Welcome to The Front Line, a new column dedicated to helping you improve your PVP experience, both as a member of a team and as a leader of one. This week’s issue is aimed at helping you and your teammates prepare for Ranked Warzones, which as of this morning have finally launched with the release of Game Update 1.3. Hit the jump for a complete rundown as well as speculation on likely team compositions, or go back and check out our previous installments of The Front Line.
What are Ranked Warzones?
Ranked warzones are a new form of structured PVP which offer organized 8-player teams the opportunity to face others in competitive, ranked matches.
How do Ranked Warzones Work?
Firstly, in order to queue for Ranked Warzones, you’ll need a full group of 8 players. It is not currently possible to queue for a Ranked Warzone with fewer than 8 players, although BioWare has indicated that this option may be explored in the future. After completing 10 Ranked Warzone matches, you’ll be assigned a rating which is then used in a matchmaking system to pit you against other Ranked Warzone teams. These ratings are player-specific, so there is no “team rating”. However, for matchmaking purposes, the Ranked Warzone system looks at the aggregate rank of all players on both sides and tries to find a good, competitive match.
Upon entering a Ranked Warzone you’ll find the map and scenarios themselves to be the same as previously, but you can now expect much stiffer competition as you’ll be facing off (in theory) against an organized team with a similar skill level to your own. After the match, your rating will be adjusted based on a multitude of factors, including the outcome of the match and the rankings of all other players in the Warzone.
For example, if your rating is significantly lower than most of the other team and you happen to lose the match, you should see a very minor rating loss. On the other hand if you were to win that match, your rating gain should be substantial as the other team’s rating was much higher than your own, indicating that your win was a significant victory and deserving of great reward.
Why Should I Participate in Ranked Warzones?
Ranked Warzones offer a number of incentives that PVP players of all stripes should find attractive. If you’re a competitive PVP player, there should definitely be something here for you.
Firstly (and perhaps to some, most importantly) is the fact that participating in Ranked Warzones rewards you with Ranked Warzone Commendations. These commendations are used to purchase War Hero gear and can be acquired much more rapidly than by exchanging regular Warzone Commendations for Ranked Warzone Commendations at a 3:1 ratio. This means that you’ll be able to kit yourself out in a full set of War Hero gear more quickly via Ranked Warzones.
Secondly is the prestige value of Ranked Warzone rating. Not only will you have the self-satisfaction of maintaining a particular rating, but if your rating is high enough you will have access to a special Ranked War Hero set! This set has no difference in stats from the regular one; in fact it comes entirely empty and you are expected to move your War Hero mods over to the new shell. However, this gear sports a unique color skin and so acts more as a mark of your PVPaccomplishments and style. Players will instantly be able to recognize that you have been able to reach a high-level rating.
Another great reason is for the challenge itself. You’ll face competitive, organized teams, each with their own team composition and strategies. In terms of heatedPVP combat, Ranked Warzones are for the moment the best outlet you have to match yourself up against the best players that your server has to offer.
How Can I Get My Guild Interested in Ranked Warzones?
A lot of guilds don’t yet have a plan for Ranked Warzones. If your guild is one of them, don’t despair! With a bit of effort, you can get a group together. Here are some steps you can take:
- If your guild has a PVP officer or equivalent, talk to them and see if any plans are in the works. If they don’t have any plans to set up Ranked Warzone groups, see if they would be willing to do so or, failing that, allow someone else to do it.
- Talk to people in your guild and gauge interest. Try to set up a dedicated day to do Ranked Warzones and see how many people you get.
- Play with your guildmates in regular Warzones and get used to their playing styles: you need to play 10 regular Warzones anyway in order to get your ranking and be eligible for Ranked Warzones. Playing with other guildmates is a great way to generate interest. Often other guildmates will want to join your group to see what you are all about.
- If your guild generally doesn't PvP much or wants tips on how to improve, you can refer them to The Front Line's previous articles on Situational Awareness or Improving Communication.
At this point, we’ve had a very limited sample size on the PTS so I can’t tell you what you are definitely going to see. I can speculate however as to a number of group compositions that may prove effective at this point.
- 1 Tank, 2 Healers, 5 DPS
I think you’ll see this composition fairly regularly. In past examples of Competitive MMO PVP, you’ll often see DPS-heavy teams. This is usually because a highly organized team is able to leverage all that damage to burn down enemy healers before the other team can effectively respond. In addition, if all of the enemy team’s damage is focused on a single person, an extra healer on your team may not make a difference in saving that single person’s life.
The tank would be primarily responsible for extending time to kill (TTK) by swapping his Guard to the enemy team’s focus target and utilizing taunts and control abilities. In an AoE situation, this can really add up and help take the pressure off. In addition, having an actual tank makes carrying the Huttball a little easier in that Warzone scenario, when you don’t have someone in an optimal pass position right away.
Two healers should be able to handle the heavy lifting in a majority of situations in Warzones.
For DPS, you’re probably going to see a mix of melee and ranged in a composition like this. A really melee-heavy team could have problems killing the more mobile Operative/Scoundrel healers with enough enemy team support in the form of snares and knockbacks.
- 3 Healers, 5 DPS
You’ll definitely see teams that trade the tank for another healer. These teams will probably do better in situations where the tank wouldn’t be able to prevent much damage anyways. Huttball could actually be just as easy without a tank as long as at least one of the three healers is a Sorcerer/Sage and the team is intelligent about their positioning. Against split damage, this team will likely perform better than the first, but I’m guessing you’ll see far more focused damage in Ranked Warzones and a tank may have been a better choice. Time will tell.
- 2 Tanks, 2 Healers, 4 DPS
Trading a DPS for a Tank may seem like a bad idea, but when you consider that in some warzones the second tank may just spend most of the game guarding a secondary objective but will be tougher to kill and can prolong the lives of others in the event of an enemy surprise attack, the second tank starts to look a little more attractive.
Again, this is just speculation, but I’m betting you’re going to see that Annihilation Marauder/Watchman Sentinels will be very popular in Ranked Warzone compositions of all kinds. Not only do they have great tools to get out of the way of or mitigate enemy focus fire, but they have good damage reduction from Cloak of Pain/Rebuke and they are absolutely deadly to healers due to the low cooldown on their interrupts and heavy single-target damage over time effects.
I anticipate that you’ll see most teams try to take at least one Operative/Scoundrel healer. Their mobility will sometimes be useful for preventing focus fire and they are in a generally strong position in PVP right now compared to the other healers.
Ranked Warzones are sure to be an exciting new addition to the game, so jump in and give them a shot! Feel free to share your early Ranked Warzone experiences in the comments.
I’ll see you on the Front Line!
Glossary of PVP Terminology
When multiple players attack one enemy target in the hopes of killing them before the enemy team can react. This is sometimes also called “training” or “pressuring”.
A) A protective ability available to all Advanced Classes capable of tanking. It redirects 50% of all damage done to a specified ally to the tank, so long as the tank remains within 15 meters of the selected ally. Guard requires that the player be using their “Defensive Stance”. It is most commonly used to protect healers, making them significantly harder to kill.
B) The act of defending an objective to make sure that it is not captured easily by the enemy. Someone is considered to be guarding an objective if they are making active attempts to defend it from opponents.
Short for “incoming,” this is used to announce to your team that enemies are attacking a specific objective. For example, “4 inc east” indicates that four enemy players are on their way to the east objective.
Used to describe someone beginning to attack someone else, often used specifically to describe someone beginning an attack from stealth.
Using crowd control, stuns or snares to alleviate pressure on one of your teammates. This strategy is most commonly employed to protect healers who are being focused, or to protect flag/Huttball carriers. While tanks normally specialize in peeling, all classes have abilities which can be used to peel.
Time that is spent attacking a target using optimal skills and abilities. For example, knocking a melee character away from a target that they are attacking reduces their uptime on the target, as they need to be in melee range to do optimal damage.