No spend trap OR past 5* HotM, small team, alliances and Valor points OR why SGG ignores most suggestions

No spend trap OR past 5* HotM, small team, alliances and Valor points OR why SGG ignores most suggestions

No spend and SGG impact

I agree

5* HotM, and 4* ascension items, are so immensely profitable compared to SGG’s investment ( see notes for designer metric, Spend Depth ) that a spending boycott is unlikely to effect SGG game design

Past 5* HotM

In my opinion, even a year long “no spend” will have little effect since it just increases the cost of a past 5* HotM ( looking at you Miki, Athena, Frida, etc )

Elemental rainbow links

HotM families, especially Elemental rainbow links, are brilliant from a monetization point of view

Whichever SGG employee came up with it deserves a bonus ( cash and stocks ) and an additional assistant ( more work gets done without a promotion risking the Peter Principle ^1 )

Costumes, 5* HotM

Costumes for 5* HotM are even better monetization since they are ONLY released for PAST 5* HotM so you CANNOT get the costumes at the best odds ( release month ) only in Tavern, or Hero Academy, significantly increasing SGG profits and Return On Investment

Taverns and featured costumes

Featured costume in Tavern of Legends

loot box unit pricing ( consumer metric )

$ 5,158+ USD ( 413,674+ gems )

Spend depth ( designer metric )

$ 1,122 USD ( 89,994 gems )

HA10 retraining and Classic 5* costumes

I am NOT doing the math for past 5* HotM since SGG throws in random, limited availability 5* heroes

Instead, I will show a more common, but still very grindy, example with costumes for Classic 5* heroes

A specific costume for a Classic 5* Hero ( example Marjana’s costume ) is currently

loot box unit pricing ( consumer metric )

36+ years

Spend depth ( designer metric )

8.074 years

Small team

The 5* HotM business model also makes the game extra grindy so SGG does not have to expand its small team

A No spend is actually good, because it lets the small team slow down and make adjustments

I expect the promised catch up mechanics to be similar to HA10 retraining / Taverns / Alchemy Lab v2.0

No Alliance

Peer pressure, FOMO, etc. means alliance activities are a great way to monetize, retain, and engage players ( see notes )

In addition to No Spend you would need to stop playing in an alliance

No Valor Points

F2P games are shifting to Path of Valor models to monetize, retain, and engage more players ( see notes )

In addition to No Spend you would need to stop collecting Valor Points

No Mystic Vision

And Mystic Vision still generates revenue, even if it does not generate IAP

In addition to No Spend you would need to stop watching Mystic Vision

No Spend Trap


Considering the above ways F2P games are designed to monetize, retain, and engage more players ( see notes )

The only way to get SGG 's Empires and Puzzles game to change, is not to play


This post is dedicated to @TGW who saw all of this years ago

Click for notes

Spend depth

This analysis is factually wrong ( author was doing a VERY quick proof of work demo )

But interesting for the underlying thinking

(Mobile Game Monetization // Do you know your game's spend depth?)

Costumes and past 5* HotM

Costumes and HA10 retraining

Summons and Path of Valor

Interesting insight into Summons, especially Elemental summons, and Goblin Balloons

Path of Valor v2.0 and Challenge events

Whole article is interesting

Blades and Tomes


I wish I understood cumulative probability, and multiple event probability, better

42,000x 4* ascension =

6,000 Blades ( 6,000 heroes )

6,000 Tomes ( 6,000 heroes )

6,000 x5 color specific ( 5x 1,000 = 5,000 heroes)

But probability is streaky.

So for sort runs, it would be common to fall short of Blades, or Tomes, or a specific color

Definitely related to choke points discussed in the above article



Solid exposition. Thanks Gryphon Knight

It’s too late… the destination was set when the game was released.
All the damage is done. And the only possible cure, Is a bigger hammer!

The opposing argument claims you and TGW are / (were with condolences)
top 1% spenders. That’s all they got…

I was…!

I, and many others…have shown the paywall to newcomers. Here is the current war:

The fresh blood will dry up! The problem is not only for the smallest portion of the population. :joy:

As new players continue experiencing the paywall, they will lead the way to…
Not Playing This Game!

Addiction will prevent the so-called dolphins from that path.
But the grind… Will not!

Even whales will make their exit as the grind overwhelms their enjoyment.

SG can’t slow down
SG can’t lessen the creep
The portals are the paycheck!
They can’t stop…

The only solution… is a bigger hammer.
And our solution to stop playing, SG has no choice but to help us along!


And now you all compare these issues, with a proposed solution: a no spend boycott that will last for 2 weeks. A baby wouldn’t be so naive to think that it could make a difference. Perhaps this movement would be appropriate if everything it his game was perfect, you just need to tweak the things a little bit.

I don’t know… Maybe players in top alliances, and those who really spend a lot do think that this is the scale of the problem. They are happy doing everything the same, and all they need is to make a tiny, tiny scratch to SG’s revenue… To slightly delay their purchases and that small inconvenience in the game economy would be resolved.

LoL. Unfortunately, it’s not. The economy of this game is absolutely terrible on so many levels, and I don’t see it’s going to change. I guess SG would be irrational to even consider that… As long as this many people are ready to pay for whatever SG throws at them. With or without this minor disruption in purchasing behaviour of very limited number of players. :slight_smile:


Unlike the first no spend movement a year ago, which really did impact SG’s bottom line, I think this one will not do much.

2 Weeks isn’t long enough and the core issue of no spend this time around is very different. It also appears that outside the Top Alliances, this no spend doesn’t appear to be gaining as much traction as the first one which far more people supported.

However, I could be totally wrong. We’ll have to wait and see.

SG doesn’t make changes based on this forum nor do they care. That is fact.


Yesterday I watched a YouTube stream of a Russian player under the nickname of Sovarie. He had invited another one, nickname Tudan, who explained very extensively why the No Spend November idea cannot work, based on the players’ psychology and most importantly on the big spenders’ psychology.

Tudan said that the funniest thing for him was when he went to read an Alliance profile who had tagged themselves “No Spend November” and two of them had costume Gravemaker on the defense already :smile:


New features

This is a combination of

A) small team ( see notes )


B) Cosmetics Access Power Status ( see notes ), the four reasons customers are willing to spend real world money

SGG appears to roll out the best content, of a new feature, 50% at the beginning, and 50% at the end

The beginning to get users excited about the new feature ( looking at you base hero Tarlak )

The end to give SGG the most time, and data, for riskier content ( looking at you Marjana’s costume )

Past 5* HotM

From a business design point of view, SGG has done great work in 2021

Tavern of Legends is a key part of SGG past 5* HotM business plan ( see notes )

Old Seasons

After HotM families, I would not be surprised if SGG added a third costume path that includes a summons portal and a way to use duplicates


Clash of Seasons summons includes all heroes ( and costumes when appropriate ) from all completed Seasons 2 to 5 ( plus Classic heroes WITHOUT costumes )

Trade a duplicate costume with an alliance mate to destroy both traded costumes with a chance at a new costume

New monthly rotation is Costume chamber, Clash of Seasons, Tavern of Legends

This would allow SGG to use limited edition 3* / 4* costumes to generate IAP, and give F2P something else to grind

Old Challenge events

After all old Challenge event heroes are added to HA10 retraining, SGG could then add a fourth costume event


War of Elements ( all five colored old events )

Elemental banners ( use to upgrade a hero’s usefulness against its strong color, and weak color. Example upgrade Blue hero against Red, and Green )

New monthly rotation is Costume chamber, War of Elements, Clash of Seasons, Tavern of Legends

Sustainable fun

Think of Empires less of a

fun game that balances maximum fun, sustainable cash flow, and minimum choke points ( looking at you original Mine craft ) and more of a

micro transaction game that balances maximum cash flow, and maximum choke points, with sustainable fun ( looking at you gambling apps )

Choke points

The possible choke points are infinite for Empires

Unlike Niantic which has to rely on Quality of Life improvements ( less engagement and less monetization ) to retain F2P users ( four way IP situations are never ideal )


Click for notes

Small team and Costumes


Tavern of Legends



All good points. Highly possible.

Cos similar games have gone that route too. More or less.

Because. Humans.

You might say they got lucky with free summons

But the odds of 2x free costumes for Gravemaker ( even in a 30x teammate alliance ) is crazy

One of the best choke point, business decisions SGG made was to force players to equip a specific base hero, or a costume.

If you want base Gravemaker ( great for attack ) AND costume Gravemaker ( appears better for defense ) you need 1x costume AND 2x base hero ( Spend depth 16.148 years for HA10 retraining and $ 2,244 USD ( 179,988 gems ) for featured hero in Tavern )


There are some interesting innovations in Asia

The Whale+, and the Whale++, are only possible with games having insane Spend depth

One Whale++ program has a 100* 1.1 hero as a reward for spending $ 74,000 USD on In App Purchases. Then you need 100* ascension items. One player, with multiple accounts, got the hero to 100* 8.160 in less than 6 months playing

Supplied Fun

The more I observe freemium games, the more I see them as company towns ( see notes )

People in the USA will work for less than a guaranteed, livable wage ( see notes )

The objective for SGG is to only supply as much fun as needed to keep the majority of players retained and engaged

Then create monetization strategies for all players, but especially Whales, Whales+ and Whales++


Click for notes

Spend depth

Company town

Livable Wage

Click for USA minimum wage issues


Tipped Minimum Wage

If the law says the pay must be at least minimum wage, why not just set it to minimum wage

(Tipped wage - Wikipedia)

Sub-minimum wage

(Workers With Disabilities Can Earn $3.34 An Hour. Agency Says Law Needs Change : NPR)



Well, it is still October so they are obviously using a technicality to justify the spending. LOL.

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This is probably written somewhere in the forum but… since you probably wrote it can you direct me to the definition of loot box unit pricing and spend depth you use?

I’m trying to make up my mind on why they are so different in value but… It’s been a hard week :woman_shrugging:t3:

Hero Academy v1.0, a Bad business decision?

Click for Hero Academy v2.0 rant

In my opinion, Hero Academy was a bad business move from a business analysis

using HA10 retraining 5* heroes, and spending resources, to change

5* Horghall ->> 5* Quintus ->> 5* Horghall or

5* duplicate->> 5* duplicate

is just bad business

It does not give you a small prize in return for your spent resources


3* / 4* / 5* heroes used for Hero XP, or 4* 3.60 heroes used to complete rare quests, or 5* Magni / 5* Vivica from Legendary recruit training ( RT20 ),

Alchemy Shards from spending 200 gems ( 2x attempts), and resources, to change 4* darts ->> 4* Tabards ->> 4* darts again or 4* extra ascension item ->> 4* extra ascension item in Alchemy Lab v2.0

HA10 retraining 5* just burns your resources

Lab v2.0 as a model

Alchemy Lab v2.0 is a great model for spend depth

The below suggestions are from a spend depth point of view. Not a player point of view

Color Classic 5* retraining

Alchemy Lab v2.0 is a great model for spend depth

= If you use every possible result except one ( example all 1* battle items except 1* mana potion 25% ) then that result is guaranteed ( result 1* mana potion 25% )

For Hero Academy have

a set of 5x recipes ( Color Classic 5* retraining ) were 3x Classic 5* heroes of the same color produce 3x Classic 5* heroes of the same color


3x Horghall

gives you

3x random green Classic 5* heroes ( that are not Horghall ) including a 5% chance per hero of a matching costume

Total 3x 5* in and total 3x 5* out

So using 3x unique Classic 5* heroes of the same color guarantees the missing Classic hero of that color



gives you

3x Lianna ( only non duplicate choice ) including a 5% chance per hero of a matching costume

Total 3x 5* in and total 3x 5* out

Color Classic 5* retraining only works with Classic 5* heroes

To use other 5* heroes, use HA10 retraining 5*, or below Advanced Color 5* retraining

Advanced Color 5* retraining

a set of 5x recipes ( Advanced Color 5* retraining ) were 4x unique 5* heroes of the same color guarantees a random limited availability hero and 3x Classic 5* heroes of the color STRONG against the ingredients


Ingredients ( all blue )


Ingredients ( all blue )
Perseus ( limited availability hero )

gives you ( all green which is strong against blue )

1x random green 5* limited availability hero and if available a 100% chance of a matching costume

3x random green Classic 5* heroes ( different color so no duplicates ) including a 5% chance per hero of a matching costume

Total 4x 5* in and total 4x 5* out but color change ( in example from blue to green )

This color change is cool, useful and solves the problem of no duplicates in the results while still returning 3x random Classic 5* heroes and still requiring 4x unique heroes be a matching color

While not technically illegal, this uses a variation of a banned gacha technique since players need sets of 4x same color, Classic 5* heroes to get a random matching color limited availability hero


Classic color 5* retraining will chain with Advanced Color 5* retraining since you can use Classic to get matching color, unique sets of 4 for use in Advanced

Duplicate 5*

This helps deal with complaints of Classic 5* heroes in every summons and duplicate Classic 5* heroes

This helps deal with complaints of unwanted duplicate 5* HotM ( looking at you triple Perseus )


This would add 10x recipes

All could unlock at Lv10, or they could be spread out

Academy Shards

Alchemy Lab v2.0 is a great model for spend depth

= Shards offer 6x random choices in 3 categories

For Hero Academy shards have

Ascension items

2x Academy shard choices of 3* / 4* Ascension items ( same as Lab v2.0 )

3x 3* Orb or 3x 3* Cape
3x 3* Orb or 1x 4* Darts


2x Academy shard choices of Classic 4* / 5* costumes and matching base heroe ( same odds for 4* versus 5* costume plus base hero as 3* versus 4* ascension items above )

3x 4* costume, and base, Rigard or 3x 4* costume, and base, Gormek

3x 4* costume, and base, Rigard or 1x 5* costume, and base, Magni

Like summons, heroes could temporarily exceed available hero slots if 3x 4* costume, and base hero, are selected by user

For maximum spend depth change it to ANY 4* costume, and ANY 5* costume, with matching heroes. Classic costumes 95% chance and Limited availability costumes would only have a 5% chance in this version

Summon currency

2x Academy shard choices of Summon currency ( all possible, including new summon currency as added to the game )

900x Atlantis coins or 900x Challenge coins

900x Underwild coins or 900x Challenge coins

6 choices

For a total of 6 choices when turning in 1000x Academy shards


Yes I am bored
Yes I am bored in Empires
Yes I am looking at jobs in the game industry and spend depth is a useful skill to master ( also practicing my forum skills, bug hunting skills, and customer/ Devs support skills )



Something like this would give me - as FTP - hope that I’m not about to hit a wall sometime in the next few months to a year. The main thing that keeps me going is leveling unique heroes. I feel like every hero can bring something, no matter how niche, to my roster. Presently, I have a relatively ready supply of blue and green projects. In yellow, I have to finish Devana and a Gan Ju costume. In red and purple, I have only to finish Kong and Obakan, respectively. I end up basing my very limited summons on what color project I need next as much as the quality of the hero I’m targeting. For example, I went like a mother after Russell, who looks good but not great, because I needed a red project. (This was before HA 10 delivered Kong.) And I didn’t get him.

I do have a decent cache of gems saved (5600+), a little bit of Google Play credit from surveys ($5 or so), and a few Underwild and challenge coins. I’ve usually been fortunate to land a few new projects each time I do a summoning binge, but what happens when I run out of projects in a couple of colors and I strike out on a big summon attempt, which is a likely outcome? Is the prospect of finishing my first Horghall and a weekly 5% chance of getting a hero or costume I (probably) don’t have from HA10 enough to keep me coming back? I doubt it.

In your example, the combination of a guaranteed way to get a non-S1 hero (Advanced color 5* retraining) and the possibility of landing four-star mats and/or useful costumes through Academy shards would likely be enough to ensure I always have something interesting to work on. I especially like the version that includes the possibility for non-S1 heroes and their costumes. It was a depressing week for me this week as the costume for Poseidon released. My long-time avatar and a fixture on my defense team for ages is now relegated to second-class status by the existence of a costume that I have no reasonable shot of getting, especially since Atlantis coins as loot are basically non-existent. This problem will only continue, as costumes for my most beloved heroes (looking at you, Onatel) are inevitable and look to only be available from the ToL with its abysmal odds.

I hope your ideas are not falling on deaf ears (blind eyes?) here on the forum. If Zynga is in this for the long haul, they need to retain the awesome player base they have now, including a few bones for us FTP folks. Otherwise, the whales have no one to beat up on.

Good to see you back around more, @Gryphonknight . I noticed you posted on the Trials of Piety threads, so it looks like you are playing again, too. This makes me happy. Keep dropping that sweet, sweet knowledge on us, my friend.



Doing some research on

Solo play,:white_check_mark:
Lab v2.0,:white_check_mark:
VF gnome,:white_check_mark:
Underwild gems versus Valhalla rocks,:white_check_mark:
New Challenge events,:white_check_mark:
Costume chamber,:white_check_mark:
War chest life hack,:x::black_square_button::black_square_button:

and some Seekrett Projekts ( which may or may pan out ):no_entry_sign::no_entry_sign::no_entry_sign:

Killing time

Basically killing time until I can afford a Playstation 5 or Xbox Series X or a new laptop or my chronically ill friends can safely meet in person for table top board games and RPG s



Well, we all benefit from your boredom, I guess. :laughing: Brain exercise is a great way to spend one’s free time.

Oooh. I’m intrigued. Good luck.

Ms. Weasel and the Weaselettes got me a Nintendo Switch for my birthday back in July. Thoroughly enjoying that. Typically has more family-friendly fare for the little ones, and also has Skyrim and Civ VI. Hoping TES 6 and Civ VII will be available on the Switch when they release. If not, I shall console myself with the new Legend of Zelda game (if it ever comes out!) and the various Mario offerings.

I wish the best of health to you and your friends, and a renewed giant middle finger to COVID in all its forms.



Reminds me we have an old Nintendo Switch around somewhere

Stopped using it because of some motherboard flaw ( hack able USB port? )


Pokémon games cannot be backed up at all ( SD card, cloud, etc. ) because some users will hack back ups

I should find it and see if the problem was ever fixed

1 Like

Empire and Trading

Word of God

Devs original said trading was a huge challenge, but possible

This is likely connected to the emergency plan for a pity summons mechanism they had sketched out if 5* HotM did not work

Devs have backtracked and said, trade was never a real consideration, but now that costume 5* heroes are successful, trade is firmly in the Never happening category

Successful costumes for 5* hero also likely doomed any pity summons mechanism

Spend depth ( see notes )

Spend depth is not just about money but TIME and money ( grind, speed ups and loot boxes )

Grind for candy, stardust, 100% IV, shiny, exclusive moves, etc

Speed ups for the above

Raids, and eggs, as loot boxes

To preserve spend depth, PoGO trading is heavily restricted

Compared to the Main Series Game, PoGO significantly nerfed trading ( level reduction when trading to starting players, IV reroll, scaling stardust cost versus rarity for pokémon not in your inventory, limited special trades, maximum of 2x owners before locked )


Click for notes

pity summons mechanism

Spend depth

Choke points


Yet, ever since its release it was the single best feature the game has got. It completely reshaped the game to a point of “before” and “after”. I would know, I was using it so much to the point where I was the first player in the world to solo 5* Moltres, right before I left ~1 year ago. The only reason SGG don’t want a trade system is because they don’t want players like me (I was ftp in PoGo too) to have such accomplishments, to give grinding ftp players a competitive edge. In this game I know that no matter how hard I grind, a paying player that will grind as much will always be better than me. There’s no other reason than that, the spend depth wouldn’t be hurt otherwise Niantic of all things wouldn’t design a trade system in the first place.

1 Like

SG would care of F2Ps reaching the top only if it was bad for business¹.
While it could be, I stand by @Gryphonknight : they don’t implement trading because it reduces spend depth, just like more or less anything valuable is up to merciless RNG.

¹ while that fact being good or bad depends on the specific ecosystem, it is generally considered a good thing if [at least] every now and then David beats Goliath.
In E&P it’s still not very likely though :woman_shrugging:t3:

1 Like

Cake spend depth

Not my preferred solution

Original base had multiple copies of buildings so you could upgrade one camp while using another

2x to 3x Hero Academies would have been nice

Unfortunately SGG is trying to increase spend depth ( grind, speed ups, loot boxes, etc. ) so their team can stay ahead of the players while also having said players log in multiple times per day

It is like throwing a party, placing the cake in a time locked vending machine, and dispensing one bite every hour

So SGG killed multiple advanced training camp and gave us one Hero Academy

(🤦‍♀️ Oops mistake [Photo enlargement] Two new flagpoles on Advanced Training Camp- See Hero Academy - #2 by Gryphonknight)

Who says you cannot have your cake and it it too?