It’s not hard to feel pangs of sympathy for those on an Android device right now.
The matchmaker rollout hit us iOS users last week, and threw us all into chaos. Many pilots, unaware of what was coming, logged in and suddenly found themselves face-to-face with top tier players. Others, who had an inkling that Pixonic was going to be tinkering with the matchmaking system, still had no exact date for when it would roll out.
It caught us all by surprise, but the responses were predictable. Frustration. Anxiety. Distress. What’s happened to our game?
Now a week in, the iOS rollout shows signs of stabilizing. Android users, however, just got the memo yesterday, and are in for a few topsy-turvy days. As always when faced with communal uncertainty, the human grapevine is in full bloom. Some claim it can take up to a couple hundred matches to finally “find your place” in the grand scheme of things. Others contend less than a tenth of that.
I’ve played every day since the rollout, and for my part, things seemed to be settling in to the new normal as of yesterday. The games I have now are vibrant and challenging. I may have had the opportunity for complacency in the past, but those days are well behind me. The new normal is a lethal one, ready to punish me for every misstep.
I welcome the challenge. I never know what I’m going to find when I log in now, but I know I’ll be pushed to perform in ways I’ve never had to before. This is how skills get honed and sharpened. I can’t just shove my brickfighting Boa down the closest throat I see, but rather I have to strategize and plan in ways I seldom had to before. It’s at times frustrating, but also exhilarating.
Four days ago, I published my first round of post-matchmaker statistics. Now that I’m feeling comfortable with my placement, I’ve taken another round of readings to see how the system has progressed.
For reference, here are my statistics at time of writing.
Hangar slots: 5
Bots (Level, type, highest weapon level)
6 Boa 7
4 Boa 6
6 Griffon 5
5 Stalker 7
2 Galahad 6
I’ll touch on the roster changes in my next Battle Stories feature, but for now, let’s take a look at some numbers. My sample size for this round of data was 110 pilots, which is the minimum I like to have. I’ll also include a comparison to the data from four days ago.
Average Player Level: 28.17 (+3.43)
As of this round of data, some aspects of the new matchmaker system have become clearer. For one thing, the increase in player level tells me that the matchmaker wants to keep me with my peers. While it’s ostensibly performance-based, there’s a reason I’m not being thrown in with Bronze pilots with 75% win ratios, but rather players closer to my skill level.
Given the nature of experience in this game, and how you can get a massive boost with Premium, I’m reticent to use player level as a stand-in for skill. But it’s a workable barometer of player experience, which is at least useful for keeping us veterans away from the most vulnerable population- the new players.
Average Victories: 769.74 (+495.38)
This is an extraordinary upgrade. In fairness, there were a couple of career players who helped nudge that average up, but even looking at the median of 531.50 it’s clear that I’m in much more robust company.
Part of this makes perfect sense. If I’m facing players of a higher level, they’ve certainly won more matches along the way. By the same token, though, I’m not convinced that’s the entirety of the answer. It seems more likely that I’ve found myself amongst more serious players, and those types of players not only have a higher Level, but also a lot more hours invested.
Average Trophies: 290.12 (+106.52)
Another significant increase. Since trophies are only measured in the last 10 days, this tells me I’m up against much more active players. Their skillset is not only sharper, but it’s very fresh, too.
My trophy count is only slightly higher than this, and has even been lower in the past week. So far, it’s looking like I’m right on par with an appropriate peer group. I’m actually slightly ahead in player level (basic experience) and trophies (recent activity), while being behind in victories (lifetime activity). This seems correct.
It’s when we get to the hangars that the real difference becomes obvious.
So if my measurables as a player are on par with my cohort, how am I looking in the hangar? Longtime readers will recall that I was very much into Bronze Tier play, and so left my hangar relatively unleveled. The new matchmaker system does away with Tiers, so I’ve started leveling up the hangar. How do I measure up?
Percent of Players with Three Hangar Slots: 24.55 (-33.30%)
Back in Bronze Tier, the percentage of players who rocked only three bots was above 75%. Many of them had either not accumulated enough resources to spring for that fourth slot (1,000 Au), or had chosen to spend their earnings elsewhere.
Four days ago, in the midst of the matchmaker chaos, that percentage had slipped to 57.85%. Now, it’s far lower still, with less than a quarter of players I encountered having only three hangar slots. Notably, no player had less than three, for the first time since I’ve been recording data.
In the past, a full, five-slot hangar could hide imperfect play. After all, when most players have three bots and you have five, your chances of still standing by the end of things- win or lose- was pretty high. Nowadays, meching out is much more common for me. I can’t rely on the depth of my hangar to keep me in the game, and instead must make sure I’m contributing through skill rather than simple longevity.
Average Robot Level: 7.48 (+1.75)
With my average bot level being 4.60 in the above hangar, now we come to the crux of the problem. In the last data post, we saw how my pilot data was above average, but my hangar data below as a consequence of me preferring to stay in Bronze Tier for so long.
Clearly, my chickens came home to roost, and they’re sticking around. If I thought last week that I’d seen the worst and things were only going to get better, I was clearly mistaken. The matchmaker has actually opted to put me up against stronger and stronger competition.
This helps explain why I’m playing right now as if the Sword of Damocles was hangin’ over my head.* My opponents have more of a margin for error than I do, and by a fair margin. What about their weapons?
Average Highest Weapon Level: 7.85 (+1.77)
This is interesting. Last week I looked at data collected the evening before the MM update, and data afterwards. The increase in weapon levels was 1.33. Here, it’s appreciated at a slightly higher rate, 1.77 levels, but nothing too exorbitant. What does this mean?
For one thing, it means I’m running up against slightly stronger weapons, while at the same time encountering significantly stronger bots, as we saw above. What might account for this odd disparity?
In all likelihood, it’s the fact that “clubber” Gepard builds are an endangered species now. Pilots running clubber squads would deliberately keep the mech level low, with a high weapon level, in order to game the system. It’s been presumed that the new matchmaker was put in place at least in part to combat this practice. One might reasonably conclude from this limited data that that strategy is working.
I’ve certainly seen MagGeps and, increasingly, Aphid Geps, but it would seem I’ve found a lot less of them that have been min/maxed for gold farming. Score!
What Bots are People Running?
My favorite stat, I love to see what the meta is shaping up to be. Here’s what folks were running this week.
The first thing that jumps out at me is how consistent it is. I tend to highlight anything higher than about a 4% shift, and this week we see only one mech fall into that category, the much-maligned Natasha. This also makes sense with the more experienced player base I seem to be matched to, as the Natasha is often derided (not without cause) as the weapon of choice of the unskilled.
It’s worth noting that I prefer to view the “unskilled” as “not yet skilled,” because we all were new to the game once. But clearly, the players I’m facing now don’t tend to fall into that category, and the Natasha is a casualty of a higher veteran level with the game.
Other than that, the numbers are fairly flat, with a very notable exception. Note the complete lack of Destriers and Schutzen.**
Sadly, these bots are another casualty of the skill level I’ve graduated into. I may have ran into Cossacks about half as often as before, but at least they’re still clinging to life- if barely.***
As an aside, there are still a few unanswered questions about the new matchmaker system. One of these is what determination is used for Yamanatau, that once-reliable barometer of tier placement.
Another is what purpose do the Light bots serve. Sure, new players all start out with a Destrier, and perhaps they pick up a Cossack when the quest system directs them to acquire another mech.
But I’m thinking mainly of the Jesse here, one of the new Wild Bunch bots first offered up as part of the Merry Christmas event. I was very interested in the Jesse, due to my love of Lights at the time, but I opted to wait and see if it would be available in the shop after the event for Gold. I used my Snowflakes on chests instead, like the gambling degenerate I am.
But now, with the new matchmaker in place, I can’t think of a single reason anyone would spend a thin nickel on a Jesse. Doc? Butch? Sure, maybe. Particularly with the buffs coming their way in the 2.5 update.
But why would anyone in their right mind spend actual resources on a mech that, in the new MM system, doesn’t count for anything.
It remains a puzzle. I hope that Pixonic has a plan for this, because I love my Light mechs and would like to see them viable in some capacity. But the only Light I run at this point is the Stalker, and it too has a rather limited shelf life.
The Law of Unintended Consequences, perhaps?
*that ain’t no crime
** the appropriate plural of “Schutze”. Two years of collegiate German pays off!
*** Love ya, Salty