Mission Architect for Tickets and XP: I16 compliance
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The new and more detailed mission difficulty sliders for Issue 16 mean that Mission Architect is still a viable way to outfit your characters using the goodies purchased with tickets. I have come to rely on, and continue to rely on, architect tickets as the chief source of salvage needed for my characters' crafting. They can also be converted to inf if needed, by various strategies not really germane to this guide.
The new reward structure
On the other hand, the reward structure of custom groups and custom mobs has changed; it was apparently thought that "boss farms" were an exploit. It is less certain why all custom critters had their XP and rewards reduced, but there it is: any custom critter with only a Standard power set is only worth 75% of the XP that a standard modifier standard critter gives.
To give full XP, a custom critter has to have both power sets set to Hard or higher. Such custom critters are likely going to be quite annoying, and should be used sparingly if at all.
From the patch notes:
- Experience rewards for custom mobs in Mission Architect have been changed.
1. Enemies created using the Standard setting will reward 75% of normal experience.
2. Enemies created using the Hard and Extreme setting will reward 100% of normal experience.
3. The total amount of experience an enemy is worth is split evenly between their two power set choices. Their primary set adds an amount to the experience, and then the secondary set adds an amount.
4. The specifics numbers for individual sets are as followed:
1. Standard: 37.5%4. A mob created with a hard primary and a hard secondary will be worth 100% experience (50% + 50%)
2. Hard/Extreme: 50%
3. If a mob is created that has a standard primary and a hard secondary, it will be worth 87.5% of the normal experience (37.5% + 50%)
Also, the several ranks of available critters are also taken into account; this being done to discourage the creation of all boss or all lieutenant groups. Again, the patch notes:
- Custom villain groups will suffer an experience penalty if they do not have at least one minion, lieutenant, and boss within them.
1. If one rank is missing, there will be a 50% experience penalty applied to all enemies in the group.3. Players will still receive full experience for an enemy in their own unique groups if they are spawned in the "Fight a Boss" objective. This only applies to the specific enemy spawned in this manner and not the group spawned along with them.
2. If two ranks are missing, there will be a 75% experience penalty applied to all enemies in the group.
Note also that XP, tickets, and inf are tied together in a single reward structure. If XP is reduced, tickets and inf are reduced by the same amount. If there's an XP bonus, there's also a ticket and inf bonus.
A custom critter that has a single power from the Standard power set taken away can now be made. When I16 went live, such a critter was worth worth no XP at all, no matter how many powers were added.
Now, custom critters receive weighted XP rewards according to the number and individual values their powers have, and the Architect interface displays how much XP each individual power is worth. It remains the case that a critter with two "Standard" power sets is worth 75% XP. Two "Hard" or higher power sets are worth 100% XP, and nothing ever goes higher than 100% XP. One Standard and one Hard power set gets 87.5% XP. There is no bonus to Extreme or higher power sets, and all custom critter XP is capped at 100% regardless of its number of powers.
So, what does this mean?
Custom groups are still allowed. Only custom critters are penalized. You can continue to create custom groups of characters to fight. You may pick and choose from any of the supplied critters; you do not have to take entire factions as-is. You may continue to rename or re-color standard critters; doing so will not reduce their rewards.
The changes strike hardest at those creators who devised entire factions of their own critters. If you are content using standard or modified standard critters, your rewards are not diminished provided that you follow the 3-tier rule.
There is, unfortunately, no provision in the current search engine to distinguish custom groups made up of standard critters versus custom groups using custom critters. Both show up as "Custom Group". If you are using standard critters in custom groups, it may be helpful to point that out in your description explicitly.
The 3-tier rule
The only needed qualification is that you must include at least one minion, one lieutenant, and one boss in your resulting custom group. They need not be from the same factions, either.
If you set to not spawn bosses solo, bosses will spawn as lieutenants. with lieutenant hitpoints and rewards (but boss powers). Even though the 3 tier rule requires that your custom group to have bosses, there is no penalty for choosing player settings that do not spawn them as bosses.
Note also that some named characters listed as "bosses" are actually elite bosses, and will continue to spawn as elite bosses if included. Other named character bosses spawn as "Hero" or "Villain" and are significantly harder than bosses. They too spawn with full hitpoints and power sets.
As in standard content, bosses are relatively infrequent. A custom critter with no powers can occupy the boss slot. This will satisfy the 3-tier rule, even though the boss yields no rewards. Such a boss can be ignored unless the completion condition of the mission requires its defeat.
Tailor your custom group to your character's wants
When I tested the changes to MA in i16, I created custom groups of Council and Fifth Column. I purged the factions of various annoyances: damage resistant, flying robots; war wolves; vampyres; Galaxy critters with slows and immobilizes. The resulting faction obeyed the 3-tier rule nevertheless. These characters had ranged knockdown and stun attacks, but the characters I played against them shrug those attacks off.
I have also created groups of Circle of Thorns from which Spectres have been banished, and the spawns were reweighted against the appearance of so many Thorn Casters.
Study of Culex's guide to enemy XP mods is worthwhile. You may prefer not to use critters that have an XP penalty. No standard critter gives rewards higher than 100% in the Architect.
Different characters may get better results from different mobs. I despise the Circle of Thorns spectres on melees; control based characters may not mind them, and they are favored for XP. I don't mind mobs with melee stun attacks on tankers and scrappers; my blasters would not want to face hordes of them. My archery blaster doesn't mind Carnies at all; they don't die next to her. She has a map full of Carnie lieutenants and minions, with a Banished Pantheon mask to fill the obligatory boss spot.
You know what you like to fight, and what you hate to fight. Obey the three tier rule, but fill your mission with stuff you like to fight.
Remember that the later missions in a story arc have a ticket reward. You get 20% larger mission completion ticket bonus from a fifth mission than you do from a first mission in a story arc. By adding initial missions that are easily completed, you can create arcs that yield tickets more efficiently on the mission you intend to milk.