Wings Over Atreia: Daevas of Our Lives -- The siege


The battle was sore. The sound of wings beating the hot air of the Abyss filled the ears of all of us, soldier and commander alike. Singed feathers, both black and white, floated about, as fireballs flew between factions, pelting any who could not dodge fast enough. Shadowy forms dove, weaving between the raining arrows, looking for targets. Sounds of steel clashing rang out as spies tried to sneak past enemy lines in search of kisks. The battle was immense, a sea of red crashing against us, trying to claim what was rightfully ours! We knew we must give our all to repel the enemy onslaught.

In the heat of battle, immediate decisions had long-reaching consequences; the tide of battle could turn on a single kinah. All voices hushed as the Commander, MrAwesumPants, issued the order that would bring victory, that would bring us closer to eradicating this threat upon true Daeva. One force was dispatched to take the artifact and activate it. "
Do it. Do it now. Do it. Do it. Do it now. Do it do it do it do it now do it do it do it now... now... now... now... get it. DO IT NOW... come ON! Are you paying attention? NOW NOW NOW!! DO IT DO IT DO IT! NOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOWNOW!!! Do it. Don't do it. OMG you *expletive* I can't believe you just did that!"

Everyone could hear the spittle dripping from his mic, spraying against his monitor. The hush continued.

Have you ever sat in a faction Ventrilo server and heard the siege leader repeat an order like a rapid-fire machine gun for what seemed like five minutes straight, then right as it is being accomplished, immediately rescind the order, demand his followers stop, then totally berate whoever followed the order? No joke -- true story. If you thought drama was just for individuals or legions in Aion, think again! There is a seemingly endless supply of siege drama to keep Daevas entertained -- or disgusted.

Settle back and tune in past the cut for the latest episode of Daevas of Our Lives.
Whether you mainly PvP, RP, craft, or PvE, there is no denying that sieging is a major component of Aion. Except for those who have newly joined the game (yes, it does happen; I just met one!), you would be hard-pressed to find players who have not participated in at least one siege during their time in Atreia.

Now granted, depending on your gaming machine's capabilities, you may or may not actually see much during a siege (hint: In order to circumvent the lag, turn all options down and press shift+f12 to remove other characters from the screen -- but make sure to keep enemy names turned on!), but you are still there experiencing everything that is a siege. And what an experience it can be -- and I don't mean the actual faction warfare; siege drama can be pervasive, through voice programs as well as text in game.

Do you hear what I hear?

There is no disputing that the quick dissemination of information can be crucial in warfare, even of the gaming variety. And while everyone in the game has the opportunity to follow instructions in region, group, and alliance channels as well as /shout, depending on how you have your chat channels set up, information may scroll by too quickly to catch. Simply put, using a voice program -- such as Ventrilo or Teamspeak -- can give a decidedly tactical advantage and greatly enhances the speed at which maneuvers are carried out, both to individual groups and to the faction as a whole. However, as evidenced by the opening quote, presence within a faction's siege Ventrilo may result in hearing a lot more that just current orders.

Ventrilo shenanigans can be very entertaining, disturbing (ask to hear last week's "after-siege party" on New Israphel), or downright insulting. While I can fully appreciate the need for fewer voices to be speaking during the siege, the following drama just left me shaking my head: During a recent faction meeting, the current leader asked for the opinions of others and encouraged people who hadn't spoken yet to do so. However, on more than one occasion, as soon as someone did start to speak, he was immediately told to shut up because the leader "didn't like his mic." Or, when a person tried to speak up, if the leader didn't like the comment or the speaker, it was an instant "Mute. Muting you. Next." Now, it may just be me, but I really do not see this as really encouraging anyone to honestly express his opinions and share suggestions for improving things. But like I said, it may just be me.

Top dog

Siege drama is not relegated just to siege times -- the drama involved in who leads the faction is an ever-present source of amusement and/or head-scratching (or pounding on the desk, as the case may be). Just ask "who should lead?" or toss about a few prominent names in LFG channel and watch the resulting explosion of text. Everyone has an opinion -- and many are eager to share theirs. The end result? Daeva must often struggle with the following dilemma: Do you side with the guy who gets results but treats everyone in his own faction like Kerub dung? Or do you find someone who doesn't alienate and insult every member of his faction? Does winning a few forts make up for training and KSing groups repeatedly?

All (specifically geared, certain-leveled) hands on deck!

To be truthful, I would rather lose forts more frequently, so that the battle ebbs and flows between the factions, keeping interest alive.

Another aspect of siege drama is this: Who gets invited to the party? Granted, there is a set number of players that can be in any given alliance, and a maximum number of alliances that can be in a league. So who gets into the league (which then determines who can claim a fort or get quest credit)? Politics, pure and simple. I couldn't even begin to go into the drama there. The rumors, the wing-kissing, the back-biting... oy.

And how about who gets into alliances? Many alliances go into battle only partially filled. We all know that the best chance for success involves bringing everyone together, so why is it that so many people overlook the lower levels or the un-legioned? Often, you hear people yelling in LFG chat that they are looking for alliances to join so that they can come and help defend against the onslaught of the enemy or conquer a fortress. However, do these people always get into alliances? No. They are often excluded from joining because they are not max-level. Interestingly enough, these same people are being harangued to get off their duffs and defend with race.

Another interesting argument heard often is that higher levels refuse to help lower levels gain/retain forts until the lower levels assist with the Upper Abyss, and the lower levels in turn refuse to help with the Upper Abyss until they get some help themselves in the Lower Abyss. Quite a catch-22, isn't it? Someone needs to give before this cycle will break.

OMZG we lost a fort

Drama explodes whenever a fort is lost. OK, this is where I really have to tell people to chill out! Without even going into the fact that it is just a game, I will just say that the QQing and blaming that happens when one faction loses a fort is simply astounding (Seraphim Lords forbid that multiple forts are lost!). And -- dare I say it -- it's stupid, too. It goes on for hours, days... even longer. People quickly place blame for mistakes, find fault in their friends, and even accuse each other of conspiring with the enemy. Life is not over when a fortress is lost. Really. I promise you. Guess what? There is this amazing concept called "getting it back."

Let's be honest folks, in a nutshell, how many of you want to remain in a PvP game where either your faction has no hope of ever winning or there are no opponents to fight against? Monopolize a server with minimal turn-over in faction control and that is exactly what will happen. Look at it this way -- say one faction owns all the prime Abyss real estate and maintains it for weeks. Then months. After a while of happily soaking up medals and AP items from fort instances, the conquering faction begins crying out that its members miss meaningful PvP with opponents. But where have all those enemies gone? On to other games or things that are more interesting. A perpetually losing faction loses interest and leaves. Why pay and stay if you are not having any fun?

To be truthful, I would rather lose forts more frequently, so that the battle ebbs and flows between the factions, keeping interest alive. (I'd also prefer a more random siege schedule, but that is for another discussion). I would rather have to fight back to reclaim forts than have an Abyss empty of opponents. PvP may not be my main focus in game, but I sure as heck don't want to lose it.

So there it is -- a glimpse of the drama of sieges. Tune in another time for the continuing saga of Daevas of Our Lives. Do you have some siege related tidbits to share? Leave your comments below.

I want you!

Or more specifically, I want your replies to the following statement: "You know you have played Aion too much when... ". Thanks to some very interesting situations in which I have witnessed my gaming influence my real life (I promise, I do have one!), I am very interested in hearing about yours!

Email your funny, interesting, bizarre, or downright strange real-life experiences in which Aion has seeped into your life to mj@massively.com. A future feature will highlight all suitable-for-print responses.

Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down weekly to bring you Wings Over Atreia. Featuring tips, guides, and general snippets of life in Aion, the column is better than Tutty-on-a-stick, ackackackackackack! Have a suggestion to share? No need to bribe a Shugo -- just send mail to mj@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.