Costume Brawl – PvP Done Right

As I explained in preparation for Guild Wars Halloween, Costume Brawl is something I was looking forward to big time, and now for this week I am having a blast playing the once-a-year PvP game.

The premise is quite simple.  Each profession has a set skill bar.  If you go in as a Warrior, every other Warrior will have the same skill/attribute set up as you.  The game is random 5 vs. 5 where the goal is to kill your opponents and control shrines (capture points).  Each shrine lends a bonus and increases the speed at which you get points for controlling the shrines.  First to 20 points wins.

I think it is brilliant for two reasons.  First, it is fast and fun.  You don’t have to wait for a party, and the gameplay is a great balance between deathmatch and zone control.  Killing people matters, but so does the skill of players surviving and snaring the other players.  If the battle is by one shrine, a good player can ninja-capture another shrine.  Winning is quick, and losing is quick.  If you lose you can go right back in with another team.  If you are stuck in a rut playing in the Random Arenas (4v4) or Alliance Battles (12v12) as your go to for casual PvP in Guild Wars, the game mechanic of Costume Brawl is a fresh breeze.

The second reason is the balance between professions.  Guild vs. Guild battles, Heroes’ Ascent, and to a lesser extent Team Arenas requires a web of protection and healing that normally comes from the PvP mainstay: Monks.  Without this crucial web, a team crumbles in the face of quick spikes of damage.  This places a daunting requirement on the Monks in Guild Wars PvP.  Costume Brawl takes out much of this required web and gives each profession one or two self-heals, which they must rely on more than their healbot teammate.  The average heal for each profession is about 100-150 so one profession does not clearly outshine another.  I would not say that Costume Brawl builds have a perfect one-on-one balance as some professions can easily beat down others, but all told, I think a team of 5 is usually balanced against the other random team.  In other words, PvP returns to its roots of being about skill, not build.

This also excites me for Guild Wars future with Guild Wars 2.  ArenaNet basically has a get out of jail free card with the restart, and they can remake Guild Wars 2 so that one profession (the Monk) is not absolutely required to win.  I think that across the MMO genre, players are getting tired of needing healbots for PvE and PvP.  It is nice to play Costume Brawl, which remains fun without the requisite of a spambot friend.

5 thoughts on “Costume Brawl – PvP Done Right”

  1. The Guild Wars special event mini games are always awesome fun. My favorite has always been the Super Beetle Racing.

    The whole issue with needing a Monk in your team to be successful in GW PvP Arena is definitely one I hope they fix in GW2. I must admit, it does make the skill requirement to play a successful Monk very high, which has always been my attraction to the class. It just sux when you don’t get one on your team when you load into RA. I wonder if a better team pairing algorithm would have solved the problem?

  2. I love the Costume Brawl too.

    I don’t think getting rid of Monks is the answer. Monks are one of the best things Guild Wars has brought to the MMO genre, where finally we see a healer whose focus is to stop damage from occurring in the first place (as opposed to just making red bars go up, i.e. a healbot).

    In PvE not having a monk to play with isn’t that bad, since you can bring a hero along.

    In PvP in the “pick your own team” games it’s a non-issue, since it’s so easy to roll up a max level character of any class.

    In the random pairing games though, no such luck. I think Crimson’s suggestion of a better pairing algorithm would work wonders. The other idea I think would be good in future MMO’s is to give every class 2 distinct roles they have to choose from before the battle starts. This would dramatically increase the number of Monk-style characters a random team could pull together if they had to.

  3. That’s true, Monks create a web of healing AND protection. I find myself in WAR as a Zealot using the shield-spell and anti-hex spell more ofen than I think other Zealots use them… due to GW training.

  4. I don’t doubt it… I think Guild Wars promotes skill in RPG’s in general. Once you’ve played Guild Wars a little bit, it’s much harder to suck at other games.

    I played Baldur’s Gate 2 a few months ago while having a break from Guild Wars… I managed to rip through a bunch of PvE encoutners with a really underpowered team by kiting all over the place, where in my infinite PvE nubness before Guild Wars I would have sat there ‘tanking’ them and got my butt handed to me ;)

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