Will Stream Raiders CvC be a good addition to the platform?
Since it’s an initial tease and the very first hands-on we got in the development stream, through to the six or so events we have had so far testing the CvC alpha, I find myself asking ‘will it be a good addition to the platform.’ Let’s find out.
What is Stream Raiders CvC?
As detailed in our three previous posts, CvC is a new Captain Versus Captain mode for Stream Raiders that sees captains (aka streamers) and their communities pitted against one another in a PvP setting. Within this setting, they have five minutes to fill a power bar to 100% and then fight to see which side was either more tactical our just outright stronger.
If you have not caught them before, our previous posts can be found below:
What are the main differences between the CvC and CvE modes?
CvC matches have been designed to be quicker to ramp up the action and ensure matches can be started and successfully completed alongside a streamers regular content. The average playtime for a CvC match is six minutes. Five minutes of placement time for viewers and a minute for captain planning. As opposed to the CvE’s thirty minutes.
The units a captain and viewer can place between CvC and CvE remain the same. However, the price for skins between CvE and CvC do differ with CvC skins tending to be higher (around $20 a skin as opposed to the average $10 for a full skin).
Unlike the CvE experience where you can place an epic unit for every forty-five potions you acquire, only captains may place an epic unit in the CvC mode. Epics are more powerful versions of a regular unit that have enhanced damage, special abilities and increased health.
The CvC mode has its own assortment of maps that can only be used within the CvC mode. As does the CvE. All of the CvE mode maps are unique to the CvE experience.
Currency earnt within the two modes also differs. Where unique event tokens, gold, potions and scrolls are earnt through CvE. CvC has all of these, and a different currency too called ‘bones’ that can only be earnt through CvC. These bones can be turned in for custom CvC skins and/or a bone chest, which is essentially a loot box containing random CvC skins, scrolls, potions, gold and unique event tokens (when special events are on). Anything earnt through CvC does carry over and let you use it on your CvE side of things too.
How has CvC been promoted?
In addition to word of mouth promotion between viewers, captains and on the official discord (which you can join here) there have been two special events held for the CvC mode. One, which was held a few weeks ago called the $10,000 invitational, and another called the $20,000 invitational which is due to take place on the 7th July.
For both of the invitationals, existing captains can fight each other as usual and during specific periods earn raffle tickets. These raffle tickets then enter them into a draw to see who receives an invite to the event. So far, there has been a very healthy mix of invitees, from smaller players who only earnt a single raffle ticket to larger captains who had sixty tickets (the top amount you can currently earn each event). For the most recent event, the $20,000 invitational, there will be fifty entrants. Thirty-six to be picked from playing the events and entering a raffle (the last of which is still to be drawn as of writing this on the 25th June). And fourteen invites that will be issued at the discretion of the Stream Captain team.
I am sensing a but here…
You may have noticed that to date there have been six events with the seventh due to take place later on today and into tomorrow (the 26th June). However, after the third, I stopped reviewing the events and took a moment to step back. And look at the events from a viewer perspective as well as a streamer. And have been collecting feedback from impartial sources too. Unfortunately, when doing this, the CvC mode appears broken and appears to be declining in popularity very quickly. I know that is a sweeping statement but let me explain.
When the CvC was launched, it was bugged with a selection of problems, from the pathfinding, which it shares with a similar CvE problem. To stability. Matchmaking. Even through to the ability to successfully collect the rewards at the end of a match.
Three events along and many of these issues are still a factor, the pathfinding can be nightmarish on many a map. Matchmaking can take a while to actually find you a battle, and although there is another factor for this which I will get into in a moment, it is still very noticeable. Occasionally the matches will not end straight away or allow you to collect your rewards. And when placing smaller players up against larger players, there is no buff that assists them as was planned to be implemented as it was making the smaller captains very overpowered to the point they were wiping the floor with their opponents.
As detailed above the matchmaking has two main problems, the actual time it takes to find a match and who you are paired off with. Should you be a small to moderate size captain, you will be lucky in the fact you have a larger pool of captains to fight depending on who is online. However, for the larger captains, many of them can spend up to fifteen minutes (three full battles) looking for a match as they will only be pitted against a small number of players.
When speaking to smaller streamers, especially. A lot of them have found that at certain times they are paired up against the same captains over and over again. And it has really killed their love for the mode. From toxic chat interactions to excessive use of tanks or busters, they feel as if themselves and their communities are not able to take part in the CvC which to me is killing the all-inclusive nature the mode started off with.
During the CvC matches, you will often find an immense concentration of armoured units, busters and balloon busters. Although there are ways to counter these strategies such as ranged units to take out the busters and warriors to take out the armour, a lot of captains have now found metas and exploits with unit types that they use very efficiently to win time after time. Especially those looking for a quick win. This has again turned many smaller captains off of playing. Promoted the use of toxic behaviour from some communities. And with the newer maps is making it harder and harder to defend against. For example, in last weeks event, one of the maps had your deployment zone right next to a neutral deployment zone. However, a volatile buster and balloon busters area of effect for damage, when placed directly on the edge of the neutral deployment, reached the far side of your deployment zone. Meaning there was no escaping or room to defend.
An example of buster placement vs deployment area.
As the CvC events have continued, more maps have been created, from the straight forward deployment zones to unique tactical challenges and very close combat style maps. Unfortunately, as with many others, I find the map designs to now be getting ridiculous and borderline stupid, with the example above about the busters just been one of the reasons.
What started out as a fun, straight forward map design, has turned into a tactical nightmare. Although I understand the need for maps to be designed to break meta like over deployment of busters and tanks, there has to be a better way than having maps that severely limit your troop deployment area of have you surrounded by neutral territory.
An example of one of the maps released last week.
Although the CvC mode started off cram-packed full of captains and viewers, there has been a very sharp and noticeable decline in the player base over the last few events. Although many viewers will still pop up to harvest as many bones as possible, for those rare CvC skins, the captain interaction is dying off to the point where sometimes only 10% of live captains are using CvC.
During the event which took place on the 18th and 19th June, I found that…
At 14:00 BST on the 18th, only 14 captains out of 112 live captains were playing CvC. That is 12.5%
At 11:15 BST on the 19th. Only 9 captains out of 88 live captains were playing CvC. That is 10.22%
At 20:45 BST, fifteen minutes before the event was due to finish, only 13 captains out of 147 live captains were playing CvC. That is just 8.84%
Although admittedly there are differences throughout the day at different times, depending on time zones, these stats have dropped event on event for the last few events - even though the amount of captains playing Stream Raiders is increasing, the number of CvC users is not.
Surely something has been done to address this?
There have been a few mechanics added into the CvC mode, such as loyalty bonus for viewers - for supporting captains on both a winning and losing streaks. To help keep more viewers playing with their chosen captains - however, the removal of the ability to play CvC with multiple captains at once has really impacted viewers wanting to harvest bones. Those not just playing for the fun of it will often jump captains the first loss or two to be able to collect more bones in the short twenty-four (or recently forty-eight) hour window the event is on for.
There have been a lot of EU captains and viewers complaining that when CvC events are on, especially the invitationals (which we will get onto in a minute) all of the event times are worked out around the pacific time zone. Meaning the EU captains who work or study are unable to take advantage of the full amount of time the event is on as it will start around 21:00 for the BST timezone / 22:00 CEST timezone. Meaning they miss out on the event and most of the following day depending on commitments. For the last event, to answer this, Stream Raiders did put on a forty-eight hour event for the first time, so hopefully, if this keeps up, it may see renewed interest.
Have the invitationals been a good thing?
The short answer to this from an impartial point of view is no. What seemed like a great idea to both get exposure for the CvC mode and be a way for people to make money off of doing what they love very quickly turned sour. A lot of toxicity and poor sportsmanship has arisen around the invitationals as you require raffle tickets to enter, many captains will play dirty to get these however they can which has led to infighting between captains in the discords. Accusing one another of stream sniping and such. Some captains have simply played the event to get their raffle tickets and then have stopped playing, as in the words of one ‘it is unfair and unbalanced’. But with thousands of dollars on the line as prize money, they played simply to earn a chance at winning the cash prize as opposed to a love of the game.
It is my personal belief that the tournaments would have been best implemented when all of the technical issues were fixed. The maps were finalised and actually playable. And the balance between units was sorted all together.
The inclusion of a cash prize this early on for an alpha level mode has simply highlighted many flaws, opening some to exploitation and putting many new and old captains alike off. The tournaments would have been tremendous and embraced with a much warmer reception had they been done when the CvC mode was in at least beta if not full release - to celebrate its main launch.
Can CvC be salvaged?
All of the negative aspects aside, at its very core, the CvC mode remains a fantastic idea, and it is one that I think done right with a lot of reworking will be very popular. Personally, I would say the CvC mode needs to be taken down and brought back to the drawing board after this current invitational.
There needs to be…
Clear and sensible map designs.
Busters and balloon busters need to be restricted (for how many can be placed) or banned.
Units with differing values based off of their level and specialisations need to have their point values made public, so we can all see them, and the CvC needs to be able to scale to accommodate these. Say, for example, a larger streamer has six level thirty units, the power bar should not fill for a smaller streamer who has six level fives, which has happened many a time.
No more monetary events until CvC has had a chance to stand on its own two legs and see if people are interested in the mode for the money and free skins for their communities or the mode itself.
Increased transparency and discussion with the broader community about new features before they are implemented. This will allow them to be thoroughly tested before been released to the masses to see if they do or do not work successfully. This model has been working really well for the Mobile Lite trials so it should be easy to adapt in other areas too.
These are just a few of my personal thoughts and views on the CvC mode as it stands at the moment, if you have any opinions you would like to share, make sure to drop them in the comments. Alternatively, if you are looking for a community to come hang out with and tear through some CvE, come catch me and the chimps of war here.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, and I hope you have a great day.