The Arathi Basin Fast Start Exploit Needs Fixing

I took the above picture after exploiting a bug in the walls of Stormwind that allows you to break out of the model and fall underneath the city.  It’s actually really cool, if offering little or no tactical advantage – you run around on a big plane with the city half-formed above you.  You can explore the hills above Stormwind Harbor, run all the way to the Burning Steppes, and fall through holes in the floor to special locations within Stormwind, like the Wizard’s Sanctum, above.  (If you place a Demonic Circle on the ground before jumping, you can teleport back under the city when you’re done!)

Wall bugs and exploration exploits like this are harmless.  If you’re Horde and you really want to use this place to summon a raid to attack Stormwind, you can – but it’s definitely easier to use someplace even less travelled like Cutthroat Alley or a building in the Dwarven District or the Park, since your summoned underground raid has to exit by the Docks anyways.  (Seriously, when was the last time you needed to go to the Park as Alliance?)  This is just an exploration bug, one that appeals to our innate curiosity.  I got down under the city, looked around, got some screenshots, and left satisfied.  No harm, no foul.

Exploits that confer advantages, though… Those are different.  I’ve written about Battleground Exploits before, and I don’t think my position has changed all that much.  As long as the putative exploit is open to everyone in a PvP environment, I’m pretty okay with it.  But when it’s not open to everyone, when it clearly favors one side over the other…

Well, that’s when I call foul.  And I’m calling foul now on Arathi Basin.

It is possible for Alliance characters, and only Alliance characters, to exit the preparation area and capture bases in Arathi Basin before the match begins.  This is different from the Eye of the Storm exploit which allows players to exit the claustrophobic bubble, because players can’t leave the floating rock even if they get out of the bubble.   No, you can have bases under your control before you even begin.

In a recent AB, we were 3-0 before the gates even opened.  And that was patently unfair.

A single person can transform the starting map from this, to this:

That’s what a single player with the right abilities can do if they move quickly – have one (or two, if they get to LM really fast) graveyards under Alliance control and 3 flags already collecting resources, with a fourth about to fall. A coordinated Alliance group can 5 cap the entire battleground before the Horde reaches their first flag.

This is blatantly unfair to Horde players.  And it needs to be fixed, soon.

It’s one thing if an exploit is something that both sides can engage in.  It’s not great, and should still be fixed, but at least I can justify it as something everyone should do to level the playing field until Blizzard fixes it.  But as far as I know, it’s impossible for Horde players to leave the starting area early.  The geography and layout of the Horde area prevent it.

I’m not going to go into details about how this exploit works.  The knowledge is already spreading in the wild, and the people engaged in it are happy to discuss it.

But it’s your responsibility as a player to not do it.  There’s no defense here, no gray area.  This is an exploit.

I see two simple changes to hot-fix it:

  • Change the layout of the Alliance starting area, expanding the area enclosed by the fence to prevent players from leaving.
  • Eliminate the ability to cast certain spells during the preparation phase, much like was done to Strand of the Ancients and Water Walking.

(Simple in concept, if not in execution.  I work in IT and know that software problems are often more complicated than they seem.)

Changes have been made to Arathi Basin’s geography before — the outhouse that let you climb on to the roof of the Stables was removed in one patch, and the terrain changed to make running leaps onto the roof impossible — so the first option is possible to do.  The second option is more of a bandaid fix, but one within an existing framework.

I like winning.  I really like winning.  But I don’t like winning like this.  If you see this in action, make sure you file a GM ticket reporting the person who did it.  You don’t need to cheat to win.

The Battlegrounds are probably the liveliest places in Azeroth right now, with lots of bored players rediscovering the joys of PvP while waiting for Cataclysm to hit.  Stuff like this ruins their enjoyment and gives battleground enthusiasts a bad name – no matter which side you’re playing on.

We’ve got a maintenance going on right now.  I hope it includes a fix to this exploit.

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25 Comments

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25 responses to “The Arathi Basin Fast Start Exploit Needs Fixing

  1. battlechicken

    I have a great screenshot showing us getting flags before the BG, I’ll come back and post them when I can.

    Agree with you on this 1000%.

    • battlechicken

      Here they are; irritated me so much. I don’t want to have to doubt if a win is because we did well or because some jerk cheated.

      First one, where you can actually see him mount up after capping the Stables with 1 minute left before the gates open: http://twitpic.com/2foeie

      Second one, where he’s capping Lumber Mill with 12 seconds on my DBM timer: http://twitpic.com/2foerh

      I reported him, and I hope he gets at least a 72 hour ban for that ridiculousness.

  2. I’ve been in pre-match 5 caps before, and while it was fun for me to see that happen the first time because it was so ridiculous.

    It only took one person to use the exploit, then everyone else exploited the exploit. Once one person go over there he hopped up on his Mammoth and everyone could mount through the fence and then jump off and start capping.

    I know that the Horde used to be able to do it, because the first time I’d ever heard of it was when I saw it happen myself. I believe Blizzard implemented a fix that supposedly stopped both factions from doing it, but while it did work or the Horde it did not work for the Alliance. I’ve never bothered finding out how to do it on Horde, so I’m going from what I heard during that BG that it was closed off permanently for the Horde.

    As for the Outhouse in AB, they might have took it away, but you can still get on top of the building by using the fence, so it was a poor attempt at a fix when they could have just put up an invisible wall to stop you. An invisible walkway is how you exploit AB right now, so why not use the same concept to prevent exploits rather than enabling them?

    But yes, this kind of crap really does need to be fixed. Like other forms of cheating, it might be fun the first few times you do it, but in the end it takes all the rest of the fun out of the game as there’s no longer any challenge to it.

  3. I’ve been in ABs before where the Horde can also perform the same exploit – believe me, it’s not limited to just the Alliance side, and it’s just as annoying.

  4. I should also mention that it was just a few weeks ago, too, so that “fix” didn’t happen.

    • I don’t have any characters capable of doing the exploit Hordeside, or I’d test it out. I’d heard the same thing @psynister heard, that it was fixed recently.

      Anyone have a Horde mage or engineer who wants to see if it’s still possible? Just get over the fence to prove it can be done.

    • Pix, had some folks test it last night and it seems to be fixed on the Horde side. Perhaps there’s a new way to perform it?

      • Certainly seems that way. Another AB run this past weekend had the Horde with the Farm and the Lumber Mill prior to the gate open. One of these days, I’ll remember to get a screenshot so I can e-mail it to you.

  5. Mike Norton

    Yes, it should be fixed. But, even if both could use it, it is still an exploit and not what the author intended. Therefore avoid using it and report those who do, on both sides.

    Taking the stance that “Hey, we have a cheat, lets use it until Blizz fixes it” is simply a poor choice when one wants to be a “good” member of society.

    Thanks for the post. I love how you express concern but dont give out the secret sauce, although I think the comments are getting close to letting someone know how/what to do. :)

    • Yeah. As far as Psynister and I have been able to determine (and having had some people try it on the Horde side last night without success) this is still Alliance-only, but you’re right – it really doesn’t matter. This exploit so obviously fails the reasonableness test that even if both sides could do it, it still needs to be fixed. The imbalance just lit a fire under me to get this posted and out in the open.

      Keep in mind that my argument is not that you should use cheats whenever possible, but rather that advantages within the confines of the PvP game should be pursued because your opponents will do the same. I still don’t think climbing on the roof of the Stables should be considered an exploit, since 1) every player could do it, 2) characters on the roof were still attackable (if not pathable), and 3) it took place within the parameters of the game. (The biggest debate is really around that third point, which – while I don’t agree – at least I can see the point of people arguing that it was never the intention of the developers to let people onto the roof.)

      The Fast Start exploit fails all three of those conditions: not everyone can do it, there’s no way to counter, and it’s obviously before the start of the match. It’s cheating, pure and simple.

      As for giving out the secret sauce, it’s sadly easy to find. I really hope Blizzard fixes this soon.

      • IF horde could do it (which seems to be an open question still?), arguably it could be countered if the cheaters happened to run into other cheaters from the other side. But I agree on principle.

        I usually see this exploit pulled too late to make a difference — ie the flags are still under cap when the match starts and since that one guy couldn’t defend the three flags he just tagged I figured it wasn’t worth reporting.

        *shrug*

      • darky

        I have seen so many of these and it makes me sick…when they do this, i dont try at all to help alliance win. and when they say why arent you helping i say “too busy writing a ticket” or “go cap it yourself, oh wait, you can only cap before game starts” they get mad and i get called all sorts of names but i refuse to help in a game where it isnt fair.

  6. There are a few things in Arathi Basin – and BGs in general – that I thought had been ‘fixed’ but still seem to happen.

    Like getting up on the Stable roof in AB, I had heard that Blizzard had fixed it but last night there were a couple of Horde up there.

    I also thought they’d fixed it so that the BG wouldn’t start unless there were equal numbers but yesterday I was in an AB that started (and ended quite soon after) with 2 alliance onto 15 horde. Lucky for me I was one of the 15, and while it was a quick win, easy XP, it wasn’t what I’d describe as fun.

    Horde definitely used to have access to the exploit you described as well because I saw it used a few times when I was leveling alts at the start of the year.

    • I have seen the 1:15 happen in Arathi Basin. I haven’t seen the 40:10 Alterac Valleys that used to happen all the time, though.

      I don’t hold out hopes for quick fixes on most of these bugs. Old content is less pressing than new content. But it would be nice if they could spare some development cycles to address these issues.

  7. I think based on your twitter comments I can surmise how the exploit works. Definitely this needs to be fixed ASAP. Just because you *can* cheat definitely doesn’t mean you *should*.

    Off-topic, I’ve done the ‘under Stormwind’ thing. It was a lot of fun. I also did the “get death-gripped off Booty Bay wharf and go sailing across the world” for the short time that it worked. It was a lot of fun, and didn’t hurt anyone or confer an unfair advantage.

    • Going under Stormwind was the most fun I’ve had in Stormwind in a LONG time. It was great to see behind the curtain.

      • I think my favourite part was seeing people running around over my head, fishing in the canals, etc! So strange and cool. I took many screenshots.

    • battlechicken

      I got surprised into it. Cynwise told me they were trying to jump onto something in SW. I was bored and it sounded extremely entertaining to watch, so I came and found the little group of corrup–I mean, adventurers. I was like, “oh, I bet I can do that!”

      Next thing I know, I’m on an empty field underneath the city. It was awesome. lol.

      Also, who will admit to being an EotS bubble escaper? That’s another good harmless exploit.

  8. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has seen this happen. I’ve been in 2 different ABs where 3 bases were captured before the match even began.

    I would like to see an official Blizz response other than “open a ticket”:
    http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=26137184796&sid=1

  9. Wow, having spent the entire weekend in AB since it was the CtA I never saw this from either side. But then 2 of my 3 battlegroups are in the slow lane it seems. It should be fixed soon.

  10. You’d be proud to know that I ran a premade this weekend where someone suggested using it…I quashed it right away, and the firmness of my response caused others in the raid to think about it for a second and then come down on my side. Spread the word a little bit at a time :)

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