Friday, September 9, 2022

I Should Coco! Gacha Games In Noah's Heart

Noah's Heart is, among other things, a Gacha game, although the way I play it, you might never know. The whole point of Gacha games is to encourage players to spend money trying to get the elusive, rare or ultra-rare characters they believe they need to "win". I haven't spent a cent yet and I don't plan on starting.

As a business model, it seems a particularly bad fit for the mmorpg genre, where winning is often deemed almost emblematically impossible. For Noah's Heart, it seems even more inappropriate than usual. 

Even after six weeks and seventy-six levels, the game feels very, very easy. Everything seems entirely accessible without needing to spend money on it. There are some in-game grinds if you want to do them but what mmorpg doesn't have those?

It's true that you'd probably need to make some considerable effort if you wanted to make a name for yourself in PvP. There's a ranking system with the top fifty players listed by name so I imagine it gets quite competitive. There are also some PvE progressions of the "Climb this tower that keeps getting tougher and tougher all the way to the top", which I'm guessing are the equivalent for PvE players.

If you just want to explore the gorgeous world, follow the bizarre and complicated plotlines (We're doing paintings that steal your soul this week.) or expand and decorate your house, all of which would easily fill as much time as you cared to spend, I can't see there's any need to engage with the gacha system at all.

Still, it's there and it's kind of fun, so long as it's not costing you anything. And it doesn't have to. You get a lot of Lucky Coins, each good for a free roll. I'm honestly not sure where you get them from but it must be something I do quite often; this afternoon I noticed I had two hundred and thirty seven.

Lucky Coins give you pulls from the regular draw, the Universal Card Pool, so called, I assume, because it has all the cards. (I'm guessing. I have no idea why it's called that. It might be named after the Blur song for all I know.)

I also had fourteen Miracle Coins, which you can use in either of the seasonal pools, currently Radiant
and Angel in White. Those have the latest top-flight Phantoms, Chasey Raphael and Florence Nightingale (Yes, that one.) The last pair, Sherilyn Holmes and Hertha Poirot (Go on, guess!) have already vanished, possibly into the Universal Card Pool, possibly into limbo.

Finally, I had a dozen Friendship Points, good for that many dips in the Friendship Card Pool. As I write this, that number has gone up to twenty-two. All in all, that makes a possible two hundred and seventy-three attempts, all for free.

Phantoms come in three grades: R, SR and SSR, which translate to the more comprehensible Rare, Epic and Legendary. 

When you roll, what you're hoping for is an SSR Phantom. Yet again, the terminology is lost on me. I imagine SSR stands for something but nothing I've seen in the game explains what it might be. I note Tower of Fantasy also uses the abbreviation, so maybe it's a generic in the genre.

The odds of getting any of them are completely transparent. The game explains everything in great detail, including which Phantoms are which grade and even what special abilities the SSRs have. It also tells you the odds of getting one, which are very generous at 2.5%. SR make up 27.5% of pulls and the rest, 70%, are the inaptly-named Rares.

As is the accepted practice with these things, you also get a guaranteed SSR after sixty pulls, something Belghast likes to call a Pity Pull. As you can see with those numbers, if I was so minded I could have a minimum of four SSRs for nothing by now, even if I had insanely bad luck.

As it happens, I already have two SSRs and all I've used before today are about ten Lucky Coins and my free daily Summon. Didn't I mention that? Oh yes, you get one free pull a day, too.

I have actually hit the SSR jackpot three times but I got Ave twice. That sounds like it would be annoying but in fact I could do with getting her a few more times. 

Every duplicate Phantom automatically breaks down into Shards, usually twenty or thirty. Shards are what you need to level up your Phantoms, by which I mean raise them through the star grades from no stars to (I think) six. Phantoms also have an actual level, which raises in a different way but for sanity's sake let's pretend I didn't mention that.

The amount of shards you need for each star goes up and up. You can buy them from the Mysterious Store (Don't ask...) or at Auction (Really don't ask. I seriously don't understand the Auction system at all.) but by far the most shards seem to come from duplicate pulls.

As I said, I could care less about SSRs in terms of what they bring to combat. I'm doing just fine with the crew I'm using. It's also plainly counter-productive to have too big a stable of Phantoms because of the effort required to level them up.

What I do like, though, is collecting the names. I don't know if it's intentional but the way Archosaur use slight variations on real world personalities triggers the latent collector in me. I particularly like the way they play around not just with the names but the gender and backstories of the historical and literary figures they pick. 

You don't necessarily need to Summon a phantom in the Gacha game to get to know them. Most, probably all, of them turn up as NPCs in the storyline eventually. When you get a Phantom, though, you get to read their Tale. I find these quite curious and very entertaining in the way they weave certain aspects of the real person's life story with fantastical elements befitting the magical world in which their phantom counterparts exist.

Today, finding myself in expansive mood, I decided to burn through a few of my tokens to see what I could get. I didn't spend many, just ten Lucky and four Miracle, but I was very lucky. In fact, my luck was "truly incomparable" and everyone had to know about it.

As in every game of this type that I've played, whenever a player strikes lucky, the news is blazoned across the screen for all to see. I think it's supposed to convince others the game isn't rigged and they ought to join in. Either that or to invoke such feelings of envy and ire that people get their credit cards out in spite.

It would be a stretch to say I was genuinely, incomparably lucky but I was pretty pleased with myself, all the same. I summoned my second unique Phantom and it was a really good one. Not in terms of fighting skills, although it might well be for all I know. I haven't checked that out yet. No, in terms of looks, name and story.

I got Kiko Chanel, a barely-altered doppelganger of famous fashion designer and alleged fascist sympathiser, Coco Chanel. She looks absolutely fabulous, dahling, with her handbag, fascinator and silk gloves, dressed, of course, all in black. 

I'm a bit surprised she's wearing what seems to be some kind of elaborate pants suit rather than the iconic Little Black Dress, especially since Kiko is credited with introducing that signature look to Noah's Heart just as Coco did here on Earth. It's all in her Tale, which is the longest and most elaborate I've seen so far. Someone on the dev team really likes Coco Chanel.

My problem now is levelling her. SSR Phantoms take more shards and the shards are a lot harder to find, naturally, since you aren't going to be deconstructing them by the dozen the way you might Rares or even Epics. I've only managed to get Ave to one-star quality so far, while I have two-star and three-star Rares and Epics and even one five-star Rare.

Since it dosen't make much, if any, difference to my actual gameplay, I can afford to take my time aout it. I'll carry on acumulating coins and shards at whatever pace the game chooses to give them to me and that will be fine. It's not a winning strategy for the developers, I'm sure, but it is for me.


  1. As you noticed, the scale starts at "Rare". When everything is rare, you need addictional -- I'm sorry, ADDITIONAL, unintended but let's keep that in -- levels of rarity to express how rare things are, so the next tier is Super Rare. No one wants a mere Super Rare when SUPER SUPER RARE exists. That's industry standard.

    Some games continue onward into SSSR (guess) and others branch off into UR ("Ultra Rare" or sometimes "Ultimate Rare", which depending on the game may or may not be better than SSR). I think I've seen a game or two use "HR" which is Hyper Rare and you can just tell me where THAT slots into the hierarchy, and so forth.

    Usually they also rank in stars, 1-5 or sometimes 1-6, and I know I've seen a game out there with 1-6 except for this and this and this SSR which are SEVEN stars, signifying that well, it's one better isn't it?

    I hope this has clarified, uh, something.

    1. Yep it does, thanks. I had a paragraph where I speculated as to what the R, SR and SRR might stand for and I went with Regular, Super Regular and Super Super Regular, which is basically what it is, given that Rare is the Regular! I took it out in the edit because it wasn't funny but maybe I should have left it in.

  2. This sounds really similar to Genshin Impact. The "everyday" pools to pull from, the "limited time" pools, etc. In Genshin you buy the geegaws you use to do pulls (called Wishes in Genshin) using Primogems which sound like Lucky Coins.

    I avoided Genshin for a long time because of the gacha thing so when I finally tried I was suprised to find, like you have with Noah's Heart, that you can really just ignore this system if desired. And yup, just from playing you earn Primogems & stuff.

    And also yup, what finally prompted me to get involved is just the fun of collecting the characters and reading their stories, though I don't think Genshin's are nearly as clever as those in Noah's Heart (which has me wishing NH was on console!)

    I did eventually spend $5 US for a 30-day (non-recurring) 'subscription' that earns me 90 Primogems/day plus some "crystals" which are some other form of currency... I think you use them to buy more Primogems? Anyway if I'm doing the math right, that's enough Primogems for 16 "Wishes" and there's a Pity System (that's not something Bel made up, that's a gacha term apparently) where every 10th...or 20th?? pull you are promised a 4 star or better item (stuff is rated 1-5 stars but I think Wish items start at 2 stars).

    Anyway, lest I write a whole blog post in a comment...yeah it all sounds pretty similar and oddly for me, because I don't feel like I HAVE to get involved in the gacha, I'm more likely to actually get involved. :)

    1. Yep, it's really similar to GEnshin Impact and from Bel's post to Tower of Fantasy as well. I guess all these games are as similar as WoW clones are in the West.

      I never really took to the characters in GI. I always liked my original PC much better than any of them so it annoyed me whenever I had to play as any of the others. Naturally that put me off using the whole Gacha system there.

      In Noah's Heart, I like a lot of the characters so I don't mind playing as them. Also, the whole conceit where the PC "possesses" a phantom and plays as them works much better for me psychologically - it's still my character, even though it uses the powers of someone else. Just the fact that the PC keeps their name makes a huge difference.


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