Realm balance and the impact it will have on LotD

lotdwinnersrelaxingOn Dark Crag Order has our King on farm status.  We’re locked out of the city more than we’re allowed to enter these days.  Realm balance has been a point of discussion since, well, before launch.  As predicted, this issue isn’t that Destruction completely outnumbers Order or vice versa.  The problem is that one side completely dominates the other and which realm it is varies server to server.  On Dark Crag it’s Order, on other servers it’s Destruction, and on some like Phoenix Throne it’s fairly even with the lead switching back and forth with whichever way the wind blows.

What impact will this have on Land of the Dead?  Access to this new content – the only new content since launch – is going to be restricted.  You’re only going to be allowed to enter if you’re winning the realm war (or a modified version of it).  If you’re the losing realm then you’re shut out in the cold.  Ideally the winning side will rush in to LotD and while inside the losers will have an easier time taking back and winning the dungeon in order to get their shot at owning the dungeon for however long the minimum time might be (I forget if it’s an hour or whatever).  The issue is that when a disparity like we see in Dark Crag exists, Order (or the winners) have the ability to lock down LotD and defend it at the same time.  If they’re capable of keeping us out of our own capital city then they’re capable of keeping us out of LotD.

I’m not okay with that.  I’m playing Warhammer Online again only because of Land of the Dead.  If I can never get inside the place then I will not play.  Before I stop playing I will switch servers which is my absolute last resort.  I love my clan in WAR and I’m making friends.  I like my Shaman (for the first time in months) and I’m not ready to abandon that.  There are solutions to the problem – let’s find them.

In DAOC the Darkness Falls mechanic worked (most of the time) because the tug of war was between THREE REALMS.  When one owned it, there were two realms left out in the cold to fight each other and the realm who owned DF.  This meant that unless one realm was a powerhouse, to the point of being a server dominator, they never owned the place for too long and when they did the others still had a realm to fight.  No such system exists in WAR; we have two realms.   We need more drastic measures to balance populations and balance server domination.  Maybe queues are the answer to balance the realms – yes, the problem is that big.  I’ve been a fan of incentives and rewards for the underdog instead of penalizing the victor though, so if Mythic can come up with ideas that fit their vision then by all means.  I fear that without a clear and direct approach to this problem the players will be left with having to watch it fix itself; players on the losing side quit in such large numbers that the winners get bored and quit, thus evening things out for the war to start back up fair again — never a good thing.

On Dark Crag Order can keep us out of our own city dungeons by farming our King, stop us from taking forts so we can’t get RvR to get gear, and now they’ll be able to keep us out of Land of the Dead so that we can’t progress into new content to gear up.  Unless one is already geared to go to Lost Vale, the majority are left with nothing but annihilator and Bastion stair equivalent gear.  The problem would compound itself and worsen exponentially the longer it is left unresolved.

If Order wins then they deserve to win – I’ll never argue that they don’t.  They deserve to win and they deserve their rewards if they outplay.  However, it does reach a point where the losing side deserves an aswer to the question:  “Will we ever be able to recover and have our chance at winning?” Right now it looks like on some servers people are paying for a game where they can never hope to even have a chance of winning.  No one likes to pay without being able to play.  Will that be the case with Land of the Dead?

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Specter - May 18, 2009

Hell, you are always welcome to join us back on Pheonix Throne, Keen. We could always use a few more good gits on Destruction. 🙂

Coppertopper - May 18, 2009

Question: Is it a numbers thing with your server – does 200 order show up to your 100? I know on Monolith, even though tier 4 destro is dominant, in tier 2 even numbers don’t seem to matter – order just owns us in scenarios and keep defence. I wonder sometimes if the answer is just really good leadership.

Radishlaw - May 18, 2009

If what they described in various interviews and such are not wrong, then there would be two things in place to help the weaker realm: resource gathering mechanic and handicap.

Since the winner’s resource will be reset, while the losing realm won’t, sooner or later both realms would be able to get to LotD. The handicap for the overwhelmed realm would increase the resource gathering rate.

Of course, we don’t have all the information on what contribute to resources, but I can confirm that killing players is one of them, and I am sure no matter how badly beaten your realm is, there would always be players capable of killing some enemies right?

So I am a bit less pessimistic about LotD than T4 campaign.

That doesn’t mean your concern is not justified of course. I think we all understand that they really need some kind of balancing system in place.

Keen - May 18, 2009

@Specter: I won’t close that door. 🙂

@Coppertopper: I believe it’s both on Dark Crag. We are outnumbered and outplayed. How much of that is class balance issues (which may resolve or worsen in 1.3) and how much of that is a lack of leadership (The main pushing alliance is in disarray) I don’t know. All the scenarios I’m in these days we lose.

@Radishlaw: The resource system will, eventually, allow the losing realm access. However, they will only have access the bare minimum amount. Has the minimum amount of time been released yet? If it’s a couple hours then we’re okay. If it’s 30 minutes we’re screwed.

Aelith - May 18, 2009

On Darklands Destro aren’t nearly as bad off as you are on Dark Crag, but we have found that we can completely deny access to IC with one simple strategy.

When they get to a fort do not even attempt to hold the walls or doors. Simply hold the ramp leading up FROM the lords room with all your tanks in a wall and then all your MDPS behind them. have all healers on the roof and split your RDPS between the roof (to kill people on the lord room balcony) and the top of the ramp (to kill people in the lords room).

You can hold a capped offense with little more then a warband. The most important thing to remember is that once everyone is in place no-one moves, you break the wall for any reason and everyone gets owned. This strat works because the fort lord will just own anyone that comes near him except a tank and your mdps aoe and ranged can just take out any tank that tries to tank him – leaving him to own everyone else.

This will also help you get to the LotD because we manage to rack up 30 – 1 kill death ratios doing this. (and you get conq gear at the end of the seige)

Longasc - May 18, 2009

Different degrees of a certain side dominating the other also exist on WoW servers. But the dire results often only manifest themselves in Wintergrasp, and in manhunts for the lone Ally on the Isle of Quel’Danas before WOTLK.

This is the problem with PvP MMOs. That some players feel they are obliged and bound to win now and then, to have fun. 😛

Just see it from the other side, I heard Order is having tons of fun with Destruction players on Dark Crag! :>

Bootae - May 19, 2009

Lock down announced prior to beta is 30mins (it may change ofc), but that doesn’t mean 30mins and they’re in. It means 30 mins before they can start gathering resources again.

If most of your outnumbered Destro are inside LotD after those 30 mins, then (in theory at least) you’ll have a good while before Order can get in because they need to lock zones and _kill players_ to get resources. If there are bugger all players to kill, then it could perhaps take them quite a while to get the resource level if they’re reliant on zone locks. That combined with the handicap for outnumbered factions and it should work out ok for you mate.

BTW news from the mates of mine that are core testers getting a proper session in LotD is it’s bloody awesome 😉

CunningB - May 19, 2009

Well keep your hopes up, Kazak Azgul was in exactly the same situation about a month ago and now its flipped again, it started with Dest being on top, then Order flipped that, and now Dest participation is up and its back to Dest on top again.

I think until mythic introduce a balancing factor ie. a third side, it’ll be like this on most servers, long periods of time with either one side or the other being hammered.

Sad thing is every time “mid cycle” is really depressing for the underdog’s as you log in and theres nothing to do cept defend your city in prime time, which looses Mythic subs eventually >.>

Werit - May 19, 2009

That is a concern of mine too. They mentioned a handicap system, so a losing realm will likely gain resources regardless.

Still, if one side has a huge population advantage it won’t matter. They will farm the heck out of the LotD.

Eyehart - May 19, 2009

Maybe if Destro on Dark Crag didn’t spend all of their time trolling in lower tiers the might be able to accomplish something?

Warhammer Online's greatest design flaw... « Snaffy's Space - May 19, 2009

[…] warhammer online Many people have been saying it since launch, but I must reiterate it because Keen brought something to light I meant to post about the other day after a telephone call with a friend: WAR will always suffer […]

Snafzg - May 19, 2009

@Bootae – “If there are bugger all players to kill, then it could perhaps take them quite a while to get the resource level…”

Do you realize how bad that actually sounds? 😛

You just perfectly highlighted the biggest flaw with this whole system – Land of the Dead will take players out of RvR just like city sieges. If one side is in LotD, the other side has “bugger all” to do but RvE. Sounds like a blast, dunnit?

Coppertopper - May 19, 2009

But it will be easier to lock zones! I don’t know how much per player kill influences resource amount gained, but skirmish adds what 5% to zone locking (don’t know what T4 is).

Also – just don’t agree that class imbalance is the issue. Most classes are mirror images of each other. And the 3rd realm arguement – when in daoc’s history was the 3rd realm more then just a minor nuisance in the orvr big picture? Except for maybe the 1st year, before the OP classes were recognized, never the entire 4 years I played.

Coppertopper - May 19, 2009

Ps – can anyone figure out Snaffy’s spam protection? I’ve tried posting there a couple times with no luck breaking the code!

Snafzg - May 19, 2009

I think you just have to enter 3 to post a comment there. It’s like a fill in the blank kind of thing. 🙂

Hades - May 19, 2009

The problem on Dark Crag can be boiled down to a few things.

1. Off Peak Hour Pushes

The city is primarily being locked down just prior to prime time, or slightly after prime time when the EST Destro players log. So if the battle is over by the time you log in after a day at work or before you wake up the next morning, there isn’t much you can do.

2. T2-T3 City Invasion Scenarios

When Mythic moved city invasion scenarios to the lower levels, it really messed up Destro on Dark Crag. Our faction doesn’t yet have an organized set of low level twinks that can compete in these scenarios. The result is that organized Order premades are rolling low level Destro pug’s who are just queuing for any scenario to level, and as those pugs get destroyed it pushes the city invasion into a locked state.

3. RVR Tokens

Prior to RVR tokens no one cared about ORVR but the organized guilds. Now with tokens, every person who can get to a zone lock or fort take does so in the hope they get a token. This is especially painful on fortress fights because unorganized pug warbands go into the fort, take up supply line spots, get decimated, don’t respawn and beg for rez’s that can’t happen, and leave whole groups of organized warbands sitting helplessly at the fort zone line. So in short, the token system has driven greed and that greed is screwing over organized offensive or defensive efforts.

Mythic should just instance fort fights, and then implement a victory condition based on whoever has the most skirmish points at the end of the hour. The present fort capping system simply doesn’t work due to population limits, and now the greed for tokens which makes the unorganized masses flood the fortress zone.

I am not sure how Land of the Dead control will work, but I suspect that control will be flipping between both sides fairly frequently if it works like DAOC Darkness falls.

Jaspr - May 19, 2009

Not sure if this is still true, but the last time I checked, characters over lvl 10 couldn’t be moved to another server.

Nobs - May 19, 2009

It’s funny how many problems would be solved by a 3rd factoin but the way the zones are designed it is impossible and will never happen.

Bartlebe - May 19, 2009

With every addition, there are two more problems.

Its feels like they’re trying to get water out of a sinking ship by punching holes in the bottom.

Nobs - May 19, 2009

I don’t think it’s that bad Bartlebe. I think the game runs 100% better than it did in November 2008. The biggest issue now is the lack of people… and balanced armies.

Class balance will be a hot button issue until the servers are shut down, all MMO’s are like that.

I keep bashing Mythic too, I have very little faith in their ability to make the right decissions. I’ve been that way since the game launched. There is so much with WAR that could be fixed just by playing the game from R1-40 on any server and then applying common sense. I just don’t think the majority of Mythic has rerolled and played their game in a long time.

WeFlySpitFires - May 19, 2009

I don’t envy Mythic’s job at balancing all of this out – one can only hope that they have the experience from DAOC to do a good job with it. They certainly seem to be dedicated and responsive enough.

A third side does keep things interesting and was something that actually appealed to me a lot about DAOC. Shame we’ve never seen another MMO since with that dynamic. WoW talked about it originally (having a Demon side along with Horde and Alliance) but never went ahead with it.

Melf_Himself - May 19, 2009

I’m really starting to think that RvR games would be better served by player-forged allegiances. This way if one mega-alliance formed that dominated everything, people would get bored and sabotage it from within etc.

It wouldn’t have to be ‘hardcore’ like Darkfall, they could be NPC alliances that the players can join freely… but various quests and such could have the players either strengthening or weakening ties between various alliances, depending on what the player wants to get done.

There needs to be some kind of guerrilla tactics available to the smaller side.

Just thinking out loud.

ThatsSkarWithAK - May 20, 2009

If you control LotD, order/destro will pour into there to do the new content. Which will leave tier 4 open. This means you can level up your city. Remember if they have all buggered off, you can hammer all the forts. Instead of hitting them one at a time, hit all 3. Bang you are in their capital.

Mythic have recognised the issue with population inbalances and have stated that the more you control the LotD the harder it becomes to take. So without knowing the exact details. You need 1 million x to take, if you re take it within 1 hour (or whatever), then it becomes 1.5 million, 2, 3. So in the end your realm strength becomes a factor against you continually dominating the new zone.

I appreciate we all give Mythic a hard time, but they aren’t idiots and there are some bloody clever people there. It’s merely their execution that lets them down. When building anything, it takes 60% of the time to do 90% of the development, the remaining 40% goes on the last 10% of the development, which is to stop the exploits and just lacklustre implmentations (Which is where Mythic seem to drop the ball).

Toady - May 20, 2009


“Maybe if Destro on Dark Crag didn’t spend all of their time trolling in lower tiers the might be able to accomplish something?”

This is an odd comment considering Order on Dark Crag is known for organizing twink premades.

Nobs - May 20, 2009

Well said ThatsSkarWithAK.

As long as LotD zone control isn’t only, or primarly, based on RvR kills then the under populated realm can take it. However if it takes forever to cap unless killing actual players it’s going to suck.

Tome of Knowledge : a Warhammer Online blog » Brainsssssss… - May 21, 2009

[…] Keen raises some very good concerns about the upcoming expansion and the possibility that the lack of a third faction may end up becoming a major flaw in the new massive RVR zone. Will the dominant army on a given server pretty much own the new zone like a bully dangling the poor short kid’s lunch over his head? Only time will tell is the only answer I can offer up. I can guarantee that within the first few months of the zone opening, dominant armies will appear, but the question will be if they remain the dominant army. Maybe the sand swept Necropolis and the Tomb of the Vulture Lord will be just enough incentive for the underdog? […]

ThatsSkarWithAK - May 21, 2009

I was pondering something I said earlier on, about the 1,1.5,2 …. 3 million resources, depending on how successful you are are overpowering the other realm for control of the LotD. I would like to add to that a slight refinement.

If you look at the resource required level to obtain control, as a tide mark on a post in the sea, then that will continue raising until it finds its natural level, which for instance is the number of resources that, say destruction can gather on average in 2 hours.

This way, the game learns how long destruction are taking to gain the necessary resources to flip control of Lotd. If they are gaining it to quickly, then the resources required will go up, until a point is reached where each realm can gain control twice in a evening. I would expect that the tide mark (resource level), would be learnt by the server in say 2 hour chunks, so the server can learn population levels through out the whole week (24 x 7). Remember weekends are different to weekdays.

This tide mark would need to be able to go down as well as up as populations flux (capacitor captin).

As I said, it’s not the main chunk of the work that takes the time, it’s subtle bits. Like my A.I. tide mark 🙂

I am sure Mythic have coded this in and it will work like a dream, cough, cough.

Glen - May 21, 2009

@ coppertops 1st post: Destro on Darklands had a period of just flat-out getting stomped, this corresponded with order getting some leadership happening and the PuG destro default leader leaving for europe (physically). I would say that numbers can push to a city but leadership can stop it if they can get a couple of warbands.

That said the population on Darklands is nothing like Dark Crag. Sure we get our zergs here and there but nothing gets big enough that an organised warband cant do something about it.

Glen - May 21, 2009

Oops forgot to talk about LotD!

Order will own LotD more than Destro on Dark Crag. Give it a chance though, no need to get all doom and gloom before we see what the ‘balancing methods’ are and if they work. At a minimum the purge should provide guilds with fun RvR against zergs that cant reinforce at least once every couple of days.

Oh and why cant Dark Crag destro make twink scen groups for the city pushes?

Steeldragoon - May 22, 2009

Mythic was watching DAOC die for years. Without marketing know how, they saw their only chance in Warhammer lore because it has a bit of a following. The problem is, they had to follow the story and design which didn’t allow for a 3rd faction or not easily so.

A lot of people are waiting for Warhammer 40k mmo to come out, but I’m betting the same kind of issue may happen unless it is 3 factions.

As someone else pointed out before, any more than 3 factions, and you run into other issues.

To me it seems as though 3 factions is a no brainer, but apparently not to these game designers. :-\

Currently my attention is pointed towards Global Agenda. I’m not in the Alpha, but it seems like an awesome concept and would like to think it’ll take off. If it does, I’ll definitely join. I no longer have the time like I used to in college, however, and might have to sit out any future MMO’s until one becomes tested by the majority and found worthy.

Balancing The Control Of LotD « That’s Skar with a K - May 25, 2009

[…] full blown post here, as I got more into the subject matter. The original comments were over at Keen & Graevs, but I have expanded it into a bit of a wall of text […]

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