Desert Oasis: A guide to open PvP and grindspot etiquette in the world of Black Desert

    
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Back in my classic Guild Wars days, I was so happy to have the scrimmage system. It was a great way to solve arguments. Basically, players could invite other players to their guild hall to duel through a mock guild battle. It solved a lot of disagreements. After that, I didn’t really see this system in place in many MMOs. It’s something I missed in the MMO genre – the power to outright kill players who annoyed me.

So it won’t surprise you to learn that one of my favorite activities in Black Desert is the open PvP. Aside from adding a level of dread in a grind spot, it also creates some player-driven drama. It’s a great motivator for putting in the time to get stronger.

But let’s not be naive here; for many players it’s also a major hurdle to playing this game, be that because of anxiety, a fear of losing, a desire not to waste time, or experiences with other open PvP MMOs that are just mounds of dead bodies between towns. It’s something that might turn a potential player off from this game. So today, I want to demystify some of the misconceptions of Black Desert’s open PvP, the culture around it, and what to expect.

How open PvP in BDO works

In Black Desert, PvP is opt-in, but staying PvP-free comes with limitations. To get to level 50, you need to do a quest that’ll both activate open PvP and let you progress to level 50. If you choose not to do the quest, you will be immune to PvP, but you won’t be able to level past 49. Those planning to participate purely in lifeskilling enjoy this immunity so they can gather in peace. So the option to stay entirely safe is there, but I’d still recommend at least developing a character past level 50 since progress is tied to the account and any discoveries made by those characters unlocks for the whole account.

So let’s say you do decide to get past level 50 – what can you expect?

The short answer is “you can expect to get killed by other players.” But there’s more to it than that. In my experience, getting outright murdered senselessly doesn’t happen too often. There’s usually a reason for it. Unless the player decides to explicitly become a “perma-red” – a player killer – most players are kept in line by the karma system and community expectation.

The karma system

So let’s talk about that karma system. Basically, every player has 300,000 karma points. Attacking a player will lower that karma. Killing somebody will lower your karma even further. If it goes negative, you’ll no longer be welcome in cities; the city guard will attack you on sight. Also, depending on where you are, there are different punishments. Getting killed outside the desert will result in destroyed gems, lost EXP, and more painfully, a piece of equipment will downgrade. If you’re red and are killed within the desert, you won’t see a downgrade of your items, but you will get sent to a jail deep in the desert.

The only way a person can regain karma is by grinding out mobs. Getting killed by players won’t restore karma. This system is in place to bind some accountability to PvP and PKing. But it’s not an all-encompassing system; it’s just lenient enough to allow players who need to kill multiple players to do so without punishment, but most folks still consider it a last resort or even a time saver. Surprisingly, PvP in this game is avoidable. Assuming players follow the community’s unspoken rules and expectations.

Grindspot formalities

Black Desert players do have a set of expectations for each other when it comes to grindspots. But keep in mind they’re mostly upheld by an honor system and enforced only by the game’s karma system. Expect to get killed if you’re in the way – be ready for anything. The mechanics are in place to lower incidents, but how a player interprets another’s actions is on the player. Here are some basic expectations to keep in mind while playing.

Grindspots are first come, first serve. It’s pretty straightforward. The problem is how can a person prove he was there first? You can’t, and both players might think they were there first. Players can either hash it out or bash it out. If time permits, I usually talk it out with the player and a compromise usually happens. But sometimes, you gotta bash it out.

My favorite grindspot is the tshira ruins in Dreighan. On a good day I can pull in 25 million silver from loot drops. I was in the area on a tight rotation for about two hours, a rotation being basically a kill order players generally agree constitutes a grindspot. It’s a great way to ensure a player’s grinding time generates a good amount of EXP and money. I also use it to mark my territory. Once, an Archer showed up and started killing monsters in my rotation. He said he was there for the past 3 hours. I knew he was lying, so I killed him. He moved on, and that leads me to my next point.

ARROW'D!

Some players will only yield to power. This is what I love about BDO. You need to be strong enough to defend your grindspot. It’s either kill or leave. Being too trigger-happy with other players can result in their guild declaring war on your guild, and you can get in trouble over that. If I’m trying to maximize my time, I attack on sight. If I win, I ask them to move. If I lose, I leave. It’s direct, and it doesn’t waste time. It’s nothing personal.

It’s rude to kill monsters in another player’s rotation. A rotation is basically a kill order of mobs in a specific area. Popular areas like Nagas and Bandits have well documented rotations. These rotations provide a steady stream of cash and drops, and some of the better ones are timed so precisely that players will get back to the start of their rotation as soon as the mob respawns. Coming in and killing those mobs can be considered rude. It’s even worse if a player is doing it as a passive-aggressive way to make the other player move. It ruins the timing and takes the player out of her flow. Some players use timed EXP and loot buffs to maximize their time in the spot, so forcing them to stop can be extremely frustrating and players will not be willing to chat since they’re busy. Don’t be surprised if you’re killed outright.

Forcing players to kill you is another type of griefing. Honestly, I worry about this more than actually getting killed myself. Some players just opt to keep coming back and force the player holding a grindspot to kill them. In BDO, this is called karma bombing. This forces the person to give up their spot because that player is exploiting the karma system – or rather, your fear of losing karma – to their gain. It’s super dishonorable too. Let me get on my soapbox here: If a player has to go so low as to exploit the karma system or push into a grindspot, it really annoys me. But if my karma gets too low, the only choice I have is to either move or declare war on the enemy player’s guild. That’ll prevent karma loss for killing that person, but it can be seen as an escalation and can force others to get involved in a little grindspot drama. In the end, it’ll be time wasted.

The PvP system is a way to give players control over players who enter their territory. And players being so roundabout about claiming a spot is a huge waste of time. And that’s what really hurts the most: time wasted.

In the end, I recommend that you never take things personally when it comes to PvPing in this game. Most players in general are pretty chill if you follow these basic guidelines and community etiquette. And if PvP is your only hang-up, just jump in! You might end up liking that extra bit of freedom.

The Great Valencian Black Desert is a dangerous place, but thankfully there’s always a chance for respite. Join Massively OP’s Carlo Lacsina every other week for just that in Desert Oasis, our Black Desert column! And don’t worry; he promises he won’t PK you. Got questions or comments? Please don’t hesitate to send a message!

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Zero_1_Zerum

So, you get the shaft when it comes to leveling unless you open yourself to PVP. Hell no. Either treat PVE players with respect, or don’t have PVE at all.

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thalendor

On the one hand, it’s interesting how some of the etiquette, minus the PvP stuff, is similar to how I remember things working in EverQuest circa 1999 – 2002. On the other, “you need to do a quest that’ll both activate open PvP and let you progress to level 50” just reaffirms this is not a game for me.

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Schmidt.Capela

Sincerely, if you love PvP, then you have no way of even understanding why people who hate PvP do so.

For me, it’s not any of those things you mentioned (well, not majorly); I simply hate being in actual conflict with other people. Duels, arenas, and similar things where we can duke out just for fun and by choice, with no reward for winning nor penalty for losing, are just fine (and I play a lot of this kind of PvP); but the moment you add any significance to the PvP I lose all the will to engage in it, and the moment you remove my ability to opt out I’ll opt out by leaving the game altogether instead. And no, remaining below lv50 isn’t an acceptable compromise for me; I’ll never, ever, accept any penalty or handicap for choosing to not engage in PvP.

kjempff
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kjempff

Yup. So many times I have seen pvp players describe things using good reasoning and logic, but for a pve player most of the arguments are either insignificant/unimportant details or it is like the logic comes from an alternative reality. Like the reason to play games and the order of importance is completely different. And it goes the other way around, for example if you try to explain something that is the backbone of a good pve game, then pvp players don’t get it at all, and if they try to discuss what you said, it is always about some minor detail and not the core issue.

Long time ago I still believed that it is possible to make a game for both pve and pvp players but these days I think it is virtually impossible. Not only would you have to more or lesscreate two games in one (which is impossible enough from a economic, development, design standpoint). But also the reasons pvp and pvp players have to play a game is so different, that I see little crossover activities/content/gamesystems etc …I mean taking the perspective that both player types should have their type of game and a good one at that = player types would need to be split up to a high degree, and then it is not really combined pve and pvp game anymore is it.

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Arktouros

Most PvPers know that the hardcore PvE players will never play in any environment where non-consensual PvP can happen no matter what the scenario is. It’s been that way since EverQuest. Even if it’s locked away behind some upper side zone they can avoid entering, because it exists in game, and they might want to go to that area for other reasons they will pass on the game. I even met a person in real life who choked up and get misty eyed when talking about the pressure and toxicity he faced when he entered a battleground in WOW.

It’s not for everyone, and that’s 100% okay.

However just because it’s not for everyone doesn’t mean anytime someone even describes how a PvP system works means they’re trying to convince you to play the game. In fact, the game developers are even okay with the idea that their game and the mechanics they chose won’t appeal to everyone including their PvP mechanics. This idea that every game with PvP in it not only wants die hard PvE players but is specifically trying to recruit them is just very weird and strange.

kjempff
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kjempff

Wolves don’t eat wolves, they eat sheep. Without sheep, wolves starve to death, and pvp mmo dies (does not apply to non mmo pvp games).

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Arktouros

As fun as analogies are the actual fact of the matter is that we don’t really give a good God damn who it is we’re killing. Wolves, Sheep, Elephants, Bears whatever animal you want to associate yourself with competitive focused players (PvPers) are looking to win and it doesn’t matter against who.

The sheep go first because, well, frankly they’re sheep. There’s no competitive backbone there. They’re an easy win and and even the easiest of wins still feels, at the very, least not bad. But most of those players really don’t play PvP games at all as we talked about before. You might get one once in a great while who wanders in or didn’t understand what they were getting into but soon as EverQuest came out in ’99 the Sheep stick to their PvE games.

The reason why PvP games die off is because they are balanced/designed poorly. When you look at the balance in most of these games the time it takes to build up vs the time it takes for someone to smash it is hugely disproportionate. Destroying 400+ hours of collective work in a few hours is devastating and most people don’t come back. On the same line of thinking most games don’t have a win condition so the only way to win is total war where you grief, camp and harass the other side until they disband or quit the game. This all creates this spiral where the more you win, the less opponents can recover, as opponents can’t recover they quit, and as they quit you have less people to win against.

Also that cycle also does apply to games like survival games people refer to as gankboxes. You see the same thing where an “alpha” group will take over a server, then basically smash any rivals that start up there until they quit and now they own the server essentially doing periodic cleanups of anyone who starts.

mystwen
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mystwen

Just last weekend, I killed my first player after getting attacked at a grind spot. Hubby and I were actually there to get a quest drop item; not grinding. Player attacked hubby out of the blue, and my awakened Tamer and Dog took him/her out.

It was a lower level area, so we didn’t need to grind it, and we had both just gotten the drop. If player had asked, I would have said, we are leaving now.

I have always dropped a bell when I’m going to be around a while, and then let it be known that I’m there and have put up a bell. If someone says I was here first, I’ll move away, or ask for just a bit of time. I’m usually just doing a quest, or getting last bit of XP for level. I don’t grind for money, but I’m aware of the rotations. I’m not there to mess them up or get killed. Works out if they will talk to you.

More aggravating to me is the ones who just run around on their horse knocking people off horses for no reason. Doesn’t happen much, but I watch for red dots when I’m running a horse somewhere.

Thanks for the article!

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Grim? Darhk

I find it funny that the BDO writer has more of an EVE mentality than the actual EVE writer.

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Sherrif

There’s no such thing as Karma bombing in this game, just PvPers that think killing is the only way to interact with people.

If somebody’s at a spot and you try to push them out by killing them, you’re just an asshole. If they come back and you keep killing them you are a player killer.

What about the people that show up and try to force you out of the spot by making you kill them? Simple, out farm them. Compete with them in a way that is far more balanced.

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Arktouros

Most rotations are pretty tight, so if your rotation is 5 packs of mobs and someone just camps pack 3 and 4 and messes it up that’s a 40% loss of income and XP. So if your grind spot is around 30m/hr and suddenly you drop to 18m/hr you’re kinda wasting your time when even terrible spots will give 20-25m/hr.

People who are actually karma bombing aren’t interested in chatting, talking or otherwise so any diplomatic solutions aren’t effective. They know there’s really nothing you can do about them.

Killing them is equally ineffective for obvious karma reasons discussed.

So there’s really no solution there except bad ones: You can accept less money/hr in the hopes that they will give up first and leave. You can leave yourself and now have to find a new spot having been bullied out of your area. You can kill them and deal with negative karma penalties. This why people complain about this scenario. It isn’t some justification for bloodthirsty action, it’s just a huge gap in the karma system they chose with every solution being bad.

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Seth Arnold

It’s an RPG game with open-world combat, lol! Just because you kill someone in it, doesn’t make you an asshole.

Why do you have to out farm someone? We have an activate PvP function, what do you think it’s for? PvE just like PvP isn’t balanced between the classes, you must be new to the game.

The game expects you to PvP over your PvE, and it also expects you to PvE in order to PvP. Stop crying about it and learn to play the game.

driveled
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driveled

This is mostly accurate but I think the consensus on BDO etiquette is generally the stronger player gets the spot regardless of who was there first. This means you could be in a spot for 30 minutes and someone who has played the game longer and is more powerful can show up and decide it now belongs to them and you are the bad guy if you want to stay. I don’t subscribe to that. I’m not karma bombing you if you decide to keep killing me…you’re doing it to yourself.

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Seth Arnold

If you keep putting yourself in a situation where you are going to die, you are as responsible as the person killing you.

driveled
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driveled

Just like its the girls fault for wearing that low cut dress.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

lol. here’s your grindspot etiquette: i’ve only ever been attacked when i was the first person at the grindspot.

every time i roll up on a grind spot i see if anyone is there. if they are i remember what i was taught at 4 years old: if someone has the toy first you have to wait your turn to play with it.

i have a 61 DK and a master trader. i adore BDO, but they cater to people who like to gank. not having a flag based system is so dumb. that’s why i imposed a year long break on myself from BDO. i enjoy the world, the combat mechanics, the myriad options of things to do, but man the pvp isn’t designed to be competitive, it’s designed to cater to jerks. full stop.

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3dom

I win 100% spot fights if anyone attack me: I just return to the spot till the attacker get perma-red from karma loss – then declare in server chat where people can find him/her and destroy his/her armor and weapons set. Everyone flees. Smarter people do it before turning perma-red.

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XSetiX

This works for the brain dead but any smart player will lower your heath close to zero and then feed you to mobs breaking crystals.

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Arktouros

Really hard to actually do this outside of a few edge case scenarios. 2s potion timers and increased effect in CC makes people pretty resilient. Most people who are like this aren’t in node wars or care about competition there’s no incentive to run expensive crystals, either. Personally I don’t run any crystal over 3m anymore even.

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Kickstarter Donor
Vunak

Agreed. Karma Bombing is a really prevalent problem in BDO that the developers are ignoring and have said they are not willing to make changes to the system.

It is unfortunate. I would love to see some real incentives and playstyles revolving around negative karma similar to the Pirates in ArcheAge or negative Karma players in the Lineage series.

There have been a TON of really good ideas from both sides of the community, PvP and non-PVP Players, to make it a better system. I remember way back before the game launched Jouska dropped a massive forum post with images on how they were planning on presenting Karma changes to Pearl Abyss. Instead we got a change in a total opposite direction of the proposed changes and it has been a cluster ever since.

The Karma system is one of the reasons I don’t play BDO anymore. I have always been a negative player, I love the high risk , high reward gameplay it offers. Unfortunately BDO doesn’t offer any reward and only a massive amount of negatives making that playstyle non-existent aside from a few people like Layvan who do it out of making a point.