Category Archives: Links

Absolute Beginner’s Guide To Battlegrounds

I’m not sure how I missed linking this earlier, but WoW Insider had a good beginner’s guide to the Battlegrounds of Warcraft late last week.

Zach Yonzon does an excellent job of not assuming you know anything about BGs, and is worth a read if you have never queued for Warsong Gulch.

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How to Raid ANYTHING

Mortigan the Lock has an awesome post up on a single set of rules On How To Raid ANYTHING that you must read.

I find it terribly hard to remember all the nuances of each boss fight. Sorry, but I’m just not hard-core enough to memorize who casts what, and I really don’t care if Pixie McNixie in the bottom of some hole is planning to fear me, sheep me, or chop me in half with a big heavy axe. Why? Because overall things are pretty much the same from one boss to the next, so I figured I could come up with a single set of rules on how to raid ANYTHING. I’ve appropriately named these rules “A Single Set Of Rules On How To Raid ANYTHING.”

I also quite liked:

If you’re cool enough to be a warlock like me, you can even strategically position yourself right next to a mage throughout the fight, and Soulshatter as needed. Be sure to turn toward the mage when Soulshattering, so that you can watch the look on his face when the boss 1-shots him. If you’re a mage, disregard everything I’ve just said, and take one for the team.

But then again, I’m a warlock, and we tend to die first. Mages should share in the fun.

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Rule 69

While I am sad to see the Dwarf Priestess go, she left us with the 100 Rules of Warcraft. I call to your attention Rule 69, since I will probably refer to it a lot:

69. Battleground Failure 103 (Less QQ, More Pew Pew!)

The people who complain the most about other people in the battleground are the ones who are working the least toward the objective.

Best of luck to the Dwarf Priestess in all her future endeavors. Her wisdom will be missed.

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The Imperfect Isle

Alliance Keep on the Isle of Conquest

I tried Isle of Conquest again this weekend, and lost. Not a lot, because I know when it’s just not working and quit while I was ahead… but I didn’t win any of the battles. The Alliance would mostly rush Docks, but every time we would get outnumbered and eventually get overwhelmed. Once the Docks were gone it would take maybe 10 minutes before the Horde stormed the Keep and won the match.

It’s a pretty consistent story now on the Alliance side.

THE SNIPE SPOT

Cassandri at Hots & Dots has a short but sweet look at the Isle of Conquest, and why the Alliance has such a tough time winning it.

It comes down to the Snipe Spot described by Rubymelon in his great post, The Secret to Winning Isle of Conquest and also discussed in this comment on WoW Insider. The secret, such as it is, is that the Glaives have a longer range than the defensive cannons on the keep. Their longer range exploits the strong-side/weak-side asymmetry Ihra noticed while looking at win/loss data, where the Docks’ western placement puts them on the Alliance Keep’s weak side (and the Horde Keep’s strong side.)

So the strategy that results in a Horde win every single time is for them to rush the Docks, take the Glaives, knock down the Alliance Keep’s west wall with impunity, and then kill the boss. The corresponding strategy on the Alliance side is to take the Hangar, but it is a weaker strategy because the Horde Keep walls are not destroyed, nor is there a disparity in the offensive/defensive weapon ranges.

Don’t mistake this for QQ. Fighting a battle means exploiting every asymmetrical advantage you can, and I’m really quite impressed at the players who figured this out. I’m not asking for any changes. The map is laid out in a way that favors certain tactics from certain sides, and there’s no way around that. Alterac Valley is the same way. I don’t think normalizing the ranges between the glaives and cannons will fix this; this is a map problem, too.

It’s no excuse; the Alliance should be able to find a counterstrategy that works:  destroy the Glaives at all cost, for instance.  But I think the damage has already been done to this battleground.

GO HARD OR GO HOME

Let me switch to Alterac Valley for a little bit. The 50s bracket of AV in Ruin was (before the sweeping PvP changes of 3.2) completely Alliance dominated. The matches would start 40 Alliance : 10 Horde, and the Horde would get slaughtered on the rush to Drek. Half of the Alliance team would get Drek, the rest would push them into the cave, and the matches didn’t take very long.

The Horde didn’t lose because of a map imbalance, though the AV map does favor the Alliance. (The bridge at Dun Baldar is a great defensive structure that when properly manned cannot be bypassed; the path into Frostwolf Village is not at good because the line of sight is broken, limiting many player abilities.) They lost because they didn’t show up. No matter how good you are, you can’t win a battleground against 3-4 times your number.

But you have to dig deeper? Why didn’t the Horde show up in that bracket, while the Alliance turned out in droves?

Because once upon a time, when it was equal, the Horde lost more games than they won due to a map imbalance. So they did what any rational player would do: either afk in the cave for marks and get honor elsewhere, or play something else entirely. There’s no reason to fight a losing battle when you can fight a winning one elsewhere.

But a funny thing started happening late nights while I was playing AV. The Horde showed up. And they showed up big time, with level 60s who knew what they were doing, and even though the matches started out 20:40, they soon filled up. Premades or not, if you have 40 on 40, it’s a real battle.

Yes, the Horde won most of those matches. They came in and played smart, with a good mix of offense and defense. They capped and recapped and defended and fought at the flag and took down Van in no time flat. They slaughtered the unprepared Alliance forces.

It was glorious, even from the losing side.

Those were the matches that taught me how to play AV, not the facerolls. /bg chat may have been filled with cries of “OMG WE CAN’T LOSE” and other QQery, but enough of us fought through to figure out how to win in the face of an actual opponent. Some of the best AV matches I played were those late-night AVs where the Horde showed up. Losing 0-10 on resources is heartbreaking, but also a hell of a game. We won some. We lost some.

When I got to the 71-80 bracket, I found where all the Horde really were. They were up at the level cap fighting normal AVs, and winning some of them. Not all, but they weren’t fighting a population disparity right away. The lessons learned in the earlier brackets came in handy as the strategies were the same, just the 80s hit much, much harder.

This old war story has a point. The Isle of Conquest has a balance problem that will drive players either to it, or away from it, just like Alterac Valley. Battlegrounds PuGs are good randomizers, so all other things being equal, an advantage in one side will cause that side to win more often statistically than the other. A rational player will look at this and say either this is to my benefit or disadvantage, and participate accordingly. Now that there are so many battlegrounds to choose from, players will go to where they feel they can get the best reward for their playtime.

I worry that Alliance participation is going to plummet in the Isle of Conquest, just like Horde participation did in Alterac Valley. Perhaps it will happen even faster, or has already happened — I have no way of knowing. But I have a hunch people will act in their own self-interest and the Alliance will stop showing up.

Which is really too bad, because the example the Horde set in Alterac Valley is the right one Alliance players should draw from. Don’t give up hope. Find a better way to fight, and exploit advantages that you do have. If that means making a premade, or only letting 60 twinks into the battleground, so be it. Perhaps the advent of rated battlegrounds will give the Alliance the organization it needs to overcome the Snipe Spot strategy. Perhaps not; the advantage will not be asymmetric. I think a more traditional strategy is necessary: yield the Docks, but kill the Glaives at all costs while pursuing a Hangar seems to be a good start.

But I do know that the imbalance in the Isle of Conquest map is already affecting people’s decisions about where to spend their time. Time will tell if this will turn the Isle into an Alliance ghost town or not.

POSTMORTEM

After writing the original post above, I logged in to the Isle to get some screenshots. I had been there for no more than 20 seconds when the Alliance won.

Sure enough, the player count helped explain why: Alliance: 40, Horde: 35.

I then won 3 in a row.

Moral of the story: You have to show up to win.

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The Flag is Noob Bait

Gnomeaggedon has a great post up about working together in EotS, The Flag is Noob Bait. It’s funny, with some good advice, and a touching twist at the end I won’t spoil for you.

Well, I’ll give you a hint — it’s something to think about when you have lost faith that your side can actually pull it together.

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Something is Rotten in the Isle of Conquest

The-Hangar-Blitz.png

Ihrayeep writes:

(A)lliance has a 37% win ratio here, which is drastically less than all the others. I’m used to losing slightly more (anywhere from 45-49 win, usually) but this is abnormal enough to raise an eyebrow. My initial response is the default one, to claim that alliance sucks, because that’s usually as good a fallback reason as any…except I can’t see why they would suck so much MORE in this bg than the other ones. It’s the same people playing. And it’s not like IoC has any “new” concepts — it’s recycled different things from AV, AB, and SotA, all of which alliance does significantly better in. So what gives here?

This matches my own experience in the Alliance side of the Ruin battlegroup.  My record in IoC is dismal: 2 wins out of 8 played.  25%.  Yikes.

Ihra’s theory about the elevation asymmetry of the map is a good one.  While the layout is symmetric, the addition of arial combat makes elevation matter in a way it doesn’t in, say, Arathi Basin.  The Lumber Mill affords you better visibility and one less way in to defend than the Gold Mine, but both sides can reach it equally without a “weak” or “strong” side.  That’s not the case in the IoC because there are cannons and vehicles involved.  If there were cannons on the Lumber Mill you better believe it would be the single most important node in Arathi Basin.

I haven’t seen the Hangar Blitz in my recent ventures into the Isle of Conquest; it’s all Docks, all the time.  And when the Alliance loses the Docks, sure enough the Ally Keep falls shortly thereafter.   So while the Docks convey an offensive tactical advantage to the Horde, they convey no corresponding advantage to the Alliance — except to deny them to the Horde.

The whole article is worth reading, as well as the other Honor per Minute analysis Ihra has done.  I’d be lying to say that I’m not pleased my initial hunch that Strand of the Ancients is the best might be right, after all.  :-)

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Warlock Battlemasters

When I first started PvPing, I eyed the achievement lists and found one at the bottom that gave me pause: Battlemaster.  A title well beyond even Justicar, one that shows complete mastery of the battlegrounds through the Burning Crusade.  Okay, there’s a goal to work towards, I thought.

Then I started working towards it, and holy moly, is that one hard achievement.  Alterac Valley was the easiest of the lot for me to get started on, what with being in my 50s and the Alliance owning that bracket.  Warsong Gulch was much worse for me as a Warlock, being a squishy cloth wearer.  As I started grinding out the reputation and trying to run the flag, I realized how long of a haul I was in for to get the Battlemaster title.

When I started playing a Death Knight, the situation in Warsong Gulch improved dramatically.  Achievements which formerly seemed impossible (Iron Man) were trivial, and I could romp through the field with impunity.  The experience really opened my eyes as to how some things that are easy with one class can be seemingly  impossible for another.

But “seemingly impossible,” much like the “mathematically impossible” Yogg+0 kill, doesn’t mean “impossible.”  It just means “really fucking hard.”

So it’s with some awe that I congratulate Jagoex on reaching the pinnacle of battlegrounds with his Warlock.  Serious, heartfelt congratulations!

Someday I hope to join you.  It’s just a matter of time.  :-)

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