State of the Game—June 22, 2006
Introduction to Alliance Battles
By Christian Brellisford
Special note: Each State of the Game article 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.
What is an Alliance Battle, anyway?
One of the new competitive map types in Guild Wars Factions is the Alliance Battle. In the game, there is an ever-present front line that moves between the two warring factions of the Luxons and the Kurzicks. Depending on how well each side is faring, the border can shift left or right and affect the control of outposts. The border dictates which map an Alliance Battle takes place on. If the border has been pushed all the way to the Luxon side, then the map will have a heavy Luxon advantage. Likewise, if the border has moved to the Kurzick side, they will gain an advantage to compensate for lost territory. The main Alliance Battle map, Saltspray Beach, is playable when the border is dead center.
Once a guild has declared its allegiance to either the Kurzicks or the Luxons, players can use the NPCs in their guild halls to enter into an Alliance Battle.
Alliance Battles are large 12v12 maps; however, you do not need to find 11 other people to play. You only need three other players to form a party of four to enter into an Alliance Battle, at which point your party will be allied with two other teams (consisting of four players each) to take on your opponents. All allied teams can see team chat.
How do I win an Alliance Battle?
Regardless of which faction you align with, the goal of an Alliance Battle is quite simple: be the first team to score 500 points. Points are acquired through player kills and control point capture. Player kills net the team only one point, so to truly become a master of Alliance Battles your team must be adept at snatching the various control points on the map. Your team earns points every few seconds based on the number of captured areas your team owns. Therefore, the more control points you own, the faster your score will reach 500!
Control points, you say? That sounds like something new!
Every Alliance Battle map has control points. They are located on the mini-map as colored markers. To take a control point you must have more teammates at the location than the opposing team. Each player represents a "pip" on the control point bar. When the pips have reached four in either a forward or a backward direction, you have reached the maximum. The more pips you have, the faster you can take over a point (or reduce your opponents' grip on the location). If the opposing team has more than four players around a contested control point, then you must vanquish them in order to gain majority.
That sounds easy! What should I look out for in Alliance Battles?
There is a lot going on in any given Alliance Battle. Here are a few key things players should be on the look out for.
- Mobility is a key aspect in Alliance Battles. To take over control points your team needs to move as fast as possible to keep the advantage over the opposing team. By using speed boosts on allies or snares on enemies, you can stay ahead of slow opponents. That means you will be able to take over a control point and move on to the next one much faster. The skill "Charge!" can be particularly effective for this.
- Games are not decided in the first minute. Just because you might find yourself down 30 points doesn't mean that the match is over. Many people leave games early when, in truth, it's very easy to turn the game around. If you are down in a game with some random people, try to coordinate the team and move fast to capture points. If you get some key player kills and capture new control points, you might turn the battle around!
- Players automatically resurrect when they die in Alliance Battles. This is an important point because it takes the focus away from always needing to bring a Resurrection Signet or "hard-res" skill. Sometimes having a quick resurrect can make the difference when trying to take over a control point, but if you don't have one, it's not a big deal because you will be back in the fight 20 seconds later.
- Minion Masters builds are popular because an army of minions can easily control the battlefield and make it difficult for opposing teams to survive. But they have a couple of counters. Players coming from the Prophecies campaign could use the skill Verata's Aura to take control of enemy minions. You could also just avoid the Minion Master altogether and use speed boosts to stay ahead to capture new points. Minions are slow and often can't keep up with high mobility teams. There is always the option of focusing firepower on the Minion Master and killing him to rid the battlefield of his minions.
- Elementalists are often seen dominating control points in Alliance Battles because they have a lot of high-damage area-of-effect spells. An Elementalist could run up and cast Inferno or Double Dragon and quickly eliminate the opposing non-player characters (NPCs), but players should beware that the enemy NPCs will fight back, so your solo characters need to be self-sufficient. Better yet, team up with four people from your alliance and organize someone to play defense so that your Elementalist can play offensively.
- If you can't immediately take over a control point, move on to the next one. Players should realize that the goal is to score 500 points as fast as possible. If there is a very large force of enemies holding a control point, you should call your allies off and move to a point that can be taken over more easily.
- Splitting up the team of 12 is generally better than fighting as a large group. If your team of four is organized and coordinated you will likely have more success moving around the map and capturing control points than if you assemble the entire team of 12 players in one spot. It also helps to keep track of where your allies are on the map in case you need to support them in large areas. There are times when you will need to gather as a large group, but in general it helps to spread out to get as many points as possible.
- Players can use some NPCs. If you talk to the elite NPCs (the Saltspray Dragon in Saltspray Beach, for example) they will follow you around. Each NPC counts as a pip toward capturing a control point. If you lose control of that point, the NPC will disappear and you will have to regain control of the area to reclaim the NPC.
What do I get for winning?
Even if you lose the battle, your character accrues faction for your alliance. If you leave early, you won't get this faction, so stick around to the conclusion of the battle. Also, Balthazar pays close attention to these battles, and rewards his faction to players scoring kills in the fight.
When you win an Alliance Battle you earn faction for the alliance you've chosen. The borders on the World Map move in accordance to which side has won more battles. As the border shifts to either side, control of some outposts switch from Kurzick to Luxon or vice versa. The best example of this is the outpost located on the middle border, Harvest Temple. This outpost can switch ownership multiple times per day.
When you cash in faction to your alliance, you increase your standing and eventually take over an outpost. Taking over outposts gives you exclusive access to goodies and content only available to those who control the outpost. So get into those Alliance Battles and show off your Kurzick or Luxon Pride!
Christian Brellisford is a college student currently studying video game design in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in hopes of pursuing a career in the field. A gamer since an early age, Christian has been involved with Guild Wars since the E3 for Everyone Event in 2004, and currently leads the Spirits of War guild. You can find him in game under the name Saidin Writer.