War Robots WR Battle Stories

Battle Stories: Abstraction in Action

Rogue builds and a clan change? That sounds like a busy week!

Pop quiz time!

What does the Irish music group The Cranberries and War Robots have in common?

The answer is… not a whole hell of a lot, really. But as I find myself contemplating the current War Robots metagame, I keep coming back to the title of their extraordinary debut album, released in 1993.

Everybody Else is Doing it, so Why Can’t We?

I mean, when we look at the top-level metagame, which we took a peek at in my last Battle Stories, these builds didn’t simply fall from the sky one day. Rather, they were the result of endless testing and experimentation.

What happens when I put weapon X on bot Y?

I’m not so naive to think that I could stumble upon some hitherto-unappreciated build that upsets the metagame’s applecart, undoing the collected wisdom of thousands and thousands of hours of in-game experience.

But I realized recently that there’s a certain symmetry to the buildout meta. Just as there are good builds that can be played poorly and still put up results, there surely must be bad builds that can be played very well and do the same. I’m not talking about a dual-Noricum Destrier here, some things are simply beyond salvation. But what are the rogue builds that work, and align with my piloting skillset and gameplay preferences?

In saying this, I’m mindful that I’m also potentially setting up a trap. This can easily play into the notion of illusory superiority, the psychological tendency for everyone to think that they are above-average. That’s where we get the notion of “distracting the enemy” as a stand-in for combat effectiveness. “Sure, my numbers stunk, but I helped the team by distracting the enemy.” As I’ve noted before, that’s probably applicable 10% of the time. The other 90%, the effort they spent to kill your underperforming ass didn’t set them back a whit.

That brings me to my lastest project, the Geppo.

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One of the most interesting content creators I’ve found recently is Shaolin Rogue, who did a video for me on the test server taking the Pin Stalker for a ride at the highest level. I covered that last time, but there’s been a new wrinkle. Another forum member asked him to cover the Gekko Gepard (which he dubbed the “Geppo“), and see how it held up.

If you’re a newer reader, you may have wondered a time or two why this place is called Gepard Diary when I haven’t even looked at a Gepard in ages. They were the first bot I ever fell in love with (my love for Cossacks emerged more slowly), and chronicling my journey as a Gepard pilot seemed like a fun thing to do. So it’s nice to find another reason to look at a Gepard, because I cling like a drowning sailor that almost every bot can be feasible under the right circumstances.

Shaolin Rogue’s video was compelling enough to send me to the store to buy a trio of Gekkos, a weapon I’d never even considered before due to perceived weakness. I’ve made time for the Geppo in just about every battle since, and while the jury remains out on its viability, it has a lot in common with the Hydra Doc.

The Hydra Doc, you may recall, was best suited for three tasks: killing the wounded, harassing the enemy, and stealing beacons. This lines up with the Geppo perfectly well. The Geppo is a little less effective than the Doc at killing the wounded, because the Doc chains four complete loadouts to the unsuspecting victim, while the Geppo must make do with less. But then, if I thought that the Hydra was good at playing the Nettling Imp’s role, the Geppo is a league ahead. “Most Annoying Build?” Maybe!

I don’t know what it is about the Gekko, but a lot of players- myself as well, admittedly- find getting hit by them very unsettling. It’s irrational, of course- our brains may tell us that the Gekko does very little damage, but our hearts want to kick the offender in the balls. A trio of them can actually do some noticeable damage, and it’s a superb weapon if you want to unsettle the enemy’s backline.

Let’s consider why for a moment. While I’ve gone on record as being against “psychological effects” in this game, since they rely on your opponent’s mental weakness rather than your skill at arms, the odds here might be the best in the game. Think about it- what kind of player is psychologically drawn to the back line?

The conflict-averse kind, of course. The kind who likes to be the sniper, killing from afar, touching while being untouchable. Give me a camper and a knifer who have each played for 100 hours, and I guarantee you the knifer has taken exponentially more damage and died countless more times than our passive-aggressive friend on the hill. Knifers are tunnel rats, they’re used to scrapping and used to dying. Yes, they can be unsettled, but they’re more likely to make their saving throw against distraction.

Literally every game I have played where I have the luxury to 1) deploy the Geppo, and 2) go after the enemy back line (which is almost always the targets of last recourse), the Geppo provokes a response. The campers move, they shuffle down to the other side of the hill, they try and avoid the damage. They’re much less used to being singled out- and almost to a man, they don’t like it.

This gives the Geppo a fairly narrow window of viability. But for now, I’ll take it.

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The other major development this week has been my first (and hopefully last) clan change. I was previously with the 2Wik feeder clan, but I have now bid them a fond adieu and thrown in with Aurora Nova iOS.

This probably deserves a bit of explanation, but I can at least promise it will be devoid of “guild drama.” This is one of those cases where everyone gets to come out of it holding their head high.

I avoided clanning for a long time. I had no real compelling interest to squad up, being a bit of a loner, and felt I was just fine on my own. There was only one clan that caught my eye, which was the Wiki clan (WIki clan and its feeder affiliate, 2Wik), given that the Wiki Forum has been such an important part of my War Robots experience.

I would have joined much sooner, but for a small wrinkle. Wiki clan had a red-line rule that said members couldn’t play in Bronze Tier. I understood that this was to prevent clubbing, which was the antithesis of my objectives in Bronze (I simply loved the fast pace of Light bot play), but rules are rules. I never inquired, and they never asked.

Two things, I think, changed that equation. First, I became a moderator of the Forum, and therefore much more ingrained in the Wiki culture. Second, the entire concept of “tiers” went the way of the dodo with the new matchmaker rollout. Someone pitched me, and- now free of the Tier restriction- I happily pledged into 2Wik.

2Wik is a great clan. The leadership is top-notch, and growth and development are central themes in the clan. The Wiki clan tend to lose members to higher-ranked guilds once they ‘outgrow’ the clan, and I know that can be dispiriting, but it’s also testament to how well they develop talent. If someone came to me tomorrow and said, “I want to be a better player, so I’m thinking of joining the Wiki clan/2Wik,” I’d tell them to run, not walk.

But for me, the experience was wracked with guilt. I’m a funny bird for that kind of guild. Players would want to squad with me all the time, and I’d have to reject them because I happened to be in data-collection mode for the next By the Numbers post, and couldn’t allow my results to be thrown off by squadding.

In the beginning, every time I rejected a squad request, I’d go post in clan chat my regrets. It got so frequent, however, that before long I just swallowed the guilt and declined wordlessly. If 2Wik was a developmental clan, I was the old guy in the corner yelling at everyone to leave him in peace. And all the while, I knew I was contributing nothing to the guild, while taking a spot that someone else could actually benefit from.

I wasn’t happy, and it was no fault of the clan’s. They’re amazing people. Wanting to squad with your clanmates is a good thing, and I was punishing it because of my blog.

Enter Aurora Nova. AN formed on Android, from the wreckage of a dysfunctional guild the core group was a part of. I saw all of this transpire on the Wiki Forum, and was very impressed with the AN leadership’s professionalism and esprit de corps. They were competent, capable, and had a solid vision of what they wanted in a clan. If only I was on Android, I thought, I’d sign on with those guys straightaway.

Aurora Nova grew so large, they had a spinoff clan, Aurora Supernova. And then, the inevitable happened- they branched over to iOS. The early nucleus was a virtual who’s who of some of the most dynamic personalities on the forum: Old Man (the leader). Trogon. Saltesers. WE034. Flexpoint. People I already enjoyed there. As an added bonus, they skewed a little older. I’m a middle-aged, and like anyone else I like to be able to make jokes and references that my audience gets.

So yeah, they had me at hello. I’m also happy to put just a little distance between myself and the Wiki Forum, since I’m now a moderator. I’ve maintained from the outset that I’m a poster who does a little moderating on the side, rather than a moderator who does a little posting on the side. Do we get a little care package from Pixonic every now and again? Sure, and that’s very kind. But if the day came where I didn’t think I could be myself on the Forum, I’d turn in the badge without a second thought. I’m not in this for the “perks,” but rather for the service.

I don’t ever want to compromise my independence, and being a mod and in the clan had me begin to feel like a company man. And worse, a non-contributing company man.

So now I’m free to suck for Aurora Nova iOS. And be that grumpy greybeard in the corner yelling at everyone.

And I love it. If you’re on iOS and looking for an amazing clan to be a part of and get in “on the ground floor,” hit us up.

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1 comment on “Battle Stories: Abstraction in Action

  1. Pingback: Battle Stories: Time and Tidings – Gepard Diary

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