Tuesday, 15 June 2010

AoE Anonymous

I haven't played WAR in a few days, I've been too hungover. There's a hole in my head where Saturday used to be. England played USA in the World Cup and I spent the weekend drinking in the pub. Gotrek would've been proud of me.

I could have logged in, I had the time, but I don't like to PvP unless I'm 100% fighting fit. I don't like to let my side down, whether this means my guild or even some random Order PuGs. If I'm going to play alongside other people who may be counting on my performance then I need to feel that I'm playing at my best. If not then I won't play.

Levelling was different. If I was tired I could just go and farm XP or PQ influence for a few hours, and it was progress and without responsibility, and I miss that hassle free bit of grindiness if I'm honest. Not enough to level up another character that way though. It's PvP or nothing nowadays.

And talking of PvP, Brazil play in the World Cup today. Brazil are traditionally seen as the flair side of international football, a star-laden team committed to the art of the beautiful game. On the radio this morning Brazil have come under fire for taking a more pragmatic approach to the World Cup this year, abandoning their attacking traditions in favour of a "Play to Win" mentality. Their fans though would rather they played beautiful football and lost than win ugly. Scrubs?

Back to WAR, this has chimed with me a little because some issues with the Swordmaster, which probably apply to other classes too. The Swordmaster does excellent Single Target damage and gets a lot of joy out of small-scale PvP, but in large scale RvR single target damage doesn't cut the mustard. AoE rulez 4EVA..

During class discussions SM supporters have espoused the skill it takes to play the class, the satisfaction gained from combining multiple abilities effectively, and the finesse of single target damage in PvP compared to AoE. I'd want to totally agree with that on face value but a counter-argument from a well-respected player has made me think a little. If single-target damage was changed to be more effective than AoE then the battlefield would be won by superior numbers. It would be difficult for outnumbered but well-organised players to combat larger groups and they would get overwhelmed by Zergs. I'm going to quote this guy, Sidrath of Crimson on Karak-Norn..

"I love the bombing environment for RvR, and I love the single-target precision of scenarios/6v6. They are fundamentally different playstyles, both worth mastering. Bombing is not a travesty, it is a sensible mechanic to ensure servers don't become dominated by numbers-play: it allows a coordinated well-positioned 24-man to melt things just fast enough to avoid drowning under a sea of red. By all means, allow other DPS classes to contribute viable AoE - but don't campaign for RvR without stacked AoE otherwise any realm facing a massive numbers imbalance will have no 'hardcore' means of fighting back in the lakes, and would thus be condemned to die and get merged."

I've quoted this in full as it's a side of the argument I've not heard before or contemplated myself. I'm not 100% sure I agree with it, surely an organised single-target warband could still defeat a single-target zerg and, when bomb meets bomb, surely greater numbers will win out? But still, it's food for thought.

Anyway, a well-organised warband with tight AoE is not a simple thing to achieve. It requires team-work and discipline, just like beating Brazil does. Brazil boast fantastically talented players and it's not just any old team who can beat them, but for all their attacking flamboyance the World Champions are often the team who are the most well-organised. It's often the team with the best defence and organisation that wins, sprinkled with the odd over-powered player or two. Look at Italy's victory 4 years ago or Inter Milan's triumph in this season's Champion's League.

Football purists criticise the efficient approach of some teams but can't argue with it's effectiveness. I'm sure Brazil fans who bemoan their team's pragmatic approach will be delighted if they win the Cup. I've criticised the dominance of AoEand bombing warbands in the past but I will have yet to try it out myself. I'm sure if the Swordmaster happened to be the de facto class in Order's warband I wouldn't be complaining so much.

I'm going to respec my Swordmaster to an AoE orientated build and see how it goes. For a long time I didn't think the class had a viable AoE spec but picking up Phoenix Wing (PW), Protection of Hoeth (PoH) and Whispering Wind (WW), and rotating PoH, PW and Gusting Wind with the cooldown reduction from WW will give me some decent AoE damage. I will pick try and gear-up with some debuff procs on items to take advantage of the large number of hits I'll be getting.

I've no idea how this post ended up about AoE and with me respeccing, it certainly didn't start out that way!! Mind, I do have a pretty serious hangover ;)


  1. Tanks as a whole have pretty crappy AoE damage. It got nerfed into the ground with the big AoE nerf patch. Wrath of Hoeth used to be a thing of beauty, back when it was still in Perfect Balance. That was way back in the day when you could spam GW every time it was up (from Improved Balance) and you'd knockback someone (as long as they were within 10 feet unless you slotted the tactic to make it 30 feet). I kinda miss those days...

    Then I remember Pit of Shades stacking at forts and come to my senses.

    I do like PW as a cheap 30 AP AoE for applying Nature's Blade though. Let us know how that build works for you.

  2. Any WW build make the SM a valuable asset in a group. There are a lot of very nice abilities that have a CD of 10 seconds or less. Aside from BW's being able to spam Annihilate, Warrior Priests can spam group heals every GCD.

    That said, I have never specced it with my own SM... they are just too much fun in full 2H DPS mode! Might change my tune though... looking forward to further posts from you!

    Cheers, TzuDevil!

  3. I'll respectfully disagree that AoE prevents the numbers game.

    Whats the root cause of zergs? There are many reasons, but I would say "wanting to win" is the main one. And IMHO, that's the same reason AoE groups emerge: they win.

    While I haven't played WAR in some time, when I did play, AOE groups won whether it was vs a zerg or vs another small group. Is that drastically different now?

  4. It's the same now. The point made was that AoE can compete with numbers, whereas single target can't, and in RvR large numbers and zergs are what you are going to get - therefore it is sensible that AoE should be as powerful as it is. I think we are in agreement :)