I’m sure your servermates appreciated that, whoever you are.
A sucking chest wound is Nature’s way of telling you to slow down.
No, really. Stop running. Start fighting!
Ok, so I did contribute about four blue skulls’ worth of zerker guardian trying to do the “I don’t need to run faster than those two Elites, I just need to run faster than YOU” thing, following the zergling impulse of go fast, rush past “trash” and trying to group up with those further ahead.
All of it on the death trap known as the third floor, where everybody but me seemed to -not- see the air canister “safe zones” and continued dashing ahead while I slowed down and was torn between trying to catch a breath and fight off a zerg-spawned worth of mobs by myself (not happening) or catching up with the panicked mob of players milling around lost and hallucinating while twisted clockwork spawned in, eager to take vengeance for all those prior failed invasions and trying to survive with blown cooldowns and not many more heals or blocks or invulnerable left (s’ not happening either.)
It took about that length of time to realize that every event was locking the doors and preventing forward progress via running, and that all those screaming over mapchat that this was too awfully hard were doing so because we players as a group were applying the absolutely wrong strategy to navigating the Tower of Nightmares.
Selfishness leads to a healthy chance at dying off by yourself. Teamwork gets you up. (Both up from downed and literally up to the top.)
At one point, I tried a group recruitment message and got a total of two people joining a party, which worked right up to the midway point where they decided to fall behind and jump into a nightmare chamber (cancel popup) while the immediate collective of individuals I was following was still pushing on.
I gave up with formal grouping after that, since it wasn’t any guarantee that the group would stick together. The public informal groups of whoever was in the vicinity did just fine. (For the record, that collective made it right to the top.)
Besides, killing everything gives you more chances to pop neat stuff. Like key parts, a recipe for an infinite krait tonic, and so on.
One day later, when I decided to have a change of pace and bring my zerker necro in, it felt like more people had figured this out and had started to spontaneously group up and kill stuff. (Or maybe they mistook all my minions for a zerg. Whatever works.)
I like the Tower.
I really do.
Really? I felt those instances were a lot harder and more time-consuming, possibly because I was trying to solo them with a not-at-all min-maxed loadout of heroes and had to take my slow and steady time with them. (One death means you’re out, when you’re the only player on the team.)
To me, this update feels like another do-over.
Lost Shores – Assault on the Karka Queen, as having listened to their players and not made it a one-time one-off affair, open-world and encouraging groups of 10-30 to work together instead of having 100-200 players corralled into the same dynamic event fighting lag as the enemy.
Sure, this means that occasionally groups of players who are a little less well-informed or well-versed with the ways of the tower will encounter a chaotic experience of mass deaths, but as Wyldkat, a Tarnished Coast resident, often likes to say, “Live and learn. Die, and learn faster.”
Have I mentioned how utterly awesome the instance scaling is?
Let me correct that, then.
Solo to five players!
I get to feel like a hero in my own story if I want to!
I get to group up and join other people if I want to!
I am deliriously happy that they took the trouble to make this work. Mostly the number of mobs in each chamber you encounter will spawn to a size that matches your party.
I like the small bits of storytelling that go on in each Nightmare instance too. And the randomized aspect of them keeps them -somewhat- novel.
I’ve caught character exchanges between Rox and Braham, Marjory and Kasmeer, Marjory and Braham, Rox and Kasmeer, Rox and Majory so far.
If you pay attention, you learn a little more about some of the characters (and have a good laugh at some others. Braham keeps hallucinating up his mom.)
I like the little nods that they managed to slip in regarding the personal story and hope they manage more of it in future updates. (Depending on your race, you seem to get an encounter with your respective racial representative, and depending on your order… well, let’s say we’ve had a reunion of sorts with somebody. I need to bring in a character who is Order of Whispers soon.)
It’s made for a few interesting encounters.
And later in this encounter, we fought a hallucination of Rytlock Brimstone and some Blood Legion summons to Scarlet’s accompanying leer: “Rytlock has a special file where he records all your mistakes. They’re adding up.”
Which was immensely immersive since both Rox and my charr are Blood Legion, and we know Rox has an inferiority complex where Rytlock is concerned. (Directed at my charr? Nah, can’t be. His self-esteem and relationship with Rytlock’s far too healthy for that.)
This little dig got through though. Rarrrrrgh. Must kill insolent leafy things.
Final cinematic cutscene sequence? Verrah nice. Aesthetically-speaking.
I like that they at least attempted to sum up all the threads and factions that Scarlet has been accumulating per update, even if thematically, it feels like she’s cobbling them together out of a junkheap of spare parts.
I did, in fact, kind of miss the Molten Alliance, and was glad to see them back in a small form, including ol’ molten berserker.
The difficulty level of the instances felt fine. I’ve soloed them (and the final instance) on a zerker guardian and a zerker necro. Got downed once or twice but managed to rally up from a weakened mob or an NPC came by to help rez.
I did a group version of the final instance to see how the dynamic scaling worked, and it also seemed to match perfectly.
We did make it extra hard on ourselves during the Molten Alliance portal phase because three people were like OMG, killz0rs all teh portals, we vill skip past zis trash, wat, u mean we don’t?! and one person had no clue how to kite the molten protector out of his fiery shield (it’s always the one with the aggro, right?) so we delivered unto ourselves the world’s biggest spawn of Molten Alliance, conveniently made invulnerable 75% of the time. That took ages to whittle down. We had lots of time on our hands trying to convince the one guy to move out of the fiery ring.
Despite that minor fiasco, we only had one person being downed near the start to rushing headlong into some toxic alliance, and while I was thinking that might have screwed up our final no-dying achievement chance, we managed to take down the champion hybrid with no downs, no deaths that I can recall and the achievement popped. So that was good.
Speaking of achievements, let’s have another round of applause for the continuing saga of more sane numerical levels.
1 time, 3 times, 5 times, up to 10 and 15 only. No 25, 50, 100, 225! (DAMN that 225!)
All in all, good stuff.
I’ll be spending quite a bit of time in here, I think, just for the fun of it.
My only moderate worry is that if the crowds move off in time, like the Mad King’s Labyrinth, it might be impossible to get to the top at some point.
Still, I have noticed that the dynamic events probably do scale. We had a Veteran Spider Queen at one point, instead of a champion.
And during the free 5 captives from cocoons event, when it was just a ranger and me, we were only facing a veteran and two normal mobs per spawn. When the zerg came over, we started popping champions. (Hey, look, new champion farm, people!)
So I suspect that as long as two or three people work together and take it slow and steady, it is possible to eventually get all the way up even if the rest of the place is deserted. (Unlike certain halloween bosses I can think of.)
I suppose if we ever to get to such a stage of abandonment, that would be the time for coordinated groups to move in and treat the place like an extended dungeon.
On a crowded server, I suspect one can always find another one or two interested people.
(Though convincing them to stick together and not run off to follow their own agenda might be a mite more tricky. Oh well, that’s the open world aspect for you. Win some, lose some.)
As I respawn for the fifth time last night, resolving to myself THIS time that I should be running the fuck away after successfully taking out dolyaks, rather than try to push my luck and be greedy for a 1 on 1 test of my 250ms ping and inability to see anybody’s animations at lowest model zerg-defensive crash avoidant settings, on a bloody thief at that (landing cloak and dagger on anything smaller and more mobile than a dolyak’s backside is not easy, let’s not even talk about being able to predict and evade anybody’s attacks)…
… it occurs to me that maybe the WvW achievements are working as intended.
(If somewhat clumsily and overshooting at times.)
You see, I wouldn’t keep coming back to be a victim if I didn’t have the little 135/150 number that I had decided to increment.
I’m a Bartle Explorer-Achiever. In lieu of anything new to explore, I amuse myself by selecting a goal at random and seeing if I can achieve it. At the moment, that means chipping away at the remaining six achievements of the WvW season 1 stuff, two of which are the minimum I need/want for the mini dolyak.
I have a ridiculously low Killer percentage – I don’t really get the whole dominate or be dominated thing.
I found a nice post on the SWTOR forums that gives a nice overview of the Bartle types, and then takes it a step further by positing that there are positive and negative variants of each type. The poster uses it to explain the predictability of Ilum Rage on his Ebon Hawk server, but we can also apply the model to GW2’s WvW.
As one might expect, WvW attracts a high percentage of Killers. Some of these are Black Hats, people who want to lay waste to others and aren’t too concerned if they massively outnumber their opponents, as long as they get to win. Others are White Hats (or at least portray themselves to be on forums), people out looking for a challenge and ‘fair fights’ to test their prowess and “skill.”
If you ask the Killers, nothing makes them happier than a whole MMO or server or world (or map) filled with other Killers, living the PvP dream, in ‘good fights’ paradise.
But the problem is, a world full of Killers isn’t self-sustaining.
As the SWTOR post mentions:
In the 1996 article, Bartle talks about the only 4 possible player populations that can assure stability/sustainability absent outside factors, one of which is the “null” scenario where no one plays. The other three populations are:
1. A balance of Achievers & Killers — the meat of a PVP server
2. A four-type equilibrium, where a heavy population of Explorers — the meat of a PVE server
3. A Socializer-dominated population — the meat of an RP server (this, in practice, has a secondary type that keeps it a “game” and not a “chat room”, requiring either a type 1 or type 2 population underneath the Socializers; hence having “RP-PVE” and “RP-PVP” servers)
Kenneth Hong also summarizes the same thing, pretty much, in another nice article about Bartle Types:
Bartle determined that only the following three configurations of player types were stable.
1. Action-oriented MUDs dominated by Killers and Achievers.
2. Games dominated by Socializers
3. Games with a balances of all four types
We can see this decline in effect with FFA PvP sandboxes like Darkfall where population numbers keep dropping while the game was niche to begin with. I was never there, but I hear Ultima Online crashed hard post-Trammel once all the PvE-inclined players promptly moved on to greener pastures.
Eve Online survives (and thrives, by some definitions anyway.) Why?
I posit that Eve is either a world of Killers and Achievers, or a world of four-type balance, or moving between the two in unsteady equilibrium. Earning isk is an incrementing of numbers. Crafting is an incrementing of progress bars. They’re drawing in enough Achievers willing to put up with and play with the Killers.
Explorers get a number of different systems to explore. Be it actual crunchy mechanics types of systems, or galaxy type of systems. Socializers get their corporation politics. But there’s always that fundamental foundation of Killer/Achiever balance to begin with.
How about in GW2 WvW?
When the game type began, there probably was a mix of all four types trying to see if they could find a niche.
But as time wore on, Explorers figured out everything they wanted to know about WvW and got bored and may have decided to move on. (Ie. lack of new maps, stagnancy, lack of change.) Socializers either found their guilds and stayed, or found an increasingly veteran-elitist mapchat too abhorrent and left. Achievers kept seeing the Living Story achievement shinies and ran like skritt after the next checklist every two weeks.
Leaving the Killers squabbling among themselves, consolidating every now and then by server transferring up and down to try and get the best population balance for fights amongst themselves, while fretting that WvW is dying because there’s less and less people participating in it and no changes and attention seem to be given to it.
Enter the WvW league and a whole bevy of achievements.
Suddenly the Achiever floodgates open.
Killers scream in fury because the balance has swung far too fast in the opposite direction. They’re completely outnumbered by these dirty PvE achievers who have no real clue of what to do in WvW. They’re constantly dying and weakening their team and doing all manner of horrible non-kosher WvW things in the name of achievements. The queues are terrible! The fights are ridiculous!
As time wears on though, I wonder if we aren’t starting to approach back to something that more resembles a balance point.
The really hardcore achievers are probably done with their checklists and have likely turned their attention to their next 1000g or next Legendary goal and moved on. The easy path achievers have probably fairweathered out by now, having done their part contributing bodies and loot bags to the cause.
Leaving only the middle of the road average achievers still willing to work slow and steady on their individual goals, while dying to much better built and specialized characters of the Killer players, and possibly with the potential to get better while tracing the same road of progress that a youngling Killer takes. (Die, try again, improve eventually or keep dying.)
In the meantime, they’re bolstering the population and providing easy kills and wins to keep the Black Hat Killers of the opposition happy, while the White Hat Killers are kept busy either training their new militia or zergbusting larger more-disorganized numbers or running into their opposing number.
Of course, it’s easy for the equilibria to slip in a hurry.
If the White Hat Killers give up and get fed up with the admittedly sizeable onrush of Achievers (blame the PvE Living Story training of the past year!) and close ranks or disappear, leadership dissipates, the Black Hat Killers of the other side run rampant for a while, chasing away most everyone on one world, then throw up their hands and whine that they’ve run out of toys to play with.
The Achievers too, may leave after their checklist is done, looking for the next shiny and shift the population once again.
It makes me wonder about the new Edge of the Mists map now and then, and the GvG arena they’re putting up in the Obsidian Sanctum.
If the White Hat Killers are drawn to those places as a competitive format instead, I wonder what fate the older WvW maps will face.
Will there be any chance they reach a point of 1, 2, or 3 balance?
Or will they face the fourth option – the “null” scenario state where no one plays…
150 yaks done. 75 more to go.
Fights lost: A few. (Killers happy.)
Fights run away from: Lots. (Killers QQ.)
Fights won: Um…
Every dead yak is PPT, right?!
Proof of concept: I suppose it -is- possible to attain within 30 days.
Each stack was bought at buy order rates of 1.3-1.5 gold, which makes a grand total of 120g spent, around 5 gold a day without too much pain but yielding zero accumulation of wealth through the entire month.
Bright side, I did actually get a rare souvenir from the event this time via token-buy, rather than rabidly running a dungeon over the course of one month and not even seeing one of the super-rare skins, thanks to RNG.
Additional silver lining: all of the other exotic minis on the TP now seem obtainable after this, though it may end up taking a month per.
I was “encouraged” (well, pushed by economics) to visit more dungeons and get familiar with them, which is an overall benefit.
My final 1.5 gold for the last stack was hard-earned in a memorable Ascalonian Catacombs with four low AP newbies (three of whom were non-80 lowbies) where my bleeding heart walked a barely 500 AP level 65 warrior through running through mobs without dying. It involved coaching about stunbreakers and stability skills, running with him and even putting on high toughness gear at a few points to soak the aggro. The total party dps was so poor that we did the run to the final boss so many times that visible improvement in running skills were seen across the board. I was pulling out more fire elemental powders than used in Teq fights to try and up damage further before everybody squished. The really amazing thing was no one gave up. (Just please don’t ask me to do it again any time soon.)
Is asking for 20,000 candy corns still more than a little nuts?
I’m allergic to dying.
Well, in my games anyway, I don’t like being defeated and being laid flat out on the floor face-down.
This is possibly why I’m partial to tanks, their sturdiness and overall unkillability. I’m happy to protect others with my survivability, but by god, when push comes to shove and people start falling over, I want to be one of the last few standing. It’s led to a couple of truly heroic moments of saving the day too.
It’s also a potential weakness. A side helping of powergaming perfectionism, mixed in with high self-expectations that I am a virtual hero and am not meant to lose.
Somehow, I see dying as a personal failure. I did something wrong. I am inferior in my gameplay. I am so embarrassed at my poor performance. It is the end of the world.
PvPers and WvWers tend to scorn this as a PvE mentality.
In every 1 vs 1 PvP match, there’s one winner and one loser. 50/50 odds that you may be the one on the ground. For them, it mostly seems to be just a simple way of keeping score. +1 point to them, +1 point to me, whatever, keep trying to get better until you skew the points in a slightly >50% win/loss ratio fashion.
WvW people will point out that there are perfectly good situations in which one may very well die.
I’m completely on board with the team-based objective parts. Contesting circles to delay an objective capture so that your team racing over can ruin the other side’s day? Abso-fucking-lutely. I’ll do it without hesitation, rolling around like a manic asura, and cackle most evilly when they chase me for the crucial tens of seconds and then join my comatose body on the ground when the cavalry rides in. Still a win.
Contest circles when no one is coming to save the day? Well… maybe. It’s still a good habit to develop for overall server culture, helping PPT and score minutely, and on the off-chance that enough reinforcements may arrive. It still demonstrates defiance to the opposing team. I can more or less buy it, though I may not run as fast to the circle.
I’m perfectly all right with the occasional can’t-do-anything-about-it situations when you’re ambling along in WvW, round a corner and an unanticipated zerg 300-3000% the size of your group just rolls right over you like a minor speedbump.
Gee. Did anyone get the number of that truck? No? Oh well. Report in mapchat the last headed direction and estimated size of whatever the hell that was. Respawn and dust yourself off.
But when I read about people being confused in zerg fights and dying repeatedly and not enjoying themselves, I cry a little inside.
I know who you are.
You are the disorganized militia that organized guild groups run over.
The 40-50 individuals who happen to be somewhat going in the same direction and who get split in half by our outnumbered group of 20-30 and then steadily whittled down because every individual is making one of those “fight or flight” decisions for themselves and whose group morale is really easy to break and send fleeing for their lives.
I’ve been there.
When I started playing WvW, I was a loner who would most often be found in our territory, grimly speed-boosting yaks with an OCD determination (ask Eri!), watching with a certain envy the guild groups and commander tags swirling around on the frontlines but reluctant to approach for fear of not being welcome.
In Isle of Janthir’s particular server culture, near the beginning of the game, guilds tended to be more clannish and stick themselves to themselves, PUG militia were not terribly welcome and I was too nervous to be thick-skinned about things.
Fights I had actually had a chance of winning tended to be 1 + yak (+ preferably guard) vs inexperienced thief.
Woe betide me if the thief actually knew what they were doing, or had a friend. Or two. *sobs*
Let’s not even speak of the guild groups (we call them havoc squads now) that would now and then rush in to decimate the supply camp and either murder me or force an ‘abandon yak’ situation.
Then as more people started being able to afford commander tags (rather than just the hardcore guild leaders who were fed money by their guild members,) doritos gradually became more open to the idea of any and all militia following them around.
Safety in numbers and all that, y’know? When in doubt and not a tactical genius, bring more people.
The usual not-very-well-led zerg is identifiable from certain characteristics. They are spread out, each member acting more as a sort of skirmisher, prefering to stay at the longest range possible and plink away, with self-preservation as a key priority.
If two such zergs meet, what usually results is a stalemate. Each side stares at each other across a no man’s land, exchanging the longest range attacks they have, to very little effect. They could be there for hours if nothing interrupts them.
You can also find a similar bogged-down situation near keep gates, when no one has remembered to bring any siege, but are still trying to autoattack fortified gates to death regardless.
Trust me, been there. I couldn’t describe it otherwise.
I was in a casual guild on the Isle of Janthir (who carried their lack of tactical sense as a reputation that lasted long after I left the guild and the server – facing them on the side of TC was a bit of a laugh, we were a lot more wary of another far more effective guild) and I still am in a semi-casual semi-hardcore guild that has its moments of genius… good and bad.
Such zergs offer safety when encountering small collections of individuals, but are -very- often rolled by organized guilds – that can be either bigger (if they’ve drawn in militia to them as well) or even numbers or mind-bogglingly, smaller in size.
I can’t help it. I HATE DYING.
My mind immediately begins working overtime trying to figure out why this was happening – what do they have that we don’t? Is it all just a matter of specialized builds and practice and being on voice chat together? Is it just that they outnumber us and so they win?
I had the fortune of being in the right place at the right time to bridge the understanding gap.
One of the marvels of TC is how guilds in general are very open to working with each other and the militia.
Perhaps in more recent times, there’s been more closing of the ranks as people get tired of saying the same thing over and over again and just want to play and have fun, but there was a point where we had a large number of PUGmanders (said in the fondest sense of the word) very open to pulling in and training militia (before I think the 24/7 pressures started to burn them out.)
One of the best of them was, and still is, Jadon. (He of the lemmings over a cliff fame.)
At one point in time, he ran a series of trainings on the basics of zerg versus zerg combat for our server. He recorded it on his Twitchtv stream.
It’s been 8 months, the video is public and I suspect everyone hardcore already knows this stuff by now, so I feel it’s okay to share the link to all at this point.
If you’re ever confused about WvW and what’s happening during zerging and why you may be dying to groups that are more organized than you, I hope that you can spare the time to at least glance through the video, which is admittedly a little long and uncut.
It covers the basics of combo fields used in zerg fighting, and skills that are good for each class to bring in WvW.
The idea is really group synergy. By moving in a tight group near each other, everyone catches the benefit of buffs and heals being thrown around. Skills are chosen to benefit the group, not just oneself. Skills are chosen to more or less attack the other zerg as a group.
Tactics have gotten a touch more sophisticated since that point. Since survival is a factor in zerg clashes, gear is chosen for sturdiness. Soldiers or PTV gear is often recommended. Classes and builds that benefit from healing power are well-advised to investigate gear with that stat as an option.
Catching the other zerg with one’s AoE attacks becomes important – so control like elementalist’s static fields and hammer warriors that stun are often used. Variants range from having a few skirmishing berserkers (thieves, elementalists, etc.) dart in and out of the zerg to take out prime targets of opportunity and necromancers and other classes that paint on conditions are pretty popular these days too.
More tactical commanders make use of terrain and ancient art of war strategies to phenomenal effect. Chokepoints remain the same meat grinders in a game as they do in real life. Feinting a charge, faking a retreat and reversing, all are tactics used in an attempt to trick the other party into committing to a fight, spending all their attacks (skills on cooldown) and only then beginning your own attack.
Militia are hopelessly easy to catch out with these tricks.
Unwary, unknowingly, they die.
The organized group does this because attrition is the beginning of the end. If we kill 3 with one pass, and all of us remain upright, the opposing team is down by three people. Another pass, another three people go down.
It doesn’t have to be a lot each time. But these weaker links help to rally any downed on our side AND have an insidious effect on morale on the other side.
A self-interested individual looking on sees downed arrows on his team, and a swirling red mass of uncountable names (no one said everyone was great at estimating numbers on each side properly, red names always look more scary and numerous) that move in a lot more organized unison in a killing wedge, and starts to think the better of remaining around.
He books it.
Other people on his team sees green dots moving away from the fight. Good lord, they don’t want to be the last ones hanging around here either.
Before you know it, it turns into a rout.
A little while later, the opposing side starts to recognize the guild tags coming toward them and morale is affected to the point that they start running even before an engagement begins.
Do I have a guaranteed solution for those caught on the losing side?
Alas, not really. In certain timezones, I’ve been there.
If leadership is lacking, I find there’s little point trying to throw oneself headfirst into a blender (unless you are with a group and are trying to train to get better together) and that it’s oftentimes more effective to cease head-on hostilities and initiate guerrilla warfare.
Nothing pisses off a zerg as much as a small group of people not really worth fighting that they can’t even catch.
Siege, supply traps, being in several places at once and forcing the zerg to choose one location to be in only are small ways to have minor victories when a big undefeated zerg is running roughshod all over your map.
Of course, the best defence is to build an even better zerg.
That can only happen if enough self-interested individuals buy into the idea and find a commander they want to follow though.
On the commander end, being open to militia who want to learn and being open to training the new, confused individuals who may eventually appreciate more levels of depth in WvW may be one way of developing enough effective zerglings in the long term.
On the individual end, it may all seem like a bit too much like work for something you just want to play casually. It’s a game, right?
Well, lemme appeal to your self-interested PvE sense of self-preservation. (I got one myself, it works great for me.)
Fix your build and your gear.
Take note of competent zerg commanders and do your best to be a valued member of their team. (Or at least, not someone they want to run away from.)
YOU DIE LESS.
YOU KILL MORE.
I, personally, have more fun when I’m the one standing on the corpses of my enemies and seeing them flee before me (or rather, the commander I’m supporting.)
Your mileage may vary.
Really, I benefit a lot more keeping all this to myself and having the vast majority clueless and disorganized when the zerg I’m in smashes right through them (WvW monthly done in one fight), but I just feel so dismayed that the majority of bloggers seem to have never tasted this thrill, except where a guild group just happens to be going in their same direction.
I wish and hope you’d all keep giving it a chance and not immediately write off WvW due to a few bad experiences.
May you one day find openminded guilds you can run with and commanders that lead you to glory:
Glorious victories and glorious “OMG so many of them RUN RUN Everyone for themselves, see you suckers, meet up at waypoint later” laughing retreats.