January 24, 2019
The Death of “Fair” Builds
In the first installment of this series I discussed the impact of Time Warp on the Pirate101 Ranked PvP metagame. In this article, I’ll investigate the death of “fair” builds and what that signifies going forward.
Fair vs Not Fair
What do I mean by “fair” builds? I define a “fair” build as anything that seeks to complete a match in a standard amount of time, without relying on “cheese.”
More specifically, the builds listed below would NOT fall in to the category of “fair.” Not that there’s anything wrong with being unfair, per se. They can be quite fun to play on, speaking from experience.
- Ultra-Aggressive builds (such as warp oriented strategies mentioned before)
- Trees (cheese + ultra-long, grindy playstyle)
- Scratch (enables very grindy, attrition-oriented builds, or can result in ultra-fast matches)
- Boon+Nausica (annihilates most musketeer builds, leads to ultra-fast matches vs any class)
- Blast of Discord (results in artificially quick matchups and insane tempo swings)
So What’s a Fair Build?
Essentially, a “fair” build is one that would be legal or feasible in any sort of competitive, Spar Chamber PvP tournament with rules.
The pinnacle of a “fair” build were the midrange builds I referred to earlier. For instance a buck with something like Wu Tang, Contessa, and Pete is considered “fair.” A privy with Contessa, Emmett, and Ratbeard is also “fair.” They seek to win through gaining resource advantages during the early and mid-game. They eventually reach a point in the late-game where a win is inevitable due to the additional resources they have.
Furthermore, medium-tempo swashbuckler builds (warp-less builds featuring units like Toro, Contessa, and Fan), Scratch-less musket builds, and any “unconventional” builds are included here as well. However, the builds mentioned in the previous sentence were already non-existent in Ranked PvP. This is because they were not at the peak of competitiveness.
Thus, midrange builds were the Final Bastion (pun intended) of “fair” Ranked PvP. Now that they have been “hated out” by Time Warp, the only builds that can consistently compete are “unfair” builds. While these builds are very fun to play (against a normal opponent), they are absolutely awful to play against. This is especially true if you aren’t running a similarly unfair build.
Only “unfair” builds are optimally competitive in the current ranked PvP metagame.
Things like Time Warp, Fall Champion Weapon Trees, Old Scratch, etc. are dominating and overpowering. You are essentially forced to feature them.
Scratch is one example of this. He gives too much control in the resource war. It does so offensively, because his purge removes opposing buffs and forts, while allowing you to preserve your buffs by running away. It also does so defensively, due to his ability to buff absorbs and heals. In addition, his buffs are a potent offensive weapon which buffs poisons, bombs, and magical attacks.
A buckler build without Time Warp is going to get run over by one that does feature Warp. A privy that isn’t running the offensive powerhouse of Boon+Nausica is at a great disadvantage when facing an opponent with that capability.
Personally, I’ve found it to be almost a necessity to run a Scratch build or an ulta-aggressive build on my swashbuckler. Both of these builds would be considered “unfair,” but they aremore consistent against other unfair builds. However, these builds dominate “fair” builds. A normal buck or privateer can’t consistently deal with 3000 point scratch absorbs and 400+ damage poisons.
Barriers to Entry
These unfair builds that are nearly a requirement to compete oftentimes create high barriers to entry. They require specific pets, expensive crown units, etc. Furthermore, they have sky high win rates against “fair” builds.
Thus, a new player that cannot obtain one of these optimal builds will become discouraged, as they are continuously losing to “unfair” builds. In addition, this makes new and creative builds impossible to experiment with in Ranked PvP (since they just lose to the established, “unfair” builds).
In the final installment of this series, I’ll discuss some fixes that will mitigate the problems discussed in the first 2 articles.