path together. In addition to that more interesting paths or intersections to later camps, as in eight camps that converge to a single bigger area in the middle with each spawn meeting there, so you have one player dedicated to defending the onslaught, which would also promote decks oriented towards defense. Or maps with only few big or one huge camp that inhabits tons of enemies.
Maybe even reverse the roles and have to defend against ever increasing hordes of enemies until the time is up like in Crusade or Defending Hope.
I'll leave it up to debate if you can choose between defensive or offensive Battlegrounds/rPvE maps or keep it completely random.



Balancing and strength between individual factions

This is something where I think a lot can be done to even the odds, but in this small segment I keep it on a rather basic level and get more into detail later on. I think it is pretty much universally agreed on that Lost Souls is considered the most tedious of the bunch, where as Bandit and Stonekin are the easiest factions to play against. Twilight sits somewhere inbetween, although the scale tips more into Twilight's favor with the Evil Eye spam. For most players Lost Souls is the most tedious to play against. Some hate Lost Spellbreakers, others hate Lost Archfiends and some hate everything about Lost Souls. Personally I don't like Lost Vigils in Tier 3 and the inconsistency that Lost Wanderer pretty much only shields at the very beginning, which last indefinitely unlike Stonekin Earthkeeper's. But that's fine, each to their own. Often players want to remove or nerf something of the Lost Souls roster. These complaints often come from difficulty 9 players. 10 isn't up for discussion because it is seldomly played in comparison.
Everybody can think what they like on the part that Lost Souls is "too strong" compared to other factions, the solution to that "problem" is certainly not a simple nerf to a single faction, but rather adjust all factions at once and equalize their power level. It is about the highest difficulty levels after all and Bandits/Stonekin are a breeze compared to Lost Souls or even Twilight. Real strategic gameplay only starts to show if you play difficulty 10, but I will get to difficulty scaling in a bit.

 

Change up and increase the overall spawn pool

One thing that bugs me about spawns in general are the mixed factions spawns. Lost Souls has Twilight units in early camps that for some reason are stronger than in actual Twilight maps. Stonekin is also less Stonekin and more like 50/50 with Bandits in snow maps. And I don't think that needs to be the case. There are quite a few unused AI unit types in the campaign that could be integrated into Battlegrounds/rPvE. Both types of Stonekin Grinder, Lost Shade, Lost Spirit Ship, Gemeye, just to name a few. And I believe that with additional units it will make balancing individual factions much easier.

 

Difficulty rebalancing and scaling

What I don't like about the current difficulty levels is the sudden jump in difficulty between 9 and 10 and the weird thing that lower difficulty levels are harder as in the case with Twilight's 8, where unlike in 9 Evil Eyes are present, but that's only one thing. I'd go as far and move all level but level 10 by one level, so difficulty level 1 is effectively removed and a new level 9 can take its place between 9, which would become the new 8, and 10 that evens out the sudden jump. One that starts out with a spawning camp at Tier 2 and stronger camps overall from T3 onwards, so you can get a taste of what 10 will have in store for you.
This would also mean that when going and revising all 10 levels, all individual levels will have noticable jumps in difficulty which will be reflected not only in enemy strength but also how the map is generated. Unfortunately now difficulty 10's challenge comes from the very first camps pushing for energy wells and monuments and drops down noticably when you have your units ready, at least for Bandits/Stonekin.
I believe the highest difficulties are only supposed to be for decks directly build for it, but as it is right now only level 10 requires a decent amount of game knowledge, coordination and team work, where as in level 9 you breeze through with relative ease, which shouldn't be the case for the second highest difficulty level. I know it is a bit much to ask for coordination and team play with one or more randoms, but the game should challenge you earlier for that matter.
For two player and solo play your time limit is usually higher and suffices for it to be less of a concern.
Another thing that has been mentioned a few times and what I certainly support is increasing map size along with higher enemy count and time limit.


Integrating new factions into the mix

Something that has been brought up by other players and where I think that is a nice idea and worthy to mention here is to add some more variety into the game mode by adding more factions as enemies.
In some campaign maps we already fight against Nature, Fire or Shadow units and with the amount of units and buildings each faction has at its disposal, balancing them would certainly be quite easy.



That's about it from my side. I believe on some things I mentioned here you agree and on other you surely don't, but that's perfectly fine and I want to hear your point of view about basically anything related to Battlegrounds/rPvE.

Edited by Bini Inibitor
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18 hours ago, Bini Inibitor said:


I believe the highest difficulties are only supposed to be for decks directly build for it, but as it is right now only level 10 requires a decent amount of game knowledge, coordination and team work, where as in level 9 you breeze through with relative ease, which shouldn't be the case for the second highest difficulty level.

I agree. It would be cool if all the 10 difficulties would have their place and use. I always play 9 (4 players) with every deck. Would be nice if you would need to "earn" the higher difficulties. 

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I think this sums up the current situation quite well.

On 10/15/2020 at 12:39 AM, Bini Inibitor said:

Everybody can think what they like on the part that Lost Souls is "too strong" compared to other factions, the solution to that "problem" is certainly not a simple nerf to a single faction, but rather adjust all factions at once and equalize their power level. It is about the highest difficulty levels after all and Bandits/Stonekin are a breeze compared to Lost Souls or even Twilight. Real strategic gameplay only starts to show if you play difficulty 10, but I will get to difficulty scaling in a bit.

Absolutely, adjusting the difficulty would be a dream. However, to me this seems like a considerable effort and I don't think this would be a realistic change. 

Further, I agree on the notion of having a "rpve 9.5" as well as purely elemental maps. But I'm afraid making new factions is even more of a substantial effort.

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This is a brief introduction to my thoughts on the matter as i stated it throughout the years on this forum
Please note that some points are extremely abbreviated or incomplete (e.g. how to balance out faction strength).
 

In regards to map structure I think it is unrealistics to expect to have a lot of different possible layouts on each individual difficulty, because that makes issues like balancing and deck building a lot more complicated, not sure how technically demanding that is, but Id imagine it for sure adds complexity to map generation and is outside of freak accidents (like right now) probably hard to implement without a lot of work. Even just restructuring 1 difficulty with 1 set structure is most likely a long ways away from us, so I will not further address that point unless there is further information provided on how balancing is supposed to work out and the technical feasability of it in the close future.

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4. I think i stated this multiple times over the years on the forums already, but I think that the current jump from level 9 to level 10 is just too insane for most players at the moment while level 9 itself might be a tad bit to easy, a few Lost Souls maps excepted. I mean if pretty much anyone with a somwhat passable deck can beat the second highest difficulty something is a bit messed up imo. The jump currently is partially due to the vasst differences in difficulty depending on enemy faction, but I think that the current layout difference between level 9 and level 10 is the far bigger contributor.
I think currently the level 10 structure introduces two characteristics that people do not find on any other difficulty that just makes them unable to face these things as they simply dont have any experience with these things.
1. Clearing a camp results in being attacked at a different place on the map early on
2. Clearing camps with spawn buildings by themselves

That in combination with the average understanding of key game mechanics by the general player base that beats level 9's being low further enhances this rather massive spike in difficulty which in turn leads to players being overwhelmed instead of steady increase in difficulty where people can slowly discover the importance of these few concepts. In current level 9's you most of the time do not need these concepts to beat the map or only a very very rudimentary "understanding", so why bother learning. Sometimes i feel like that concepts like aggro ranges, spawn mechanics or base structures and strengths are totally foreign words to some players, even in the relatively repetitive formats of level 9 maps. To be fair especially the latter point varies between factions which does not help.

I think that most level 10 maps are reasonably well balanced as they are, maybe tone down some of the LS maps a bit and enhance difficulty of Bandit maps a bit and I think you got a well balanced top difficulty that still allows for a reasonably well diversity of decks and strategies to beat while the different factions have different spikes in difficulty that require certain type of cards to be in decks of at least a few of the players as well as knowledge of playing around certain concepts. E.g. CC cards against Twilight aswell as understanding how to play around enemy cc, strong t2 card combinations and playing around XL units in lower orb tiers of play. Lost Souls - understanding of debuffs as well as playing coherent t1 strategies to beat overarching strength at t1 stages.

In terms of changes to steady the difficulty curve for level 10 you could delete Level 8 maps, which essentially are no different than Level 7 maps for Lost Souls, Bandits and Stonekin and are close to difficulty 9 for Twilight imo. Make current level 9 the new level 8 and add a level 9 that differs in structure. I had a structure in mind that iirc was in the game back in the day and was patched out later on, might be wrong on this but not quite sure as its so long back:

Have t1 to t2 the same is it is now but afterwards positions do not have shared t3's and instead the map opens up into two paths. At each end you find a camp that is roughly the strengths of a t3 camp right now or maybe the current t2 camps for level 10. That means you get 2 incomes upon clearing t2 and and you have to clear your orb alone against while having to defend at another point on the map simultaneously. This should be a bit easier overall, because in t2 you have more options for play and cant be surprised by attacks at t2 because they start as soon as you attack t2. After t3 camps are cleared both players on one side have a shared t4 again.

I am aware that a lot of people will currently probably not be able to handle that, but I think that is fine, it is after all the 2nd highest difficulty there is, why should it be easy. Make the difficulty according to that. Even beating level 8 shouldnt be as easy as most current level 9's are but that would be more of a minor issue after this is fixed initially.

Again I am not sure if any of this is even possible right now or ever will be, just my current ideal scenario for rpve difficulties.

P.s. I think the easiest fix to op Lost Souls maps is to not allow enemy towers at t2 camps which severely weakens Lost Vigils after the spawn building is down, maybe remove shielding Lost wanderers as well (the non shielding variant is fine though) if the camps are still a bit too unfair, would require testing for sure.

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