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New Season, new Totems! A complete rebalance of Totems

CATANdominikCATANdominik Administrator, Community Manager Posts: 169 Community Manager, Global
edited March 16 in News & Announcements

Greetings Explorers!

tl;dr: The Totem rewards and costs were completely overhauled this Season! The balancing may be changed again in future Seasons. You can collect 40 Totem Tokens in your In-Game Mailbox now!

We have been listening to your feedback in the forum over the last few months and want to follow up on a topic that we have seen come up again and again: Spending a Totem Token to move doesn’t feel rewarding. That’s why we have adjusted how Totem Tokens are spent and collected. Later this Season players will receive significantly more Totem Tokens for Daily Quests and In-App Purchases. As a result, we have also adjusted how many Totem Tokens it costs to take an action with your Totem.

While we can’t promise that this is going to stay, we want to test out how gameplay would be affected if moving Totems is more cost efficient. Also we want to make it more attractive to harvest with your Totem in contrast to visiting settlements.

These changes to Totems are coming this Season:

  • Moving your Totem is now much cheaper! It still costs 1 Token to move, but you will receive significantly more Totem Tokens overall. 
  • The cost to access a Settlement is now 15 Totem Tokens.
  • The cost to access a Resource Center is now 5 Totem Tokens.
  • Daily Quest Totem Token rewards quantities have been increased: 
  • Free Reward: 10 Totem Tokens
  • Easy Quest: 15 Totem Tokens
  • Hard Quest: 30 Totem Tokens
  • There are new Shop Bundles for purchasing Totem Tokens in larger quantities.

You can also now collect 40 Totem Tokens in your In-Game Mailbox! Get out there and start exploring.

It’s important to us to highlight that this is a test. We care deeply about the fact that Niantic games are about movement and light exercise, and making visiting locations in the real world a core part of our gameplay. So a feature like Totems should always accompany and enrich gameplay, not replace it. We believe that – with the other balancing changes to Totems – this will still be the case. But only your experience of playing the game will show if we got the balance right! Additional balancing changes might be needed in the future. 

Please let us know what you think about this test so we can make CATAN – World Explorers the best it can be. Let us know how cheaper Totem movement has improved or negatively impacted your gameplay experience by sharing your experiences in this thread. If you have feedback, we’re listening!


Dominik and the CATAN – World Explorers team

Post edited by CATANFiona on


  • GrogyanGrogyan Member Posts: 467 ✭✭✭

    @CATANdominik interesting changes to Totem Tokens.

    I'll be watching my cells to see if it is more balanced than before across all factions

    Though I still heavily disagree with allowing scoring of VP on a Settlement though the use of Totems

  • AjanHukkaAjanHukka Member Posts: 480 ✭✭✭
    edited February 23

    Seems that totem is slightly less effective now. A good move altogether. It was maybe a bit too easy to do some quests with just simple totem harvest earlier.

    Post edited by AjanHukka on
  • MykanMykan Member Posts: 68 ✭✭✭

    I can see the need to rebalance it as a settlement should cost more than a resource centre or relocating a totem, but I think you still need to balance the costs and daily rewards. So infinetly glad we aren't in lockdown currently or the totem would be completely useless.

    Also please look into the cost of discovering with a totem, it doesn't make sense to me that discovering a settlement should cost so much more than discovering a resource centre. Especially when the penalty for those is in the accessing of them. I would have thought discovery should be a flat cost regardless.

  • GrogyanGrogyan Member Posts: 467 ✭✭✭

    The main problem is that the Totems, unbalanced the game to a very large degree in many places.

    Even heavily mentioned here, that players cannot use the Totem as often as they used to. And that was my biggest problem since Totems were announced, complacency with Spoo fing.

    Which has been proven with every season.

    The alternative? Actually go outside, to a park.

    Arrange with your faction within your cell(s) to maximize (safely) by actually being physically at the settlement(s).

    Rural players are also disadvantaged when there is perhaps just 1 or 2 wayspots in their cell, getting overwhelmed by a city player who uses Totems to win cells.

    Overall good change. But might still not be enough.

    Time will tell

  • ZinkyZonkZinkyZonk Member Posts: 99 ✭✭✭

    This change was not ok.

  • OctarineOctarine Member Posts: 16 ✭✭

    I felt the balance was right before. Enough free tokens so you didn't have to trek out to every settlement to build on it, not so many that you could play entirely from your couch. (Except during lockdown - I was very happy that I had enough tokens stashed!)

    But hey, do whatever you want to the game, it's your choice. It's my choice whether to play and spend (currently no and **** no).

  • CataniusCatanius Member Posts: 200 ✭✭✭
    edited February 24

    Suggestion 1:

    - daily hard quest reward: 4 or 9 tokens

    - move the totem: free

    - enter in a settlement: 3 tokens

    Enter in a ressource center: 1 token

    Suggeation 2:

    - daily hard quest reward: 3 tokens

    - move the totem: free

    - enter in a settlement/ressource center: 1 token

    Post edited by Catanius on
  • bluesfemmebluesfemme Member Posts: 13 ✭✭

    I only seriously used tokens the last couple of days of the season. Dice games, big resources, cards, deliver; - rinse, wash repeat.

    If it's going to be so expensive to enter, I need to be able to select the mini game I want, once in a settlement.

    Also as per octarine - we need not to be kicked out of a settlement. And the missing settlements need to be resolved. I gave up on my local settlement yesterday as it was missing again for most of the day :/

    PS: Just checked and that missing settlement from last season is a missing RC currently. Obviously there are issues with some POIs.

  • SerendipSerendip Member Posts: 54 ✭✭

    @Grogyan could you explain why you thought the introduction of the totem and tokens unbalanced things? To me, they provided flexibility and options for the disabled, the rural and anyone living in an area of low PoI density. I viewed this is a really good thing in terms of accessibility for all players and for the long term viability of the game since the more people that are able to play the better

    I'm in Australia so I've only been playing since part way through Beta and don't know what the game was like before that. I'm wondering if you're comparing the 'now' to a 'before' that I'm not familiar with.

    I'm genuinely trying to understand why you see this change as a good thing.

  • SoylentGrienSoylentGrien Member Posts: 35 ✭✭

    15 tokens is a bit extreme. Especially when the game hangs so often when upgrading a settlement.

  • GrogyanGrogyan Member Posts: 467 ✭✭✭


    In a nutshell Spoo fing

    Ie, falsifying your location to give yourself an unfair advantage.

    First, check out Niantic's blog

    I love strategy games, even ones that I am not great at, like chess and Magic the Gathering.

    Understanding the balance of the game's economy as a piece of a bigger puzzle.

    Totems were introduced to augment the game's economy, because of the nature of Random Number Generators meant that a player may not have enough of specific resources in order to compete.

    The low price for Totem Tokens, along with gaining VP with them, meant they were open to abuse. Something that I raised as a massive problem when the Totem was announced.

    Every chat I am in, even here in the forums, further proves that my concerns were not my imagination.

    Also, we can't be naive, Pokémon GO players have developed tools for falsifying your location with the RWP, which is an ongoing battle for Niantic it costs them thousands of dollars every year. It costs Ingress players equally as much money when bad actors destroy work that players spent with their own money to achieve.

    When I was in the early beta for Pokémon GO, which New Zealand was the first to use it. I openly warned the developers that due to the overwhelming amount of Spoo fing in Ingress, the design direction pokemon go had at that the time, meant that it was ripe for the unscrupulous denizens of the interwebs to gain an unfair advantage.

    Upon release of the game, it was proven just how unfathomably bad it was, that the entire game design direction changed.

    These same tools that bad Pokémon GO players developed, are also used with Wizard's Unite. A game that does not make a whole lot of sense to Spoo f with. But they did, and again, the game design direction changed, and I lost interest in what it had become.

    This season, with the costs of the Totems, on the surface, appears to be quite aggre ssive. And helps to solve the issue of cheating. Keeping in mind that there are bad actors who use 3rd party software to gain an unfair advantage. Some middle ground had to be carefully considered.

    My opinion is that it still doesn't prevent players from gaining lots of VP with the Totems. So I am skeptical about how it will play out this season, whether the high cost of Spoo fing with the Totem will become a good enough deterrent for bad actors, and how the strategy of managing one's economy will work out.

    For a start, this thread alone shows that it definitely has hit a spot with those who used Totems explicitly to win cells. Spending more money to keep on winning.

    Pay-to-Spoo f with Totems is, still an unfair advantage to those who do not have a lot of money to spend, even though it is a feature. To me was obvious that it wasn't fully thought out about the implications of it.

  • HarbajarHarbajar Member Posts: 1 ✭✭

    I'm another that dislikes this change. I've long felt the token to move within the circle of sight(lack of better term) is silly. To move over significant distance is fair.

    Maybe 5 to move outside the search area (ie a km in the real world or more) nost for RCs in the range, 1 to enter a settlement in that area with a 5 min cool down (as mentioned above). Yes, if one is smart and plays strategically they can move around this but should we not reward that style of play?

    I could cover chunks of my region by sneaky moves but not totally dominate.

    I understand the means to balance things...but the cost is too much.

  • WindWind Member Posts: 460 ✭✭✭✭

    This change is great. Just a little more balancing and itll be fine

    i pretty much only use it early season to set up my home settlements from heavy building farming

    be able to harvest is a luxury bonus which i would have to readjust my playing plan therefore only in emergency situation as i will have the totem in range of my two settements. Still wont use any on RCs.

    just needs to be more conservative and not be lazy lol

  • CuddlepieCuddlepie Member Posts: 35 ✭✭

    Looks like I’ll be writing in to support to refund my totem tokens each time I have to spend the extra 15 to re-enter the settlement when the game hangs/crashes or when the resources don’t update properly and hence I can’t build/trade properly and require an app restart. And this happens O.F.T.E.N.

  • SerendipSerendip Member Posts: 54 ✭✭

    @Grogyan I still, genuinely, don't understand your concerns.

    First up, I was also early access for PoGo and I was a Beta player for HP:WU and I very well remember the issues that spoofers caused early on in PoGO. I think that's now been resolved to a large extent - partly due to the introduction of the remote raid passes which legitimises anyone hopping in to any gym that a friend invites them to and removes any advantage spoofers may have had there.

    I suspect we're coming from different philosophical viewpoints. I think games like these should be made as accessible as possible for as many as possible (urban, rural, remote, disabled, caring responsibilities, income limited - whatever) because I think that encouraging a diversity in the player base keeps the game vibrant and viable for longer. When the game is built to suit only one type of person you only get one type of interactions and it becomes boring quickly. And when players start to leave the game due to finding it difficult to play it then impacts those who are left - have a look at how the upper levels of the Knight Bus in HP:WU have become a hollow echo chamber in recent months due to the decline in the player base.

    I don't understand why you consider players using a legitimate in-game function is spoofing. Or are you saying that there is also spoofing occurring and they're combining the use of the totems/tokens with it?

    Even if players are spoofing to somehow gain extra VP why would I care? The game isn't currently set up in such a way that I need to compare myself to anyone else's progress - just to my own progress from the previous season. VP doesn't roll over from season to season and there is no PvP, no raids, no player battle league, no in-game friendship system, no guilds, no teams - just the broad affiliation with bears/wolves/eagles. These features may come and if they do and if actual spoofing is occurring then, yes, at that point it would be an issue. But the CWE devs have time to work out how to deal with that.

    I was actually always impressed when I saw they'd built in the totem/token functionality. I saw it as a really positive tool for accessibility and diversity. It gives someone stuck at home - due to disability, Covid, or extreme weather events (like is currently happening in Texas) - the chance to keep the game ticking over in a small way.

    And if someone chooses to spend actual $$$ to buy extra tokens why would that concern me? Instead, I'd give them a big thumbs up, and my thanks, for supporting the devs and for helping sustain the game.

    I haven't spent any money to buy totem tokens but I've definitely used the ones I've earned (thru the Gilda quests etc) as much as I possibly can each season to build up whatever settlement I've decided to focus on for that season. Not sure how that helps me 'win a cell' or how it gives me an 'unfair advantage' but then neither of those things were goals for me.

    Finally, to be totally clear I have never spoofed/location cheated in any of the Niantic games I've played, nor would I have the faintest clue how to.

  • CatAnDogCatAnDog Member Posts: 40 ✭✭

    If there are cheaters spoofing, they can access all settlements WITHOUT using a single totem token. I really don't get the logic why totem cost (low or high) has anything to do with cheating/spoofing, which @Grogyan has always been complaining about.

    The really bad update here is the depreciation of tokens that we have saved up over the last few seasons from the hard quests.

  • AjanHukkaAjanHukka Member Posts: 480 ✭✭✭

    I don’t see any connection with totem and spoofing. Totem actually may decrease spoofing. That whole argument is just silly without any proof. I wish to not see that pointless thing again and again. 🤷‍♂️

    But you remember that originally you got only 3 free totem tokens a day. That was the base state. 6 tokens was just a test just like this. This always happens that when you overtune something, people get upset with the nerf, people always think about their own convenience and not balance of the game, @CATANdominik . 😅

    I wouldn’t recommend anyone playing geolocation game basing all their gameplay just on a feature that let’s one to play from the couch. It’s the exact opposite of the games idea. I think that players who can regularly play at good spots do have should have some advantage to those who just resort to sit in home.

  • GrogyanGrogyan Member Posts: 467 ✭✭✭

    Pay-to-Spoo f with Totems is, still an unfair advantage to those who do not have a lot of money to spend, even though it is a feature. To me was obvious that it wasn't fully thought out about the implications of it.

    So using a specific game feature is now spoofing because you do not know how to use them effectively as them. 🙄

    • Quite the opposite, I Know how to fully maximize them, was the whole reason I raised it as a massive problem.

    You know very well though Ingress, just how bad spoofing has been. Please stop to think what would happen if in Ingress, the Drone would be used to score Mind Units. Scoring (potentially unlimited) VP with the Totem, is the very same example, but actually it is in use.

    It would utterly destroy it. Ingress would cease to be a strategy game.

    Certainly, I would stop playing.

     Totem actually may decrease spoofing

    • Totems if tuned well would reduce 3rd party spoofing. Unfortunately, neither before this change, and since the change, I do not see Totems as tuned. Spent every season watching every single cell I pass through (that isn't a CBD cell) and realizing that (Totem) spoofing had become rampant.

    @Serendip I honestly don't know how many strategy games you've played. So it is difficult for me to describe just how bad spoofing can be to strategy games until you been attacked by them, repeatedly.

    The game balance as a whole, has been on a steady decline since it was released as a beta.

    The really bad update here is the depreciation of tokens that we have saved up over the last few seasons from the hard quests

    • The value of the tokens going up, by that amount for Settlements, is really high. Hence I will watch local play though the season, in every cell I travel though to see if it is as detrimental as others claim.

    I hope things will be better. But a fair game it hasn't ever been!

    Last season I had a really fun battle with a yellow player, I lost, I saw minimal usage of his Totem throughout the season.

    Much the same as I had with a local player near me before the Totems were introduced.

    My initial suggestions for changing the Totem

    • No scoring of VP. (Unpopular but enables the Totem for assisting in Resource Gathering only)
    • Reduce the cost of visiting Settlements to 7 Tokens, no cost to enter
    • Reduce the cost of moving to a Resource Centers to 3 Tokens. Limit of 3 times to use Resource Center, before the Totem should be moved, would would bring the counter to visit the new Resource Center to 3 times
    • Remove buying Totem Tokens from the in app store. (I know this is unpopular, but it would prevent abusing the Totem for an unfair advantage, proportional to how much one can spend (like what it was before the current season))
    • Reduce the Daily amount of tokens. This means one has to be cautious on the usage of Totems
    • Add Totem Token tile to your Golden Settlement

  • BaggsBaggs Member Posts: 25 ✭✭

    Also... increasing the cost of genuine players using the totem IN NO WAY stops anyone who's actually spoofing from continuing to do so... so this change literally doesn't impact cheaters...

    Now, if the developers want us to value totem points more, and get us to buy them (after seeing from our game play that we all use them heaps) then I can totally understand that point of view... this is their business. But how do you claim that totem = cheating... when EVERY single player can get the same amount daily?

    Totem use doesn't equal spoofing because everyone has access to it. Its therefore not an unfair advantage... its a universal advantage, to be used by the most strategic players!!!

    I could just as ridiculously claim that anyone who uses a mini game is cheating... mini games ruin CWE! Real players only swipe resource centres... same stupid logic.

  • MykanMykan Member Posts: 68 ✭✭✭

    Thinking more about this I think something more like below would be more reasonable and keeping other things equal.

    • 10 totems for a settlement
    • 5 totems for a resource
    • 3 totems for discovering (max of 5 totems if 3 is too low)
    • 1 totem for moving

    If possible see if personal and gold settlements could be cheaper, say 5 totems. The use of these is limited and the investment especially for the gold settlement is significant so having a cheaper cost to access those investments might be an option

    @Grogyan Out of curiosity, how on earth can you tell if someone is using a totem in a region? I haven't seen anything in game to distinguish this, do you have a tool to help you do this? I travel around a number of different regions and wouldn't have a clue if someone is using a totem or not. How can you tell the difference between my visits through a region dumping VP like crazy or sending a totem. This almost seems to border on privacy concerns if you can tell peoples movements like that, or is it just a hunch?

    From my experience I drop far more VP in a region from actually visiting it then I do with a totem. The totem for me is about resource gathering and managing my caps on resources/buildings/mini games.

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