Cracking the Shell: Rewarding Extended Siege and Defense in WvW

Last week, I went over increasing the reward given by defending in WvW. Doing so would increase the incentive for defenders to hold onto what they have. But what about attackers?

Why Bother? The Disappearance of the Extended Siege

Right after release, every WvW queue was packed at all hours. The coverage meta hadn’t become the law of the land yet, and trying to be time efficient wasn’t as important as picking a fight and winning on someone else’s turf.

As a result, extended sieges, where upgraded defenses are steadily broken down as defenders keep pushing the attackers out, happened all the time. It was fun, and nothing beat being able to stand gloriously in victory in the final circle, the last remnants of the defenders gray corpses at one’s feet.

But WvW isn’t that popular anymore. There’s no point doing an extended siege, because either they massively outnumber you and you’ll lose, or there’s another objective they’re not defending you can take much faster. The reward is the same either way.

(The High Tier Exception)

Granted, saying any of this requires the caveat that Tier 1 and 2 (and maybe 3 in prime times) still have them. But that’s because in both tiers there are enough people at all hours that the “easy undefended objective” is a mythical beast akin to hydras and horses*.

*Seriously, when’s the last time you saw a horse in Tyria? And hydras must have been hunted to extinction in the past 250 years. Conservation, people!

I believe this is at the root of the “I’m on this < high tier> server for the fights.” Extended sieges are the perfect platform for fights back and forth, with the ultimate victor being the one who made the better moves over time. It’s the core of WvW, a combination of strategy and tactics rendering success by the masses against the masses.

So Nobody Bothers

But this isn’t seen anymore in the majority of WvW. Even strategically-minded players who aren’t trying to karma train are better suited going for the easy takes to keep the reward-minded players involved and bolstering the zerg’s numbers for the inevitable clash against the enemy. Placing some trebuchets on a ridge and steadily breaking down a wall from afar isn’t worth the time.

This results from there being minimal difference rewards-wise in taking a defended objective compared to an undefended one. With an enemy force in the picture, it’s strategically smarter to draw them out into the open field and wipe them, then push on the objective as if it were undefended, than to siege from afar or directly counter the use of defenses.

The extended siege, and its eventual success (should it happen) should be rewarded for being that. Extended sieges take time and effort by both sides to happen, and it weighs against the much higher reward of finding where the enemy isn’t and taking that for minimal effort.

Checking for a Siege

The clearest way to differentiate between a fast, uncontested siege and an extended one is time. The longer an objective is under attack, the longer the siege has lasted.

However, time alone would create a perverse incentive to stall out an objective the enemy can’t defend anyway, just for swank loots. So rather than it be raw time, a siege should be defined by the number of active defense events that aren’t just triggered, but get successfully completed by a member of the enemy team. For this to happen, the enemy has to successfully engage and kill people on the sieging team, creating the exact conditions of an extended siege: offensive and defensive push and pull.

The “Siege!” Buff

With these in mind, add a new buff called “Siege!” or similar that is awarded to all players within 5,000 range (trebuchet range) of a structure that has had a successful defense. The buff lasts for 5 minutes, and is refreshed and stacked by subsequent buffs.

Each buff increases magic find and world XP gained from killing players (suggested 10% increase per stack). This means that the longer the siege lasts, the more work that’s had to happen to finally take the objective, the more rewarding the final break becomes.

The buff is consumed when the structure it’s attached to is taken, rewarding 10% additional loot, world XP, karma, and experience per stack of the buff held. So 10 stacks would mean double reward. Considering that that means the defenders have held onto the objective for over 30 minutes, including wiping the sieging team, that’s not a ridiculous cash out.

Avoiding Exploits

To prevent such a system being abused, some small controls should be added:

  1. Each “Siege!” buff is unique, and overwrites other ones. So anyone who leaves an objective for another one will have their buff replaced. No getting absurd stacks and then cashing in on the highest value target.
  2. The short duration of the buff allows for a wiped force to recover and not lose their progress, but also prevents gaps in the siege. It’s not an extended siege if people leave for half an hour.
  3. Triggering off of a defense event success rather than simply attacking the structure removes the incentive to stall. Between the buff timer and the event requirement, the most that can be stalled is a single stack of the buff, which isn’t much.

No Way Will Defenders Enable This…

With the current defensive reward approach (read: functionally none), the “Siege!” buff won’t work. It requires the “cooperation” of an enemy willing to beat you into the ground over and over again as your relative reward increases.

But consider if my previous suggestions are implemented in some form. Defenders have an up-front reason to defend their valuable objectives, because their magic find, their rewards, are high to start with. It takes time for a sieging team to reach parity with that up front rewards advantage.

It becomes asymmetric reward, where defenders have a reason to push attackers off (all those sweet bags, and they hold onto the objective), and attackers have a reason to keep showing up and force their way through anyway (the reward is getting better all the time).

Conclusion

The extended siege is a lost art in the lower tiers, reserved as a tactic of last resort. This is caused by the relative difficulty of sieging a defended objective combined with there being little reward difference between taking a defended or undefended objective.

To even out the reward for trying to break into a defended objective, I suggest adding a stacking siege buff that increases the rewards gained from killing enemy players and ultimately taking the objective itself. With proper controls, it will be hard to abuse.

The main concern is making the defenders willing accomplices in increasing the attackers’ rewards. With the current rewards approach, this is impossible. But if defending rewards are increased in different ways, as I’ve suggested previously, both sides will benefit from their respective rewards.

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