Stomps are Normal or Why Most Players Don’t Understand Tiers, the Match Maker, Weight Class Balance, or Game Design Features

Time and again I see the same stupid complaints on the MWO Forum – ‘Match Maker is Broken‘, ‘Tiers are Broken‘, ‘Potatoes are Ruining MY Game‘, ‘Lights are OP‘, and other whiny crap. Now it’s a fair point that one purpose of forums is a place to give players who’ve been screwed over or had an unlucky streak a place to vent their feelings but that doesn’t mean that a total misunderstanding of vital game features is excusable.

TIER DOES NOT EQUAL SKILL!

Seriously. Tier has absolutely no relation to skill whatsoever. None, zip, nada, eff all. What tier represents is WEALTH. By which I mean total amount of c-bills earned ever. Each match rewards you with c-bills, experience, and a small increase towards the next tier (or occasionally a tiny step backwards). as you earn these rewards you are more and more capable of fielding optimised mechs, optimised meaning ‘fully kitted out with a decent build, 80+ skill tree nodes, suitable consumables, and a player familiar with it’s use‘. Each optimised mech costs many millions of c-bills and a large number of matches worth of experience (I’ll leave it to the stats experts to work that out).

There aren’t really any tier 5 players other than the rare newbie who has just started and is making a complete hash of it. Even a few moderate successes in your first few battles is going to put you at the bottom of tier 4. Thus we cannot expect that a tier 4 player has earned much in the way of c-bills or experience so is unlikely to have many optimised mechs. A tier 3 player however, after many matches, likely has at least one optimised mech and probably enough for a drop deck. Tier 1 and 2 players should have plenty of optimised mechs and sufficient wealth to have tried out different ideas and find the mechs and builds that are ‘just right’.

At no point does tier directly relate to skill, how can it possibly? Tier, total like c-bills earned, will slowly increase for even the worst players thanks to it’s built in upwards bias. Tier is never a measure of skill and attempting to conflate the two shows a lack of understanding of the game design. The only way to measure skill from tier is to see how fast/how many matches it takes for a player to climb from their first match to tier 1 and as that’s not a stat that’s recorded it’s thus impossible to know.

MATCH MAKER IS NOT BROKEN!!

Really. Once you understand that tier is not skill then the match maker makes perfect sense by matching similarly wealthy players against each other. Players without optimised mechs and twenty odd matches fought shouldn’t be playing against players with a dozen or more optimised mechs and thousands of battles under their belts. Matching players based on their tier gives matches where all the players have fought a roughly similar number of battles and have earned a roughly similar amount of c-bills and thus should have a roughly similar stable of optimised mechs. It’s actually quite fair from a measurable point of view even though it takes no account of skill.

The particular implementation we currently have is however flawed, because the various tiers are too often mixed together. That doesn’t matter because…

STOMPS ARE NORMAL!!!

Honestly. Stomps are normal. If you don’t believe me go play a few thousand World of Tanks matches… Good, now you’re back did you notice that stomps occur just as regularly in WoT as they do in MWO? This is because the game design of the two games leads inevitably to stomps occurring on a regular basis. Whenever you have an arena type game that features multiple players on each side (probably at least 6) and no (or limited) respawns the outcomes will always feature a large percentage of stomps. It’s the nature of the design. No respawns means that if a player makes even a single mistake they are out of the game and their side is down a player which immediately puts them at a disadvantage. This early disadvantage then rapidly snowballs into a stomp almost every time. In games where the player has ‘hit points’ and/or limited respawns there is some small measure of recovery but what that does is generally just delay the snowball effect until later.

There is always a tipping point, generally quite early in the match, where the outcome is pretty much decided bar some heroic or lucky comebacks. If we had the ability to analyse every game from every players viewpoint it would become obvious where and how the tipping point happened and I expect that it would usually be down to one or two players making one or two bad decisions or just getting unluckily caught out making a perfectly sensible decision.

LIGHTS ARE NOT OVERPOWERED!!!!

I had to include this as it seems to be the same silly ass(ault) players who whine about tiers/match maker who also whine about light mechs. In table top Battletech assaults are definitively at a serious advantage, they have the most armour and the most weapons and the random hits make hard to take down. It’s usually only on heat where they suffer. Lights tend to be easily taken out even though they are generally fast and thus harder to hit. The TT rules favour heavier mechs and the lore is based on that:

Light < Medium < Heavy < Assault

MWO on the other hand is a completely different game because each mech in a match needs to be equally effective so that they are played equally and we do not end up with the situation where everyone is playing assaults but nobody can get a match. Thus  in MWO lights are as good as assaults:

Light = Medium = Heavy = Assault

Unfortunately a lot of the players of this game are hung up on the TT based lore and have a lot of trouble comprehending that for MWO the rules are different. Hitting a mech relies on actual player skill ratehr than random dice rolls and as lights are both fast(er) and small(ish) they are actually harder to hit a lot of the time. They can still be taken out by a single good shot, especially one from an assault wielded heavy ballistic. Even if they get close in they are still just as vulnerable especially if the assault mech is in company, keeping out of the firing arc(s) of an assault mech is not as easy as most assault mech favouring players say it is.

CONCLUSION!!!!!!

SORRY I CAN’T STOP SHOUTING BECAUSE I’M SO ANNOYED. Ahem. These are all basic game design elements that anyone with a lick of experience with this game should be able to understand, but time and again players come up with these silly complaints and even defend them to the hilt. It’s really time that these moaners should be mocked mercilessly.

Clan Crocodile Tears and Propaganda

There’s a certain type of character on the MechWarrior Online forum that are always complaining about how badly off their much superior mechs are. They deliberately cry crocodile tears and pretend to be sad in order to make sure not only that their precious mechs are not nerfed but that the other factions’ mechs are never as good and they’re a plague on any balance discussion.

In case you weren’t aware, dear reader, MechWarrior Online (MWO) is a game of giant stompy robots, aka mechs (short for battlemechs), and has been around in various forms since the eighties. The latest version is played online and is a first person arena battle game.

There are two main technologies in the game, the Inner Sphere (IS) is the ‘original flavour’ that the boardgame started out with. Some time later the Clans were added with new higher tech equipment that was much better than the original. In the boardgame they eventually balanced this out with a points system but MechWarrior Online doesn’t do this with the result that Clan mechs are significantly better than IS mechs.

Normally this isn’t a problem as the game mixed the factions when creating a random team to play a battle, but when faction on faction play gets involved the difference becomes quite obvious.

MechWarrior Online players tend to fall into a couple of stereotypes: older players who started with the boardgame favour the IS mechs, a bunch of which are copied from various manga TV shows of the eighties. Younger players, who cut their teeth on the various incarnations of MechWarrior games, tend to favour the clan mechs featured in those games. Naturally there’s a bunch of people who like both types of mech but we’re not going to talk about those weirdos!

So when the older, IS favouring, players come to the forum to complain that their mechs are getting hammered, the younger, Clan favouring, players get stuck in too, and within their numbers are members of a secret clan: Clan Crocodile Tears.

Members of Clan Crocodile Tears are out to make sure that the Clan mechs are always the best, regardless of wether or not that’s good for the game. They want to maintain, or even improve, the face wrecking advantage that Clan mechs already have thanks to the poor design of the game.

So Clan Crocodile Tears are always coming up with weaksauce propaganda about how the very minor drawbacks that Clan mechs have are so overwhelmingly important that they outweigh all other considerations.

e.g.

When clan mechs lose one side of their engines they are not destroyed but IS mechs are – but clan mechs get an awful 20% movement penalty when that happens which more than balances it out.

Actual Quote – ‘Omnimechs are inferior to Battlemechs in MWO because of the rigid locked equipment that you have to build around instead of being able to full customize’. Yet all clan equipment is lighter and uses fewer slots than IS meaning you can mount a lot more weapons on those omnimechs while being faster and more agile…

So I’ve drawn up a logo for this clan that shows a crocodile head in front of a blue banner of tears over a sea of salty tears that wash over the forums:

Here’s some more bonus quotes and propaganda, now with videos:

‘A pilot with an IS mech who knows how to play it doesn’t have much problems versus clan mechs. Since I started playing this game, clans have been nerfed constantly, but we adapt to the changes and get it done. So maybe you IS dudes think about improving your play style instead of blaming tech differences that are supposed to be there?’

‘Our concern is getting our asses handed to us because we can not match ton for ton with the IS during faction play due to our gutted drop decks on both scout/invasions.’ Lances107

‘by the skill tree… It seems like every IS mech is transforming into assault tanks!’

Pr8Dator2