After a long stint on the beta servers, last week we finally released our fort battle changes to the Polish servers. The results were very pleasing: defenders once more resembled a well drilled force instead of WW1 conscripts waiting to go “over the top” and workers loudly roared. But as we wave goodbye to the era of fort ownership transferring more easily than the common cold, it is difficult to part with killing all defenders being the preferred method of attacker victory. While the suspense of capturing and holding the flag can lead to some of the most exciting battles, nothing beats the satisfaction of sending your enemies for a nice long sleep. Of course this trade-off is through necessity — if it’s possible to wipe all defenders then capturing the flag is mere child’s play — but what if we could change that?
The core balance behind fort battles is quite simple. The defenders receive aiming and dodging advantages via sector bonuses while the attackers receive numerical and line-of-sight advantages for an even fight. To shift the midpoint of this balance, merely adjust team sizes and/or the fort’s sector bonuses. As you know, this balance breaks down completely once the attackers pierce any section of the fort; defenders are forced to huddle around the flag allowing the attackers to seize the towers and walls. Prevention has been the prescribed cure to date, strengthening the walls to avoid the scenario in the first place, but clearly that also makes the defenders harder to kill. A new approach is needed.
After a little brainstorming we devised a simple change to make the flag more defensible: invert the aiming and dodging penalties of the negative sectors into bonuses for defenders. (The attackers continue to receive a penalty as normal.) This significantly slows the cascade of defenders being funneled towards the flag only to be killed almost immediately. It also provides leeway to reduce other building bonuses without adversely affecting overall team balance, as requested by our Polish testers. Of course, it is not our intention to add a fifth tower to the centre of the map, so the bonus/penalty to aiming will be lowered substantially to prevent sniping out the gate while the bonus/penalty to dodging remains high.
Besides making for happy Polish players, reducing the sector bonuses of buildings should improve our other metrics. Consider:
- Reducing the dodging chances of 9 defenders shot at by 50+ attackers has a greater impact than reducing the aiming chances of 9 defenders who can only fire 9 shots collectively per round. This decreases the likelihood a battle will reach 55 rounds.
- Decreasing sector bonuses increases the relative importance of player skills, which are in competition with health. This encourages players to diversify their skill points.
- Reducing the effectiveness of the defenders means fewer attackers are required for a balanced fight. This allows us to bring the maximum attacker to defender ratio closer to 1:1.
Despite that, of course, these priorities are secondary and the overall team balance comes first. We cannot allow the defenders to continue to get steamrolled every battle 😉