Considering how much I grew to love my rated battleground team in WoW, it's kind of surprising that I've felt no real urge whatsoever to get into ranked warzones in TOR. I do think that there are three main reasons for this:
1. Back when I really got into rated play in WoW, this happened at a time when I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the game's PvE endgame. Rated battlegrounds felt like a better reason to log on in the evenings than raids, and I was glad to have something else to dedicate my time to. In contrast, I'm perfectly happy with organised PvE in TOR. I don't feel like I'm lacking a reason to log in regularly.
2. For all the gripes we have with pugs sometimes, I still find TOR's random warzones a lot more entertaining than I ever did running random battlegrounds in WoW. The latter often left me feeling pretty hollow if I didn't have any friends to play with. In TOR I don't really get that to the same extent. Sure, you do get stupid or rude people that frustrate you there too, but I still feel a lot more... engaged. Maybe it's because of the same-server nature of the whole thing; I don't know. The point is, I can get my PvP fix in randoms and be quite happy.
3. For all the good times I had with my rated battleground team in WoW, things did kind of end on a bad note, with the increased friction between people when we weren't able to raise our ranking any further, the constant peer pressure to work harder at being a better player even if it was reaching a point where it wasn't fun anymore, and so on and so forth. I've seen plenty of drama surrounding PvE content in my time, but nothing that ever felt quite as depressingly inevitable as the collapse of that PvP team. I'm not sure I want to go through that again.
There had been some talk about doing ranked warzones in the guild in the past, but things never really got off the ground, not while I've been there anyway. I suspect it's because leadership is more enthused about PvE progression, and naturally that ends up being their focus. Considering the above three points, I haven't really minded too much.
All that said, Tuesday evening a non-officer ended up putting together a team for ranked warzones and I was happy to join in to give them a try. I was quite impressed by his social networking skills and how he pulled in people from other guilds to create a balanced group.
What was even more fascinating though was the way he pulled strings to actually get us into a match. While I've found that the same-server model actually works quite well for creating groups for small-group casual content, ranked warzones are kind of dependent on having a lot of participants while at the same time being a very exclusive type of content, which is honestly not a good combination. You can't really queue up whenever you like and hope to get a balanced match, or any match at all for that matter. So what did our ops leader do? He whispered some people from a big PvP guild and they put together an improvised team just to queue up against us.
I suppose if you were very cynical you could look at that as them getting to farm some free commendations off a bunch of noobs, but I actually thought it was pretty nice of them to "help us out" so that we could get our feet wet in ranked play. After all you can't do PvP without any opponents.
Still, I have to admit that the two actual games we played (before some people got frustrated and wanted to stop) weren't exactly the height of fun. In Novare Coast we never even got close to capping a second turret, though we at least made a couple of spirited attempts at doing so. The Ancient Hypergates match that we had afterwards was worse though, as we only got a single kill (!) against the enemy team while they racked up about forty. Our only notable achievement in that game was that we briefly managed to cap both pylons, though this was at a time when it didn't actually matter and thus made no difference to the final outcome whatsoever.
Of course we never expected to win against an experienced team from a big PvP guild, but well... there is losing, and there is losing really, really badly. It was certainly a bit despiriting. For me, it also didn't help that I foolishly ended up going on my Commando, even though I knew full well that they are the worst PvP healers. I guess all those random warzones where people don't bother to interrupt much made me cocky or something, but facing off against a skilled team, the amount of interrupts and control I was subjected to was absolutely insane. It's not just that I died a lot, it's that I couldn't do much of anything even when I was alive. My healing output during those games was something like half of what I usually do in pugs. I was honestly kind of glad to be going back to queueing for randoms in small groups when we did.
The main thing I took away from this experience was that I think that ranked warzones in TOR might not really be for me. I mean, I'd happily join up for them again on a casual basis (though I'd make sure to take my Sage this time), but that's kind of the rub, isn't it? It seems to me that in their current state at least, you can't be casual in ranked warzones. There isn't enough of an active ladder that you can actually hope to go up against some lower ranked teams regularly, and to be able to be at all competitive on a higher level you'd have to put in a lot of time, effort and practice with a stable team on a regular basis. I don't think I really have the motivation to do that, considering the points I mentioned at the start of this post.
Still, I suppose I'm willing to wait and see. I could see myself giving it another try every now and then; I'm just not convinced that I'll go anywhere in terms of ranking.