Tag Archives: AV

A Little Bit Easier

MMO Champion has new details about some upcoming Battleground changes in the latest 3.3 PTR build:

  • The achievements to get exalted with the Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, and Alterac Valley factions have been removed from their respective “Master of” meta-achievements. Special titles will be offered to those who reach exalted with these factions.

  • Wintergrasp: You must now have the following ranks to build or pilot siege vehicles:
    • Rank 1: Build/pilot Catapults.
    • Rank 2: Build/pilot Demolishers.
    • Rank 3: Build/pilot Siege Engines.

Both of these changes are interesting in their own right.

The Achievements change is an interesting way to address the difficulty of reaching Battlemaster, and not the way I thought that Blizzard would go. Restoring the reputation turn-in system that Warsong Gulch used to have would have made it fairer for those who started playing later. This change makes Battlemaster much easier to get, and therefore cheapens it a bit. That makes me sad. I liked having an absurdly hard goal. The Justicar title gains a little luster with this change, but still — nerfing a difficult achievement is never cool.

(What does make me happy, though, is the introduction of titles for exalted BG reputation. This is cosmetic, but VERY welcome. It would be nice to see in other battlegrounds, if a bit impractical since they have no reputations to grind.)

The Wintergrasp change is complicated. First, let me draw attention to the non-obvious — there’s going to be an additional rank added. Depending on how this rank is implemented, it will likely make getting Siege Engines more difficult than it is at present, which will slow down their production. The other change, limiting the ability to operate a vehicle to those with rank, is a direct answer to the strategy covered in an earlier post, which will definitely slow down the mass production of heavy vehicles, especially at the game start. Both of these changes will have the effect of making Wintergrasp longer, which will result in more honor for everyone.

But it’s also a direct response to the complaints by those who couldn’t defend against the tactic. I’m disappointed to see it happen, but not really surprised. Battlegrounds aren’t any different from any other part of the game, and subject to the same changes. Bosses get nerfed after people have downed them, too. Things get a little bit easier all the time.

I may not have the Battlemaster title, but at least I’ll have the memory of having successfully defended Wintergrasp against a charge of 12 heavy vehicles, of frantically trying to throw enough people at the onslaught to slow it down as it charges up the hill, of holding the line at the walls to the inner keep as the last few Siege Engines explode.

We won’t see the likes of those rushes again.

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And the Winner of the Holiday HPM is….

Ihra has been crunching numbers over on Only God Can Make a Tree for a few weeks now on the relative honor per minute of each battleground on their holiday weekends. This week, he did Alterac Valley to get some numbers to check out if AV is as good as people think it is.

Take a look at the updated list and see where you should be spending your time if you’re grinding honor.

Me? I’ll be in my favorite battleground.

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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 Twink Vacuum

Dun Baldar Flag.png

So a funny thing happened on the way to Alterac Valley; the upper level brackets are suddenly THRIVING in the Ruin battlegroup. 3.2 has been very, very good for participation across all levels, and both sides. No longer is it 40:12 odds against the Horde in AV; matches are equal and the Alliance loses if they don’t play smart.

Glorious!  Wonderful!  I love it!

/bg chat is full of people talking, with some amazement, about how much XP they’re getting. I’ve gotten 2-4 bars in each battleground at level 59, with AV rewarding the most by far when our side plays well.

I think this increased participation is due not only to the new experience gains, but also the removal of twinks from the field. It is a sad, sobering thing to realize how much the fear of twinks kept people from playing the BGs.

The only twinks in the upper brackets are now ex-twinks. I sat for hours in queue with my experience frozen and never played a game once 3.2 hit. With XP gains on, I play in under a minute.  The queue times speak louder than anything I could write.  If you want to twink in the 50s or 60s, you won’t play.

Blizzard did a very good thing with 3.2. With one change they both added more positive incentive to play the battlegrounds, and removed the negative fears of being mercilessly steamrolled by twinks. I think that while that fear may have been valid in the lower brackets, it wasn’t in the upper ones.

I’m glad to see so many people in the battlegrounds once more.

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The Hangar Blitz

The Hangar Blitz.png

I’ve noticed a change in the Isle of Conquest in the few short days it’s been open. There’s now a vocal minority advocating a full assault on the hangar, storming the keep, and killing the General. This same group complains vociferously when the other players don’t follow this advice.

In other words: full-on nerd rage that everyone else screwed up their quick win.

I’m sad to see this appear so soon in the Isle.

The proposed strategy is relatively simple: attack the Hangar in force to control the Airship, use the Airship to parachute in force into the enemy keep, and kill the enemy general for a quick win.

The problem is, I’ve yet to see it work.

I think the Hangar-only strategy can work, if all of the steps above are followed and nothing goes wrong. Attacking with a sizable chunk of your force is essential to winning with it, though, and it can be stopped by a strong keep defense.

There are flaws with the Hangar-only strategy, though.

First, it’s not flexible in the face of failure. If you don’t win on the first try, you’re out of position for the rest of the map, and your keep defense is vulnerable. You might hang on to the airship, but at the cost of the Docks and Workshop. I have already seen a lot of nerd rage about how the failure to rush and hold the Hangar resulted in an automatic loss. I think that’s a problem with the strategy, not the execution.

This is because of my second objection, the extremely fragile supply line. You must hold the hangar to reinforce your assault, because the walls have been bypassed, not opened. You have no close graveyards to rez at, and if you lose one node the forces inside the keep are isolated.

My third objection us that it’s not a good maximizing strategy. Even if the Rube Goldberg-like steps are followed, you’ve traded a quick win for a lot of honor. Taking and holding the Quarry and Derrick yields a constant flow of honor. If you’re not in it for the honor, okay, I get that – but don’t tell me you’re in it for the marks. (Can you buy ANYTHING with Isle marks?)

This last part touches on what I think is the source of the Hangar-only strategy: Alterac Valley. The accepted AV strat is to kill Bal/Galv, take the towers, kill for 4 minutes, then kill Drek/Van. Because the map is asymmetric, the Horde have to also recapture TP or IBT to slow the Alliance zerg. But either way, this maximizes the honor you get from the battleground objectives while keeping the games short. There are some nuances to the order graveyards should be capped (skip FWGY or risk a lot of QQ), but this is pretty much the game plan.

The Alterac Blitz, though, forgoes every single objective but one: kill the boss at the end. Take at least half your force with 2 tanks and 4 healers and ride without stopping to the end of the map; do not engage the enemy at any cost, abandon everyone along the way, then MT on boss, OT on everyone else, and bring the heat. It’s a ludicrously simple plan to beat; put a quarter of your force to defend the chokepoint into your base, kill half as they ride by, the other half as they reach the boss. Without a nearby GY the attackers are sent to the other end of the map.

The way I see it, the Hangar-only strategy is a bad variant of the Alterac Blitz. It ignores all battleground objectives but one, it is fragile, and easily countered. I’m worried that the Hangar will become like the Stables are in Arathi Basin for Alliance, or the Blacksmith is for just about everyone – a node with more psychological than tactical advantage.

I don’t have a good counterstrategy to propose yet. I would think a balanced offense focusing on one node to bypass the walls (Hangar/Docks) to soften the defenses, and another to destroy the walls with siege from the Workshop is necessary. This needs to be coupled with roving packs to take the honor-producing nodes and interrupt the enemy, and a good, solid Keep defense.

Sadly, it’s much easier to yell “everyone to the hangar!” in /bg.

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The Alterac Valley Cave Incident

Last night I stopped by A Hero’s Welcome to see how my dear, drunk wastrel of a brother was doing.

I’m sorry if that’s too blunt for you, but seriously — after breaking free of the Scourge, he’s consumed enough alcohol to get Revered status with Ironforge. Instead of going out and doing something with the life he’s gotten back, he’s gotten himself thrown out of more inns than I can count. I prevailed on a mage friend of mine to port him into Dalaran, where at least I can keep an eye on him.

He drinks a little less. Maybe because the drinks are more expensive in Dalaran? I don’t honestly know.

Anyway. Sorry. It’s tough writing about family like this, particularly someone I looked up to my entire childhood.

So I pull up a stool at the bar. He looks like hell, which is pretty normal. He keeps trying to convince me that he’s out there fighting battles against the Horde, but I never see him actually leave the place. I honestly think he’s just reliving old battles, over and over again.

“I was just in the weirdest battle for Alterac Valley I’ve ever seen, ‘wise,” he said.

“Huh.”

“No, really. There was this Tauren with more health than I’d ever seen before. Not a little more, a lot more,” he said, his eyes a little wild.

“How much more?” I asked, ordering some wine. They have a really good house white here.

“15k.”

My eyebrows shot up.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t believe me either,” he said, taking a drink. “But that wasn’t the weirdest thing.”

My wine arrived. Just in time, too, I thought, taking a sip.

“I went into that cave — you know where the Horde always stream out — just to see what was in there. And there was a naked blood elf chick back there, swinging a sword at me.” He took a drink. I blinked.

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he replied. “Damnedest thing I ever saw. Can’t get her out of my head.”

“I can imagine, ‘wulf. Did you hit on her?” I know my brother. There’s a reason he gets thrown out of inns.

“Nope. Killed her good. But still…. I am never going back in that cave again,” he said, staring down at the drink in his hand.

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