Tobold's Blog
Thursday, September 27, 2007
WAR archetypes

Warhammer Online video podcast #10 presents the classes and archetypes of WAR. There are 6 races in WAR, and each race has the same 4 archetypes: tank, melee dps, ranged dps, and healer. But while the archetypes are the same, their implementation is different for the different races, so we get 24 unique classes. That is obviously great from a PvE and replayability point of view. But what about PvP? Knowing human nature, especially that of MMORPG players, there will be endless shouts of "the tank/dps/healer of the other faction is stronger than ours. Nerf! Nerf! Nerf!".

But balance problems aside, I'm wondering whether the classic PvE holy trinity of tank, dps, and healer is optimal for PvP. One of the eternal problems of other games is that tanks have "taunt" abilities of aggro management, which are extremely important in PvE group and raid play, but totally useless in solo PvE and all forms of PvP. DPS classes are king in PvP. Healers are easy to kill and find themselves always at the top of the enemies list of targets. Tanks are simply ignored as long as possible, because they move slowly, deal little damage, and have no way of preventing the enemy to kill the classes that are actually dangerous. Now WAR has collision detection, which is already a big improvement over being able to just walk through the enemy tank, but I doubt that will be enough for the tank to effectively protect the healer or ranged dps.

Taunt abilities are problematic in PvP, because you can't force other players to target the tank without them feeling robbed of their fundamental freedom to play as they want. So how is a tank supposed to protect the less well-armored classes? The best you can implement is a kind of buff that redirects damage from the protected target to the tank, and even that is far from ideal.

On the other hand PvP has a huge advantage regarding archetypes in that it is Rumsfeldian: You go to war with the army you have, not the tank / dps / healer mix you'd want for a group or raid. DPS classes have obvious advantages over tanks and healers in both solo PvE and in PvP, which makes them much more popular. Players won't distribute themselves evenly over the 4 archetypes of WAR. There will be a distinctive lack of healers, as in every other game, and a distinctive surplus of dps classes, especially ranged dps. But for PvP you never have the problem that you can't start because your group doesn't have a tank or healer, you can simply go with a group containing only dps classes and not fare any worse than a balanced group.

Me, I regularly score as ESAK in all Bartle tests I take, meaning I'm primarily an explorer, then a socializer, just a bit of an achiever, and not a killer at all. Which means I'm looking very much forward to playing Warhammer Online through *at least* six times, once for each race. And then I still might play it through another six times or so, trying classes I haven't tried yet. If I understood the earlier video podcasts correctly, each race has their own complete set of zones to level up from 1 to the level cap, there is no "Barrens" where the orcs, trolls and tauren all mix. Six completely different lines of zones and quests to the top, 24 different classes, WAR could turn out to be an absolute dream for replayability.

I'm just wondering whether you ever get to mix with player of other races, or whether somebody playing Empire will never be able to visit the lands of the nominally allied dwarves and high elves. On the maps in the video podcasts WAR nearly looks as if it was three separate one-on-one wars in parallel. Which would be a very interesting approach. Bad for "worldyness", that is for sure. But instead of adding levels at the top, you could expand the game endlessly by creating new areas where a new pair of races fights another one-on-one war. Expanding breadth instead of length. Could that work?
WAR has collision detection so a tank is actually useful in pvp: People can't run trough you, they have to fight to reach the priest behind you.

For the lack of healers, the class description is healer/nuker: Every healer can dish out a lot of dmg, think of wow shadowpriest with better mechanics to change some of your skills withut spending a lot of gold and time at your class trainer. Also healers have some nice abilities like aoe-battleress, that literally win fights. So I don't think it will be so hard to find a healer... we'll see.

But I still don't know if people really want a "World of Wacraft: PvP Edition ++". And this it what WAR really looks like at the moment.

- Ben
WAR has collision detection so a tank is actually useful in pvp: People can't run trough you, they have to fight to reach the priest behind you.

No they don't. They'll simply run around you.

For the lack of healers, the class description is healer/nuker: Every healer can dish out a lot of dmg

I'm pretty certain they will dish out less damage as a dedicated damage dealer. A holy priest in WoW can deal damage too, just far less per second than a mage. And while a shadowpriest fully specialized and in shadowform deals good damage, he can't really heal much any more in PvP. If in WAR the healer dealt better ranged damage than the ranged dps class, then you'd have lots of healers, but few people playing the other dps classes. Class balance isn't as trivial as the EA Mythic marketing department would like to pretend it is.

Agreed on the WAR = WoW PvP Edition thing. But I could imagine that this concept could be a huge success. WoW is a very good game, it is only getting old, we know it too well by now. Many people would love to play any WoW clone which is as good in quality as the original, with or without PvP.
"No they don't. They'll simply run around you."

Yes and no. From the 10 minutes I've played a drawf tank on a pvp battleground I can say you can use the terrain, like bridges, doors etc. to block the enemy.

- Ben
I feel the urge to give a response to this thread and both comments left so far.

First. The game is not yet out. Speculation is nice and fun, but doesn't mean anything when the game is finally released. We can however talk about intentions of Mythic on their game.

So intentions on tanks is to make them viable in PvP. Collision detection will have an impact:

WAR has collision detection so a tank is actually useful in pvp: People can't run trough you, they have to fight to reach the priest behind you.
No they don't. They'll simply run around you.

Yeah, but that takes time. Plus, smart tanks (and softies who they protect) will try to also use terrain to their advantage.

What Mythic is also trying to do with tanks is that their trademark PvE Taunt ability is usefull in PvP. When a tank taunts a target all damage of that target is significantly reduced to ALL other targets except for the taunter for a certain amount of time... pretty strong huh.

For the Healer/dps archtype Mythic clearly stated they intended to make them viable for PvP. Now based on what I have seen on vids of Gamedays etc. (partly speculating now) is that they are quite strong. Doing damage is rewarded in stronger or less costly heals. And their DPS is not to sniff at. Additionally Characters in WAR seem to have quite an HP buffer, which could favor these Archtypes play of style of DPS – DPS – DPS – strong/fast heal – strong/fast heal.

These are only some examples of what WAR will bring. I'm not sure I'll play it. However I do not believe it will be a "World of Wacraft: PvP Edition ++".

Tobold; I also think the PvE aspect will be quite exciting. You can play all six races, but also the pairing will be different for the Elves. Mythic stated they will have the High and Dark Elves mirror each other (play in the same area from the start). This unlike the other 2 pairings, which won’t mirror (although some quests will be opposite of the others).

In response to your question whether Empire can visit Dwarf lands. Yes they can (and vice versa ofc). From the start an Empire toon can run over to the Dwarf lands to join his friend in PvE and PvP mayhem.

P.s. love your blogs and think Mythic missed a chance by not letting you in on beta.
EQ2 PVP has working taunts and it makes tanks very useful and desirable in group PVP.
"Taunt abilities are problematic in PvP, because you can't force other players to target the tank without them feeling robbed of their fundamental freedom to play as they want."

That's a flawed perspective. There is no fundamental freedom being robbed with taunt.

At least not any more than any other form of CC (mez, stun, root, etc.).

If any CC goes from the PvE area, then all should in some form.
A tank can be made viable in quite a few ways in PvP.

- A single target snare.

- An AoE snare centered on them within their zone of influence (attack range perhaps based on weapon type).

- A wider collision box in terms of movement and other players. This would make it harder for people to simply outflank the tank in terms of a near head on collision.

- A wider collision box in terms of damage. It may allow the tank to intercept shots (ranged or by longer weapon types such as polearms) which of course will still have to abide by LOS issues.

- Taunt abilities could cause those affected to lose their current target and force the current action to result on the tank or cause the action to simply fail. This could be adjusted for just that action or for a period of time. Either way, enemy loss of target can buy an ally some much needed time.

- What some of the commenters mentioned above regarding the redirection or 'mitigation' of damage to allies of the taunter in regard to those affected by the taunt.

- A rapid method of closing ground, a sprint like ability or charge.

WoW has a few of these ideas in place and I know of a few warrior/healer combos that do pretty well in PvP.

Just a few ideas :)
You can't ignore tanks in WAR. When they taunt an enemy, that enemies damage done to ANYONE OTHER THAN THE TANK is reduced by 50%. Additionally, Tanks are structured so the longer they are ignored, the more their damage output increases! Ignore the tank and you'll take twice as long to kill your target while taking and increasing amount of damage over time.

As for the healers, there are no dedicated healers in WAR. The classes that *can* heal will find that if they actively work to damage their enemies, their heals when used will actually perform better than just being a heal bot.
Hehe I thought I would say somethign but it seems everyone has covered it.

I, for one, am very interested to see how Mythic innovates on the "holy trinity".
You guys should play a warrior in WoW right now, they are one of the best PVP classes and one of the most critical in Arena combat.

Taunt isn't everything. A mortal strike warrior doesn't need taunt to make you his bitch.
Wow, collision detection! So you mean, with some organization, you can actually pull off formations and take benefit from them?

That sounds awesome!
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