Conquests originally came across as more of a side feature of Galactic Strongholds to me, but after four weeks of dealing with them I can't shake the feeling that they are actually more of a game-changer than housing has been. At least that's how it feels to me, as someone who's in an officer position in an active guild.
It's funny because when you get down to it, conquest consists of nothing but achievements and numbers, but it taps right into that part of the MMO gamer's brain that absolutely loves to make numbers go up and is therefore surprisingly addictive.
Last Monday - the one day of the week when conquests aren't running - one of my guildies commented that he can't remember how he used to spend his time in the game before he started grinding conquest points. It made me laugh, but I can understand where he's coming from.
Personally I do remember what I used to do before, and I almost have the opposite problem as my guildie, one I already alluded to in this post: the limitations on conquest-related PvE activities. While there are a lot of different ways to earn points, there are still even more activities that don't award any. Non-group finder operations don't count most weeks. Doing a non-random flashpoint for the story won't earn you points either. Questing on a planet that isn't contested this week? Forget getting any rewards. I've been having a lot of fun with conquest since its launch, but I've also found myself thinking about things I'd like to do but that I keep putting off - purely because they don't award conquest points and I feel as if I'm letting the guild down by wanting to play in a way that doesn't contribute. Which leaves me with no time to play my Imperial alts, do regular quests or complete the Forged Alliances story arc on multiple characters.
It's kind of ridiculous really. It reminds me of how people in WoW used to complain about "having to" cap their valour points for the week, when that only affected other people indirectly. Yet here I am fretting about not making enough of an effort and possibly letting my guildies down due to not playing in exactly the prescribed manner for the week. It's shameful and I know I really need to relax or I will face burnout issues soon. I wonder if other people have this problem.
Also, now that people are starting to gain an understanding of how conquest guild rewards work, an interesting trend is developing. Getting anywhere between second and tenth place on the leaderboard is rewarding, but not amazingly so, in the sense that it doesn't give you anything that you wouldn't also have been able to acquire through other means. However, first place rewards an exclusive achievement and title for each planet you conquer, which is quite appealing. Due to a handful of mega-guilds dominating on each server, you're unlikely to ever get first place if you aren't a member of one of these select few. So people are flocking to those mega-guilds, even if it's just with their alts, purely to get the achievement and title by being somehow associated with the right guild tag. From what I've heard, some large guilds already had to put a stop on their recruiting as they were hitting the 500 character cap for guilds. Some previously medium-sized guilds have also gone on massive recruitment sprees in an attempt to become mega-guilds themselves.
When people said that conquest was only going to encourage mega-guilds, I initially discarded that notion, as it's quite possible for a smaller guild to get onto the leaderboard. If you want to get to the very top however, you need the kind of raw numbers that a small number of people just can't put out, no matter how dedicated they are. Yet looking at the way things are shaping up, getting in first place is considerably more desirable than just getting onto the leaderboard in general. And since people will go a long way for achievements, the big guilds are where it's at. I can't help but wonder if we are really going to see people increasingly congregate towards mega-guilds purely in an attempt to get that coveted top spot and its associated rewards, and if so, whether this is going to noticeably change the guild landscape as a whole.