[GW2] Unbalanced

How are your server’s WvW match-ups? Ours have been dramatically one-sided, with one server wiping the floor with the other two. This week, we are the victors; last week, a different server held 75% of the map consistently.

I am told that one of our competing servers had an exodus last weekend, with a major guild or seven leaving Eredon Terrace. (There are stories about what happened, but never trust Us when they tell you what is wrong with Them.) Numbers disparities are hard to overcome, and once your server is losing that badly, people stop trying. You cannot build the momentum to get past your own gates, while people flock to the winning team. The winning server has a long queue for WvW and your WvW team is half-full at best.

Bandwagons are a problem that will continue as long as free transfers are available (to more populous servers). People generally want to be on the winning team. Without server transfers, this just means that people are more likely to hit B and join WvW if they are ahead. With server transfers, people leave losing servers and join winning servers. Any swings are exaggerated by immigration.

The periodic switch of WvW trios would help reduce this without server transfers. The general scheme is solid, in that the server tiers should form themselves over time. If this week’s top three servers face each other next week, and so on for each trio, water should find its level by the end of the year. The system tends towards equilibrium. With rampant immigration, swings are exaggerated and you should expect more lurching than settling. In the long run, I would expect immigration to die down just because people establish roots on servers, with fewer people willing to join bandwagons, but I have no idea how long that run is. It certainly feels long enough for the reputation of WvW to form before WvW settles into its stable pattern.

Leaving aside immigration, I fully understand the impulse not to hit B when you are losing. If there are 50 of us, 100 of them, and they have full supply plus upgrades and siege weapons, I can do something else until WvW resets in a week or two. I have no incentive to dive under a falling axe.

The other side of that equation does a bit of self-balancing. If you are losing, only fools and the hardcore will WvW. Your average player will be better as the casuals drop out. If you are winning, casual WvWers flock. People take up WvW slots to visit the camps and work on their 100% map completion. People farm PvE and crafting materials. The queue is long and entry is random, so elite groups have more trouble forming. Your zerg is always full, but your zerg is about all you have. Serious WvW people on the winning team are likely to get bored and do something else. Given enough time, this would work to the benefit of the losing teams, but there is that WvW reset.

Numbers are hard to overcome. Returning to migrations, you should expect higher population servers to do better in WvW just because they can keep 100 bodies in each of the battlefields. Even if your average player is more casual, if you have 33% more players, the weight of bodies can crush a lot of good plans. Your group of five elite PvP players can take on five times their number, but they cannot do so all across the map with only one supply camp to draw on. You can win lots of battles, but the zerg can carry the war, especially if it can follow simple instructions from a competent commander.

People want to be on the winning server. The high population servers win more often. This creates a self-sustaining process whereby a few early winners get cemented as high population servers and the top WvW servers.

I am seeing this from a high population server. How is it going in more sparsely populated lands? I imagine that high and low population servers are seeing the biggest swings, while there is some settling in the middle. People do not flock to the #25 WvW server, even if that means they are winning the 9th bracket. On low population servers, minor swings in population numbers will probably have big effects, so standings are chaotic when adding two WvW groups lets someone sweep a side of the map. I imagine (but have no evidence) that middling servers have short WvW queues if any and that their prime times hover below full, so you see surges but they balance out unless one server sweeps the match so much that people stop hitting B.

I also imagine that occasionally a serious WvW guild will abandon a high population server, tired of queues, zergs, drama, etc. They will pick a middling-low server and utterly dominate for a month or three as it rises through the ranks, and you will start to see a bandwagon effect as more people on that server hit B and people on other servers don’t bother to fight [guild x]. If server transfers to less populous servers remain free, you might see cycles of that as WvW-focused guilds “claim” their own servers. That then becomes an interesting managerial challenge of herding cats rather than just fielding one elite WvW group. It takes a different set of skills to manage large groups than to execute excellent tactics.

I’m still looking forward to seeing how WvW sifts out over time. It is fun to be in a roughly even fight where tactics and maneuvers can matter. It is sometimes fun to be the wolves amongst sheep, but you run out of sheep because it is not fun to be one of the sheep. But the sheep refresh every couple of weeks when new trios are set and hope springs eternal that the new server is fellow sheep rather than a wolfpack.

: Zubon

17 thoughts on “[GW2] Unbalanced”

  1. On Tarnished Coast we’re seeing very little population change. Part of that is that it’s been designated one of the unofficial RP servers, so people want to stay on the server for RP reasons. The good news is that some pretty steady alliances and groups are starting to form. Steady leadership, the same commanders most nights of the week. It’s really making the server stronger as a whole. The community is really coming together quite a bit.

    RPers *can* PvP ;)

  2. One important reason why people leave WvW when losing is that they are punished for trying.

    If you are on a losing world and you have nothing to lose, except for your time, you might as well give it a try, because it’s a game after all.

    However, if you are going to be punished for trying (through the armor repair costs, most obviously) it starts to get “too serious” for the people who don’t want to waste their in-game money for even trying to help. WvW already costs a lot to win (what with the blueprints, upgrades and the commander compendium) and that’s okay, but it shouldn’t cost to lose, too.

    In other games, like DotA, being punished for losing sort of works, because the match is all there is in the game. But in Guild Wars 2, it’s obviously wrong, for the very simple reason that the players can keep playing the same game doing something else than WvW and not even trying to help, since trying costs.

    On a less important note, because there’s still a player limit in WvW, it might also pressure people to join only if they’re really good, because otherwise they’ll be taking up the slot of a potential better player (or so they might feel).

    Anyway, these are my two cents and the first remark about personal costs is, in my opinion, the most obvious design flaw in WvW (although probably not the most important). I hope the people at ArenaNet think this one over, because they’re sort of throwing a whole aspect of the game out of the window for many players.

    1. A suggestion among the people on my server has been “free repair costs if you got the outmanned buff”

      But then again, just because you’re out-numbered does not have to mean that you automatically die more. You just have to consider what you’re doing a bit more carefully.

    2. I’d suggest no WvW repair costs at all. The biggest penalty is having to waypoint back and run halfway across the map again :)

      1. If they just made it so that armor doesn’t get damaged in the mists, it would be great. You’re armor doesn’t cost you anything, but you still have to pay for damage inflicted in the main world and there’s no possibility for “exploit free armor repairs” type stuff.

  3. I think we need to keep in mind that they are still balancing, but it’s hard to balance when people are allowed to move freely between servers. To be honset if they don’t lock the free transfers down before they implement the 14 day resets starts, I believe they are making a huge mistake.

    As for dominating servers, I guess you’re right. I’m currently on Far Shiverpeaks EU, we’ve been the no.2 server for a long time. Yet people have been complaining that “we’re loosing” just because Vizunah Square has kept being in the lead, but it’s been a lead we’ve kept steady feet with.

    As a competitive player I’ve enjoyed the challenge, I wouldn’t want to be the one on top steamrollin’ everything (not that they have, it’s mainly nightcapping which I find is a valid tactic and admire!).

    This week, we got pretty much owned when the up and coming German server Elona Reach joined our division. I mean we still put up a good fight, and both servers are worthy opponents, I think this is the week where I’ve had the most fun since they started the 1 week resets, except for the first week, but that was the novelty feeling!

  4. I have a small guild (around 10 people) on the Ehmry Bay server. Our server hasn’t been ‘winning’ in WvW for a little while, and I think we generally get matched in the middle somewhere. Our guild usually gets together once a week to do WvW, and we have a great time with it.

    With less then 10 people (many of whom are severely under-leveled), it would seem that playing WvW would just be frustrating. However, we find that we can almost always take any supply camp we want, and can sometimes take down one or two of the towers. At this point, we aren’t really playing to win WvW for our server because there really isn’t any chance of our little guild making that big of a difference. However, there is something really fun about overcoming a superior force. In fact, we often will choose to go to the maps where our server is the most outmatched, because it is easier to slip behind enemy lines and ninja capture points.

    We aren’t playing to win or for server glory. We don’t really spend anything beyond what we can earn from WvW and jumping puzzles. We are always able to get in together on any map we want to. We do have a great time every time we go in and don’t really ever feel frustrated just because we are heavily outmatched.

  5. What drove away a lot of the guilds we coordinated with on JQ was not the queues (which were bad), but the scoring system itself. We could win the point score during prime time, but still lose the match-up because we did not have AUS coverage.

    What was most disappointing was that Anet introduced a flaw into the system that had already been fixed in DAOC with Darkness Falls and how relics worked, vs how GW2 handles point-based bonuses.

  6. What surprises me is that the fair weather gamers don’t bring down the winning servers. I can only assume that since the battles are so much larger in scope than say, a Fort Aspenwood or Jade Quarry matchup in GW Factions, that the effects take longer to appear.

    But yeah, free transfers need to stop. People have had more than enough time to get their ducks in a row in terms of getting guild members on the same server and whatever else. Transfers from high to low servers should be allowed, and guilds that make the move should be allowed to keep their upgrades to sweeten the deal.

    Also, what drove away a lot of JQ guilds was poor sportsmanship. I wonder how many of them are back now that JQ is winning again.

    Gamers tend to be very shortsighted and assume that because matchups are going one way for a few weeks, that’s how it will always be. HoD is no longer on top, and a few weeks from now JQ probably won’t be either…although, again, anything ANet can do to speed up the process of spreading out the player base more evenly will be appreciated.

    It would be nice to see healthy participation at all tiers so that it’s not just fluctuating between insane wins and insane losses whenever a server drops a tier or moves back up.

  7. @frozen compass
    Consequentless pvp is in the game already and it’s called sPvP. WvW is war which has consequences which I hoe is not polluted by your ‘even losers deserve trophy’s’ suggestion.

    And agree with everyone here that server transfers need to stop, but its more of a side effect of guesting not working as advertised.

    1. Oh, no, no. I’ve never suggested any kind of special treatment of losers. What I’ve suggested is less punishment for trying, applying equally to everyone, winner or loser. This would maintain the status quo, without ruining the morale of anyone.

      The above should sound valid, unless what you go to WvW for isn’t winning, or even just having fun, but merely ruining other people’s morale and mood.

      And, to be precise, WvW is not war, as you claim. It’s a depiction of a war. Or, to put it even more precisely, it is an aspect of a video game. There’s no shame in it trying to be appealing just because it’s depicting a war. If I wanted to face the real consequences of a war, I’d go fight in a real war, most probably.

  8. Great thoughts. Number one to addressing these concerns is clearly ending free server transfers as soon as possible.

    Number two is a bit more dubious. I transferred from a high population server (Tarnished Coast) to a low population server (Devona’s Rest) when my friends bought GW2 so I could play with them. I believe DR is the lowest population U.S. server, and we certainly feel it in WvW: always one of the two servers with the lowest score and portion of the pie, never a single WvW queue, and only hit-and-run working in the battle. WvW was entirely different at TC – large, well-coordinated battles, back and forth whether we were winning or not, much more activity generally. However I’ve resigned myself to never being a part of a team that takes Stonemist, to always doing solo/small group hit/runs of supply camps, yaks, and sentries. It’s enjoyable, but I’ll never get 100% world completion. I suppose that’s one downside to the system – there will always be a low population server on the bottom of the heap. I can’t think of a solution to that.

  9. Mrs Bhagpuss, who would play WvW all day if the odds were even, is incandescent about this. On Yak’s Bend we’ve had one really good week, where all three teams were in contention right up to the wire, and a couple of reasonable rounds where two servers were vying for the win with the third out of contention. Either of those works, the former obviously better than the latter.

    This week… wait a sec, let me check, I’m logged in…

    Ok, almost at the end of the 7 day cycle it’s

    Sanctum of Rall 467,209 (owning all three orbs as they have all week, pretty much)

    Yak’s Bend 100,898

    Gates of Madness 58,500

    It stopped being fun about 6 days ago.

    We played Sanctum of Rall last week and that was the really good week where all three could have won. Then three major PvP guilds from other servers all transferred to SoR.

    Free transfers have to stop. Guesting has to start. Matches must not go to three weeks.

    I would have one week OR a victory condition. Even a week of being steamrolled will have significant numbers of players looking for another game to play.

    1. If there’s a win condition, then the servers whose game ended are left simply unable to play WvW for the rest of the 2 weeks(?) or until every game ends. Or would you suggest some alternative?

      I could see maybe resetting the game and conferring a bonus to the winner, but I could also see people using that as a reason to give up: “Meh, they’re already too far ahead, we’ll let them have it and wait for the reset.”

    2. Ohai, fellow Yak’s Bender. I too wax nostalgic about that SoR/NSP/Yak fight. It was a thing of great beauty, seeing a match go right to the wire like that.

      And then we got roflstomped. And now this week we’re the one’s doing the roflstomping. Aside from the joys of filling out my map completions…. I can’t really say that winning is any more fun than losing. If someone is up +600, then there’s just no point in playing WvW, regardless of which team is +600.

      http://mos.millenium.org/matchups#NA

      Anet is using a robust rankings system to determine the matchups, it’s a proven algorithm with years of history. There is *no* way that the observed level of volatility should exist with that system in place. But they’re trying to rank moving targets. It’s like a chess tournament where people are trading name badges back and forth between games. You can’t rank the names, because it’s a different player every match.

      They have *got* to disable free transfers, or lock them out of the WvW game. Until they do *something* to address this, there’s not a chance in hell of balancing WvW.

  10. So far this weekend, our server is very competitive. Maybe it works out better at the very top, maybe we’re just having a good week.

  11. my suggestions for WvW:
    1. Free repair cost.
    2. Do all mobs= passive(yellow names) (expect champions and event monsters), i was killed in the middle of a balanced fight by a little dragon.
    3. Remove the 1 hit-kill ability from frontier guards.
    4. Insert more teleports (1 or 2) per map.
    5. Increase Dolyak health amount.
    6. Reduce trebuchet range, (its amazing to see in WvW people destroying our fortress from a high and safe place in their citadel).
    7. Increase Karma and badges of honor rewards.
    8. Less damage received per falls
    9. To be a commander pay 100 gold is not enough put some points of clan o be a part of permanent ally as a request to. There are more chief than troops doing nothing good at all.
    10. sorry for my english

    Rhamita/ranger northern shiverpeaks server

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