Yak's Bend is back in Tier 1 again after a precipitous plummet to Tier 4 and a cartoonish rebound back to the top. Our Celebrity Commander is back along with a host of names from the past, including our original CiC, now commanding regularly again for the first time in what seems like years. I even saw one of our very first Commanders yesterday, albeit not tagged up; one of the handful who bought the tag when most people didn't even understand what it was for, when a hundred gold was an unattainable fortune for most players rather than the pocket change it is today.
This time round, the ever-controversial linking system brought us Ferguson's Crossing for our new best friends. They'll be with us for a couple of months and they are a great asset, bringing numbers and several strong guilds and commanders.
|You should probably keep that to yourself.|
FC is a server, like Anvil Rock, who we had when the linkings first began, that I don't remember ever playing against. That's most likely why there don't seem to have been any community problems with the links we've had so far. It would be different if we'd been coupled to any of the servers that have a reason to hate us, which is basically everyone we've ever fought. Someone new to the server asked yesterday if there were any servers that didn't hate Yak's Bend, to which the answer was mostly laughter.
In this week's match we're facing Tarnished Coast, home of several major guilds with whose leaders our own top brass seem to be on extremely bad terms, including one who was a big cheese on YB for a while but left under something of a cloud. TC started out as GW2's self-elected roleplaying server and there's still a moony, renaissance fayre glimmer around much of what they do but they put their spikiest armor on when they play us.
The other server in the mix is Maguuma, GW2-NA's designated bad neighborhood. Maguuma is where some of the more notorious MMO guilds rolled when they thought GW2 might be something they'd enjoy - or enjoy wrecking. Some are even still there - I saw Starfleet Dental out in minor force over the weekend .
|That's because it's difficult to type when you're laughing that hard.|
Anyway, Maguuma has been known as the Troll Server ever since; accused, often with good reason, of not just tolerating but encouraging most forms of cheating and exploiting, while all the time expounding the virtue of the mythical Good Fight. We've run up against the Magpies a few times and it's always been a bruising encounter but I wasn't really aware of any great animosity, nothing like the deep and abiding hatred between YB and FA or SBI or...well, it's a long list.
Some hot words were spoken at the start of this match, though, and I fear such news travels fast when there are spies around. This time it all seems to have gotten very personal. Of course it's anyone's guess who's actually on Maguuma right now.
The current Maguuma is a bandwagoned version. Everyone who fancies a run at easy karma and effort-free rewards in T1 (everyone who's never been there knows the T1 borderlands are paved with gold) simply chips in a few hundred gems and moves to Mag's linked server, Kaineng. Remember them? They were the original bandwagon, long ago.
|Anyone fancy a game of footie?|
Kaineng languished at the bottom of the table for months until some bored high-tier guilds set out to see if they could bootstrap a server all the way to the top. If I recall correctly they got to Tier 2 before the wheels fell off. Well, Kaineng is the ghost in Maguuma's machine, clinging to the running boards as it tries to drive Yak's Bend clear off the track. It's a real team effort, too, because Tarnished Coast are dead set on achieving the same goal, to the point of really, truly double-teaming with Mag to get the job done.
As a rule I dismiss claims of double-teaming out of hand. Every single match features loud claims that X is allied with Y against Z although it's rarely anything more than an ad hoc, momentary partnership of convenience if it's anything at all.
This time, though, there apparently really is a formal alliance between the other two servers - across one time zone at least. The evidence of this brutal weekend is convincing.
Brutal? Yes, but also wildly enjoyable. Mrs Bhagpuss, like many on YB, is not a fan of 2v1 grudge matches but I tend to favor the views of a forum commenter philosophizing on the subject recently : "Organised 2v1’s are very fun and should be encouraged, the fights happen at your doorstep instead of having to chase them down."
I certainly spent far more time in WvW this weekend than I'd planned, including an unbroken six-hour session last night. The action quite literally never stopped. It was heating up even further when I had to go to bed. As someone who rates sieging and defending structures against heavy and determined opposition as about the most fun you can have in a PvP mode, my main problem right now is having too much of a good thing.
The problem, as mentioned already, is that not everyone sees it that way. Indeed, the real problem with WvW is that almost no-one sees anything "that way". Everyone has a different conception of what the game mode is, is for, could be, should be.
|Theorycrafting for Dummies.|
MMOs at large are portmanteau formats but usually there's some clarity of intent when it comes to the individual components. There's generally a consensus on how to use an instanced PvP battleground or a 5-man dungeon and everyone knows what a bank is for.
WvW has never had that clarity. To some it's a stage for large-scale PvP battles, for others it's a siege warfare sim. There are those who want to roam alone or in twos and threes to test their skill and prowess and those who are interested only in the current score or their server's standing in the league. There are vocal constituencies arguing that WvW should be geared towards Guild vs Guild contests or even individual duels.
Many of these interest groups do not play well together even when they are supposed to be on the same team. The whole mess isn't helped by Anet's unwillingness to truly own the form and settle on a clear and unequivocal direction for development.
Across the summer we suffered a series of often fatuous, occasionally momentous polls. We've been in a running series of "Live Betas" for most of this year and there seems to be no prospect of that awkward scenario ending. The entire game mode is being warped and twisted around us, changing from week to week, as a handful of developers attempt to wrest meaning from chaos without apparently having a set of blueprints or even some notes on the back of a napkin.
|Sorry. Sorry! I didn't mean you!|
And yet, despite all of that, WvW remains enormous fun. Great entertainment. A compulsive, stay-up-too-late, miss-a-meal-without-noticing thrill. If you read the forums you'll hear that WvW is dying or dead but if you log in and play you'll find the corpse up and dancing the polka.
As I write it seems from the scores that we have recovered from our weekend mugging. We will still most likely end the match in third place and next week we should be back in Tier 2, where indeed we should be by rights, having only drawn a wild card to breach T1 these last two weeks in any case.
Our glicko rating will almost certainly have risen but straws in the wind suggest that may not matter for much longer. WvW looks set to endure a lot more tinkering under the hood before someone finally declares the old jalopy ready to race.
When that day comes, if it ever does, I feel confident that there will still be plenty of us left playing, no matter what lunacies we've had to endure along the way. Whatever the final outcome - and of course MMOs rarely have final outcomes until they sunset and sometimes not even then - the one thing I remain confident in predicting is that WvW will remain great fun.
Maybe there's a way to break even that but if so no-one seems to have found it yet.