I tend to be one of the last to receive good news, but this morning I woke up early with a restless daughter and checked my phone. Lo and behold, the new update for War Robots had dropped for those of us on iOS, and I wasted no time in downloading it before heading to the Wiki to make an announcement post.
Here’s the League system in a nutshell. There are a number of major classes, each of which appears divided into three subclasses.
So there’s a Gold I, a Gold II, and a Gold III. It’s a bit like soccer with promotion and relegation- you move up (or presumably down) the ladder based on your success. I haven’t seen anything confirmed on the relegation bit, so the ladder might be a one-way climb in terms of what division you’re in (you do typically lose league points for a game loss, unless you’re one of the top two finishers). But who cares, I was IN. Just five short matches while the matchmaker “placed” me, and I’d know where I stood.
And a funny thing happened along the way. For awhile, the revamped matchmaker has been a total crapshoot. Sometimes I’m dead last on the table, sometimes I come out atop it. The matches have been challenging and (generally) fun, although as I’ve noted before the new matchmaker has taken away some of the casual appeal of the game. I now have to be in the mood for competition to fire it up (which, fortunately, is still fairly often).
But the five ranking matches? I was pretty much first or second on the table every time. That’s not a statement of prowess, so much as one of bewilderment. Was I matched against weaker opposition? Did I play out of my skin? Were people deliberately punching below their weight hoping to tank their placement?
I’d have no way to know. All I could say for certain is that at the end of the matches, I knew where I stood in the League system- with my coin purse 650 Au heavier.
I’ve played a number of matches since then. It’s slower going, because I’m recording every League match for my next By the Numbers post (which will be up this week with a statistical look at what I’m facing.) I can say right now that what I’m up against since being placed in the League is wildly different from what I saw beforehand- and actually for the better.
Sure, I’m seeing some pretty wacky stuff. In my last match, I saw someone in a Destrier. A couple before that, I spawned in Shenzhen next to- get this- a Zenit Gepard. But you want to know the really funny thing? These matches are some of the best I’ve played in awhile.
The game with the Destrier was in Springfield, and the Reds and Blues switched ownership of all five beacons multiple times. It was a sprawling, freewheeling affair, and I was almost cackling in my seat the whole time. I’m no longer feeling outgunned, outclassed, and outleveled. Indeed, I’m the one outgunning my teammates sometimes, which hasn’t been a very common thing since the new matchmaker implementation. It’s Day One, but in some ways this feels like the best of both systems, and I’m having an absolute blast.
In addition, it’s solved one of the enduring mysteries I’ve had about this game since the new matchmaker system, namely, why the hell would I ever pay to upgrade? In the pre-League system, upgrading your gear meant that you were more effective…which means you were placed against more effective opposition…which rendered your upgrades (essentially) worthless. Round and round it went.
Now that we’re in a League system, I can see the appeal of paying Gold to speed up a couple upgrades. There are tangible markers on the field, rather than just an ever-shifting bubble of relative difficulty.
And now that I’m ranked, I’m having a lot better matchups than I was before. It always felt previously like predestination was 90% of my fate (in the form of who the matchmaker picked for me to play with/against), and 10% was how well I played. Now it feels like my level of skill has a lot more influence on the match’s outcome.
As before with the new matchmaking implementation, I’m well aware that not every player is having the same experience. I’ve seen a number of players in our community struggle. I don’t know what the difference is, but for some players it’s there. For me, this has been a blast. But again, it’s Day One. Watch this space.
Speaking of fun games, I did have one amazing match recently the day before the League implementation.
I’d opened up with the Plasma Galahad, making a beeline alongside a similarly-equipped Gareth for the beacon. A Griffin broke off when he saw the beacon taken care of, so it was the two of us together heading down to the far corner.
And we weren’t alone. An enemy Rhino had come down the channel to meet us, and a Griffin bounded in behind him. The Gareth and I opened up, using the terrain to our best advantage. Shenzhen is a corner-shooter’s dream, and we had no lack of cover. An Orkan Rogatka was inbound as well, leaving us outmanned and outgunned.
We got some assistance from behind us- I have no idea from what, other than seeing the stream of bullets pouring into the Rhino. Both Rhino and Griffin were on a sliver of health; I took one and the Gareth got the other. Unable to get off a good missile shot in the crowded cityscape, the Rogatka fell soon afterward.
The Gareth and I wordlessly pressed our advantage, surging forward to pressure their beacon. We took it, and nearly managed to burn down a Leo before an Aphid dealt me a felling blow. Back to spawn I went, and I selected my newest addition to the roster: a Zeus Carnage.
I’d long coveted a Carnage. Indeed, a Trident Carnage was at the top of my wish list until I opted instead to fit out the Doc with quad Hydras. Though the Tridents are well away, I had one Zeus in mothballs and bought another. I’m still not convinced that they’re free of the zero-damage glitch, but the consensus on the Wiki Forum seemed to be that that was no longer an issue.
As I walked it towards Shenzhen’s quad, my first thought was, wow, I always thought these were faster. In fairness, I’d only managed to get it up to a Level 4 before rollout, so I wasn’t working with a lot of upgrades.
And it was fun. I strolled it out to the quad area and played around the edges, nipping in only to light up an enemy with the Zeuses from range. I managed to get my first kill, an injured bot that exposed itself at the wrong moment. Emboldened, I pursued another wounded enemy, coming into the quad in order to get them in range.
It proved a fatal mistake. A Plasmahad came barreling in, lighting me up. My built-in Ancile shield offered no protection from the barrage. I hit the Dash button, but couldn’t get away in time. Lesson learned.
I’ve steadily been leveling up most of my weakest bots and weapons, with a couple of notable exceptions. There’s been one significant change to the list, which was the addition of the Zeus Carnage. I took out the Plasma Gareth to clear the roster spot, through little fault of the Gareth’s own. It had been a reliable servant, though I tended to use it less for beacons and more for combat.
Three of the weapons are at level 7, one remains at 6. I’ve just now started to feel like the Hydras are doing significant damage. I feel like I’m on a crusade to make this bot viable- and based on the surge in traffic here for the Guide to the build I published last week, there’s more than a few folks who are curious to see if it’s possible.
At 51 kph, my Doc is as fast as it’s ever going to get. That means I’m at maximum efficacy as a beacon capper, but there’s plenty of room to grow as a hunter of the wounded. As I upgrade the Hydras, I’ll be able to pick off healthier and healthier prey. I’ve diverted attention to other bots this week to get them up to speed, but the Hydra Doc is a long-term investment.
Last week, the Pins were Level 5, so I’ve spent some time and resources bringing them up a little. Being honest, I’ve seen very little improvement in their performance. I believe philosophically the idea of a midrange Stalker is sound. I’m just not convinced it’s going to do what I want it to, which is to be a dangerous threat to wounded enemy players wile working the periphery for beacons.
Were I not so stubborn, I would have mothballed this guy instead of the Gareth.
All three of the Galahad’s weapons have gotten an upgrade since last week, and my skill with the bot is evolving. I’ve run it for awhile, but it’s never been given the attention it deserves. With the retirement of the “brickfighting” Boa build, I started using the Galahad the same way- find a high line and press the enemy.
That hasn’t worked out as well. As I’ve found, it sells short some of the Galahad’s strengths, namely its speed and mobility. Lately I’ve been employing a more fluid approach, and it’s been considerably more effective.
The Lancelot is still my go-to bot when I need some muscle on the battlefield. I upgraded the chassis, but the weapons still need work. The “8” flatters is. The Thunder is level 7, and the second Orkan is level 6.
At this stage of development, upgrades take around a full day, so there’s only so many I can get to in a week.
The newest addition, this is a fun bot to play. The twin Zeuses give me reach on any battlefield, and it definitely feels like a damage upgrade from the Gareth. In part because of the novelty factor, but the Carnage is my typical second pick after the Galahad mechs out. From there I’ll decide between the Doc and Lancelot (depending on battlefield conditions), and close with the Stalker.
That’s it for this update. I’ll have some stats in the next day or two- and another Guide is in the works as well. No points for guessing which build!