[GW2],[DAoC] WvW v#1 or v#3?

One mechanic that Dark Age of Camelot worked out for Realm vs. Realm combat that Guild Wars 2 has yet to meaningfully attempt in World vs. World combat is providing a reason for the two #2 and #3 servers to both attack the winning team, rather than having the #1 and #2 servers attack the weakest team. Rarely, out-of-game efforts will lead to two Davids’ conspiring against Goliath, but this is rare because the reward structure incentivizes picking on the weak rather than challenging the strong.

The theory of having three realms is that the stronger server should not be able to fight both at once, and if it is ahead it will be defending against attacks from both. Because of the symmetry in WvW, taking a keep from the strongest opponent is worth just as much as taking it from the weakest opponent. There are no diminishing returns and no reason to fight a strong server when you can prey on a weaker server. Therefore, the reality of having three realms is frequently that the two stronger servers fight over the easy points available in the weakest server’s territory.

Being the #3 server in WvW is often like being Poland in between Germany and Russia in World War II. You do not want to be Poland in World War II.

WvW used to have Orbs of Power that were cribbed pretty directly from DAoC’s relics. You can even see where they used to be in the borderlands, and they made the borderlands more meaningful in the overall fight in a way that ruins have not. If a team was winning, it would go claim relics. That made it a target for the other realms, which wanted their relics back and wanted to get the bonus for claiming the others. If you are the #2 realm, there is profit in attacking the #1 realm but not the #3 realm, which already lost its relic. (You keep this from turning into “pile on #2” by requiring that you reclaim your own relic before you can take another realm’s, so #3 cannot try to ninja #2’s relic.)

Guild Wars 2 found two problems with trying to copy an existing solution. First, the GW2 implementation created a “winner take all” situation where stronger servers became even stronger. Other games have solved this in a variety of ways, such as awarding the bonuses in PvE but not PvP/WvW or making the orbs valuable for points but less so as a buff. Guild Wars 2 instead just took them out, creating the similarly severe “winner take all” situation described above wherein there is no incentive to take the battle to the winning team. If the fight can move out of the #3 server’s territory, the #3 server’s incentive is still to fight the weaker opponent, thereby moving the battle into #2’s territory.

The other problem is that the orbs were magnets for hackers and cheaters. Rather than take advantage of this and/or patch the cheats, Guild Wars 2 instead surrendered, apparently not confident that they would win that fight. WvW is still subject to cheating and hacking, such as targeting siege weapons through walls or flying over keep walls, but no one seems as outraged about that as they were when speedhackers ran orbs across the map in less than a minute, so problem solved. If you cannot prevent hacking, you can help the hackers hide it so it does not drive away customers.

“Orbs or some similar mechanic may return in the future, but only if we’re confident that they won’t create similar issues.” But that has been a lower priority than adding WvW ranks and abilities, adding more abilities, revamping ranks, revamping WvW achievements, adding ruins, putting Living World events in WvW zones, adding another WvW zone, revamping the WvW menu, running a WvW season, and running a WvW tourney.

9 thoughts on “[GW2],[DAoC] WvW v#1 or v#3?”

  1. As you say, some of this has to do with map design. The Borderlands are symmetrical, but the incentive is usually to always push upward into the home server’s territory. The orb removal took out some of the strategy too, as there’s now not as strong a driving force to hit the north camp area to balance out the desire for garrison or other keeps.

    Pushing into green’s territory on Eternal Battlegrounds is pretty difficult once the frontline towers are strongly reinforced and sentried. Red’s outer holdings are more exposed, which always leads to attacks of opportunity from the other two worlds, but can bottle up in Veloka and Overlook very well. Before you know it, Blue is always having to fend off testing attacks into their territory and keep, plus folks jumping on red when the stronger worlds sense not enough red defenders to man siege.

    Edge of the Mists seemed interesting on paper, where it seemed there was a tendency for blue and red to attack the then green kodan keep, ostensibly the strongest world.

    I wonder if strategies have changed any these days, or if the switching of the colors have made any difference on what gets attacked more.

  2. “…like being Poland in between Germany and Russia…”
    Hahahahah. You made my day sir! I’m from Poland and till this day I know exactly what You are talking about because we still live in WW2 shadow (2014 – renovation of building where I live has started – in 2 weeks they found several bullets from WW2 in walls and a land mine in outlet). Really accurate comparison.

    About WvW – I don’t know. Didn’t really play that much. I always run on some problems. Was fun, running around with 2-4 friends and harass enemy zerg. I even joined some organized pack of teams, a guild focused on elevating WvW in our server. And then it turned out, that they are focusing on cheating, ninjaing towers and simply messing with the system, not with the enemies. That was umm… unfun.

  3. The idea of WvW success being rewarded in PvE is an interesting one, if mainly because of how strongly opinion seems to run against it. If you go back to the pre-launch publicity for WvW, much was made of the influence your WvW players would have on PvE gameplay for the rest of the server, including those who never visited WvW at all.

    Those bonuses still exist, of course, and in the most recent update they were even changed so that you carry them with you even when you guest to other servers. They can be significant, too.

    All the same, when did you last hear anyone mention them? I can remember precisely two occasions in the entire year and a half I’ve been playing – one where someone asked in LA map chat why his character had lost 3kHPs overnight (answer – WvW reset) and once when someone gave advice on crafting that included “try to do your crafting at the end of the WvW match when the bonus is highest”.

    On top of that (and I can only speak from my experience of Yaks Bend), there sems to be a significant disconnect between WvW players and PvE players, just as there is between sPvP players and everyone else. It’s very unusual to see the regular, committed, WvW players and Commanders anywhere else in the game. They rarely turn up at Living Story events, World Bosses, or indeed in open play anywhere outside of WvW. They may do instanced content, of course, where they’d be invisible, but I rather doubt it.

    There seems to be a huge disconnect between the various wings of the game in GW2 in a way that there wasn’t in DAOC. Presumably it’s because each aspect of the game is self-sufficient – it’s very easy to level a new character 100% in WvW for example.

    ANet confirmed when announcing the Tourney that the first Season saw by far the largest participation in WvW so far. I don’t think you have to look too far for the explanation for that – Achievements. PvE players swarmed in, frequently complaining that they “had” to play WvW even though they didn’t want to, just because there was a list to be ticked off. If there was a Meta-Achievement with decent points and rewards that specifically required you to take objectives from the server in the leading position that might be interesting. It might also be deeply resented, though.

    It’s possible, as many people have argued even from before launch, that a “Darkness Falls” style dungeon or map, one to which access would depend on your Server’s success in WvW could act as a motivator. If access to it was tied to relic-like objects so that a Server needed to own any two out of three to deny access to both the other servers that might work but I suspect that it might cause more problems than it solved in terms of pushback from the majority of GW2 players who don’t play and don’t want to play WvW.

    In the end, though, I’m not sure how much difference any of this would make. My experience of WvW after an awful lot of hours playing in it and observing it is that there really isn’t very much organization at all. That’s probably not the case in T1 and T2 but further down it’s all very ad hoc. One of our current most active Commanders, for example, just rampages around like an escaped fighting bull, butting his head against anything and everything until either he or it falls over. He’s very popular and gets a lot of people to follow him because everywhere he goes there’s a big fight and it seems to be big fights that people want more than any kind of coherent strategy.

    Things were different during the Season, it’s true. We saw a lot more pre-planning and much more evidence of Commanders working together co-operatively and coherently. It was also very, very apparent that after seven weeks of that most of them were burnt-out and exhausted. Several left WvW altogether and haven’t been seen since, a lot more took several weeks or even months off and are only just now returning. As with most aspects of GW2, really organized gameplay seems to be something most players can only stomach in short bursts if at all.

  4. Things are too fair.

    Yay for the best servers who have proven themselves the best servers. Now let’s add handicaps to make it more fun for all servers, and to make it riskier and more difficult for the best servers.

    What if there was a handicap that gave the losing teams a nice point bump if they took the winning team’s holdings? What if taking a very winning team’s fully upgraded tower kept the upgrades?

    We need a boardgame/Dominion -style expansion to just really shake things up. I feel EotM is a good start, but it didn’t seem to really attack the problem you wrote about.

  5. As an aside, the division of players between PvE, PvP, and WvW really bugs me. The amount of shouting back and forth between many of the groups is astounding at times, while players like me that participate in all three can’t do much else but sit on the sidelines and correct a few inaccuracies.

    What’s worse is the upcoming Feature Pack looks to be designed to unify th three parts of the game more, and we’re already seeing hell raised by PvP players against horizontal progression. The thread on the PvP forum about people against the Tournamebt of Legends is also horrendous. Further blog posts are only going to cause more yelling.

    ANet’s goal seems to get people to mix and mingle more but I wonder if they’ll actually manage it at this rate.

  6. The orbs didn’t do jack in the Eternal Battlegrounds in terms of encouraging team-ups, which is kind of the problem. Orbs didn’t really do what they were supposed to.

    A solution that actually makes ganging up worthwhile will probably need to involve the scoring system; it sounds like the points-per-tick system used currently is on the chopping block, although it sounds like the WvW team want to use defense in these calculations but only want defense events to succeed if there was something to defend against.

  7. All of which OP points to the inherent difficulty of manipulating players with rewards, even having rewards at all perish the thought. “Players”, I”ll get back to that. In the end, your majority of players don’t care if victory in the new WvW map drops supply into the other 4 maps, or if Pve gets buffs, or if they hold the ruins for buffs. They predominately play to zerg weak towers for xp and/or gold and/or just plain swarm. The strategy is nothing more sophisticated than that of a bee swarm. Current tactics are exactly that of a balled up swarm of migrating bees.

    The majority of “players” attracted to GW2 are not much interested in anything else at all. The head bee, who plays as the players wish, gets the biggest swarms. Word travels fast when that commander is on a map. To their credit, many commanders and server communities take control of the swarms as best as they can, but they cannot control their participants. Anet has dictated this by attracting swarmers to the game.. They are paying customers, or are they? Certainly they are a large part of the f2p population in WvW and they pay good money to go to the servers that have the most prolific swarms.

    Perish the thought of a player showing his commander tag on a top tier server without the server’s permission, least he attract bees from their swarms.

    While the community begs for higher caps for the number of players on a map for bigger swarms, the new game Wildstar seems to be approaching this from a different angle, smaller maps with fewer players and more defined objectives. But then, while that seems to appeal to fewer players, it is first a pay to play game. That is a bee of a different species.

    In other words, game economics to a large part determine the species of bee, which in turn determines in many ways the mechanics. Or is it the other way around?

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