WARbander’s Handbook: oRvR Methods, Maneuvers, and Philosophy v1.0
Military tactics have always fascinated me, particularly that of 18th and 19th century Naval warfare as well the great battles of the Civil War – which are very well documented.
Some of the concepts of “manoeuvre” (historical alternate spelling) and military tactics have practical applications in WAR beyond the romantic fixations of an armchair general.
The WARbander’s Handbook is just a fun collection of methods, maneuvers, and philosophy for any up-and-coming warband leader. My hope is that this work creates interest in WAR for those that haven’t experienced the bitter sweet glory of oRvR.
WAR is everywhere and always changing. The WARbander’s Handbook will continue to develop through feedback, contribution, and experience. See you on the battlefield!
The WARbander’s Fight Song:
Push, Pull, Punt, and Kill / Rout Your Enemy Down the Hill / Don’t Let Up Until They Log / Dance on Corpses, Screaming: Waaagh!
Coming Soon: Add-Ons, Zone Domination, and Alliance WARfare
Lord Nelson, a famous British Naval officer once said, “Never mind manoeuvres – go right at them.” WAR offers some great opportunities to apply tactics and strategy in oRvR, but sometimes it is enough to “go right at them.”
Military theorists define ‘maneuvers’ as an attempt to “defeat an adversary by incapacitating their decision-making through shock and disruption brought about by movement”. This handbook will get you started and reveal some basic tricks and tips to “shock” and control your enemies until they are defeated.
The most rewarding engagements usually occur when you’re slightly outnumbered: this is the time to exploit your enemy with superior maneuvers and tactics.
Consistent domination of the enemy in oRvR skirmishes will eventually break their will to continue engaging you – perhaps even run them out of the zone altogether.
The Nature of the Beast
Although a warband is composed of up to 24 individual players, it should be considered as a whole, an entity in and of itself. A warband has a central mass and it moves like water – it conforms to whatever contains it. Let go of the romantic image of a rigid Spartan formation. A warband’s elemental nature is that of water. It flows, recedes, spills, ripples, and can violently crash: a warband in motion is like a hunting jelly fish that stings and envelops everything near it.
“Know When to Walk Away / Know When to Run” – Kenny Rogers.
As a warband leader you have to pick your fights carefully. Failure to do so will tax the morale of your warband, especially if it’s a public warband: there’s only so many knocks on the head your warband members can take before dropping group or logging off in frustration.
If a keep is crawling with defenders, for example, and your warband is not likely to be reinforced anytime soon, it might be prudent to try alternative tactics to draw out the defenders, assault a nearby BO, or even take the fight to another zone. Never become emotionally attached to an objective at the expense of your warband’s resources.
The Rule of Mob
It’s not so important that everyone in the warband see eye to eye, but rather, that they are looking in the same direction. Only if the warband remains cohesive with a shared purpose can it hope to achieve its maximum potential.
Most players that make up your warband, especially if it’s a public warband, are tuned into WIFM: What’s In It For Me?
Renown and victories provide the required nourishment to sustain your virtual army. A well-fed warband is a happy warband. A happy warband is more resistant to minor defeats and much easier to lead.
Sometimes capturing a less critical but undefended BO or keep is the perfect medicine to pull a warband together and shake off any recent set backs.
Lets Not Split Hairs
Some warband leaders like to assign different tasks for individual parties within the warband. An example, “party 1 queue up for scenarios, party 2 scout the enemy warcamp, etc …”. Some leaders find this method an effective way to diversify their efforts when attempting to dominate a zone. It should be said, however, that dividing your warband can potentially create confusion and diminishes your warband’s power significantly.
Assigning a scout to a distant BO or keep is acceptable, but taking a warband and dividing it into fourths isn’t normally recommended, not to mention it makes cross party healing a nightmare.
A warband that is spread thin throughout a zone is unable to properly react to an organized enemy encounter: try to keep your warband together and at full strength so it’s ready at all times.
Controlling your warband requires a consistent and impersonal approach. The warband doesn’t need a comedian, a tyrant, or commentator. When a player joins your warband they always have the same two questions on their mind, “where are we?”, and “what’s the plan?”
Frequent and brief updates about the warband’s current location and next planned move are critical and helps keep your warband cohesive and informed but not overwhelmed.
Keep your communication all business and minimize /wb chatter. If your warband sees you chatting away and socializing in /wb chat then they will be more likely to engage in distracting prattle. This clutters the channel and opens up the possibility of a debate over a command or even drama.
Many warband leaders require a voice client, such as Ventrilo. While this can make command and control much more efficient, it’s always a good idea to continue to use /wb chat for any essential commands – or assign someone to transcribe the information for you.
A public warband is much like a naval warship at sea during the 18th century: some of your crew will consist of “pressed” land lubbers, a few useless old hands, and a small but welcome collection of loyal sea dogs that know you from previous commissions. Use these “proven” players as a valuable resource and encourage them to lead by example.
A true WARbander can lead a public warband or a “guild only” warband with equal grace.
Don’t Bring a Sword to a Nuke Fight
Small party skirmishes rely heavily on precise target assisting, positioning, single target healing, and timed ability use. A warband, in contrast, requires massive AoE damage and AoE crowd control abilities above all else – even at the expense of healing.
If a small party can be likened to a surgical tool, a warband is a large blunt weapon.
The amount of power a warband commands is severe and can mitigate many individual errors, such as sloppy target assisting, but becomes all the more lethal when tightly organized.
“Strike Hard, Strike First, No Mercy Sir!” – Cobra Kai Motto
An aggressive forward moving warband has extraordinary advantage over a static and flat-footed (read: defensive) warband. By virtue of being the attacker, any skirmish you engage in will begin with your warband gaining first strike.
By attacking first with forward momentum you force the enemy to react to you, this is the core principle of the old world term “manoeuver”. When suddenly pressed, the untrained (and natural) reaction is to move backwards – to flinch, which is exactly reaction you want to elicit, as moving backwards is the first step to triggering a rout. When the enemy is routed they will do little to no damage to your warband, even if they have superior numbers.
The warband that totally commits itself and punches into the enemy while exploding with massive AoE damage and disruptive crowd control abilities will dominate the battlefield.
There are a few exceptions where cover, LoS, terrain, and NPC support can give defenders some advantage in WAR – I’m specifically referring to a keep Lord ramp defense or similar choke point, but anywhere else in the PvP lakes, the aggressive warband usually has the edge.
“Minus Fifty DKP!”
In PvE, especially raid content, MMO players have been subdued and trained to behave tentatively and take measured actions – one mistake and you could wipe the party! Careful pulls, meticulous aggro management, healing and damage meters: these are all artifacts of scripted AI encounters. This “shy” mindset is long standing and it might take some time to get the players of your warband to “unleash the beast” within and let go of the fear of making a mistake. RvR is a different animal because our enemies are human controlled avatars not scripted mobs (which makes them much more dangerous and unpredictable). Encourage your warband to not be afraid to make mistakes, this is PvP after all, charge the enemy and have fun – just do it!
Remember that annoying player that wiped your PvE raid several times? Does the name Leeroy Jenkins ring a bell? Guess what: that player could be your best ally in oRvR as their impetuous attitude is just what an aggressive warband needs.
Let the Kills Come to You
Unless your warband is participating in an organized warcamp blockade to dominate a zone, under no circumstances should you chase an enemy to their warcamp – it never ends well! The momentum of your assault fails at their champion guards and the advantage will change hands quickly. Instead, do something constructive like taking your warband to stage an ambush at a nearby BO – just don’t make the rookie mistake and run your warband into an enemy warcamp chasing a few kills.
“You Just Fell For the Trap.” – George W. Bush
Aggressive defending is the best approach to take if you’re sharing the zone with an equal or greater enemy force.
The Rubberband maneuver (see below) is an example of an aggressive defense. Try to unlearn the habit of a static defense. It’s better to cap a BO, leave a scout, and hide nearby only to return if the BO is threatened or for the final renown bonus. Likewise, for a keep defense, take your warband and skirmish outside the postern and gatehouse doors if possible – take the fight to the enemy while you have the advantage of a friendly portal at your back and allies on the walls.
“It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” – Kurgan
Too Much of a Good Thing
The disadvantage of being the leader of an aggressive mobile warband, especially a public warband, are casualties of movement: every time your warband moves – especially flying to another zone, you’re going to lose people and cohesion.
For this reason, following any significant maneuvers or travel, you should set a rally point and give any stragglers a grace period to form up before moving out.
A warband is most vulnerable when it’s sitting still at a rally point: the faster you can form up the better!
It’s often a good idea to occasionally reform your warband to counter the inevitable decay of cohesion. Inform one person to drop the warband so that you both can start it anew, and then tell everyone to /join on you again. You might lose some of your numbers this way, but a warband reset is the best way to see who’s “on the same page” and eager to follow instructions.
If you were caught alone and attacked by a ranged DPS class from a distance, what would you do? You would naturally charge her directly or break LoS so she couldn’t see you: well done. Your warband should behave no differently.
Never let your warband get bogged down in a skirmish or choke point while getting ranged and covered with AoE spells and attacks. If your warband can’t easily reach the ranged threat, move your warband out of LoS, around the corner, into an alley, behind a wall or rock, etc … this tactic will force the ranged attackers to move and hopefully make them vulnerable as a result.
However, remember the danger of backwards movement: it could trigger a rout. It’s safer to shift laterally and have your warband use the terrain intelligently to break LoS until you can cordinate a breakout or flank.
It’s been stated earlier that precise target assisting is less important than massive AoE damage for warband attack maneuvers. That being said, it’s always a good idea to assign a strike team within your warband, usually composed of melee DPS classes, for surgical targeting of specific classes. When your warband punches into the enemy and explodes with AoE damage, this strike team will seek and destroy these classes first, working down the food chain. Everyone in the warband should be very familiar with this food chain as it applies to target priority. Quick and reliable silhouette recognition of enemy units is a critical skill on the battlefield, for this reason alone.
Kill These First:
- Shamans / Archmages
- Zealots / Rune Priests
Kill These Second
- Sorcerers / Bright Wizards
- Magus / Engineer
- Disciples / Warrior Priests
- *Choppas / Slayers
Kill These Third
- Squid Herders / Shadow Warriors
- Marauders / White Lion
- Witch Elves / Witch Hunters
Kill These Last
*Choppas and Slayers may move up or down the food chain depending on their Tier 4 performance.
The particulars of the food chain can be debated and discussed ad nauseam. This list is not a commentary of individual classes, it’s just a reference of class durability and relative threat to your warband – better to quickly kill lightly armored healers and damage classes first and save the tanks for last.
Are there toughness stacked Zealots or DPS spec’d Iron Breakers? Yes, but a warband must form a strict order of operations and not get hung up on exceptions to the trend.
A Mile Wide and an Inch Deep
An enemy zerg of multiple warbands behaves like a slow-witted giant: a dangerous creature that can easily be confused – but don’t get caught underfoot. Zergs are “one-minded” and can be undermined by simply giving them too much to react to at once.
If the enemy is concentrated in one area, scatter and harass them from multiple fronts – make them spread out to react to your movements. Likewise, if the enemy is scattered you should consolidate and crush them with a focused assault.
When the enemy has superior numbers they will appear more organized than they truly are: this is the illusion of “herd mentality”. Each player is a nerve ending, a sensor, and the larger the zerg the more intelligent its actions can appear. Likewise, an outnumbered warband can appear disorganized and ineffective even if they are using sharp tactics. Keep this in mind before getting discouraged.
“Knowing is half the battle.” – G.I. Joe
Many strange and interesting tactics and maneuvers have appeared in oRvR since Warhammer’s launch. The following index is for a warband leader’s reference and will continue to develop as more strategies, tactics, and maneuvers are uncovered.
Requirement: 4+ tanks (See Below)
Application: Defending a choke point, such as a door or a ramp.
Description: The classic Tank Wall is well known throughout the community and easy to implement. The strength of the Tank Wall is limited by the number of tanks that form it: rank and file. Ludolf’s Tank Wall Equation should be referenced before attempting it: # of attackers / 4 = minimum # of tanks required for a successful Tank Wall. For example: one attacking warband (24 players) can be reasonably resisted with a 6 player tank wall, given proper support.
Mounted Charge aka Flying Pig
Frequency: Very Common
Requirement: 1 warband
Application: An attack maneuver for when you need to quickly close the distance with an enemy.
Description: Your warband rallies, mounts, and prepares to charge the enemy. At the warband leader’s command, the warband charges the enemy. The key to a Mounted Charge is knowing when to dismount: tanks and AoE capable DPS should dismount into the enemy’s central mass while the rest of the warband can have the luxury of dismounting at their optimal range to support or attack.
Requirement: see below
Application: When attacking a flat-footed or closely ranked enemy in oRvR.
Description: This aggressive maneuver scales nicely, working for both a half-strength and full strength warband. The key ingredient for a Glass Arrow is having the proper classes represented: 4 AoE damage classes, 4 tanks, and 2 healers minimum.
The maneuver begins with a direct piercing charge lead by one caster (supported by her tank envoy) and throws herself into the center mass of the enemy, exploding with her AoE damage at point blank range. Casters work best in the role of a Glass Arrow because they are attractive targets.
The objective is simple: trigger a rout or if not, convince your enemies into swarming your Glass Arrow bringing them close together in a tight area. At the same time all the healers in your warband will totally focus on keeping the Glass Arrow alive for as long as possible while the other AoE damage classes capitalize on the now closely packed enemies and unleash AoE damage spells and attacks at their most efficient range. The rest of the warband should skirmish normally making sure to avoid the “hot spot” surrounding the Glass Arrow.
If done properly, an entire warband can be reduced to slag before the Glass Arrow can be taken down.
Requirement: 1 warband, scout watching keep
Application: Great tactic for thinning out overly confident keep defenders or for routing attackers at your keep’s door.
Description: Your warband rallies (mounted) near a besieged keep. The moment the defenders extend too far outside their keep your warband sweeps along the outside wall to the front of the keep and flanks any defenders caught out in the open. If you’re defending the keep your warband would execute a rear flank to the assaulting forces at the gatehouse keep door.
Requirement: 1 warband
Application: Encountering a superior force while attacking the inner keep door.
Description: This controversial maneuver must be executed the moment you realize you’re outmatched while attacking the (inner) keep door. Your warband pulls off the door and retreats to a defensive position up on the outer wall by the defender’s oil. You defend your position by forming two Tank Walls at both stair wells and have your ranged DPS harass the defenders below. Any allies that rally to the battle can easily be rezzed to your position on the wall. Your warband fortifies it’s position until it can break out or until more attackers arrive and shift the battle back to your advantage, at which time you would resume the assault of the keep.
Requirement: 1 warband, scout watching warcamp
Application: During a warcamp blockade.
Description: Your warband rallies well away and adjacent to the enemy warcamp. When the enemy begins to gain a foothold and push out of their warcamp (just out of range of their warcamp’s champions) your warband executes a flank to their rear ranks, thereby cutting off the leading elements of their push.
Bait and Switch
Requirement: 1 warband, bait
Application: While equal or inferior number of attackers are attempting to flip a BO.
Description: Send a single target charging into proximity of a threatened BO while your warband remains hidden nearby. If possible have the bait approach from the opposite direction of your warband. Hated classes such as Witch Elves or Witch Hunters work best – naked tank classes work almost as well. Have the bait appear to hesitate and then flee in the opposite direction of your warband, thereby drawing out renown hungry enemies and shifting their ranks to give chase. Upon the bait’s command, take your warband and execute a flanking maneuver into the remaining enemies at the BO.
Requirement: 1 warband, scout watching BO
Application: During a BO assault with skirmishing enemies nearby.
Description: Your warband detaches itself from the BO during the (3:00) contested phase and remains hidden nearby (preferably not in the path of any enemies that might attempt to reclaim the BO). Leaving a scout in plain sight at the BO flag serves as a distraction and temporary defense should the BO become threatened, at which time your warband would quickly return and execute a flanking maneuver. If no enemies attempt to reclaim the BO, simply return to the BO before the contested timer expires for the final renown bonus.
Requirement: 2+ tanks, support classes
Application: During a keep defense
Description: Deploy several tanks and non-essential support classes outside the keep’s gatehouse door. The objective is to harass and skirmish with the enemy in an attempt to distract their DPS from the door, damage deployed rams, and draw enemies underneath the keep’s oil. This is a hit and run tactic, involving short periods of high risk exposure before before retreating inside the keep to heal and recover.
Pull and Burn aka Rift Pit
Requirement: Spec’d Engineer/Magus, AoE damage classes
Application: During a skirmish against closely positioned enemies.
Description: This tactic, though much maligned, is currently the most dangerous skirmish tactic on the battlefield when used properly. Once the enemies are pulled in close via Chaotic Rift or Electro-Magnet abilitiy, the rest of your warband immediately unleashes their AoE damage spells, attacks, and crowd control abilities at the clustered enemies until are destroyed wholesale.
Requirement: 2 warbands
Application: For when both keeps in a zone can be sieged and there are too many defenders.
Description: This maneuver is best executed with 2+ warbands working in tandem. The idea is to assault both keep’s simultaneously. The defenders will usually consolidate to the the keep that loses it’s outer wall first: which is exactly what you want them to do. While one warband continues their assault on the keep’s (inner) door, the other warband makes further progress to their gatehouse door. Once both outer keep doors are down, both warbands can combine their forces to the least defended keep of their choosing. Also, the Double Tap can open the opportunity to catch defenders in the open after they detect your intentions and try to rally to the “real” target.
Hide and Siege
Requirement: See below
Application: For when your enemy forgets to check if you are hiding inside their keep.
Description: This maneuver is usually initiated by having one of your healers hide inside a keep that is about to fall. Zealots and Rune Priests can self-rez and if they happen to be killed in a far-off corner of the keep and not corpse camped, they can quickly begin a series of unfortunate events for the new keep owners. Once the keep is claimed by your enemy and they move out, your healer will patiently wait until the coast is clear and begin to rez allies from the outer wall after they suicide on the outside NPC guards. Some classes can bypass the postern doors directly, so you don’t have to leave your healer alone for long. In a very short amount of time you can have a full warband inside the keep’s courtyard swarming the keep.
Requirement: 1 warband
Application: When getting caught flat-footed by an aggressive enemy warband or to counter a Glass Arrow (AoE focused) warband attack maneuver.
Description: This maneuver should be a trained reflex for your warband should it ever get caught unprepared and suddenly attacked – which usually occurs when your warband is rallying or statically defending. As soon as the enemy strikes, your warband immediately splits itself in half, making a “fork” shaped counter attack maneuver, spreading out then lashing forward to displace the enemy’s back line. There is no backwards movement in this maneuver: it’s a lateral shift followed by a two pronged forward push. Dividing your warband’s central mass in half and quickly swarming behind the enemy can minimize the damage of a focused frontal AoE attack maneuver.
Requirement: 1 warband, hiding place
Application: When defending an open BO.
Description: This maneuver is best employed when defending an open BO with NPC support. The Trojan Flag begins with your warband hiding itself completely behind a wall, structure, or similar terrain at a BO. Patience is the virtue most needed here, as every member of your warband must remain totally out of sight so as not to alert the enemy. Wait until the enemy force is throughly engaged with the NPC guards at the BO and then spring your attack, executing an aggressive attack maneuver. It’s a good idea to leave your AoE healers and other support classes behind cover and out of LoS, if possible. Just like a game of cards: don’t show your hand until you have to.