Is this really it? I thought we would have seen something better than this, but I guess not. I am very frustrated with the recent upgrades to Castle Wars. Overall, they don’t really add up to anything worthwhile. Racheya praises some of these updates in "Just What It Needed?" but there isn’t really much that is worthy of our support.
I’m sure that many of us thought “Oh cool, new rewards!” as soon as we saw the changes made to this classic Capture-The-Flag game. But the majority of these rewards aren’t so great nor are they worth the trouble. For example, the Profound Decorative Platebody cost 1100 tickets alone. That’s 550 Castle Wars victories which amount to nearly 230 hours of play time. That doesn’t even factor in time and games wasted when you lose or try to find a “better world.” If you can achieve the entire set (good luck), the profound set is only equivalent to rune armor when you don’t count the bonuses. You’d be better off spending your time making money to purchase higher level armor that you could use both in and out of Castle Wars. The lower armor sets still don't come close to someone with higher level armor even with the bonuses. Also, am I alone in thinking that the updated armor looks kind of ugly?
Even with these un-fulfilling updates, all is not lost. The potion sets are both affordable and very useful as they provide four doses. However, it is disappointing that the ranged potion and magic essence potion boosts are not equivalent to the super attack and super strength boosts. It seems that melee dominates the combat triangle once again.
The one major point that Jagex missed in the update though was how these rewards are achieved. The losing party still gets zero tickets. The winning party still only gets two tickets. And the majority of the rewards that could be useful are still ridiculously expensive. A part of this is the lack of team balance. There is no system in place to balance teams beforehand in terms their abilities. I cannot count the number of games where the other team has been vastly stronger from the beginning. One could argue that the result of the game is sometimes decided before play even begins.
To fix this, Jagex needs an auto balancing system. Firstly, they need a system to sort the teams before the game similar to Stealing Creation. They could also implement a system to auto-balance the teams mid-game. Every sixty seconds the game engine would automatically run a check to make sure there are equal numbers of players on both sides. If there isn’t, the game engine would randomly choose players to switch teams upon their death. This would eliminate the possibility of finding yourself on the opposite team just as you were about to score. You might not like the sound of this, but I’m sure you don’t like being vastly outnumbered either. It is merely my suggestion. The system in place does not balance the teams but really only keeps them from getting extremely unbalanced. I also really think we need to see a change in either an increase of tickets won per game (can I get a few tickets for trying even though I lost?) or a decrease in the price of rewards. It is way too difficult to get the rewards which are so ridiculously priced.
There is also the interesting “holding of your own standard” rule. The Castle Wars player seems to share a love-hate relationship with this policy. Is it great when you have your own standard? Of course! How about when a level 130 mage using Ancient Magicks is guarding their level 135 warrior teammate holding his own standard? And they're on the other team? Oh, that sucks. This rule is awful and I think it should be eliminated. I have never seen nor played any other CTF game that allows the other team to hold onto and defend their flag. Not even in real life do people play like that. When someone dies with the opposing team’s standard, it should not wind up in the hands of the team who is defending it so they can carry it about the battlefield.
The best remedy for this rule is to have the standard either return immediately to the tower or sit there for a short period of time. During that period of time, the defending team could not pick up their own standard, but a player from the capturing team could. This would keep the possibility of a player purposefully dropping the standard in order that a strong player could pick it up. If no player picks up the flag after a short period of time (10, 20, or 30 seconds), then the standard goes back to the tower.
Jagex has been pushing hard for Castle Wars. Just a few weeks ago we saw a kill streak competition that offered numerous Jagex goodies to the winner, preceded by a Castle Wars Triumvirate Challenge the weekend before. Unfortunately, the update last month was not much in terms of improvement. It was equivalent to throwing a new coat of paint on a car that is falling apart. It looks cool, but there are still some major problems. We still desperately need better changes, just like Ts_Stormrage called for in "Mini Game, Major Dilemma." We need to implement an auto-balancing system. We need to ditch the ability to hold onto your own standard. We need to see more improvements if Castle Wars is ever to reach the high potential that this mini-game has.