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Paragus Rants

Rants, reviews, and interviews from an MMO veteran and guild leader.

Author: Paragus1

PvP For Dummies

Posted by Paragus1 Thursday December 30 2010 at 12:48PM
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PvP For Dummies

I was having a conversation with some guildmates about some of the upcoming MMOs in 2011, and I began to ponder how PvP has been woven into most of the games coming.  As a grizzled veteran of the genre, I have seen and been through a lot in over 13 years in MMOs.  PvP-based MMOs and PvP servers have always enticed me as a feature for any game going all the way back to the original Everquest and Asheron's Call.  I'm a firm believer that PvP as an added layer of gameplay adds longevity for me as well as helps add that element of rivalry that gives you something to do while developers work on new content in other forms.

In dealing with these PvP feuds that pop-up between players or guilds, it never ceases to amaze me just how many people choose to play in a PvP environment, yet have a hard time coping with the reality of what life is like there.  Often times these sentiments are expressed in the form of rage vomit in your chat box after an encounter with another player.  With a whole new batch of MMOs coming with PvP integrated and many already on the market, I wanted to put something together to help explain the reality of these PvP environments from the perspective of a guild leader and someone who has spent a lot of time surviving in them.  While a lot of this might sound like common sense, it never ceases to amaze me how players go into these situations with unrealistic expectations.


The very first thing you need to do is check your honor at the door.  PvP servers are not the place where honor and fairness will lead you to victory.  Seldom does anyone remember or care about that nature of the battle, only the outcome.  There are only two types of players in a PvP encounter, the winner and dead guy.  Riding into a PvP environment on a white horse with your honor and morals is one of the fastest ways to be end up dead in a ditch on the side of the road.  This becomes even more accented in games and servers where there is some sort of reward involved for winning, be it items or points rewards.  Right about now someone has their torch out and ready to flame me for being some sort of degenerate scumbag or griefer, I would argue that I am a realist who speaks from extensive experience. To have honor and morals and expect that your enemy does as well is the sign of someone who is woefully naive.

Fair Fight Myth

The second thing you need to realize is that this is not the place for a fair fight. In fact, I always tell my guys going into these situations is that a fair fight is the result of poor planning on the side of the initiator. We are talking about MMORPGs here, there is no such thing as fairness.  No matter what happens someone always has an advantage be it levels, skills, or gear. If your looking for fair fights in an online game, I recommend checking out Yahoo Checkers.  Again depending on the reward, expect people to use any means necessary to achieve victory.

Manipulation of situational circumstances can be just as much a weapon than any sword or fireball, if not more so.  The element of surprise can be a very powerful tool, especially since in most cases people tend to pick fights they think they can win.  In many cases this can cause the person being jumped to have the initial reaction of trying to escape instead of fighting back. When it comes to rivalry with other guilds and players, nothing is off limits.  In any game with a FFA PvP server, expect to be attacked when you talking to a quest NPC, in the middle of a fight with a tough mob, or AFK dropping a deuce.

The Numbers Game

To elaborate on this point one step further, there are a number of tactics that can and will be used to try to negate the advantages listed above in the pursuit of victory.  Zerging and the tactic of outnumbering the other guy is one of the most used and frequently whined about.

Zerging as a tactic has always made me laugh from both points of view.  Often times you have 2 types of guilds who run around, one being the small elite band of powerhouses and the other are the massive zerg guilds.  Both of them achieve the same goal, but taking opposite routes having their own advantages and disadvantages.  The small elite band of power players can truly be a site to fear in PvP environments because they are much easier to coordinate and often times being a tighter knit group, they will distribute loot and other assets for the betterment of the unit over individual greed.  The downside of this approach is that these groups should not be surprised when their enemy tries to compensate by overwhelming them with numbers.

The zerg on the other hand while having vastly superior numbers, usually is much more difficult to maintain and control. Higher player count usually is derived from a lower recruitment standard that leaves them susceptible to being easily infiltrated.  I think the most classic example I have seen of this in recent memory was in Darkfall during the World Wars.  We saw huge zergs trying to dominate the map, and small elite groups holding their own against them.  No matter who loses it always boils down to the small elites whining about being overrun, and the large zerg crying about getting their bank stolen and being filled with spies.  The moral of the story is that if you lock yourself into a certain playstyle, don't cry about the fact that everyone else is not fighting on your terms and exploiting your weakness and stupidity.


One of the most important things people need to do for long term survival is for them to learn how to adapt to the dynamic environment.  Realize that in any non-instanced PvP game, there will always be hotspots that will be frequently fought over.  Expect to find trouble when you are going to the popular quest NPC, valuable monster spawn, dungeon entrances and bottlenecks, and near the infamous PvP "safe zone".

Ah yes, the safe zone!  Probably one of the funniest myths in PvP environments.  The safe zone provides a false sense of security and is a high traffic area where people like to gather.  Nobody can spend all their time in the safe zone, and it is easy for troublemakers to wait inside or outside and follow you.  It always cracks me up when people keep trying to go to the same death trap over and over again thinking that somehow this time it will be different.  Be prepared for the fact that you may have to change your plans on any given day based on what is happening.  Don't rage because you are determined to keep trying to put the square peg in the round hole over and over and it's not working.


Finally, a topic near and dear to my heart is the infamous rage tell.  The most important thing to remember is that everyone dies at some point, but how we handle that defeat is very important.  I have 2 guild policies when it comes to rage tells.  Never send a rage tell when you lose, and always take a screenshot of rage tells when you get them.  Remember, anyone can press print screen and take a picture of their chat box. You should never send a message to someone that would make you cringe if it were plastered all over the forum for the server you play on.  The Inquisition archives are full of hilarious and tear-enducing pictures of people have psychotic episodes in chat boxes to the point where I could do a "Best of Ragetells" article here that would shatter any hope you had for humanity.  Instead of crying, take it like a man, accept that it comes with the territory, and move on with your day.  When someone sends me a rage tell, it only makes me want to kill them again to see what sort of crazy rage they will puke up next!

One final note on this topic that kind of surprised me.  As I mentioned before, I've played in PvP environments ranging all the way back top Darktide in old Asheron's Call all the way to 2 tours of duty in Darkfall with a lot in between.  From my experiences, the biggest group of ragers always are in games where the consequences from PvP death are minimal, which I find perplexing.  You would think a game like Darkfall where the cost of death is literally all of your belongings would be much more rage-enducing then a death in game where nothing tangible is lost except for a few minutes of your time. Maybe it's that people going into harsher environments are more conditioned, but consider what you really lost before rage vomiting in someone's chat box.  If I had to pick one, I'd say Age of Conan's FFA server had the biggest collection of ragers my guys have ever encountered.


Here's to Hoping...

As we look forward into 2011 and we see the next round of games coming, PvP is sure to continue playing a critical role in most of the upcoming titles being hyped right now.  Here's to hoping 2011 brings us something nice to chew on with the new crop of games coming, and we can finally flush 2010 down the toilet with the rest of the crap that got churned out this year.  Have a safe and happy new year!

***Special thanks to "Thenoob" comic for letting me borrow some graphical illustrations! Swing by and check it out sometime for some good MMO comic humor at***

Co-Leader of Inquisition

OBK1 writes:

Brilliant write up! I suck at pvp and prefer pve games but this was so true. The nicest community I have run into so far was actually on the EU Darkfall server. Mostly very nice people, even when they killed me. Darkfall has fantastic pve by the way, I'm still thinking about going back there, just for the pve.

Thu Dec 30 2010 6:06PM Report
blamzagow writes:


I enjoy pvp but I've only really started trying it out with WoW (and I know how much some folks around here LOVE WoW pvp lol). So I've burned my collection of carebears and signed up for DarkFall 14 day free trial. If I can get past the wack UI and interesting character animations it might be aight.


Great article though. Some nice lolz in there.



Thu Dec 30 2010 6:46PM Report
Claudel writes:

you forgot to mention those that suck at pvp having no skills whatsoever but since they can buy everything with one click from a cash shop they can brag how they are mighty pvpers but without it they are 0/ bullcrap, those are my fav targets spesh since i don't buy shet from item malls and still get to own their sorry asses

Thu Dec 30 2010 10:47PM Report
quentin405 writes:

Loved it.. Rage tells/whispers are the best reward of pvp you could ask for.. If you get rage tells/whispers you are doing your job lmao

Sat Jan 01 2011 2:22AM Report
k44cv9 writes:

I did alot PvP in warhammer online and are doing some off it in WoW aswell. But the things you write is so true. And i do share the thing you said if you got a rage tell from someone you killed you just want to kill them again to see what they come up with next XD

Sat Jan 01 2011 4:37AM Report
Tyrpak writes:

Rule number 1: Don't tell the griefer how angry, and outraged you are. He did what he did for you to feel that way. If you also tell him that, his accomplishment will be even greater.

Rule number 2: If you go to pvp, don't bring anything with you, that you are attached to, and don't want to loose. That goes also for your happiness, piece of mind, etc. If it makes you happy, to see other people's characters die, than go ahead and pvp. Otherwise stick to a strict pve server.

Rule number 3: The pvp-er is better than you, he is more practiced, is better geared than you. Unless you are also a pvp-er. Be sure you are aware of this fact, before you start complaining about the pvp-er killing you. (due to bugs, imbalance, etc)

But the article is pretty good about finding your niche. So I'm going back to my zerg. :)

Sat Jan 01 2011 6:33PM Report
Vesavius writes:

Not talking about this blog really, but I find it as funny as hell that when pvPers get to together to talk crap they all talk about how they own and constantly kill others... not one mention that they themselves die ever ofc... lets not talk about how ever hardcore PvPer talks smack like he is a Afghan vet, and then makes every effort to make the game as ez mode as possible for himself (wearing his crapiest gear knowingly entering danger, zerging, ganking, hacks, attcking opponents eganged on mobs, ensuring level difference, exploits, macroing... whatever). Hardcore PvPers are both a contradiction to themselves and hilarious to watch in action on forums and in game.

Sat Jan 01 2011 11:14PM Report
FearGX writes:

That was a good read. Superb, I laughed several times, has some nice puns and quirky humor. But it is fact, people get so angry over PvP, it's a lifestyle choice (mmo wise) learn to adapt or go home (pve).

Sun Jan 02 2011 12:17PM Report
Itilos writes:

I've done quite a bit of PvP over the years and this article captured the feeling perfectly. Loved the comics and the chat boxes were great for teh lulz. Great write up overall!

Sun Jan 02 2011 10:11PM Report
Corthagath writes:

i was actually smiling or laughing while reading this ... and yes your right, AoC has the most rage tells i ever seen either... and some of them were very funny and i will remember them for years to come

Mon Jan 03 2011 2:49AM Report
Yamota writes:

There is a difference between FFA PvP with few or no rulesets and PvP in a controlled environment and ofcourse everything in between.

The former seems to be what you equate as "PvP" but that is far from the PvP that is most represented in MMORPGs. Only a very few games provide that kind of environment and that is for a reason.

Because as you pointed out, there is no honor or fairplay when when it comes to an unrestricted PvP environment and hence tend to draw the griefer, cheaters and other people who are willing to win at any cost.

Me personally I am somewhere in between. PvP but restricted so that people cannot be griefed or gangbanged.

Tue Jan 04 2011 6:37AM Report
Yamota writes:

And also may I add that a 1v1 PvP such as in a boxing or UFC match is the ultimate PvP. No strength in numbers, equipment or attacking then the other is taking a leak. It is you against him, the ultimate test to see how is the one left standing.

That is the only PvP where you can truly show if you have skills or not. In FFA PvP it's mostly about how you can outnumber or otherwise secure a win with a minimum effort. Funny how that is considered "hardcore".

Tue Jan 04 2011 6:44AM Report
beel writes: excellent write up, i laughed a bit here at work, i consider myself a closet pvper, and definitely suck at it, but i have found you need a thick skin to pvp, /shrug, this quote should relax the ragers; "sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you" Mon Jan 10 2011 3:02PM Report
Norden writes:

I like playing in an "soft" PvP enviroment, even if I totally suck at it. I am bedazzeled by other players skillfull dance of death, while I futile try to survive as long as I can. 
The PvP factor in these games makes the world more alive and breathing.

For hard PvP i played EvE and still play WW2 online. Especially in WW2 I do quiet well, as the pretty dancing can be stopped with one well placed bullet :-). Patience can serve you just as well as a fast hand here.

Wed Jan 12 2011 3:36AM Report
Shinami writes:

Personally, I play a Genre of PvP games called "First Person Shooters" and those have won me a lot of prizes in the past. ^_^


You see, I love PvP, but prefer a setting where outside of "knowledge" and "Ability" and "experience" there are no advantages. A PvP gamer in an MMORPG can raise to max level and be given max equipment and he will have 0 skill, just equipment enough to one-shot a lowbie or can do tons of damage to a character wearing standard equipment at the same level.


The day MMORPGs completely lose auto-lock functions and the characters can actually move faster than linebackers and balance exists, is the day when I will embrace PvP again.


The majority of the world agrees with me considering there are many Shooter Leagues and endorsements for "fairplay" and a big business around it while MMORPG global tournaments and global leagues have been on the backburner for four years...


And yeah, before you say anything!, I've tried adding MMORPGs to leagues that are super serious and most of the time what happens is the game is analized for all its value and in under three months the entire game is dropped from the league list of games because it fails to meet part of the guidelines of the competitive-Charter which state "A game must give equal weight to both players without any system-dependency as a limiting factor to performance"


MMORPGs are the greatest system dependent games out there.

Wed Jan 19 2011 5:57AM Report
TheHavok writes:

Hilarious and oh so true.  I couldn't agree more with everything I read in this article.

Wed Feb 02 2011 3:25AM Report
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