It's been about a year since the update advertised as the largest of 2011 and the penultimate feature for clans was introduced. It's also been a year since the almost immediate conclusion that Citadels would only be fully utilized by very large community and skilling clans.
None of the features in the Citadel are of any use to Player vs. Player or Player vs. Monster clans. This sadly includes the Battlefield as well, as no clan is ever going to fight another clan when one of them has actually built the arena. Dead content, they said.
Since then, a number of features have been introduced to entice people to go up there and do something... anything!
Clan Fealty increases the XP gains while working in the Citadel for those who do their chunk of labour regularly and adds some nice decorative yellow stars on your Clan Cloak. Also, if your clan has actually reached Tier 7, your Vexillum can start spewing some fireworks.
And that's it. That is all they did besides some tweaking in the resource gathering and visitor requirements to save their biggest update of the year. Until last week, that is.
"With the introduction of Clan Avatars we will see clans come out of their Citadel and show off what they can do."
"You're foolish not to bring one."
"It’s as if there's an extra clan member."
Ok, I'm paraphrasing here, but that sounded all pretty sweet to me. But as expected, reports of the Avatars’ awesomesauceness were greatly exaggerated. Let's look at the stuff they can do so we can assess it properly, shall we?
I'll start with the buffs. The best one is without a doubt the XP boost. You'll have to be within 10 paces to receive the full 6% bonus, but even if you're on the same world, you'll get half of that. However, 3% doesn't even save you two minutes on an hour. The other buffs are nothing to brag about either.
Healing over time isn't very effective as 2% of your total HP is healed every five seconds. That still takes well over four minutes to bring you back from the brink of death. Speaking of death, although you have the option for your Avatar to resurrect people, it does so randomly, and again only in range, never the same person twice, and only a very limited number of times each day (four times with a Tier 7 Citadel).
The buff that boosts your rate of gathering resources by 10% while working at a skill plot in the Citadel defeats the purpose of the Avatar, which is meant to bring Citadel prowess back down to the rest of RuneScape. I suppose it does make it a bit less time consuming to collect your clan ring.
Familiar Faces doubles the timer on your familiar, but only if you are in range. This is doubly pointless for the one who has the Avatar about on a leash, as they cannot have a familiar out at the same time. Speaking of pointless, having the Anagogic Orts put in your inventory instead of dropping to the ground should not require a buff at all; this should happen automatically.
Finally, the Protector buff that prevents damage I'll refrain from commenting about, but people notice no difference at all in the amount of food they burn through at bosses.
So the buffs are, save for the XP booster, not worth the hassle of getting to benefit from. Now what about the other stuff?
Having an extra load of work done in the Citadel per Avatar each week will help smaller clans immensely. It will even gather resources from non-existing skill plots, but that might just be a bug.
So, is the Avatar worth it? I'm not sure it’s worth the tens of thousands of resources to get a tier 2 or 3 habitat that will allow you to have multiple Avatars. The mere 3000 wood for just the one Avatar, however, even to replace the giant toilet bowl, is worth it.
Don't get me wrong. It looks awesome. The Habitat, the variety of customizations, and even the little effects you see now and then that are letting you know you are enjoying the buff, are great. The concept of having the work your clan put in your floating sky-castle providing you benefits in the rest of RuneScape is even better.
But buying into the buffs with Anagogic Orts (which loosely translates to magic crap)? No. This should be tied in with Fealty or capping in the Citadel, but not use up yet another bank space.
Then there's the problem of logistics. If the Warden that summoned the Avatar suddenly logs out, it takes 6 hours since it's been summoned for it to return to the Citadel where it can be called again. You can also have only one Avatar on each world, and seeing that clan events are usually the place where the Avatar will be used, I don't understand this restriction.
And why can it not be set to a location like a Vexillum can? No, the Avatar Warden, a job that only the clan's admins or those of higher rank can do, has to go collect it in the Citadel and it'll stick on that person everywhere. The 6% bonus XP is not going to apply to you if the Warden is getting new ores in the bank while you're at the furnace still.
Having to tear up and rebuild your Avatar Habitat every time you want to load a different buff into it also seems quite drastic to me.
And finally, the P2P vs. F2P argument rears its ugly head again. Most of you know me to have landed pretty much always on the P2P side of things, but not this time.
Ever since Citadels were introduced I found it odd that the one type of player Jagex probably needs to cater to most is consistently overlooked; the F2P clan member. The Wilderness hasn't been as lively since its reintroduction as it was before its removal. Couple that with the fact that the vast majority of clanning people are F2P results in the clan world slowly going extinct.
This shows again with the Avatar. Buffs such as "heal over time" or "protector" are utterly pointless in any P2P fight (even at bosses) simply because the damage output dwarfs the effect of these buffs. F2P would benefit much more from these. Jagex can save the Citadel and the Avatar by making them at least partially available to F2P.
But in the end I cannot know what Jagex are thinking. They don't seem to understand how clans work at all (Mod Cocoa saying that clans are all holed up in their Citadel would confirm that). On the other hand, they might understand how clans work, but do not want to give them too many benefits because that will upset non-clan people (get over it). Either way, you're going to get half-assed updates that result in that content being ignored by most.