Community Warfare Impressions — The return of the Tahri

". . . drop drop drop drop drop drop drop . . . "
I've been playing Community Warfare at least a couple of hours each night for more than a month now. After weeks after weeks of events requiring you to grind in the group/solo queue, I guess I needed it not to burn out. Thankfully my unit was also ready to switch it up for a while and they embraced CW during this time. Unlike the last time we got into this, this time I quite liked it.

Group queue — too predictable

If you're in a capable unit, the group queue becomes pretty predicable and boring after a while. 99.99% of the matches are "steamroll or get steamrolled" matches, and you can tell the outcome by just looking at the team compositions. Knowing fully what's going to happen, you commit to a fight and either completely decimate your opponents or have the same thing happen to you. The brutality of the fights in the group queue reduces the timespan of the matches from the usual 6-10 minutes of the solo queue to a mere 2-4 minutes. Also take it into account that you wait anywhere between 2-5 minutes to find a match and I think you can understand where the frustration comes from. On less busy nights, playing MWO almost feels like watching YouTube videos/refreshing Reddit interrupted by short gaming sessions.

Community Warfare offers an alternative with a refreshing change of pace. Instead of this wild variation between intense gameplay and mind numbing boredom, you get solid gameplay anywhere from 10 minutes to a whole 30 minutes. The wait was a huge problem when it was first released, but ever since we got player counters for each planet now which made it extremely easy to pick your fights and get an instant drop. I don't recall waiting any longer than 2-3 minutes maximum in the past month, even immediately after cease-fire. There is always someone willing to fight.

Fun is allowed after all!

One of the reasons I didn't like CW before was because I didn't feel like there was room for experimentation. It felt like it was either bring the best of the best or get steamrolled because there's always a chance that the other team will bring one. Even though that still partly holds true, especially on the Clan side, in this period I've successfully managed to blend in unusual 'Mechs and still do really well in matches. Those include Summoners and Novas on the Clan side and Banshees, Blackjacks, Kintaros and Orions on the IS side. There is definitely room for improvement and it was fun finding out the effects of each variation in my decks. Currently I feel like I'm close to optimizing my IS deck which I will be sharing it with you shortly. As BMMU, we field a pretty unique deck (the BMMU meta) which easily mops the floor with the TBR and SCR hordes and is much more effective than your usual STK-4N spam. There is room for better metas if you're willing to experiment and have the roster willing to pilot them. Unfortunately most of the community seems to be too stuck on what others think they should pilot. I have seen very little build innovation from good teams so far.

Another thing I like is how intense the matches are. Especially against other organized groups the matches are usually a thrilling and back-and-forth 20-30 minute slugfests with a lot of mind games involved. This "thrill" lasts only a few minutes in the group queue until it's obvious who's going to win, but at higher levels it's not possible to tell who's going to win in CW until the last minute. A team might seem like they're losing, but then they bring their heavy-hitting deck against weakened opponents, quickly tip the scale in their favor and win the game from there. I've seen my team pull many miracles and I've seen a few enemies do the same to us. Due to this I began to look forward to playing CW as much as I wanted to play in the group queue.

Objectives, a blessing or a curse?

What I find weird about CW is, the objectives matter only a little. Just like every other game-mode (including conquest), going purely after the objectives only undermines the victory. Why bother wading through a dozen of 'Mechs tearing you apart only to shoot at a building? Instead, if you go for enemy 'Mechs and getting good trades instead, the victory comes much easier. When there's no one to defend the objectives they can be dealt with in about a minute. Now that I think of it, I think this is due to the rather generous time limit on CW. With a good team, 30 minutes is enough to slowly grind through 48 enemy 'Mechs with plenty of time left to spare. If it was 20 minutes or shorter, then there would be more pressure to deal with the objectives while grinding the enemy team.

That being said, there are some teams that don't seem to care about actually playing the game and head straight for the objectives. These teams don't even bother shooting at you while coming through the gates, all they care about is getting to the objective. I can't really understand what drives these people, do they want their name on the planet really badly or do they think they have no chance slugging it out with our team and feel compelled to do an objective rush? We have dealt with dozens of these rushes so far and I can only remember 1-2 instances of these succeeding and even those were extremely close. This is an extremely "unfun" way of playing this game, not because I find it cheesy or effective, but because being refused a fight is a big waste of time.

Our unit prefers to kill every single enemy 'Mech instead of going for the objective. We don't care about what happens to the territory or the planets, we just want to have good fights. We rarely get them, but we're always looking for them.

Steamrolls will continue until enemy morale improves

Despite the longer matches, the "roll or be rolled" aspect of the group queue carries on to the CW matches. The lack of a skill-based matchmaker makes its absence felt here. About 80% of our matches were straight out murders of our enemies which ended by us yapping "drop drop drop drop!" in enemy spawn as their last 'Mechs drop. For some reason it's hard to come across decent CW teams (like 228 and NVKA) and most of the matches are against random pugs and collection of small groups. At first I was feeling really bad about how badly the enemy team was getting rolled, but as I played more and more, these feelings were replaced with pragmatic "Let's end this as fast as we can so everybody can be done with this torture." thoughts.

The bottom line is, if you're not prepared to be "curb stomped", don't click that "Faction" button on your menu. By dropping in a CW match either solo or in a group, you are accepting that you bring the knowledge and the proper equipment to meaningfully contribute to the fights. This mode is brutal on solo players/small groups.

Free stuff for everyone!

One other nice thing about CW is the amount of free stuff you can unlock. At ranks 3,6 and 10 you get a 'Mechbay. Personally I find these provide me a huge incentive to play CW. Especially rank 6 is easily achievable in a couple of hours. Grinding LP is also not as tedious as grinding C-Bills/XP in the group queue as a loss has minimal impact on your LP payout. You can keep losing but if you put in the work, you're still getting as much LP as you would if you won. Though if you have your eyes on the 500MC price at rank 10, expect to invest at least 30 hours of game time at minimum. After this rank the progression kind of bogs down.

One other thing I noticed is that I make significantly more C-Bills compared to the group queue despite heavy consumable usage. It's definitely a good way to grind C-Bills if you can contribute well to the battle.

Conclusion — Stamp of approval

CW is a refreshing change of pace after 2.5 years of "more of the same" in the group queue. There are new gameplay styles to discover, decks to optimize and new tactics to try. Just make sure to bring lots of friends and a positive attitude!
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About Rak

I'm an engineer who likes to write extremely long articles about games that border simulation and mainstream.
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