I'll start off by recapping my RvR experiences and then get into PvE. Even though Iron Rock is considered one of the healthiest remaining servers, I was still surprised to find that tier 2 was bustling with action. I'm talking warband (or two) versus warband (or two) open field RvR. Keep sieges where there were actually defenders. Scenarios popping every 10-15 minutes.
During one of the more memorable play sessions, we had about 1.5 warbands of destruction trying to siege a keep in Ostland with roughly two warbands inside. Due to the defensive bonuses (height, range, line of sight, oil, etc.) there was really no chance we were going to take the keep down. We kept about half our warband outside as a distraction while the rest of us rushed off to siege the other keep in Troll Country. We got halfway there when our comrades shouted that Order was exiting the keep in hot pursuit. We decided to turn around and face them at the nearest battlefield objective.
What ensued was a 20-minute warband vs. two warband open field skirmish and it was actually kind of epic. Our smaller force had to use the NPCs and terrain to our advantage all the while screaming for reinforcements. Order kept pushing us back slowly but taking damage themselves. This was a pretty frantic experience for my Shaman as it was only my second day back and I was one of the few healers our warband had. In the end, we managed to chop their force in half, while the remaining few of us fled for our lives.
I must say that I am liking the addition of the repeatable RvR quests for both offense and defense as well. Each keep and battlefield objective hero offers XP, gold, and RvR tokens as a reward for defending the various structures. Giving defenders the same potential rewards as the attackers is key in preventing RvE situations where people try to avoid each other like the plague. After four hours of mixed offense and defense in Ostland/Troll Country, I was sitting at 1/3 of my full RvR influence bar, and had gained a level, which was also nice.
As for PvE, I spent almost no time doing it solo. Instead, I was invited to a warband farming one of the difficult (red) public quests at the very northern border of Troll Country. I believe it was called Tearing the Portal or something like that.
Our rag-tag warband consisted of a broad range of levels (13-20) and a motley variety of careers. I was only one of two healers for the first three runs and it was quite challenging since we had a few overzealous AoE spamming Choppas, Marauders, and Sorcerers. After five runs I had gained over a full level of XP (thanks to rested bonus I'm sure) and a full set of gear I wasn't even high enough level to equip yet. My influence bar for the chapter was also maxed and I placed a pimpin' new staff in my backpack for later use.
There's much left to do
I started my journey at barely rank 12 and am now almost 15. Bear in mind that a lot of my time was spent tweaking my UI, masteries, and even plinking away briefly on Phoenix Throne (not worth reporting on just yet). Overall, I felt the progression rate was quite good on my Shaman, but he has months of rested XP built up, so that might be affecting my perception.
I didn't encounter any glaring class imbalance issues but then most of my time was spent in a group in the lower tiers. Endgame balance is what's really the most important and WAR has always tried balancing for groups and not individuals.
I did have three-minute long 1v1 battle with a rank 20 Knight of the Blazing Sun where I came out on top. I was rusty and much lower rank, but due to bolstering and the loose rock-paper-scissors balancing scheme Mythic uses, I was kind of supposed to win the fight anyway. Sword and board tanks are built for defense. They just can't do enough damage to chew through my heals. At the same time, I'm slowly going to eat away at their monumental stack of health with my DoTs as I kite them around like an hallucinating gobbo with a belly full of magic mushrooms.
I'm still searching for a fun and active guild on both my characters and I plan to put a lot more time into my Squig Herder this upcoming week. Now that 1.3.1 has launched, I'm really hoping the population and RvR activity will increase on Phoenix Throne. I'm even going to aim for a run or two through Land of the Dead!
Wish me luck (and feel free to invite me to your guild)!