Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR conquests are good but not there yet

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR conquests are good but not there yet
I'm writing this late on Sunday night, and I have some disappointing news: My Star Wars: The Old Republic guild did not make the top 10 on the planet we were attempting to conquer. It's partly my fault; I happened to choose the planet that would be the most hotly contested. Who knew that other guilds would flock to Makeb when conquests went live?

It wasn't all bad. In fact, I'd say that SWTOR kind of pulled our guild together a bit. We participated in content we hadn't done in a long time. It was a rallying cry for us: "Hey, look, this stuff is fun, and you can still have fun doing it." On top of that, it's reintroduced the idea that open-world PvP is possible. But with all the good that it's done -- player housing, guild housing, and open-world PvP -- there are somethings that have fallen short of what it could be.

I think the best way to explain is to tell you about my week.

The plan
Our guild is small. I don't want to mislead you by saying that we are or even have a chance of being one of those top, world-first kinds of guilds. In fact, to call us months-behind would be kind. However, we are a group of players who like to play SWTOR, and we like to play it together. We are a bit older, but we aren't above having fun and working hard to have that fun. And the fact that we are small makes the accomplishment of this week even more extraordinary.

Many of our guildies have credits: a lot of credits. Many of them could buy their own capital ship if they wanted. I like to think that my credits helped contribute to our guild's being able to buy the guild capital ship, but realistically, I like the armor, pets, and weapons in the Cartel Packs too much to save my credits. I had to rely on my other guildies to buy the guild capital ship. However, I did my part, and I helped raise money for the guild.

Part of what I did was research conquests and the best way for our guild to participate in these activities. Each week, there will be a different set of planets to invade, and based on which planet the guild chooses, we gain a bonus to conquest missions and a boost in stats when on that planet. When my guild decided to invade Makeb, I received a substantial bonus to my health. I didn't notice an increase in any other stat boosts, but that might be due to my being so close to the diminishing returns.

I sat near the command console of the flagship as my guild discussed which planet would be most beneficial for us to invade. Looking at the bonuses for conquest missions, I thought it appeared that Voss focused on crafting. In fact, its only bonuses were in crafting invasion supplies. Alderaan appeared to have the most bonuses for PvE and PvP. I counted 10 different bonuses for flashpoints, warzones, and world boss slaying, among others. Makeb, on the other hand, gave one bonus to crafting and nine others in PvE and PvP. I believed, and others in the guild agreed with me, that we had enough crafters in the guild to make the crafting bonuses worthwhile. So when our guild leader logged on, we invaded Makeb and started to do conquest missions.

The execution
Immediately, the first thing that anyone wanted to do was kill a commander.

When I set up roleplay events, many times I use the bases of the opposite faction to create events. Oftentimes, the bases are full of champion, level 55 mobs. This made fights a challenge but not so frustrating that we couldn't win the fight. We could RP at the same time we were fighting. I was glad to see that BioWare stole my idea of using these bases for events. In one location per faction on specific planets, a Jedi or Sith commander will spawn at bases. BioWare said that there would be one named commander with a four hour shield. However, we spotted two of them one time.

Out of the 50 or so characters our 20-member guild logged in this week, 19 hit the 35,000 conquest point goal. Of course, our raid team ran a random operation from group finder to gain points. Many of the crafters made war supplies. I even jumped onto that bandwagon because the materials were minor and the supplies could be made while doing other things. All told, we hit 1.3 million points. Although we could have been in the top 10 for the Voss invasion with that score, we could not be in the top 10 on Makeb. The lowest score there was 1.6 million.

The faults
I do commend my guild because for having only 20 active people in SWTOR with 10 only logging in on raid nights, we did wonderfully. Two things make it so that we won't ever make it in the top 10: We will not strive to do it anymore, and the achievements are geared toward large guilds and only large guilds.

The rewards for being in the top 10 are nominal. The three encryptions can be gained by defeating a commander. This can easily be completed with four well-geared players. And each commander will drop up to 12 encryptions. The 50,000 credits barely make a dent in the millions of credits our players and guild has. The gathering nodes are the same as the ones gained individually, and players get a buff that prevents them from gathering more than a couple of nodes anyway. Having more nodes to harvest does not make things better. And the Jawa junk is good, but 10 pieces are ultimately not worth the time put into attempting to get into the top 10.

Finally, everything is geared to work better for larger guilds. I'm not begrudging large guilds for having accomplished what they accomplished. It takes a lot of work to run a large guild, but having that many people makes points zerging easier. However, large guilds don't work out well for many people, and the conquest mechanics seem to be a punishment to smaller guilds. We could have made the 1.5 million points or more to make it in the top 10, but by the end of the week, we were burned out. No one wanted to do conquests anymore, especially the five people who logged in nearly every day to gain conquest points. I dislike PvP in SWTOR, and I PvPed a lot last week so that my guild could gain points.

Ultimately, it is fun to be rewarded for doing older content. But the time invested does not match the reward given. A member of my guild said that BioWare does a good job of encouraging people to do things in the game, but it falls short when rewarding players. He gave the example of PvP ranked rewards and these conquest rewards. I love conquests, and I hope to see more. However, in order for me to be completely satisfied, BioWare will have to give some sort of per capita reward in addition to pure points reward or in some other way encourage small guilds to participate in conquests, too.

What are your thoughts?

The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your biweekly guide to the vast galaxy of BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to larry@massively.com. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!

This article was originally published on Massively.