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little big war

April 13, 2009
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One of the boldest statements that can be made about something is stating that it needs to be saved. Suggesting that something needs to be saved can be taken as harsh and condescending at times, while at others it merely implies that something great needs help to prevent its collapse. Many generals and politicians tried to save Rome from its collapse. This was not because they thought Rome was beyond hope, but instead because they believed in Rome and what was represented by the Republic and later the Empire. WAR is not as important globally as the Roman Empire, but for those who believe in it the thought of saving it from collapse is not for the sake of its failings. Rather, those who see the immense successes within the game are desperate to prevent its shortcomings from dooming something wonderful. The more difficult issue is figuring out what precisely is holding WAR back from the success it ought to be enjoying.

The problem certainly isn’t AOE, which is something that can be analyzed and processed and rebalanced. AOE is out of hand, but it is not the central problem WAR is experiencing. The persistent problems with rebalancing the assortment of available classes also isn’t the central problem either. It is important to maintain balance, but what is telling about class balance is that even the weakest classes within WAR are being played and enjoyed. Client and server instabilities definitely need ongoing attention, but Mythic has shown excellent control in improving performance since release. No, what’s threatening to destroy WAR isn’t any of those things; It’s focus.

Currently WAR lacks a focus with which to push content forward and pull players in towards the existing content the game has to offer. Mythic’s intent was to focus WAR on RvR, or Realm versus Realm combat, as a means to promote lasting power within a game based on PVP. However, despite the intent of the developers they have designed a game which instead promotes the avoidance of PVP and thrusts PVE content to the forefront. To a large extent this is due to the decision to promote large scale PVP. While it may seem like a good idea, RvR is actually very high concept in WAR – PVP within WAR’s RvR system is depersonalized due to the ease of access to large warbands, while small groups are punished greatly if they desire to pursue any form of engagement.

It becomes difficult to process when attempting to analyze how large realm conflicts could be encouraged by small skirmishes, but the principal is that the more impact a small group can have the more likely it is that conflicts will be spread out across a large region. WAR discourages this in many ways, but the primary driving force is to add difficult PVE content to restrict the impact of PVP. The addition of groups of Hero mobs guarding the entrances of the war camps, as well as extremely high rank Champion mobs guarding outposts is a prime example. However, more revealing is that objectives in RvR areas are guarded by groups of five mobs consisting of one Hero and four Champion mobs. The exception to this is in the first tier, where they are only guarded by a single Champion with four normal mobs. This low tier model allows very small groups to have a large impact, where even single players can take an objective by themselves.

The model of allowing those small groups to have an impact quickly dissipates upon reaching the second tier, or even when staying in the first tier, but attempting to truly conquer the region. An attempt to take over the opponents war camp, or one of their other camps would instead result in being slaughtered by high ranking PVE content. When moving on to the second tier it becomes clear quickly that it takes an organized group to take undefended objectives, while it takes a well geared and well organize full party to take an undefended keep. Beyond this players will quickly find that lockout timers on objectives prevent them from being fought over for any substantial period of time. If you can’t take back an objective within three minutes, even if you ultimately destroy the opposing side, there is no way to claim victory – instead you will be locked out of recapturing the objective for fifteen minutes, making that objective dead for that period.

This becomes a greater problem when combined with the aforementioned ease of access to warbands. Because objectives are harder to capture and have long lockout timers, these large warbands serve to focus PVP on keeps which provide higher rewards and mechanical advantages to defenders. This allows warbands to simply grind PVE content to reap PVP rewards. There is little reason to spread out across the battlefield, because it is possible to capture all objectives just as the first captures comes out of the lockout phase the actual active areas within the battlefield become very limited. Were a force to spread out and capture many objectives at once, rather than be rewarded they would only serve to prevent PVP in that area at a quicker pace. This leads to a greater focus on the keep siege mechanic, which is again something that most players will find easier in a large warband.

This all means that while the games tag line may be ‘WAR is everywhere’ it is much more accurate to say that WAR is highly contained and restricted by PVE content and RvR zones. Were WAR’s focus changed to promote smaller group conflict, while also encouraging player conflict over PVE conflict, it would allow the game to finally realize its boastful description. This could be done in several ways, but the first step would most likely be the removal of high level mobs guarding war camps and outposts, as well as the removal of Hero and Champion mobs from RvR lakes. The next step would be the removal of lockout timers from objectives as well as the complete removal of keeps from RvR, instead replacing them with instanced keep scenarios as has been suggested here. Furthermore, it would be necessary to remove the renown gain from capturing battle objectives, replacing this with a blessing on the party of whoever captured the objective. This blessing would greatly increase renown gained until that objective had been captured by the opposing side and would extend to anyone outside the capturing party as long as they stayed within the area of that objective.

Because keeps would no longer be the focus, war camps would become PQ locations. However, besides this players would be offered other quests to gain tokens, or straight gear options. These would consist purely of PVP goals to kill players within that region. This also means that players who are pursuing PVP will have attainable goals to reach in order to get equipped, as well as the removal of the reliance on the ‘Vegas loot’ system of PQs, which would be limited to war camp takeovers. This would also allow rally masters to be killed, providing true zone domination rather than the current system which ultimately has nothing to do with taking over a zone. Again, the concept is to allow smaller groups to have a large impact, which would deprioritize large warbands as other players could strike back easily against them by taking over war camps and objectives. By spreading combat out the feeling of large scale PVP would be preserved and it would allow something which really can be called realm versus realm combat.

The problem with this is that it requires a complete overhaul of the current RvR system. However, as Frank over at Warhammer Alliance recently ranted about, the current RvR system is not something that is promoting the image which WAR wants to achieve. It’s discouraging realm pride and allowing PVP to becoming nothing but a grind of PVE content which culminates in a PVE raid within the opposing sides capital city. While this article may not put forth the best method for saving RvR and refocusing WAR into a true PVP game, hopefully it has brought some light into the situation as well as some insight into WAR’s biggest failure. WAR needs direction and focus towards its primary goal, something which it not only lacks, but its primary systems currently discourage. War should be everywhere and to do that it can not continue to be as restricted as it has become.

pancakez

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2009 4:32 pm

    Elaborate further on the War Camp idea? What if instead of taking out the PvE, they simply make it capture/destroyable. Obviously the uber-guards would be dropped, but leave appropriate level champions in place to guard merchants, allow everything a 5min respawn time, and if their building is destroyed (Tent, flight platform, etc) , turn it into a 15m-30m respawn.

    PvE is a deterrant when it comes to warcamps, nothing else. If there were a point to the opposing realm being in the camp, it could be done. I’ve talked at some length with guildies about how WC’s and hubs could be changed for an oRvR server. I think that would make a real difference on the oRvR servers compared to what they are now. Only difference really on oRvR is ganking, R40’s camping T3 for fun, or R31 in T2, or R21 in T1.

    Once a zone gets capped, all the WC’s are burnable and the losing realm NPC’s abandon the lake, while the winning realm gets a 30m PQ to burn everything in sight. Raze, loot, pillage, rape, and the like. Well, maybe not rape… of course… ESRB Online Content May Change… hehe

    If they made PvE a reward for RvR, things would work much smoother. Want a nice PQ for the BO’s? Kill 20 enemy players in 5 minutes, move to the next stage. Then, grab the flag and run to the enemy warcamp. Stage 3, kill said WC champions. All the while you have players at every step fighting to flip their half of the PQ first, keeping the flag from reaching their WC, and finally to stop you from burning the city/winning RvR loot.

    I could go on for an hour easily on many different things they COULD do. I might one of these days.

  2. pancakez permalink*
    April 13, 2009 4:38 pm

    The problem is that the deterrent itself is silly; there should be a reward for taking an opponents war camp. There’s no reason for there to be a random group (or three) of Hero mobs protecting a camp. Nor should there be any reason for rank 55 champions to be hanging around. As mentioned, there should be a PQ for taking the opponents war camp; a reward for taking over the zone so completely that you wipe out the opposition entirely.

    As far as ORVR servers, that’s another problem entirely. There’s no reason for the higher tiers to have access to the lower tiers, it only serves to weaken the PVP system further. That would have to be entirely removed, so that they match Core servers (though always-on RVR would be different). Especially if the rank 55 champions were also removed from quest hubs, which they ought to be. After all, who can claim zone dominance while the opposing side has their rally masters in place?

  3. April 14, 2009 6:06 am

    I agree with your post wholeheartedly.

    I think one of the things that really screwed over smaller groups in RvR was the zone domination system.

    What makes it so screwed up is the fact that all it really is is a reward for whoever has the biggest zerg. On our server right now (and from what I hear on just about every server in the game currently) this means Order, since due to the nerfs and “fixes” implemented in 1.2 Destro finds itself at a severe disadvantage population-wise pretty much everywhere. Lately I have been logging on to find that either Order is already in IC or on their second fort, and all they really did was to cap the points in a zone and then camp the warcamp and PvE route entrances to the RvR lake keeping out any small groups that might try and ninja a BO or something to stave off yet another IC raid.

    Order has been in IC 1-2 times per day since 1.2 hit, and its largely due to the underpopulated side’s inability to take back objectives or defend points we might already have vs. the zerg of BW and WP that have inundated T4.

  4. April 14, 2009 10:29 am

    Just got to work and I thought I would see what’s going on around the blogs when I stumbled in here, again, and was like, “woah.” Awesome post about how WAR needs to be redirected into more RvR/PvP combat and less PvE reliance/feel. You talked about how small parties are not able to really make much of a difference past T1 and I agree to that in a sense of ORvR but a well organized party in an SC can kick some major butt. Lock out timers suck and I want to be able to take the enemies camps, kind of like Alliance taking Crossroads in WoW. Who cares about them having to rework the whole RvR system. I say if they did it right the first time, they wouldn’t have to go back and do it again; just fix it.

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