The Rise and Fall of the AXA Shield & MUFG Capsule

On a cold day in December 2014, the AXA shield entered the Ingress game world. It held (on release) a shielding of +70 and a stickiness of +70.

AXA Release Stats

 

This would stay until February of 2015 when the stickiness of shields globally changed. What was once 70 for an AXA, became an alarming 800,000 “stickiness”. This didn’t make shields unbreakable, but there was an increased difficulty with popping AXA shields off a portal. Even carefully placed Ultra Strikes would fail multiple times against the pure power of the AXA Shield.

As anomalies went on, the crucial need to hoard as many AXAs as possible became a checklist item for anomaly attendance. Anomaly attendees could look out onto an anomaly landscape and see nearly every portal littered with 4x AXA. A scary sight to see when mixed with a level 8 portal. As MUFG Capsules continued to slowly duplicate AXAs, collections of them reached into the hundreds and pesky item sellers continued to flood the market with them.

Niantic saw this shift in the game economy and decided to react in July of 2017, silently preventing any more MUFGs from being hacked. Rumors began spreading that the sponsorship deal with AXA & MUFG was over, and perhaps the AXA and MUFG items would no longer be hackable. Niantic had other plans, instead announcing the rebranding of both the MUFG Capsule and the AXA Shield.

  • AXA Shield –> Aegis Shield
  • MUFG Capsule –> Quantum Capsule
Ingress Prime version

There were changes behind the scenes throughout the years that slowly nerfed the duplication of very rare items more and more. This was in perhaps due to the huge abuse of illicit item stores. We learned in a brief announcement from Niantic that over 6,000 accounts were banned for being involved with illicit item selling. So now AXA’s (Aegis) were slowly duplicating and MUFG (Quantum) were unhackable.

January 2018 would mark the month that Quantum capsules would re-enter the game world. While still duplicating very rare items, albeit slowly, they were a powerhouse hoarding collection of everything from VRLA, durable keys, and anything marked with Very Rare label. It took about 10 months after Quantum’s were hackable, but Niantic announced that Very Rare items would no longer duplicate. This was a single line item slipped into the v2.13 release notes of Ingress Prime.

The community was outraged for a variety of reasons. MUFG was the only defense against replacing VRLA taken via a spoofed hand. MUFG collections were hoarded, because items were indeed Very Rare and thus difficult to obtain. MUFG powered the anomaly load out set for anomaly play for years, but maybe the ecosystem needed a change. We didn’t officially learn the turn-off day of very rare duplication till the January 2019 AMA.

As of December 26th, 2018 VR items no longer duplicated in Quantum Capsules. This was confirmed by our Engineering team. I’m unsure if that was the intended date or not. However, the product team did inform me that we are exploring various ways to enable the duplication of very rare items in a way that doesn’t distort the game economy negatively.
Andrew Krug, AMA – January 2019

December 26, 2018 also changed the game, changing the stickiness of Aegis (AXA) shields from 800,000 to 550,000, or roughly a 31.25% nerf. While Reddit couldn’t really agree if it felt different, a few isolated tests on our team showed that Aegis (AXA) shield was popping off quicker than prior. This would make sense, seeing how it was nerfed 31.25% in the stickiness department.

So now we have a Quantum capsule that won’t duplicate Very Rare Items and an Aegis shield in a weak light compared to its power from late 2018. It shows that introducing new items into an ecosystem can have huge effects, as this is shown in video games outside of Ingress via frequent patch updates.

The first set of anomalies post-nerf is set for next week. Collections of shields globally will decrease as both factions prepare for the battle on the ground at anomaly sites worldwide. We will be here (albeit quicker next time) covering the changes in the Ingress ecosystem.

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