GW2: Dragon Ball – Hits and Misses

Finally got around to playing Dragon Ball.

I stopped by the Heart of the Mists first to tweak my default PvP costume a little (mostly removing the helm because I’m vain and it’s the dorkiest looking thing on an asura.) It’s not like I could do much more than that and change a few dye colors as I rarely sPvP at best.

Since I was there though, I popped in for a round or two of hotjoin for the fun of it, and shortly realized I was pretty outclassed and out of touch with where sPvP has gotten to since the beginning of the game when I tried it while only what, 3 maps were in rotation.

First of all, I wasn’t familiar with the new maps or what the objectives were – which is always a recipe for noob nonproductivity. I tried just focusing on killing some people to improve mah lack o’ PvP skillz (in the hope that it would help me get better at small scale skirmishes in WvW on the right kind of mobility build) and also shortly noticed that the opposing team moved very fast and were usually there to interrupt a 1 on 1 very quickly, while my team never seemed to be anywhere together at all.

I tried following another teammate around in the hopes of at least -looking- like a group, but then we eventually got wiped by a larger group of 3 or 4 people. And finally, on an old map that I was familiar with, I gave up any semblance of conflict with the other team and ran around backcapping points, doing my best to neutralize and capture stuff while everyone was elsewhere.

Alarmingly, that game, I ended up with the top scorer stats and a notch on my PvP daily done. I say alarmingly, because I fancied myself the biggest noob on that battlefield, being all non-sPvP focused and all that.

It also occurred to me that I kept seeing the -same- names on the opposing side, very pro players who kept beating up on what seemed like an outmatched team.

The penny finally dropped when the scoreboard came up on the match and I saw that on my team, none of the players were any higher than rank 7. (Hi, that’s me! And one or two others.)

Meanwhile, on the other side, everyone else was rank 20-30.

Wtf. I thought there was some kind of autobalancing of teams going on. What the hell is happening here? After a few minutes of pausing trying to figure out how to bring up the PvP scoreboard before and mid match (I think I removed my keybind for that, out of disinterest and all. Clicking on the top score works,) I noticed the UI had been improved slightly and that there was this sneaky little “swap teams” button in the top right hand corner.

Now I normally zone in slowly. However, there was one match when I think someone left (out of boredom or just being finished for the day or whatever) when I was looking at the scoreboard, and the swap team button lit up. I hit that and lo and behold, turned up in the stacked team, concentrated on staying out of the way and not dying, and voila, match won.

I suspect most of these shenanigans happen pre-match as the quickest loaders take advantage of the slow loaders and flip themselves out of the team most likely to lose (from observations of noobiness) and stack onto the team most likely to win. I load slow, which leaves me in a really bad position most of the time, nor am I some sPvP god that can win 1 v 3 fights (yet. Prob no interest to learn though.)

Once I sussed that out, I sighed and hit the “quit instance” button, promptly now guilty of being a “leaver” and weakening a crappy team even further.

Why the long PvP hotjoin story in a post about Dragon Ball?

Well, the game is plagued by the same inherent problems. It is further aggravated by achievement seekers looking for the path of least resistance.

It’s kind of sad, because it really is a nice little minigame.

arenaoverview

As Ravious mentions, it is an FPS-style team deathmatch game recreated in GW2. One starts out with a very basic weapon, and has to run around the map picking up better weapons (or skills, in this case.) There are health pickups of various sizes, and even a super damage power-up.

Personally, one of the things I really appreciate about the game is that it is, in theory, a level playing field. Everyone starts out with the same health and same weapons. Everyone has access to any weapons present in the arena. Any disparity is theoretically down to player skill.

This can involve map knowledge. I peeked at dulfy’s Dragon Ball guide and sorta vaguely read where stuff was, but didn’t have an idea of wtf she was talking about with three levels, top, middle, bottom, while a 2D map of where items are doesn’t really help navigationally and jumping challenged me in a 3D environment.

I was resigned to being absolutely clueless my first few games and ran around just trying to get familiar with the map, figure out where good weapons were and trying not to die (wasn’t so great on the last bit, presenting one’s back to skilled opponents tends to lead to horrific death screams and asura nap time.)

Soon, I noticed the disturbing problems plaguing hot join PvP were also present in Dragon Ball. My team was always outmatched, all the good players were on the other team, it was usually 5 vs 4 and never in our favor, and even more amusing, people were just giving up and staying motionless and letting the other guys kill them so they could get on to the next game more quickly.

Sorry, I have more pride than that. I’m a fighter. If I stay in a match, I’ll weave in and out, zig zag, dodge, jump, spin around and even gnaw on your ankles even as you throw three buffed fireballs at me and be the most annoying prat to kill. (I’m not sure if that’s playing an asura influencing my thoughts or the other way around, but yeah.)

hoggingbottom

Of course, this didn’t work out so well in Dragon Ball. As I grew a little more familiar with how the game worked over time, it was easy to discern that the game is unbalanced in favor of the better team in the later stages. Sorta like in DOTA games where a couple feeders will pump up the opposing team to the point where they become too strong to beat, and the rest of it is just a painful waste of time as one watches the cleanup phase, or a Natural Selection game where if one side upgrades to tier 3 things, the other side is generally doomed and struggling becomes hopeless.

That is not to say that this is a bad mechanic. What this does is help to -finish- games, rather than have things end up in a hours-long stalemate going back and forth. It is how it is. Take the game rules for what they are. But it does mean that enduring the cleanup phase on the losing side is quite a demoralizing drag.

When I finally noticed that there was always that ONE AFK GUY on my perpetually losing team (I’d swap out of that team, given a chance, wouldn’t you? Except I load slow, so other faster, better people get to do it first,) my patience snapped at last. (Achievement score to date, 12 matches played, 4 won. Even? Hell no.)

Take the game rules for what they are. No point whining about how things could be different. So I became a leaver and a quitter.

Of unbalanced matches anyway. Enter a game, notice my side had 4 people and the other side have 5? No one else joining? Outnumbered team getting pounded on as a result? Quit.

Rejoin. Enter new game, notice my side has an AFK member and the other team does not? Can’t swap into the team with a massive advantage? Quit.

Rejoin. I only stayed in games where I noticed all ten players actively participating. Trust me, you can tell. The end score is usually 500 / 280+. At least the losing team is trying and fighting.

Sad thing is, Dragon Ball is actually a fun game when participants are all roughly on the same level. I finally lucked into a good game of all present players…

Here’s the scoreboard of the most nailbiting and evenly matched fight that made my previously rather low opinion of Dragon Ball take a 180 degree U-turn.

evenmatch

That game was intense. The scores climbed evenly for the most part. By that point, I was getting familiar with the game format enough to start experimenting with more sophisticated skills beyond power up skill 1 and chase people. Preferably together in a gang with someone targeted. There was a crowning moment of awesome for me when I managed to get off a shield and cause two players on the other side to kill themselves with reflected projectiles and leave the last player in the group of 3 chasing us suddenly outnumbered by two people, who promptly died.

Suddenly I had the revelation that there was indeed a skill component to Dragon Ball after all – beyond just temporarily outnumber your opponents and dodge really fucking well (and grab health when you see it.)

I started experimenting and learning. Take a left at the start, and pick up the AoE skill and keep going left for the power up to skill 1. The shield is down thattaway between the sewage tunnels. Between those two skills, I was able to put up quite a fight and hopefully kill someone 1 on 1.

I dumped skill 1 on autoattack fairly early on. I get the feeling my latency is not great enough to match spamming skill 1 for a player with better ping, and I’d tradeoff getting timing right for slightly higher DPS. The only thing to be careful of was to detarget or spin around really quick if a player put up the shield, and one could tell from the buffs whether a player had it or no.

Run and evade like hell around corners, change elevation and run for where the health stuff is, when facing a team running in a pack and you’re alone. This got me better at movement and evading, even though I tended to lag off the jump pads now and then (I suppose the erratic lag-caused movements helps in evasion, so well, not complaining, take the game for what it is.)

This generally only tended to prolong the seconds before one’s death, if a group of guys was out to get you. Surely, I said to myself, there must be a way to counter this. What hurts groups of players? Light bulb goes on in my head – AOE! And lookie, the AoE weapon causes 30 damage!

Granted, it takes some practice to use, and to lead players so that the projectile lands on them, rather than missing. I generally can only pull it off like 30% of the time, and die otherwise, but hey, any chance is better than no chance at all, sometimes. It really fucking hurts too if someone shields up and you get the AoE back in your face.

But I’ve also had some LOL moments when I see my team and the other team duking it out at the bottom in a big pack of them outnumbering my side, and I sneak up behind them from up high, and shoot an AoE right down into the clump. Then jump right in, shield up my team, and well, suffice to say it can sometimes change the battle. Not all the time, but enough times to make it rewarding enough to keep an eye out for the opportunity.

I’ve learned it’s pretty rewarding to keep trying to master the AoE, because if you’re 1 vs 1 against another player, and you can pull off a 30hp hit on them plus your regular 15 damage attack, that’s the battle skewed in your favor really fast.

After having the kick used on me to fairly effective effect, I’ve been trying it out too. The idea is to close in on a player, preferably 1 on 1, and land the daze. It interrupts them, dazes them long enough to get some good 15 hp hits in and normally leads to them dying or at very low health running the hell away.

The only thing I haven’t really managed to use to great effect yet is the chill trap. I suppose it would serve to slow down people chasing you, but honestly, who has time to lay down a trap when one is focused on getting the hell away and juking as fast as possible… Maybe I’ll figure that skill out some day, probably when others use it on me.

The damage power up is quite interesting. I usually see it only used by a dominating group, which makes life exceedingly miserable for the losing team. But I did get the opportunity once to snatch it away while on the losing side and fire it right into the most kitted out, best scoring player on the opposition. I died doing that because he had three other flunkies helping to kill me. BUT HE DIED TOO. And lost all his weapons! Temporarily, anyway. We weren’t going to recover from that regardless as the balance was already too skewed, BUT IT WAS SATISFYING. Rarrrrrr. Defiant to the end and all that.

I have to thank that very active game and all the players who stuck it out for match after even match for helping me learn Dragon Ball in a satisfying manner. (I guess everyone else was also relieved to have a game where no one was AFK.)

bottomfun

Alas, after some time of well matched games, as people left due to either finishing their ‘win’ achievements or just moving on, we had people come in that well, weren’t at the same level of skill, shall we say.

With increasing irony, as I continued just playing, I noticed my team becoming the stacked team as the more “pro” players decided they wanted to all be together and maul the other team – who were beginning to express frustration on map chat, “Wow, my team always loses.” “Oh sure, all the pro pvp players on one side, and beginning pvp’ers on another.”

I said nothing.

I did not swap teams.

I was on 12/20 wins for the achievement and there was still a ways to go.

GW2: How Fair is Fair – Player Versus Door in WvW?

Every time I idly browse the Guild Wars 2 Guru and official GW2 forums, I am deeply amused by all the entitled whining going on – the mood is hysterical, tinged with more than a touch of xenophobia. Let’s disregard the PvE dungeon reward complaints and the “his class is more OP than mine” complaints for a time and just check out the WvW ones.

According to these people, those dirty Oceanics are PvPing against door and NPCs, turning entire maps one color with zero resistance and sitting back to accrue score uninterrupted for hours at a time while decent folks are asleep. Why, everyone knows that when real Americans wake up and start fighting, that’s when those silly Australians melt away to the might of the superpower!

What do you mean, they need sleep too, Down Under? Don’t be absurd. We’re winning because we’re so good.

No, hang on, I got it confused. We’re -not- winning during our prime time too. Because all the North Americans are fighting on NA servers in a three way battle, and thus our efforts are diminished, and unimportant, and it’s so unfair, and I’m really depressed and I RAGEQUIT this stupid game – if only it had a sub, I’d throw it in your face, ArenaNet!

But then, that wouldn’t help me with my original goal of winning and dominating and feeling supremely important… So I know! I’ll sit here and theorycraft an immensely complicated scheme of scoring that would take into account what I imagine populations are like at different timezones. In essence, 95% of people are on at the same time that I play, and those dirty 5% are having too easy a time and should only get scoring worth 5%, reflecting that lack of effort.

Sorry, I can’t continue in this vein any further. I’m trying not to bust my sides laughing. It’s a supreme effort of will to resist rolling on the floor already.

You see, I’m one of those dirty Oceanics. (Or I play in their timezone anyway. I’m really South East Asian, but you can call me a Chinese Gold Farmer, no problems.)

And here we are, PvPing intently against Door!

I must have got the wrong picture. That door’s so far away…

What we have here is an intense three-way battle between IoJ, ET and CD at 2.48am server time. Or 5.48pm my local time, and about 1-3 hours later, 6.48pm-8.48pm for the real Aussies.

Oh here, I found a door! What do you mean, we’re facing the wrong way?

Actually, we’re lined up at the behest of ND (a Korean guild, Never Die) around 3.am server time, to make an extreme zerg rush for Eredon Terrace’s orb up north – after they spent the better part of 3 hours or so walking supply dolyaks and fortifying the hills keep.

Trust me, there were lots of Eredon Terrace people still awake and still doing their best to get in the way. There’s a big Thai alliance on that server now, I hear.

Oh. But you only managed this because you naturally had more people than us online! *stamps feet* So unfair!

Duh. What part of PvP attempts to be fair?

Structured PvP is over that way – try not to get too uptight about gear not mattering except for cosmetic looks and everyone having the same stats. (Apparently, it is only desirable to have better stats than thou and thus steamroll one’s opponent if you “worked” for that gear.) Or wonky team balancing and people jumping ship and sides looking for the easy wins.

PvP is never going to be 100% fair. It’s called strategy. It’s looking for a temporary weakness or a chink in your opponent’s armor. Of adjusting the odds in your favor to be better than a coin toss. It’s 2 vs 1 having a better chance of winning than 1 vs 1. That’s normal.

But what makes things really interesting and keeps hope alive and creates opportunities for epicness is how you adjust this situation to give the underdog a chance of biting back.

On a minute scale, take one moment on the battlefield I experienced last night. A group of 5 opponents were beating up on a fellow guildie (a very tough mesmer to fight in sPvP) and had him downed when another guildie and I arrived on scene. They had him downed, and alas, managed to finish him off before we could get him up. So essentially, 2 vs 5. Horrible odds.

A great deal of desperate sword slashing, dodging, sword teleporting, wall of reflecting and self-healing later, I was downed… then miraculously up again as the other guildie finished off one opponent, then downed again, and up, and once more as I pumped that self-heal and healing/aegis virtues for all they were worth. We looked up, and oh my, all of the opponents were dead/down and we finished them off, marveling at our sheer incredible luck. Obviously, we beat the odds with good luck and no doubt, momentarily poor judgement/play on the other five’s part, they picked the sturdier lower-damage output target to hit first, rather the guildie thief who was built to kill things.

ArenaNet’s hand in the design though, was the downed mechanic, that allowed for such a situation to occur.

So, how do you react? Do you scream UNFAIR, we ought to win, 5 vs 2, dead is dead, this downed thing sucks balls, CHANGE IT NAO! (Never mind that 5 vs 2 wasn’t fair to begin with.) Or do you say, hey, this is as it should be, give the underdog a chance at winning? (And add, “in fact, that’s what we’re arguing, that night-capping makes things unfair for the underdog who is asleep! That’s why we must change the scoring mechanic nao!”)

Or, as it is never a simple dichotomy, do you just accept that in this game, such a mechanic exists, and adapt your tactics around it and learn and adjust accordingly?

There is no way in hell I’m getting in between there. (That’s the fun of a three-corner fight, though. It gives strategy, opportunity, and unpredictable twists that a two realm fight cannot.)

I never really participated in Guild Wars 1 PvP. But even as an outsider, I can appreciate that it always had some manner of changing metagame. Some guilds would find builds and strategies that seemed overpowering and would win everything in sight and sweep all before them. Cue lots of forums screaming. Then some clever guy somewhere would find the counter, and before you know it, there was a new uber powerful team in town. Until the next counter. With some minor adjustment from ArenaNet here and there as they deemed necessary.

If there’s one thing I’m extremely fond of in WvW and what ArenaNet has achieved with this format in Guild Wars 2, it is the removal of stress on FFA PvP and killing anything in sight and  deathmatching each other, and correspondingly placing importance on strategies and organization of people on a large scale – objective-based goals and siege and supply uber alles.

The distance you are forced to run from a respawn point to get to a place means good play and survival is important, creates opportunities for reinforcement and cutting off reinforcement, of some places being more easy to take than others due to how reinforcing points and supply lines are laid out. There are chances for guerilla actions and large scale scene actions of an immensely epic nature.

An immense fight for Dreaming Bay. Isle of Janthir broke through the north gate and set up siege shop on the outer wall ridge, rebuffing Crystal Desert’s ferocious assaults to push us off position and out of their keep. Eredon Terrace, not to be left out, was enmeshed in a furious fight with CD from the south. IoJ and ET even managed to collide once or twice in the middle of CD’s keep, which was nerve-rackingly tense. CD might feel that we were colluding, being the unfortunate one this time to be smushed in the middle, but no, everyone just wanted the same objective at the same time. ET and IoJ were just as busy trying to wipe each other out in the middle of someone else’s home ground. 🙂 And despite exhortations to the public to leave the south keep door alone so ET cannot get in, the uncontrollable pug zerg opened it anyway, apparently. Because PvDoor holds too fascinating a temptation.
But look at the beauty of what’s going on at a more strategic level. Eredon Terrace’s spawn crosses Crystal Desert’s. Knowing how most people run from place to place, they were no doubt colliding into each other near the south and the supply camp, doing horrible things to CD’s attempts to reinforce DB and maintain a supply line. IoJ’s respawn at garrison and Godslore supply is a shorter run in comparison – props to CD for making attempts to take out north supply too, but it’s hard in the face of such pressure to hold out.

Supply running and defending/holding a position are meant to be activities just as important as assaulting. If there’s one current flaw in WvW, it’s as Jon Peters acknowledged, these activities may need to be a little more rewarded or encouraged – right now, it’s pretty much only folk who have a grasp of the strategic importance of these things doing it (usually guilds), along with server pride and sheer stubborness being the rewards.

On the other hand, clumsy adjustments might bring on even weirder behavior. I’m sure we all remember the happy dolyak trains of people doing absolutely nothing but trotting from place to place behind the front lines. Perhaps it is better to let things shake out for a bit and let the meta reveal itself.

It’s obvious that 24/7 servers have an advantage over servers who cannot field a good number into the maps at various timezones. Working as intended, I’d say. As Ausj3w3l points out, ArenaNet agrees.

Oh noes, the blamestrewers decry, this is so unfair! (See above caveat about all’s fair in love and war and PvP.)

Good lord, people, if this is so important to you, it’s about time to consider moving servers to one that fits you WvW-wise then. Or building up your own.

I know I picked my server very very carefully because I wanted an exceedingly active WvW server that would fight well and have crowds in my timezone. It’s fortunate that enough Oceanics love this server and represent it well and got organized enough to attract a very respectable cohort of NA guilds to balance out our initially weak showing in the NA timezone. A second tier server hoping to break into the first tier is a perfect match for me – not too organized to the point of getting trounced by overly clever opposition, hence I avoided the tier 1 servers (the queues must also be hell) and organized and crowded enough to create opportunities for participating in large scale actions.

Haven’t we all learned playing MMOs by now? Crowded server = longer lived, more interesting things happening. People make an MMO. Community.

If you’re a little less hardcore than I in terms of how much WvW blood is desired, a third tier server is a good option. More middle of road.

If you have NO interest in WvW, period, and don’t want any queues or indeed, even people getting in the way of your collecting PvE nodes and points of interest, then I would suggest the servers significantly lower in the rankings – with the caveat that due diligence must be done on how crowded PvE-wise the server is for your interests – don’t come to me crying later that the place is completely deserted.

I’m going to leave you with an anecdote from this weeks’ battles. In the last one or two days, Isle of Janthir has been giving a stronger showing during NA night times than Oceanic night times. I suspect the key is organization. We’ve been running around at my nights sans siege sans many leaders sans much organization at all. There also seems to be a little fear left over in the general pugs from the last time we got trounced by ET, which has not yet successfully converted over into rivalry and hope. (It’s getting there, I hope.) Conversely, the NA guilds on IoJ are out in concerted force and it is showing in the points scoring and the people directing each other around on team chat.

Things can change in the blink of an eye, of course. It’s way too close to call at this point, any server can make a comeback or a push. One thing’s for sure, though I sense some people (aka whiners) are a little discouraged by not having easy wins or getting squished by two parties on occasion, there’s plenty of people who aren’t giving up without a fight yet, a lot of people are hellbent on demonstrating that they aren’t going to be walked all over by ET again, win or lose, and there’s going to be at least a few good fights left this week.

As a forums goer mentioned, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Rowr.