The Decline of Henge of Denravi Due to Server Transfers


The top WvW server in Guild Wars 2 for the six weeks following launch was Henge of Denravi (HoD). Our server, Blackgate (BG), faced them in September and HoD fielded a high number of players coupled with high organization, mainly due to the efforts of the Titan Alliance (TA) between PVP guilds. We couldn’t take a tower or depot without triggering a significant reaction within a short period of time. HoD dominated, and it was impressive to watch.

Unfortunately, the success of HoD brought an influx of bandwagoners via the free server transfers. Over time the original players on HoD found themselves penalized for their success – they had to compete with the bandwagoners for the same WvW map queues. Given the degrading experience and to promote better server competition, earlier this month TA disbanded and dispersed to other servers.

HoD was unable to compete without TA on the field. I didn’t realize this had happened until we faced HoD recently in the WvW matchup between the #4-6 ranked servers. The first night we crushed HoD, and by the time the matchup was finished, BG had hundreds of thousands of points compared to under 15k for HoD and the other server. I asked on Twitter what happened to HoD and heard the story from other players:

https://twitter.com/taugrim/status/259666219601375232

What’s the underlying issue here? Free server transfers without a meaningful cooldown.

We’re going to feel the pain of it soon on BG, as we’re in the #1-3 matchup and leading. This matchup has been the most closely contested I’ve seen in GW2 and therefore most fun WvW and World PVP that I’ve experienced in years. E.g. the score last night was ~105k BG, ~95k Jade Quarry, and ~85k Stormbluff Isle.

Last night I heard from Crescens that ArenaNet is implementing a 1-week cooldown on free server transfers starting on November 1st. That will slow the rate of bandwagoners who will transfer to Blackgate, but that will only delay the tide. As long as players can transfer for free to the top server, they will continue to do so, to the detriment of the quality of WvW experience for those players already on that server. The last few days on Blackgate we’ve had an acceptable WvW queue time during peak hours of 15 minutes or less, but that queue time will increase with an influx of bandwagoners.

I am glad to know that ArenaNet realizes that there is an issue, but I doubt the 1-week cooldown on free transfers will be enough.

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Posted in Game Design, Guild Wars 2, PVP
41 comments on “The Decline of Henge of Denravi Due to Server Transfers
  1. Jps says:

    Totally agree with you Taugrim, we are having the same problem in European servers.

    Dont know what Anet is waiting for players to pay for their transfers.

  2. Amythiel says:

    Had no idea you started participating in WvW, what level is your warrior now? :D

  3. Amanphas says:

    What spec are you using in WvW?

  4. Brad says:

    They are leaving them free until guesting is working. If they made paid transfers without guesting that would be equally as bad for a different group of players as free transfers is for WvW.

  5. I believe a 3 week cooldown would be much better (but not solve the problem entirely). Pretty much allows and entire 2 week WvW period to go by without being able to transfer

  6. What really has been hurting WvW is the major PvP guilds suddenly transferring over to servers SoR, SoS and Blackgate. SoR was a middle of the pack server which will likely end up on top due to the transfers. Until they get to the top, they will be destroying other servers (and people’s fun) along the way. The issue isn’t the bandwagoners, it’s the sudden shifts in power. While bandwagoning destroys the fun of one server, these sudden shifts in power destroy the fun of several servers. The one week cooldown is a lame attempt at responding to the outcry.

  7. Kyle says:

    i totally agree with you mr. park. this was something that i found to be extremely frustrating in the opening weeks of launch. its my theory that they intially had no cooldown or cost on the server transfers in hope that people would take it upon themselves to handle the problem accordingly.

    my guildies and i often had discussions on how much sense it would make if some of the more populated (not necessarily more skilled) would take the intiative and transfer to a lower pop server. upon release our guild decided to roll on jade quary. at release it was a fairly successful wvwvw realm but like you have mentioned we recieved an enormous amount of influx of players seeking to join the “op” server. after about the 3rd or 4th week guilds started transferring off and before long we slipped down in the rankings.

    in my honest opinion i think this is a larger problem than just a number game. its a growing problem with mmo players in general that they would rather get themselves carried by following the zerg than to actually better themselves and play well as the underdog. i quite personally, and my guildmates agree, would rather act as a small group (5-10) and run around and take supply camps, disrupt doylaks, and maybe even flip the smaller towers (if we had like 10 people with siege and full supplys). that to me would make for a much more enjoyable evening, getting into small skirmishes, than following around 75-100 people endlessly flipping one keep, only to have the other server do the same to us.

    just my opinion, sorry for the long post, but i agree with you on just about everything

  8. Yamirashi says:

    This change shows they know something is wrong but it really doesn’t fix the problem. Those of us in the mid-lower tiers have a problem every week. Whichever server jumps out in the lead when they reset on Friday through the weekend winds up getting an influx of people leaving the other two servers in the match up to join the winning side.

    This can still happen every week.

    *Warning- I do not act in according to the following. I am merely describing what I have seen over the past few weeks*
    -I can log in on Monday, see that server A has run off and left everyone, say I’m not putting up with this and transfer to server A. Rinse and repeat next week when we’re matched against another better server since we curb stomped everyone in the last match.

    My server was one that started strong and faded hard after having a large alliance transfer due to queue times. WvW was pitiful for a few weeks until we got back down to more evenly matched servers since we lost the backbone of our main alliance. Since then we worked our way back up, until a few weeks ago we had probably one of the best balanced matches in WvW since launch. We were back and forth in 1st and 2nd most of the week, but the last day the other two servers made a huge push and we fell to 3rd, very close to 2nd place. It was one of the most exciting and personally rewarding matches I’d been a part of. However the next match something was different. We no longer had players playing and constantly had the Outmanned Buff. Very confused we started investigating and after having won going away several weeks in a row, the 3rd place finish in a very well balanced match had many guilds and pugs transfer to the server that beat us. Now we’ve tumbled again and are trying to build back up a player base that can stand up to the servers we’re playing against.

    Me personally, I couldn’t care less about the rankings. They really don’t mean anything. You get no reward from being the top ranked server or the lowest ranked server. The rankings are there only to try to make sure servers play against servers that they should be evenly matched with. However for some reason people are so caught up in whether they win or lose (which again gets you nothing) that they keep bouncing around trying to get to the winning server that they are preventing the rankings from accomplishing their sole purpose.

    As much as all of this sucks, you cannot simply cut off free transfers now. All that you do in that case is lock the servers in to this currently unbalanced population. We need a system that allows you to transfer for free to a lower population server, and charge a fee if you want to transfer to a higher population server. This puts on a filter that will allow the populations to re-balance themselves while not allowing them to shuffle so much that they kill any attempt at maintaining a ranking system to balance WvW.

  9. rulez says:

    Yamirashi :
    We need a system that allows you to transfer for free to a lower population server, and charge a fee if you want to transfer to a higher population server.

    As far as I remember, something like this is actually planned once transfers will cost gems. Transferring to the higher population will cost more than to the lower, but the lower will not be entirely free.

    • Yamirashi says:

      Just my opinion, but to fix the mess that is there as of today, they will need to keep some transfers free to try to get population levels balanced back out. ANY monetary cost in game or IRL will discourage the majority of the player base from transferring.

      • jericho says:

        Its not so much about a server’s population as much as it is about average queue times. The fact we are still seeing servers as “full” because of a population number and not having server populations determined by the average number of WvW players still makes my mind boggle.

        I am on a heavy PvE server. I enjoy PvE more than I do PvP so that is 100% fine with me. However, we are also High population. Why? Is Orr too full? I am going to guess not. Does WvW have a queue time over 15minutes? No, most of the time there are instant queues to get into EB and on average 5-10minute queues during the 3 hour prime time.

  10. Demi_God says:

    The meta game for GW2 will probably revolve around 10 servers holding the top spots, 3 of them actually vying for the top spot, a 4th holding the wildcard spot, and 6 others fluxating between win>lose>win>lose so that the top 4 hold their place.

    It will take time. The server pops will have to stabilize and the server jumpers will eventually quit playing after the disease they are causing will finally kill them off to the extent they don’t effect the outcomes more than the guilds that are vanguarding the efforts.

  11. Niyack says:

    Augh, you would have to be on server that is beating mine. No clue where JQ went this week, but haven’t had a que for WvW sense the current group up started. I’m hoping its just Halloween.

    Been on JQ sense release and even in beta. Plan to stay, hoping to get more WvW in just got distracted by wanting Twilight on my Mes.

  12. Mitch says:

    Ironically, the only reason Blackgate is doing so well is because of the free transfers and the influx of many guilds from ET and other servers when the 2 major alliances disbanded. So really you benefited greatly from them.
    Though now the top 6 or so servers are full so no one can transfer to them anyway. This is a step in the right direction to balance the servers but it is just speeding up a process which would have evened them out over time eventually.

  13. Jeff says:

    Free transfers only to low-pop servers is a definite start. Another step is to allow guilds who transfer to low-pop servers to keep their bonuses, and to provide some assistance to keep the players together.

  14. Robbie Lindsey says:

    Yeah, I think it’s time let go the free transfers from GW2

  15. Niyack says:

    My only issue with getting rid of free transfers while people can’t join full servers. I had a terrible time getting my friend’s on to the JQ server while they were free, can’t image what it would be like if they had to pay.

  16. wast3gat3 says:

    GW2 having problems? Never thought that was possible…

  17. Vandobben says:

    The real problem was the lack of a strategical and tactical answer to HoD/Ta dominance. Had that been organized, the bandwagoners could have spread equally and the problem would have never occured ;)

  18. Mitch says:

    To be honest I found your reasoning that ‘now we are doing well people will transfer over and ruin it’ to be disingenuous, and here’s why:
    1. Free server transfers are not an issue with so many of the top servers already full. You just can’t transfer there. And yes Blackgate is full.
    2. Blackgate is only where they are now because of the transfers the last 2 weeks from other servers. Blackgate benefited from many of the TA and AA guilds that left both HoD and ET 2 weeks ago, and they are now reaping the rewards.

    HoD fell for a variety of reasons and maybe, maybe the server transfers was one of them. There were many forum threads on why a large alliance disbanded on HoD and ‘server transfers’ ended up being a lame excuse in the end.

    Blackgate is full, so bandwagoners will not be an issue. Your biggest problem will be hitting number 1 and having 2 servers come at you 24hrs a day for 7 days straight.

    I am on JQ and we are feeling it now. It’s hard, and everyone feels the pressure. Normal players crack, good players crack, Commanders crack. It’s WvW how it should be.

  19. I don’t play GW2, but let me get this right – WvW or whatever it’s called is composed of three servers battling, ensuring (?) that the two weakest would gang up on the strongest so that one side wouldn’t dominate forever. I believe this 3-sided approache was touted as “must-have” by serious PvPers, yourself included.

    Now we see the real-world implication, where human behaviour / game theory enters the equation … and the model is failing?

    • Mitch says:

      No sure where you read the model is failing. The ‘facts’ this post is based on are not correct and based on a few Twitter replies (Sorry Taugrim, I followed you in SWTOR and from GW2 beta weekends but this time a lack of research has led you to draw a few wrong comclusions based on wrong information).

      It is not possible to transfer to a full server, end of story, and more than 50% of all servers are full including the top 6 or more.

      WvW is alive and thriving and HoD’s downfall wasn’t due to server transfers it’s just the 1st line they came out with, the latest is they wanted to leave with their undefeated record intact.

    • They way WvW ended up was the strong server was simply too strong, too reinforced and because of the map, keep the other two realms pinned in their initial Waypoint areas.

      You might get the two weaker worlds fighting each other, but typically one server would simply give up and not own any points.

      • Mitch says:

        The top tier matches the last 2 weeks have been fantastic, with the lead changing multiple times and all servers vying for 1st. It’s been great. Maybe what you are seeing is happening on lower tiers but as things even out I expect more close matches.

  20. Eskay says:

    I’m a poor PvP player that got up to 80 and then decided to explore WvW. I had honestly kind of been looking forward to it. Unfortunately I’m on Henge of Denravi (our guild picked it randomly before release) and I only started doing WvW over the past three or four weeks.

    When I go into WvW there’s maybe ten or 15 other people there, we own nothing, and any action we take is met with a response of twice as many people as we have. I can go and take a resource station, but it’s just taken back quickly. I’ve spent most of my time in WvW soloing dolyaks. Yay.

    The problem is self perpetuating. People log in to WvW, see their server is WAY behind, see there’s very few other people on their team, essentially see there’s nothing that can be done, and leave. Which leaves the server in the hole perpetually.

    Honestly, if my (very small) guild wasn’t around I’d swap servers too, to somewhere at least in the middle of the pack WvW wise. Because right now WvW isn’t fun, and I’d like for it to be.

  21. randomguy says:

    Free xfers break the ranking system – combined with 7day match-ups you have servers taking too long to fall (ie Henge/ET) and too long to rise (BG) and are making messes of the tiers along the way….hopefully this corrects with reduced xfers and stabilizing populations (seeing start of it now). They should have put matches to 3 days, until they curbed xfers imo to get servers into the appropriate tier more quickly….instead of in some of the more dramatic cases looking forward to several weeks of getting rolled…not great for server morale..in a game with free xfers :)

    Personally no queue and action anytime trumps macro score…but that isn’t how the majority of players think/behave it seems….ie scores have dramatic impact on player participation….even outside xfering. (wvw mechanics, time zones, orbs, etc…are an interesting topic for another post….re:snowballing)

    ^some mention above about xfering to low pop servers….the only issue that this will cause is that since these are low pop servers (and almost by definition have poor coverage) largish wvw guilds that move to these servers (especially if they are off-peak players) can dramatically impact that servers strength and mess up the current match (and the next matches as that server finds the new correct tier).

    WvW needs some work…..but is fun regardless.

  22. I’m surprised that after 6 weeks as the top ranking server, they didn’t simply get bored. Once you dominate the map and have the other two servers pinned to their Waypoints, it shouldn’t take much to maintain the dominance for the rest of the week.

  23. Althazar says:

    As an old TA member we disband cause they were no more challenge to be the number 1 server. Also we were getting 5 hours queues at the end. Armata are still around we made alot of Drama last Week on French Euro server.

  24. I play on Stormbluff Isle and we were sparring partners with Henge for quite awhile. I had a lot of debate with some of the Titan Alliance members I knew in regards to “night capping” and server population issues. From those talks, I had some inkling that a breakup of the alliance was coming and I knew it wouldn’t be form in-fighting or anything other than population issues and the community’s general worries about the future health of WvWvW.

    I do agree that paid transfers are the only thing that will stop the problem. Following the realization of the HoD collapse, many of the people that had hopped on the HoD victory train moved to Jade Quarry and that community began to have issues. It’s not just something hurting WvWvW but an issue that hurts community identity. I imagine that the Henge community was pretty shattered by the alliance dispersion, and then the subsequent exodus of the bandwagon sort of players.

    Generally, I’m glad that SBI hasn’t had too much flux due to WvWvW success. (Though we gained two TA guilds and lost some of our old guilds during the weeks of the Titan Alliance break up.) I would be worried if I was Blackgate . I have heard that the switches to your server already started before you guys even got to top tier. I think the only way you can be safe from the swarm of people that hurt Henge and then Jade Quarry is to be at Full population before anyone pays attention to you.

    In many ways, WvWvW needs to look at what ArenaNet did to make their PVE griefer unfriendly. Their PVE design reinforced and rewarded cooperative play and just by doing that the game has turned away a lot of the bad behavior and shameful personalities that typically inhabit MMOs. Right now the transfer policy and things like the outmanned buff aren’t reinforcing the sort of behavior that is beneficial to the health of the game.

    • But in addition to this, I don’t think a transfer lockout was the ideal solution. They had talked about WvWvW lockouts on a server transfer and I wonder why that wasn’t implemented here. That would have kept the WvWvW issue in check without punishing PVE players who were relying on having a guesting feature by now.

  25. Jae Sun says:

    I think the wvw lockout would have been a better solution, and whether a 3 day, 6 day, or 7 day lockout would be appropriate could have been debated. 7 days without wvw and I may not have come back. 3 days is definitely a penalty, but doable just to find a new home for your wvw guild.

    On the Blackgate topic, severly outmanned at so many times during the day/night and still holding our own. Can’t wait for halloween to be over. Dammit, Anet, why you make event so good? Next week will be the real match between SBI, Jade, and BG. Though this week has been extremely fun even being outmanned.

  26. Trey Alsup says:

    No game has really solved how to handle the zerg or the issue of night-capping. Having players transfer to your server is usually a indication / symptom of success.

    The rush to join the leader is not a trait limited to gamers, it is reflected in all human endeavors. There’s even biological / evolutionary reasons behind it. Men’s testosterone levels go down after they vote for a political candidate who loses. Most people won’t vote rather than casting a vote they know will lose. You’ll see this play out in the presidential election. If there is a perception that one candidate won’t win, his voter turnout will drop through the floor.

    Server dynamics are similar. The proper survival strategy IS to transfer to the successful / winning side. It’s incredibly efficient. Expecting players not to do that is not realistic.

    • Frizzle says:

      I think this is easily described as the grass is greener syndrome. If you’re losing, and you get those associated depressed or down feelings, and you observe another side winning, your impression is that it is more fun with them. So you transfer.

      But I would still prefer them to come in with some regulations to prevent people from swapping. I want people to start to feel bonded with a server, and want it to win, and despise people who go against them. I mean, using your analogy, if a democrat loses the election, all the democrats don’t suddenly become republicans, they just feel demoralised. But this strengthens there bond with the democrats and they want to continue the fight in most cases.

      On a side note demoralised is a similar physiological reaction to depression, so it is no wonder testosterone levels drop. I wouldn’t read too much into the evolutionary basis for this. In any situation where you feel more depressed than your normal state testosterone levels will drop. Sorry a large part of my PhD involved evolution of animal behaviour and it irks me when people come up with evolutionary stories.

  27. […] Taugrim’s MMO Blog — The Decline of Henge of Denravi Due to Server Transfers. “The top WvW server in Guild Wars 2 for the six weeks following launch was Henge of Denravi (HoD). Our server, Blackgate (BG), faced them in September and HoD fielded a high number of players coupled with high organization, mainly due to the efforts of the Titan Alliance (TA) between PVP guilds. We couldn’t take a tower or depot without triggering a significant reaction within a short period of time. HoD dominated, and it was impressive to watch.” […]

  28. Aakek says:

    As a JQ member since headstart, I’ve watched the on going struggle from the front lines. The free transfers as well as some other things still needed addressed by ANet have made it less than it could be. SBI, HoD, and JQ where pretty evenly matched during prime times but once the tide starts rolling towards one ‘winner’ the challengers evaporate.

    Overall they need to do some major rethinking on WvW for it be more interesting and approached by more people. The scoreboard just needs to go.. its been a change advocated by many people in the T1 bracket (and possibly other brackets) as it creates an incentive NOT to play. I feel there are other changes which could happen that would improve the overall quality of all the games but right now its simply a coverage game.

  29. Austin says:

    I’m a huge fan of your informative posts and I think they are very helpful to everyone! thanks for taking the time to write them all :)

    I also wrote a post on squidoo it is my very first post and therefor i don’t have any traffic to it I was hoping you would let me post the link in this comment to try and get a little traffic. Sorry if this isn’t allowed as this is my first comment on this site.

    http://www.squidoo.com/free-guild-wars-2-gems2

  30. Freddo says:

    Interresting read. I’ve yet to try WvW in any serious way but I’ve heard that people leave their servers to get leverage. It’s cheating imo but I’m not surprised. Hello greed.

  31. Cas says:

    Hey Ed,

    Nath here,

    How are things? Hope all is well over that side of the pond.

    So I’ve been unsubbed from WoW for pfft…I dunno, just under a year now.

    I really lost all hope for the current selection of MMOs to fit my multiple PvP and community needs. But recently, my girlfriend from the U.S expressed interest in playing Lotro (because its free, also) so lately I’ve been playing that really casually, we both enjoy the universe and its a blast from the past, having played it from way back when as you did. Its obviously a completely different type of MMOing, my girlfriend has never played an MMO before so I had to really go down into the basics with her and now we’re just casually question, nothing more nothing less.

    My inner PvP who misses the intellectual converse and such still frequents your blogs and videos, I’m glad I missed out on SWTOR. I’m curious to how TERA went down though.

    So how is GW2? You still enjoying it overall? I hope to get back in touch through the game world soon mate, I hope come give it a shot, a bit late to the party but oh well better late than never.

    See you around buddy, take care.

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