The content below is intended for solo and small group players who have not developed their own (successful) strategies on how to counter these groups. I see random groups and PuGs run into ball groups and die way too often and can only blame it on their not understanding what’s going on. I hope this helps!
First, please read the Offence section, the Defence section, and then the Siege section. These sections contain some basics that are applicable regardless of who you are fighting.
- Pay attention. I can’t stress this enough. If you’re going to blindly follow your group leader without watching what’s going on, you’re going to have a bad time. If you’re going to madly focus on killing one person, chances are you’re going to get trampled to death.
- You can’t take them out alone. Don’t even bother trying. Help another group that is there, or go do something else. These groups prey on the weak, unskilled, or small group players and they will try to pull you together so that they can hit more of you at once. Don’t let them get away with this. If you leave them alone and they have nobody to kill, they’ll move away trying to find more players at once.
- If you see an organized group fighting them, don’t stack with them. Stay at least 5 meters (VD distance) away. They have group buffs, and may be min/maxed so that they have a lot more resilience than you. You will get bombed and you’ll contribute to their deaths if you’re too close!
- The key to winning versus these groups is strategy. You’re going to need a reasonable number of players to coordinate their damage (player damage or siege damage) and debuffs (snare/stun/slow/defile/breach/etc) in order to take them out or make them run away.
- Keep moving, and keep a distance from them until you’re ready to engage or ready to try and bait out their ultimates.
- If you have solid ranged damage or debuffs, keep them applied. Corrupting Pollen, Dark Flare, and Inevitable Detonation are all good examples that can affect how and when they will attack.
- Slow them, snare them, and ensure that they’re on the defensive as much as possible. Bombard spam, caltrops, anything to prevent them from moving consistently.
- Keep them out of formation or position. Warden teleport circles, DK Chains, Fighter’s Guild Silver Leash, and to a lesser degree knock-backs will ensure that they’re never perfectly ready to hit with their full power.
- Opposing ball groups will use their ultimates together, and will proxy together before they do so. Consider the timing of proxy – that’s how much time they’ve allotted to moving to you so that they all explode together. Don’t be where they are going.
- They’re going to be spamming crowd control (slows, snares, and hard cc). Be aware that you might have trouble moving, and plan accordingly.
- Use what methods you have available to not be where they are going with their bombs. Elusive Mist Form, Retreating Maneuvers, Shuffle, Immovable potions, and any methods you have to get snare or cc immunity and speed to get out.
- If you have damage mitigation, use it when you see them about to hit. Warden’s sleet provides incoming damage mitigation and Templar’s Nova provides opponent outgoing damage mitigation. Use them if needed, not just to save yourself, but to help others of your faction who are fighting!
- Keep as much siege as you can on them. Siege that does damage, like Scattershot Catapults (increases other damage), Cold Fire Ballistas, Cold Stone trebuchets if you can, and a combination of siege (though primarily Scattershot Catapults) if they’re in a keep or relatively open world. Try to coordinate hits. One Oil catapult is also nice, and a Meat bag if you’re unsure if there’s a Defile build fighting them. See the Siege section for more insights.
- If you’ve managed to bait out their ultimates, or once you’re out or have escaped their bombs, consider that this is the best time to hit them back. They’ve just blown their ultimates, so will need between 20 and 30 seconds to get them back up (subjective timing, though a good base for your strategic thinking).
- When counter attacking, be quick and accurate with Negates. Most players can’t cast in a Negate (damage or healing). Once they’re in, they won’t be able to much of anything other than run – either towards you and hope that their proxies or ultimates do damage as they get out of the negate – or retreat.
- Separate them and pick off the one(s) that are out of the group. Wardens can use their circle to teleport them. DKs can grab one with chains. Any class can use Fighter’s Guild leash. Templars can javelin. NBs can drop a fear trap and Necros a fear totem in their path, and cause a few to be separated if they don’t break free quick enough. Those that become separated need to be targeted and taken down quickly.
- If you can tab target a player with higher importance (such as healers or the group leader – if known), then it makes things easier if you try to single target that player in order to disrupt the group. Some groups fall apart when the leader dies, others will obsess about getting their healers back up (if they run low on burst healers), and others won’t care and just continue to play and recover as normal.
- Learn about your opponents if they are regular organized groups. Their leaders will have relatively consistent play styles, so if you can predict what they’ll do most of the time, countering them and winning fights will be easier.
- Don’t let them resurrect. You’ll probably take out at least a few of them if you execute your bomb or counter well. If it looks like they won’t be able to recover, some will likely stay to delay you, while a few of them will run away to get a camp up.
- Most of the ball groups are going to be running fairly tanky due to cross heals, consistent purges, and builds that provide buffs to the group, so you will need a sufficient amount of damage to get through their survivability. Unless you have a lot of players able to coordinate damage, you’re probably best off pulling one out of position then single-target damaging them to death before they can get back to the group.
- An advantage to the above is that you then know where they’re going to be in the near future when they try to resurrect the dead player! Prepare to bomb them there if you can!
SOLO PLAYERS & SMALL GROUPS:
The most important points to understand are:
- As a solo player or small group, you’re probably not going to be able to wipe a well structured min/maxed organized ball group.
- Their goal is usually going to be farming AP and getting as many kills as they can.
- Once they see that they’re not going to have an easy time farming, they’ll move somewhere else.
Your criteria for success (winning) should not be killing them all, it should be something along the lines of making it so tough and irritating for them to farm pugs (decreasing their AP per hour to less than PvDoor activities) that they have no choice but to go elsewhere (or rage quit). With that in mind, read through the following points and consider best how you can contribute to the fight.
- Don’t stack together. That just makes you a target, and even if you don’t die from their damage, the Vicious Death procs from other people around you will kill you.
- The majority of their damage comes from AoE, so if you can get the major evasion buff, you’ll be more likely to live.
- Most players use one defensive set, one offensive set, and a monster set. Whatever it is that you use normally, while fighting a ball group you should consider swapping your defensive set to either Spectre’s Eye or Swift (if in a magicka build) to take significantly less damage from their bombs.
- If you’re a healer, use Earthgore as your monster set. You’ll be throwing out heals and hots, and Earthgore will probably proc as the opposing ball group hits people around you and save a lot of them by removing negates, smashes, conduits, graveyards, and other ground effects. While the heal from Earthgore isn’t great (big nerf), the removal of ground effects is still great.
- Keep snares down on all sides of them. Caltrops if ranged, Gripping Shards (Warden) and Talons (DK) are good choices. This helps keep them less structured and may help isolate a straggler.
- Use time stop. Then use it again. Keep using it. You have no idea how irritating and disruptive it is. The hate whispers will flow..
- Use knock backs. If the opposing group are running around the top of a wall or keep, knocking a few off where they can’t get back in (because you’ve already repaired behind them) will make the rest jump off to get everyone back together. They may re-siege, but that wastes their time.
- Call out their healer’s names (/yell) and tab target them. Single target burst those healers, and the rest of the group will have a tougher time. An even better target is their rapids spammer, as if you can take that person out then the group will be a lot more challenged in their movement (no more perfectly consistent Major and Minor Expedition buffs).
- Keep siege on them. If you’re alone, the damage you can do with siege is a lot more than with your skills (ultimate excluded).
- If you see them proxy and run towards you (usually with ults), use a snare immunity skill (RaT or Shuffle), then run through them not away from them optionally while popping an Immovable potion or hitting with an Immovable poison. That will reduce the time you spend standing in their ults, and they will rarely stop to kill you as they’re all following their leader. if you can get some snares in while moving, it will help de-ball them for a few seconds!
Remember that your goal is not necessarily to kill them, but to make it so challenging for them to achieve their goal of (easy) kills and enough AP (to make it worth the time) that they will go away. Killing them should be seen as an added bonus.
Updated June 2021
I was recently interviewed by JonnyTheKing for one of his videos on making AP and becoming emperor. This post is being put up in conjunction with the video in order to provide a reference to the information in our discussions. We recorded over an hour, and with the final video being about 20 minutes, there will also probably be some details cut out due to time limitations.
You should have already read the Making AP and Emperor sections, so I’m not going to repeat very much from those. The short, short summary: In order to become Emperor you need to be at the top of the leader board, and have all six of the inner “Emperor Ring” keeps taken by your faction at the same time.
PLANNING AND PREPARATION:
- Prepare multiple sets of gear and plan for different builds depending on what you’re going to be doing. You might have some time playing solo, small group, or even join zergs depending on the state of the map and what you’re trying to accomplish.
- Talk to the guilds that play the map, and if you’re able to open up good relations with them, it will be a lot easier later on to get their help flipping the ring.
- There may be a time that you have to lead your faction and wrangle the PuGs, so an addon like “Auto Invite” will make that easier. Remember that most players are not very organised, and their builds will not have synergy for the group that you put together (or join), so if you want the group to succeed then you’ll need to fill in for whatever is needed.
- You will need to keep track of your AP, so get an addon that is capable of helping you maintain your sanity. Ghostbane created a great one.
- Ensure that you have all five of the PvP quests completed (kill, scout, keep, resource, scroll), so that you can turn them in 30 seconds after the scoreboard opens.
- Talk to your friends, and get help. You probably won’t be able to do this alone, and having at least 2-3 friends with you at all times will help you maintain sanity. I can’t stress this point enough!
- Ten minutes before the scoreboard opens, head over to a delve and get ready to kill the boss. At 2 minutes before the scoreboard opens, kill the boss to get your 1-hour AP buff (20% bonus AP), then get back to the gates and prepare to turn in your quests. Note that dying to the monsters in the delve will let you respawn at your gates and get into position much more quickly than exiting the delve, running to a keep/outpost, and transiting to the gates.
- Look at the scoreboard (hit “J” then click the last tab) and check when the campaign opens. It will usually be about 45 minutes after the campaign closed (if I recall correctly).
- Now that you’ve turned in your quests and have a small lead over the rest of the players who have not prepared for this, pick up new quests. It’s a good idea to have one of your friends keep an easy quest in their list so that they can share and re-share it to you each time you turn it in. For DC, the capture Chalman Mine quest is the one we tend to do most often. For AD, it’ the capture BRK Mine quest, and for EP it’s the capture Aleswell Farm quest. These three resources are taken very often, and retaken relatively quickly, so as you have the opportunity to head over to those locations, you should be getting the extra bit of AP for those quests.
- Depending on the state of the map, your skill level, the people with you, and a whole slew of other things, the initial AP farming session will take different forms. You may want to play as normal, you may want to go ganking, you may want to try to farm a resource, or you may want to go and take opponent resources one after the other.
- If the map is relatively dead, resource taking nets you 1800 AP (with your 20% buff and assuming that nobody has died) each, so going to a keep with three resources available and taking them one after the other before moving to the next keep and repeating that continuously could net you 5400 (1800 x 3) per keep, and about 10 keeps per hour if you move optimally giving you five minutes to go get your AP buff every hour when it falls off. Including the occasional kill, that will probably reach about 75k AP / hour.
- Note that the O-tick from taking a resource will include the AP from any player deaths. To clarify how that works, if someone dies, then the AP from their death would be added to the 1800 you get on the O-tick, though that extra AP would be divided among all the people there.
- When keeps are being taken, you probably want to be in the area. There will be more players to kill, and the O-tick will be a nice bonus.
- When possible, use methods that do a lot of damage to opponents even if you don’t kill them yourself. Stock up on cold fire ballistae, trebs, scatter-shots, and oils so that you hit the most number of opponents with a good amount of damage in the shortest amount of time. Keep an execute skill on your bar and spam it on players who get low standing in oils.
If you’re in a magicka build, running the Vicious Death set while using siege is a great way to get extra tags on players while using siege (VD no longer procs on siege – those were the good old days!. Low damage skills like Caltrops won’t do enough damage to be worth AP, though skills like Inevitable Detonation when spammed on multiple targets as they are grouped up can be very nice for taking advantage of other players’ efforts in killing these opponents. As long as you stay in range of the opponents, you’ll get AP when they die.
- Think about the skills you have available to you.
Purifying Light or Power of the Light from a Templar will store damage and proc after 6 seconds. If you spam that on different targets who are under someone else’s oil or about to be bombed by another group, then the procs and subsequent heals (from the magicka morph) will gain you good contribution percentages for the incoming AP (Templar Nerfs in late 2019 killed this option). Think about every skill, and if it can be used to net you more AP than simply killing one target at a time.
- The most important point to make about making AP is that you have to keep playing. If you take a break, then someone else will probably pass you on the leader board. Everyone needs to sleep, so plan your resting hours for when the campaign is dead and there’s a lot less AP to be made. If you’re in it for the long run, then it might even be in your interest to sleep or take a break in prime time. With lag and disconnects / crashes happening often enough, you may make more AP with less population on the map. Record your AP per hour every hour and keep track of when works best for you.
- Remember that it is against the Terms of Service to have multiple people play on the same account. It has happened many times, and I’m sure some of you have seen some player able to be online for 5 days with zero down time (indicative of multiple players on the same account), but if you do this you risk the consequences of violating the Terms of Service.
- You have also probably heard about AP feeding, and having lots of friends play on another faction in order to “feed” you AP and ticks at a resource. This was a big complaint on console for a long time – in that the person(s) at the top of the leaderboard would have an entire guild feed them AP when someone else was catching up on the leaderboards. This was all done out in the open with no attempts to hide it. This isn’t against the Terms of Service, but it is seriously frowned upon by the community and many people consider it “cheating”. If you’re considering being fed AP, then keep the following in mind:
- The people feeding AP are not going to be making AP while feeding, so there’s no real value to them in doing so. They probably won’t want to do this for long (unless you’re compensating them), so if you rely on this method, it probably won’t last for long enough to get Emperor.
- People will talk, and take screen shots or videos, and it will get out. It’s very easy to accuse people of such when you don’t understand AP farming techniques and strategies, and many of the high AP earning players have been accused of this (myself included). Consider that it’s one thing for whining jealous people to accuse others, though it’s another if there is actual proof. With proof, your reputation (if you have one) will take a hit, and it can impact your social enjoyment of the game. Some people don’t care, and we’ve seen many posts on the forums and screen shots of players being fed both on the map and using exploits to get outside of the map (under the world or past the mountain barriers).
- If people are aware that you’re not making your AP legitimately, then they won’t want to help you get Emperor.
- It is very easy to find you doing this, as when you kill a few players in an area, there will be swords on the map. Seeing consistent swords on a resource that is not flipping during the early campaign is very obvious, and it’s very likely that people will come to disrupt your activities.
- We’ve seen PvE guilds do this in order to help new players or new characters get the required skills in the Alliance War skill line (caltrops / vigor / proxy). I personally feel that this isn’t much of an issue as they are not affecting the leaderboards, and are thus not impacting anyone else’s ability to play and achieve emperor.
- Renewing your AP buff by killing a delve boss is very important, though try to do so when you’re on a break or there’s nothing significant happening. During the time it takes you to get to the delve, zone in (load screen), kill the boss, then either die to mobs and resurrect at the gate (load screen) or run out (load screen) and get back to the action you’re not making any AP. The next hour’s 20% extra AP needs to be more than the AP that you didn’t make during the time lost getting the buff.
TAKING THE EMPEROR RING:
- This part is rather obvious. You need for your faction to have possession of all six Emperor keeps. The more large groups that coordinate to take them all at the same time, the higher your likelihood of success.
- Some players won’t want to get Emperor for their faction, as that tends to cause the other two factions to gang up on your faction. While you defend the last Emperor keep, your faction may lose everything else on the map including your scrolls. What you do is up to you, but you also have to respect that other players will do what they want as well. Be mature in zone chat, and try your best to convince others that having you as Emperor is in the best interest of your faction.
- If there’s no chance of getting it during prime time (probably happens once per campaign reset at most), then the middle of the night is the time to do this. Many players have disdain for the “PvDoor” (Player vs. Door) concept, though if it’s the only way to take all six keeps when very few others are playing, then it’s your choice on how and when to do it.
- The order in which you take the keeps is important, primarily due to your opposition. If you leave the easiest keep for last, and the hardest keep for second to last, then you’ll probably have an easier time. There won’t likely be a faction stack (almost every player in the opposing faction) at the second to last keep, so you’ll have a better chance of taking it. The last keep should belong to the faction with the least population / power / capability at the time you’re pushing for Emperor, and a separate group from the one taking the second to last keep should be starting on the last keep shortly after the second to last keep flags. There are many strategies for timing, and I’m hoping that this example gives you an idea of what you should consider if you’re directing or leading groups.
ONCE YOU HAVE EMPEROR:
- The most important thing to do now is to thank every one that helped you. You did not do this yourself, so take 30 seconds and build better relations with everyone out there letting them know that they are appreciated.
- The next thing to do is equip the gear you prepared for being Emperor. You have a lot more regen, so switching to damage enchants on your jewellery (instead of regen or cost reduction) is the first consideration. If you’re running a sustain or regen oriented set, change it to a max-resource set (as Emperors get extra resource pools) and/or a damage set. Blood Spawn is usually the best monster set, as the proc for extra ultimate is doubled for the Emperor!
- The skills you use will also probably change a bit. Your ultimate will hit a lot harder due to the much larger resource pool, and you may want a lesser cost ultimate available (such as Dawn Breaker) so that you can cast it every couple seconds due to all of your extra ultimate generation.
- Go kill things. KILL ALL THE THINGS. If you’re going to take another keep (such as tri-keeps to open scroll gates), the Emperor should be sieging with their double siege damage buff.
- If you’re going to take a scroll, the Emperor should not be the one to pick it up, as if they are needed elsewhere to defend a keep, they need to be able to mount and move out as fast as possible (you can’t mount while holding a scroll).
- Have fun! You’ve put in an enormous amount of effort, so enjoy it while it lasts. The faction with Emperor will usually be ganged up on by the other factions, so your Emperor status may only last for an hour. It’s up to you how to have the most fun during the time that you are Emperor!
WHEN YOUR EMPEROR STATUS IS AT RISK:
- You should very rarely leave the last keep. If you trust the players there, and believe that you can take another keep before your opponents take your last keep then go and do your best, though it’s usually a tough decision.
- Expect lag. Expect lag to the point that many players will disconnect and won’t be able to get back in the game. Expect your FPS to drop such that the game is almost unplayable. Expect most players in your faction to get fed up and just let the last Emperor keep go in order to reduce the amount of lag and get back to playing normally.
ONCE YOU’VE BEEN DETHRONED:
- Switch back to your normal build.
- You now have a series of decisions to make:
- Will you keep AP farming to get Emperor again?
- Will you play normally and if it happens then it happens (being crowned again)?
- Will you drop campaign so that someone else can be on top of the leader board right away? I suggest that you not do this. Keep your place on the leader board so that you have a greater chance to get gold rewards at the end of the campaign.
- Will you play another of your characters so that someone else can pass you and be on top of the leader board? This could be a nice gesture if you farmed AP with a friend the whole time and said friend is in second place. It’s now your turn to help them farm as fast as possible. Once your friend has gotten slightly ahead of you (perhaps by 50k), then swap back to your former Emperor character and keep making AP.
- If you have not done so already, put on your Emperor costume, Former Emperor title, and check out how the Emperor Red colour looks on the gear or other costumes that you usually wear.
- Most importantly, be gracious and thank everyone that helped you.