State of the Game—November 6, 2007
Meet Delta Formation [DF]
Special note: Each State of the Game presents the opinions and insights of one game observer. These observations are personal in nature and do not reflect the opinions of ArenaNet. While ArenaNet does review each State of the Game article to assure that it offers content that is respectful of all players, we intend to allow our reporters the freedom to inject some personal opinion into descriptions of the current atmosphere of competitive play in Guild Wars, and to express views based on their experience and observation.
Delta Formation [DF] was the not so surprising winner of the October Monthly Automated Tournament, finishing undefeated in both the Swiss and Single Elimination rounds. Shortly after its victory in the finals, [DF] offered insights into the guild's history, team, and strategy for success. Members of [DF] present for the interview included the core team that had just finished playing in the finals: Ackmed, Champ, Chiizu, Danimoth, Farin, Iso, Solaris, and Yue. Umpy and Less had also participated in earlier rounds, while one member, Valk, did not participate in the tournament due to scheduling conflicts.
Most members of [DF] came from either Team Flamingo [FFs] or Dei Victorae [dV]. Both guilds had often played aggressive split builds on Frozen Isle and were friendly rivals. Over time, the guilds suffered inactivity problems as some of their members were unable to play as often. Eventually, when they repeatedly had trouble assembling a full core team to play in their main guild, members from [dV] began running PUG GvGs in a smurf guild called The Igloo Has Melted [emo]. To fill out the PUG, they began inviting [FFs] players, starting with Yue and gradually including others. Both [FFs] and [dV] had similar play styles, so playing together in [emo] was a fun and easy way for players in both guilds to remain active.
After numerous and consistent wins in [emo], they decided to merge the active members from their two guilds into a new one. In addition, they recruited Champ and Umpy from Clan Kgyu [KGYU] after it, too, became inactive. Because none of the players wanted to join the others' guild, they instead chose to start with a clean slate and create Delta Formation. The merger worked especially well because there was not much overlap in the roles people preferred: one guild had primarily frontline players and Rangers, the other solid midline players, and each brought a strong Monk to the newly formed guild.
All officers play with the core team and have a say in guild decisions. Farin was chosen as guild leader, though he acts more as a figurehead. He was selected for this role primarily because he is the most levelheaded of the players and the least likely to get overly upset or do anything rash.
Builds and Strategy
Both [FFs] and [dV] had, in the past, relied heavily on dedicated split builds. However, they noticed that at higher levels of play, dedicated splits were typically a one-sided affair and not as effective as at lower levels. As such, [DF] shifted more toward KYGU-type (high pressure) balanced play. With strong prior split experience, [DF] could still adaptively split in response to the opposition. Rather than being a dedicated style of play, splitting became a sound tactical option for [DF].
In terms of builds, [DF] likes to focus on flexibility rather than engaging in "build wars," where a team attempts to beat others by outbuilding them rather than outplaying them. [DF] plays balanced builds because members believe the effectiveness of the build is directly tied to the skill of the players using the build. If played correctly, they feel their balanced build can beat anyone else. That said, [DF] still runs a variety of other builds in its main guild or its smurfs. Sometimes they might be trying to throw off opponents by running other, less conventional builds. More often, they are trying out various gimmick builds to identify the weaknesses and strengths of those builds. For many gimmick builds the counter is obvious, but for others merely theory-crafting the counters might not be enough. In those instances, playing the build in question is the best way to find out for sure. Running a build like Eurohex or Ritspike gives [DF] a clear understanding of how the builds work and where the points of failure are located. In addition to these benefits, sometimes running these gimmicks are just a fun break from their usual builds.
Ideally, [DF] likes to play frequently and consistently to have a firm grasp on the current metagame. Not playing regularly puts them behind when it comes time for the Monthly Tournament because they have less knowledge of the builds they might face, as well as less experience countering these builds. Indeed, due to scheduling conflicts, this was an issue for [DF] in the October Monthly. Until the last week or so of the month, they were unable to field a full team, which delayed them in earning Qualifying Points. This in turn excluded them from showing up in the Xunlai Tournament House, and thus prevented them from being included in predictions (ArenaNet has fixed this problem, and all guilds that have qualified after the last daily tournament before the finals will be available for selection). But because [DF] was already comfortable with the builds they planned to run in the tournament, the lesser amount of play wasn't a major issue.
Once in a tournament, [DF] members try not to over-specify builds to counter what they expect from the opposition because they have learned that teams can and will change builds just to counter your counters (build wars). Instead of making sweeping build changes to counter opposing teams, they make smaller ones and do more with tactics to adjust as needed. In the October Monthly Tournament, they made a slight exception when they played The Benecia Renovatio [RenO]. They expected [RenO] to run an Assassin split build, which in the past had given [DF] difficulties. To counter this expected build, [DF] switched to a three Warrior frontline, with a Blinding Surge Elementalist in the midline, and a Water runner. When [RenO] instead ran a balanced build, [DF] members could still adapt because they had not completely abandoned their usual style of play. This was a departure from their normally small changes to their balanced build. Such was the case in the finals against Supernova Jpn [SpNv]. In this match [DF] decided to run "Shields Up!" on both Warriors, which nullified [SpNv]'s midline of dual Paragons and an Oath Shot Trapper.
Friends and Rivals
[DF] considers Rebel Rising [rawr] its biggest rival, and likens the rivalry to that of the Idiot Savants [iQ] and Treacherous Empire [Te] in the past. In both its main and smurf guilds, [DF] frequently plays against [rawr], so the teams have gotten quite familiar with each other. They consider it a rivalry in large part because the guilds have wildly contrasting styles of play. [DF] tends to play offensively oriented builds without much defense, such that making a mistake can lead to a team wipe and loss of NPCs. On the other hand, [rawr] favors a more forgiving approach, with a highly defensive build.
Looking at other teams, [DF] names Dark Alley [dR], Error Seven Operators [Call], and The Benecia Renovatio [RenO] as guilds to watch. [dR] runs good builds and has a talented core of players. [RenO] is very unpredictable in the builds they run and can cause problems for [DF]. [Call] has come a long way in a short time, and just needs to be a little more consistent to reach the upper levels.
[DF] members feel that Guild Wars has come a long way. They notice that they have not faced many unbalanced team builds lately, and the fact that they could run essentially the same build with just minor changes throughout the tournament speaks a lot about game balance. They advise players not to rely on imbalanced builds or layers of passive defense and shutdown, as these won't help players improve their game. Instead, [DF] suggests using just enough defense to survive, and then slowly removing it as the team improves. Throwing Monks into builds without a lot of extra defense actually helps those Monks improve and grow stronger. They also believe that running a lot of passive defense is not a fun or honorable way to play.
In addition, they think that players often focus too much blame for losses on builds. They suggest not blaming builds, but instead giving a new build a solid chance before deciding to change it. Trying new builds helps players learn new styles of play. When players try something new and it fails, they should strive to figure out why it was not successful.
Finally, [DF] is particularly fond of Frozen Isle and advises players to use it as a guild hall. It's a unique map that allows teams to use many different strategies, and it opens up many tactical opportunities. Teams can split to defeat gimmicks builds and use tactics to outplay other teams. The tactics used on Frozen Isle rely heavily on team positioning and placement, and there are lots of 1v1 and 2v2 situations, so players need to think for themselves and not wait to be told what to do. A team can readily punish the opposition for being out of position and making mistakes.
Recently [DF] had been slowing down. But their success in the October Monthly has motivated them to continue and make a good showing in the November tournament.
Billiard is a Senior Moderator at GuildWarsGuru.com and a former, long-time guild leader of Xen of Onslaught [XoO], one of the largest and most active PvP guilds in the world. Billiard can be reached in game as Billiard The Bold, or by private message at the [XoO] website.