[Discussion] Morale / Low Morale Exploits

morg

Peltast
Player's Council
Morale is a feature which compensates for the disadvantage a small player faces when being attacked by a larger player. It is a World setting. (from WIKI)

After the re-balance morale became a standard feature for every new world - players have started to adapt to the new challenge and tend to exploit its possibilities.
What is your experience?
What kind of changes would you suggest to improve morale system?

This topic is part of an ongoing discussion in Player Council, your feedback would be extremely helpful!

This topic is in the intersection of game design & support related issues. We have had an interesting debate about it already without a conclusion - some think it is fun and smart, others think it is a problem that should be fixed, recently a player was banned supposedly for abusing low morale tactics (fair play rule) on one of the markets that we represent.

It is common that players, alliances take advantage of low morale, for example:
  • on conquest worlds morale applies to active sieges therefore low morale CS drivers (LMD) only keep a safe city in alliance core and always swap their 2nd cities to get near targets, their teammate(s) can spare ~50% support on low morale sieges and become more offensive, when the enemy city was taken the LMD gives the new city to a teammate. LMDs often get resources to rebuild faster and have nothing else to do than be available to send a CS anytime and click the attack button.
  • low & high morale cooperation of 2 or few players who use the LM player almost as the extension of their bigger account(s) for every conquest get much higher BP ratios and can be more aggressive
  • low morale on enemy island: LM players get strategically important cities on enemy islands and serious amount of long term defense from teammate(s), it can become unnecessarily hard to remove them, they don't have any small players' disadvantage, morale works rather as small players' advantage in later stages of the game and is in contradiction with its original purpose
  • low morale and spam: there are precedents when LM players only keep an account to spam a certain group, they can send up to 33 attacks from a single city over and over again with minimal effort (spelled units), can get long term support too and regular players have no chance to fight them, they might take the spam city then the LM spammer pops up on a new island and start this all over again - it is a very debatable strategy with the sole purpose to force some players into quitting. Often we never find out whose friend is the LM spammer, where the long term support came from.
Concerns:
  • these strategies seem to became viral since the morale is now a standard feature of all worlds
  • the possibility of a low and high morale player cooperation and alliance strategies encourage some players to create real multiaccounts
  • support response can be fair play ban however none of these strategies violate any concrete rules rather exploit the game given possibilities and only selected players may be banned despite how widespread the problem is
  • increased pressure on support team: players report each other more and more as these tactics spread, but we don't know what is allowed and where is the limit
 

figtree2

Phrourarch
I would say no morale period once the world becomes eligible for world wonders. There could even be a period before that that reduces the effect of morale by 50%. The reduced morale would be:

  • 1 city = 65% morale
  • 2 cities = 67.5% morale
  • 3 cities = 70% morale
  • 4 cities = 72.5% morale
  • 5 cities = 75% morale
  • 6 cities = 77.5% morale
  • 7 cities = 80% morale
  • 8 cities = 82.5% morale
  • 9 cities = 85% morale
  • 10 cities = 87.5% morale
  • 11 cities = 90% morale
Honestly this would have a large impact on using small players in the late game.
 
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There are some easy ways to fix the exploits.

Active Siege Morale) Don't apply the LMD's morale if they land a CS, instead make it the owner's morale still.

LM/HM Co-op) Don't really see a problem with that, I did the same thing before the morale change. I'd take stuff that was low morale for people, then hand it off to someone that wanted it. Was a lot more convenient for everyone since they got their city, and I got to actively contribute.

LM Enemy Island) This is truly a pain. Not actually sure how to fix this besides removing morale, but morale has its uses. Found someone like that on Apollonia, we spelled him with eqs and bolts until he quit.

LM Spam Attacks) I haven't seen this, but on Apollonia, my alliance has funded small ones that are fighting our enemies since it was really good for BP. Those small alliances we funded later merged into us since they were us, just under a different name.
 

Joseph Nieves

Polemarch
Active Siege Morale) Don't apply the LMD's morale if they land a CS, instead make it the owner's morale still.
Well said Steve.

I would say no morale period once the world becomes eligible for world wonders. There could even be a period before that that reduces the effect of morale by 50%.
I agree but I don't think that goes far enough. By World Wonders a lot of damage has already been done by the low morale player(s). I see on the Wiki they have morale increases for each extra city a player has. Maybe also have morale increases based on time played in the world. The idea being that their is a reasonable pace a player can be expected to grow each month. If they are growing slower then morale increases.
 

Zeeker348

Lochagos
Maybe instead of removing morale towards end game it could be removed more early on. Persay Morale is active for the first 4-6 months or maybe a factor based on speed. This will allow plenty of times for new and smaller players to grow and learn the game and then plenty of time for actual fighting before wonders starts. When I say actual fighting, I mean fighting with no morale based gimicks.
 

morg

Peltast
Player's Council
My personal opinion is that morale should be a small player advantage and / or big player disadvantage and not assigned to cities like the current morale, boosts, phalanx, ram where others can share and exploit its benefits.

I would stop manipulating the unit strength, instead give more or less BP in small vs big player battles. If one thing is bad for newbs is not having an idea of how strong the units truly are and therefore they can hardly learn how to use them.
All these boosts and multipliers make it difficult to understand the basics even without morale.

Small player advantage
  • own units fight better (same logic like attack spells / commander / captain)
  • defending own cities, supporting others could give more DBP depending on the player's own size
  • newbs usually don't start with premium, so they have 20% less attack / defense power compared to the pro players, that is the minimum setback to be compensated by morale until they get experience and may purchase advisors
Big player disadvantage
  • battles with small players could give less ABP depending on target size (convert the current morale attack power to ABP reduction multiplier)
  • DBP gained from supporting others would not be modified by the defender's size (all those above mentioned exploits couldn't work)
There is a lower chance players could exploit a BP-based morale system in a negative way, even if they tried to stay small they eventually can not get as much extra BP as with more cities. BP-morale wouldn't encourage generally active players to stop / slow their growth as morale drivers.

In comparison with a morale expiration time this would allow late joiners to benefit from small player morale advantages too.
(The extra BP might be a good solution for the problem with the new BP farming villages.)
Experienced players / gold users would be challenged whether they should invest in more cities during beginner protection or rather benefit from the BP advantage - possible balanced start of worlds, more attention to battles...
 

Zeeker348

Lochagos
My personal opinion is that morale should be a small player advantage and / or big player disadvantage and not assigned to cities like the current morale, boosts, phalanx, ram where others can share and exploit its benefits.

I would stop manipulating the unit strength, instead give more or less BP in small vs big player battles. If one thing is bad for newbs is not having an idea of how strong the units truly are and therefore they can hardly learn how to use them.
All these boosts and multipliers make it difficult to understand the basics even without morale.

Small player advantage
  • own units fight better (same logic like attack spells / commander / captain)
  • defending own cities, supporting others could give more DBP depending on the player's own size
  • newbs usually don't start with premium, so they have 20% less attack / defense power compared to the pro players, that is the minimum setback to be compensated by morale until they get experience and may purchase advisors
Big player disadvantage
  • battles with small players could give less ABP depending on target size (convert the current morale attack power to ABP reduction multiplier)
  • DBP gained from supporting others would not be modified by the defender's size (all those above mentioned exploits couldn't work)
There is a lower chance players could exploit a BP-based morale system in a negative way, even if they tried to stay small they eventually can not get as much extra BP as with more cities. BP-morale wouldn't encourage generally active players to stop / slow their growth as morale drivers.

In comparison with a morale expiration time this would allow late joiners to benefit from small player morale advantages too.
(The extra BP might be a good solution for the problem with the new BP farming villages.)
Experienced players / gold users would be challenged whether they should invest in more cities during beginner protection or rather benefit from the BP advantage - possible balanced start of worlds, more attention to battles...
Sounds good and all but I can see multiple ways this can easily be abused like the current system. Unless you are saying morale is generated from battle point calculation? This could still be manipulated in a sense but it would be much more complicated.


Maybe something based on total cities inside a world to calculate morale off of (taking into account lost cities and whom they were lost too)?

Better Explanation:
Player A is a noob and has three cities - Morale for 3 cities blah blah
Player B is a noob and has ten cities but has lost 7 to hostile alliances - Morale for his remaining 3 cities
Player C is a morale sieger and not a noob. He has taken 20 cities and sits on two. His alliance has taken the other 18. Maybe some sort of calculation can be applied so morale doesn't apply so low for his remaining cities.

Not really a clear explanation but hopefully it somehow gets the point across
 

morg

Peltast
Player's Council
Sounds good and all but I can see multiple ways this can easily be abused like the current system. Unless you are saying morale is generated from battle point calculation? This could still be manipulated in a sense but it would be much more complicated.


Maybe something based on total cities inside a world to calculate morale off of (taking into account lost cities and whom they were lost too)?

Better Explanation:
Player A is a noob and has three cities - Morale for 3 cities blah blah
Player B is a noob and has ten cities but has lost 7 to hostile alliances - Morale for his remaining 3 cities
Player C is a morale sieger and not a noob. He has taken 20 cities and sits on two. His alliance has taken the other 18. Maybe some sort of calculation can be applied so morale doesn't apply so low for his remaining cities.

Not really a clear explanation but hopefully it somehow gets the point across
50% morale (same calculation, same minimal values like the current) would not affect the power of the attacker's units in BP-based system, but would give
  • 50% less ABP for the attacker
  • 50% more DBP for the defender
  • 100% DBP for supporter
~ the BP we take away from the bigger attacker goes to the small player, supporters are not affected = conquests are less affected, sending a small player to frontline wouldn't provide any alliance advantage, we could not spare support with low morale players...
 

riotdog

Citizen
I would have the morale advantage disappear after a certain amount of time in a world, much like beginner protection. I've seen players/teams manipulate this loophole for months. They have a 'CS driver' with one city and use that person to take a city.
I would say that all morale advantages for a small player should disappear after ~60 days.

Good seeing you again, Morg.
 

MarkASp

Peltast
Having joined a world part way through (my first world, so I didn't know any better), I definitely needed the moral advantage.

I would say that morale should be based on total number of cities ever possessed, not the current number. So in the CS Driver example, their morale would not be based on the 1 city they own, but on all of the cities they've taken and handed off.

Maybe not count cities that have been taken by a non-allied player (anyone in an alliance not pacted to yours, but that could be problematic as well). This would benefit someone that is subject to an op and loses most of their cities, but there are lots of ways that I could see this being exploited, so maybe just leave it at total cities a player has ever owned.
 

Joseph Nieves

Polemarch
I would have the morale advantage disappear after a certain amount of time in a world, much like beginner protection. I've seen players/teams manipulate this loophole for months. They have a 'CS driver' with one city and use that person to take a city.
I would say that all morale advantages for a small player should disappear after ~60 days.
I think time should definitely be factored into morale in some way. Not sure if this is the way though. I assume that if morale was for a set time this would probably hurt players who start later in the world. If it was kept at 60 days it would probably be ok, but if it was much less then it might be little help to small players.

Having joined a world part way through (my first world, so I didn't know any better), I definitely needed the moral advantage.

I would say that morale should be based on total number of cities ever possessed, not the current number. So in the CS Driver example, their morale would not be based on the 1 city they own, but on all of the cities they've taken and handed off.

Maybe not count cities that have been taken by a non-allied player (anyone in an alliance not pacted to yours, but that could be problematic as well). This would benefit someone that is subject to an op and loses most of their cities, but there are lots of ways that I could see this being exploited, so maybe just leave it at total cities a player has ever owned.
I'm conflicted on that idea. It sounds logical to have the morale be based off the cities they would've still had if they didn't do the handoffs. However, they wouldn't have accumulated that many cities in the first place if they kept them all. They just wouldn't have had enough slots to keep going like they did. So it's probably not an accurate representation of how big they really should be.


Great to see all these ideas for morale, as it can clearly use some tweaking to stop the exploits.
 

figtree2

Phrourarch
How about a gradual removal of morale from the world with elements of the above discussion incorporated? It would be equal for everyone.

My idea involves removing morale gradually as the world gets closer to world wonders. Once 25% of the requirement is reached, the morale drops to 75% strength. It then drops to 50% once half of the requirement has been reached and so on.

"Started in Phase 4" is a special category of morale that is only available to those who started once 75% of the required points had been reached. People who started before the 75% threshold will lose their remaining morale once world wonders begins. Those who started in phase 4 will retain their morale. This special morale is an average of the morale in the "Top 50 ≥ 62.5M" and "Top 50 ≥ 125M" columns. It is meant to be weaker since the game is in the end stage yet strong enough to provide adequate protection.

There are 2 things that will instantly remove the morale from a player who started in phase 4. These two items are meant to prevent abuse of morale. If the player has a city on a world wonder island, he or she will lose their morale. If the player is donating resources to world wonders, he or she will also lose their morale. This basically is to remove all the abuses of having strong morale yet participating in the endgame.

EDIT: Be aware that I can't remove the blank space in the spoiler. The forum simply doesnt agree with BB code tables very well.


CitiesStarting MoraleTop 50 ≥ 62.5MTop 50 ≥ 125MTop 50 ≥ 187.5MWorld WondersStarted in Phase 4Cities on WW Islands/Donated to WWs
130%47.5%65%82.5%100%56.25%100%
235%51.25%67.5%83.75%100%59.38%100%
340%55%70%85%100%62.5%100%
445%58.75%72.5%86.25%100%65.63%100%
550%62.5%75%87.5%100%68.75100%
655%66.25%77.5%88.75%100%71.88%100%
760%70%80%90%100%75%100%
865%73.75%82.5%91.25%100%78.13%100%
970%77.5%85%92.5%100%81.25%100%
1075%81.25%87.5%93.75%100%84.38%100%
11+80%85%90%95%100%87.5%100%

I spent a decent amount of time on this. Feedback would be appreciated.
 
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figtree2

Phrourarch
I have another concept I would like to introduce in this separate post. I didn't really think of posting this on the forum when I first thought of it, but someone liked the concept so I thought it would be worthwhile to share it.

How this concept would work is that each time a player attacks another player smaller than him or herself and morale goes into effect, the morale efficiency will increase for each attack won.

This would be calculated as (100-attacker's original morale)*.05

If the attacker has an original morale of 35%, it would be a 65% difference. This would result in 3.25% decrease in morale for the attacker. The morale for the next attack would therefore be 31.75%. The maximum possible change in morale would be 3.5% and only possible if the attacker's morale is 30%. Wait a minute.... Morale can't drop below 30%! See the next paragraph for an explanation as to how it would work.

This morale change would effect ALL attacking players. Negative morale would continue to impact other attackers until their morale drops to 30%. The morale change is calculated using the attacker's original morale to prevent a runaway effect. Note this would be much less effective for a player with a minimum morale of 80% where the maximum decrease would be 1%.

The decrease in morale would be active for 12 hours/world speed. Each additional attack while the effect is active would add 5:00 minutes to the timer.

Cities on WW islands would be exempt from this as per usual.

As for conquest worlds... A city being attacked will have the lower morale unless a CS is able to land. If a conquest begins in the city, the lower morale will be replaced by the siege owner's morale as per usual. If the CS is withdrawn or killed, the lower morale will resume until it expires.
 
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morg

Peltast
Player's Council
Question: Are the supporters who defend a small player or a siege entitled to get the same advantages of morale? Right now, they are, but should they get extra BP, suffer less losses too?
For example a 100 city player can get 33K DBP for defending with 1.5K birs (12K pop) by 50% morale, if they defended their own cities could only get 15K DBP for same stack.

In practice...

conquest
a big player landed a CS and opponents started siegebreak attacks that they can not cancel by the time the low morale driver starts a new CS to same city
the big player pulls the 1st CS, alliance support lands after the 2nd CS but before the siegebreak and the new low morale applies to all attacks

revolt
a big player sends trips to inactive 1 city players to monitor revolts and times support to land when red revolt starts, the small player doesn't have own units left yet the big player still benefits from the low morale

all worlds
low morale players on frontline require less LTS and often become unbreakable turtles
 

HMZephyr

Senior Citizen
Player's Council
How about a gradual removal of morale from the world with elements of the above discussion incorporated? It would be equal for everyone.

My idea involves removing morale gradually as the world gets closer to world wonders. Once 25% of the requirement is reached, the morale drops to 75% strength. It then drops to 50% once half of the requirement has been reached and so on.

"Started in Phase 4" is a special category of morale that is only available to those who started once 75% of the required points had been reached. People who started before the 75% threshold will lose their remaining morale once world wonders begins. Those who started in phase 4 will retain their morale. This special morale is an average of the morale in the "Top 50 ≥ 62.5M" and "Top 50 ≥ 125M" columns. It is meant to be weaker since the game is in the end stage yet strong enough to provide adequate protection.

There are 2 things that will instantly remove the morale from a player who started in phase 4. These two items are meant to prevent abuse of morale. If the player has a city on a world wonder island, he or she will lose their morale. If the player is donating resources to world wonders, he or she will also lose their morale. This basically is to remove all the abuses of having strong morale yet participating in the endgame.

I spent a decent amount of time on this. Feedback would be appreciated.
This looks great! You spent a huge amount of time figuring this out and trying to balance it decently, and it looks reasonable and fair to me.
 

Selectron

Citizen
Those are all very interesting ideas around Player Morale. As I am sure you will admit, Nori/Morg, smart players can exploit or find "work-arounds" for any of the new or proposed game changes.

(Edit: I just noticed the latest reorganization of threads on this Player's Council/Community Discussion forum and your explanation upthread for exploits of the morale rules. I posted my other concerns on the other thread.)
 
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morg

Peltast
Player's Council
I hope not many of you will encounter this problem / it will be changed fast...
Here is a 1-city player's city who is attackable BANNED:

upload_2018-7-2_10-6-31.png

Players who are attackable banned should lose their morale advantage at least during the ban.

After thinking about it more... this is a way bigger problem than I first thought and affects all bans, not only the small players = LMD cheats.
When someone received a long attackable ban they lost many cities often all cities, now morale will stop that and basically anyone can return from an attackable ban with keeping all their slots, regardless how long the ban was.
 
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Selectron

Citizen
Thank you, Nori/Morg/Molinillo (I hope I spelled that correctly) for watching for cheats. Low morale is supposed to help those players with few points survive. If they have attackable bans, they still have a small number of points (or even less if they lose cities). I assume that changing this rule will help your current alliance in some way? Is removing their morale supposed to be some further type of punishment?

I'm not sure if this should be in another thread, but I'd also like to see some changes in the cheats being used to exploit the new 20% alliance battle point rule. There are so many players who leave their alliance during attacks, just so the alliance can get full BPs and then they return back to the alliance.

Similar to your concerns about exploiting the low morale rules, if you leave your alliance so you and your alliance get full BPs, does it defeat the purpose of that new rule as well? ??
 
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I'm not sure if this should be in another thread, but I'd also like to see some changes in the cheats being used to exploit the new 20% alliance battle point rule. There are so many players who leave their alliance during attacks, just so the alliance can get full BPs and then they return back to the alliance.

Similar to your concerns about exploiting the low morale rules, if you leave your alliance so you and your alliance get full BPs, does it defeat the purpose of that new rule as well? ??
There are plenty of ways around the 20% BP. For almost every solution I can think of, there's a way around it. The only way to completely stop circumventing it would be that if you have any affiliation with said alliance/member at any point in the world, the 20% BP stays in effect, but that's overly harsh and would kill the market if an alliance ended up fighting a civil war and suddenly you're getting 20% BP while at war.
 

morg

Peltast
Player's Council
The goal of attackable bans is to block the punished player's ability to defend themselves and allow the rest of the players to take revenge, take back what the banned player achieved as result of cheating.

This small player in my example is presumably a secondary account of a very dedicated and active player that was used for one purpose - exploit the morale advantage during sieges. The big account did the clearing and supporting, the small account sent the CS only. This small account would have never existed without cheating.

Despite the ban this small player is practically still untouchable, its city can not be cleared due to the low morale, If we attacked it, their alliance would get insane amount of BP - benefit from the morale - so in practice the attackable ban is not better than a non-attackable ban.

Even if the banned player had a big account at the beginning of the attackable ban the morale effect slowly transforms the punishment into a non-attackable ban.

As for your question @Selectron it would definitely help my case, but I'm afraid in a couple of months many players will complain about the same - the default morale world setting is new for most of us but as soon as all adapt to it, the low morale multiaccounts and current ban / morale definitions can be worse than spam. These tactics become viral especially when they allow such a huge advantage (~30% morale for sieges) and low risk (slots can't be lost regardless ban length).