Random reflections on Kythera Phase II Shards events

PangarbanPangarban ✭✭✭✭✭

First of all: it was exciting having shards in an event!

However, I feel like there are a few issues Niantic could look into to make these types of events better in the future:

  1. Playbox size: the playbox in Cambridge was HUGE, even compared to past anomalies. The result is that it was hard for either side to cover much of the territory, and many of the battle beacons were either uncontested at all, or one side took control of them but were never attacked by the other side. It may have made sense for the shard targets to have been a reasonable distance from the centre, but the BBs could have been more concentrated towards the centre. This event was basically a local event due to several factors: other sites available, the short notice, etc, , so player numbers were no match for the large play area. My own little team in Cambridge never actually battled any of the opposition in the entire three hour window!
  2. Uncontested Battle Beacons. In Cambridge we think a few battle beacons were never even interacted with due to the playbox size. The result is that they defaulted to giving a few points to the side that already owned them before the start. There are a few potential solutions: (A) if a BB gets no interaction then it should score 0, regardless of the faction at the end. (B) Niantic should deploy VR BBs, so that it flips for each measurement. (C) the playbox could be cleared at the anomaly start time (all portals neutralized, all immunities reset), so that any uncontested BB is happening on a neutral portal. A smaller playbox would have prevented this problem as well.
  3. Battle Beacon Battles: With an even battle, it is normally easier for the people defending a portal than for the people attacking it. The main cause is probably latency (the delay in scanners updating the current status), which means that by the time an attacker realizes the portal has been neutralized, the defenders deploying resonators have already recaptured it. If the attacking team is smaller than the defending team they have absolutely no hope and might as well just move on. A really simple solution to this would be for Niantic applied beacons to be the VR type, so that they flip at each scoring phase. This would give a weaker attacking team the chance to defend, and an outnumbered team would at least have a chance of gaining some points. I was suprised that Niantic BBs aren't this type, and really don't understand why not.

Note, point 3 was not an issue for my team in Cambridge because, due to point 1, we never actually battled the opponents for a single portal! We think we saw one of the opposition players once when we were moving towards a target, but we couldn't be sure.


  • As the orga who submitted the application and the playbox, I have a part to play in this. The requirements outlined in the application asked for 10km playbox (ours was smaller and Niantic actually reduced it further), I think a part of this was possibly niantics attempt to draw out the shard game. But you’re right on many accounts about the uncontested portals and the CAT-I victories (for both sides).

    based on scrolling back through the activities there were 21 completely uncontested battle beacons on neutral portals. With only 2 CAT-IV and 1 CAT-V battle.

    part of the gameplay I think came down to different tactics, one team focussed on shards (as was evident by a 12-1 scoring) and the other beacons.

    with the short notice and with many agents already having the badge from phase 1 there may Have been a lack of interest, plus other sites such as London close by and one of the transportation hubs to get to Cambridge may have also diluted the numbers attending.

    it would’ve been great to have bigger numbers there, but with 80 or so agents it was still a decent turnout all considered.

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