First off, for the uninitiated, the Dogs of War are a mercenary type faction that typically work for the highest bidder and have no long lasting allegiance to any faction. They consist of any number of races, and exist solely to loot, kill, and plunder the fallen corpses of any particular battlefield. They care not for glory, realm, or anything less tangible than loot and blood. In game terms, they would make an excellent new inroads to introducing a limited number of F2P players that would fight for or against any realm based on, well, who needs to be killed really.
Skaven, Ogres, Gnoblars, Beastmen, Undead, Vampires, Bandits, pretty much any race could be included. In terms of an MMO it would be best to have 3 races if only for balance sake. Keep in mind the F2P aspect, and they wouldn’t necessarily need to be fully built classes either. One archtype per race, and a set number of abilities instead of the fully fledged mastery trees of the P2P version of the game. Whereas normally we can expect to see 20+ abilities and different paths for any given class currently, have the DoW be limited to 8-10 abilities, no option to customize, and lock their level at 35. High enough to fight in RvR, but low enough to fail taking an undefended Keep short of amazing skill or zerging capability.
There’s an issue to stomp right there, the F2P zerg. Very simply put, the DoW should never outnumber any of the P2P factions. Thus a formula of (Order+Destro)/3 = DoW should be effective. This would add a healthy amount of people to the game, but keep the tides of battle shifting constantly as well. Consider the limited power of the DoW compared to fully fledged Factions, and in theorycraft it begins to work quite well. Further, with the vast influx of players looking to get a P2P experience without paying a dime, you’ll likely have tons of people pounding on the doors to get in. Implement a “First In First Out” method of rotation dependant on the total number of P2P players online at a time. If 2 Order log off, than 1 DoW is allowed to take his place. If 2 Order log on, than the longest standing DoW leaves the battlefield immediately. Destro vice versa, etc., etc..
Also, to further tighten the scope of the P2P experience, limit the DoW to playing only one scenario based on the lowest activity in a contested zone at a time. Over time this will allow them to experience all the scenarios, but only where they are needed to make an opposing force that would otherwise not be there. Some would argue the tactic of “Not showing up to feed VP’s” would be broken this way, and to that I say GOOD. Avoiding battles is a cheap way to stall out ZONE DOMINATION. If anything, IMHO, avoiding a zone should cause it to cap FASTER. The DoW will mindlessly play through these T4 scenarios, and likey get smoked by the opposition provided they know what they’re doing, leaving the force that didn’t show up to fight at risk of losing the battle by F2P proxies.
Further limiting the DoW would be to lock them out of PvE zones. Some might crai that PvE is an important part of the full game experience, but for this I point to the 10-day trial. Want to kill mobs? Do it there, the difficulty curve is no different, and T1 PQ’s are tailored more to new players anyway. RvR should be the only area this faction needs to show up. I believe most servers could use a much stronger presence in T4, which would cut back on the amount of content WAR needs to deliver to F2P’ers. Digital distribution ain’t free yanno. 9 RvR lakes and 12 Scenarios would be a vast amount less than the entire game client. How to block the RvR lakes? Fog of War. Hehe, once they start to wander out of the lake, the fogs surround them and punt them back to their camp. In order to make the P2P and F2P experiences vary enough to make the P2P more viable, these are the kinds of things that would need to be done.
Furthermore, the Land of the Dead. When the zone flips, you could allow the Dogs of War the first 30m lockout to run around and search for PvP. Make them neutral to all the mobs, and they could make up the frontal force to purging the invaders from the desert. This would give the F2P another view of the game with a “look but don’t touch” feel. Ultimately, there’s going to be an endless supply of F2Players out there, but many of them could be converted to full-on P2Players with the right kind of taste in their mouth. Limit their “real” interaction with the game, lock them into 0 progression, and use them for the shortcomings a smaller server might have in a mass-scale RvR game. Also, need server testing? LOOK A MILLION PEOPLE WAITING TO PLAY! The PTS could be their open field day to at LEAST loading the servers to capacity when you change a couple things.
Biothic, Mythiware, whatever you’re calling your “Group” now. Do This.