Commanders or Sargents?

ArenaNet’s latest post talks about squads and commanders in WvW. I think I have a small problem with the discussed implementation. And the whole thing goes around the fact that the squad chat is uni-directional: From commander to squad.

I understand the rationale behind it: Since the squad is open to anyone who wants to invite themselves, it prevents some annoying guy joining the group just to spam “Leeeeeroy Jeeeeenkiiinns” over and over again, preventing the squad on doing their real job — winning the battle.

On the other hand, this cuts helpful communication. For example, if me, as a commander, want to check how our supplies lines are while the larger part of the group holds the line defending or attacking a post, I’d ask if someone could do that. Or, even better, ask someone to return to base and get more supplies so the squad can finish building the trebuchet to destroy the door of an enemy base. In any case, I’d be too busy checking the current situation to pick someone specific and tell them to do so (and, by my own personality, I’d hate saying what someone should do instead of having fun in the game). If I, the commander, ask to someone could do that, I’d probably receive a couple of whisper, which then I’d have to manage personally one by one, taking away my focus from the battle.

And then there is the other way around: I’m a member of a squad of some commander. I want to warn him that a group of enemies is about to flank us from the left. I’d whisper him telling him about it, he would have to read it and then re-tell that to the group. Surely, when every single step is done, he enemy group would be over us already, without time for those in the left side to be ready. Even worst, it would require me to find who the commander is to whisper him (as you can join someone’s squad by simply selecting anyone in it).

Someone on Reddit mentioned that my vision was about a larger group and that the squad version was aimed for smaller groups, one where the commander issues direct orders like “let’s take that supply camp” or “let’s build a trebuchet”. In that case, you’re not really a commander — someone who oversees the battlefield and organizes the troops; you’re a sergeant, someone who leads a platoon to a single task (well, obviously, without the higher command doing the job of organizing the troops on the battlefield).

Yeah, my problem with the way ArenaNet organizes WvW is a single word.

Highlights from the second ArenaNet AMA on Reddit

So ArenaNet decided to make a second AMA on Reddit, this time to discuss WvWvW (or WvW, or wuv-wuv — or yet, after reading WvW so many times, I started reading it as “wuw”, but I guess that doesn’t make any sense). In case you want to read all questions and answers, you can read it yourself (pro-tip: just check what the user ArenaNetTeam wrote and use the “Context” link to get the question — although sometimes it’s easy to figure out what the question was). Anyway, some things caught my eye:

First, there are no inter-world communication; you can’t abuse people from the other server and they can’t abuse your — verbally, that is. There are ways to form alliances, like two servers going against one, but Mike didn’t went too much into details. Related: The side of the portal in the mists where you land actually makes you invulnerable, so people can’t simply camp your spawn point and kill you over and over again.

Second, players don’t have nameplates like your world friends. They are shown only as “intruders” and have their own colour — which is attached to your world and it’s always the same: If you’re read, on the server rotation two weeks later, you will still play for the reds (I’m guessing that, at creation, ArenaNet will assign a colour to each world and that’s static. Since they are the ones doing it, they can prevent two worlds having the same colour. At the same time, I see that it will very hard to chose completely different colours that would never clash — sure, there are 16 million colours the human eye can pick, but damn if you can spot the difference between the greenish-blue of your world from the blueish-green of another world). Players will drop loot like any other mob in the world, including some rares.

Third, people can chose to be “Commanders”. First they have to pay a fee to call themselves commander. After that, in the battle field, they shown that to people and people can join these commanders squad. At first sight, it looks a bit like parties, but instead of having a guy calling “Hey, I’m a Commander. Join my raid to attack something”, like we use to do in the very early days of Wintergrasp in World of Warcraft, the guy simply turns on his Commander badge and people can simply click his icon and join the squad/party. No specifics on size, but it seems the squad gets their own chat channel to communicate.

Fourth, although there are water areas — including a quaggan tribe that can assist you in capturing/defending towers — you can’t simply jump into some underground lake and go inside the tower. Seems they played with they idea of having such attack vectors, but adding an underwater door was no fun, as you can’t build sieges and golems underwater.

Fifth, WvW is a PvE zone with open world PvP. This means that there are mobs, dynamic events and event pets that can be tamed by rangers. But that also means that, when you die, one piece of your armour will get damaged, like in normal PvE.

Sixth, if a guild contribute more when capturing a tower, they have 1 minute to call that their base. Doing that will display that guild banner around. They are working on a way to alert the guild in case one of their points goes under attack, but they don’t have specifics yet.

Seventh, you can “visit” a world. This means that, without having to pay for a transfer — which will require a fee to prevent jumping around to get the WvW bonuses, although they don’t have the details of how much it will cost yet, or even if that will cost virtual or real currency — you can play alongside your friends from another world in their world. You keep karma, gold and whatever tokens you acquire, but when doing WvW, you’ll still play for your world and not theirs.

Eighth, there are no overflow shards for WvW: Once a map it’s full, it’s full. You can try your change on some other map (of all four for WvW) or stay in a queue. You can, though, queue for WvW while in an overflow shard. Mike didn’t mentioned anything on how this queue will work, though. ArenaNet reached 300 players in one map during the press closed beta, though.

There was a lot more, but those are really interesting, IMHO — and I didn’t even go deep into overflow shards!

Oh, and unrelated: At the end of the AMA, ArenaNet got 1 million signups for the next betas.