Friday, January 23, 2009

Improving RvR in Warhammer Online Part I: Battlefield Objectives

This is the first in a series of posts with details about how to improve and embiggen Open RvR in Warhammer Online. This post deals with everyone's favorite renown farm, Battlefield Objectives! For this post, I'm not going to deal with whether or not BO's should given renown/influence/experience. Instead, I want to focus on making Battlefield Objectives a meaningful and important part of Open RvR that are actually worth fighting over and defending.

Click the link below to read on for details.

The basic concept here is that Objectives give bonuses / advantages to those who control them. However, I've also thrown a wrinkle in to give them more flavor and to also make it so that pushing zone control back towards a fortress becomes harder as you lock zones. So, the bonuses for Objectives work for both sides in the center T4 zone, but then as that middle zone is locked and the war is pushed back towards a fotress, the Objective bonuses only benefit the 'defending' side. The attackers will still want to control the Objectives to deny the bonuses to their enemies, but they won't receive the bonuses themselves. This concept is designed to instill a desire for control of the Objectives prior, and during, keep assaults.

To give specific examples, I decided to create a list of potential Battlefield Objective bonuses for all BOs in the Dwarf / Greenksin pairing. I tried to match the bonuses to the official Tome of Knowledge Lore for each objective, but some objectives just don't really make sense. Thunder Mountain is particularly bad about this (come on now! An out-of-the-way, tapped-out Gromril mine that goes nowhere?! Who cares?). Below are my partially thought-out suggestions, along with the official, in-game descriptions for the Objectives.

Black Crag

Lobba Mill - Though goblin constructions are semi-chaotic messes of thrown together bits of whatever is handy (which often includes weaker goblins), their machines are suprisingly effective. The Lobba Mill is one of the most productive spots for production of siege engines in all of the Greenskin lands.

Control of this objective grants a 20% damage bonus to siege engines for all Destruction players in the zone.
Despite its unassuming name, the Lobba Mill is Black Crag's most prolific rock lobber construction camp. The mightiest Lobbas in the Waaagh! are built in the camp, and the abandoned Dwarf stone quarries that dot the mountainsides provide more than enough ammunition for even the longest sieges.

Squiggly Beast Pens - These pens are the source of some of the biggest, nastiest Squigs around.

While the Pens are controlled by Destruction, there will be several champion-level squig and herder patrols added to all keeps controlled by Destruction in this zone.
While the Night Goblins of the Old World Mountains have always been the most cunning, nasty and independent of greenskin tribes, its often easy to capture a few here and there. When kept in small groups they are more craven than rats, and easily forced to work. Most often they are put in the squig pens, where their considerable expertise helps Grumlok and Gazbag's Waaagh! grow the some of the most vicious squigs in existence.

Madcap Pickins - The mysterious shrooms found in this area of the Crag have been known to drive some shaman crazy, but their potential for bolstering magic power is too great to ignore.

While this Objective is controlled by Destruction, all Destruction players and RvR NPCs in the zone have their chance for critical heal and spells increased by 3%.
If there is one thing that Goblin Shaman know how to do when they aren't eating mushrooms, it is growing them. Among the dank mountain caverns many different varieties grow, and every shaman knows that the best mushrooms grow in the darkest, muddiest, and smelliest places. Of particular valley are Madcap mushrooms, a type so potent as to enhance the sorcerous power of the Waaagh! to unpredictable intensity. Consuming a single mushroom will turn a normal Goblin into a frenzied, frothing lunatic. Few Goblins, shaman or not, survive and encounter with a Madcap mushroom, but that hasn't stopped them eating them by any stretch.

Rottenpike Ravine - Controlling this objective allows the Goblin Shamans to harness the restless spirits that linger in the area and utilize their energies for protection.

While Destruction controls this objective, all Destruction players and RvR NPCs in the zone have their magic resistances increased by 100.
This brambled and terraced ravine has been a hideout for all sorts of riff-raff, vagrants, and vagabonds. It is a place of death, and is haunted with the spirits of the innocent men and women who were killed here. In the middle of the ravine is a bend called Hell's Half-Angle where everything from bad luck to full-scale military ambushes seem to occur. The debris of dozens of carts and wagons and towed items such as cannons are strewn about, and even found in piles, and made into defensive redoubts by some forgotten army. In terms of the war, it is an ideal choke point on an obvious line of advance, and both sides desire to control it.

Thunder Mountain

Doomstriker Vein - Controlling this important source of Gromril is vital to creating higher quality weapons and armor.

While controlled, Doomstriker Vein increases melee damage and armor by 5% for all players and RvR NPCs on the controlling side.
While many Dwarfs march to secure Thunder Valley against the coming greenskin Waaagh!, an elite few must follow the direct orders of the High King and obtain the gromril needed to complete the Doomstrikers. Only through the strength granted by these mighty weapons do the Dwarfs have a hope of turning aside the massive horde commanded by Grumlok and Gazbag.

Gromril Kruk - Though the Gromril in this mine has long since been tapped, controlling this mine is a source of pride for both sides.

Whichever side controls this Objective will receive a +3 bonus to Morale generation.

Also, controlling Gromril Kruk and Doomstriker Vein at the same time provides a teleport option between the two locations. If either becomes contested, the teleport is disabled.
For the Dwarfs, Gromril Kruk has transformed into the cruel joke of Thunder Mountain. Recently discovered, the area was heralded as a ripe new source of gromril from which the Dwarfs could finish the Doomstrikers and rebuild their kingdoms. However, the vein gave out quickly and suddenly, proving as false as an Elven promise. No sooner had the Dwarfs come to grips with this truth than a contingent of Orcs took up residence in the barren mine. Now the Dwarfs must contend with a constant stream of enemies from the depths of their false hope, while they scour the mountains for what gromril they can find.

Karik Palik - 10% damage bonus for all players and RvR NPCs on the controlling side.
I couldnt find a description for this objective.

Thargrim's Headwall - 10% armor and resistance bonus for all players and RvR NPCs on the controlling side.
The campaign to capture the summit of Thunder Mountain is a long, painstaking affair. The route to the top of the mountain is narrow and treacherous and easily defended if one holds one of the many choke points alongside the mountain.

Thargrim's Headwall is a large defensible stone redoubt overlooking two smaller redoubts below it on the path up the mountain. As the first major choke point in the route up the mountain, he or she who controls the Headwall can easily frustrate the movement of an enemy army up the volcano.

Note: The above two Objectives were hard to create flavored bonuses for. Apparently, they are both meant to be choke-points, but they really don't serve as that function in-game. Riding past either is no problem, though Karik Palik could potentially be a choke-point if there were player defenders there.

Kadrin's Valley

Gromril Junction - Keeping the trains running on time is important for quick manuevering and defense of this zone agains the rampaging Greenskins.

While Gromril Junction is under Order control, there will be an active teleport to/from Order warcamp and this Objective.
The Dwarf railroad stops at this station at least once every day, as the train engineers proudly boast. The Dwarfs are as hard-nosed and inflexible about keeping this train running as they are about anything else, and will not tolerate any mischief that would cause the trainmaster to have to delay the timetable. The greenskins are fascinated with the idea of interfering with the train, stealing its valuables, slaying the stunties who run it, and at last, breaking the thing into small pieces if they can.

Dolgrund's Cairn - Possession of the Cairn instills a sense of pride in the Dwarven folk and their allies.

While this objective is controlled by Order, all Order players in the zone will receive a +3 Morale generation bonus.
Dolgrund Dralminsson, former commander of the Gharvin's Brace Regiment, gave his life fighting a rear-guard action centuries ago, single-handedly saving the lives of a hundred seven Dwarfs. The burial site of Dolgrund Dralminsson is sacred to the Dwarfs, for no action is as undeniably Dwarfy as an embittered last stand. The greenskins have sensed that they can easily goad the Dwarfs into a fight at the Cairn with a few well place piles of drek, yet such a decision may prove foolish at such a revered location.

Icehearth Crossing - This tunnel provides a quick, easy and secure route for forces moving north and south through the valley. Securing and maintaining control of this tunnel is of vital importance.

As long as this objective is controlled by Order, there will be level 55 Dwarven hero guards blocking the north end of the tunnel.
Icehearth Crossing marks the main passage through the Icehearth Crag. During the winter the cold is so intense that only a being blessed with the legendary stoutness of a Dwarf could bear to cross from one side to other. In the battle for Kadrin Valley, the underpass has proved a valuable route, and both Dwarf and Orc bleed in its chill caverns.

Hardwater Falls - The icy falls provide a source of fresh, clean water for the dwarven camps in the zone.

While this objective is under Order control, all Order players and RvR NPCs in the zone have their health increased health by 10%.
A large waterfall continually pours gouts of fresh water into the Kadrin Valley, where the water collects in many small pools and streams that trickle through the lush terrain and rock formations.
The Dwarfs now call the area the Hardwater Falls after the freezing torrent of water that blasts down from the rock above. The Dwarfs are trying to preserve this source of water to keep their armies supplied, but the Orcs seek to defile the waters in anyway they can.

Are these suggestions balanced and fair? Probably not. Are they all equally useful? Again, probably not. But I'm not a Mythic developer. This is merely meant to be a rough sketch of what could be done to make Battlefield Objectives important, valuable, and interesting.


Personally, I would actually consider taking it a step farther and making the bonuses race-specific for the zone. For example, Madcap would only effect goblins. While I'm sure a lot of folks would complain about it being unfair, so what, life is unfair. These additional restrictions would add a different dynamic to the game. I can imagine that Greenskin and Dwarf players would be more interested in fighting in the Dwarf / Greenskin zones because thats where they would get the bonuses.

But if it were race-specific, then you could do interesting things such as making the bonuses bigger and/or adding in potential negative side effects. For example, we could say that Madcap Pickins increase the spell crit chance by 10% for all goblin shaman, but also gave them a 2% chance of being overwhelmed by Waaagh! energy when casting a spell and being disabled for 3 seconds.

But, I know how much most players hate that sort of restriction, so I'm merely adding this suggestion as a note rather than incoporating it into my main proposal.

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