Saturday, 21 April 2012

Communication wins games, Part 1

It wins games. Honestly.
If you've been in a PvP warzone with me, you've heard me say it - communication wins games. It sounds like a silly slogan or something that your high school basketball coach would say.

It is 100% true.

As rated warzones grow nearer (though how close they are exactly is still uncertain), I have been attempting to prep my guild for them. I've been appointed "PvP Officer", with the possibly-dubious honour of wrangling people into 4-person units and getting them to work together in preparation for eventual 8-person Rated Warzone groups. While my experience has been mostly positive, I have noted one thing that separates a good player from a great player. That thing is communication.

It is my experience that oftentimes the most valuable contribution you can make to your team is information. There have been games where my stats were not great, but the information I relayed to my team earned me multiple MVP votes.

I could probably write three or four articles on communication in warzones, but for this post I'll focus on what normally goes wrong with team communication and how to fix it. This could be your guild's warzone group, or it could be a pickup group. It could be via ops chat, or via a voice client like Ventrilo, Mumble or Teamspeak. Regardless, here is what normally goes wrong with communication:

1. No communication. Duh, right? This one is extremely easy to solve, but requires co-operation from your team.

  • If you're in a pickup group, do not be afraid to communicate.
  • Discuss strategy before the game starts (eg. "Drayn and myself will go left, everyone else mid, ok?"). If no one offers any answers, then dictate a strategy to your team that makes sense.
  • Look at your team composition - if multiple members are in the same guild, they will likely be trying to operate as a unit in the warzone. Plan accordingly.
  • Are you guarding a healer? Let them know, so they know to keep you alive. Are you a healer? Tell your team, so they know to peel for you and/or guard you.
  • Prompt your teammates for information. Let's say you've won the fight for the middle turret in Alderaan Civil War and you don't see any more enemies incoming. Where else are they likely to hit? Your other turret, obviously. Ask, "How is east flag?" and find out where your team needs to be.
  • Don't be afraid to prompt your team to do something (eg. "Call those incs, communication wins games", "Pass, I'm above you", "run ahead of me so I can throw it"). 

2. Late communication. You need to get into the habit of calling out information early - if you're wrong, you can always amend what you've said.

  • As soon as you see enemies approaching, the first thing you do is call it out to your team. If you are killed and afterwards type "there are two at east turret", you've waited too long. No one can possibly respond to your message in time to save the turret. You've given good information, but it was too late for anyone to use.
  • Similarly, if your side on Voidstar is being demolished, take the 1.5 seconds it takes to type "left help". I can assure you the extra GCD you lost will not have turned the tide for your team if you needed to call for help in the first place.
  • Did you just clear out your objective? Tell your team immediately (eg. "east turret clear"). Don't wait for someone to ask you. If you don't tell your team, they may continue sending players to help you, leaving another node undefended.

3. Inaccurate communication. Sometimes what you've said makes no sense or doesn't tell your team anything. Be precise.

  • State your position, amount of opposition, and urgency of situation. (eg. "2 inc east I am alone") Stay away from one word remarks that contain none of these (eg. "stealther". This doesn't tell your team anything meaningful).
  • Be as accurate as possible when calling numbers because other players on your team will make decisions based on your information. Do not exaggerate. Don't say "THEIR WHOLE TEAM IS AT EAST TURRET" if there are only 6 of them there.
  • Did you make a bad call? Did you say an objective was clear, but then two operatives appeared out of nowhere and introduced you to the pointy end of their vibroknives? Call this immediately. Your team will be making decisions based on this info, and they need to know you need help. And no, you won't be able to solo the two operatives.|

4. Meaningless communication. We've all done it. We've all sung "What is Love" into Ventrilo, or complained about a particular class in ops chat. It's best to know when to back down. I'm not saying "don't have fun", just know when to switch to the business at hand.

  • If someone is trying to talk in Ventrilo and you're not saying anything important, let them speak. If they don't start speaking again, prompt them to start or ask them what they just said.
  • Similarly, try not to spam ops chat about how Scoundrels are so OP, or about how you are eating pizza right now. People need to see important information, too.
  • If you're trying to relay important info via ops chat and there is a lot of chatter going on, consider sending the message twice: you can hit enter to open the chat prompt and then the up arrow key to populate the message you just sent. Hit enter again to send.

These are the basic mistakes that people make with regards to communication - hopefully you find these helpful and pass on these tips to your guild! As always, I welcome any feedback you may have.

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