DEV DIARY: IMPROVING ALLIANCE WARS

Alliance Wars have been a popular feature for our most competitive Alliances for quite some time now. It’s a mode that allows Summoners to not only challenge themselves, but to create challenges for their opponents as well. It has continued to change and grow over time and there are many improvements we would like to make.

We’ve been looking to the future, and we wanted to share some of our goals and intentions for the mode. We’re going to share our thoughts on what we see as issues that are currently affecting the mode, how we’re planning to address them, and our thoughts on the future of this mode.

Below are some future plans for both Season 5 and beyond, which means that some of these plans are likely to change or get removed as we develop and test them out. But we feel it’s important to share with you our goals for the mode, and a sense of our current thinking on how we’ll reach them.

THE PILLARS

As we push this mode forward, we want to measure our changes against a set of criteria that we feel will shape Alliance Wars into a more engaging and strategic mode. It is important for us to define these “pillars” so we can ensure that any changes we make align with our long term vision for Alliance Wars.

Pillar Goals:

  1. Keep Alliance Wars dynamic
  2. Encourage counterplay
  3. Keep the mode flexible!

KEEP ALLIANCE WARS DYNAMIC

This pillar focuses on what we want our future state Wars to look like. No two Wars should be alike. Summoners should be able to use a wide variety of Champions from their rosters on both Attack and Defense, and find value in a majority of their Champions!

When we first started building Alliance Wars, our goal was to create an environment where Summoners could utilize their skills and Champion rosters to create challenges for their opponents to overcome. However, as the feature matured, it became clear that a few select Champions dominated on Defense, while others would completely decimate the Map on Offense. As new Champions join The Contest, some of them may enter the Alliance Wars meta. However, the rate of adoption is slow and is restricted to Champion releases, as well as the time it takes for Summoners to rank up these Champions in order to test their potency in Alliance Wars. This has led to a stale meta where most top Alliances utilize the same few Champions on Defense and on Offense.

What we are working towards now is fostering an environment where different types of Champions become viable throughout different Alliance War Seasons. Doing this will help achieve a dynamic environment where both Defense and Offense could have new compositions, and will utilize more of an existing roster. This minimizes the have or have-not situation surrounding Alliance War meta dominating Champions, without making any of them less valuable as well.

ENCOURAGE COUNTER PLAY

Going hand in hand with keeping the mode Dynamic, encouraging counter-play means encouraging more strategic decisions to be made when choosing how to counter an opponent’s Challenges that have been placed.

Since the Alliance War meta has become stagnant, Summoners have little opportunity to overcome challenges strategically and are placed in a have or have-not situation. If you have the necessary Champions, there is little to no reason to bring anyone else.

Moving Alliance War toward a more dynamic environment will open opportunities for more Champions to be viable This allows for more variety on Defense, which in turn will require more variety on Offense. We want Summoners to find value in both the depth (investing heavily in upgrading a small group of Champions) as well as the breadth (having access to lots of different Champions) of your roster in Alliance Wars!

KEEP THE MODE FLEXIBLE

This is already well underway with the addition of Seasons! The new cadence of Seasons allows us to make changes to the mode more often. The ability to make a change doesn’t just apply to the mode, but also to Summoners. Don’t worry, with each change we promise to allow Summoners to see what we’re changing and why ahead of time, especially if those changes encourage long term investments like Rank Ups.

ISSUES AND SOLUTIONS

Issue 1: Meta Champions vs Diversity

As we mentioned above, a lot of Alliance Wars have been won by utilizing the same top Champions on both Defense and Offense teams. While it’s great that we have different Champions that fill different roles, we want there to be more strong alternatives. Currently, Summoners who are lucky enough to collect certain Champions will have a large advantage over Summoners that haven’t. The most seasoned Summoners who have the largest rosters have no means to utilize the breadth of their roster effectively. This does not mesh with our goal to keep Alliance Wars dynamic.

The strategic element in Alliance Wars is lacking. Having the right Champion, and being lucky in Crystal pulls, is much more important than we would like it to be. What we want to do  is add more value to other Champions in Summoner Roster, Aligning this closer with our goals to keep Alliance Wars dynamic, and encourage counter-play through strategic decision making.

Solution 1: Season 5 Update: Rotating Global Buffs

In order to help facilitate a more dynamic war environment, we’re introducing Rotating Global Buffs with Alliance Wars Season 5!

We’ll start off a little slow with Season 5. Although our intention is to allow Summoners to choose a buff that synergises well with their Defense rosters. In Season 5 (and the 2 week pre-season), we’ll only be implementing a single set of Buffs. These Buffs aim to encourage Summoners to experiment with different Champions that benefit from, or strategically counter these buffs. We want to make it clear that these Buffs will cyce, meaning they will be active for a Season and then get swapped out.

Our goal with these Buffs is not to inflate the difficulty of Alliance Wars, but to encourage different Champion interactions, new strategies for Attack and Defense, and to introduce new ways to approach encounters. Rotating Global Buffs will only affect Alliances in the Challenger and Expert Tiers, because they have the widest rosters, and we feel they’re best equipped to play with/around these Buffs. Once we’ve rolled these Buffs out to our top Summoners and analyzed their effects, we will evaluate broadening the range of Summoners that will experience these Buffs.

Currently, the Buffs we’re planning to use for Season 5 are:

  • Buff 1 – Amped Up:

    • Female Champions you bring to this fight receive increased Class Bonus effects. Half of the Attack bonus is always applied. Specific tuning values will be revealed soon
    • Amped up affects the Attacker, so bringing in Female Champions will give your Attack team an offensive boost!
  • Buff 2 – Bleed Immunity:

    • Bleed immunity affects Defenders
    • Bringing in Debuff heavy Champions will still be a viable option, but Champions that rely heavily on Bleed will not be as effective this Season.

Keep in mind, we are sharing this information early, so these Buffs may change prior to release.

Rotating Global Buffs are what we see as a stepping stone to additional features we are currently planning. This includes a way to let Alliances “customize” their Alliance Wars Defenses by selecting a Global Buff that suits their roster the best. This is a longer term goal, and we want to use this “Version 1” as a test bed, so we can collect data, and evaluate as we move into future Seasons. This would not only satisfy our first 2 Pillars, but also give both Summoners and us the ability to keep the mode flexible!

Issue 2: Unfair Play in Alliance Wars

This issue is integral to the mode. Alliance Wars is a highly competitive mode, and our goal is to make it the MOST competitive mode in the game, so fairness is paramount. No Alliance should feel that they can play their best, and fairest, but be let down when another Alliance does not play fair, and beats them, or 2 Alliances collude to manipulate the standings.

Solution 2: Improved Methods to Identify Offenders, More Severe Punishments, Matchmaking Improvements

To ensure this mode is fair, we need to improve how we find offending Summoners, and ensure that we  take quick and decisive action against them. In the past, we’ve penalized Alliances for the actions of individuals. Moving forward, we will be focusing on the individual culprits, but will still take action on Alliances that make use of these illegitimate methods.

Another issue we want to address is “Collusion”, which also goes hand in hand with an improvement that we want to make for all Summoners. In previous seasons, we’ve investigated instances where Alliances were clearly working together in order to throw matches or create “easy” Wars. Our matchmaking tool allows for Summoners to look for matches within a very large window and this agency allows Summoners to employ anti-competitive tactics in order to succeed.

This will also help improve matchmaking for all Alliances! Since matches can be made during non-peak hours, some Alliances may run into longer than expected matchmaking times which, could result in a larger War Rating disparity (due to our previous improvements). While we don’t have a concrete plan right now, we’re looking at ways we can mitigate these issues and feel like we’re close to a solution we’re confident in sharing with you in the near future.

Issue 3: Finding your Alliance Home

As Alliance Wars became more important with the introduction of Seasons, finding the right Alliance to join has become very important. Finding the right Alliance is about more than just which Alliance is in what Reward Tier. Summoners want to find one that fits their activity level, skill level, and desired prestige level. On the flip side, we know that it can be hard for Alliances to find a new member that fits their criteria as well.

Right now, there is no easy in-game solution to help find an alliance with your specific requirements. The regular cadence of Seasons and Off-Seasons were designed to accommodate for this, allowing more opportunities to find another Alliance between Seasons. However, we’ve also seen a higher Alliance kick rate which we have attributed to the increased competition brought on by the added significance of Alliance War points and its effect on Alliance Ranking. It’s understandable for Alliances to remove a Summoner from their Alliance if they don’t meet the goals or playstyle of the Alliance and we want to make it as painless as possible to find a replacement, and for the displaced Summoner to find a new Alliance.

Solution 3: Improved Alliance Search Tools and New Recruitment Tools

Increased competition is not a bad thing at an Alliance Level, but for some individuals, it might not be right for them. We want to help those Summoners find the Alliance that is right for them.

Since there was no reliable way to search for Alliances with specific parameters, Summoners looking for a high level, active Alliance had to resort to third party message boards and the forums to find new homes. We want to eliminate this pain point by adding parameters that Summoners find most important when looking for a new Alliance to the Alliance search tools.

We also understand that Alliances are set back when they lose members, so we will look into Alliance recruitment tools. We don’t have a timeline for this, but are treating it as a high priority. With these tools, Summoners will be able to specify the type of Alliance they are looking to join and find options within the game. We hope that Alliances that are down a member or two can easily find suitable candidates by filling in their Alliance requirements as well.

FINAL THOUGHTS

We would like to thank all Summoners for continuing to participate in Alliance Wars and The Contest. We have heard Summoner concerns around communication and are working to improve our this around changes to Alliance Wars that have a large impact on Summoners. As we continue to work on this mode and update its features, we will make a greater effort in not only previewing our changes, but also share our design goals and intentions. Some plans may change as we work through them and we look forward to evolving this mode with Summoner feedback as well.

Let us know what you think and join the discussion in our Discussion thread.