Balancing Zergs & GVG Mechanics


One of the biggest issues with Albion Online, and most PvP-based MMOs for that matter, is that larger guilds have a solid, inherent advantage.

  • Larger guilds control more territory for a longer period of time.
  • Larger guilds have access to more resources, more often.
  • Larger guilds will have the best crafters because those crafters can source all of their materials from others.
  • Larger guilds ultimately get to experience the game to its fullest.

I do not believe in answering this problem by simply saying, “Then join the big guilds.” I’m also not advocating that big guilds not exist. I do believe people should be free to join whatever guild they wish. What I want to see, however, is a bit more equity in the game’s design.

I want to look at a few solutions and their pros/cons.

Limit Participation

This is implemented, or at least was last time I checked, in Albion Online. Let’s say you have a battle going on for a guild castle or something. Your guild can have 100 people in it, but the battle for that objective may only allow a 5v5 or a 10v10 or whatever.

On one hand, this equalizes the ability for large guilds to zerg out the little guilds during a territory struggle. On the other hand, it ruins immersion and can cause reverse frustration for people in large guilds never being able to participate. Is that bad? Perhaps not, since it may cause guilds to be smaller in general to avoid sitting out or benching people.

Remove objectives which cause or promote a zerg-centric play-style

Having a very small or limited number of holdings on a relatively small map or concentrated area leads to large groups of people fighting over territory. Promoting, which can really be called ‘rewarding’, groups of people for sticking together in large groups will — obviously — lead to people moving around in large groups. Downside here is that you lose that ‘epic’ sense of battles if you create a world dominated by small encounters.

Decrease Black Zones -> Increase Yellow Zones (Albion Online specific)

The overall point here is that more of the game can take place spread out in an area that isn’t dominated by the 1% rolling around in large numbers. This increases the relatively safer areas where players can still get resources, but not be afraid of losing them when ganked by 100 guys.

Item ‘insurance’ when outnumbered

I think EVE does something like this, right? I may be mixing them up with something else. But what if players couldn’t lose items if zerged? 20 people killing one person? They get nothing. This forces people to want to fight fair fights, otherwise they get nothing. I think there’s merit here, but easily exploited.

Eliminate Guild Vs. Guild altogether and have Realm vs. Realm

This allows for multiple guilds to more easily combine together to fight the other side vs. guilds — run by players — dominating. And that’s really the problem here. People will say, “oh just get 3-4 guilds together to take out that bigger guild!” Yeah, sure, okay. Have you actually tried that? When individual interests are at stake, people stop working together. United interests drive cohesiveness.

Remove resources from these areas and simply turn them into e-peen conflicts

This may be my favorite option of all. I only care about this because the resources I want are stuck in the areas where the large guilds are zerging their territories. Take out the resources and let them have a Call of Duty fight. Let them earn combat points from battling it out. Implement a few anti-zerging options, but let the crafters still work hard at gathering materials without having to worry about gathering them amidst the 500 people zerging each other. Otherwise, it’s simply too broken and unbalanced in favor of the zerg.

  • I don’t think EVE has item insurance that kicks in when zerged but they have something else. They have a targeting scrambler that becomes more effective when more people are targeting you. I’ve only read the description of what it does, which they explain with a good amount of flavor, but basically if a lot of people are targeting you then the module breaks all those target locks on you.

    That’s very EVE specific, or space-sim specific but you could still have some kind of underdog’s spirit buff for the smaller group. Or something else I just thought of but you could code in some of the real disadvantages of a large group. You can’t go by unnoticed. Large groups of players moving around should appear on the map if you’ve got any kind of tracking skill at all. Giant beacons like “Come kill us”. Small groups would be able to pass by without all that noise.

  • Gringer, they pretty much have exactly what you’ve suggested in Albion (mentioned in my forum post):
    When there is a group of X number of people larger than he group you are in, you receive a defence buff depending in the disparity.
    Groups of 8-10+ are indicated as red dots on the minimap.

    The above is only true for Red Zones. Black zones do not have anti-Zerg mechanics, by design.

  • You know the more I hear about this Albion game the more I think I’d enjoy it. I’ll have to give it a try. Black zones also sound like the equivalent of EVE’s wormholes. Highly lucrative but you can probably get by just fine without ever going into one.

  • Comparing Albion to EvE, Black zones are more of an equivalent to nullsec space. The hellholes or whatever they are called (dungeons with really good loot) are more like the wormhole mechanic in EvE.

  • Part of the problem is that having more numbers has been, for all of history, the best tactic. All those weird strategic gimmicks, sneak attacks and all the rest are frequently ways to overcome the advantage of more.

    It’s why many war stories are ‘against the odds’ narratives. Because that’s interesting, that’s unusual…special. But having six guys for even one of theirs, and a solid command structure will (and should) win most wars. And guild fights.

  • Using GW2 as an example, the time gated objectives really enhanced the zergy gameplay. If those resource camps were able to be immediately flipped back and forth, you couldn’t have run zergs. You’d have to leave small groups behind at every camp to prevent them being constantly flipped as soon as your zerg left the area. The 5 minute timer was their answer to trading those camps for the rewards. They should have just nerfed the rewards and left them immediately flippable. Compounding the problem, they had specific scoring windows that you could manipulate your timing of starting those capture timers. That further encouraged zergy gameplay.

    If I don’t have to worry about a camp flipping for 5 minutes, why would my team break up to be in multiple places at once? Nope. Might as well stick together in a zerg. Warhammer had this same problem, only even worse IMO with the linear layout of many of their RvR ones. If Albion handles it right, then you’ll have big guilds controlling large spaces, and small guilds controlling small spaces. Expanding beyond the territory you can’t constanly cover everywhere at once should not happen. Being able to hold territory due to timers protecting your flank would be poor design IMO.