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Posted by Eltharyon 3 years ago (Source)

Dear players,

On January 20th, we released Queen, our biggest update to date. It has also been our most successful. Since its release, player numbers have grown by more than 40%, and for the first time since our free to play launch, we have recently surpassed 350,000 monthly active players.

At the core of the update was the new Outlands continent alongside significant changes to territory mechanics. Guilds can now establish their own bases - called hideouts - in the Outlands and territory conquest is now decided through open world conflict as opposed to a very limited 5 vs 5 system. This in principle allows everyone to establish a presence in the Outlands and take an active role in the conflict over the land and its resources.

There was one risk that we anticipated in changing territory conquest to an open world system. Strength in numbers would become more important. To combat that, we introduced a zerg debuff based on group size - called Disarray. This has definitely helped to close the power gap between small and large groups. On top of that, we also made sure that travel distance matters more with the Queen update in order to reduce the power projection of strong alliances. While the best groups would always be powerful in certain parts of the game world, we did not want them to easily project that power to any location that they like.

We said prior to the Queen update that a few weeks after its launch, we would take a step back and evaluate how all of the implemented features worked out in practice. In general, we are very happy with the outcome.

However, one thing that we are unhappy with is that large alliances are still too dominant overall. This creates a lot of pressure on smaller groups to also join a large alliance, which in turn causes the game world to split into a few very large power blocks. This raises the barrier to entry for smaller and more casual guilds, while at the same time carrying the risk of effectively “pacifying” large parts of the Outlands leading to stale gameplay.

After extensive discussion with the community - and a very active poll in which 80% of the players voted for the removal of alliances altogether - we have decided to shake things up.

Important: As the following is quite a drastic change with an uncertain outcome, we will conduct it as a test. This means that once it goes live, we will monitor its effects closely and actively collect your feedback. Based on that, we’ll decide on whether to keep, reverse or adapt the new system.

Here it is:
From February 26th onwards, the maximum number of players who can be part of an alliance will be capped to 300. This is identical to the maximum number of players allowed in a single guild right now, hence it still allows smaller casual guilds to form an alliance just as before while achieving the goal of breaking up the current power blocks.

To encourage these more casual alliances, we will also turn off points sharing between guilds in the same alliances such that there is no longer a downside in accepting a weaker guild into your alliance if you’d like to join forces with them. To account for the fact that average zerg sizes are likely to decrease, we’ll also change the disarray debuff in such a way that it has a stronger impact for medium sized zergs.

It is our expectation that the existing in-game alliances will adapt to the new system and continue to exist through informal non-aggression pacts. However, we hope that these informal alliances are less powerful and less stable than what we have right now, leading to more action and tension overall and allowing newer groups to have an impact.

As stated above, for now, we see this as a test. We are consciously doing this change before the next invasion day (February 29th) to immediately observe the effects and we expect that we’ll be able to give a first assessment of the impacts about 2 weeks after the change has gone live. Based on that impact and on the community’s feedback, we will decide on whether to keep, adjust or reverse the change.

Looking forward to your thoughts and feedback,

Robin 'Eltharyon' Henkys
Game Director

PS.: In order for existing guilds and alliances to be able to prepare for this change, here’s a detailed breakdown of how we intend to implement this change.

  1. On February 26th, existing Alliances will lose all member guilds except the founding guild (which by default puts the Alliance below 300 members).
  2. No guild can be invited or accept an invitation to an Alliance if that would bring the total number of characters in the Alliance to more than 300.
  3. No player can be invited, accept an invitation or be accepted to join a guild if this would increase the total number of characters in an Alliance to over 300 players
  4. Season Points will no longer be shared within alliances.

Please note that the details of the implementation are still in development and may change until February 26th.

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