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Why I hate Chronos… by David McCallum #701548

Since I have some time on my hands, I’m going to get something off my chest.

I loathe Chrono events!

With a Passion!

There, I’ve said it.

I do feel much better for that, but probably now feel as if I need to justify that little outburst.

So I may as well ramble on for hours before finally getting to the point, in the way you have probably gotten used to from me.

A recent article of mine touched on the fact that I’ve had a reasonable run on KotM golds that I’ve entered, especially in the cruiser classes. From that you could be forgiven for thinking that I was trying to tout myself a some form of Mountain God.

Far from it.

Oh, I have a few golds to my name, but not a full formation worth. I’m selective about which events I enter, so my list of actual KotM medals of any kind is nowhere near that of some.

To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of the mountain at all.

Let me explain.

Back when I was first learning the trade, even before I’d joined a clan, I tried my luck on the mountain.

There was a quest for getting my first medal that paid out in niodes, so that was good. Trouble was, back in those days the end time was almost always geared around prime time in certain regions… which I don’t live in.

So the problem (as I very quickly found out) was that not only did I have to be good enough to get into a medal spot, but I had to be strong enough to survive repeated attacks from other players without being able to counter.

Other players who, unlike green little old me, had either invested in the game or who knew how to camp and were therefore a damn site stronger than I was.

I did eventually get my medal, but looked at the next quest for getting a gold and promptly categorised it as unobtainable. I therefore gave up on the mountain and just filed it as a facet of the game that was realistically closed to me.

Fast forward a little while and complaints about the end time were both aired and heeded. The end times have become far more varied since then, but at least at the point in time I’m referring to, they had moved so that on the odd occasion I was able to be active in the golden hour.

Faction Wars had come and gone and specialists had risen. I had even moved into my current spot as a specialist cruiser jock when a clan mate pointed out that there was an event going on that I might be interested in. The magic combination of a 70 ton event and a ‘me-friendly’ golden hour had finally come together and a finally managed to net my first gold.

If I’m reading the records correctly, it only took a little over 2 years.

Yay me!

The problem was, habit had already formed and I just wasn’t in the habit of checking the mountain regularly after that early bad experience. Even now it is an afterthought, and of course we had that period of high XP gain that put off a lot of folks who were trying to manage level rather than power level which reset any good checking habits I may have formed.

Even now, I enter a Kotm according to the following criteria:

1. Have I remembered to check if there is an event on? Sorry, still not in the habit of religiously checking and there have been a good few events I’ve managed to miss in this manner.

2. Do I stand a better than good chance of a silver or above? Some events I’m not cut out for, some I am. The level bracket plays a big part in that since being at the top of a bracket brings an added advantage.

3. Can I take the XP hit if I get bumped to bronze? Nowadays I can if I’m in D5, but D4 or higher, even if I fancy my chances, I have to consider the odds carefully. Since I’m not a big spender, my niodage has to be carefully budgeted and since I have 2 main formations to upkeep, the budget does not necessarily stretch to an unnecessary level.

So assuming I’ve remembered to check, let’s have a look at the various events and see where I might be tempted (with the caveat that I may well miss some event types since hey, I’m not the most regular mountain climber out there).

Unlimited and Rainbows: Not for me I’m afraid, they tend to be dominated either by pay players who will outperform me even with a level advantage or by those belonging to clans with a big winning track record. They are going to have access to prize mechs I haven’t won in numbers and equipment load outs I can’t afford with my split budget. Ah well.

Selfsame: Same rules as above really. Oh, I can field a fair amount of Dreadnoughts, but I can’t just go out and buy a full squadron of Boreas off the shelf…

Limited Gateways: I could give these a fair stab, because I’d have the equipment and comparable weapons to stuff onto the smaller amount of mechs needed. But you know, all the faffing about to create a formation I’m only going to use once? Nah, apathy wins that round…

Formation variations. These are ones like Point Mech, front line/top line or the progressive pileups… those sorts of ones. I’d say that 99.999% of the time I wouldn’t look at them, mainly because lots of them seem to be the staple during wars (point and front line) where as a specialist, I’m going to be going in weaker than the unlimited boys.

(this is the point where somebody tells me the KotMs during a war always end on a non-fight day, aren’t they? Told you I don’t check KotMs very regularly).

For the others of this type, see above for my comments on a formation I’ll use only once…

Mech specific: I’m in 2 minds on these. I think the crystal mech events are great because it breaks the deadlock of the power players by taking their niode mechs off them. In fact I’m annoyed at myself that I never managed to get a Red Ant medal since it was the first war spec I ever had. I can also do Anzus and Shocklites, and I take my hat off to anyone who has full herds of any of the bigger stuff.

However the niode specific ones I’m not too keen on. That may seem a bit hypocritical since I have multiple golds from Trooper events and I’m straight off the back of winning a Fides event, but in the same way as the Selfsame, a wallet player can just go and buy victory off the shelf where other players can’t. Winning by the sheer fact of turning up to the fight with more mechs than your opponent is fun the first few times but goes stale after that. Honestly, I know what I’m talking about. At least my Troopers and Fides were mission hoarded rather than bought.

Upper mech tonnage limit: Ok, these are the ones I tend to go for since the vast majority of my medals are these type of events. I even have a fair spread of them, all the way from 20 up to 80 tons although the vast bulk are classic/cruiser medals. The closer to 70 tons, the more likely I am to jump in automatically, regardless of division or how close I am to leveling. Further out and I will seriously consider it, and have on at least 2 occasions I can think of snuck a gold when nobody was looking, either in the fast flurry of birthday KotMs with my 40s or minutes before a Clan War in my 20s with a very nervous bunch of Shocklites and everyone else in the field sitting in unlimited formation…

If I have one frustration though, it is not knowing how effective my formations are at fending off an attack.

Unlike normal PvP battles, there is no counter or report anywhere that shows that somebody has gone against you and lost.

So for most people, you take your time setting a formation, jumping into the battle then either finding an easy path up to whatever level you want to be, either in a gold or silver position, or possibly just within range so you can attack at the start of the ‘Golden Hour’.

Then you just have to… wait…

The only time you can actually be sure you are in a fight is if you actually get taken.

You may have withstood 10 attacks and your opponent gave up, or they tried one speculative attack, thought it was going to be a waste of time and moved onto another target, or they just never bothered to attack at all, possibly because all they wanted was the silver since they were still trying for their ‘4 medals in a row’ and didn’t want the division bump to spoil their chances.

I know in the last few cruiser fights, I have taken the top then from the look of it just sat there, refreshing the scoreboard to see if I’ve been bumped until the Gamesmasters call time. It certainly gives an adrenaline surge, but I truly hate the part about not knowing what is happening.

And the thing is, things can be so different from your opponents point of view compared to yours. I had a fight a while back with Sten… now Sten can take me, all things considered, but on this occasion he forgot to put up an Honour Guard. Not that I told him until after the fight of course, I’m not that silly.

But from my point of view, I could currently take him maybe 2 fights out of 3 and it would go badly if he checked his HG. Nervous times, since he could attack at any stage and this fight really could go either way. Furious refreshes from my side of the battle, and Sten did take me on 3 or 4 occasions.. it really looked as if he was trying to lull me into a mistake or see if he could catch me unawares.

Sten later told me that from his perspective, he ran through all his battles and most of his Hatorades before he got the first win on me. He was then just waiting on battle recharges to cycle round so he could try once more. That’s a far cry from the win ratio I was seeing and certainly explained why he seemed to be so casual in taking his time to attack.

Maybe that’s the reason why they deliberately don’t have an attack counter in KotM, just to keep people guessing.

Gits.

Saying that, as a possible enhancement to the game it would be nice to at least have a counter in the archived results with attacks made and attacks received in it. I can appreciate that adding KotM attacks to your normal front page combat history would drop the battles off very quickly in a hard fought contest, and it would also take away the ‘suspense’ element if that is part of the reason for not listing attacks.

But a counter after the fact would at least give pilots a better indication of how they have done while giving folk like Sten (who does a fair to middling job of reporting on said contests) more stats to aid in their report commentary.

<sigh>

I can’t put it off any longer.

Chronos: There should be a special hell reserved for whichever Gamesmaster thought that it was a good idea to take any normal KotM event and turn it into one these vomit festering destroyer of souls.

First of all, unless you deliberately set an alarm clock to remind you to check for a new KotM after one is due to close, just on the off chance it is a chrono, you may as well forget it. The few thousands of points that those early birds rack up in the first few hours are going to take you days to catch up.

Why is that? Because chances are like me you are going to panic and completely forget that a chrono requires a set of tactics (plus constant running maths equations..) unlike any other type of fight in the game.

Before anything else, you need to carefully check to see who is already on the board and how many points they have already accrued. Then you need to plot your attacks so you can bump as many of the high points scorers down as far as you can.

Otherwise like me, you will run up the hill, bump the guy on top down to 2nd, then a look of abject horror will cross your face when you realise the mere 2 hours he sat at the top is going to take you 15 hours to haul back, providing and assuming nobody bumps you in the intervening time.

So by the time you are into the second day, you notice some other newcomers have dived in and the high points scorers and yourself are now spread over the board like a 1 year old who has just had an encounter with an ice cream and the family dog.

More maths ensues as you try to work out who is actually winning and how long you have to be out ahead of them before you effectively get things back to an even start… all the while keeping an eye on the positions every half hour or more to see who has bumped who and if the scores have updated so you can relax for the rest of that half hour without having to check.

It is around this time that you are probably imploring your clan mates to jump in so they can bump you further down the board when you drop to your Red Ant formation, just so you can get well below your high points tally rivals so you can in turn bump them even further down the board so as to deny them even more points.

If you are truly serious about winning, you will probably have spent 2 days getting absolutely nowhere so that the final day when points come every 15 minute interval becomes the competition itself.

Hopefully at some stage you will eke out a bit of a lead. Unfortunately, while one would think that this would give some form of comfort, what it actually leads to is more maths, this time trying to work out how long you have to remain in the top spot before it becomes mathematically impossible for the 2nd place player to catch you.

You will go through working out many scenarios, including ones such as “I can afford to be out of the top points for 3 phases” through to “as long as I don’t drop below X position from now on I’ve won,” until you finally reach, “Bollocks!!! I forgot the 2 possible points phases in the golden hour so I have to do all the maths again!!!”

At which point there will have just been a new points scoring phase and the board positions will have changed so you have to reach for a new piece of paper.

And over the course of the two and a bit days, you are going to start having some really, wonderfully stupid ideas. I confess that I have checked opponents Facebook accounts to see at what stage they may be asleep depending on their country, just so I can breath a little easier for a period of time. Then looking on in horror when they attack me at 4 AM their time! Are you folk just insane?

Actually, I take that back, it is a symptom of the Chrono.

The first one I won, my second ever gold way back when, I did by sheer strength of will by staying up all night, running the maths, hideously outclassed but able to take the people I needed to perhaps once every 20 attacks, hour by hour eking out a win.

What the hell was I thinking?

Oh, and then there was the infamous ‘Grocery Run’ chrono…

It was supposed to be a Cruiser Chrono, and of course I jumped in without thinking… 6 hours after the start and did my usual stupid run to the top. Long story short, 2 and a half days later we were approaching the golden hour and my closest opponent had been very active, and it was a very close match.

I could afford to be out of the top spot for a total of 3 point phases, with about 12 maximum left to go depending on when the timer stopped.

Of course I was at work at the time, and needed to do some groceries on the way home, and the trip would take around 50 minutes. Depending on the way the clock ran, that could be 4 phases unanswered and a loss then and there. Add in the fact that once home I would have to have dinner, which would impact on at least 2 more points phases…

Don’t you hate it when real life gets in the way of your gaming?

Now you may think that it should be relatively easy to keep an eye on a KotM from a cellphone. It is, but it is situationaly dependent.

I don’t walk or bus to work where I can just casually mash the refresh. You may think that if push come to shove I could lay the phone on the passenger seat and just serupticiously hit reset when I’m stopped at traffic lights, possibly even pulling over to counter attack.

Nah, to easy.

I ride a motorbike.

And because I’m a little more conscious of my own mortality, anything that can potentially break into life threatening shards in a collision gets safely stowed in my backpack that goes in the top box rather than being secreted about my person.

So here’s the timeline for that trip. We are in the final day so its 15 minute blocks.

First, I wait for an opportunity to gear up. Mash refresh waiting for the points to update so I can hit the locker room and get into the riding leathers.

Of course sods law dictates that the update was at the 14 minute mark, giving me 1 whole minutes grace to suit up. Grrr….

I wear a 1 piece leather jumpsuit for riding rather than separate pants and top. These are pretty skin tight and very unyielding. Age and gravity have not necessarily been kind. For those of you of a ‘certain age’, you may well commiserate with my plight. Those who aren’t will probably gag at the mental image of a middle aged chap attempting to do a speed rendition of his impersonation of a self stuffing sausage… including the pink bits…

4 minutes and a lot of puffing later, I checked and had been attacked. My counter was good and the points rolled over almost straight away.. a lucky break. 11 minutes to saddle up and get to the first store.

So this is the drill at every stop; Pull up and engine off. Dismount. Helmet off (you aren’t allowed to wear them in stores), wrestle the gauntlets off. Open the top box, open the bag, check the phone. Reverse the procedure to get back on the road. It all takes precious seconds.

So get to the store at 2 minutes into the quarter, No change. Get my stuff, check again. Need to counter attack and another very quick rollover. 7 minutes to mount up and get to the next store.

It took about 10 and thankfully there had been a fast rollover and I hadn’t been bumped. By the time I was done I had maybe 6 minutes clear to get home before the final check. Not going to happen, but at least I was down to only 1 phase I was really vulnerable for now…

And of course if I hadn’t been riding like a bat out of hell, I would have had time to think and do the math… again.

You see, with only one more vulnerable riding time period and the 2 interrupted by dinner, that was the 3 I could afford to lose, making me pretty much safe. There was no need for any rush for the last phase riding phase.

Cue images of large amounts of middle aged skin attempting to extricate itself at speed from the equivalent of plastic food wrap in an attempt to get to the main computer and hit the refresh button.

Sigh.

The rest of the tale goes without much event. My noble opponent had obviously done the math and resigned himself to the loss and there were no further attacks that landed. My only concern in hindsight was that it was summer in this hemisphere… I could only hope that my noble opponent hadn’t being doing something equally as asinine while dueling me in his cold half of the planet… like uni cycling in a blizzard.

I think the problem for me is that chrono’s are like catnip. If I keep it at a distance its fine, but one little sniff and I react with the same kind of excitement as a code brown in a swimming pool… with the same level of irrationality as the effected bathers.

So here are my proposals. Choose from then as you will.

1. Ban all chrono events and symbolically set fire to the nether regions of whoever thought them up… as a deterrent.

2.Set up an option screen, similar to those that you use for setting specialists, whereby you can lock yourself out of certain KotM events for you own safety. Then disable the ‘undo’ button…

3. Apply specific code, to my account only, whereby it will crash my machine at the point where I attempt to enter a chrono event….

4. If you see me in a chrono, just shoot me in the head… I’ve obviously gone mad.

At least I can control it. Its not like I have to sit with others in a group circle…

“Hi, I’m Dave, chrono-holic, its been 57 says since my last chrono…”

That is, until the next time….

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