Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Christmas Day Offensive : GW2

Life in Tier 2 hasn't been at all like I expected. When ArenaNet announced the third World vs World Season back in the summer, Yak's Bend was deep in a lively and unpredictable tussle that saw five or six reasonably evenly-matched servers competing across Tiers 3 and 4. By the time the Season ended we'd won every match and found ourselves promoted to Tier 2.

There was much celebration and the huge majority of active WvWers were looking forward to life one notch nearer the top but, if we're honest, I imagine many were also anticipating a hard-knock lesson and a fairly swift return to our spiritual home in T3. That's not how things turned out.

We won our first match. Then the next. We kept on winning. We won every match from the start of the Season through to the beginning of December, rising to the highest ranking we've achieved since the launch of the game - 4th. As with all rising servers there was something of a bandwagon effect. Our population grew. We picked up some significant guilds.

There was speculation. Could we go further? The modified Glicko ranking system made that look unlikely but who knew? Then two things happened.

At the beginning of December a very influential and important guild decided to leave YB to go to Jade Quarry. The Coasters, who we had long since ceased to refer to as The Hair Bear Bunch, only arrived on YB in the summer but they were instrumental in YB's success  because they are both a highly skilled and organized guild and they play in EU primetime, a timeslot where we have always struggled for coverage.

It's quiet. Too quiet...
FA supposedly have an issue with our defensive style and want shot of us so they can have more "good fights" while SoS are clinging onto their T2 place by their fingernails with a resurgent Dragonbrand breathing down their necks. Motive and opportunity came together. Immediately TC left, our opponents in T2, Fort Aspenwood and Sea of Sorrows, formed an alliance with the intention of knocking the wheels off our bandwagon and sending us back to T3 with the rest of the scrubs. I paraphrase - they were a lot less polite about it than that.

The alliance wasn't watertight but in certain timeslots there was clearly good co-ordination between several guilds and commanders. It's a tedious tradition of WvW that every match people claim the other two servers are ganging up on them, something that is almost never the case, but this time the alliance was real.

And so our rule of terror was broken. In Week 49 we were pushed into second place and in Week 50 we came third. That was that, then. Back to Tier 3. Although, of course, with the Glicko system it would be a slow drift not a sudden fall.

When I went to bed on Christmas Eve, with two days of the match remaining, we were in third place again, trailing by some 10,000 points. On Christmas Day I didn't log in until getting on for eight in the evening. We were in the lead.

What's more, we had most of FA's borderland under our colors. When I ported over to see what was going on we had half a dozen commanders there, fortifying everything and building siege like only YB can. We already had a waypoint in Hills.

For the rest of Christmas evening it was a succession of amazed, astounded, elated comments like mine above. As people around the world woke up or came home or finished Christmas lunch, depending on their timezone and cultural affiliation, they logged in and looked at the score in dumbfounded wonder.

How had this happened? Who had organized a Christmas Day push on this scale and made it work? Not being privy to the secret communications channels I can only have my suspicions. And I do. Whoever it was, they did a magnificent job. Across the rest of the match we held and increased our lead, running out winners at reset on Friday with a 15k advantage over Sea of Sorrows in second.

Sneak Attack? We'll show you a sneak attack!

This week the random factor gave us Dragonbrand instead of SoS. As I write we are in front of them with a 6k lead. FA are third again. Whatever happens by the end of the match, whether we can sustain our efforts into the New Year and stay in T2 or whether we falter and slip back, that Christmas Day Offensive will remain one of my golden MMO memories for as long as I play.

It's been said that GW2's WvW isn't really much more than a glorified battleground with nothing really at stake and nothing to win or lose. I've said it myself. Unlike a battleground, however, it has both persistence and history. For those who hop servers for success or sell their swords to the highest bidder, victories such as this may very well seem hollow. For those of us who keep the faith, however, they feel real and that feeling lasts.

Once a Yak, always a Yak as we say on Yaks Bend.


  1. This just reinforces my sentiment that it could be fun to face the Yak in T1. Of course, any but our usual two or three opponents would be refreshing, but you make it sound like the Yak plays quite differently from some of the others. It could happen.

    -- 7rlsy

    1. I do subscribe to the belief that servers have a character or personality. They most definitely develop local cultures. Of course for GW2 the Megaservers pretty much killed that in PvE but it still exists to some degree in WvW.

      YB's particular brand of annoying, stubborn defensive play that has made us so loathed by so many servers that have had to deal with it was considerably diluted and altered by the experience of the last few months. We've had more open-field fighting in the latter half of this year than I can remember since the glory days of the one-day matches after launch.

      Now that TC and some others have moved on, though, we seem to be going back to our old ways, only now we do things faster. Due to the way Glicko works, however, I see little chance of us ever getting into T1. This week, for example, we could come first in T2 and drop a place in the overall ranking from 4th to 5th because SoS, who are spending the week in T3, are destroying it and will come back two places higher than they left.

      I dread to think what it must be like in T3 for IoJ and NSP, having been thrashed week after week by DB and then getting SoS, who are even stronger, as a replacement. T3 used to be the place to be but it looks like a hell-hole right now.


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