KLONDIKE, Club Penguin Army Headquarters- By the time this post is released, it will have been one year since the official launch of Project: Conquest. It begs the question: how did this tournament change the course of the army community?
On the 21st of May, 2021, CPAHQ announced the heavily-teased Project: Conquest, a competition that was a hybrid between a tournament and a World Map, which has been a staple for CPPS-era army organizations. Project: Conquest was billed as the main event of CPAHQ’s summer plans. With the server draft slated for June 5th, the competition was set to last virtually an entire month as it concluded on July 3rd. This was a huge ask of competing armies- to allow an entire month to revolve around a tournament. Combined with the community still experiencing the fallout from March Madness 2021, the tournament did not see every army participate. The Rebel Penguin Federation, the Ice Warriors, and the Help Force all refused to participate as a consequence of the mishandling of March Madness.
Project: Conquest was the result of the reluctance from the CPAHQ Administration to open up a standard World Map. On multiple occasions, the admins of CPAHQ made their disapproval of the typical world map known. This animosity towards the concept stemmed from the fact that maps would end up stagnating and lacked the typical action that the army community saw in the Disney army community. This- in combination with Club Penguin Army Network running their own World Map- made the administrators resort to coming up with a new idea that served the same purpose as a map does.
As CPAHQ has made clear on multiple occasions, the server map of days past is something that we deemed unsatisfactory for the standards we would like to uphold here. In addition to this, when the server map is practiced, it loses it’s appeal over time. The idea of the server map is extremely exciting, but that excitement wanes since activity is never guaranteed. With Project: Conquest, we feel that the competition takes the best pieces of certain ideas and rolls them into one.
-DMT, CPAHQ Director in Chief
Of course, the competition did not run completely smoothly. The first hiccup took place when Special Weapons and Tactics resigned from the tournament to focus on Legends Cup XI, coincidentally resigning as an investigation of allies usage was being conducted by the gamemasters. Then, the Magma Clan announced their closure after the conclusion of the second week, finishing with an 0-4 record. The biggest of all, though, would occur on the 22nd of June, 2021.
CPAHQ released an official statement after complaints of misconduct were lodged against the Templars of Club Penguin. The misconduct mainly consisted of harassment of opposing leaders in Direct Messages, which was too graphic to include in the post. This resulted in DeeP, a member of the Templars, being banned from attending any Project: Conquest event. Furthermore, the Templars were forced to forfeit their scheduled invasions during that week, seriously hurting their chances to win the tournament. Then, just two days later, the Templars raided a P:C battle between the People’s Imperial Confederation and the Golden Troops. The raid included many more vulgar tactics, which was against both the rules of the tournament and the rules of Club Penguin Rewritten. The heightened toxicity, which was labeled as insubordination by the CPAHQ Administration, saw the ousting of the Templars from Project: Conquest.
This was an undeniable damper on the hype surrounding Project: Conquest, as the Templars were in contention for winning the entire tournament. At the time, the army rarely reached the heights that they do in todays world, so them going toe-to-toe with the Army of Club Penguin was a surprise at the time. To make matters worse, the Water Vikings announced their temporary closure on the same day the raid took place. As a result of all of the departures experienced, the gamemasters made the quick decision to assign all ‘free land’ to the remaining armies. This was done to encourage army versus army combat, rather than armies scheduling free land invasions for easy wins. Thus, the tournament persisted until it’s natural conclusion.
After the Templars exit, many were surprised that the tournament still came down to the final week. The Silver Empire were giving the Army of Club Penguin a run for their money after successfully invading a server from both the Water Vikings and the Doritos of Club Penguin in the third week. Going into the final week, they held a one server lead over ACP. Though they won both of their invasions against the Golden Troops and a lone freeland server, SE lost both of their defenses against the Clovers. The final standings saw the Army of Club Penguin on top.
The Silver Empire were the ‘odd men out’ when the participants for Project: Conquest were announced. Although a major army like the Water Vikings and the Templars, many thought those two would place over SE, referencing WV’s and TCP’s battle experience and SE’s lack thereof. In spite of this, they delved into the strategy side of P:C, making sure the servers they drafted were not bordering servers owned by the Army of Club Penguin. This gave the Silvers the opportunity to build an Empire (pun intended), and they ran with it, winning all four of their battles in the first week. In week two, they successfully invaded Parka from SWAT, tying their server count with the Templars and the Doritos. On June 18th, ACP and their feared AUSIA division set forth to invade Funny Bone, but were surprised to find that the Silver Empire were able to eek out a draw, keeping the server. Hours later, they invaded Nisyros to match DCP’s invasion of Sabertooth. The Silvers launched an aggressive offensive in the following week, making quick work of defenses from WV and DCP while nullifying GT’s invasion of Pumpkin Patch. Heading into week four, they were the sole leaders with 12 servers. Instead of invading ACP head on, SE opted to invade servers that they were virtually guaranteed to win, scheduling a battle with GT and a freeland siege. If the Silver Empire could successfully defend at least one of Funny Bone or Dragon Alley from the Clovers, they would guarantee themselves as tournament champions. When the dust settled, they emerged just behind after a brilliant month-long run.
-Silver Empires tournament in review, first posted HERE
Upon the conclusion of Project: Conquest, the community was fairly divisive on how to feel about the tournament. While most agreed that it was a fun experience, many had questions about the sustainability of such a lengthy competition. Moreover, the overall fatigue accrued by the tournament was something that was mentioned the most. In fact, a common criticism pointed out by those who did not like P:C was that many armies saw a decline after the tournament. Though the correlation is debatable, it was undeniable that the demands of Project: Conquest weighed heavy on both leaders and troops. To gather feedback in a concise manner, CPAHQ released ‘Exit Surveys’ designed to find out what was well received and what wasn’t. Now, one year later, it is fair to begin examining the effect of Project: Conquest on the community, if any.
The impact of the tournament was felt very quickly when the Army of Club Penguin shockingly resigned from Legends Cup XI, the marquee event of the summer. It was an audacious move for the Project: Conquest champions, who cited their displeasure with the ‘standard’ tournament format; the standard being a single elimination tournament seeded by the Top Ten standings. The decision sparked even more debate than Project: Conquest did, even earning itself an editorial written by former CPAHQ writer Rowan Alden. Ultimately, the leaders of ACP specifically mentioned Project: Conquest in their statement, making it clear that the innovative nature of the tournament influenced this decision.
However, our current team have been active within the community for some time now, and have therefore seen and participated in a lot of tournaments. With the seedings for each tournament being very similar each time, albeit perhaps due to a stagnant “top four”, we find it difficult to be excited for this. Having said that, we do hope to continue seeing and participating in more innovative tournament formats, such as the CP Army HQ’s Project: Conquest.
-Excerpt from ‘Withdrawal From The Legends Cup XI Tournament’, written by former ACP Commander Max
During CPAHQ’s “Night of Debauchery”- their summer awards show- Project: Conquest came in second place in the “Best Tournament” category. The aforementioned Legends Cup XI received 111 votes, more than doubling P:C’s total of 53 votes. In addition to this, the battles from the tournament that were included in the “Best Battle” category failed to place on the podium, once again being beaten out by battles from LCXI alongside the final of Challengers Cup 2, an S/M army tournament. Though the summer awards are voted on solely by the community, it was a damning piece of evidence that Project: Conquest lacked the certain ‘oomph’ that community-wide tournaments pack. The absence of three of the five major armies at the time was certainly felt.
On November 14th, 2021, former Director in Chief Sidie9 announced the launch of the first ever CPAHQ map. By this point, a few months had passed since Project: Conquest came to its conclusion, and many were beginning to wonder what the next step was for CPAHQ when it came to having something resembling a map. The course of action decided upon was a revamped version of the map that the community was used to. Though it shared many features akin to maps of previous eras, it also introduced a League Table. The goal of the table was to track the performance of armies on the map by awarding points for winning land battles, with a Top Ten point incentive thrown in.
The concept of a map created by Club Penguin Army Headquarters has been in discussion for months without end, even before I was first hired as Associate Director. It was decided that generic maps were flawed in too many ways, including eventual stagnation and the existence of too many servers. The administration never reached a consensus, using Project: Conquest as a means to test potential alternatives to the traditional map model. As of recently, however, CPAHQ has reconsidered the concept of a map and brainstormed ideas. After these discussions concluded it was decided that we would host our own map, featuring 100 servers.
-Sidie9, Former CPAHQ Director in Chief
When it came to features carried over from Project: Conquest, the selection was little. The map carried the same functionality that the previous map for the tournament did, minus the hexagonal shapes. The ability to name servers whatever the holding army desired was brought to the map as well. That is pretty much where the list ends. It’s hard to say here that P:C had an influence on the map. Though it was definitely something the administration had in mind when attempting to build a map for the future, it was just as apparent that the main features of Project: Conquest were simply too strenuous to turn into a 24/7 thing. This fact removed the possibility of most features exclusive to the tournament being applied to a normal map.
Since then, CPAHQ has debuted three new concept tournaments in 2022, all one-day affairs. The first tournament, the New Year Bonanza was held on January 16th. The tournament saw eight armies battle for thirty minutes, with the twist being that the armies did not know who they would be facing in each room. The most notable thing that took place during the tournament was the participation of the Help Force, who partook in a CPAHQ-ran event for the first time since March Madness 2021. Their return was not triumphant, though, as the Templars took home the major army trophy while the Fire Warriors took the S/M army trophy. Overall, the tournament was received very well.
Less than a month later, on February 15th, CPAHQ held the Small-Medium Free For All, which saw four S/M armies battle each other all at once across three rooms. Though the tournament was viewed as a good time by most community members, the battle ended in a 3-0-0-0 sweep for the Silver Empire, much to the chagrin of the Fire Warriors, who felt they should have won the first room.
After a pause on tournaments due to March Madness 2022, CPAHQ returned with the Scavenger Challenge on the 22nd of May. The tournament- the most audacious of the three held by CPAHQ in 2022- combined elements of armies completing specific tactics while battling their opponent, accumulating points as they go. This also marked the first competition on Club Penguin Army Battleground. Though there was much anticipation for the tournament, some questioned the concept as a whole, labelling it as gimmicky. This resulted in a lower-than-expected turnout, with just four armies participating. The playing field was narrowed down to two when the Silver Empire announced their closure, prompting the Lime Green Army to drop out. In the battle between the Water Vikings and the Templars, users on both sides struggled to hold a connection on CPAB, severely effecting the reception surrounding the tournament. The Templars went on to take the victory.
In summary, when one looks over the course of the community for the past year, it may be hard to see how Project: Conquest has effected the community since its conclusion. Though no tournament similar has come out since, the notion of P:C has been felt across the community. From the Army of Club Penguin committing a daring act in the hopes of seeing more innovative tournaments, to the administration of Club Penguin Army Headquarters prioritizing developing new concepts, P:C awoke a desire for some members in the community. A desire for something that is different than what armies have been used to for the past decade. Perhaps this is the true takeaway of P:C. For a competition that was received well but had logistical issues, it may simply just be too much to ever put on with a wider scope. But, it showed everyone that armies do not have to put themselves in a box when it comes to how they battle each other.
It is yet to be seen if a tournament like Project: Conquest will ever grace the headlines of the army world again. For some, that would be totally fine. The thrills that come with classic tournaments such as the Legends Cup and March Madness may never fade. But for others, one question has always been in there mind since June of 2021: why stop there?