January 30, 2012

PvP Tanking in SWTOR

I don't think I've made it a small secret that one of the things I love to do in MMOs is tank, and be the person to soak up all the hits and protect the rest of my team. I love SWTOR's tanking because, like WAR, it lets me actually be useful as a tank on the battlefield of PvP instead of being told to respec or reroll just so I can have some fun. I have uses, I can help protect the rest of my team, and with a few nice words placed here and there, I can pretty much get the rest of the enemy team on me ignoring my team as we ninja cap or get scores no problem. I love that last bit when an entire team dog piles me thinking they are hurting my ego when that's what I wanted them to do.

This next bit I am about to say, however, is going to be a bit of tangent concerning though. I play a shadow, and a tank at that. I have a lowbie vanguard alt, but that's not the issue. For me, I have to say whoever suggested the shadow design doc should feel ashamed. This is the most clunky, ill-designed, and busy body working tank class I have ever played as far as tanking, and I played a WoW warrior to boot. A goodly chunk of my Force and rotations are devoted to just keeping alive, and personally, if that is required in your button pressing, then there is a critical design flaw. Over all, though, I am making do with it, even though I know my vanguard tank is worlds better, I am enjoying myself and main tank a lot of stuff, including entire PvP teams hehe. Back to the scheduled blog post.

Needless to say PvP in SWTOR is a large amount of hitting and missing. Mostly missing because of the clunky, ill conceived system that BioWare has created at level 50. However, I am enjoying myself as a tank because I am a team protector, and I am filling in that role I love to play. How you play that role varies from game type to game type. Generally, if your team is working well together, you want to keep the squishy healers guarded and hope that they are actually healing. It's not exactly easy to tell, but it's a prayer.

Now, past guard you will have three other moves that are pretty much game changers if played right in any PvP arena; your main taunt, your AE taunt and you will have one, possibly two AE moves devoted to reducing your enemies damage or chance to hit. Taunts are powerful tools in PvP, as they reduce the enemies damage by 30% against anyone not you. That means that team member getting hit by that Operative, taunt them. Those heavy crits will melt into jokes fast. Ball carrier getting swamped, AE taunt, that will help give your healers some breathing room and maybe your ball carrier a chance to pass. Throw in your acc reducers and any other damage reducing abilities you have, you can effectively make the game very nice for your team, if you are playing your cards right.

Now first off, the thing that I think needs to be mentioned that I see all manner of tank specced people going into PvP are thinking. They think they are heavy DPS. Any tank specced person thinking they are going to do the monster damage, respec or reroll into a DPS spec or class. If all you are doing is trying to DPS and you're a tank on your team, stop. You are not helping your team and in fact you are being pretty much the weakest link. For instance: I can't count how many times I've seen a tank specced assassin or shadow come up to me and try to use shadow strike or the assassin equivalent. Stop. You are wasting 50 Force on a move that hits barely better than double strike. You will get more out of your project than you ever will out of shadow strike. Hell, I played infiltration as a while and mowed people down, and shadow strike was worthless in that spec to, so I suggestion people stop using it and start using things that actually aren't so reliant on random chance and timing.

Next on the list are people that say defensives don't work in PvP or they only work on certain moves and not others. Please, defense does work. You just need a lot more than 5% to actually have it matter. Same with shielding and absorb. Of course there are going to be certain moves you can't defend against, if you were immune to everything that would be ungodly overpowered. But people that say defense, shield and absorb are worthless in PvP are the same exact tanks I watch get face planted in less than 10 seconds while running the ball in Huttball. Think this is the same crowd of people that see a number and expect it to always be on or something or reduce things down by that much all the time. It's random chance, random is random. Of course, this would be the same group of people that think a 1% increase to critical is awesome. Oh and all attacks have a base of 105% chance to hit, so you need more than 10% defense to reduce those down.

Now, onto other things. Life as a tank in PvP is a bit of a quandary. If you are going it alone you will find it rough because 9 out of 10 times you will find you are with people that think big yellow numbers are more important than actual team effort. This puts you, if you are tank minded and spec, at a huge disadvantage in PvP because you are in an uphill battle. Then of course you also have to contend with the DERPs who think throwing a guard on someone they don't even stick with is actually a good thing when it actually hurts your chances of protecting those individuals. I am not saying you shouldn't solo queue if that's what you enjoy for PvP, but it's going to be rougher if you are a tank.

Now, imagining you go with a friend and they are a healer, sticking with them and guarding them is pretty primary. Of course, every now and then you still get the derp who just likes to randomly throw shields on people, be sure to ask your partner to right click the guard off if it is not yours. Hell, I am a shadow tank and even my vanguard trooper has gotten guards for no blasted reason other than a derp thinks it will matter in the end.

Now, what happens from there is going to depend largely on the game you are playing. In Voidstar, generally I like to go out against one door while the rest of the team hits the other. Now, because I have a healer with me, this also puts a huge advantage on us and we can generally handle 4 or more imps wailing on us. Eventually it might even lure the imps into swarming us and give the other side an opportunity to tag the door. It doesn't always work. Some days we just plow through. It just all depends on the mood and how we feel we are going to do things.

In Alderaan Civil War, me and the healer go to the right node. There are a couple of reasons why. This node is bugged and has an instant damage tick. On top of that, it ticks slightly faster. What we end up doing is basically slowing Imps down from capping it while the rest of the team is out there to get the left and possibly the center nodes. And hell, if we play our cards right we even take the right node in the process. But the entire goal there is just to slow the imp cap of the right node down. It's a game changer node, basically, if allowed to go uncheck too long.

Huttball is actually a bit trickier to decipher. This is more touch and go type area. Now, for Vanguards and Shadow tanks, this place can be fun because we can pull people into traps and shadows can knock them into traps etc etc. But when it concerns guarding, well it's a judgment call there. On one hand you want to guard your healer, but on the other hand, if your healer isn't being attacked or being attacked by wet noodle DPS, it's best to guard the ball carrier, provided you can actually take the hits the ball carrier will be taking. Too many times have I seen derpy DPS try to guard a ball carrier only to watch them fall apart in seconds with the ball carrier going down shortly thereafter. And remember your taunt and AE taunt are life savers in these situations to.

Now, some people that tank imagine being the ball carrier most of the time in huttball, I actually don't like to be. One, I might be a tank, but that means that all my tools for helping the team are wasted such as my AE taunt. Two, guarding someone carrying the ball is better, because as a ball carrier it's smarter to take your guard off someone because soaking the damage of two people, and you will probably be doing that if you are guarding the healer, just increases the work load on your healer. And finally, as a tank you have some CC and peels, mostly, that can help out in the end. The aforementioned pulls that shadows and vanguards get, yea we can use those to instagib people that are being a nuisance by placing them in traps, and shadows can just AE knock people.

Really, as a tank, the best thing I found was to get the ball, pass it to someone else, then protect them smartly. Tanks as the ball carrier sounds great on paper, and works well against bad teams, but to me and against good teams, the tank should not be running the ball but be acting like the guards in football running along the ball carrier and knocking the other team out of the way maybe even going ahead of the ball carrier to get that quick toss for the win.

Anyways, that covers my view points on PvP tanking. I know many out there probably are still in the wow mentality of tanks suck in PvP and they are no good except in small situations. Well, don't discredit a tank. And a good tank is one that knows how to enrage the other team into always attacking them, regardless. And I do that regularly to hehe.

January 25, 2012


I don't think it can be argued one way or the other by anyone except the most diehard that PvP in SWTOR is absolutely broken. There are many issues that can point out why, but I think the biggest of all, for the level 50s anyways, is the Expertise stat. This is an archaic square peg in a round hole solution to item bloat that just shows that many developers are not really actually wanting to fix the issue as much as burry it in a stat and pretend it will go away on its own.

Why do I say this? Because now that SWTOR is bracketed off, just like in WAR, the 10 to 49 PvP game is actually fun. The PvP feels balanced and challenging. However, like in WAR, the top bracket is so gear dependant because of one stat that if you aren't geared for it, it's an uphill slog just to get that way. It's just despicably and badly set up. And this isn't even getting into the discussion of how bad Ilum was set up or the fact that anyone with half a brain could see how PvP was going to turn out before the 1.1.0 patch or how open world PvP would turn out with the 1.1.0 patch. There's no way that one could actually believe that BioWare was this dense, but realistically, the only way to call this is sheer and utter incompetence.

Now I know many will undoubtedly think I am being unfair and harsh in my assessment, but I am not. This is not forgivable anymore. This is 2012, mistakes like these in an established industry of MMOs are no longer and should no longer be forgiven. In the early heyday of UO, Anarchy Online, Dark Age of Camelot and maybe even the first year of World of Warcraft, things like this could be understood and forgiven because MMOs, for the most part, were still testing the waters for many things and certain things had yet to be established, but it's been now over 15 years since MMOs have gone mainstream, and MMOs have had longer than that behind the scenes. Many people don't even have cars half that old.

Many of the developers in SWTOR have had experience on previous titles as far back as Ultima Online in fact, some were developers on WAR, and many other MMO titles out there. Little known fact for many people, the development industry is constantly shifting, developers move games and companies regularly. If they were to be likened to anything, it was a publicly traded stock. I know in my tenure over at UO I saw no less than 4 completely new UO teams before I quit and I know WoW and DAoC have undergone similar situations.

However, back on track to me these mistakes with SWTOR are just not excusable anymore. This is 2012, Ilum should not have been launched how it was, they had a solid model for open world PvP to look on with WAR, the Exerptise stat was unnecessary and should have never been added, it just added bloat onto the game all because they wanted to appease PvPers too lazy to play the game any other way, and to appease PvErs who wanted to not let their egos be interrupted b the fact that PvP gear might be able to rival what they can get in dungeons. Realistically, if we were to fix this issue, they would have statted the gear appropriately for PvP and PvE, since one set of stats isn't good for one particular game play area versus the other. After all, my level 50 shadow would prefer more crit and surge for PvP but more Power and Accuracy for PvE. This whole expertise thing was just plain unneeded and tells me the devs would rather try to fit a square peg into a round hole instead of working in a real solution to this.

It's sad to me that myself and many others pretty unanimously agree that the pre 50 game is the most fun for PvP because of no expertise stat. Outside of a few fringe cases, the game feels balanced. But once expertise is thrown into the mix, you end up with basically a cluster fuck of stupid and incompetence as the developers would undoubtedly spend more time trying to balance the crap out and the end result, much like Blizzard, PvP is only accessible to the people with the gear, while the people without it are up a creek.

And that's another issue with this whole system; The PvP loot in general. Now, intelligent people would say if you put the work in you should be rewarded for your effort. SWTOR says hell no, not only do you have to work for it, you need to rely on a RNG mechanic for your loot. I know, personally, my luck hasn't been the greatest. It took me over 30 bags before I finally got my first piece of set armor for PvP, with either a lot of air in those bags or repeat copies of those (pre 1.1) useless relics. On the other hand, others were getting near full sets within a few bags. I know some people had it worse than me, while many others have reported having their complete set within opening a few bags. This was clearly not thought out, basically.

The sad part, I did the Eternity Vault Operation and within completing that run I had my full armor set plus extra accessories in one run. That's many levels of messed up.

Now, onto Ilum, I think people have said as much as they could. I agree with most of them to. The planet needs to be shut down, period. It's job has failed. The instances on the planet can be moved out to the stations, for whatever reason, but the rest of the planet needs to be just shut down until a real solution is given or the entire PvP area just blocked off. This area just needs to be shut down, it's purpose has failed and there is no reason to even bother with it outside of those that like easy mode, and quite frankly there are people that play that way, hence all the QQ and tears over operatives.

Anyways, on that note, SWTOR's PvP is just bad at 50. PvE is ok and the game provides entertainment there and probably will for some time. PvP, on the other hand, will need some drastic work and fast to salvage it. Things that should be done, Expertise get removed, gear redone to be more PvP centric instead of just PvE gear with expertise on it and a lowering of endurance and the main stat and Ilum should be made into a PvP lake with conquerable objectives and keep like game play with siege weaponry. That would go a hell of a lot further.