I’m no PVP aficionado but don’t I shirk from it either. I go in knowing that I can lose while making my best attempt to win. I don’t cry over unsportsmanlike behavior. I strategize about how to get even!
I started my MMO career in games where players routinely killed each other. My longest consecutive run in an MMO was World of Warcraft and I rolled on a PVP server, having followed my guild from Asheron’s Call 2. It was back then, one of the most highly contested servers and spending 2 hours trying to get a 40 man raid into Molten Core was a typical Sunday afternoon. Forming teams to protect members trying to level in Darkshire and Southshore was a way of life. You took your lumps while a newbie, protected others when you grew up and dished it out once you were geared. As a result, my point of view about dealing with PVP in ArcheAge (AA) is framed by that mentality.
It Began Simply Enough
I joined a very small casual guild called Immortal Imperial League. With our very small size and mixture of NA and EU players, we’re hard pressed to have a ten people online at once. Having more than 5 level 50 players on simultaneously is rare. So when two members asked me if I’d like to do a trade run with them even though I was only level 27 at the time, I figured I’d go for the experience alone, if it would help them out.
It began simply enough. We met up in Gweonid, where Denniiss provided each of us with a pack of goods to carry. We walked to the coast on foot because I didn’t own a donkey yet. The slow trek there was pleasant as we chatted and laughed along the way. When we reached the coast, Denniiss summoned his Clipper. We boarded and headed out to sea.
This was my first ship adventure in AA. I knew what to expect from watching Twitch streams. So when we entered contested waters I was on high alert. Killset and I kept an eye out for enemy ships and deadly sea creatures. It wasn’t too long before the drama unfolded.
Cargo Transport Attempt 1 out of 4
The first two pirate attempts started half way into the journey. Unfortunately for them, the distance they were at when they spotted us, didn’t leave them enough time to gain ground. The Clipper is a fast ship and we easily outpaced them. The third attempt was close. Harpoons were shot at our boat but they missed and again, we out ran their fiendish attempts at skullduggery.
The next attempt came swiftly – almost out of the blue someone was on our heels. He harpooned the ship, jumped in his glider and was suddenly on board. We were level 50, 44 and 27. He was level 50 with godly buffs of all kinds. We gave it our best shot, pushing him down to less than 20% health. He backed off for a bit but we weren’t organized enough to capitalize on it and when he charged in again, it was lights out. My two partners died in the water, their packs sinking to the bottom. I died on board but didn’t resurrect so I could watch our attacker.
It wasn’t enough to kill us and loot the packs. He started firing at the ship to sink it. Killset and Denniiss were trying their best to get back to the boat but there wasn’t enough time. Once the whole thing was in flames, I resurrected too.
The trade packs be damned. Our first concern was how to resurrect the ship??? None of us had a clue and I could hear a bit of panic in the ship owner’s voice. Losing the packs was a known potential. I personally had no idea the ship could be lost. We asked in chat and were immediately helped. A couple of people took the time to link what was required. Whew!
Knowing that the ship could be reacquired our attention then returned to the packs. Together we raced out to where we were killed and attempted to retrieve them. By then however, our killer had been joined by a friend. We tried a couple of times to beat them to our packs that had dropped to the bottom. We gave it our best shot but if we couldn’t beat one of them, there was no way in hell we were beating two. We resurrected again and called it quits.
Cargo Transport Attempt 2 out of 4
Not too long after our botched trade adventure, Fooshyy, our level 50 healer came online. We shared our tale of high seas adventure and he offered to go with us if we wanted another try. BAM, we were all in for giving it another go.
Fooshyy suggested we attempt a different turn in location. We set off by foot and then used a series of infrastructure transport coaches to make our way inland first, to check turn in prices in safe zones. That wasn’t going to work for what we were carrying. The inland NPCs were only offering a fraction of the potential profit. Okay, back to the high seas. Armed with a healer, we hoped for the better outcome.
We had a couple of close calls but this time made it across the continent in one piece. The next trick was to make it to the NPC alive. One, two, three… jump in the water and dash up the dock to the closest neutral guard.
*Panting* *Eyes open like a deer in headlights*. Fuck, we landed on the wrong side. *Heart racing*. We have to leap frog from guard to guard until we make it to the safe area around the turn in NPC. One, two, three… go! Up the stairs, around the bend, down a street and then… I pull up short when I see an ocean of red player names. “C’mon Aly, run!” I guzzle another mana potion, turn on sprint and press the forward arrow key for all it’s worth!!
I make it. We make it. I see all the enemy players and wonder what the fuck am I doing here?? For goodness sake, I’m only level 27. I calm my nerves, turn in my pack and profit. *Whew* Now that we’re here, Fooshy has other ideas - death and ruination. He urges us to spawn teleports over people on horseback so they’ll get ported back to our side of the map. He starts fights away from the guards. We laugh and act the fool until eventually we’re all dead, our corpses punted out of the city.
Cargo Transport Attempt 3 out of 4
Fresh off our success, Fooshy concocts a scheme to do it again. This time with more profitable cargo. We teleport to produce the trade packs and start the next trip. Two of the packages are rather expensive to produce. We strap those to our level 50s, Fooshyy and Denniiss. Killset and I carry the moderately priced items.
And we’re off! We’re in good spirits. Fooshy is busy actin’ the fool. Using collision detection to push people off the wagons as we ride back out to the shore to spawn the Clipper. Harpooning our boat to the sea bed, causing us to pitch and roll until we all fall off the damn ship. Yeah, Fooshyy bad but Fooshyy funny.
It’s all fun and games until another Clipper with multiple enemies on board is in hot pursuit. We can’t out run it and we’re not close enough to neutral waters to reach safety. Ugh! The one thing we do know is that we don’t want to lose the ship again.
We decide in advance that if it’s all going to shit, Denniiss needs to de-spawn his ship and we’ll all dive for the bottom of the ocean. Maybe they won’t chase us for only 4 trade packs. WRONG!! Things go to shit, they chase us to the bottom, kill us and take our stuff. At this point, I need a break. LOL I’m starving and a bit unnerved by it all.
Cargo Transport Attempt 4 out of 4
Later the same day, more guild members are online. It’s Sunday afternoon and people have come on to play. Surprised by how many of us are on at once, someone has the bright idea to do a trade run. I cringe a bit and retell our earlier tale of woe. Meh, they’re not concerned. There are more of us and Balphagore has a much bigger ship and it’s equipped for combat. "Aly you in?" Sure why not.
Loaded up like mules, we’re out in open waters, the wind blowing in our hair. I’m instructed to climb the mast for safety just in case we’re attacked. Uh, I’m actually afraid of heights and it translates in games but I go for it. Oh and while you’re up there, use the telescope and watch for enemies.
I followed our guild leader, Fannel, up to the crow’s nest where he showed me how to use the telescope. Sweet deal. Using the telescope provides a radar view of the area some distance around your ship. If you open up the world map simultaneously, you can hover over the ships to see their names and faction. The coast is clear for a while but as we move further into contested waters, more red dots appear. We're not initially in danger but I keep my eyes peeled.
Based on how this has played out so far, I’m sure you realize our safety was short lived. As we neared the coast where we needed to land, Fannel left in his Clipper to scout the dock. While he’s gone a Clipper starts heading toward us. I call it out. Lots of conversation about whether or not they’re coming after us. OMG a second boat from the west is headed our way. I call that out too. People below don’t seem to see it and there’s a bit of confusion. Anti-glider attack measures are engaged… More talking… Shouts for Fannel to return to us quickly, we’re definitely being engaged. Harpoons are being fired in our direction. We’re positioning ourselves to fire our cannons. *Boom* *Boom* Wham, the sound of people engaging whatever class buffs they have. *Raised voices*
“Enemy on board!” Amongst the various conversations and people talking over each other, someone has spotted a baddie on board the ship but now he’s in stealth. Oh God, I jump from the crow’s nest to the mast, uncertain if I should slide down to help fight. Granted, my helping out hasn’t been all that effective thus far but I’m all in for running into the breach.
Before Fannel can get back to us, more enemies have boarded and it’s an all-out blood battle happening below me. Chaos takes center stage. Combat animations are exploding left, right and center. People are asking to be healed. People are shouting that they’re dying. Fannel is urging Balphagore to put “owner’s mark” on the helm so they can’t take his ship. He’s being pummeled and can’t. “De-spawn your ship!!!” “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MAN, DE-SPAWN YOUR SHIP!” He can’t. He’s dead. In a few seconds I’m the only one alive. Level 27, hugged around the top of the mast. I know that my own death is coming and will be swift.
I’m alone and waiting for them to spot me. I’m no coward but I stay put. I don't see any point in dropping down into 4 level 50 players armed to the teeth. No, they’ll have to jimmy up here and kill my ass, one auto attack at a time. They're walk around the ship. My heart is pounding in my chest. I want to close my eyes but I'm transfixed on the scene below, waiting for someone to look up. I watch them gather their booty and one by one, they disembark. What? They’re just leaving? Uh? I'm alive?? I'm relaying everything I see to the guild members who are furiously trying to swim back.
As I'm watching they put their sails up and leave. Unlike our previous encounter, I suppose looting and killing are enough. They don’t see the need to destroy or attempt to steal the ship. "Guys, they're leaving. They're gone!" I hear relief in people’s voices. It’s a whopping 45 gold to resurrect this ship. At level 27, I’ve yet to see more than 30 gold all at once.
When the first guild member makes it back to the ship, we’re told to pilot it out of the area in case the plan was to come back with more help to take or burn the ship. We’re told to head north and north we go. I still have a pack on my back. Denniiss is captaining Balphagore's ship and we're trying to get the hell out of Dodge.
What happened next happened so fast, I'm unclear about much of it. I don’t know if it was the same group or another group coming after us. Denniiss and I were sailing north still. I wasn’t really watching our surroundings. I don’t know if he was either. I think I was little shell shocked, fun shocked, adrenaline shocked or fucked in the head, feeling like a baby seal recently clubbed.
First the ship, our ship, Balphagore's ship, de-spawned out from under us. Without warning, I’m in the water all doe eyed, wondering WTF is going on now?? For all that’s holy, someone please make it stop! Denniiss summons his Clipper but someone is already in hot pursuit. They’re so close and it’s just the two of us, meaning just Denniiss really. Not wanting him to lose his ship for a second time, I start shouting for him to de-spawn it shortly after we’re on board it. Now we’re back in the water and swimming for all we’re worth. *DIVE ALY!* I sprint dive for the sea bed, hoping our mates arrive in time. I’m being hit by ranged damage and am glowing green – poisoned. I heal myself and keep swimming. I drink a potion and keep swimming. Someone’s reached me and they’re hitting me in the back. In an attempt to land a stun, I turn toward my attacker but he has help. A couple of swings from each of them puts this poor baby seal out of her misery.
Rolled by a Streamer
Out of 4 attempted trade missions only 1 ended successfully. Through it all, no one was angry or surly. People were excited, their adrenaline pumping and ready to wade in again. Okay, I had genuine moments of fear and panic. Like when you’re engrossed in a horror movie and for a few minutes, you forget that it’s not real and scream out in fright. I’d had enough for one day and needed a break. My oven was beeping for me to check on dinner. I resurrected and teleported to a safety.
Because irony and luck are such jokesters, I decided to watch Twitch while finishing dinner and taking a break. And what do you know, I see the name of the person from encounter 4 of 4. Holy shit, he’s a streamer named Zemi (DigitalAddiction). I remembered his name because he was the person I saw glide on the ship when some of us where shouting enemy on board.
I entered his chat and told him that he just wrecked us a while ago. After describing the encounter to him, he remembered us. LOL He was polite. I was polite and he answered my questions about pirating. I watched his stream for a while. I saw his crew hauling goods back to their home base where they had plot after plot of stolen trade packs. This is what they do. This is all they do. They are no different than EVE Online pirates exercising a legitimate play style.
Some people may argue that being wrecked isn’t fun and will tire over time. If that’s the case, this game isn’t for ya. You shouldn’t be – we shouldn’t be, attempting to do cross continent trading if we’re not prepared for what we’re likely to encounter, PIRATES. You don’t waltz into Black Temple in green gear, ill-equipped for the encounters and expect to come out on the rainbow side of it. And if you do, “You are not prepared!”
Commerce meets PVP
You can do land trade missions that return less profit and go about your business mostly unmolested. However, if you want the higher gain, be prepared for the higher risk. You need to be PVP geared, PVP spec’d, have at least 1 healer for every three people, crowd control and ranged DPS. Someone should be calling targets so you can focus fire and not be picked off one by one. This is no different than entering a PVE raid. Go in gunz a blazin’ because trust me, the pirates are and if you’re not also, you will be rekt. I approach this type of PVP with an EVE Online mindset. Don’t risk more than you can afford to lose.