Zerging is a heated topic amoungst avid World vs Worlders, ranging from favoring to down right hating the practice. For those who aren’t familiar with what a zerg is, it is a group of at least 10 players, though there is no defined minimum; sometimes reaching upwards of 30+ individuals. The term derives from the StarCraft race called the Zerg Swarm, who overpower their enemies through larger numbers, even if they aren’t as skilled as their opponents. The main reason zerging is such a controversial topic is the fact that a mindless army following a dorito (commander) can severely decimate an apposing force. So, with that in mind, how do zergs make WvW better?
Think of each player in a zerg as a cup of water, the more experienced players a jug, the least experienced a paper thin Dixie cup. Individually, the experienced player can hold their own, while others fall short in this area. Weaker players wouldn’t be able to enjoy the game or do their part in WvW if it wasn’t for zergs. Sure, you can say they can just be in a small party, but a full party of inexperienced players will be bulldozed by one or two players who min/max and/or know exactly how their profession plays. Example: A friend and myself (above average players) were able to take on waves of constant attack by less skilled invaders, only to eventually be over run, once they organized and attacked and attacked us a group of six. With a zerg, the many small cups can equal a few jugs of water, creating a more even playing field.
Small groups of players often have a harder time sieging; taking a tower can last several minutes, a keep longer and it is unheard of for a single party to take Stonemist Castle, it just doesn’t happen. Even just attempting to siege a tower is hazardous when considering the time it takes, how little supply for siege a single party can have, roaming enemy players coming in and then dealing with the veterans and champion inside. Small groups take towers all the time, but they are often comprised of those who know what they’re doing and in constant communication. Zergs more efficiently take these locations and hold up better to opposing forces. Without zergs, few people would play in WvW because it would take exceedingly longer to receive any rewards.
Roaming alone or with few people in WvW is always a risky move. Even excluding getting steamrolled by another zerg, players that can’t play their profession in a decent manner wouldn’t be able to play in any meaningful way, as an enemy invaders can wipe them out and then they’ll have to walk all the way back across a large map. Like I stated earlier, the limited power of several players in a zerg can add up to the most formidable enemy. When fallen, ally players can pick one another up, saving those taken down the time to return to action.
We also can’t ignore the community and guilds that have formed because of it. Long ago, before ANet merged all the servers into one mega server (which we all know just means they’re really overflow servers), there was a huge thing for server identity. Most people loved their server and would defend its honour, even going so far as to mock and forge rivalries against other servers. I remember the meetings the commanders would have in the bar above the Mystic Toilet on Ehmry Bay; that is all but gone now, though at least the guilds and community remain.
Despite the case I just made, some, especially including ArenaNet, do not like the zerg meta. They believe it ruins what should be a tactful game mode and makes things worse for players not in a zerg. Multiple times, ANet made changes to WvW in failed attempts to completely stop large groups as a viable tactic for participating in the game mode.
One of the major changes with the clear intent to make it harder for zergs is the inability for players to pick up fallen allies in combat. Players fully downed will no longer be able to be revived by allies stuck in combat. On the surface, this appeared to be a much needed change and I can agree to some extent; before the changes a small group is was in fought against another small group, we were constantly pushing back-and-forth for several minutes, where we would defeat some of them only to be pushed back by one or two while someone revived our fallen foes. We eventually won, but the change on being defeated would have been helpful in that situation, but only for my group.
The change to revival of defeated allies was obviously set up to kill zergs quicker, which only defeats the enjoyment of being in a zerg. When two zergs collide there is a constant push-and-pull effect, no one knows who will win. Are they evenly sized? Which has better players in it? Are they separated by walls? Do they have siege? These questions always matter in zerg fights, but had to take on a whole different meaning with that single change. ArenaNet said in the same update as the change that defending an owned location was too easy at that point in time, yet what this change does it make it easier to defend; an enemy up on a wall or behind it can quickly be revived by their allies who walked back far enough to get out of combat, while everyone else outside doesn’t have that luxury. Interesting fights that were once an even force of back-and-forth has turned into throwing everyone into the fray and whoever survives picks their entire zerg back up, while the losers have to make the trek back. And this was just one item in several updates slowly chipping away at the zergs foundation.
For some reason, ArenaNet has this double-standard of not liking the meta the players choose to have, then nerfing it to place their own instead. Funny enough, they’ve never killed the meta by nerfing it; even with the zerker (berserker) stat cuts it’s still been the most used, because it works and zergs still roam WvW despite being constantly hindered, because it works. Instead of making these metas less viable, ArenaNet should do more on making other play styles more practical; I know they are trying to, but not in the same caliber at they’re trying to snuff out the current metas. At the end of the day, metas evolve over time, but not without resisting to unnecessary changes.
I wrote this article a year ago and only made some minor word adjustments to express what has already occurred. Despite all of ANet’s best intentions to make WvW better, I personally feel (as a WvWer), most changes they make to WvW are controversial and at the end of the day, detrimental to the player base.