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Tribe war is a type of large-scale group battles in MMORPGs. Compared to regular group battles such as leagues, tribe wars have more diverse map and scheduling mechanisms, providing additional tactical space for the gameplay, which gives players differentiated joy.

Yongcheng Liu, Blogger

June 22, 2023

7 Min Read

When talking about "territory war" in MMORPGs, players initially think of battles among tribes. In an era that players increasingly value personalization, exploration, and creative fun, and the rise of the anime and manga subculture, gameplay of territory war seems like something that was popular ten years ago. So, are there still players who enjoy this type of gameplay that emphasizes strong organization and weak individuality?

Territorial warfare, or what people commonly refer to as tribe war, is not a fixed concept. It's a term used to describe large-scale multiplayer PvP activities. In the early days, most of these game modes were centered around "tribes (servers)/cities" within a game. Over time, "tribe warfare" became synonymous with this type of game mode.

In today's gaming market, tribe war is often seen in MMORPGs, where it takes the form of guilds battle. Some MMOROGs even have an additional relationship of alliances above the guild level, where players can compete for territory/larger land. Capturing different levels of territory gives the guild or alliance different levels of rewards.

The feature of tribe wars

  • There is a public warzone map, with different areas that can be attacked marked on it.

The basic purpose of the tribe war gameplay is to capture territories/cities, attack and defense positions, and obtain corresponding rewards (or points to exchange for rewards). The final rewards are usually high-value rare items, or gameplay-exclusive items that add up character ability.

Some games have one or multiple attack and defense positions in each tribe war area, each position having its own strategic significance. The map design and corresponding position occupying rules differ from games. Generally speaking, the fewer battlefields there are, the more groups there are competing in a single battlefield, the higher the density of players on the screen, and the more intense the battle.

  • A guild is the smallest unit of tribe war.

Tribe wars in a game require guilds as the minimum participating unit, with individuals or smaller groups unable to participate directly. Some games have an additional layer of alliance above the guild level, with varying levels of rewards shared within the same alliance. This affects the degree of organization and cohesion among different guilds within the same alliance, creating different tribe war dynamics.

For example, in Revelation Mobile, the minimum tribe war unit is guild, which must choose its own camp first. Guilds within the same camp cannot attack each other, but can attack the territories of other camps. The results and awards of battles between guilds within the same camp are not shared, but instead used to determine the camp ranking. The guild ranked first in a camp becomes the leader guild and receives an additional leader guild reward (of high value).

The core of the gameplay is still the expansion and competition among guilds. It is not necessarily the case that players in the same camp will help each other. In some cases, there may even be enemy guilds sending spies to secretly get information of territory of other guilds.

  • There are huge tactical space and it requires combat skills.

Analyzing the above two insights alone, you may think that tribe battles are simply adding camp units to the battlefield or a larger map for leagues that allows more players to participate. What sets it apart from other game mode experiences is that tribe wars offer a larger tactical space, placing a greater emphasis on how to deploy troops compared to regular team battles (leagues or group battle). Due to complex terrain and diverse mechanisms, in addition to combat skills against enemies, tribe battles also require consideration of tactics such as feinting an attack in the east to strike in the west or luring the enemy away from their stronghold, etc.

The unique fun that tactical space brings to tribe warfare

  • Tactical space gives players a high degree of freedom in strategic experience. This kind of game can make players deeply understand the joy of "endless fun in fighting with others".

Players can utilize a variety of combat strategy combos to achieve their battle objectives based on different situations. You can see the use of many tactics in most cases, and ultimately lead one tribe to win. In such PvP mode, even weaker teams have a great chance to win the final battle and obtain rewards through the proper use of strategy.

  • The military-style combat experience and the process of close coordination among participants to achieve a goal, not only allows players to experience the fun of "killing" in the gameplay, but also provides a strong sense of belonging and collective honor.

Throughout the battling process in the tribe war, the organization within the guild is relatively tight, with each member having their own tasks throughout the entire battle. Members with special tasks and commanders communicate privately through voice call and direct messaging, while members without special tasks receive unified scheduling. The prerequisite for implementing good tactics and achieving a winning battle is the coordination between each unit, which translates to obedience and efficient response from each player.

In tribe wars, because there will always be undercover agents mixed in the group to gather information, the commander on the voice call will almost never inform everyone of the overall battle tactics, nor will he/she reveal his own battle analysis. In most cases, commander will only give clear instructions on what to do next according to the current situation and judgment. This high-pressure situation of strong confrontation will make almost all participants involuntarily obey orders, and just try to execute them as much as possible. In this process, players with higher sense of unity will automatically internalize the goals of the command/guild management as one of their own goals in participating in the activity. This makes the guild not only rely on socializing, common interests, and shared experiences to solidify team members, but also adds a strong buff of "common goals".

Will young players still be interested in this old-fashioned gameplay?

High strategy and “military-style” participation experience may sound heavy and lacking in individuality, which is in contrast to the pursuit of self-expression, creativity, and exploration commonly mentioned by mainstream media as being favored by young people. However, according to research results of players who often participate in tribe wars, we found that although players who prefer exploration and high freedom of choice are relatively younger, the age distribution of players who enjoy tribe battles is indeed older. Nevertheless, if we look at the proportion, there are still many young players interested in tribe wars.


Additionally, we found that many players who like tribe wars were not initially interested in this type of large-scale group PvP battles. The not-so-intuitive pleasure brought by the complex mechanism often makes them feel interested only after actually experiencing it. New players having clear goals and tense high-energy battle moments in difficult, or constantly changing tribe battles, may gradually develop a preference for tribe war in order to repeat this exciting experience. The enjoyment of this type of gameplay is probably more difficult to experience and verify compared to that of stories, dressing up, puzzles, and other pleasures that are relatively easy to obtain in games.

Summary

Tribe war is a type of large-scale group battles in MMORPGs. Compared to regular group battles such as leagues, tribe wars have more diverse map and scheduling mechanisms, providing additional tactical space for the gameplay, which gives players differentiated joy:

① High degree of freedom in strategic experience, allowing players to deeply understand the joy of "fighting with others".

② The process of each participant in the gameplay working closely together to complete a goal, allowing players to have a stronger sense of belonging and more group hornor.

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