Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A noob at the Noob Club

Many thanks due to Van Hemlock and co. for inviting me to their Tuesday Noob club for a bit of Guild Wars sparring. Sadly real life intervened to prevent me from contributing to more than a single match but it was fun to indulge in a bit of pvp for my first time in GW.

I was lucky enough to be on the winning team for the only match I actually got to play (a 100% pvp record - perhaps I should retire now!). In hindsight it was a fairly imbalanced match because our team had a warrior a paragon (me) and a healing monk while our opponents had a more eclectic mix of Mesmer / Ele and Ranger. I think the combination of heavy armour and healing was always going to give us the win. Our opponents were spamming blindness skills (Signet of Midnight from the VanH's Mesmer and Blinding falsh from the Ele if I recall ) but both warrior and myself had fast recharging condition removal signets so it didn't avail them much.

From my very limited experience it would appear that getting the team build right is a major element of Guild Wars pvp. Every tactic has a counter tactic but the limited number of skills you can bring into a match means you need to think ahead and try to out-guess your opponents. I am sure that at the heady heights of tournament matches this guessing game within a game has been honed to a fine art form but at the more casual level it probably makes more sense not to specialise too much but to just try and bring a bit of everything. Anyway here is a thought - what about a type of "texas holdem" match where you get to see the builds of a certain number of the other team before you finalise your own team? For example in a four versus four situation 3 players on each side could reveal their build and then both teams go off to build their "secret weapon" fourth player.


Melf_Himself said...

Welcome to "Build Wars" my friend :)

In general the top teams all play what amounts to effectively the same build anyway (with minor tweaks here and there). The tactics available to both teams are then pretty much the same.

But it's true that less skilled teams, who are further behind on the learning curve, will bring sub-par skills and so never really have a chance. This is hard for new players to catch up on, there are way too many skills in modern MMO's.

I've heard people suggest the Texas Hold em approach before. It has merit. I think an even better approach would be for classes / skills to start the match as more generic, and as the match proceeds you allocate points as you see fit ('level up').

All the while you're watching what the opponent is doing and adjusting which skills / stats you choose. e.g. "Oh no, they have pumped their warrior early on, we'd better invest in some blinding skills".... or, "Oh no, they're saving their points for super-skill XYZ later, let's invest in speed boosts so that we can force them to fight us and spend some of those points"... etc.

mbp said...

Hi Melf, I guess I am a little surprised to hear that there is so little variation between the top teams. Is there not a temptation to bring some kind of gimmick build which is specifically designed to exploit the standard template?

Melf_Himself said...

Haha, well, yes, I was speaking more in the "perfect world" sense.

As you know, Guild Wars is the subject of frequent updates to promote little-used skills and nerf over-used ones. This invariably leads to "gimmick" builds that are always much easier to play than balanced builds. This leads to mixed results of a gimmick vs balanced match, depending mainly on the skill of the balanced team.

For example if the gimmick is very powerful, it will be extremely difficult for even a pro team playing a balanced build to be able to beat a less skilled team playing the gimmick build. This usually leads to quick nerfing.

If the gimmick is less powerful such that pro balance teams can defeat it, it will still defeat less skilled balanced teams (because balanced is hard to play well). This may or may not lead to nerfing, depending on how loudly the people getting beaten QQ over it.

This all can depend on the particular map also. Sometimes it's not builds that are nerfed, but rather maps that are altered, to ensure that a good balanced team has options against gimmick teams.

Anyway, if the gimmick is of the latter (not that powerful) kind, the top teams will not play it, because they are more effective playing balanced. If the gimmick is of the former kind, they will still usually not play it, because of the reputation hit they will suffer with the other top tier PvP-ers.

Reputation is important, since it's often hard to field a good team of 8 for GvG, and sometimes you'll play when you're guild isn't on, and guilds bust up all the time anyway... you want friends who respect you.

However, if it's important enough (i.e. the pro team thinks they can earn a gold cape out of it, for winning the current season), the pro team may say "screw it", and run the gimmick for the easy win.

These teams end up still being respected I think, because they've proven that they could play balance well during the majority of the season, so they're not "skill-less scrubs".

Sometimes, they actually earn more respect, if nobody had thought of the "gimmick" before. I will never forget the time that Black Widow used an Aura of Displacement assassin allowing for crazy teleport hijinx that had never been seen before. The #1 guild at the time was powerless to stop it. Or the time that War Machine ran a split team consisting of 2 Assassins with something like deadly paradox, arcane mimicry and shadow form, allowing them to waltz through the guild lord area permanently immune to pretty much everything.

Ok I'll stop telling old war stories now :)