As much as I hate to say it the current Seat of Power rules have failed. In a lot of ways the previous rules were better. Perhaps that's due to the ongoing state of the game, but it is true.
At present whether you can defend a Seat of Power is basically up to whether you can have enough T10s active at that time. Whether you can take a Seat of Power is whether you have enough high-keep level (think 27+) to get a big enough numerical advantage over the defenders. This is primarily due to the current caps in the game. For instance once you can coordinate marches to all land within a few seconds of each other without any defenders there really isn't any other way to optimize. Once you get to T10 you can increase a little bit with gear, research and building enhancements, but these are pretty nominal. It comes down to whether you can get a big enough hammer to break down the wall. If you can you'll win, if you can't you won't. That's it. There is nothing deeper, nothing clever. The meta-game basically boils down to can you get enough people to spend enough money and stay online long enough.
And then the game turns into a "winner-take-all" situation. Given the time-limited nature of PvP it's entirely feasible for people to simply stay online for the vast majority of the 24 hour -- or in the case of rally bonuses, 17 hour -- period. While the attackers choose the time and place of the encounter the defenders have a 5 minute advantage. All you need is sufficient T10s to move from target to target to thwart any attack. Likewise once you have sufficient attackers nothing prevents them from moving from target to target and continuing to win. Because once you can win you will win, because all PvP encounters at Seats are fundamentally the same.
With a sufficient number of highly mobile, highly active defenders there simply isn't any "too big to defend" that was came up before. When people were limited to being where their Seats were they couldn't all swoop in to defend a single one. You could choose to invest a Seat or help defend. Now you don't have to make that choice. This also happens because while there are rules regarding size of allegiances and required banners they are basically meaningless. For example, there are 24 3 star or higher Seats of Power in the game. In our kingdom one allegiance controls 4 Paramount seats, 5 3.5 star seats and 2 3 star as well as 2 T4 players holding 2 and 2.5 star seats. Another controls King's Landing, 2 Paramounts, 2 3.5 star seats and 2 3 star seats. But wait, don't 3 star and up require a T2 or higher and 2 star and up a T3? Only to take. Once there people can be shuffled around without any issue. They may not get the specific title, but they can still give titles to other people and -- more importantly -- keep them away from anyone else.
But, actually, it gets worse. Because these seats only open periodically the only time you have to worry about defending them is every 2nd or 3rd week. That's the only time you have to share an allegiance with the people defending. The rest of the time you can -- say -- have your own allegiance with random low-level people or alts and get the benefits. And this, of course, gets to the issue of allegiance mobility. Since you only have to share an allegiance with people at the time you send reinforcements it's perfectly feasible to join, send reinforcements and then leave again. Or join together for a few hours one Saturday night and then go about your merry way the rest of the time. Much easier to get that defending pack of T10s from multiple allegiances than it might be from one. And since the cool-off period to rejoin an allegiance is less than the minimum rally time you can't avoid it just by changing targets.
This means that these limits are basically non-existent and given the nature of people to want to be on the winning side means that one one group has an advantage it tends to snowball. Sure, you'll have iconoclasts, but once the balance shifts it basically kills any true competition. And those stats aren't even the worst, I've seen screenshots of kingdoms where every single 3 star or higher is controlled by one allegiance. And those keeps don't have to be big, they don't have to be active, they don't even have to be "real" players because they're doing the defending.
The above, coupled with what happened during the merge, makes it especially galling. Every seat up to King's Landing could be soloed. Which is why for almost an entire year there weren't any 3 star taken against active defense. They were basically given away free and then impossible to contest. That's changed only inasmuch as if you can get big enough relative to your opponent you can take them at-will with no consequence.
These are mechanics that have existed since the beginning of the game. The allegiance limits, the banner limits, are routinely worked around with nary a peep or a look at changing them. The only thing I can think is that there is no interest in looking at them, because they don't affect revenue. For example, the recent changes all have a revenue driver. Dragons? Pretty easy. Building enhancements? Ditto. Even the PvP bonus change makes research and gear more important, leading people to spend on steel, red gold flakes and food.
People complain about the high price of things. I get it. I've spent thousands of dollars (that's a thing I never would have thought I would say) on this game. I've spent well over a thousand hours in-game and countless more besides talking about it, being on this forum and the last, leading several allegiances, etc. But this is not about the costs or whether people who spend a lot get a big advantage. This is about the game being fundamentally broken and unbalanced. Why should I, why should anyone, continue to play under these conditions? Why should we spend money when it all comes down to whether we joined the right group or not? And even if we did so all that would do is make it even more lopsided until there was nothing to do. What happens when everyone who can be zeroed is and there's no point in defending or attacking Seats?
This isn't a hypothetical, we're basically there on many servers. And merging isn't going to change anything. Part of the issue this past weekend is that there were so many people in rallies that the game itself was unable to handle it. Marches sat in Seats for many minutes before they responded. Once they returned they weren't able to be sent out again. Rallies weren't visible or claimed they could not be joined. That means the hardware and framework is already overtaxed, throwing more people at it will just make that worse. But at this point I have very little reason to spend any more money. I can keep playing, sure. I can keep cranking out troops, keep grinding on creatures, spending minimal amounts of gold on stamina and at the shrine, but without the troop sink that is PvP I won't need to buy anything.
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