Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Man Down Part 1

Guild Wars 2 has different aspects for different players. Some people spend all their time in Player vs Environment mode, completing a personalised quest and pursuing the "Living Story" new content which is introduced every two weeks.

Some like to farm materials, either to trade on the open marketplace, or to contribute to the ridiculously long list of requirements to make a legendary weapon.

Some like to battle it out, round after round, in the Player vs Player arenas.

I like to play World vs World vs World. WvW pits our host server (Tarnished Coast, in my case) against a revolving roster of other servers. The contest goes over a week, and if we win, we generate bonuses for players on our server across the game. We also get to play server teams from a higher tier. If we lose, we stay at the same tier, or if we lose a couple of weeks in a row, we move down to a lower tier.

climbing the stairs to attack a keep in
Guild Wars2's World vs World
The game involves battling across one of four maps. Each server has a home map, and there is a no man's land - the Eternal Battlegrounds - where all three servers have a presence. The idea briefly, is to block supply to the other teams, then capture and hold their assets (supply camps, towers and keeps). ArenaNet have recently introduced a "twist" where you can acquire a boost for your server by capturing three of four properties in the centre of the map.

I have levelled two characters up to the highest level of the game by playing them in WvW from around level 20. It was hard work, frustrating and even rage-inducing, but I like the way it's shaped my characters. They are battle-hard and hardy. I get slaughtered by live players at a really high rate. But I can take out a supply camp of NPCs on my own, and as someone who has always struggled in situations requiring strategic planning, I find it really fun to learn how my aspect of the game is won.

I'm also enchanted by the machinations surrounding the role of commanders.

Commanders don't get elected or win their title. They just buy it, and it doesn't come with much for the price. They might be supported in their bid to command by a guild, but I am not part of a large guild and am guessing at that. Anyone can be a commander. But of course, not everyone can be a good commander, one who can draw a zerg (a small army of militia) and roll across the map capturing everything in sight, ensuring kills and loot for all and a general feeling of having succeeded as a team. Watching commanders come and go from the rough-and-tumble of WvW, and trying to assess their goals and performance, is absolutely fascinating to someone like me, who is interested in leadership and motivation.

 A good WvW commander is a rock star. And they are welcomed to the map, and followed, and obeyed as if they were a rockstar. Many times my partner and I have hit the WvW map and exclaimed with glee when one of our favourite commanders is "tagged up" and visible on the map. We will swap maps to follow a commander we admire. And we reward commanders who've been effective leaders.

Last night my favourite commander messaged me to tell me he'd left our server. He explained his reasons, and they are legitimate complaints. Our server has suffered from an inexplicable malaise over the past two months. The Living Story content is both lucrative and engaging, so a lot of our fighters have wandered off to play that. We're good fighters, we're easily at the top of the tier we're in - but we're easily at the bottom of the tier above us. So we keep being assigned to the upper tier, and we lose, which is really demoralising. Commanders won't put on their tag, but when they do, map chat is critical and demoralising.

amazing new content is added every two weeks now,
and is lucrative and compelling for many players
Favourite commander's opinion is that guilds are leaving TC server, and there's little hope that the situation will improve. So he took his rockstar ass off to another server, where I hope he regains joy in his game. He's a good leader, able to asses a situation and respond to it quickly, without losing sight of the bigger picture. He teaches as he goes, he's patient and mostly not abusive (though guys, really, you need to put some thought into this mumble thing. We can hear you, you know). He is very very good at his game and he is entitled to enjoy playing it.

This is a tl;dnr post right now, so I am going to break it, and go back to it soon. Because as regular readers will know, I am all about my community, and my community of rag tag militia is in trouble. I want to think about the reasons we lost a good man, and ways we can stop it happening again.
Artje psyching to join battle

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