4v4 – What it means to Warcraft III (RTS) [Part 2 – The Catalyst]

01.02.18 | IRLSinisteR 681

A substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.

 

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the second episode of my all-things 4v4 series!  If you missed the first part or want a quick refresher head over to this link, grab some popcorn and enjoy!

I’m going to start this section by addressing some of the more common questions people ask when they play 4v4 and give some of my answers on them because, truth be told, they are valid questions.

Q: How do you deal with the long search times?

A: To answer this honestly it’s probably best to give a little insight.  4v4 search times are not the best.  Looking at the face value as to why – Battle.net is trying to find four times as many players – of a similar skill level – than it would for a 1v1 (solo) game, this is going to impact the search times.  Additionally, depending on the time of day you’re playing this is also going to impact the search times.  If you’re playing at 2AM (GMT) on a Thursday, the chances are there are going to be less people online than at 20:00 (GMT) on a Sunday.  This is a simple reality.  When you have ~800 people in total searching throughout the day simply looking at the day and time of searching is going to impact your ability to find a game.  However, there is also the unfortunate truth that as your level and natural MMR (“matchmaking rating”) rises on Battle.net so does your ability to find games.  As soon as I reached level 28 on Northrend I could no longer find games.  I have spoken to Tornado-Ro (Northrend’s ex-#1 ranked RT player) and he can spend hours queuing to find games.

On the flip side, having lower level accounts (or “alts”) will reduce your queue times significantly and is an easy means of finding games quick (this will be discussed in general later on).

Q: Leavers – why & what do you do?

I wish I had all the answers here but I don’t.  However, what I do know are this:

  1. There is a bug on Warcraft III that is completely unpreventable known as a join bug.  What happens is that you queue for a game on battle.net and when the game is found an error appears on the screen saying the game could not be found/joined.  Unfortunately, the other 7 players are in the game and as soon as everyone has loaded up you have left the game instantly.  This has been around for many, many years and is just one of those things!
  2. Secondly, as mentioned above – sometimes games simply cannot be found at higher levels.  Occasionally, higher level players will intentionally leave the game, search for another and repeat a couple times to try and lower their MMR in order to shorten search times.  This is pretty common at a higher level of RT and it is one of those things you get used to.
  3. Bots.

NOTE: If you leave a Random Team game in Warcraft III and your team subsequently goes on to win the game you do not gain a win – your statistics do not change (it acts as a draw for you).  With that in mind, don’t hinder your teammates – stay for the duration of the game and who cares if you win or lose.  If search times are your biggest concern just roll another account and enjoy the game.

With regards to the second part, there’s actually a pretty cool trick you can apply if you have an ally leave and it’s roughly based on the idea of feeding which I outlined in the first series.  Controlling 2 armies and 2 bases is hard.  Controlling 2 bases with half your effort is even worse.  Having someone leave at the start of a game is a pretty bad position to be in but is certainly not an impossible one to recover from.  For veteran 4v4 Random Team players, you will often see someone say “I’ll control” or “I’ll take”.  What are they doing?  It’s actually fairly straightforward.  What they are doing is funnelling their own resources and feeding them to the player that left the game.  The reason they do this is that you can trade resources to the player who has left but not the other way around.  This ensures you can macro effectively with the player who has left the game without having to focus on yourself.  A lot of people will lose focus when their opponent has a player that leaves and, as a result, the team with 3 can actually turn this into an advantage and solidify their position in the game with an early mid-game push with a mix of tier 1 and tier 2 units.  Don’t get me wrong – there is no guarantee this will win you the game, however, you will have a much better chance by approaching it this way than simply feeling disheartened and leaving the game!  As the Orc Peon says “Work, work.”

Image result for orc peon work work

I’ve probably gone on long enough here so it’s time to address the title of this article.  Why do I think 4v4 is so important for Warcraft III?  First off, we must consider the most popular game type – 1v1.  1v1 is by far and away the most popular game type to choose from.  The “problem” is that it is, for the most part, not really suitable for new – or returning – players.  Why?

  • It is well established

Warcraft III is not a new game.  TFT has been around for over a decade and people have been building units and working out strategies for a long time.  While Battle.net strategies can have some degree of variance for the most part it is the same builds, counters and timers which is extremely disheartening and difficult for new players to adapt to and get involved with from the very beginning.

  • It is competitive

I think it’s a fairly safe assumption to say that solo players are more “competitive” than Random Team players.  That is not to say they are more skilled or anything like that — not by any means — but I think more competitive in-game by nature.  All humans have good and bad days; this competitive streak can, occasionally, reflect some pretty vocal language and harassment.  Nobody wants to search for a 1v1 game, make a bad play or misclick or just completely forget to tech to then be called a noob and receive post-game whispers.  I’m not saying this is not the case in Random Team but, from my experience, it is more prominent in the solo scene than the RT scene.

So this is where 4v4 comes in.

  • Any unit composition works

You like Sorceresses’?  Make Sorceresses’ and spam the sh*t out of that Polymorph button.  Mountain Giants are, well… errr, Giant and can pick up trees – cool let’s make ’em!

  • Much more forgiving than solo play

One mistake is probably not going to cost you the game in 4v4.  Someone might get mad at you and you’ll probably realise pretty quick you should have scouted through the fog of war but it most likely will not cost you the game.  Under the same circumstances in a 1v1 the game would probably be over in the next 5 minutes.  As I discussed at a high level in the first series, the strategy employed by your teammates may be enough to completely carry you on their back if you take a massive misstep.

  • Social Aspect

Naturally, Random Team – especially 4v4 – is a social “event”.  No matter how much of a “grind” you are on, no matter how good you consider yourself if you do not communicate with your teammates you will not make any progress.  Team games force you into a place of communication – to use those fingers for the greater good!  Discussing strategy, wishing everyone a nice day or just saying GJ (good job) when someone makes a good play is rewarding, motivating and satisfactory all at the same time!

  • Teamwork

This is the natural progression from social interaction and something I discussed briefly in part 1.  Being nice to people isn’t hard.  Being rude, condescending or negative actually takes a tremendous amount of effort.  Communication leads to positive and open discussions as to what plan will be executed, the best way to go about said plan and increase overall enjoyment of the game.  If a team has a very good bond and sense of coordination they may even progress to arranged team and, who knows, maybe take over the world one day.

  • Natural Progression

From the single player campaign, the next step is Random Team, in my opinion.  Being a member of the Warcraft 3 Gym the most common question I see every single day is “I am getting stomped on ladder, how can I get better at this game?”.  Let me begin by saying that Warcraft III’s campaigns are absolutely fantastic.  Reign of Chaos and The Frozen Throne are not only brilliant single player stories but also provide a VERY good basis of understanding the foundations of each race, the basics of micro, the basics of hero control and strategical thinking.  Jumping straight into a 1v1 game is not the solution and you will quickly lose motivation to play the game.  I cannot stress enough how long-standing Warcraft III is.  It has been around for longer than most people realise.  4v4 gives an opportunity for people to learn and grow in the game.  Of course, playing with friends in a custom game will always be the most enjoyable but when you start off in 4v4 you at least go into the game with the mindset of ‘I always have a chance to win this game’.  4v4 will, over time, enhance the knowledge you gained by playing through the campaigns; you will enhance your micro, focus on your hero control, analyse unit compositions and lead from the front.

DID YOU KNOW? You can use /profile “name” to check out a persons profile in a post-game chat screen?

This is a great way to meet new people and make a guesstimate (yes that is a word – don’t you even dare) of your MMR.  Additionally, you can do /whois “name” to see what channel that person is in – if it says they are in a private channel they are most likely chilling in their clan channel.

To check this you can use /who Clan “name”.

Finally, to join their channel press “/j Clan “name”.  This is how most Warcraft III players have met all the people they have in the past and the people they continue to play with today!

Everyone has a good day and everyone has a bad day.  At the end of the day we are humans and no matter what someone does or says in a game we all started somewhere and we all need to continue to play Warcraft III – even after all this time – with that in our head.  Play the game, have some fun and understand that no matter what game you are in one player is, individually, going to be better than someone else.  However, collectively, you can triumph against your opponents.

So what does this all boil down to?

Why did I compose all this?  Hopefully up to this point I have been able to express my absolute love for Random Team.  Most importantly, I have a love for Warcraft III.  I started playing this game when I was fifteen years of age and I’m now in my mid-twenties.  I am by no means ignorant to the problems the world of Random Team faces – as I face these same problems day in and day out.  However, every single time I always manage to get back on my keyboard, click that ‘Quick Play Game’ button and my heart is pounding to get another game under my belt.

Each 4v4 game is different.  One game it’s 100 food mass air armies, and the next game it’s 3v4 after I’ve lost my main base to a tower rush.  It’s exhilarating stuff and it is, above all, entertaining.  It keeps me coming back for more and it keeps me wanting to log on and chat to the guys I meet and play with regularly.  I’m very fortunate that I share these ideas with hundreds of other people across the globe – and not just in Europe.  I meet people everyday that, no matter what happens, jump onto Warcraft III, play a 4v4 game and nothing else matters.  Some people use it as a means of socialising, others use it as an escape from the stress of work, others just to flaunt off some juicy icons (let’s be real, we all want Illidan).  It’s different for each and every one of us and it’s rewarding in it’s own way.

But that isn’t all I wanted to outline here.  I began this series to emphasis why 4v4 is so important to the continued success of Warcraft III’s popularity.  We can all acknowledge the absolutely incredible work back2warcraft have done for the game – it’s completely undeniable.  I’ve been pretty opinionated and subjective up to this point.  I’m not trying to argue as to why 4v4 is a better or worse game type than 1v1 (or 2v2, FFA or 3v3 for that matter).  What I am trying to highlight is that new and old players are logging into Battle.net everyday.  If I was a player looking to get back into the game I would start with Random Team 4v4’s.

4v4 is a catalyst.  The introduction to this article was the technical definition of a catalyst.  Take a moment to consider what we have discussed up to this point.  We all play Warcraft III for a common reason; we all thoroughly enjoy the game.  We all started playing Warcraft III at some point in the past and we were all new once upon a time.  We need to apply to this to all new and returning players we meet on ladder and in chat channels.  Any unit composition can be effective.  Any form of communication can be used in the right capacity.  As we begin to mix players into the 4v4 Random Team matchmaking pool, we start invoking a natural chemical reaction.  Humans are, by nature, a species of evolution and as a result we want to see results.  We strive, naturally, to be better, faster, stronger.  4v4, for many of us serves as the base for this development and is one of the “first lines of engagement” to many players in Warcraft III today.

I’m not going to finish this very simple diagram but you can see where I’m going with this.  Players 1 & 3 may look to player 2 for guidance.  Player 2 can either be supportive & communicative or he can go full Rocky on it and see the result.  Regardless of which course of actions is taken it will impact all 3 players – player 2 the most.  If there is a positive experience in-game, regardless of the result, players 1 & 3 will search for another game and, potentially, become friends.  On the other hand, players 1 & 3 could log off, come back another day or not return at all.  Player 2 has now directly impacted their own pool of players to be matched with and, in turn, delayed their ability to successfully search for a game.

4v4 will always be there.  The players will always be there.  However, the players will not always be the same, the same demographic, the same skill level or the same personality.  One thing they will all have in common is a want to play – and enjoy – the game.  Warcraft III has continued to grow and be successful through the communities love of the game and their passion to fuel it on whatever path it takes in the future.  4v4 is a massive part of this and it will continue, I hope, to influence players for many years to come.  We can either be nice about it or we can choose not to be.  The choice is, ultimately, yours but remember why you searched for a game in the first place and consider putting someone else’s shoe on your foot for just a moment.

To Conclude

I’ve covered most of the topics I wanted to cover in this article at this stage and I recognise it’s long enough and people can find it difficult to engage in something this long.  However, I do want to take a moment to draw your attention to some of the fantastic 4v4 resources available to everyone today.

  • The Heat Map

The heat map can be found at: https://arranged.team/.  This gives a snapshot of when it is most likely to find a game on battle.net and for each region.  This is not an exact science but it’s generally considered as close as we can get.

  • Streams

There are so many great 4v4 streams out there available to everyone but  there really is only one, for me, that stands out at the absolute highest tier and that’s Sockpuppet’s (aka: s3xytime).  You’ll recognise straight away from this man’s stream that he is an incredible player who doesn’t really take it too seriously.  He has different strategies and different builds in every game and is, in my opinion, the epiphany of what 4v4 is all about – having fun and kicking ass while doing so.

  • Discord

When it comes to 4v4 there’s no other place to be than the 4 v 4 R T discord.  This Discord is run by a very dedicated team of people who have a ranked host bot service and are super committed to keeping 4v4 – and Warcraft III – alive for a long time to come.  Describing these guys as awesome would not do them justice.

I’m also going to use this opportunity to shamelessly plug the Warcraft 3 Gym’s Discord channel which is designed to help new and returning players ease their way into everything Warcraft 3 from discussions, friendly tournaments and host bots.

  • 4v4 Global Host Bot

If you are in any way worried about playing on battle.net on a ladder system check out the 4v4 games being hosted 24 hours a day in the Custom Game screen.  As of writing this article, the game currently being hosted is…

These games are designed for people who suffer from any level of ladder anxiety to simply join, learn the game and even get some tips from the top 4v4 players out there.  This is also a great option if you want to just take a break from RT or queue times become unmanageable.  This is a global bot and can be accessed from any of Warcraft III’s gateways (servers).  The bot is being constantly improved and very shortly will have its own in-house ranking system and random matchmaking!

Thank you very much for reading this article.  I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed drafting it up.  I’m incredibly lucky to be a contributor to Warcraft III and I hope this helps people who either knew nothing about 4v4 or want to simply become better.  As always, I’m available through the usual outlets so hit me up any time for a game or a chat!  In terms of content – part 1 and this part were the main ones.  Part 3 will have some high-level map analysis and some super fun strats I’ve used or been a part of for the best part of a decade so I suggest you definitely have a beer in your hand for that one.

SWWC3

“I dreamed of this” – Spirit Walker.

Comments

Detailed, precise, interactive. So much information!
Really interesting to learn about that feeding mechanic for players that left the game. I never thought about that.
Looks like the game is always balanced in 4v4. If blizzard tries to patch the game they will do it for 1v1. I hope they won't kill the teamgame balance. What do you think about this?
4v4 might appear balanced, but it's more just one player carrying the other. A skilled player is very evident in 4v4 compared to someone is getting carried on someone's back. Warcraft 3 - and other RTS games - will always be balanced around the solo game type. It makes the most sense as X units counters Y and, when prize money is involved, it will mostly revolve around solo games. Let's not forget, it's also the most popular game mode. I don't think if they patch the game around 1v1 it will change a whole lot in the team game. The last significant patch made changes to tanks and human towers. Did it change anything? Not really. Towers probably aren't as popular in 4v4 as they are in solo but tanks are pretty much a staple of any late-game human army irregardless of what Blizzard try to do to "fix" them :P
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