The tabletop version of Warhammer has rules for what it describes as psychology; things like fear, terror, panic, frenzy and stupidity. Rules designed to make the game’s units act like real people. Before Warhammer Online was launched, I remember seeing people debating if these rules would somehow be included in the game. The thing is they didn’t need to be coded into the game, simply because the in game characters have real life players controlling them. You’ll get to see the classic Warhammer psychology rules in action almost every day…
More than anything in WAR I’d say numbers cause fear. Often you’ll see the following scenario take place; warband A strolls around a corner and discovers a horde of enemy sitting there, the warband become hesitant, unwilling to commit, perhaps the odd person starts backing off. Battle commences and with confidence low, even if the numbers weren't actually that different, it’s a foregone conclusion.
This one you see all the time. 2 zergs are fighting, bombing away. Everyone is comfortable in their bombtastic scrap. Then a premade guild group/warband arrives and charges the enemy in the flank or rear, panic starts as players run in random directions, healers die and within seconds one zerg falls apart.
We saw a classic example of this recently. We had 2 groups of Kill Frenzy fighting at the south keep in Praag, alongside us was at least one warband of PUGs, probably two. The enemy keep was claimed and defended by a big reputation enemy guild. They’re very good and are known for always moving round in a large and strong warband, but they also make the most of psychological warfare outside of the game, with people dedicated to inflating their reputation on forums. And it works too, some people just crap their pants on seeing their guild name. So, back to the keep… The inner keep door breaks, but instead of a static defence, the Order charge out of the door; I think 3 groups to a warband of the aforementioned guild, backed up by a couple of other groups from other solid Order guilds.
Other than my 2 groups of Kill Frenzy, every other Destruction simply turned tail and ran. Utterly terrified they routed before they’d even been hit. It went from Destruction outnumbering the enemy 2-1, to my poor 2 groups being left alone facing at least double our number, which obviously didn’t go so well. To add further insult to injury I could see the Destruction so desperate to escape that a bunch got stuck in the outer doorway, their pixels doomed to a bombtastic death.
This one I’ll claim for me… If like KF you normally run with 1-2 groups in oRvR you will often end up facing greater numbers. In those situations running will achieve bugger all and if our pixels get killed, well... we don't care about that. We’ll just charge in and see how many we can kill before we die, proper frenzied troops style. Sure we’ll give the enemy some renown, but we’ll get some ourselves and most importantly it will be more fun than running :P Of course if we’ve got back up somewhere or something, then we’ll attempt a tactical withdrawl, but otherwise I'm all for shouting WAAAGH and feeling the frenzy! :P
Alas this one you’ll see all too often. It would make a huge bloody wall of text just describing what I saw yesterday. :P So I’ll just pick one moment… A destruction player put a king keg down on our spawn point barricade in Altdorf, which stopped people getting out of the spawn. I’ll assume it was stupidity, rather than a dirty cross-realming tart.
If I recall correctly the tabletop game has other psychology rules; stubborn, unbreakable and so on. All of which you’ll see in WAR. And you know, that’s the beauty of PvP based MMOs and particularly WAR, you don’t need to code in things to make your enemy react like real people. PvE is all good and well, but you just can't beat oRvR style PvP.