After a few weeks of the revised (essentially “randomized”) matchups, some of the repercussions have been starting to make themselves known via forum board posts (read: complaints.)
Bottom line is, there have been some VERY uneven matchups taking place over the last couple of weeks.
To take my home server Tarnished Coast as an example:
Our first week placed us vying against our dear and bitter frenemies Fort Aspenwood and threw the lower tiered Sea of Sorrows in place of Dragonbrand into the mix.
This ended up much as one would expect: TC and FA duking it out and SoS doing their best to get underfoot. The matchup wasn’t too misbalanced (at least from my TC perspective, other TC’ers or FA or SoS people may have their own subjective opinions) in that there were still good fights in between various coverage gaps. FA and SoS have a stronger Oceanic contingent than TC, whereas TC tended to dominate in the Euro timezone, and NA and SEA were fairly even, if slightly skewed towards TC.
It may have indeed helped give a relaxing SoS a wakeup call and got them inspired to fight hard, even if comparatively outnumbered.
The following week pitched the number 1 NA server Sanctum of Rall against Tarnished Coast and Sea of Sorrows.
Well, I personally enjoyed the challenge of being back-to-the-wall against impossible odds (as long as our commanders were still organized and keeping morale high.) And I found encountering a zerg that was built even more tough and resilient than a TC zerg very refreshing – in that we realized there was still a lot of room for improvement for certain guilds and builds, and generally had to be very focused in our movement and tactics. It was also fun showing SoR some of the more distinctly TC-evolved sneaky tricks and catching them off guard at times, even if the odds were against us from the beginning.
But I admit the pressure to keep obsessively fighting and holding out kept me playing way past usual hours – while it was obvious SoR had enough coverage for different guilds to take shifts and come in refreshed. Since I gave up being hardcore about ten years ago, it was easy enough to find new priorities for GW2 gaming time once Dragon Bash rolled around (Dragon Coffers were selling for 7-8 silver then! Price will only drop as the month goes on, y’know! Strike while the iron is hot! Farm farm farm! Sell sell sell!)
I don’t even want to speak for what SoS was thinking and feeling against SoR. Based on their forum posts and in-game actions, some of the more hardcore WvW SoS folks definitely have a lot of heart and pride and were holding out just fine – but suffice to say they were even more outnumbered as a server than TC was, in general.
This week, Tarnished Coast has still remained glommed onto Sea of Sorrows, and Crystal Desert has entered the fray.
That’s the server from which we received transfers of three hefty SEA guilds seeking larger and better fights, so you might imagine that the style of WvW combat CD is used to is certainly not of the same size and scale. With Dragon Bash providing a useful distraction for any GW2 players who both WvW and PvE, the impetus to hang around fighting battles against uphill odds is not very strong for most, which leads to blowout scores in the larger server’s favor.
Reactions have been rather fervent. From those hardcore enough about WvW to post on the official forums on a regular basis, I must add.
I’m shamelessly generalizing here, but let’s invent a typical hardcore WvW player who only lives for PvP and “good fights” and disdains PvE in any form. Such a player doesn’t mind fighting uphill battles and being somewhat outnumbered or losing and dying as they’ve internalized a value system where the bigger a fight they put up, the more ‘respect’ this earns them in the eyes of their opponents. A balanced even fight is their Shangri-La, because the outcome is uncertain and player skill has the largest impact here. Winning against low or zero resistance becomes as boring as PvE to these folks, because there’s no challenge. The worst thing that can happen is that no one shows up to be fought against, leading to the ultimate boredom as one roams around in search of opponents who simply aren’t there.
Such players miss the old system very badly as it produced the most even matchups for them.
Strangely though, there is another subset of players that seem to have an impact on whether queues pop up across WvW maps or not. These players tend not to post on forums, and turn up based on the scoreboard. They have been derisively called fairweathers or pugs, weekend warriors, or if one is feeling very very kind, “militia,” by those who fancy themselves a lot more dedicated to WvW. They do tend to be less well versed in the game format, and have builds not optimized for it as well.
You will rarely find them in WvW when your server is doing less well. Yet once a server pushes over 300 or so, there seems to be some kind of critical mass effect that attracts them into jumping in and riding the gravy train and pushing the server even higher and higher scores.
Hardcore WvW players tend to be very scornful of this playstyle. Me, I don’t know. It occurs to me that sometimes, majority votes can’t be wrong. Maybe it’s not so much what players say, but what they actually do.
Tarnished Coast has been massively queued across a good number of maps in this blowout week. (You could map hop freely last week against Sanctum of Rall during most times that weren’t NA primetime, and I think it got even worse past Tuesday – I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t there either.)
A number of these guys contributing to the queue are definitely beginner WvWers and primarily PvE players and probably not a few map completionists either. There are doubtless opportunists who leap at the chance to kill people when the odds are in their favor. Add on the regular WvW guilds trying to get on during their usual times for pushes, and things are definitely crowded.
I’m thinking – they wouldn’t stay in there, if they weren’t having “fun” with matchups the way they are.
Then there’s in the in-betweens, because I never believe in dichotomies. Call ’em semi-hardcore WvWers, casual WvWers, opportunists, militia, what-have-you, their behavior can reflect either extreme depending on personalities, available free time, morale and other conflicting priorities.
I suppose I’m one of this lot.
Speaking for myself, this week I haven’t been WvWing much either. Dragon Bash deflected me last week into achievement hunting and coffer farming, and my lowbie warrior was climbing the levels and getting better. Between the choice of being utterly bored for long moments and running patently outmanned enemies into the ground with way too many numbers – or getting run over while wandering around solo because the only opponents out have collected into wolf packs for survival, versus actually gaining levels every half hour to good music and racking in 0.75-1 gold at the same time, leveling the warrior is a lot more appealing.
And I can’t help but wonder if that’s a good thing.
(Cue the screams of horror of the heavily invested WvW players.)
No, I’m serious.
Assuming that one is a well-balanced GW2 player who does a number of different activities in game, and not just one primary thing, maybe it’s good to have off weeks where one can essentially take a break and go do other things.
One of the things I’ve always been perplexed about getting caught up in WvW was knowing when to stop. If you’re winning, you want to keep going. If you’re losing, you don’t want to log out and look like you’ve turned tail and run, so you fight on. The pressure can sometimes get a little nuts.
For me, it’s nice to have a week where I can mostly PvE and relax knowing that others, a LOT of others, are carrying on the fight. A week where I don’t feel guilty bringing in an underleveled character to goof around with and scoop up what xp I can when bored of the PvE level grind, or experimenting with a class/build that I’m really not that great with.
I might even bring in some alts to do WvW map completion, like no doubt many of the PvE population are now opportunistically doing. And maybe even visit the Obsidian Jumping Puzzle later this week – as long as all the EB keeps are controlled by my server. I am just entirely philosophically opposed to ganking and that whole puzzle is one big trollfest if it’s open to more than one server – I only enjoy going in when I know for sure there can be no red names there, period.
So despite the possibility of a temporary morale drop in a week where facing a server way too strong for us, I find I’m rather okay with the idea of variety in my matchups personally.
I think there’s the potential for greater inclusivity in that a lot more players may want to dip their toes into WvW this way.
The only thing I worry about is if the hardcore WvWers can get used to the idea. If they become too bored or too frustrated by the lack of good fights or a balanced even matchup, they may decide to take their ball elsewhere and play something else.
Which will also destroy the game format because it’s the hardcore WvWers that the rest rely on, for organization, for teaching and training, for being online way longer than they should, for leading and directing the militia to paint the whole map a certain color to begin with. Without them, the casuals won’t come in to play either.
It’s a funny kind of paradox.
Cater too hard for the hardcore, and the casuals won’t want to come.
Fail to cater sufficiently to the hardcore, and the casuals won’t have anyone to follow.
(And the in-betweens just keep doing their own thang, seeing how the wind blows.)