On The Edge of Irrelevance: Guild Wars 2’s PvP Nosedive

I am going to toot my own horn, but it’s a really sad tune I’ll be playing. I was right, but I really didn’t want to be right about this.

We Saw This Coming

One of the main complaints from the PvP community about the choice of Conquest as sPvP in Guild Wars 2 is the Capture Point rule set. This doesn’t mean that capture point games aren’t common or unpopular, but that they rarely become the accepted test of skill in PvP type games.

And once you neutralize or capture, then there is no benefit to hanging around. There is likely a contested area or node that needs you more at the time. It is possible that you could design your team to have sets of two players who feature a highly supportive and defensive player with someone of decent damage output to take a node and sit on it. The problem then becomes that the battle is a war of attrition. Prolonged battles and over-balance are two of the major reasons the Guild Wars PvP scene died off after being so healthy for years. If your ruleset and map dictates prolonging fights to preserve nodes then it shrinks the type of builds and strategies to use.

In larger head-to-head battles you have more room for builds to specialize into different roles and for players to coordinate their playstyle with the playstyle of their teammates. What this means is that you could have a six on six head-to-head battle with different team makeups on each side, as opposed to a standardized Cap Point team.

In Capture Point, if you try to stick together as a single swarm, then you’ll likely lose. You can’t force large battles in Conquest. If most of your team is at one spot then you give up the other two nodes. Running, delaying and interfering matter most. What the PvP community wants are those team vs team situations where the battle is all out, and it’s a matter of supporting and controlling both sides. Players want to be sized up against the whole of the other side. They don’t want to succeed at their node running, just to realize they’re losing because of something that is happening on the other side of the map for which they have no input on or access to. Players also want the extra strategy of team builds.

What ArenaNet risks by going fully in with just Conquest is alienating the playerbase that would make the sPvP attractive. You can’t be bigtime without the respect of the community because you won’t draw the community to care and be competitive about your game. You will get, and forgive the elitism here, the second and third tier players to fill in the gap of talent. In other sports, there are minor leagues and spinoff leagues. There has been basketball leagues that use trampolines and favor dunking because it has a high entertainment value. These minor leagues don’t ever rise above the level of sideshow because nobody truly respects them. They don’t draw the top talent and thus don’t draw the big attendance. I feel this is the same for E-sports. ArenaNet can’t go out there and try to push E-sports while being PowerDunk Ball.

–  The E-Sports Charade

I wrote those blocks of text over a year ago on May 24th, 2012. It was a warning about the future of PvP in the game if they stuck with Conquest. I think the PvP community will find those “warnings” extremely relevant right now, especially the final paragraph.

The Tournament Finals Swansong

At the one year anniversary bash, ArenaNet held their tournament final between the top European team and the top North American team. If I could describe the feel of everything about this in two words, it would be “awkward” and “depressing”.

The Anniversary Bash stream was above 5k viewers during the early parts of the event. People watched the opening address and the Q&A. The final part of the event was the match between Car Crash and Sync for the PVP championship. At this point, the twitch fell below 5k viewers, and then loss more viewers as the match went on.

However, it was already awkward before that. The devs kept trying to pump up the match, but the live audience issued a muttering of applause, seemingly clueless about the two teams, or just not interested in the event itself. When it came to Q&A time, a lone player from Crystal Desert asked why there wasn’t more modes for PvP in the game, and where the beloved modes from Guild Wars 1 were to be found in the game. In response, the Dev Panel looked at each other, somewhat clueless and scared. There was not a single spvp dev on the panel. The closest person to this was Devon Carter, who handles WvWvW. After the group sat quiet a second, Colin Johannson jumped on the “grenade” of a question, and effectively dodged it with a rambling bit of PR.

Meanwhile, the entire twitch stream was filled with people spamming “GvG” in the chat for the entirety of the event. The entire thing felt like a trainwreck for PvP rather than the showcase ArenaNet intended it to be.

The Victory Funeral

Following the championship, players took to the forums and expressed their issues with the handling of the PvP question, and how generally uninteresting the match was itself.

Players complaining on forums is nothing new. However, long time sPvP player, and large contributor to the cause Xeph announced his retirement from the game the following day. He said his reasons were numerous, but you could sort of tell the Anniversary Bash and its recent news was a tipping point.

The post was deleted, but the damage was done.

It’s Not the Incentives

Xeph felt the PvP lacked incentives to attract players, but that’s never really been a big part of highly successful PvP. Most of the reward comes from winning and the winning actually meaning something. Ultimately, there must be some pride in the accomplishment of winning. Guild Wars 2 lacks that feeling. It lacks is because Conquest mode is Powerdunk Ball. it’s not what people care about, and ArenaNet never listened.

And now their planned high moment is a depressing final death cry.

Can it be saved? Sure. It’s not like ArenaNet is facing any real competition in the MMO PvP space. However, they need to focus on what people care about in MMO PvP. Don’t be a MOBA. Don’t spread small skirmishes across a map. People are getting that already, and there’s a whole other audience being ignored. That audience wants tactical, skilfull, and gear balanced team fights. It doesn’t have to be deathmatch. You can establish a goal to fight over, but that goal must involve two teams fighting together.  People watch MMO PvP for the group play, Remember that.

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Crystal Blue Aggression: Beta Weekend Event 2 Impressions

underwater combat

BOOM!

Small Town Hero

I have these moments during the beta weekends where, after I have just finished a few Events or Hearts in a small area, I stop to look around and ponder what to do. I am mindful of the idea that if I talked to more scouts in the world, I’d have somewhere marked out on my map as a next destination, but I have avoided scouts for my own reason. I like to explore. The times where I’ve filled up my tasks and think I have nothing left to do tend to lead to my favorite moments.

Fighting Moa Birds

Blurred Frenzy versus the poor pink Moa

At a certain point in the beta, I turned off the UI and began fighting moa birds without the UI to assist me, taking screenshots of the combat without the combat text or UI to explain what I was doing or what was being done to me. I did this to have some clean combat shots for this blog, but I also did it to become better at reading combat and using my skills.  This was a moment where I was not pursuing a quest-like goal, but doing whatever I wanted. It just so happened that I was fighting Moas by the lake in Kessex hills. This is where a fishing village had been repeatedly attacked by Krait slavers. I knew I needed to learn more underwater skills, so I took my blind combat into the lake.

I quickly found that I actually liked the Mesmer’s trident weapon skills more than most of the Mesmer’s land-based skills. The Trident is about the only thing in game that makes the Confusion condition matter. I noticed that the lake had an opening on the far end, at the opposite shore from where I was fighting the moa birds. I swam off in that direction, picking off krait slavers along the way, and learning my trident skills.

At the lake opening, I found a shallow tributary with some fish and crab, along with those kraits. I swam my way through this watery avenue until I came upon an even greater lake than the previous one from which I had came. I turned my UI back on, and saw that a heart had opened up somewhere near me, along with a skill point challenge. I tried to find a way back up on land, finally locating a low ledge to my left. When I got onto the ledge, I noticed a watery cavern was just below me. I hopped down into the cavern and found a Hylek waiting for me.

Piggy Time

I am going HAM on them truffles.

What I had come across was the “pig quest”, a heart in which the Hylek shaman turns you into a pig and you forage the cavern for truffles. I had seen youtubes of this event before, but had no idea where it actually was. I was excited to find it, and found the heart a nice bit of fun. While doing my little piggy truffle shuffle, I heard some Hyleks talking in the water. I hopped into the water, found an underwater passage and followed it all the way down and around, until I came up into a hidden cavern that was home to a tiny Hylek encampment.

After finishing the heart, I found my way back out and tried to find the skill challenge nearby. It took some climbing, but I did run across a stinky Asuran engineer who had some weird stink bomb contraption. He challenged me to see if I could handle his invention and we proceeded to battle. His “stinky” contraption lobbed poison all over the ground and the fight was rather challenging. I did manage to take him down and receive my reward. Looking over my shoulder, I saw what looked like an Asuran outpost on the beach.

I swam over to this outpost and found that it was full of strange races, some new and some from the first game. There were Asurans, but there were also Caromi, Sylvari and Quaggans. The Quaggan seemed to be the locals of the area, and a rather annoying one kept begging me to do something about the Sea Witch. I finally said yes, and a boss Dynamic Event popped up in the middle of the lake.

Hylek Village

Frogs live in the coolest spots.

After selling off my junk items, I dived back into the lake in search of this Sea Witch.

Inside the lake was another heart, and another Quaggan. This task consisted of checking crabbing traps and fighting crabs, krait and the rest of the things that probably scare Quaggan. Given their perosnalities, I think everything scares the Quaggan. While i could handle the previous lake’s Krait warriors, this lake was decidedly more reinforced with Krait militia. As I tried to complete the heart and find the Sea Witch, I kept running into more and more foes. Once I finally found the mouth of the Sea Witch’s cave, I saw that it was guarded by veteran Krait that proceeded to run me out of town. A nearby player helped me escape, but I decided to put the Sea Witch on hold.

After I went back to the crabbing work, I found another opening in the underwater geology. Wandering in, I came to a new dynamic event. I had found a Quaggan town underwater that was being attacked by slavers. This was one of my favorite events, but also one of the more vile events, and for the same reason. First, I was doing it alone, and I was doing it all for the Quaggan. I fought off wave after wave of Krait, stopping to free the Quaggan that had been shackled by the slavers. This event allowed me to use all the underwater skills I had just learned, and my reward for completing it was hearing a chorus of Quaggan conversation.

The Quaggan look like manatees and talk like rejects from a really bad children’s show. When I had run off the Krait, the town mayor remarked “Stwoopid Kwait!” The villagers looked to blame someone and rambled on about recovering something. They celebrated and discussed what next to do. I felt like I had, by myself, saved these poor Quaggan townsfolk, but then again, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to hang around and hear them talk like babbies.

Major Tests of a major issue

I was not happy to hear about the change to traits that ArenaNet had made for the Beta Weekend Event. I am a big fan of the previous system which allowed you to pick any major trait in any major trait slot. In Guild Wars, I was a build maker and tester. Even when my guild was not doing any PvP matches at the time, I was busy testing out ideas and theories. Even to this day, I try to break the system and find something crazy to do. This means that tiering and restricting traits is not something that fits my playstyle, nor is it something that really, truly helps balance. You either are good at balance or you’re not, and you don’t really know what your balance is until the public gets its hands on your game. This BWE2 was a prime example.

In the previous BWE, there were at least a few good Mesmer builds. I messed with a staff build that high survivalbility, and I played around with creating a Mind Wrack shatterbombing build, trying out a couple variants on that same idea. I tried to create confusion based builds, but the condition was and is still lacking.

This BWE, I wanted to try out a new Glamour+Confusion build idea that I had made in the various build calculators available on the web. The new trait system had changed some things up, but I was still able to replicate the

Forest PvP Results

Being able to solo Forest bosses equals easy points.

build. Unfortunately, the build required I take three glamour utilities and I quickly became aware how much I depended on kiting people through those glamours. It wasn’t horrible, but it was extremely situational. My glamours blinded and confused foes entering them, and my blinds also applied an extra confusion. As I played, I noticed my Duelist from my pistol off-hand was doing some good damage. It was mostly the Duelist and my Confusing Images that were being effective.Word was getting around that Phantasms had been buffed. After a few runs with my first build idea, I reworked the idea and sacrificed all the blind and blind creates confusion traits for pure Phantasm pumping buffs. I started to see obscene numbers from my Duelist, and then I tested it out on the Golem dummies, seeing the obscene damage numbers replicated. As it turns out, Phantasmal Haste was basically removing the cooldown from Phantasm attacks and turning my illusions into machine guns. By the end of the day, I had adjusted everything into a build that most would call “broken”. I still retained the Glamours cause confusion and longer lasting glamours, but now they worked with my Duelists by their strength as a combo field.

Anyways, by the end of the first night, the public had found an overpowered build in the new trait system designed to mitigate such things. Not a damning thing, but not an impressive thing.

Speaking of the Mesmer..

I thought they were reworking the Mesmer, but ANet hadn’t really changed much, and what they did change, I am not sure anyone likes. Clones now do zero damage, but can take an extra hit. This makes them slightly more durable for shatter purposes, but also makes them even less a deceptive tool. Phantasms now pose legitimate threats, but still get overwritten by the weaker clones. As for shattering, the previously powerful Mind Wrack was nerfed through its traitline, deep into the ground. A mind wrack now hits the same as my MH Sword attack. Not all that impressive or worthy of consideration. Since Phantasms outwork shatters, I stopped using shatters in PVP and used them less in PVE than I had in the previous BWE. Overall, the Mesmer is in worse shape now than it was in the previous BWE. They have all the same major issues, but feature fewer viable builds and tactics.This may be why I began my second character this BWE while playing Mesmer for the entirety of the previous betas.

That Finale

The finale for this BWE was bewildering and awesome at the same time. What was going on wasn’t as apparent as I expected, but once I figured out what was going on, it was one of those “AWESOME!” moments. Unfortunately, the finale really needed two hours instead of 45 minutes. Many servers had the event start late, and no server that I know of took the event to completion.

Crystal Assassin

I became a crystal assassin.

The basic premise of the finale was this: The Crystal Dragon has appeared in the sky and sent in its forces. The Flame Legion has joined the dragon legions and begun to set up camp outside The Black Citadel. The first part of the event featured fighting off the Flame Legion, but after about 10-20 minutes, these crystal shards started showing up around Waypoints in the Charr starting area. Our massive zerg ran from Crystal to the next, fighting corrupted Charr legions. At a certan point, strange crystal creatures started showing up with names that looked like player names. My event notifier told me to destroy them, so I did. I still couldn’t figure out where they were coming from. Our zerg kept going from Crystal spawn to Crystal spawn, while Rhytlock roamed through the Ascalon Foothills, looking for a fight. Finally, I died in one of the giant battles. When I clicked on resurrect, I showed up at one of the crystal corrupted waypoints and found that I had been corrupted and turned into a crystal creature. I had a new set of skills and a new job to do: kill and corrupt all the remaining players. Now the game had turned into a giant game of kill-tag. We got to about 80% of the playerbase corrupted before the event ended.

It was fun, but I really would have liked to seen what happens at the end. Do we fight Rhytlock? Does the dragon come down from the sky? I mean, come on!

Finale Chaos

Absolute Chaos.

Other things

I did do a bit more WvWvW this weekend, but again, our server was severly outmatched and running into a meatgrinder was in no way or shape fun for me. At a certain point during the first night, we had taken 60% of the map and I was part of a group that was clearing keeps and killing Keep Lords. This was enjoyable, though it didn’t involve much fighting other players. Once all of us Americans went to bed, the second place server went to work overnight, capturing about 90% of the map and never looking back. There needs to be something done about the way every WvWvW turned into a pure domination. The third server in this matchup was never ever a factor. We wiped their zone out and then the other server wiped us out.

I did play some engineer and found it to be a supportive, wacky, fun little class that I can see functioning in the background of combat. I’ll have more thoughts on it later.

I got my crafting p into the 80s and made myself some gear. I also got some cool threads from wandering into the new zone and fighting higher level mobs. I got a good amount of dye drops and don’t have a problem with the drop rates or the dye system so far.

I unfortuantely didn’t get to 30, which is what happens when you try to do everything there is to do. This means I still have no dungeon experience to speak about. I hope they don’t reset characters for at least the next BWE so that I may be able to experience the dungeon and finally do a write-up on the game’s dungeon design.

That’s it for now. Long live the Moletriat.

Bank

Looking good.

Early PvP Tips

ArenaNet finally announced the next Beta Weekend Event for June 8th to the 10th. In preperation for that, I am offering some PvP tips for people who are just now joining in on the Beta experience or for those that spent the first weekend knee deep in PVE and are spending this June event in the e-peen glory of the Mists. First, I’ll give some general tips and then I’ll note some things to watch for when fighting against certain classes.

Of importance here is that all class tactic discussion is based on the game and classes as they appear in the first BWE. Certain changes could throw things out the window, but I imagine some things will remain true until release. Also, I won’t be talking about WvWvW as that sort of has its own, grander strategy and I feel I have an invalid amount of experience with that part of the game. At least not enough experience to dish out some worthy tips.

Any player can plop directly into a Conquest game from their Hero Panel. The Hero Panel is also the quickest way to get to the Mists. If this is your first time trying PvP, I highly suggest going to the Mists before using the Conquest hotjoin option.

In the Mists

The Mists is the lobby area for PvP, consisting of a short tutorial area and then the larger zone beyond. The tutorial area will give you tips on resurrecting others and using your finishing move on downed foes. These are basic, quick tutorials. You can skip them if you want and head straight to the Asura gate in the back which will take you to the actual Mists lobby area. The first thing about the Mists that you’ll notice is that you’re hopped up to level 80 and have access to all skills and traits. This means there is no grind in the sPvP beta. You can be what you want and how you want immediately.

In the lobby area, you will find two important Asura Gates, PvP vendors, a NPC offering a Game selection screen, and a grander tutorial area beyond. One of the Asura gates will take you to the central map of WvWvW. Once you port into your server’s base in the central map of WvWvW, other Asura Gates will be present for you to hop into the different zones of WvWvW.

The Vendors in the Mists Lobby offer various gear, weapons, runes, amulets and gems for your PvP experience. For the purpose of the Beta, these will only apply to Conquest’s Structured PvP mode. Looking into your options for gear is highly important and will grant you more immediate satisfaction with your sPvP experience. The game provides you with a basic build and some gear to go along with it, but these are very general builds that won’t be as enjoyable as playing the way you want with the sort of gear that accentuates your style.

On that note, the amulet is currently one of the biggest and most important pieces of gear in the sPvP game. If you are playing in a way that relies on bleeds and conditions to tally your damage then switching to the condition damage amulet will make a large difference in the effectiveness of your build. Beyond this, there are runes that offer set bonuses and weapon enhancements that offer bonuses on such things as weapon swaps or chances to proc air damage. Honestly, the immediate rush of stat choices and modifiers is a bit of a shock after you’ve been playing low level PVE with gear that has two or three stat attributes. I would suggest putting on gear and weapons that roughly reflect your build and then working from there.

Your “build” then is what you make out of your weapon and skill choices, along with your traits. You can instantly refund your traits at no cost, so play around with them and look at all your options. The trait lines often have a tell as to what weapons they more naturally work with. Some may offer more power with a sword equipped or more toughness with a mace equipped. These clues will help key you in on where you may want to spend trait points if you plan on using these weapons.

Beyond the immediate lobby area is a surprisingly helpful tutorial area. While many are likely used to dummies as target practice, in the Mists, the Asura Golems stand in as practice targets. They come in different armor classes and they also come in as dodge tutorials. One Golem will spin its arms around to help you practice dodging out of aoe attacks. On a rise beyond the dodging Golem, a selection of NPCs representing each profession in the game await you. These NPCs will fight you and exhibit certain skills and styles specific to them. For example, the thief NPC will use stealth and move aorund, while the Guardian NPC will hold the middle of his area and use bubbles. If you fight these NPCs and lose, they will stop to resurrect you. It’s a useful tutorial for new players with little risk involved.

Fighting the real thing

There are certain things I feel every player should know when fighting against certain professions in the game. This is a quick rundown of some tips.

The Engineer

The Engineer has no melee weapon option available to them, so the first thing you should realize is that an Engineer will likely begin fighting you at range. This doesn’t mean that you should disregard an Engineer coming towards you in melee range, as the toolkits of the Engineer can be devastating at close range. For example, the Flamethrower is an aoe and control nightmare. The main attack on this toolkit sprays fire in a frontal cone. The weapon can also be used to suck in and blow out foes. If you’ve played TF2 then the concept may be familiar: don’t stand in front of the Pyro. Mines can be quite powerful as well, as can bombs. An Enginner can often spam these explosives on the ground around you, so watching where you step versus an Engineer is very important.

These explosivse and flamethrowers are all utility skills and that means they are a tell to the type of build your foe is running. For example, if you come across an Engineer with multiple turrets set up around them, then you likely don’t have to worry about those explosives and flames because turrets are utility skills as well. So seeing a bunch of turrets can be a tell that this Engineer isn’t so well equipped for melee battles, while seeing a bunch of strange clouds on the ground can mean the Engineer is relying on an elixir gun that you’ll want to dodge past  the spray zone of or stay beyond.

The Mesmer

First things first with fighting a Mesmer: the illusions. Don’t worry about the clones, they do minimal damage. You only have to worry about them if you get stunned or they run at you. But how do you tell which is the real Mesmer? Look for the Mesmer that is moving the most; look for the Mesmer that actually looks worried you’ll hit it. Beyond that, you can currently check the health bar of each target for the Mesmer class icon. If your target has the class icon then it’s the real thing. If it doesn’t then it’s a clone.

So why should you worry if you get stunned? The Mesmer’s Mind Wrack shatter spell can hit for a ton of damage if traited properly. We’re speaking in the 10k range of combined damage. In order to get this amount reliably, many Mesmers carry stun skills to keep their target in place. Since you can see those clones suddenly rush at you, its rather easy to hit your dodge and let the clones explode for zero damage. In order to stop this, the Mesmer will stun on a Mind Wrack, creating a clear tell that the damage spike is coming. If you have a skill that lets you escape from stun, I advise using it against a Mez and following it with any damage avoidance available.

Outside of the Mind Wrack, Mesmer damage is rather mundane and their strength relies in prolonging fights and getting you to chase their nonsense. Their second best source of damage is the dueling phantasm, which you may want to line of sight. In general, focus the Mesmer and avoid their Mind Wracks and you can be alright.

The Thief

The thief class has immense burst right now. Key to surviving a thief is dodging their initial burst. Often this will come from a backstab and some 3 skill attacks. The 3 skills on a thief are skills that change based on the weapon combo the thief is wielding. For example, dual pistol’s unload can create a significant amount of damage, so simply kiting a thief won’t do. You have to be ready to avoid the big unleash, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to see when it’s coming.

What to do versus a thief then is to keep moving and dodging, but also put pressure on them. The thief isn’t extremely durable and can’t take a lot of damage. Once you unload on a thief, they will likely use a stealth skill to give themselves time. Use this space in combat to beef yourself up as well. Certain thieves live on a 30 to 40 seocnd timer of buff skills to kill, so keep this in mind if your foe tries to reset the encounter with stealth.

The thief, along with the Elementalist, is also the most annoying class to finish off in PvP. They will vanish and port away in downed state, so don’t let yourself get too low before a finishing move. They can reset your Finisher and manage to kill you.

The Guardian

The Guardian will take you awhile to kill. They’re just built that way. If a guardian is playing stationary and prolonging a fight, then it may be better to just skip out and take another objective. If you catch a guardian between points and get them to chase, then you can get them outside of their protective aoes.

One thing to keep in mind with Guardians is that they normally carry a lot of boons. Necromancers may have a better time versus them than other classes as stripping their boons away takes away some of their defenses.

Fighting defensively versus a Guardian may not happen often. If you are fighting a Guardian with a greathammer, I would watch out for their fifth skill which can trap you in a little magical prison while they swing away at you. Also, greatsword Guardians can trait to be healed on greatsword attacks. If you see that big sword and your foe’s health constantly ticking up, it’s time to kite or disable them.

The Rest

I’ll probably get into the other professions after the next BWE. I could give some general tips on them, but I feel they wouldn’t be as specific or detailed as the rest of these notes. (Not that these are outstanding strategies I’ve included.) I could give you these basic tips: Don’t stand near enclosed spaces versus an Ele, just kite the Warrior, good luck vs a Ranger, and Necromancer’s Death Shroud is bloody annoying.

Good luck.

The E-Sports Charade: Part Two

The A.B. Problem

One of the main complaints from the PvP community about the choice of Conquest as sPvP in Guild Wars 2 is the Capture Point rule set. This doesn’t mean that capture point games aren’t common or unpopular, but that they rarely become the accepted test of skill in PvP type games.

So what is a Capture Point game? It’s your basic node and resource control map. In World of Warcraft, Arathi Basin is the second battleground you gain access to and is a Capture Point ruleset and map. There are five nodes to capture and when you capture a node, your score begins to go up. In Guild Wars, the Capture Point ruleset was called Alliance Battles. The maps in Guild Wars were larger and since the game stuck you into four player squads, the battles quickly became a game of running from node to node, moving around in circles. Tol Barad in Cataclysm is a Capture Point battle of a larger scale. This map had people running from point to point as well. Of course, this running around is sort of the issue with the whole Capture Point system.

Capture Node

Standing around and scoring points.

All By My Lonesome

In the two Conquest maps shown so far, the rate at which you neutralize a node is much greater than the rate at which you can capture a node. What this means is that if you run around to a node held by the enemy team, its fairly easy to neutralize that node and make it so that it doesn’t contribute points to either side. Staying around and capturing the node takes two to three times as much time. This may be done to stop the running around issue, but so far, it doesn’t really accomplish that. People will take what’s easiest. Often you will find yourself as the only person at a node. There is no fighting. You’re just sort of standing there until a bar changes. As you may imagine, this sort of activity doesn’t really excite the PvP community. While hanging around to capture it may lead to enemies coming to stop you, there is no assurance of this. Further, neutralizing a point can often be effective enough on its own. If you have a lead of 50-100 points, neutralizing is all you need to do. You can sit on an equal amount of nodes captured and win.

And once you neutralize or capture, then there is no benefit to hanging around. There is likely a contested area or node that needs you more at the time. It is possible that you could design your team to have sets of two players who feature a highly supportive and defensive player with someone of decent damage output to take a node and sit on it. The problem then becomes that the battle is a war of attrition. Prolonged battles and over-balance are two of the major reasons the Guild Wars PvP scene died off after being so healthy for years. If your ruleset and map dictates prolonging fights to preserve nodes then it shrinks the type of builds and strategies to use.

ANet has tried to get around this with features like the trebuchet and bosses. These are meant as equalizers against heavily guarded nodes. A trebuchet shot can take out an entire group if it hits right. Downing the mini-bosses will net your team 50 points and a buff. Yet the issue with all of these things is the small size of the encounters. A boss killer and trebuchet player is often out on their own, not interacting with the team. This isn’t a new element to Guild Wars, as GvG had flag runners and split squads, but those small size roles were always balanced by larger scale battles elsewhere. One of the major issues with the current Capture Point system is that there will likely be no larger battles seen.

Where Depth Disappears

In larger head-to-head battles you have more room for builds to specialize into different roles and for players to coordinate their playstyle with the playstyle of their teammates. What this means is that you could have a six on six head-to-head battle with different team makeups on each side, as opposed to a standardized Cap Point team. For example, one side is carrying three melee characters, but there is a ranged character supporting those melee characters by snaring their target and buffing their allies speed. Perhaps one teamhas a Guardian and  a Warrior paired together with hammers. The Guardian snares a target within a restrictive circle, and the Guardian and Warrior both unleash hard hits to the trapped target. The other side could have an Elementalist and a Mesmer set up combo fields for Ranged characters to shoot through. The strategy of the melee team forces the other team to use more control fields and snares, encouraging the ranged attackers not to get stuck together and caught in the same trap.

While Guild Wars 2 encourages people to be a master of all things, the ability to focus in an area to the greater benefit of the whole is an element of strategy that fades away in a spread-out Capture Point map.

This doesn’t mean that I encourage straight deathmatch systems for sPvP in Guild Wars 2. Dueling for the purpose of training and testing will likely find its way into the game, but Arena deathmatches have their limits, too. You can still create setups where you have room for both small skirmishers and larger skirmishers. Control Point maps, where you must fight to control all nodes at once to win, create this sort of situation. It is the procession style of these maps that cause the larger scale battles. If you still had the equalizing elements of trebuchets and mini-bosses, then split squads have a place as well. GvG maps and rules had larger battles with options of flag running and split squads as viable tactics.

In Capture Point, if you try to stick together as a single swarm, then you’ll likely lose. You can’t force large battles in Conquest. If most of your team is at one spot then you give up the other two nodes. Running, delaying and interfering matter most. What the PvP community wants are those team vs team situations where the battle is all out, and it’s a matter of supporting and controlling both sides. Players want to be sized up against the whole of the other side. They don’t want to succeed at their node running, just to realize they’re losing because of something that is happening on the other side of the map for which they have no input on or access to. Players also want the extra strategy of team builds. They want the strategy of what you sacrifice from the team to run off and do small skirmish tasks in order to help your chances to win. The carousel of Capture Point maps has never excited the PvP community. It’s a “fun go”, but that’s about it.

You Can’t Be Big Without The Respect

Blizzard put a lot of effort into legitimizing their Arena tournaments as a legit e-sport. The problem was that PvPers knew the game had major balance issues and the balance issues only became worse as the scale of combat shrunk down. I took Guild Wars PvP seriously enough. I understood that the card-deck system meant that nearly everything had a possible counter. I worried less about balance. Succeeding at Guild Wars PvP meant something so it mattered to succeed. Succeeding at Arena never mattered to me for it was becoming obvious that success depended greatly on gear and which classes had the power advantage. If you weren’t the right class then it wasn’t the right game for you. That or you would have to reroll and level the “winning” class.

What ArenaNet risks by going fully in with just Conquest is alienating the playerbase that would make the sPvP attractive. You can’t be bigtime without the respect of the community because you won’t draw the community to care and be competitive about your game. You will get, and forgive the elitism here, the second and third tier players to fill in the gap of talent. In other sports, there are minor leagues and spinoff leagues. There has been basketball leagues that use trampolines and favor dunking because it has a high entertainment value. These minor leagues don’t ever rise above the level of sideshow because nobody truly respects them. They don’t draw the top talent and thus don’t draw the big attendance. I feel this is the same for E-sports. ArenaNet can’t go out there and try to push E-sports while being PowerDunk Ball.