Thursday, October 02, 2008
WAR is over, Destruction won, thank you for participating
Ten days after release Destruction captured Altdorf on the most populated European server. So much for the epic endgame of Warhammer Online. Apparently the feat was performed with a mix of devious strategy and exploiting some bugs. The most prominent bug was that Destruction could enter an Order keep by using the back door, instead of having to break down the front door. The devious strategy was doing the raid at night when Order was sleeping. I'm sure the bug will be fixed. I'm not sure anyone can do much about 3 am raids.
I've already noticed the same in the simple tier 2 keep raids I've done. If there are a good number of defenders in a keep, a keep battle is a long affair, and quite a lot of fun. Even if you lose in the end, you've seen a lot of fun action, and gathered some xp and renown points. But if the keep is undefended, a keep raid is kind of boring. NPCs aren't well known for their brilliant tactics, and WAR mobs are even more stupid than WoW mobs. The keep lord is tough, but strictly tank and spank. There are public quests that are harder and more varied than a keep raid with no human defenders. Even if you turned the keep lord into a proper raid boss, a keep raid against NPCs is always going to be easier than one against player defenders.
Thus if some group is only interested in taking the keep, and not interested in the fun battle, all they have to do is to attack when there are no defenders anywhere near. Nobody is going to organize a keep defence watch 24/7, because when there are no attackers, guarding a keep is extremely boring and doesn't give any rewards at all. Organizing a 3 am keep raid is a certain way to easy victory, and as the current example shows, you can even take the enemy capital like that.
One possible solution, seen in other games, is making keep warfare consentual. Destruction sends a friendly letter to Order, asking them if it was okay if they attacked Altdorf next Tuesday at 8 pm, RSVP. Of course that sounds extremely silly, and not like a war at all. But at least there would be a battle involving many players from both sides, instead of one guild fighting only NPCs in the middle of the night. Alternatively there could be predetermined keep attack time windows, only during prime time. Keeps can be attacked every evening from 6 pm to midnight, plus on afternoons during the weekends and public holidays. Again, that has nothing to do with simulating a war, and everything to do with playability. But would that be so bad? In real wars people don't respawn after being killed, and real keep guards might be asleep, but never "offline". Maybe limiting the virtual war to the times where most players are online is not such a bad compromise.