Last night the final whistle sounded while I was sleeping the sleep of the justified. The result was already decided. No need for me to stay up deep into Saturday morning to add my marginal value to the cause. Yak's Bend tied for second place alongside Fort Aspenwood.
It's been a rough ride. For the first few days of the final round we went flat out for an unequivocal, unshared runner-up slot. That meant targeting bolted-on winners of the overall Silver League Tournament, Henge of Denravi. The plan looked sound as we hammered at them relentlessly across the Labor Day holiday weekend and pushed them into third place.
Then, with inexplicable lack of judgment, some Isle of Janthir guilds purportedly entered into an alliance with others on HoD and we got double-teamed. While it gave us one of the most exciting days of the entire Season as we tried everything just to hold on, eventually hunkering down in the north of our own borderland to weather the storm, it did look grim for a while. There were dark mutterings and open questioning of our previous strategy as people asked why we hadn't just focused Isle of Janthir from the get-go and nailed down our second place.
|But not, apparently, to stop.|
Perhaps predictably, once HoD had ensconced themselves safely back in first place, thereby ensuring a perfect record of nine matches, nine wins, they immediately reneged on whatever partial promises they might have made and set about their usual hobby of taking any and every easy target that presented itself, regardless of color. Yak's Bend, meanwhile, rallied and refocused, directing our considerable ire towards Isle of Janthir. By Thursday we had everything back under control and we ran out the week over 50k ahead in second.
Was it all worth it? For the "rewards", not really. Some more very ugly skins I'd never use. A mini-pet I'd never remember to summon. I'll probably take the Ascended accessories and some crafting mats. Meh.
For the fun, excitement and entertainment value, though, it absolutely was worth it. No question. It's been enormous fun but more than that having a defined purpose and a set time in which to achieve it gives a focus to World vs World that it otherwise lacks. Moreover, it tends to skew the whole enterprise towards the team-based competition I believe it was clearly intended to be and away from the "good fights" and "guild vs guild" crowd, whose agendas tend to dominate out of season.
|I'm in a golem. I said I'M IN A GOLEM!|
I'm biased of course. I see WvW primarily as a siege warfare simulation set in a magic-rich environment. That means I'm in my element on Yak's Bend, a server whose least offensive nick-name is Yak's Bunker and whose reputation rests at least in part on our willingness to place more siege machinery in a single tower than most servers place on an entire borderland.
Despite our propensity for bunkering up, however, this season has seen a huge amount of open-field fighting. I've been involved in running battles that lasted for anything up to a couple of hours and my manual dexterity and motor skills have sharpened up considerably as a result. I also have the muscle memory at the moment to play a Staff Ele effectively, which adds enormously both to my usefulness to the team effort and my own satisfaction .
Or that's the plan. The whole damn thing is so addictive I can't be certain I won't fall off the wagon and get back on the warhorse (not that there are any horses in Tyria. I guess we could saddle up a moose. If we were allowed mounts...) . Just logging in this morning I see that although our post-Season Glicko score puts us back in Tier 3 we've drawn a wild card and ended up in Tier 4 along with Isle of Janthir and Borlis Pass, which should make for a fun week...only we're coming third! All of which makes me feel like grabbing my staff and heading out to do my bit. Again.
Before that happens, some post-Season observations:
Too Much Of A Good Thing - Season One was seven weeks long. I don't know why ArenaNet decided to extend the follow-up by another two weeks but I'm pretty sure it wasn't because players complained the first one was over too quickly. I'd definitely prefer more frequent, shorter seasons.
Nine And A Half Weeks - The Season finished last night and the little UI reward chest popped up when I logged in this morning. Inside it were a few odds and ends and the thing we've supposedly all been fighting for - our Tournament Claim Tickets. I ran around a bit looking for the vendor; no sign of one. A quick trip to the forum revealed the following:
"The Tournament Rewards will be available on the Battle Historian NPC, located in all of the portal keeps, as of June 3rd."
That's going down about as well as you might expect. Given the number of New Build warnings we get after every update this seems positively designed to irritate and vex.
|Pretty to think so.|
Your Megaserver Broke My WvW - I'm still ambivalent about the Megaserver project. It does have its ups but one of the obvious downs is the way it wiped out, overnight, the entire concept of "rallying the troops". It used to be a big thrill to be sorting my banks in Lion's Arch and suddenly see a familiar name from WvW pop up in map chat calling for reinforcements to defend our Garrison or recruiting ground troops to support a golem rush on Stonemist Castle.
The effectiveness and alacrity with which a server was able to call in its PvE irregulars at key moments used to be a significant factor in the outcome of some matches. Yak's Bend's better-than-expected performance in Season One was put down in part to our ability to get our PvE forces onto the field when it mattered. Now, if you port back to LA or Divinity's Reach or the current World Boss map and yell for help all you'll be doing is announcing your plans to your enemies.
It could be addressed simply by adding a World Chat channel that would only be seen by people on your home world, something which would be useful in many contexts other than WvW, but sadly I suspect ANet would prefer the entire concept of "Home World" just quietly wither and die. I'll be quite surprised, although very pleased, if even WvW still uses the concept a year from now.
|It was and we did.|
Third Time's The Charm - I believe ANet have already confirmed there will be a third WvW Season/Tournament/Barn Dance - whatever they decide to call it. My definite feeling is that the second improved on the first in most respects but there's still a lot more that could be done.
The Swiss System did give more balanced matches than the pre-set version but it was far from perfect. It was highly predictable and tended to encourage clumping. There was also concern that there could be some match-fixing as it became more advantageous at certain times for servers to lose a match to get a win the following week. In the end I didn't see much evidence of it happening but it remained an uncomfortable possibility lurking in the background.
The Achievements, deemed too long-winded in Season One, were overtuned for ease of use this time. Some people finished the meta in the first few days. I finished one account by the end of Match Two and the second a week later. It might do more to keep the PvE crowd coming back if new achievements appeared each week rather than front-loading them all in the first match.
Pre-season transfers, especially free transfers to low-population servers, failed to take human nature into account. The idea was to encourage more equal numbers across the board but both Silver and Gold League were won by bandwagon servers filled with carpetbaggers who moved there with the specific intent of taking an easy ride to the top. Unbalanced population is a serious problem for the format but there needs to be a less-exploitable solution than this.
All of these things and many others need re-thinking so that Season Three can be the best one yet but for now let's stop and savor the many pleasures of the Season just passed. Well done Anet and well done The Yaks. Silver medal in Silver League twice in a row and best of all we did it Yak Style!