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Today marks the debut of a new Grandmaster Nightfall, Proving Grounds, in a season that brought new rewards to the ultra-endgame mode, Adept weapons for GM Nightfalls, and the ability to earn Adept mods there as well.

This is in addition to the rewards GMs already offered, a bounty of Ascendant Prisms and Shards, along with constant exotic drops.

I think it’s great that GMs are a rewarding activity to run. Some of them in particular (the Glassway, the Corrupted) are some of the hardest content to ever appear in Destiny. Others (this week’s Arms Dealer, Lake of Shadows) are more easy to simply farm for materials. Many are hoping Proving Grounds will be one of those, considering it’s 2x Nightfall rewards this week.

But Grandmaster Nightfalls expose a pretty serious flaw with the entire economy of Destiny in terms of how they reward Ascendant Shards in particular.

To this point, Ascendant Shards have been the most rare material in the game. You need one to Masterwork a single piece of legendary armor, three to Masterwork an exotic. And to 98% of players, that seems like a fortune.

Previously, players could only earn Ascendant Shards by saving up for them to purchase them from Banshee for 100 cores or 10 Prisms. Or they could grind to season pass rank 100 and get three along the way.

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Then they were added as potential Flawless chest rewards in Trials of Osiris.

Then they were added as once-per-season reset rewards to Gambit and Crucible vendors.

But let me stop you right there.

It may seem like Bungie is getting more generous with Ascendant Shards as time goes on, but we have to stop and look at the perspective of how they’re earned compared to GM’s drop rate.

For instance, while it’s great that Bungie added an Ascendant Shard to say, getting through an entire Gambit reset, the math on that is just absurd. This is from u/AnghellicKarma on reddit, who did these calculations a while back:

  • During a regular season/week, if you build a 5-streak and never ever lose, you can hit max XP for a reset after ~67 matches
  • If you always lose, you will need 274 matches, and then ~20 wins (because the last rank only earns XP from a win)
  • During Triple Infamy week, you can max out rank for a reset after only ~25 matches if you never lose and maintain a 5-win streak
  • During Triple Infamy week, if you always lose, it will be 93 matches, then ~7 wins needed to hit the rank reset

So, let’s say that you Gambit matches are a blazing 5 minutes now that they’re faster, eliminating time for matchmaking, winning every game in a triple infamy weekend would still take 125 total minutes. In normal play, winning every game, 335 minutes. And clearly no one wins every match and can maintain a streak forever so really we’re talking what, 600-700 minutes, at least? Almost 12 hours of pure Gambit.

Meanwhile, farming GM Arms Dealer yesterday, I was getting a Shard every 15-20 minute run. Sometimes two. And this is not in a double rewards week.

This is not right.

I am not calling for GM rewards to be nerfed. In fact, the more I farm these and get postmasters full of Prisms and Shards I have to spend Masterworking things now, the more I realize this is the supply that most players should have.

Destiny builds really only open up when you get all 10 armor slots, and cooldowns and stats feel much better with 60 extra stat points you get from Masterworking. It takes 7 Shards and a bunch of prisms to Masterwork a set of armor with an exotic piece, but before this, I hadn’t Masterworked a single piece of exotic armor in like two years, since the cost just seemed too high. But running GMs, Shards instantly go from like the holy grail of Destiny materials to things the game actively wants you to spend pretty frequently, or else you’ll lose them because of materials caps.

This is just wildly out of balance. I am less concerned with taking away GM rewards (though 1-2 every 15 minutes for efficient runs is pretty nuts), and I’d rather Bungie focus on improving sources elsewhere. Like Dungeons and Raids do not give you shard drops at all. Giving players a single shard once a season for full Crucible and Gambit resets is absurd. I’m not saying they should be end of Vanguard strike drops or appear after Control matches, but come on, some amount of balance is necessary here so GMs aren’t the most rewarding thing to farm by a factor of 100. I get that yes, you have to grind power to get there, and they require some skill and coordination to complete. And yet is that gap so wide that 15 minutes of a GM should get you the same reward as 12 straight hours of Gambit? I don’t think so.

This is all out of whack. Bungie is making progress by throwing in more sources, but even the ones they’ve done so far only serve to highlight how enormous the gap is between GMs and everything else. And that needs to close, not by nerfing GMs per se, but by dumping more resources in many other places.

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