Tavern Brawls Analysis/Rebalance

After switching out the rotating banlist for a static one and introducing weekly tavern rules, the Tavern Brawl is in a pretty decent place right now. However, there’s still a few issues with it I can’t overlook, so in this topic i’m going to have a look over said issues and see if I can think on how to remedy them.

Issue #1: Erratic Difficulty Levels
What’s the issue?
The difficulty level in the tavern varies wildly between the teams you can fight, and the ability to predict how difficult a team you’re about to face is rather limited, dependent entirely on the visible win/loss ratio, which can be skewed by quite a few things.

Why’s it an issue?
Given the tavern unlocks halfway-ish through the story, newer or lower-levelled players with less of a time investment in the game who decide to try out the new feature they just unlocked will find themselves facing comparable adventuring teams like their own (a reasonable 50/50 challenge), or heavily decked out endgame tavern builds (nearly always insurmountable). Part of this is to be expected, because of course a player with a greater time investment is going to have access to much more stuff than a newer mage - but a big problem with this is that a player generally has no idea if they’re walking into a winnable challenge, or an unwinnable curb stomp that will just waste their tokens.

What can we do about it?
The current displayed W/L ratios are no doubt an attempt to give a player information on what kind of difficulty to expect, but since teams get cycled quite often the ratios are often reset back to 0-0, meaning the ratio numbers are only much of an indication of how old a team is, rather than how difficult.

One suggestion here would be to display the mage level of the team’s owner - after all, a mage at level 50 isn’t going to be able to field as much as a mage at level 500 or 5000, for the most part. This will give challengers a general idea how long a player has played, and through that what kind of arsenal they may have access to.

Another would be to display the general W/L ratio for the team’s owner along with the current team’s W/L, so a challenger will know how much experience that particular tavern patron has in tavern brawls specifically.

Finally, perhaps the Arena rework can be looked to for some ideas - in particular, the Arena Fame system could perhaps be co-opted for the Tavern also. Allowing players to rank up and maybe even earn tavern titles (i’d imagine stuff like Beer Baron, Liquor Lord, Duke of Drink and the highest being Drunken Master) would both be fun for individual players and also give challengers a general idea of what they’re going up against, as well as perhaps allow an opportunity to earn fame quicker by building teams to challenge higher ranked players.

Issue #2: Reward System
What’s the issue?
Currently, earning tavern tickets is done most efficiently by challenging patrons with a better W/L ratio - however, due to tavern teams cycling in and out rather quickly, as well as people farming the tavern to try and afford the stuff in the shop, this tends to beat down the W/L ratios rather quickly, reducing reward yields for everyone.

Why’s it an issue?
With the way the current system works, it essentially rewards whoever can farm the tavern the fastest rather than being a matter of challenge - and since the reward yield compared to the tavern store prices is a bit on the low side, this results in opportunities to earn the most tickets going away rather quickly - combined with the quick team turnover rate as of late, i’ve rarely ever seen anything get into yellow or red difficulty for quite some time.

For higher leveled players like myself, this also creates a dilemma where if we do our best and fight in the tavern for long periods of time, we’re essentially taking away rewards from other players, which kind of sucks because they don’t deserve to have their progress slowed down just because I wanted to play in the tavern for a while with my built-up teams.

What can we do about it?
While discouraging “punching down” is usually a good thing to do, with the system’s current issues it might be best to not have ticket yields decrease below the base value of 100, even for green/blue ratios - this would make it so folks with stacked teams like myself aren’t essentially punishing other tavern challengers just by using the tavern for long stretches.

With the penalty eliminated for fighting low-rank teams, you could also introduce a “winning streak” mechanic, where getting multiple wins in a row with one team without losing or changing your team will gradually increase the ticket yield, which would not only allow high-investment players to play without taking the fun out of it for others, but actually challenge themselves to see how many wins they can get.
You could even tie this into other players’ taverns by uploading teams when their win streak ends to the tavern and highlighting them - if the challenger can beat this “bounty” team (which, since it has won a lot, will be challenging), they will get a very large ticket bonus for winning. This essentially allows high level players to give something to low level players, rather than taking away from their experience.
This can still be kept asynchronous so as not to create frustrating scenarios where players are chasing each other down all the time.

Looking at the “tavern rank” proposed in the prior section, you could also possibly give a large reward of tickets upon increasing one’s rank on top of the usual per-match winnings, which would further encourage people to progress and advance by building better teams.

Finally, occasional “happy hour” events could be used which give a drawback-free boost to winnings, so players who don’t want to go to the tavern often can have something to pique their interest.

Issue #3: Tavern Reward Pricing
What’s the issue?
Even when optimal ticket gains are available, it takes quite a bit of grinding to buy pretty much anything in the tavern shop.

Why’s it an issue?
As mentioned before, grinding the tavern creates an issue where all of the W/L ratios get pushed down and reduce reward yields for all other players using the tavern. Plus if you’re not in the tavern just for the challenge and to test various builds out like I often am, it can get tiring to have all these unique things locked behind a very slow progression.

What can we do about it?
The changes already proposed in prior sections of this writeup would likely erase most of this problem - however in lieu of that, the Arena rework made the Arena points&||store a bit more generous, so bringing that over to the tavern would ease things up a bit. Alementals feel like they should be on the same rarity as Constructs rather than being rarer, given their similar nature.

Issue #4: Tavern Token Stockpiling
What’s the issue?
Tavern tokens have a rather “feast or famine” nature, in that you either have a tiny, dwindling amount of them, or a giant stockpile you couldn’t possibly use up for a long time.

Why’s it an issue?
It’s a very small issue, of course - but it more or less just kind of renders the whole system moot if you play long enough to have a giant pile of them. The only effect this essentially has is putting up a barrier to players with a lower time investment that feels a bit arbitrary.

What can we do about it?
Give tokens some other use (perhaps you could wager them on something?) or just do away with them entirely.

Wow, thank you for the very detailed feedback! You bring up some great points.