Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tales From Observer Mode: This is Not My Cow

Promised myself that I'd get to watch some obs mode last night if I would blog about it the next day. You've been warned.

I noticed that a popular map, especially amongst the higher ranked teams, seemed to be the Isle of Wurms. I'm guessing it's a combination of the spike blunting Health Shrine and the split friendly layout.

Anyhow, I made a point of checking out There is A Cow Level - the current #1 guild on the ladder. I've mentioned them before and, in my opinion, I was a little bit harsh on them for, well, playing a lot of games. It's the reason they're at the top of the charts while only having a PPG of 1.21. They've got 200 games so they those points pile up. By way of comparison, the next guild down the ladder, Virtual Dragons, has a PPG of 1.44 but they've only fought in 149 games. So, since they had a couple matches up I thought I'd give them a look and see just what they were about.

And what [cow] seems to be about is smashing faces, plain and simple. They load up on offense. Last night wasn't their normal build, or so I've been told, but it featured two Warriors, a Dervish, a Ranger, and a Paragon (mostly for the offensive buffing – which, to me, looks pretty strong – but they could chip in with their spear, too.) along with a flagging Ele. Add in a solid Monk backline that was able to keep the physical attackers clean of conditions for the most part and, well, it's a team that rolled a lot of people. It's not exactly the fanciest build around but it's solid, dependable, and [cow]'s experienced enough to run it well.

There were a few good matches, I thought, and [cow] won everyone I saw and, indeed, looking at the ladder report every game that night. The first was against the charmingly named [izzy] who sat at #7 at the time and finished the night with 170 battles and just a shade under a point per game. As you might expect they did well but eventually crumbled. The other match I made special note of was against Treacherous Empire. Now that's a guild even I recognize. And one that's had no small measure of success in the past. I gather they've fallen on hard times lately as the guild's disintegrated. That happens, of course, all the time in a game like Guild Wars as players shift and drama rears its ugly head. But I've always liked [Te] so it's sad to hear – like hearing that your favorite band's broken up, I guess. They were running an interesting build of their own with a pair of Searing Flame warder ele with a pair of Warriors in the frontline and a Ranger of their own. But again, they didn't do so well against [cow] and found themselves back on their heels most of the match.

Now, I'm not quite ready to say [cow] is the best guild I've ever seen but after taking a good hard look at them in action I'm pretty sure they're for real. They haven't gotten to the ladder through some gimmicky build or through exploiting some skill imbalance. It's just good solid work combined with well-executed tactics. That's a hard combination to beat. Especially when it's back up by more than 200 games worth of experience.

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