WAR: The view from Hibernia

My post from yesterday, The Push to Tier 4, generated this quote from Heartless:

Averheim has the problem of having a heavily imbalanced hardcore crowd where Destruction has the majority of level 40’s already and for 10 levels they get to make Order’s life hell… forcing most of us Averheim Order level 30-39 to solo PvE if we expect to get to 40.

I’m not quite in Tier 4 yet, but this is a disturbing statement. Now, I know it’s made by Heartless, so I’ll take it with a grain of salt (*grins at Heartless*), but it’s worth thinking about.

Last night on Averheim, some of the Casualties of War were in Praag, engaging in Tier 4 Open RvR. From what I understood from guild chat, there was an Order warband, and three or four or more Destruction warbands. Order would make a push, Order would get spanked, they’d respawn and try it again, with a similar result. Some of the CoWs sounded dispirited, and I think that speaks to what Heartless fears.

Back in the day, when I was a member of the Hibernian realm on Percival, we were the whipping boys of the server for a very long time. There were great individual players, excellent 8-man static groups, and a solid community of good people. However, as a realm, we got our asses kicked on a regular basis. Emain was the Midgard playground, and they beat us up at the milegates until they pushed into our frontier and grabbed our keeps. We didn’t see relics for a long time.

Here’s where Mythic needs to make a mysterious “something” happen in WAR. Despite the fact that RvR was often a difficult proposition for Hibernia, it was enough fun that we kept coming out to fight, night after night. We had good leaders who pushed into Midgard and Albion territory, we tried to play the role of spoilers in the three-realm matchups, and after months of losing, we learned a lot of lessons. We learned how to fight together as a realm. We learned that the game was a ton of fun, even if we were losing. And we learned that sometimes the people you die with are more important than the objectives you manage to capture. Eventually, Hibernia emerged as a serious power player on Percival, and I was around long enough to enjoy successful relic raids, frontier dominance, and a community of people hardened by defeat long enough to band together for victory.

As I read Heartless’s comment, and as I heard the groans from guild chat as Destruction was washing over our little warband in Tier 4 last night, I wondered if WAR is going to have that “something” that keeps Order out on the battlefield. Will we manage to come together as a realm, and will that spirit allow us to continue to face what might be an uphill climb through Tier 4 (if Heartless is correct, that is, and if the sky really is falling)? Will there be enough incentives in WAR to keep Order focused and working together?

I say that Mythic needs to provide a mysterious “something”, because there are two major components in DAoC that WAR lacks. The first factor, taking the most keeps, even if it ended up being at the end of the night when the Midgard or Albion bullies had gone to bed, opened up Darkness Falls for our realm. The second factor, since I just mentioned Albion, was the three-realm mechanic. We knew that it wasn’t just Hibernia against Midgard, or Hibernia against Albion. Each evening, there was the possibility of a third faction destroying the horde that was invading your keeps in your own frontier and providing some rock-paper-scissors balance to RvR.

I talked about both of those DAoC features quite a bit during my beta days, when we were just talking theoretically about the WAR mechanics. I think both of those factors were keys in the success of DAoC’s RvR, and I’m not sure yet what WAR offers.

Keen did a great job covering the Darkness Falls idea the other day, and Syncaine mentions the three-realm factor in the comments of that thread. It’s a good discussion. It will be interesting to see if Mythic manages to keep everyone motivated through Tier 4 and at the end game. Without a compelling reason to venture out to RvR, and without a third realm to offset the dominance of one faction over another, I’d be concerned that Open RvR will feel like an exercise in frustration if one faction is much stronger than another.

I’m just a blogger, babbling my way through work and life, and I’m sure Mythic has thought of this, and I hope they have a plan for it. I do have faith that Mythic thinks they have the motivations for RvR in place, and has ideas how to balance a two-realm game mechanic. I also have faith that if those design elements don’t prove sufficient to address motivation and a sense of hope, Mythic will make adjustments.

However, it’s not 2001 any more. There’s a lot more competition in the MMO market, and Mythic has to get it right sooner rather than later if they’re going to keep anywhere near a million subscribers. It’s going to be fun to watch! I don’t have any particular predictions, but I will enjoy watching how things unfold over the next couple of months.


7 Responses

  1. *applauds*

    Great post. I don’t really have much in the way of a comment except to shout “Right on!” and pump my fist.

    I’ll be gone from War soon, for an undefined but hopefully not-very-long period, and I’m hoping that some of these issues get sorted out during my absence.

  2. I took an early night last night to watch a movie so I can’t really comment too much as I wasn’t there. Reading the WHA Averheim forums, though, it seems Order was eventually successful in turning Praag blue so I can’t really see the point of the negative comments.

  3. I think on Averheim you guys got a lot of good peeps moving up in the ranks at least from what I see in the T3 Scenarios.

    As for 3 faction Idea, I think they should of done that too. I think a Skaven/Undead/Lizardman faction would of been cool.

  4. Nice post. Makes me wish more people played DAOC so they could realize what en emotional rush it was to get darkness falls opened for your real when you were the underdogs. Because as you said, there is that mysterious something missing in WAR that will keep underdog realms fighting, and dominant realms care.

  5. @ Winged – That’s good to hear! And that’s usually what happened in DAoC too…they’d go back and forth until two sides gave up and went to sleep, and the victors got Darkness Falls for the night.

    As a ranger, I’d camp in DF if Hibernia held it. If Midgard or Albion took ownership back while I was offline, I could stealth and hunt enemy players in there. THAT was a lot of fun 🙂

  6. Something like DF is badly needed. Presumably the capitol city raids are supposed to function somewhat in that respect, however my understanding is that it mainly hinges on what heppens in teir IV. It seems like each teir should have it’s own DF that lets you grab gear about on par with the PQs.

    As for the faction imbalance, I got up to 18 on the Alliance side (with a few alts around 9) and simply gave up on my server. Alliance players weren’t generally cooporating as well as the Destruction players in scenarios, and we were both outplayed and outnumberd in almost every RvR encounter I participated in. All the teir II keeps had been red for more than a week when I finally lost patience with it.

    I have since switched to Destruction on one of the destination servers, and scenarios there have generally been pretty even. On the RvR front Alliance almost never takes even half of our keeps, but at least they usually have some. I am at the cusp of teir II, and sort of dreading finding out I chose poorly again. If I feel like I need to restart a third time, that will likely be it for WAR as far as I’m concerned.

    I believe that the lack of a third faction to balance things out really hurts the overall game, as many of us from DAoC suspected it would. Some of the servers are currently close to unplayable for the Alliance as far as I’m concerned.

  7. There’s no easy answer to that problem, Yeebo. I guess the Warhammer IP doesn’t really allow for three playable factions? If so, it’s a difficult problem to solve.

    I’m looking forward to what the Mythic brain trust is going to come up with.

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