Graveyard Camping

Graveyard camping is a controversial tactic used to corral and demoralize opponents in PvP. By killing opponents as they resurrect at the spirit healers, teams can control the flow of the game, achieve battleground objectives unimpeded, and undermine the spirit of the enemy. It is an effective tactic to farm honorable kills and killing blows, though it is less effective at farming honor when compared to quickly achieving the goals of the battleground.

It is controversial because many players maintain that it is fundamentally unfair, that it is the mark of bad players, and that it is morally objectionable to camp the graveyard. You have your enemy at a disadvantage and continue to press it, sometimes past the point where it serves any good game-related purpose, and instead are just farming HKs/KBs. In most brackets with a strong community, players and guilds who regularly camp the GY are called out on their behavior for public shaming. Screenshots are often provided.

When one team is able to sit on the other team’s GY and kill them as they resurrect until time runs out, it’s hard to sit there and say that this is a fair practice.

But things are rarely that simple in PvP.

WHY IT WORKS

Graveyard camping is effective because of three factors: positioning, preparedness, and the timing of rez waves.

Take a look at the above diagram, which I originally drew to explain why the changes to the WSG graveyard in 4.1 were going to encourage camping, and pay attention to how the opponents are arranged. Melee gets right up into the GY (Rogues and Warriors will literally get up the hill), ranged and healers stay at a distance. Meanwhile, the defenders are reviving all in a small, confined area, with few escape routes.

  • Rezzers are positioned poorly to defend healers and ranged when they return to the battle. Opponents can focus on them first, which eliminates a key element of the defense, because…
  • The camping healers are untouchable without focused ranged attacks. While some healers may move in a bit closer (especially if melee Shadowsteps/Charges into the GY), they aren’t in range of melee classes, and often ranged DPS will stay by the healers, peeling off any attempts to take them out.
  • Rezzers are susceptible to AoE attacks. When they come back, defenders are all within range of a good Pestilence, Howling Blast, Shockwave, Soulburned Seed of Corruption, etc.. While some of the attackers will be focusing on the healers, others can spread the damage around with ease. Death Knights are especially good at causing incidental AoE damage while DPSing down a target, but really any class can do it.
  • Rezzers often have no escape. Stealth is nullified, you can’t slip around to a better position. Open graveyards (like those in Arathi Basin) are much harder to camp than closed ones (WSG, AV, E/W GYs in SotA), so the defenders have no chance to reposition the fight for their advantage. The changes to the WSG GY encouraged camping precisely because they limited the number of escapes from the GY; now the prey has no where to run.
  • Campers often have multiple avenues of attack. Every time I get fired upon by ranged Horde on the ridge above Stormpike GY in AV, I curse out the GY design. Narrow canyon where I can get strafed by ranged but can’t get back at them? The terrain of many GYs allows campers several different positions, while defenders are stuck with one way out.
  • Rezzers can’t (easily) choose to go somewhere else. The only BG I can think of that allows you to really choose where you resurrect is Wintergrasp; WSG has no choice at all (only one GY), making it the most prone to camping. Yes, you can run to another GY, and that is sometimes the best option.

The campers are in a strong tactical position; the rezzers are in no tactical position at all. A group has to be disciplined and communicate how they are going to break the camp in order to make this work – usually a coordinated assault on the enemy healers – and many random groups can’t manage this. Even vent-coordinated groups can’t always manage something so simple as “kill the healers,” especially if there are multiple healers present. (Smart campers will get out of combat and resurrect fallen opponents, or have people run back to their corpses.)

Exacerbating the tactical weakness of positioning is that the defenders are unprepared. I don’t mean mentally unprepared, though there’s usually a second or two of absolute confusion when you come back to the BG. No, I’m talking about buffs – most buffs fall off with death and need to be reapplied. Melee may only have one or two buffs they want to apply (shouts, Horn of Winter, etc.) but casters often need 2-3 GCDs to get back up and running – GCDs which are spent getting attacked or, more often, not breaking the camp.

Buffs matter. A warlock going in without Demon or Fel Armor is weaker than one who has it up. Inner Fire is pretty important for Priests. The camping team will have full buffs; the defending team will be lucky to get even a few buffs on them. These little things add up. It’s personal weakness on top of tactical weakness, which doesn’t help matters. At all.

Not only is one team organized in good tactical position while the other side is disorganized, disoriented, clustered together with few avenues of escape, not only is one side better buffed than the other, to make it even worse, the camping team’s job gets progressively easier due to the timing of the resurrection waves. Every 30 seconds the defense starts off as strong as they’re going to get, but through focus and AoE, the defenders will quickly get outnumbered. Every 30 seconds they get reset into the same bad tactical position; only through killing the opponents heals and attrition will they be able to break it.

Oh yeah, but they have to break it before the reinforcements arrive from the enemy GY, which is usually only a minute or so away. Defenders generally have to break a camp within 2 rez cycles or it’s all for naught.

IS IT WRONG TO CAMP A GRAVEYARD?

I admit it; I’m a little perverse when it comes to finding things in PvP which are obviously wrong and only baddies do this and shaking them around in my head, trying to apply morality and ethics and tactics and strategy to them to see what happens.

I don’t think there’s much doubt that graveyard camping sucks when it’s being done to you. It does suck. I hate it. I hate feeling like there’s nothing I can do – especially in WSG – and that I’m just beating my head against a brick wall trying to get out. (Best tactic if you can’t break free after 1-2 minutes? Stop rezzing. You’re getting farmed, just refuse to play along and they’ll give up eventually.)

But just because something sucks and is personally frustrating, is it wrong?

It would be one thing if the tactic wasn’t effective at helping to win battlegrounds; it unquestionably is. There are valid strategic reasons for assaulting the enemy’s graveyard in every single battleground.

  • Warsong Gulch, Twin Peaks: Keep opponents away from your FC and reinforcing the EFC.
  • Arathi Basin, Eye of the Storm, Battle for Gilneas, Tol Barad: Hit the GY to keep defenders away from the node while you capture it.
  • Strand of the Ancients: Keep defenders away from your Demolishers, keep attackers away from the demos and walls.
  • Alterac Valley, Isle of Conquest: Bottle up defenders in non-essential graveyards (or the Caves) to allow your team to capture important objectives.

Each and every one of these is a valid strategy to use in battlegrounds. Occupy the enemy in once place while you win the battleground in another – that’s an elementary tactic. If you distracted them outside of the graveyards, it would be a valid tactic – get them to commit to a battle in Stonehearth while you take Dun Baldar, for instances. Camping a graveyard is even more effective than a mere distraction – you are forcing the enemy forces to stay in a single spot while your team roams free.

But … it lacks honor, doesn’t it? It lacks chivalry, and fairness. It’s not nice. It’s exploiting a weakness in your opponent. It’s hitting them when they’re down.

That’s … wrong.

/SMACK

What the fuck is wrong with you?

This is Warcraft PvP. This is a street fight. There is nothing fair about this game at all.

This game is about finding every single advantage you can use against your opponents and using them to win.

Every. Single. Advantage.

You have terrain that can be used to your advantage? Use it.

You have better gear than they do? Great. Use it.

You have better positioning? You’re using your healers effectively? You’re using the terrain of the game against your opponents? You’re creating a numeric advantage in other parts of the map because a few of your team are holding up a bunch of their team?

Great. G-fucking-G, as the kids say. You have done your job correctly.

This isn’t warfare in the 18th century, with lines of riflemen lining up in a broad field, standing shoulder to shoulder, allowing themselves to be mown down. You’re not a redcoat; you’re a skirmisher.

If camping the graveyard helps you win, do it. 

This game isn’t about playing fair. It’s about winning.

Snap out of it!

ALL IS NOT FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR

Battlegrounds are about winning… except when they aren’t.

Camping a graveyard is, in many circles, one of the most dishonorable things you can do. My previous bravado is to make a point – that winning is the goal of each battleground, and working within the set rules of the battleground and the game (no exploits, for instance) there isn’t much that’s off-limits.

There are some things I don’t personally like. I don’t like insulting opponents with /rofl, /chicken, or /spit (/spit especially gets my goat). I think taunting is unsportsmanlike in real life, and it’s unsportsmanlike in a game. But I realize it serves a purpose – to get under your opponent’s skin, to make them come after you and not your FC, to goad them into a fury so they make mistakes.

Taunting isn’t my style. I think you’re a punk if you choose to taunt, to be honest – but I get that it has a place, that it’s a valid tactic. I rarely think it’s worth doing to win, and that the world is a better place if we keep games civil.

But smack talk has its place in games, and that the best thing you can do is rise above it. They’re just words.

Graveyard camping is a bit different from taunting. I’ve seen it called “disrespecting your opponent,” which it isn’t, really – teabagging is disrespecting your opponent, taunting them is disrespecting them, because that’s the intention behind the action. The intentions behind camping a graveyard are less clear, though. Is the team doing it to help win? That’s not disrespect, that’s just playing smart. Respect (or lack thereof) isn’t part of the action or intention – it’s a strategy, nothing more, nothing less.

What if they’re doing it to farm honor/HKs? It’s not a terribly effective way to farm honor, to be honest – you get many more Honor Points from a quick win and requeue than you do from farming a GY. Honorable Kills are a different matter – you can argue that it’s not really that great, you’re better off getting into a AV turtle, but it’s still pretty decent as long as the opponents keep rezzing. (Hint: STOP REZZING.)

People don’t like being turned into a number. People don’t like being put into a hopeless situation, which is what graveyard camping does. It’s most definitely not a nice thing to do to someone, but if you’re doing it in support of winning the game, your intentions are not to torment the other players.

What if you’re just doing it because you can, though? What if you’re doing it to farm honor, to farm HKs? What if you’re doing it to be a jerk?

Whenever I see the FC farming the GY I’m like… this isn’t helpful, guys. Just cap the damn flag already, put the other team out of the misery. The other team can’t break the siege.

When you camp the graveyard to secure a victory, you’re doing what’s necessary to win, and it’s a morally neutral action. When you camp the graveyard to prevent a win, though, when you prolong it longer than necessary, your intentions are now front and center, and they’re a little unsavory.

See, the discussion about right or wrong isn’t really about graveyard camping – camping the GY is just the means to the end, not the end. The debate is really about what happens when you (or your team) achieves an overwhelming position of strength.

What happens when you can’t be beaten? What happens when you’re level 85 facing flagged level 20s? What happens when you’re a skilled Arena player facing freshly-dinged 85s? What happens when you’re a team of twinks facing a undergeared pug?

  • Do you hold your fire?
  • Do you kill quickly, win, and move on?
  • Do you kill slowly, draw out the inevitable?
  • Do you outright torment your opponents before killing them?

How you behave in a video game says a lot about you in real life. Graveyard camping is a window into how you think about a lot of things, big things – honor, compassion – but the biggest of which is mercy.

Do you feel pity for your opponent? Can you show them mercy, to inflict only as much suffering as you need and no more? Or are you caught up in the bloodlust, desiring to not just win, but to demonstrate your dominance?

See, graveyard camping isn’t really the problem. It’s a valid, effective tactic to use in every single battleground.

The problem is when players can’t take pity on their beaten opponents.

And the problem is when beaten players can’t tell the difference between camping to win, and camping to be cruel.

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26 Comments

Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual

26 responses to “Graveyard Camping

  1. Don’t forget that in lower level BGs, Rogues and Hunters (and to a lesser extent Arcane Mages) are OP compared to most clothies, and can easily one or two shot you without much trouble. If you get a rogue or two combined with a Hunter or Mage sitting high up, you’re in for a long day at the office.

    • I think I want to christen Warsong Gulch as “the office” now.

      Hunters can lock you down in the GY in lowbie PvP so fast it’s not funny. That said, they’re also – if they’re good – the best players on your team to take out healers. Send in the pet with Sprint active, Kill Command and Explosive Shot, then Scatter Shot on the healer or one of the camping Hunters.

      There can also be huge gear imbalances at low levels, which makes GY camping more prevalent. You also see more people doing it to farm instead of win, which makes me sad.

      • And the farming is about as stupid as it gets since you have to kill anywhere from 5-14 opponents for a single point of honor in the low level brackets.

        Killing blow. You’ve earned 0.07 Honor!
        Killing blow. You’ve earned 0.13 Honor!
        Killing blow. You’ve earned 0.04 Honor!
        You blow. You’ve lost 1,247 brain cells!
        Killing blow. You’ve earned 0.14 Honor!

  2. dpoyesac

    GY camping is a perfectly valid strategy. I’ve seen it, I’ve done it, I’ve had it done to me. Sometimes (low-level pvp especially) I realize I have other things to do and /afk out. Ultimately it’s no big deal.

    My issue with GY camping is that it can often be the sign of POOR GAME DESIGN.

    Take AB, for example: if Alliance are camping the GY at a node, that means they are NOT standing on top of the flag. I’ve been able to sneak re-cap LM so many times as the Alliance runs around the building to kill the new rezzers.

    In AB GY camping is a strategy — a choice to distribute resources a certain way — and the other team can (if they be smrat!) come up with a counter-strategy.

    But being camped in WSG often leaves the camped team NO strategic counter-strategy. I don’t mind losing if I’m outplayed. I don’t mind losing if my team freaks out, falls apart and we get farmed. But I do mind when I am beaten by the MAP, by a decision by Blizzard to solve a problem endemic only for a small sub-set of players.

    I hate the WSG GY because Blizzard took away CHOICES. I fail to see how restricting possible player choices makes the game better.

  3. zwinglisblog

    Cyn,

    As usual, you’re right. It is a valid strategy, that can be woefully twisted. I have a basic premiss that anonymity allows us to be more of what we already are. So, if a person is a jerk; their presence in a game like WoW gives them greater ease at being a jerk. If someone is an honorable person, practices mercy and kindness, then they will be that way in game as well. The anonymity of the games allows us be the kind of people we really are, with little pretense to hiding it as we do in real life.

    Z

  4. I can’t think of anything to add to this one, Cyn. That’s basically exactly how I feel about the whole thing word for word.

    I camp GY’s when it’s necessary; when I see a clear advantage of doing so.

    When I see my FC join in a GYC, I wish there was a flag I could turn on that let me turn against my own team. At that point they aren’t trying to win, they’re just trying to be dicks. I’d rather be a traitor.

  5. Graveyard camping has always been one of those things that I’ve had to deal with more than I’ve done. (This extends to more than just WoW at this point, too, as it’s quite prevalent in Rift.) Occasionally, our guild would go in with a premade of 8-10 people and we’d gy camp in order to get people achievements… or just for the sake of doing it. Our guild also had a no /spit policy, too. >.>

    That said, is graveyard camping innately wrong? No. Lowbie camping? Absolutely. ;)

  6. A big part of the problem is that the penalties for dying in a BG are pretty severe. Once you die, pretty much *all* control is taken away from you. You’re penalized in terms of time (got to wait for the next rezz timer to tick), in terms of power (no buffs!) and in terms of position (removed from the place where you should be fighting). IIRC, you generally don’t even get a choice about where you want to rez. Your options – personal and tactical – are severely constrained.

    All of which is pretty bad. Now, add in the fact that the graveyard locations were apparently picked and laid out by Bloody Stupid Johnson. What *should* logically be prime defensive points are – as you pointed out – all too often death traps. It’s a cascading pile of suck, one thing after another, and it’s all coming from the *environment*, not from your opponent.

    Anything that an opponent in a BG throws at us, my team mates and I can try to counter. However, when fate and the gods (as reflected in their minions, the BG designers) decide that we’re going to be helpless cannon fodder for the next 10-12 seconds, well, there’s nothing we can do about it.

    If there were a trinket that let you do this to an enemy, people would howl about how disgustingly OP it was. Yet it’s perfectly acceptable that dying in a BG results in a massive penalty that can be turned into a crushing victory by a handful of opposing players.

    When one of the valid options in response to an opponent’s BG strategy is “quit playing”, well, there’s something wrong. Not with what your opponent is doing, but the fact that they’re able to do it at all.

  7. Now, I’ve been camped many times in my day at a GY. I’ve actually found Defending on or near your GY has it’s bonuses as well.
    It’s sort of like constantly getting fresh recruits joining your army every 30 seconds. If you fight near here, you get the advantage that your teammates will come back faster than your enemy can run back to you from theirs.
    I’ve really found this works best with Random BGs.
    Being stuck there is a different concern. Sometimes someone just needs to be the meat shield and get the attention of the Enemies. Just long enough to get the rest of the people who rezzed a moment to flee. Just getting out of there and regrouping can make a world of difference.

    ~Fuu

  8. A great read. I honestly never thought of it that way. You talk about personalities – I’m type to keep on flying if I see a flagged member of the other faction questing at half health. Consequently, I don’t like campers – but after having read that, I see your points and agree – there’s a distinct difference between corralling the enemy for a win and killing them just because you can. And, I think, I’m going to keep in mind that rezzing into waves of AoE is a bad idea. :)

  9. mendoza

    Great post. I’d like to point out an example of how one can help their team by deliberately choosing to be camped in the graveyard. When I play Isle of Isle of Conquest, the usual starting play seems to be Horde (my faction) taking workshop and Alliance taking docks and hangar. My usual starting strategy is to hide near the docks and attempt to destroy the glaives when they head towards our keep. Once glaives are down, I run around in our Keep and harass the alliance who have catapulted/parachuted into our keep, trying to get them to focus on me rather than running bombs to the gate. Often this results many of them (10+) simply camping the graveyard waiting for me and maybe one or two others to spawn. When this occurs I feel I’ve helped our team win, as the alliance have pretty much stopped focusing on destroying the gate.

  10. I think GY camping is equivalent to a hockey player who is on the ice skating over to the opponent’s bench and beating the players sitting there with his stick.

    Sure, he’ll get kicked out but the damage he’s caused might help his team win.

    It’s just not cool, regardless of how some parts of the playerbase might justify it (or no matter what tactical advantage it can provide). The points aren’t worth the hit to my e-dignity.

  11. I can only think of one time when I was part of a team that was doing the GY camping… (all the other times we were being camped). I capped twice and finished the match despite calls from the team not to cap because they were ‘farming honor’. I should have replied that they got more honor from finishing and winning again, I didn’t. Part of my motivation for finishing the match was that I needed to go. However, from that perspective it was a winning tactic for our team, but clearly the motives of others weren’t the for those reasons.

    That said – unless it is a particularly organised group I’ve found that I can get out of the WSG camping most times – rezzing right at the back and dropping off and making a run for it. However if the rest of the group doesn’t make it out… it makes for a lonely BG – but I usually provide some distraction by trying to get the flag.

  12. It’s almost always a display of dominance followed by boredom. Every time I’ve been camped it’s at the end of a WSG or EotS when the enemy is 2 flags ahead or when they have 4 capped.

    If WSG is even a remotely even match you don’t get camped (in my experience) even if you are going to lose.

    I think it is a display of dominance with a side of “ooh HK this is so easy!”. Then it gets boring and eventually they will finish the match.

    I did once find myself on the other side: killing Horde as they rezzed in EotS with the rest of my team. Some of there team were clearly AFK and I felt pretty bad. That was me forcing someone to AFK rather than play the game with me.

    Never done it since.

  13. dakotarick

    I woke up a bit early this morning and “The Office” came up as a random. Our opponents executed a perfect GY camp strat. The quick capped the first flag and Camped the GY while they quickly capped the rest. We lost 3-0 in probably less than 5 minutes. I am not a fan of honor farming and would rather just win or lose and move on.

  14. Good read and interesting analysis on the BG design.

    Disagree with the statement, “How you behave in a video game says a lot about you in real life.” How I behave in a video game says a lot about how I play a video game. That’s like saying people who play rogues are inherently dishonourable. They sneak up and stab people IN THE BACK. But really, it’s just a game mechanic. So yes, some people are jerks online and in real life, it just seems like a fairly big stretch to make that conclusion about most people who do jerky things in video games.

    • I agree and disagree. I fully agree that the morals of game mechanics have nothing to do with the morals of players; to use an example from Raph Koster, running over people and getting a blowjob from a hooker no more means you practice vehicular manslaughter and solicitation than playing Pac man means you’re afraid of ghosts.

      On the other hand, practice makes permanent. It’s a lot easier to be callous in the real world if you do it for several hours a day in game. That doesn’t mean you DO or WILL, but only that it’s more likely that you MIGHT.

  15. I wrote a nice long comment, then deleted it because I felt like it wasn’t really adding much nor was really clear, and then came back because I realized the point I was trying to make:

    Cheating is evolutionarily advantageous. It’s built into our natures to cheat.

    We don’t, though, all the time because we can
    A) intellectually understand that it might actually harm us in the long run
    B) emotionally understand that it might be hurting others
    C) socially understand that it might make others dislike us
    D) logically understand that there are structures to prevent us (rules in games, for example)

    In BGs, though, only one of these really matters, and that’s B. There’s no long term damage if that’s your core strategy. There’s no social stigma if you’re anonymous in a huge community. There’s no logical structures to prevent it; in fact, as Cyn pointed out, it seems like Blizz is actively supporting it.

    Only B might matter, and you know what I think about the callousness of a lot of WoW players (at least the noisy ones in game).

    It’s impossible to define something as “cheating” if it fits within the ruleset, and it’s hard to talk about morality in games with gamers who only see game mechanics, not people, on the other end of the game. I can say, though, that I dislike the practice and feel it’s against the spirit of the competition. Until an official does something about it, though, it’s a moot point.

  16. I’m in the win fast camp. Graveyard camping is fine up until you have the third flag and then you hand in, you don’t spend the next 20 minutes slowly grinding honor.

    I actually ended a recent argument about the ins and outs of camping (more than half the team were in favour) by lifegripping our flag carrier into the capping position. He and I were the only ones in our flag room, the other 8 were camping a rather sad and demoralised team at their graveyard. We had steam-rolled them repeatedly to the point where they couldn’t afk fast enough, prolonging it was just mean.

    On the subject of “taunting” through the use of emotes. Mr Harpy is a great fan of that and as much as I hate it, it does seem to tunnel vision people keeping them off me (as a healer this is awesome) and on his healed dpser. The gnome /chicken has to be one of the most annoying noises ever made.

  17. Pingback: Suggested Reading: October 15, 2011 « Tree Heals Go Woosh

  18. Velorama

    I really wish it was easier to convince people that you earn less honor farming than completing objectives in re-queuing. It would be nice if Blizzard offered better honor bonuses for quick wins. I hate it when my team is up 2-0 and we won’t cap because everyone wants to farm.

    Sometimes I just wish they just took honor points away so people would just focus on playing the game. Aren’t games about completing objectives? The point of WSG is to play capture the flag, not to sit and kill the opponent over and over and over again. When my team camps, I feel like I am at the factory, working a job. I join BG queues to play BGs and have fun, not to farm some imaginary currency in an imaginary world to buy imaginary gear. /deepbreath

    • Mick

      The thing is, though, that the point of WSG (or any BG) is different for different players. For some, the point is to cap the flag and win the BG. For others, it’s to go out there and get HKs. I’ve been in plenty of WSG BGs where there are extremely well geared players who could easily win the match (I’m thinking DKs with 200k+ health and oodles of resilience but won’t carry a flag) but would rather stay in the middle and kill. Their objective is not to win the BG. Is it to rack up the HKs for achievements? Maybe. Or maybe they just like to be stronger than other toons.

      As far as there being a penalty for camping or other “dishonourable” kills, I think for some of these players losing honour points or something similar wouldn’t matter. Maybe if they incurred a penalty (like rez sickness) that hampered their ability to fight and made them easier to kill?

  19. Just read this, and I think this is one of your best articles yet (though really, everything you write is pure gold. So long, so thoughtful!)

    Personally, I only jump on the GY camping train if the rest of the team is doing it. And in the randoms I do, usually the only reason people do GY farming is for the HK and not strategy… Luckily, there are usually 1 or 2 or us who realize everyone is busy and hurry along and get the flag (as usually I only see the GY camping in WSG). Though when it does happen in Arathi, it’s usually lower-level BGs that didn’t have enough players on one side, who then quickly get creamed as all five bases are taken and they get killed repeatedly in the home base. But at least that goes quick.