World vs. World is a stale, buggy, unbalanced mess. Which is exactly how the game mode launched back in September 2012, minus the stale. Regardless of some minor changes to the format and a trio of tournaments, the only major change slated for the game mode is in the indeterminate Heart of Thorns future. And while that might fix the “stale” and “buggy” aspects, it’s very unlikely to do much about the balance.
WvW is also a ton of fun, with endless potential for unpredictable and challenging encounters each and every time players log in. This is why despite almost no attention, WvW hasn’t collapsed utterly. It offers something that structured PvP and PvE can only dream of at present: consistent spontaneity*.
*Not to mention mass combat, duels, open-field fights, extreme build customization, and straight-up siege warfare.
Yet the primary draw of WvW has been whittled away over time by problems in its very structure, a structure that by definition cannot be balanced. Slapping a new coat of paint on the mechanics via the new borderland map and a few other shifts will not solve the biggest weakness of the mode: the server system.
Over the next week (plus a day), I will lay out why the server system is broken, and what to do to create a better, longer-lasting system that WvW can thrive on far into the future. As a spoiler, it involves guilds and alliances.
But before I do that, I would like to write a quick aside about the concept of Asymmetric Balance, which is key to my entire argument about the server system being unbalanceable.
What is Asymmetric Balance?
Asymmetric balance is providing each team with a limited, but identical set of resources, and requiring the teams to decide how to use them across many different options. This is typically expressed with people, but also includes things like siege, supply, and upgrades.
Realm vs. Realm, World vs. World, whatever the term, thrives on asymmetric balance. It means that victory is determined by who deploys their resources best, either in defense or offense, distraction or brute force.
It does not mean that every fight that occurs on the battlefield will be “fair” in the sense of the same number of people on each side. Asymmetric balance is all about trying one’s best to make it unfair to the enemy team, pulling a fast one around their decisions and outplaying them on the strategic level.
But That’s Impossible!
Yes, it is. However, it is an ideal to aim for. Asymmetric balance can be reduced to two phrases:
- Limited resources
- Tons of options for using those resources
And these phrases will help illustrate exactly why the server system cannot create an approximation of asymmetric balance, but alliances can.
A look at all the problems that the server system has, and why they are impossible to fix is here.
The Alliances Series
- Putting Guilds Back into Guild Wars: WvW Alliances
- Unbalanceable Problems: Why the Server System Cannot Work
- Heart and Soul: The Guilds of World vs. World
- The Case for WvW Alliances
- The Alliance Structure: Sidestepping the Problems
- The Pros and Cons of WvW Alliances
- Rewarding the Competition
- Implementing Alliances