Back in autumn I was all about conquest. I had a lot of fun with it, but after a couple of months I also started to notice how obsessive I had become, wanting to hit my personal conquest target every week and wanting to push the guild towards a top ten placement as often as possible. It caused me to sideline everything else in the game, and I was starting to get a little annoyed with myself even as I kept on grinding.
Then Shadow of Revan hit and broke the spell. Just like that. There was levelling to be done, with no conquest point rewards attached. There were new items to craft, again for no conquest points. And the new flashpoints had to be run in the right order to make sense of the story, once again offering no conquest point reward. The expansion just felt more important than all those other things, and suddenly conquests felt kind of irrelevant, especially since Bioware didn't get around to actually integrating the new content into the system yet.
I'm guessing that I'm not the only one for whom this was a turning point. I certainly enjoyed the "breathing room" afforded by the expansion so to speak, but at the same time I was always planning to get back into conquests eventually. So this week's Total Galactic War came at just the right time for me, offering an almost guaranteed reward for anyone who was willing to put a bit of effort in and therefore presenting the perfect chance to get back into it.
I've been looking at the scoreboards and I think it's quite obvious that the system is maturing. Or in other words, some people are clearly getting bored of it and that's okay. When I look at The Red Eclipse's scores from back in August for example, the top guilds tended to finish on 5-7 million points, with the lowest scores on the board being in the 2-3 million range. Compare this with last week's scores, where two guilds managed to reach first place with less than 3 million points, and half the scoreboard was filled with guilds that didn't even hit one million points (neither event was Total Galactic War by the way).
I actually see this as a good thing, as it means that the number of people investing in conquests in a hardcore way is going down, making it easier for smaller guilds to save up for and succeed with one big effort instead of always being outdone by some mega-guild. I wouldn't count the really big guilds out just yet, but we're getting to the point where they've had a chance to conquer every single planet in the galaxy. Once you've been there, done that, got all the achievements, you suddenly have a lot less to gain from continuing to compete.
Lower numbers might also reduce the influence that crafting and therefore money has on conquests. I have to admit that I overlooked just how broken conquest crafting is for the longest time. I'm the kind of person who does a little bit of everything when working on conquests - a flashpoint here, a few PvP matches there, then craft a few items - so I didn't quite understand what was supposed to make crafting so different. My epiphany came during the last Total Galactic War when I attempted to craft at maximum capacity to give my guild an early advantage and hit the 50k conquest target on all my characters in short order.
The thing that makes crafting different is that it accumulates points for you even while you're not playing. Let's assume for a moment that in a given week with a 50k target you have no bonuses to crafting whatsoever and only get 500 points per item. In the morning, you log on and set all five of your companions to craft five items (let's say you're not high enough level to send out six yet). When you log back in in the evening you have 12,500 points for five minutes of work. You queue up another set, finishing the day having gained a total of 25,000 points. You only have to do this for two days to hit your target. Often people will also have some sort of bonus - make it x2 and you'll already be done after a single day. Since it requires no actual play time beyond the brief login to actually queue up the items, you can also do this on all of your alts at the same time.
Compare this to warzones, which are generally lauded as being a good source of conquest points since there is no hard cap on how much you can earn in a day. With no bonus you earn 250 points for playing and an additional 500 for winning. If we assume that you win every other game, this averages out to 500 points per match. To hit a conquest target of 50k, you'd therefore have to play 100 matches. (Not entirely accurate due to some one-time bonuses for certain warzone achievements, but it's not too far off.) If we assume that each game takes about 20 minutes including queue time, you'd have to actively play for 33.3 hours to hit your target with no further bonuses, and then you'd still only be done on a single character.
The bottom line is that gaining conquest points through play takes much, much more time and effort than gaining them through crafting, which means that crafting is a far superior way of accumulating points. At the same time it can get quite expensive due to the amount of materials needed and therefore strongly favours rich players.
I'm not saying this is a problem exactly, but it means that if you are hardcore about winning at conquest, you will craft - whereas if you're approaching the whole thing more casually, you'll never be able to keep up with the scores of those dedicated crafters. So seeing the totals on the scoreboard drop means that conquests are becoming more "casual-friendly" in a way - and that's a good thing in my opinion.
Of course, according to what's been datamined we'll have a new conquest event coming up in two weeks, with Yavin 4 becoming eligible for conquests for the first time - something that may very well cause many to stir again because they want to add a new planet to their list of conquests.