Phoenix Gate and RvR ogranization; good times.

Phoenix Gate (PG) is an interesting scenario in Warhammer Online. On the one hand, it’s very Warsong Gulch-like in that it’s basically a game of capture the flag, with the two flags being on opposite ends of the map. It’s also WSG-like in that stalemates can occur, and little real progress is made until the 15 minutes are up and the scenario ends. This generally happens when both sides are full of me-first players looking to WoW-grind xp and renown by running head first into the enemy. At some point they will realize that’s actually a terrible way to get good xp/rr, but for now, the clowns continue to charge. (Notably this has been getting better since launch, as players are catching on to the differences between WoW and WAR PvP, but you still see it too often)

PG is NOT like WSG in a number of other, very important ways. For starters, the map is far more open and not nearly as linear as WSG. Related to this, the location of the flag is in an open field, and not in a base-like structure. This is important because it makes it far easier to grab the flag and keep the game moving, since you can attack from multiple angles, and the defenders might be distracted enough on one front to allow a second team to swoop in and grab the flag. The design of the map also allows for multiple escape routes with the flag, each with its fair share of advantages and disadvantage.

The overall focus on offense rather than turtle-like defense generally keeps a game of PG moving (WoW-minds aside), and if one side is noticeable more organized, games end quickly. It’s entirely possible for a team to cap a flag, and grab it again on respawn with another member, scoring in rapid succession. The key to PG, and scenarios in general, is organization. Have tanks run in first, draw the enemies attention, and then provide ample support from the healers on the hills or hidden behind the front line. DPS classes also have to know when to engage, and when to fall back and protect healers. Even a greatly out-ranked and out-geared team will succeed with good teamwork, due to how tough tanks are, and how powerful healing is compared to dps output.

That final point, about skill being greater than rank/gear, is perhaps why scenarios are so popular in WAR. Yes it helps that they offer great xp/rr, but along with that they offer very satisfying gaming moments. Nothing is more rewarding than keeping a tank alive versus five other players as your DPS chew up the back ranks, leading to a crushing victory. However these great moments are not exclusive to scenarios, but rather to WAR RvR in general, which is why it’s important for Mythic to encourage players to get out into the RvR lakes and mix it up. Given the torrent of successful patching (almost daily fixes and improvements since launch day), I’m sure a solution is coming shortly, and we can finally have a good balance of scenario AND open world RvR.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in MMO design, RvR, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Phoenix Gate and RvR ogranization; good times.

  1. Graktar says:

    One thing I’ve noticed in PG is that Witch Elves (and Witch Hunters I would presume, though I haven’t seen it) can grab the enemy flag while stealthed, stealth not breaking until they’ve finished the cap and are running off. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been guarding a flag with 3-4 other people, no enemies around to distract us, and a witch elf is suddenly running off with our flag. It’s pretty infuriating. I would imagine Witch Hunters could do the same, but for some reason most never do. :p

  2. syncaine says:

    Yup I’ve seen that as well. Just more reason to play a bit more offensively really, although having some D works well. If a lone WE/WH grabs the flag, it’s not too tough to run them down and snare them though. Squishies die fast.

  3. Zarek says:

    The big thing I think that really keeps ORvR areas unpopulated right now are client lag issues. Almost everyone can run a scenario and enjoy it, but there’s currently a large number of people (even with high end systems) that just can’t run in open PvP well. The fun and strategy dwindles when the stuttering starts.

  4. syncaine says:

    I think part of that problem is the game itself scales back animations when it sees a ton of people on screen. This then makes it LOOK like you are lagging, when in reality you are just seeing simplified animations and spell effects, in order to reduce lag.

    I have a top end system, and it runs WAR like a dream, and even I get the scaling effect. At first I thought I was lagging in a Keep raid as well, but then realized the FPS were still at 45+.

  5. heartless_ says:

    I guarantee you that you didn’t run PG against any organized defending groups then. If you take a semi-organized group to defend the flag, it is impossible for it to be taken without a full-team rush. Even then I doubt an organized group would be taken down.

    Honestly, PG offers one way to win reliably. Stealth-cap the flag and sprint. Its an exploit IMHO, but it is the only way to actually take a flag from a good defending group. Its the reason I gave up playing PG. One good group set up on defense and its a 15 minute stalemate.

  6. syncaine says:

    A good offense beats a good defense, if only because you can sit back and bomb away on the defense, and if they retreat, you grab the flag. The fact that you can dictate the range and pace of the attack is huge.

    But like I said, if you get too many unorganized players on both sides, the game does turn into a stalemate, which is very frustrating.

  7. JoBildo says:

    I brought up a few reasons myself on how Mythic could possibly re-ignite T1-T3 RvR.

    Excellent points about PG. It’s sad to me that on Averheim all that seems to pop reliably is MT. I dislike STC, myself. It’s too hard for most to organize, and MT is fun but I’ve played it too much myself already.

    PG is the one I’ve played the least, and also the one I’ve enjoyed the most in T2.

  8. p@tsh@t says:

    MT seems to be a hideous lagfest, whether its the scaling effect you describe or lag. It was so unenjoyable, we just stopped queuing for it.

    PG is pretty fun, stealth capping aside. I’ve got to disagree, I think good D will win over good O if for no other reason that defenders will respawn closer to their own flag.

    YMMV, but in my experience a little D goes a long way, especially when its all scrum on the bridge.

    Hands down the best experience has been defending a keep though the apparent lag was killing us. Make ORvR as lucrative as scenarios and I’d do nothing else. Give us some tools to communicate outside of guilds and the lakes might come alive too.

    For the record, I don’t think the new “region chat” will cut it. Many many people will camp in Altdorf for the increased rested XP bonus as well as the bank and AH and will never see whats going on in Tier X chat.

    Is World Defense chat too hard?

  9. phoe says:

    Potshot, you remember what happened in WoW when they setup a worldwide chat channel? It very quickly became the ‘Chuck Norris’ channel…

  10. BiggDawg says:

    I have to disagree too, defense is supreme in PG and it is why turtles usually occur. The most important item that you left out of your analysis is that kills give you points. This fact alone makes attacking risky. Combined with the open terrain and presence of siege weapons that KD people it makes attacking harder. If you get a quick lead by killing a few stragglers, tactically it is better to sit on defense and make the other team come to you.

    This isn’t to say that you can’t do offense on PG, but you either need to have some organized 6 man teams or to out level your opponents to overcome the defensive advantages. The odds are just in favor of those that camp their flag especially due to kills adding to your score. Capping the flag is not necessary to win the game.

    Not saying that this strategy is best for xp/renown, but it is best to win majority of games.

  11. Rog says:

    Phoenix Gate is a lot closer to classic CTF games, ala Quake 1. It’s simple, direct and straightforward CTF.

    Warsong Gulch on the other hand, has always been a horrible failure in so many ways. Blizzard tried to overthink the differences between their game and the FPS format that CTF is usually played under.

  12. p@tsh@t says:

    @phoe: Yup. I also remember what happened when LFG went away too. PotBS suffered from the same flaw. Is Tier X region chat so different from old barrens chat anyway?

    Fortunately, WAR has about 9 million fewer players than WoW right now. I’ll take a few Chuck Norris jokes in exchange for the opportunity for ripping epic open RvR.

  13. Xtian says:

    Agreeing with BiggDawg and Heartless_, PG has almost always turned into a killcount scenario for me. Early game both teams will spar a little trying to get the flag, but defense is too easy. Because staying in your group is so much more advantageous, people just cluster around the flag, and because every attack interrupts the flag cap, it’s useless to cap a flag unless you control the immediate area.

    I would have liked to see LOS blockers around the flag itself. In STC, an FC can carry the pacifier around the troll rock to block LOS and steal a few seconds of reprieve to cap the trolls before moving on to the next one. Because PG’s flags are so open, there is little hope to actually getting a flag cap unless your team can kill all enemies near the flag and push them away from the flag long enough to cap.

  14. saylah says:

    WE stealth grabbing the flag is obnoxious, as is their ability to stealth while tagged with DOTs. I think another reason for Scenarios being so popular is that you can guaranteed to be done in 15 minutes. So you can play in chunks. Do one then check on the kids. Do one then check on dinner. Do one the run and find spouse to pretend you care that they’re home. :-) etc. Where as Open RVR can go one for a very long time. If you can’t stay for the caps then you don’t get much reward – the little that it even yields at this point.

    After doing Open RVR for several evenings in a row and realizing that I hadn’t leveled yet, I decided to slack from doing it so much. It’s fun but I want and need to level too so I’m scaling it back a bit. I’m sure I’m not alone in coming to that assessment – too much Open RVR = you don’t level or collect enough gear upgrades.

    There other this is the lag and it’s not scaled back animation but that would explain why people appear to be one placing doing something but when you attempt to attack them you get all sorts of crazy error messages. They really do need to fix that quickly. It’s a slideshow situation. For me, I deal with it because the Master Vaults on AC2 were exactly the same. I keyboard to select a target then slowly move thru my rotation even if there is no visual queue about what I’m doing and rinse repeat. Of course sometimes I’m dead before I know it which is annoying. Yeah, they need to fix open rvr lag!

  15. syncaine says:

    Here is why I disagree about the whole defense vs offense thing.

    If you bring enough offense (say 6), and lets say the flag is directly guarded by an equal number of defenders (somewhat rare given how many people run towards the middle bridge just to get some quick xp/rr), all you need to do is kill 2-3 of them before you can grab the flag. This is actually easier than it sounds since as the offense, you pick when to attack and who. Drop 2-3 squishies while you ignore the tanks. Then simply have 3-4 people trying to pick up the flag, and because its a quick 1 second to pick it up, the remaining defenders won’t be able to interrupt all 3-4 of you. Grab flag, turn and run, score.

    The key is having a group (hopefully on vent) that can coordinate the attack, but if you do, the defenders will have a really tough time holding you back. Once you cap the flag once, you are up enough points to force the other team to play offense or they have no chance to catch up with kills. This only makes it that much easier to grab the flag again now that the other side is rushing to grab your flag.

  16. Grimjakk says:

    PG’s zone design is very reminiscent of Threewave/Loki’s Minion CTF… lots of routes to attack through. For defense against stealthers, turrets, land mines, and a decent initiative help. ;)

  17. Rog says:

    @saylah: It doesn’t take much initiative to see through stealth, especially if they are close by. Stand at the flag with a reasonable amount of initiative and you’ll see them guaranteed.

    And stealth does break when they actually start grabbing the flag.

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