Factions used to have an early victory rule, which provided a means for an arc to end ahead of schedule if one faction completely dominated. It was never actually used: Ionia came close to triggering it in Shon-Xan, but Noxus always beat it back in the victory tournaments. As Lines in the Sand began, I deleted that section from the Balance of Power page. We’re never going to need something like that, I thought.
I had removed the early victory rules at the start of this arc because it just seemed like an awful idea. It’d be anticlimactic to just end the arc early, after all. This is especially true given that arcs are on the whole getting more complicated, with Nyroth representing the extreme version of the “complex arc”.
I’ve often spoken in favor of the idea of balancing arcs by cashing in some of dominant factions’ matchpower for immediate story influence. For example, in Nyroth, we experimented with letting factions send Champions on lore events, risking that they might go MIA (sacrificing matchpower) to increase the odds of being able to shape the story as they intended (gaining story power). I plan to keep that in the new version of World Systems, though perhaps with a few modifications so that it doesn’t turn into an increasingly comedic succession of “let’s send Elise and Evelynn to die again” incidents.
In Nyroth, we also experimented with breaking the arc up into phases, on a calendar basis. The arc started with a battle to become Valoran’s emissary to Nyroth, then moved toward control of the islands and then control of the mega-nexus at Yoroth, which held the key to Nyroth’s restoration; the arc finished with the ultimate prize of dominion over the Nyrothian mainland. While I think our structuring of Nyroth was a bit meh, I did like this overall approach, as it helped make the Balance of Power significant as something other than what we check at midnight on the last day of the arc to see who wins everything. This was also the rationale for the creation of World Systems during Hextech Revolution: a way to periodically use match results to divvy up smaller gains and losses. That’s something I want to retain in the new World Systems, by the way—I think the goal for World Systems should be a flavorful way to translate match outcomes into story developments as we move along, more than we should aim to create some totally separate Civilization game.
With Shurima’s rather unprecedented dominance in this arc, it’s occurred to me that there’s a way to bring back a form of early victory while hitting at least, by my count, three birds with one stone.
Partial Early Victory
We might need a better name for this. But the basic idea here is that if at any point a faction manages to utterly dominate its competition, it will trigger a rebalancing, combined with a partial victory for that faction. (In theory, we’d also want a system for helping a faction that’s at rock bottom, but that’s a thornier issue, as we definitely don’t want to ever make it a good idea for a faction to tank its BoP standing to get buffed.) This adds a new “phase” into the arc in an organic, dynamic way, rather than on the Nyroth-style calendar basis. I think this will not only reward success and rebalance the system, but add some excitement to the arc’s storyline. That’s the hope, anyway.
A faction qualifies for partial early victory if the following criteria are met.
- There must be at least one month left in the arc.
- The faction must be in first place.
- The faction must have either achieved a lead of 100 points above the next-strongest faction at some point in the arc, or else have maintained a lead of 50 points for 10 pick-up matches. (Counting only 5v5 Summoner’s Rift matches that it participated in.)
Why these particular numbers? Well, 50 points is the line beyond which the rubber-band factor stops increasing, and 100 points is a downright silly lead that warrants swift action. We can only make so many jokes about Shurima ascending off the Balance of Power charts.
The faction scores a major story victory. To put a number on it, this win should amount to about a third of the overall stakes of the arc. In the inaugural Shuriman example, it means Shurima is admitted to the League as a sovereign member-state, rather than as someone’s protectorate or vassal-state. This means that, no matter what happens in the rest of the arc, the faction will come away with a major win. For example, no matter what else happens, Shurima will come out of this arc as a sovereign member-state of the League, with control over at least Azir’s resurrected capital.
The faction also raises the ceiling on its ultimate arc stakes. The faction that won the early victory will be able to set its sights higher for the arc overall. In this arc, that means that, in addition to the boundaries of Shurima Desert, the new Shurima might be able to regain control of at least some of Shurima’s former principalities, like Mount Targon.
The arc’s duration is also extended by one month.
This is the part where I’ve really decided to pare down the various ideas to some core essentials.
To start with:
- The faction that scored early victory loses its next two Champion pickups.
- Other factions gain one ban against the victorious faction in all matches for the rest of the arc. We may shield, e.g., their only ADC. In the Shuriman example, we’ll say that Azir and Sivir are both immune to bans, as members of the imperial family. (Possible future change: allow the faction itself to select one Champion to be immune. I want to keep it simple for this first iteration, though, and the “imperial family” explanation both makes sense storywise and is easy to remember.)
In addition, the other factions may select one of the following three buffs:
- Additional ban. They gain a second ban against the victorious faction. (The shielding still applies.) This is intended for factions who suspect that the faction that won early victory will remain the dominant force in the arc; it gives them extra matchpower against the victorious faction at the cost of not doing anything to help them deal with other factions.
- Reinforcements. The faction gains two additional pickups for itself. Useful if the faction believes it just needs to delve deeper into its Champion pool. These pickups are spaced out among separate weeks.
- Alliance. The faction can tag in an ally. (We will use a fairly generous definition of “ally”.) It will gain access to three Champions from that faction as Tertiary options. It must select one of these Champions with its next pickup opportunity, but this first allied pickup only consumes one pickup slot. (Tertiaries usually burn two.) It yields a third of its gains from the arc to the allied faction. (I’m thinking mostly of World Systems points here, though it also applies to more abstract story wins.) Strategically, this option is intended for factions that believe they really need to shake up the variety in their Champion pool to have a shot. It’s also a compromise implementation of one community idea, which was to let a losing faction just drop out entirely and tag in a new faction.
The basic rules are effective immediately. We’ll give Piltover and Noxus their bonus option decisions with this week’s Champion recruitment vote; that bonus option will take effect afterwards.