Arcanox Dungeons: Problems & Planned Solutions

The dungeons are the best part of Arcanox for some players, but by far not for anyone. Some of the reasons for this are problems I want to solve with the upcoming update. In this post I’ll try to explain the these problems and how I plan to fix them. These are not the patch notes for the upcoming update. The update will contain a lot more changes and new stuff.

Dungeon Problems

Problem 1: Dungeons as a Chore

Several players told me, that they think the dungeons are a great idea, but they cannot enjoy them. They feel forced to copy the solutions of their guild mates and borrow their cards instead of trying the dungeons on their own and using the replays only as an inspiration. They not only have no fun in the dungeons but perceive them as a chore and feel highly dependent on their guild mates.

There are multiple reasons for this:

  1. Copying a solution with borrowed cards is for many players the easiest and fastest way to achieve a high dungeon score.
  2. Players want to achieve at least 500 dungeon points on each stage, because of the Mana reward.
  3. Players want to be “good guild members”, which means contributing lots of dungeon score and guild coins regularly.
  4. Some guilds require their members to achieve a certain score. Otherwise they are threatened to get kicked from the guild.
  5. Members of the top 3 guilds want to be in the internal top 10 because of the guild tournament reward.

Even when these players realize they have no fun in the dungeons with the borrow and copy strategy, it is hard for them to stop doing it, because it is so effective.

Problem 2: Borrow & Copy Exploit Accounts

Top dungeon players can easily create additional accounts that achieve 2500+ dungeon scores. The steps are:

  1. Create a new account.
  2. Use all rubies from the achievements to upgrade the guild library.
  3. Borrow strong cards for each dungeon stage from the main account or other guild members.

These accounts reach the top 50 on the dungeon ladder within 2 – 3 weeks. Right now there are at least 5 of them on the monthly top 50 dungeon ladder. When they are a member of one of the top 3 guilds they can even take away the guild tournament rewards from players who played for several months. This almost happened last month.

By using the desktop client and some automation scripts it would even be possible to create a guild with a single high level player and 29+ exploit accounts that competes with the top 5 guilds. The dungeons are ideal for automation, because they are the same for everyone. The exploit accounts would become more powerful with each dungeon, because of the 100 Mana reward. Luckily no one has created such an automated robot guild yet.

Problem 3: Big Gap between Top & Average Scores

The top dungeon score for each dungeon is ~5000 points while the average dungeon score is ~550 points. This is a huge gap. The top dungeon players/guilds work hard for their high scores and deserve it, but I would like to see average dungeon scores at around 1500 to 2000 points.

The reasons for the gap are:

  1. The current dungeon score formula highly favors very low card count solutions.
  2. Many players don’t care much about the dungeons, because there is no gold reward. They rather focus on PvP/missions/computer opponents, because they need the gold to upgrade their cards and castle.
  3. Playing a dungeon deck with more than 7 cards can be really annoying, because of the draw order. This especially affects players with weaker cards.
  4. Many players don’t know how to use the minions, enchantments and spells. A skilled player can achieve a 120+ score on the first dungeon stage by just using the cards from the tutorial. When he would upgrade the cards and also use the cards from the achievements and training a 200+ score is easily possible. But there are plenty of players with 50- scores on stage 1.

Solutions

Pick Your Opening Hand

Dungeons_OpeningHand

Playing a dungeon can get really annoying, when your deck has more than 7 cards and the cards don’t show up in the right order.

You will be able to pick the cards for your opening hand (borrowed cards included). This means you can play with up to 14 cards in perfect order.

I’ve considered making it possible to sort the entire dungeon deck, but sorting would be much more effort than tapping on the cards for your opening hand.

All players will benefit from this change, but especially players who don’t have the strongest cards and therefor use more cards per stage. I expect a significant increase of the average scores on the stages 3/4/5.

New Dungeon Score Formula

The current score formula is:
DungeonStageScore = (StarFactor * StageFactor) / UsedCards

The new formula will be:
DungeonStageScore = (StarFactor * StageFactor) / (UsedCards / 2 + 1)

This plot shows the scores of all players of the last dungeon and how these scores would change with the new formula:

Dungeon02042016TotalScoresNewB

The new formula will increase the average dungeon score by ~13 % and decrease the top score by ~7 %. The gap between the top and average will still be big, but smaller than before and with the higher average scores the dungeons will hopefully be more rewarding for a majority of the players.

Reduced Score for 2+ Borrowed Cards

When you are among the 92% of players who doesn’t have a guild library or only a level 1 guild library, then the following change doesn’t affect you.

Otherwise it is likely you hate the headline, but please give me a chance to explain.

This is NOT about destroying team play or forcing you to buy/craft more cards. When a guild figures out they need one crazy card and one member decides to craft the card, so all of them can finally crack the score, then everyone will feel proud and happy. I don’t want to destroy these epic moments!

This change is about:

  1. Making the dungeons fun again for players who perceive them as a chore,
  2. Closing a serious exploit.

The plan is to count used borrowed and own cards differently:

Borrowed Card Count Own Card Count
1 => 1
2 => 3
3 => 5
4 => 7

Example:

  1. Your guild mates have solved dungeon stage 3 with 10 cards and a score of 596.
  2. You have watched the replay and checked your cards.
  3. You’ve tried to replace missing cards with your own ones, but some couldn’t be replaced.
  4. Based on the number of missing cards you have the following options:
Missing Cards Options Score
1 Use 1 borrowed + 9 own cards. 596
2 Use 11 own cards. 550
2 Use 2 borrowed + 8 own cards. 550
3 Use 12 own cards. 477
3 Use 3 borrowed + 7 own cards. 477
3 Use 2 borrowed + 9 own cards. 477
3 Use 1 borrowed + 11 own cards. 477

Who is affected by this?

  • 44% of all players have no guild library. Nothing changes for them.
  • 48% have a level 1 guild library. Nothing changes for them.
  • 5% have a level 2 guild library. When using 2 borrowed cards in the dungeons they are counted like 3 own cards. This means their score is slightly reduced.
  • 2% have a level 3/4 guild library:
    • At least 25% of these 2% are exploit accounts.
    • A big part of the remaining 2% sees the dungeons as a chore.
    • Another part of the remaining 2% usually borrows only 0-1 cards per dungeon stage, because they either prefer playing with their own cards or have a big collection of the most powerful cards.

Overall less than 2% of all players will experience a noticeable change. Among these 2% are all exploit accounts and many players who see the dungeon as a chore, because of the effective borrowing.

Advantages

  • The dungeons will be turned from a chore into a fun experience for many players, because the borrow & copy strategy will not be the obvious best way to achieve a high score for them anymore.
  • Playing the dungeons on your own and using the replays just as an inspiration is more likely to result in an equal or higher score compared to the borrow & copy strategy.
  • Players who felt highly depended will now feel much more independent.
  • The exploit accounts will not be able to compete with real players on a high level anymore.
  • Some guild leaders commanded their members to borrow & copy instead of allowing them to choose how to play. They degraded weaker members to mindless monkeys. This is likely to stop.

Neutral

  • The change alone would slightly increase the score gap between the top and average players, but:
    • The ability to pick the opening hand and the new score formula will reduce the score gap.
    • The average player has only a level 1 or 2 guild library. Players with a level 1 guild library will not be affected at all and players with a level 2 guild library only slightly.
  • Even when players would achieve a lower score now, they will receive more Mana per dungeon because of the next change: Full Mana for 300 instead of 500 points.
  • Some guild members will probably end up with a lower internal guild rank, but:
    • The top dungeon players are already at the top of their guilds and almost anyone else will be affected by the change in the same way.
    • The distribution of the guild tournament rewards will change. Every member (and not only the top 10) will get rubies based on the contributed guild score. Read more about it here.

Drawbacks

  • Players who relied much on the borrow and copy strategy and care more about their rank in the dungeon ladder than having fun will hate this change.
  • Players, who like to be in the lender role, because they enjoy helping other players and to receive gratitude, might be less often in this role.
  • The guild library will be less effective in the dungeons. The score to guild coins factor doesn’t change, but borrowing several cards per stage might result in a lower score than using own cards. Therefore everyone will be able to destroy his guild library once and get back 100% of the rubies. (There is no time limit.)
  • Some guilds are built around a few players with strong cards, while the other members only have a high level guild library. These guilds will be less effective than before, but the impact on the guild tournament should be smaller than expected, because the total guild score is a weighted sum of the members’ scores. The top 10 members contribute 50% of the total guild score.

Full Mana for 300 Instead of 500 Points

The required score per dungeon stage to gain 20 Mana will be lowered from 500 to 300.

Nothing will change for the top dungeon players, but average players will gain a lot more Mana per dungeon.

Beta Test

There will be an open beta for the upcoming update, where you will be able to try all changes and provide feedback. I’ll announce the beta on this website, Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Thanks a lot to biobanane, DrKiIIjoy, Lhayze, Kareem, Nilexi, IsmirEgal, Flame, Flint, Torsten Krauß, Nicko Böhnke, Sirko Rückmann and all players who provided valuable feedback.

Special thanks to Gerroux for the mathematical advice and the creation of the plots!

I’m looking forward to test all changes with you and to read your feedback! Arcanox wouldn’t be the same without you!