Tonight was not only a night of accomplishment, but a reunion of sorts as well. You see, I’ve been housing a deep, dark, and dirty secret, and I feel like the time is right to come clean about it.
I’ll just go ahead and spit it out: I haven’t been playing War Robots in awhile.
I mean, everyone takes breaks from things they love, and there are a few good reasons for this.
- I’ve been busy getting MECH*SPECTRUM going how I’ve long envisioned.
- A month ago, our daughter Moira arrived prematurely, and she spent three weeks in NICU. My wife essentially lived in the hospital, which left me playing “Mr. Mom” at home for the four other little souls I’m blessed to have.
- I’ve felt some ambivalence about the state of the game. Given all that’s going on around it, playing has felt a touch like crossing a picket line (more on this shortly).
- I’ve been hooked on Eternal, much of which is played against the AI. That means that unlike War Robots, I can put the iPad down in the middle of a game when one of my children stubs their toe, and not see my game tank out. Even started a “side-blog” about the game.
- Finally, and perhaps most of all, I can’t remember when I last allowed myself to play War Robots for fun. I love the By the Numbers series, but knowing I have to take meticulous notes at the end of every match sort of put the kibosh on spontaneous enjoyment of the game. Don’t worry, we haven’t seen the last of statistical analysis of opposition metrics, but I’m letting that slide for a bit.
Put it all together, and I can honestly say that I’ve missed out on a lot. I mean, the entire reason I bought both my iPad and an Android tablet was for War Robots, and I’ve watched a lot more Breaking Bad on the iPad than I’ve played War Robots in the past couple of months- and I’m only on Season Two.
Bear with me here, there’s a point to all of this, I promise.
For one thing, I’m still a moderator over at the Wiki Forum, I still connect with my acquaintances at Pixonic, and I still follow the game very closely. I just don’t play it much. For instance, I’ve never played a single Beacon Rush game. Not one.
But recently, I made a decision that I wasn’t going to worry about data collection. I wasn’t going to worry about the Sturm und Drang of the problems Pixonic and the community are having right now. I wasn’t going to worry about anything except for reconnecting with a game I’ve had countless hours of enjoyment with.
So tonight, I held the baby and played some Eternal. Then I played more Eternal. I’ve come across a superbly competitive list on Reddit (Fire/Primal aggro that sneaks in a touch of Shadow with Lurking Sanguar… so good!), and it’s been working wonders. For the first time ever, I cracked Gold II (funnily enough, the league structure is very similar to War Robots). Not only did I not stop there, I piloted it all the way into Diamond III!
By this point, Moira and Ruari were both asleep, as was the wife, so I alighted to the dining room, cracked open a bottle of Elysian Space Dust (also so good), and fired up War Robots on the iPad.
Don’t worry, we’re almost to the payoff.
Now, I’ve been blessed with a pretty sweet hangar, in terms of the gear. Because of my philosophy of testing different builds, however, I’ve never leveled my gear particularly high. I have a lot of gear that’s leveled, as opposed to a narrow focus on the most competitive stuff. The triumph of breadth over depth.
Having not logged in in awhile, I looked over the seven special deals that were awaiting me. I bought two of them (the Gold drone, and some Silver) and dismissed the rest.
Then I tinkered with my hangar a bit before going to battle, settling on this configuration:
The first map was Moon, and I led with the Ember/Orkan Inquisitor. I skirmished over the leftmost beacon, captured it, then advanced on the enemy. I fell to coordinated fire but was able to push our line forward thanks to descend. I respawned in a Haechi, doing some serious work in the underpass, before closing the game out with a Taran Bulgasari to hold a contested beacon.
I was surprised to see myself so far ahead of the pack, since I spent a good portion of the game shaking off the rust. But hey, I did some heavy lifting in the underpass, dashing out to drop three Orkan-loads before dashing back to cover. That probably pushed my numbers up…right?
At that point, I figured I might turn in, but for whatever reason I decided instead to treat myself. One more Space Dust, one more game!
This time, we spawned in Shenzhen– my favorite map. I dropped into the Inquisitor again, and went for center beacon after seeing it uncontested with the hope that my stealth mode might give me some advantage. Taking it, I moved forward to claim their home beacon, notching a couple kills as I did so.
Once I fell, I respawned in the Orkan Haechi, and retook one of our beacons that the enemy had grabbed. Oh, and I melted the enemy that had so dared, as well. We were behind, but the game was still well in play. I flanked the center courtyard, slagging another two enemies with a steady drizzle of Orkanfire as they tried to advance on center beacon.
When I finally succumbed to hostile pressure, I respawned in my Scourge Kumiho, hoping to rely upon its superior speed and maneuverability to recapture some lost beacons and keep us in the fight. When the match ended, I was pretty sure we had won, but was more focused on the enemy than our progress.
That’s when I saw this:
I have aimed to join the “Millionaire Club” for quite some time now, and have always fallen short. I have had games where I played out of my skin, almost single-handedly willing our team to victory with a dominating Thundorkan Lance performance at center beacon on Yamantau. Carrying my pick-up group to victory on Canyon with a Zeus Fury melting everything in sight. And for all that, I never broke a million in damage.
But put the game down for awhile before jumping back in with a mediocre-leveled hangar of bots I’m not familiar with and I break it on the second go.
If you’d asked me after the second game how I did, I’d have put myself in the 600k range. “I came out on top of a couple tilts, but I have a ways to go before I’m comfortable with all this new gear.”
If you’d asked me a few months ago how I’d break a million in damage, I’d have said it would be with a game-in-a-thousand with exceptional performances behind the Thundorkan Lancelot and a Plasmahad. A real red-letter day, an extraordinary accomplishment after playing at the top of my skills and abilities.
If you’d said no, that I’d break my first mil with brand-new bots and weapons after taking an extended break from the game, I’d have laughed and rolled my eyes.
But there it is.
Look, I work in data for a living. I’m familiar with the concepts of black swans and outliers. I’m not going to take this anecdotal situation as my hill to die on.
But if you were to ask me, I’d say that something’s off. These bots aren’t balanced. This isn’t a fluke, but rather an indication of a competitive imbalance. And that it needed to be fixed.
When I made Diamond III in Eternal this evening, I was delighted. Hard work paid off.
But getting into the Million Damage Club in War Robots… I didn’t earn this. This wasn’t the product of hard work, perseverance, and a dash of luck. I know because I’ve wanted that mil for awhile now, have worked my ass off to get it…only to fall short time and again.
This was me, logging in cadaver-cold to a hangar of the newest bots in the game, having a mediocre day at the office…and still managing the best statistical performance of my War Robots career.
Maybe this is a fluke, an outlier, “anecdotal evidence” which is only a hair’s-breadth removed from no evidence at all.
Or maybe the new War Robots gear really is that imbalanced.
Your call. I know mine.