As the Ultros League Season 3 announcement date approaches, work has been proceeding on refining the updated racing flags for Season 3. We’ve decided to update the flags for primarily two reasons. First, we wanted to improve consistency from seed to seed. Second, and more importantly, Worlds Collide v1.2 is due to be released before the start of S3, and with that comes new flags and new options!
To that end, we’ve put together a summary of the changes you can expect in season 3, along with the reasoning behind each of the changes. Please note that this is very much an early sneak preview and some of these changes may not be final, so consider this an open beta test. Also note that these flags can only run on the development branch of WC – you can’t roll these flags on the current website! For now, the easiest way to try out the new Season 3 flags is through seedbot, using the !preset chuponsdelightnext command.
Also, it should be emphasized that for the most part, these are all fairly incremental changes and intended as tweaks to the overall standard experience. The intent is not to make transformative changes to the standard flag experience; despite the changes suggested here, the goal is that the flagset will still feel and play like “vanilla” WC.
Summary of changes
- Objectives: Magitek Upgrade -> Complete Magitek Factory Finish check (new flag!)
- Commands: Magitek removed from Excluded Commands
- Party: Rages – Start Rages 25-35 (was 20-30)
- Magic: Espers – Spells 2-5 (was 1-5)
- Magic: Espers – Bonus Chance 0.82 (was 0.68)
- Magic: Natural magic – Randomize Spells set to True (was set to False)
- Magic: Spells – MP Random Percent (75-125) (new flag!)
- Items: Start Tools to 1 (was 0)
- Items: No Breakable Rods set to False (was True)
- Items: Expensive Breakable Rods set to True (new flag!)
- Items: Expensive Super Balls set to True (new flag!)
Breakdown of changes
Objectives: Magitek Upgrade -> Complete Magitek Factory Finish check (New)
Commands: Magitek removed from Excluded Commands
For balance reasons, Magitek has been removed from standard racing for most of its life since being introduced to Worlds Collide. Typically, Magitek becomes a fairly dull option when available, with TekMissile in particular being a very strong option throughout a seed, to the point that a Magitek user typically eschews other more interesting options or exploiting elemental weaknesses in favour of just spamming TekMissiles at everything.
In 1.2, one of the changes is that Magitek no longer starts with all 8 abilities. Magitek users only get access to the four basic abilities (Fire Beam, Ice Beam, Bolt Beam, and Heal Force), and obtaining access to the remaining four (Confuser, X-Fer, Bio Blast, and the other one) requires completing an objective with the “Magitek Upgrade” result. In seeds with no such objective, Magitek users will be living the Vicks and Wedge life and will only ever have access to the four basic abilities.
For Ultros League, we’ve taken this opportunity to bring Magitek back into the format, and we’ve taken a similar approach to SwdTech (which also features an ability that is otherwise effectively unobtainable in a typical standard race) by tying the full Magitek ability set to completing a multi-stage check. Now, completing the full Magitek factory will unlock all 8 Magitek abilities for any characters with the command, whether they are already found or still undiscovered.
This approach means that in the early game, Magitek will “only” give access to single target Tier 2 elemental attacks and a Tier 2.75 single target heal, and unlocking the full suite will require both finding Celes and completing a check with 4 bosses and 3 fixed encounters. This provides a bit more value to one of the less popular checks in the randomizer, and avoids the previous issue of TekMissile spam dominating the early game.
Party: Rages – Start Rages 25-35 (was 20-30)
A fairly small buff to starting rage lists. Compared to Lore, Blitz, SwdTech, and Dance, the starting Rage lists are proportionally smaller than those commands (7.8% to 11.8% of potential Rages), even on the highest roll on this flag – by comparison, all of the other listed commands start with a minimum of 12.5% of their abilities unlocked.
Rage is already a command with some strong caveats (only using the listed ability 50% of the time, losing the ability to use that character for items or support, and losing targeting control being the most notable). If we assume that only ~25 rages are broadly useful, then we find that characters who only start with 20 rages will lack any good rages more than 10% of the time.
Increasing the starting rage count by 5 on either end of the range reduces the number of “no good rage” starts to around 6.75%, and generally results in players starting with at least two good rages (and a selection of between 9.8% and 13.7% of all rages at their disposal, still a relatively small subset). Given the limitations mentioned above, this helps to give Rage starts a bit more opportunity to shine and possibly lead to more situations where keeping a primary Rage user in the party through to the end is a viable choice.
Note that Rage is also receiving a small quality-of-life improvement in 1.2, with the ability used by each Rage option now displayed on the Rage menu.
Magic: Espers – Spells 2-5 (was 1-5)
Magic: Espers – Bonus Chance 0.82 (was 0.68)
In addition to progression, espers are one of the main ways players add strength to their party, through either stat gains, spells learned, or valuable summoned abilities. However, as most players know, with the No Ultima flag on, espers that would previously have had Ultima as one of their taught spells instead have that Ultima replaced with nothing. Combined with espers only providing stat bonuses 68% of the time, this means that very occasionally players would receive espers that provided no benefits whatsoever (other than the potential utility of summoning). In these situations, despite adding to progression, an esper is less of a power boost than even the worst dead check high-tier item reward, adding neither any new interesting player choices nor a rewarding gameplay experience.
This change improves the chances of finding good espers and prevents “blank” espers from occurring. Additionally, the higher chance of spells slightly increases the consistency of both availability of offensive options (more chances to roll Merton, T3 magic, etc) and support/healing (more chances to roll Life2, Cure3, Life3, Mute, etc.). This change is overall a slight buff to player power in a seed, but more importantly, it should result in slight improvements on consistency from seed-to-seed, as well as providing more impactful espers (and consequently more interesting play choices).
Some estimates on the in-game impact of this flag change (model data based on a theoretical 10,000,000 seeds rolled and rounded to whole numbers):
|Old flags||New flags||Diff|
|Avg spells per esper||3.0||3.5||0.5|
|Avg esper spells per seed (6 espers)||17.9||21.0||3.1|
|Avg esper spells per seed (9 espers)||26.8||31.5||4.7|
|Chance of Ultima eating 1+ spell in a seed (6 espers)||38%||0%||-38%|
|Chance of Ultima eating 1+ spell in a seed (9 espers)||79%||0%||-79%|
|Chance of 1+ no-spell esper in a seed (6 espers)||8%||0%||-8%|
|Chance of 1+ no-spell esper in a seed (9 espers)||17%||0%||-17%|
|Average number of espers with stat bonuses (6 espers)||4.1||4.9||0.8|
|Average number of espers with stat bonuses (9 espers)||6.1||7.4||1.3|
Magic: Natural magic – Randomize Spells set to True (was set to False)
The main original stated intention of not randomizing the natural spell lists was to increase the consistency of providing restorative magic. This is problematic for a couple of reasons:
- Only one spell list has meaningful healing magic (Terra learns Cure 2 and Life 2)
- The ‘standard’ end-game healing spell Cure 3 appears on neither list
With the increased spells per seed due to the esper buffs above, I felt it was an opportunity to revisit this flag as well. Here’s the comparison of the impact of this flag on finding curative magic. I’ve run these numbers for scenarios in which both 6 and 9 characters are found. I’ve also identified situations where the spell in question is reasonably expected to be learned by the time the player engages Kefka (I used level 40 for this cut-off), to eliminate instances where we learn Cure 3 at levels a player will never practically reach. Model data based on a theoretical 1,000,000 seeds rolled and rounded to whole numbers:
|No skip (6 characters found)||Vanilla spells||Random spells|
|Chance to find one natural magic user (6 chars)||69%||69%|
|Chance to find both natural magic users (6 chars)||17%||17%|
|Chance to find at least one Cure 3 user||0%||24%|
|Chance to find at least one Cure 3 user (learn by level 40)||0%||10%|
|Chance to find at least one Cure 2 or 3 user||43%||40%|
|Chance to find at least one Cure 2 or 3 user (learn by level 40)||17%||19%|
|Skip (9 characters found)||Vanilla spells||Random spells|
|Chance to find one natural magic user (9 chars)||89%||89%|
|Chance to find both natural magic users (9 chars)||40%||40%|
|Chance to find at least one Cure 3 user||0%||35%|
|Chance to find at least one Cure 3 user (learn by level 40)||0%||15%|
|Chance to find at least one Cure 2 or 3 user||64%||56%|
|Chance to find at least one Cure 2 or 3 user (learn by level 40)||26%||27%|
Based on this, we see that by switching from Vanilla to Random, we see Cure 2 frequency drop very slightly across the board, but a slight increase overall in the chances that we find a natural magic user with Cure 2 or 3 who will learn the spell within the scope of a real seed. Adding the potential to actually learn Cure 3, this change should overall slightly increase potential end-game HP recovery options.
For offense, this does result in a slight decrease in offense from natural magic, although this is difficult to really drill down because there’s a fair amount of subjectivity in which spells are desirable ‘endgame spells’ and which aren’t. We know T3 magic is great, but is a Pearl caster good enough for endgame? What about Meteor?
For argument’s sake, here’s the breakdown assuming the benchmark for “endgame offense” is set as T3 magic, Pearl, Flare, Meteor, and Merton:
|No skip (6 characters found)||Vanilla spells||Random spells|
|Chance to find one natural magic user (6 chars)||69%||69%|
|Chance to find both natural magic users (6 chars)||17%||17%|
|Chance to find at least one “endgame offense” user||69%||66%|
|Chance to find at least one “endgame offense” user (learn by lv 40)||60%||46%|
|No skip (9 characters found)||Vanilla spells||Random spells|
|Chance to find one natural magic user (6 chars)||89%||89%|
|Chance to find both natural magic users (6 chars)||40%||40%|
|Chance to find at least one “endgame offense” user||89%||86%|
|Chance to find at least one “endgame offense” user (learn by lv 40)||80%||63%|
Ultimately, randomized natural magic lists give you a more diverse spell selection, so natural magic casters will tend to have fewer from the “endgame offense” subset but will have at least one much of the time, and the diversity will be a bit wider than in nonrandomized lists.
At the end of the day, changing this flag results in a bit of a push, but the slight healing increases and the increased opportunity for unique (and uniquely effective) natural magic users probably lends itself to more interesting gameplay on the whole, and the slight reduction to offensive options is presumably offset by the increased spells coming from espers (per the previous section). It reintroduces healthy and relatively harmless randomness in the spirit of vanilla, which at the end of the day is really what WC is all about, isn’t it?
Magic: Spells – MP Random Percent (75-125) (New)
Not a lot to say about this one. Spell MP randomization is a long-awaited and fun new flag that injects a bit more WC-style randomness into the game, and may provide some interesting decisions or opportunities depending on MP randomization rolls. In some cases you might not notice a difference, and in other cases, you might find yourself reaching for those Gold Hairpins and Economizers that were otherwise going to be sold.
Items: Start Tools to 1 (was 0)
This is a fairly small change and mostly intended to bring Tools into parity with some of the other abilities that have both a wider number of potential options and a smaller subset that standard seeds give players. Previously, players started with:
- 12.5% to 20.8% of potential Lores
- 7.8% to 11.8% of potential Rages (or 9.8% to 13.7% with the change mentioned above)
- 12.5% to 25% of potential Dances
- 0% of potential Tools
With this change, players now start with 12.5% of Tools. This does add, on average, approximately 1281 GP of buying power to the starting inventory (from 94 GP for a 75% value AutoCrossbow all the way to 5,000 GP for a 125% value Air Anchor). However, this does not seem like an inherently bad thing. Whether or not to sell a potentially rare tool that could be impactful later for GP that will be impactful now is an interesting player choice. Additional buying power is also slightly less impactful to a seed as a result of the final flag changes…
Items: No Breakable Rods set to False (was True)
Items: Expensive Breakable Rods set to True (New)
Rods were previously removed from standard race flags for similar reasons to Magitek: flags where breakable rods were readily available quickly became centralized around buying and breaking said rods en masse. However, the introduction of the Expensive Breakable Rods flag offers an opportunity bring them back in a way that generally forces players to be a bit more strategic in their use.
Under the new flags, the base costs of these items are adjusted as follows:
- Fire Rod: 12,000 GP
- Ice Rod: 12,000 GP
- Thunder Rod: 12,000 GP
- Poison Rod: 4,500 GP
- Pearl Rod: 14,400 GP
- Gravity Rod: 15,600 GP
At these base costs, it’s difficult to rely on Rods as a primary source of damage throughout the seed, but they should remain viable as an answer to specific seed challenges or key encounters, and they provide extra strategic value in seeds with Edgar-discounted rods or with Gogo.
Items: Expensive Super Balls set to True (New)
Ah, Super Balls, the item you probably forgot was in FF6 to begin with (assuming you ever owned one in Vanilla in the first place) but has now become one of the staples of standard WC play. The issues with Super Balls have been discussed at great length on Discord, so I won’t delve too deeply here. Suffice to say, seeds where some players stumble upon Super Balls and some players do not will often result in very uneven results, and Super Balls tend to be somewhat degenerate in allowing players to sidestep challenging or tricky early games entirely. In a game where there are typically few wrong answers, almost every other answer in the early game becomes wrong the moment Super Balls enter the picture.
In terms of player experience, Super Balls elicit more feedback than probably any other single element in standard, and most of that feedback is negative. It’s unclear if anyone out there truly loves Super Balls, but we can say with absolute certainty that there are people out there who definitely hate them (or, more specifically, hate the effect their presence has on WC races).
While the original plan was to remove Super Balls altogether from UL S3, the introduction of the Expensive Super Balls flag offers an interesting middle-ground in what is hopefully a way to preserve Super Balls as a limited-use option, while still eliminating them as the race-distorting presence they are today. Limiting Super Balls certainly makes some seeds a bit harder to break into, but otherwise there are very few reasons not to hit them with the nerf bat. WC is at its best when it shuffles the iconic and memorable elements of the original in new and interesting ways, and I think few would argue that there was ever anything iconic or memorable about Super Balls. It’s time to put the gimmick-item-turned-WC-powerhouse back in its niche.
As mentioned above, the goal of these changes is not to be transformative but instead iterative, and hopefully the explanations above offer some insight into our goals in making these adjustments. The end result, we hope, will be a more balanced and consistent set of standard race flags which still embrace the healthy randomness of Worlds Collide while avoiding some of the challenges that have previously resulted in races occasionally feeling a bit too frustrating or being decided by one key find.
Don’t forget, these flags aren’t the only changes coming in S3, because 1.2 itself brings some other key changes, not the least of which is a brand new check! Mog now opens up the Narshe Moogle Defense check, providing another option to find a character, esper, or item, and giving everyone’s favourite mascot a bit of a boost in value. There are a number of other bugfixes and quality-of-life improvements coming as well, including a big time-saving tweak to the Narshe Battle check (aka Kefka@Narshe), buffs for Sketch, Control, and Capture, and much more!
The full flagstring for the S3 Beta flags is here:
-cg -oa 126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.9 -ob 184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.12 -oc 18.104.22.168.1.11.8 -od 0.1.1.11.32 -sc1 random -sc2 random -sc3 random -sal -eu -csrp 80 125 -fst -brl -slr 3 5 -lmprp 75 125 -lel -srr 25 35 -rnl -rnc -sdr 1 2 -das -dda -dns -sch -scis -com 98989898989898989898989898 -rec1 28 -rec2 27 -xpm 3 -mpm 5 -gpm 5 -nxppd -lsced 2 -hmced 2 -xgced 2 -ase 2 -msl 40 -sed -bbs -drloc shuffle -stloc mix -be -bnu -res -fer 0 -escr 100 -dgne -wnz -mmnu -cmd -esr 2 5 -ebr 82 -emprp 75 125 -nm1 random -rnl1 -rns1 -nm2 random -rnl2 -rns2 -nmmi -mmprp 75 125 -gp 5000 -smc 3 -sto 1 -ieor 33 -ieror 33 -csb 3 14 -mca -stra -saw -sisr 20 -sprp 75 125 -sdm 4 -npi -sebr -sesb -ccsr 20 -cms -frw -cor -crr -crvr 50 60 -crm -ari -anca -adeh -nmc -nu -nfps -fs -fe -fvd -fr -fj -fbs -fedc -fc -ond -rr -etn
Remember, this flagstring will only work on the dev branch of WC (i.e. it won’t work on the current ff6wc.com website), so either roll those flags with SeedBot (don’t forget the &dev argument) or, easier still, just use the !preset chuponsdelightnext command with SeedBot. Good luck!