So, it’s been a week, and now that the dust has settled after the latest Iron Waifu, Conash and I are here with guest commentator Orifalcon the discuss the contest and what conclusions we can draw from it!
NoMoshing: I’m a little surprised that Larelle managed to make it this far. If you had asked me a month ago who I thought would have had enough gas in the thank to defeat Brigandine, I would have been hard pressed to pick someone out. I had been cheering on Chimei as she was the best shot (I thought) of taking out Brig ahead of the finals. Yet, here we are.
That said, Larelle absolutely deserves the throne for a year. As one of the earliest characters added to the game, she’s been idling for new content for awhile. Not 100% sure yet what her Love Quest will entail, though I imaginee it will require a return to the Mourning Wood and fighting some undead.
Conash: I’m not surprised by the result, even before the tournament I was predicting that if the bracket allowed we’d see Larelle make it to the finals, and after seeing Brig get weighed down by some prize apathy it makes sense.
Orifalcon: Tsundere + Early Introduction + Outstanding Love Quest = Iron Waifu is a formula that has now withstood three years of testing.
We entered IW18 with a group of seven (Brigandine, Larelle, Kyrie, Bronwyn, Yamamaya, Doll, and Raina) who had only ever lost to past champs or each other, so Tier 1 seemed clear. Three got swept away in the first round and the other four made up the semifinals, which reflects that this was a tournament with a weird start and a standard finish. Larelle strapped on her rhinestone glove and danced her way through a sleepy quarter before holding up under pressure when the matches started getting less predictable. Her prizes were good, her fans were loud, and her wins were convincing. A worthy Iron Waifu indeed.
Impact of Rewards
NoMoshing: I’ll be honest: it was a huge relief to me to have it all out there and not having people ask me about who gets what reward. It also kept the speculation down, meaning that the voting wasn’t moved by things like “maybe if Evanie wins, she’ll become a party member” and that sort of thing, which might produce unrealistic expectations….
I think some people are confused over why the Iron Waifu tournament is structured the way it is. It’s not simply supposed to be a popularity contest- if that was my intention, I’d throw up all the characters in the game on a big ol’ list and ask everyone to pick their favourites. The way Iron Waifu is laid out, it gets every player to consider every character in the game, maybe rethinking their opinions based on another player’s opinions. It gets people talking and engaged in the future of Harem Collector. And it provides me with important data about how people feel about the characters in the game!
Conash: Here we saw several interesting developments I think. Some characters who typically get ignored got more of a push than usual, characters who already had love quests in the game got a fairer shake as people had something tangible to latch onto other than pure speculation, and there were less people assuming that if a character won they’d join the harem this fall meaning that less people were setup for disappointment if their waifu did win. That said, I did also find it interesting that despite that, a lot of the round 1 matches seemed to have a few incorrect assumption about a given character’s prize with some round 2 matches indicating to me some surprise when people saw their potential prizes posted in the actual thread. All in all, I feel that it helped level the playing field than just having a prize that people didn’t know what it would be for many of the people.
Orifalcon: The “storyline bump” and “#savetheelves” accounted for several of the tournament’s early surprises but didn’t quite have the momentum to withstand rising vote totals and the more concentrated strength of Round 2 competitors. Still, they helped give us the tournament’s craziest foursome (Meiriona/Florine in Round 2? Said no one ever), and relegated the poor maids to the spot normally kept by non-harem girls without French accents.
The “love quest blues” was seemingly the only unwritten rule that didn’t get a bit banged up this year. The added consideration of updated art didn’t seem to help Meline, Penelope, or Elaiya, and having it may have even booked the normally resistant Yamamaya an early trip to the green room for eliminated waifus. One shouldn’t get too upset about their #1 having received enough special attention that she already has what most girls are fighting for, but we still do because (insert waifu here) is amazing and logic be damned!
Maids Performing Poorly
NoMoshing:The people have spoken, and the maids need work. Well, everything in the game needs work, but the maids really stood out to me as the losers this year- usually at least one maid manages to stand out as performaing really well. So expect more to be done with them in the future- not, perhaps, a unique collection sidequest (as much as I love putting those in the game…) but at least chat dialogue and some character development.
Conash: Seeing all of the maids aside from Nerys knocked out in round 1 was surprising to me. While they’ve never really been heavy-weights, you typically see 2-3 of them making it to round 2 at least. Hopefully a few plans that we have in the works will help put up a bit of a stronger ‘Maid presence’ next year.
Orifalcon: Speaking of the green room for eliminated waifus, I hear it was especially bumping this year since all the maids arrived early and organized one heck of a party. I’m honestly not too surprised here, as they’ve never been powerhouses. Prior to this year they had a not terrible record of 7-9, but those wins include victims like Lola the Axe, the Genie, Queen Regal, and apathy!Meline. This year their matchups allowed the rise of the storyline bump to coincide with the fall of the maids.
A big issue facing them is inherent in the topic; voters with a tendency to think of them as “the maids” rather than unique personalities. This also explains why Renfeld and Nerys have been the better performers, as it’s easy to forget they’re maids at all. Hopefully more voters will explore Randi the masochist and the interesting dichotomy of Violet/Lilac (I’ll always do my best for you/my current owner, respectively) and give them a bit of a closer look next year.
NoMoshing: I was very gratified to see Quinta do much better this year. I love princesses, especially when I get to H them, so I’m excited by the eventuality of adding in Quinta. I’m also happy to see so many people get engaged with the storyline and are looking forward to see the next steps unfold in the Kellos invasion quest. Other than that, there isn’t much else to say.
I don’t mind the River Nymph taking over as poorest performer, although she is a good candidate for getting a redo soon.
Conash: This was VERY encouraging to see, both for how it expressed people’s growing interest in the story-quests (which sometimes even surpassed their desire for a love quest) but also given how back in 2016 she scored a lot worse than I feel she should have due to an unlucky round 1 match. She still has a lot of room to grow in people’s hearts, but I’m glad to see that people are still generally interested in her, especially after a lot of people were disapointed that she didn’t make an appearance in 2017.
Orifalcon: A 1550% vote increase is rather impressive, even more so considering that Quinta only received one additional in-game scene in the two years since her 2016 face plant. The comments seemed split between “Kellos Invasion” and “Princess Fetish” as far as causes go, but it was certainly an exciting kickoff.
Unfortunately, Quinta’s awesome comeback story dovetailed right into the least awesome story of the tournament: f-ing cheater(s). With the benefit of hindsight, Quinta has the strongest (though by no means an ironclad) case to be made about being tagged with a dirty L, and it would have been nice to see how far she could go on her merits.
With Quinta redeemed, the River Nymph takes over as most embarrassing performer, as Larelle only surrendered 5 votes to her in their 2016 match. So stay tuned for the Nymph Reclamation Campaign in IW19.
NoMoshing: Nothing is set in stone about next year, but we’re planning to have at least one new candidate who might get added in the mix, plus Hanelore, who was introduced in the latest backer update. So, we have a guaranteed replacement for Larelle, and another new girl coming up, for which I could comfortably axe either Shally, Doralice or Evanie.
Maybe the situation will change in a year’s time, but we’re almost at a locked, all-harem roster for Iron Waifu.
Conash: I’ve got a few names that I’ve got my eyes on in particular, but I imagine that NoMoshing is already thinking them too. Knowing who to cut for 2019 will be pretty hard as we continue to sure up the weak ends of Iron Waifu every year. That said, my general philosophy is that of the lower end of characters we should chop the characters who we, as the developers, don’t have as good of a prize to offer to. The June poll of the month seems to starkly agree that continuing to offer a prize, in some form at least, is preferred and so I want to make it so that if your preferred girl wins that we give you the best possibility of feeling satisfied with the prize, though popular girls who already have their love quests won’t be looking at the chopping block because their ability to do well despite prize apathy speaks highly of them.
Orifalcon: I suppose it depends on how many characters you need added next year. If it’s three newbies, like this year, then I’d probably bench Shally and Evanie. They’ve had three shots, we’ve seen them get a win, but their ceilings probably lie under the “surprise quarterfinalist if she draws the right foursome” level (the Dora-line, if you will). With an eventual harem count of 35, 2019 is also unique in that it could feature only current or future haremettes, if they’ve all been introduced by then, which would be an easy way to go. If you need to add a lot, then maybe it’s time for legitimate consideration about retiring the fully complete characters: Nerys, Yamamaya, and Clementine, if your homes are up to date on pitchfork insurance.
NoMoshing: I was happy to see Doralice do so well. And I’m always happy to see people get so engaged with the story, since that’s my main contribution to the game at this point. I was also pretty pleased to see Kyrie get so far, despite having been a controversial character in the game so far.
In unpleasant surprises, I was dismayed to see Chimei get crushed by Brig right at the beginning of the game. I like Chimei a lot, and as I’ve said elsewhere, I’m very excited to doing more with her when I get the opportunity.
Conash: There were two big surprises that stood out to me that might not have stood out to many others. The first being Florine’s growth in popularity, while Orifalcon had pointed out that Florine has actually done pretty well, Florine does carry her share of anti-voters and a few parts of her personality can rub people the wrong way, but her winning pretty thoroughly over both Doll and the elf Orgy had left me pretty confused and wondering if she might make it to the finals… Only for Kyrie to overcome her once again bucking my expectations. The other big surprise for me was how Yamamaya has seemed to earn a bit more apathy this year. Originally I had thought that her loss to Meiriona was elf orgy hype, but the round 2 results for Meiriona and Nerys seem to suggest that hype wasn’t too big to begin with, what really drove it home though was Yamamaya coming in 3rd in the tie-breaker she was in. In past years Yama’s been a pretty strong competitor despite already having her love quest for all three tournaments, which has shown a pretty strong following behind her beyond just Zera, but losing in a tie-breaker where prizes are off the table tells a very different tale for this year…
Orifalcon: It’s surprising to see that no competitor is carrying a record of 0-2, as all four girls who were at risk won their opening matchup. Natya and Bell join 8 past competitors at 0-1, and Serade and Gargan are the unlucky duo at 0-3.
I’m surprised, for the second year, with Raina’s downward trajectory in Iron Waifu. Not from a trends standpoint, as she had to face Bronwyn, but more regarding Raina herself. She ticks off 2 of the boxes on the winning formula and has the same “need to be conquered” factor that dominated this year’s semifinals. She faces no prize apathy, and yet her descent is even steeper than Yamamaya’s. Maybe she isn’t quite tsundere enough, but I’d expect her to have a bigger following, particularly amongst the lurkers. Perhaps Nekochan was right, and there’s an anti-cinnamon roll agenda in play.
Predictions for 2019
NoMoshing: I’m hesitant to outright saw who I think will win Iron Waifu, but I will predict this: I think, because the body of work leading up to IW 2019 will be digging through Larelle and Therese’s immense backlogs of H, that people will be hungry for someone truly unique and different getting the crown. This will affect the polling by having even more upsets and surprises, with a strong showing by girls like Florine and Jonagold.
Conash: While I’m sure that Brigandine is the expected winner, and I imagine we’ll see her making it to at least the semi-finals once more, honestly I don’t see her winning 2019 if her prizes are the same as they were this year. Perhaps she could get to the finals and give her opponent a good run for their money but prize based voting tends to play a big part in these things, and the closer you approach the 31st the more it does as fence sitters start seeing less of, “Which girl do I like more?” and more “What do I want added to the game first?” As such, I’m certainly going to make an effort to try to get us to the point where we might be able to promise a bit more for her prize but only time will tell if that will happen or even if that’s even needed.
Orifalcon: Just like this year, IW19 will be partly ruled by the dueling Brigandine questions. Is there anyone left who can beat Brig? Can Brig win “the big one” when facing the most popular, long established girl with a love quest on offer? A year is a good amount of time for more in-game characterization and memorable moments to help win over a few more lurkers, which is all she would have needed this year, so I see no reason not to remove her #1 overall seed label now.
Unless she rolls a top-6 competitor, I’d predict Serade gets her first win next year. She gave eventual-finalist Kyrie a good match, and could receive a push for sympathy votes as she’s 0-3. Unfortunately, Gargan’s niche kink is still probably too heavy, so I’d predict my personal #4 drops to 0-4.
If the winning formula holds up again, I predict a Bronwyn victory, followed by a concerted push to ban all tsunderes from future Iron Waifus.