Guild Wars 2: The Great WvW Experiment

I’m calling this great, which perhaps is a little egotistical but bear with me because I believe what this post will uncover is greatly important.

Firstly, I live with a scientist (who I’ll call fox from now on) and our best friend is also a scientist (who I’ll call master from now on). Although not one myself, needless to say the idea of an experiment to answer a question was one of our immediate reactions.

The experiment team
The experiment team

So, recently the debate over VOIP third party softwares has flared up. We’re all on a gold league European server, so the software of choice for our server is Teamspeak 3. Adverts for it are constant in world versus world and there are even teamspeaks for game elements such as champion farming on our server.

We could see the potential benefits teamspeak offered, after all we coordinate whilst sitting in the same room to play at our best so it’s next best to that we thought. So, we decided to experiment.

The experimental method

Get me being all science-y with a method!

The plan was that all three of us would join world versus world on our home borderland, which we pre-checked had people talking in its TS channel. This was at peak time, so much waiting happened before we could make a start.

An interesting little result that we didn’t expect was that fox got into the borderland immediately, even after joining the queue 5 minutes after Master and I. It took me another 10 minutes to enter and Master another 10 minutes on that. So, the world versus world queue is certainly random and there’s nothing you can do to make it favour you. Result number 1!

Once we were in we set up ready for the experiment. I would be following the fight on teamspeak alone, no in-game chats of any type and using the map only when seriously lost. I was chosen for this because of the three of us I know world versus world the best, so if they said a location in teamspeak I would usually know where they meant.

Tooled up Master
Tooled up Master

Fox would be totally isolated apart from the map – no teamspeak or map chat, listening to music on an MP3 player to drown out the teamspeak. We checked this before so that fox couldn’t overhear what was said.

Master was lucky enough to get both map chat and teamspeak, so he was fully tooled up.

We each left the party and represented different guilds to ensure that we couldn’t see each other on the map, and away we went on our separate ways.

We would join the fight for 30 minutes and each log where we were and what we were doing, as well as our overall experience rating.

The surprising results

First of all, in those 30 minutes there were around ten adverts on map chat for people to come and join the teamspeak channel. They had no impact at all. We began with 32 in the teamspeak channel at the start, and ended with that many. The adverts, no matter how frequent have no effect.

Second, teamspeak was of no use. This is the surprising result, and this isn’t formed of prejudices, its our scientific finding.

To explain that further, as the one on pure teamspeak I was usually the most confused. I was being yelled at by people with bad connections, coming out in such bad quality that it was of no use to Master who ended up relying on map chats far more given the freedom to choose which tool to watch. Moreover, I was the one to die most.

Paul the Murrellow sums it up perfectly
Paul the Murrellow sums it up perfectly

When on teamspeak you follow the commander. They are all you can hear – in their crackly dictatorship of the channel. I had nothing but that to go on, so I would follow him into oblivion whenever he made a bad choice. Fox and Master had the freedom to use their own initiative, and therefore died less. They could follow the zerg at a distance and choose to join it when the fight looked winnable or withdraw if the fight looked hopeless. I was left charging whatever the situation – and it got me killed often. This was also the case when we were all in a fight together. I had to follow the commander, where most of the enemy agro was, and therefore died often. Fox and Master could orbit the outside of the fight and stay alive more as a consequence.

Maybe I contributed more before I died? Our findings were that I died so often being in the main teamspeak pack, where the enemy agro is usually fully focused, that I made little meaningful impact before I was almost immediately dead. This isn’t my build or my class, only the tankiest guardians and eles survived that kind of sustained agro, but if you’re left with only them alive to fight you haven’t got much damage output left.

Not only was I the most dead, and lowest contributor to the fight of all of us, I was also the most confused. I should add a disclaimer that our server is a particularly international one, and in this case I was listening to a Greek and then a Portuguese commander. Combined with bad quality sound coming through once it was processed through their mics, over thousands of miles and back again to go through my speakers, I couldn’t understand much of what was said.

Serious face Napoleon
Serious face Napoleon

Once in a fight the manic shouting began on teamspeak, and this was of little value to me. Tactical advice goes out of the window on teamspeak in a big fight in favour of the commander repeatedly swearing very loudly. This was of no use to me, and was just plain tiring.

In fact, there was little other than the commander yelling at me or swearing at me at all, certainly no community feel – just an armchair Napoleon dictating to me.

Overall, I had the worst experience in our 30 minutes. I died more, did less when alive, and was the most confused. I think my pet Murrellow in the picture above sums up how I felt about my experience. I think we all agreed in the end that Fox had the most fun of the lot, staying alive more, contributing more, understanding more of what was going on whilst also enjoying the music of the Scissor Sisters – clearly good fighting music!


Teamspeak is something of a cult, and like any cult there is an unshakable belief in something that is essentially normal at the centre of it. That is what I believe teamspeak is after this experiment. Teamspeak has the potential to be incredibly useful as a tool, but it is often not used in the best way possible. Yet many players continue to believe that victory lies with getting everybody on teamspeak.

TeamSpeak_LogoIdeally, nobody should have to use teamspeak and our server is pretty much at that stage. Each player followed the commander whether they were on teamspeak or not, but those not on teamspeak were knowledgeable enough to know where they were going, what they were doing and what they needed to do. Players playing well in-game certainly don’t need teamspeak, they just need a dorito to guide them and group them together.

Worst of all, teamspeak ruins the experience. I enjoy world versus world usually, but never use teamspeak. Using teamspeak ruined the fun and left me exhausted after only 30 minutes.

At the end of the day Guild Wars is a game, do whatever you enjoy. I do not condemn those who use teamspeak, especially if they don’t find it as draining as I did. If you enjoy teamspeak, use it. However, given the results of our experiments it makes no sense for teamspeakers to advertise for people to join in with teamspeak in map chat incessantly – it has no affect at all and ruins the player community.

Anybody wondering if they should try teamspeak because they constantly see the adverts, don’t feel that you have to, you can make a meaningful contribution without it. Read our results, try it out for yourself and see whether you like it. If you don’t like it, don’t use it and ignore the adverts. Guild Wars is about enjoying yourself, its a game, so don’t ever feel that you have to compromise your own fun. Equally, neither side in this debate should try and change the other’s fun. We must respect each other as individual players who all want to play our own way within the world of Tyria – nobody has the right to change that for ourselves as individuals.

As ever with such things, a key disclaimer is that our experiment was server specific. You may well have a good teamspeak community, and I don’t mean to discredit that.

And finally, here’s a cute picture of some Quaggan because this post has been far too serious and heavy. Lets all share in the Quaggan love.


Digital Salad –


7 thoughts on “Guild Wars 2: The Great WvW Experiment

  1. j3w3l November 8, 2013 / 2:28 am

    Firstly I just want to preface that I have am/or was a hardcore wvw player and your a are the eyes of a casual . opposites in how they play and what they get out of it.

    You have an obviously bias opinion that is rather painful to read as someone who does see the benefit of regular and the strong impact. Also your jumping to conclusions after a ridiculously small sample size, many confounding variables and little variation. So during one day, on one server under the command of what appears to be a stupendously bad commander you claim that teams peak is an abhorrent evil.

    I can say with absolute faith that that is a flawed conclusion. The quality of the commander, the quality of the followers (you), and the number of people in chat make a huge difference in these fights. It’s the reason why a coordinated group can run circles around one that not, why 20 people can and do decimate entire zergs (been a part of that many times.

    To say the roamer is always the better game style is just wrong as both that, the havoc squads, and the large groups have some great experiences there if only you maybe let go of biases to see them. There is a lot to learn though, that is obviously part of your poor experience but then that us really up to you to seek from others or learn in your own time.

    Anyway sorry to be do confrontational here, it seems you hit a nerve. Hop you find better experiences there

    • Digital Salad November 8, 2013 / 9:51 am

      Thank you for the comment! Don’t worry about disagreeing, I wrote this knowing that it would provoke debate, so I really don’t mind. Its healthy to disagree and discuss it.

      I do admit that I went into this with something of a bias, that I am a casual who gets fed up with teamspeak adverts every at least every 3 minutes as there was during our experiment. Despite that I did go into it with an open mind, I wanted to discover what made so many people sing songs of praise about teamspeak. I wanted to find out what made it so good. I could see the advantages as well, after all we three all play together in the same room in real life for coordination; so it is the next best thing.

      I did jump to conclusions quite rapidly given the sample size, but I was eager to write up what we had found. I have repeated it three times since I wrote this at different times of the day and found each time that teamspeak was of no use to me, reinforcing all of our results. In one case there wasn’t a single person talking in any of the channels despite there being hundreds of people logged in to teamspeak overall – that was a strange finding.

      Teamspeak definitely isn’t an abhorrent evil. Many people find it useful and I don’t mean to diminish that at all. If you enjoy it, and don’t find it as draining as I do then use it all you want.

      All I am against is forcing other people into joining teamspeak, we should never force others to join us in our fun because its ‘the only way’ to have fun. We all have our own ways of having fun – don’t try to force others in to teamspeak. On our server in particular the adverts are constant, and don’t even make any impact on the numbers tuning in to the teamspeak. That’s what I’m really against here.

      I think a problem that we’ve found when blogging about our world versus world experience is our server. Our server, SFR, seems to be a bit of an exception to the rules of most servers. The commanders I followed were well respected commanders in our community and were good compared to the others I have tuned in to since. We definitely seem to have a serious lack of any real strategic or tactical ability in our commanders, and that’s reflected in a poor teamspeak for the server. I’ve blogged about our strategy and tactics in blogs about the progress of our server during this season, and it remains as poor as ever. I have no idea how we’re gold league, but we don’t deserve to be when we are so outnumbered and so outclassed. So, to a certain extent our findings were specific to our server, and it seems you have a better one.

      I stand by our results and take some exception with your comment that I must seek out training and learning in my own time. I feel confident in all the mechanics of world versus world, developing an understand over many months. If I were to seek training off commanders/regulars on my server I would be met by a wall of silence or else being told to piss off. I’ve seen this myself many times. We have no community spirit whatsoever. Besides which, I play Guild Wars 2 in my spare time – which is something precious to me and not all that easy to come by. I think that ties in to what I say about fun. We all have different ideas of fun. I’m not going to take teamspeak away from you and don’t judging you for using it, but likewise I don’t want you to thrust teamspeak at me and expect me to seek training/learning.

      If you have some experiences you can share about times where teamspeak made a real difference in world versus world I’d be fascinated to hear them.

  2. j3w3l November 8, 2013 / 12:20 pm

    That very much seems like a problem with your server, or others like that in particular. A rather nasty bug of an uncaring uninvolved community that expects to be able to do the bare minimum.

    I agree that it shouldn’t be forced for all things WvW. There are plenty of ways to play there that don’t need, or are even hindered by this. But, if you’re running with the zerg than it is invaluable.

    Sticking with the commander in these times, into the charge, through the movements, and obeying commands is they way that you survive and win. With how aoe has a cap it is much better to be part of that ball and share the hurt, boons and healing also spread far better in these situations. If you are lagging behind or get lost in those movements then you get none of the benefits but all of the consequences…. you dye extremely quickly.

    Joining in is also something for the greater good. A zerg is only as good as it’s weakest links. The people that don’t charge reduce your initial impact, those that fall behind help get the enemy up from a down state. you are a detriment to everyone there. Its actually rather selfish in a way to do this, you’re actively ruining others chances to win.

    As for experiences hmm.. in that first gold match between jq,bg, and Sor we we had both servers against us. Our guild officer was commanding the map zerg on a borderlands against two other equal.. if not bigger zergs and surprisingly we would last a long time in the fights against because the majority of the people in the zerg were listening and following instructions. We weren’t just run over immediately but were able to get many kills, hold onto an bay with many holes for hours and even win some open world fights. This does wonder for morale even when you are being beaten.
    During this fight you would see those that weren’t listening in and they were the first to die in an engagement. During calls of faking (running at a defensive zerg, and backing off so they waste good skills), there would also be a handful that dove in and were immediately killed. That wouldn’t be fun for them. In many engagements those people would take the wrong turn, a left instead of right and died near the start. They weren’t apart of these awesome battles, all they saw was bright flashes, feelings of frustration and confusion, then another run back. That doesn’t sound fun to me but that’s what happens and every time they did die like that it made it harder for us.

    I have a few videos of the guild on the site, recentish ones being this More there as well but in previous months, some with the commander chatter.

    Unfortunately it isn’t something I can explain, it just has to be experienced.

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