Revenge of the Capricorn – First Impressions

Revenge of the Capricorn Loading Screen

Revenge of the Capricorn – First Impressions on New Guild Wars 2 PvP Map

The July 26th patch brought a familiar sounding name back to Guild Wars 2.  The new conquest PvP map Revenge of the Capricorn is a direct reference to the old Raid on the Capricorn, but has no mechanical or strategic similarities to its former version.  Instead of underwater combat and a ship in the middle of the map, these are just scenic components off to the side of the map now.  The secondary objective is no longer a cannon that could be used to assault the side nodes, and is now a fourth capture node.  With the recent changes to Skyhammer and Spirit Watch to increase their fairness and playability, the same questions arise in regards to Revenge of the Capricorn, “Is it fun and competitive?”  In this article I will examine the three major characteristics of this map: its size, the bell tower, and kiting spots; and determine whether they contribute to something that is fun to play and watch.

Size and Distance

Without a doubt, Capricorn is the largest map released for PvP.  At first the map appears to favor mobile classes with the ability to travel quickly between capture nodes, allowing them to gain superior rotations. However this distance also deters players from rotating at all because the amount of time it takes to rotate lowers the value of doing so, giving more incentive to invest in team fights or skirmishes already happening.  Mesmer portals do not reach between nodes so it’s impossible to fight at one node while watching another.  Instead, portals would have to go from the bell tower at the center of the map which does not always have an objective, or to places between the nodes.  Thieves also can’t decapture nodes very efficiently on this map despite being the fastest class.  Their initiative pools run out long before they reach their destination so they cant constantly use movement skills and their average traveling speed and momentum diminishes.  As opposed to a map like Legacy of the Foefire where mesmers and thieves can decap a side node during the cooldown of their steal or shatters and only lose minimal presence, Capricorn forces them to invest much more time to do so and disrupts the fluidity of moving back and forth between objectives. Thieves can still make use of shadow trap effectively on this map because it has a 10.000 unit range, which may need to be looked at in terms of balance if thieves also benefit the most from the recent removal of tanky amulets.

Opening splits are an important part of gaining momentum in the conquest PvP mode.  With Capricorn the popular opening split which sends one person to the furthest node just to contest it is questionable.  The difference between running from spawn to home and spawn to far with swiftness is about 13 seconds.  Fully capturing a node takes 14 seconds which means the player defending their node can almost fully capture it before any response can arrive.  As opposed to maps like Legacy of the Foefire and Forest of Niflhel where there is a direct route to the enemy node and bringing multiple members there is a solid strategy, there isn’t the same effect on Capricorn.  In 1v1 scenarios, classes like mesmers and guardians would not want to use invulnerability if they did manage to contest the capture node because it would give up the full capture.  For other classes like necromancers and rangers, standing on the node the whole time is not ideal for managing positioning.  So if there is an initial push to far, it would have to be two DPS classes to pressure the enemy enough to get them off the node and minimize this disadvantage.  This is risky because a double DPS comp will lose to a DPS and a support if the fight gets reinforced.  So it seems that, especially in casual queues, the most common opening split will be 1-4-0 because if there is little reason to push far there is also little reason to reinforce home.  This may seem limiting to diverse play styles, but it may be negligible because of the effect I will mention later that the secondary objective has on rotations.

Competitive matches test the limits of a map because fights are so even that players move on to new objectives before their conflicts have resolved, resulting in fights taking place everywhere in between.  If there is more space to fight in, it means these types of between-objective engagements will happen more often.  This empowers mobile classes like thieves and rangers who excel at fighting in the roads.  So while the map promotes investing in objectives because objectives are too far from each other it also promotes mobile team compositions.  This makes the map well designed to avoid the issues of the first ranked season where tanky comps created stagnant engagements out of competitive matches.  Safe and defensive compositions that excel at fighting on node will still be strong because of the nature of conquest PvP, but mobile classes will be able to punish poor or uncoordinated rotations. For this reason I find the common suggestion to raise the map to 8 players per team to accommodate the size increase as unnecessary. The purpose of rotating would be even less present with 8 players to sustain combat at all objectives.

Secondary Objective: Bell Tower

The bell tower is the secondary objective of Revenge of the Capricorn.  It is nothing vivid like dodging the trebuchet on Battle of Kyhlo and the cannon on Skyhammer, or storming the base on Legacy of the Foefire.  It is just a limited time capture node next to a bell in the middle of the map.  Similarly to the new secondary objective of Skyhammer, fully capturing the node finishes the objective without needing to defend it afterwards.  However, instead of affecting the map in some way the bell tower only affects the score, giving 25 points for how many times that team has captured the bell tower that match.  So capturing three bell towers adds up to 150 points which is the same amount as killing the lord on Foefire.

The difference between most objectives and bell tower is that it affects the game in a progressive way.  Usually the lord on Foefire determines a quick victory or gives a seemingly undeserved victory to the team who had less map control until the very end. Bell tower requires map control all throughout the match, but doesn’t stall movement like the meditations on Temple of the Silent Storm.  It fixes the earlier mentioned issue of not wanting to rotate because of distance and forces teams to make choices. Skyhammer’s secondary objective does not promote rotating as much because continuing to fight to contest the primary objective serves an almost identical purpose as contesting another node which contests all nodes, which sounds passive and indirect.  The bell tower is more urgent than most objectives; not because giving up 25 points is a big problem, but that it will snowball into a problem later.  It is definitely one of the more boring objectives in terms of theme and mechanics.  I certainly would prefer the bell tower capture point to have been raised up into an actual bell tower and have a king of the hill style objective where people can get knocked off, but simply adding more conquest mechanics goes to show that the conquest game mode is the most interactive in terms of strategy and gameplay in Guild Wars 2 PvP.

Kiting and Terrain

Another notable characteristic of the map is the amount of terrain.  Capture nodes for the most part are free of clutter but there are plenty of kiting spots off of the node nearby including crates for access to safe ledges and ramparts for line-of-sight. The cannons and planters around the bell tower can be jumped on to avoid pursuit between nodes as well.  This balances the power of thieves and revenants who can take advantage of lighter, less mobile classes like necromancers and elementalists in the roads.  The map should not favor any one class of this trinity of node fighters, peripheral casters, and mobile assassins.  That way competitive players are choosing class roles based on individual skill, familiarity, and composition, but not necessarily what is “meta”.  Capricorn definitely shakes up the balance of these class roles but hopefully not too far in the direction of onpefully not too far) the formerly less favored mobile classes

The most important thing to note is that there is a clear divide between the terrain and the objectives.  The waterfall node on Legacy of the Foefire used to have a fence which allowed players to line-of-sight while still contesting the node. The recent patch changed this so that the fence curves, no longer allowing them to contest the node at the same time.  Capricorn has plenty of line-of-sight and kiting spots, and they follow this same reasoning by forcing you to give up the objective momentarily.  This design also maintains the recent balance philosophy of removing tank or sustain amulets. It is harder to bridge the gap between defensive cooldowns when the terrain is not as readily accessible as the smaller PvP maps, making players choose between objectives or survival and giving resolution to engagements.

We won’t be seeing Revenge of the Capricorn, Skyhammer, or Spirit Watch during this ranked PvP season, which means ArenaNet still finds improvements necessary before the map is ready for competitive exposure.  Still I believe this map is already refined enough for ranked play, and pushing it into an uncomfortable place will only get it more exposure to improve it in the future.

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