Tag Archives: Essays

The Battleground Scoreboard

If you’ve played a Battleground, you’ve seen the Scoreboard. There, posted for all players to see, is the recount of a few key statistics of every player present when the BG ends. It pops up as the match is won, letting the combatants know who won and that it’s time to move on. You have to click “Leave Battleground” on the scoreboard to exit the BG, or stare at it for 2 minutes. I feel like I should capitalize it or something, because there’s no avoiding The Scoreboard.

It’s big. It’s bold. It’s in your face.

And it’s a problem.

MEASURING BATTLEGROUND SUCCESS

The problem with The Scoreboard is psychological: if you present numbers about an item to people, they will use them to judge that thing and compare it to other, similar things. There’s nothing wrong with this — quantifying things is what numbers are for.

But what if you’re measuring the wrong things?

Let’s say I have two Mekgineer’s Choppers. One has the equivalent power of 30 horses, the other 60. If I’m choosing between the two, and that’s the only measurement I have, I’m going to pick the 60 horsepower Chopper every time.

But what if the 60 HP Chopper smells like old Yeti fur? Or it will go twice as fast but require four times as much fuel? Or it blows up occasionally? Or the 30 HP one comes with an in-dash navigation system with automatic quest turnin and XP bonus? Now which one should I get?

Numbers are great at quantifying elements. But we, as people, have a tendency to give them too much weight when presented with numbers.

Let’s take the example scoreboard up above. What are the two most important conclusions that you can draw from it?

I’ll give you some hints.

  • It’s not that Sidni-Medivh led the Damage Done column, though she did. (Warlocks represent!)
  • It’s not that the Horde had the top 2 healers, though they did that, too.
  • It’s not that Dukko, the only Rogue in the battleground, topped Honorable Kills and tied for first with Killing Blows.

No, the most important thing the scoreboard displays?  The Alliance won.

The other important thing to notice is that the Horde was running a premade.

The Scoreboard does tell you these two key pieces of information. But the numbers presented on it are irrelevant to the story of that battleground. Two teams of twinks faced off, and the PuG beat the premade. Every single person contributed in this battleground.

Even now, after hundreds of battles, I find The Scoreboard puzzling. It presents the most important piece of data — who won or lost — in the smallest space possible, while the bulk of the report is given over to individual metrics. For something that is a team activity, this is mystifying. It would be like reading the sports page and having to hunt for the actual results of the matches among the individual player stats. At a high level, I don’t care if one team gained more yards than the other, or who got the most fouls; my primary concern is if they won or lost.

The problem with this presentation isn’t semantic, though. If, in your final summary of the game, you stress the performance of individuals over the performance of the team, the players of that game will start thinking that their individual numbers are more important than the team’s performance.

But topping the meters while losing means that you were highly effective at doing the wrong thing.

THE RECOUNT MENTALITY

When I first started playing battlegrounds, I often looked at my damage in comparison to everyone else, and since I was usually pretty high, life was good. When I played my DK it was even better, because I’d often lead damage, HKs, and killing blows, because Pestilence used to be even more awesome than it is today, and Howling Blast was within reach of a level 59 Death Knight.

Every time I lost while topping the meters, though, I got pissed. How could we lose if I’m out there dominating? Look at my numbers, people, I owned midfield! Sure, I ignored the EFC, but someone else should have gotten him!

In Heroics and Raids, I’d call this The Recount Mentality, when you start improving your individual performance at the expense of the group.  Here’s a shot from ICC-25, where I finally broke the 10k DPS barrier on a single boss (Lord Marrowgar.)

I did a lot of things right in that fight. I had good cooldown management, I popped potions in the right spot, I stayed out of the fire. But once I saw that I was doing well on the meter, I started doing stupid things that I don’t normally do. Once Decimation hit, I ignored everyone who was spiked and focused solely upon the boss — despite what our raid leader asked, and what I know my job is to do — all in the name of more damage. That meant other people had to stop to take out the bonespikes, lowering their individual DPS, because I was focusing on the boss.

And I only did that because I had Skada open, so I could see that I was already near the top of the charts, and had a shot at breaking 10k.

The psychology of measurement is really fascinating. And by fascinating, I mean sometimes it’s a pain in the ass. Instead of focusing on the main goal – is the boss dead? – we’ll sit there and compare ourselves, based on a number which may or may not reflect our real performance.

If you want to observe this in action for yourself, try raiding for a night without any meters.  No meters whatsoever.  Once you let go of the idea that you need to know how well you’re doing, you’ll probably find it very relaxing.

MEASURING THE RIGHT THING


Damage seems a simple thing to measure.  Unlike healing, where you have several different types of effects you need to track, damage is damage.  On a tank and spank fight, at least, you sit there, you wail on the boss, the boss dies, you loot.  If I do 5k DPS on Patchwerk, and you do 6.5k DPS on him, you’re doing more DPS.

But most fights are not that simple.  You may need to move to avoid the floor killing you.  You may need to interrupt certain abilities, or dispel certain effects.  You might need to switch onto adds, or slow your damage down during certain phases to make sure the tanks aren’t overwhelmed.  You have a role to play in the fight that is more than just standing there and doing damage.  Those things are vitally important to the success of the raid, but don’t contribute to your DPS.

In PvP, this issue is magnified.  If you aren’t fearing, counterspelling, kicking, trapping, and silencing your way through a fight, you’re going to get controlled and likely will die.  If you aren’t bandaging and healing when necessary, you’re going to die.  Damage Per Second is a completely meaningless metric in PvP.  Every few actions will be something not damage related, or focusing on burst instead of sustained damage.

And yet, there is the metric on The Scoreboard:  Damage Done.

It honestly didn’t take me long to stop getting pissed at other people when we lost but still topped the charts.  Instead, I got angry at myself for having done the wrong thing, for having focused on personal glory instead of winning the match.  What did I need to do differently?  (You mean fighting in midfield and ignoring the EFC wasn’t the right thing to do?)

I think that’s one of my biggest frustrations with The Scoreboard: it doesn’t tell me if that was a good battle for me or not.  The more I play, the less important the metrics on it become.  How many HKs, okay, fine, I was on defense so I didn’t get as many of those.  How much honor, okay, well that’s totally skewed because of the random BG finder.  Deaths can tell me a bit about how well I did, but I usually already know if I’d had a good game or not.  And battleground objectives?  Did I take the right graveyard?  Did I hold that tower after I assaulted it?  Did I peel the healers off the EFC?  Did I keep the flag away from others and then let the druid take it?

If I can’t use the data to evaluate my own performance, why would I think it would be right to evaluate others with it?

When you start looking at The Scoreboard, and using your performance on it to justify anything, you’re doing it wrong.

(In case you’re wondering, the example at the beginning of this section is what happens when you have a draw.  How’s that for poor display?)

WHAT THE SCOREBOARD DOES WELL

I’m not completely down on The Scoreboard.  It’s a valuable tool that lets you know some key information:

  • The class composition of your opponents.
  • If someone is AFKing, leeching honor by doing no damage or healing.
  • The server composition of your opponents and if you’re facing a premade.

The first one, class composition of your opponents, is vital in the planning stages of a battle.  If you see you’re in WSG against 5 hunters and 5 DKs, you may just want to leave, because that one’s going to hurt.

Detecting AFKers through The Scoreboard is fairly reliable, though plenty of smart bots now exist that ride out and perform simple PvP actions.  (It’s unnerving to watch those in action, by the way.)  One weakness is that you don’t know how long someone has been in a BG, so if a real player has just zoned in with 0 damage/healing, they’ll look just like an AFKer.  You have to give folks a minute to find a fight before judging.  (Adding the time spent in the match to the display would help here.)

The last point, that of detecting premades, is of dubious value.  I don’t really care if I face a premade or a PuG, and you shouldn’t either.  I’ve faced plenty of premades which were terrible, and plenty of PuGs which were awesome.  A premade never, ever means instant win.  (It does mean you have to use /bg chat, though.)

Oh yeah, one last thing:

  • Who won the battle.

But you probably already got that one down.

YOUR PERSONAL BEST

Different types of sports have different ways of determining success.  On a team sport, you are expected to sacrifice your personal best for the good of the team.  You can be the best wide receiver in the league, but if you decide not to throw a critical block because that’s not your job, well, you’re not a team player, and your team will fail because of it.

Individual sports are honestly different.  Individual sports are as much about beating your personal best effort as they are about beating the competition in a given match.  Constant improvement is the goal, and if you’re beaten by someone else but you still beat your personal best?  You’ve done better than you’ve ever done before, and that’s pretty damn good.  (Is it nice to beat your opponent?  Yes, absolutely.  But it’s not the only thing.)

It’s a pity there isn’t a better way to measure personal best in Warcraft.  For damage dealers like myself, it would be nice to be able to look at my previous attempts on a fight and go, have I done more damage this fight than last time? What about my DPS, was that higher?

But even with the recount addon tools we have, that kind of information isn’t available.  So we instead resort to comparing ourselves with others, and with our hazy recollection of our past performance.  In PvE it might be possible to store this information, but in PvP?  Too many variables.

Some days I defend Stables, other days I attack all over the Basin.  Those can both be very good games.

QUALITY VERSUS QUANTITY

I think what I’m fumbling towards is an objection to the influence the Scoreboard has in leading players to think that maybe this part of the game is about individual accomplishments, not team play.  Gnomeaggedon touched on this in his recent post There is no “I” in “PvP”, and BBB commented on it during Children’s Week, just to start with — but every time you enter a BG and see anyone talking about topping the charts, you feel its influence.

The key to winning a battleground is individual excellence in a team setting. The people on your team have to be able to execute and get the job done and perform.  Every single tired sports cliche I can think of applies here.  They have to be better than their opponents individually and as a team.  You can’t have one without the other.

If I were to try to encapsulate how I evaluate players in PvP, it wouldn’t be through metrics on an individual battle. They might contribute to my evaluation, but it’s pretty clear at this point that I think the Damage Done and Healing Done numbers are a load of horse-pucky.  If you can do a lot of damage, or heal a lot of damage, that’s a good sign that you’re doing well.

But are you winning fights?  Do you have a presence on the battleground?  Is the enemy gunning for you because they think of you as a threat?   Do you do the right things in a battleground?  Are they cool under fire?  Do they have a good attitude about losing?  Are they trying to improve?  These are the questions I ask myself when trying to figure out how I did, and when trying to figure out if someone else is a good player.

That’s what this is ultimately all about, isn’t it?  How do you tell if someone is good?  If they put up big numbers but they lose every game, are they better than someone who wins more but puts up smaller numbers?  What about someone who puts up big numbers and wins?

Using numbers to determine something’s quality is fraught with peril.  It’s an easy trap to fall into — the meteoric rise of GearScore’s popularity attests to this — but quantity should never be confused with actual quality.  The numbers on the scoreboard may be an indicator of performance, but that’s all they are — an indication that they can put up big numbers.

And yet, at the end of every battleground match, there’s the Scoreboard.  Sitting.  Waiting.  With your number on it.

Evaluating quality of play is more complicated than just slapping a number on people and stack ranking them.

TOWARDS A BETTER SCOREBOARD

Enough bitching.  This is a solvable problem.

  • First, leave the existing scoreboard in place.  It has value and doesn’t need to be taken out of the game.
  • Add a new field: time spent in the battleground. This will make it easier to detect AFKers.
  • Add API hooks into the scoreboard data so addons can make use of it.  (This would also allow you to report AFK through your raid frames.)
  • Present a different summary of the battle when it completes, emphasizing the team accomplishment and your individual contributions to it.

Really, it’s not The Scoreboard that’s the problem.  It’s how it’s used that is the problem, and the message that it sends that you need to compare yourself in order to succeed.

Here’s what I would rather see at the end of the match:

The result of the battleground is clearly displayed, unlike The Scoreboard’s display.  More than 50% of the display is dedicated to the most important piece of data:  who won.  You don’t have to look up at the color of a 5 pixel bar at the top of the scoreboard to figure it out.

Only your personal performance is displayed at first.  This lets you review your own performance and calls out some important information you’d actually like to know (like honor points gained) and lets you compute your honor per minute easily.  Honor points are the only loot we take away from the battlegrounds, so we should bring that data front and center.

And finally, links are provided to view The Scoreboard or to leave the battleground.  This allows people to still review the data they’re used to, to compare themselves to others if they like, and to see how your team fared against your opponent.

I know that redesigning The Scoreboard won’t magically make people look at Battlegrounds as a team sport.  I think it will, however, help players focus on success as a team, and help reduce the Recount Effect in BGs.

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An Eye for an Eye

All reports point to Eye of the Storm as being the problem battleground for the School of Hard Knocks achievement. If guildmates who are skilled in PvP leave it frothing in rage, I can only imagine how inexperienced players are taking it.

There are two problems in EotS. First, your task can be easily disrupted by one player from either team. Because there is only one flag, someone can take the flag but refuse to capture it.  And players from your own team can grief you — and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Second, mutual assistance pacts don’t work in EotS. You are in competition not only with your opponents, but also your own teammates to capture a flag. There’s no way to equally distribute the achievement across a random group, let alone cross-faction.

The advice I gave in my School of Hard Knocks post still applies: don’t give up. If this is the last thing standing between you and that 310%, you will kick yourself for an entire year if you give up now.

But if what you’re doing just isn’t working, then it’s time to try something new. If one strategy – going in solo to capture the flag – isn’t working, it’s time to try something new.

It’s time to go to war.

There are two days left in Children’s Week. It’s time to abandon your scruples, your reserve, and your solitary nature. It’s time to go in with a new goal: dominate EotS so that you and a few others on your team get the achievement done. It’s time to find the biggest, baddest PvPers on your server and promise them a bloodbath in exchange for your getting to run the flag.

If you’re at the end of your rope in EotS, it’s time to bring the gun into a knife fight. It’s time to get as many friends as you can to come and beat the crap out of your enemy.

By dominating the BG and bottling up your opponents, you remove half of your competition. Don’t feel bad for them, not for one second – there is no way for you and them to reach your goal together, so you’re going to reach it. Period. The BG isn’t set up that way. So you have to win to win.

And by making it a group with a controlled composition, you give yourself a great chance to either run the flag yourself or to have a teammate hand it over for you to cap.  You remove the number of slots available to random people who can ruin your efforts.

Look at it this way — out of the 15 available slots on your team, the more you fill with either friends interested in helping you or server mates interested in killing the enemy, the less competition you have for the School of Hard Knocks.

So don’t go in alone.  Bring friends.  Lots of friends.

HOW TO RECRUIT YOUR TEAM

I heard the following last night in Trade.

LFG for that stupid School of Hard Knocks achievement, pst

This is not the way to go about assembling a team.  You are not making a School of Hard Knocks premade.  Advertising for that will get you the wrong kind of applicants – namely, people just like you who will compete for your goal.  You do not want competition.  You do not want inexperienced fighters.

Instead, you want the rough folks who are spoiling for a fight, the frustrated pvpers who want their battleground back. You want people who can calmly massacre hundreds of enemy players without batting an eye.  You want to take the people who are griefing your opponents and use them to your advantage.

So instead of:

LFM School of Hard Knocks, EotS

Appeal to the PvPer with promises of glory and blood:

Looking for kickass PvPers to come help own EotS. I’d like to do some flag running while we pay the Horde/Alliance back for the last week. PST for info.

By stressing things like winning and revenge, you attract the folks who are spoiling for a fight.  You want the PvPers in Wrathful who want to kick the shit out of people.  And trust me, those people are out there.

If promising a bloodbath doesn’t work, resort to the oldest trick in the book:  pay people.  People are ultimately mercenaries, and if you offer them 100g to help you get this achievement, you will get people to help.  Just remember to pay them after you get the achievement.

If you’re balking at that price, remember:  you’re paying 1400g for a 310% mount.  Keep that goal firmly in mind and the cost won’t matter.

Be sure to be up front with people when they do respond that you’re in it for the achievement, but stress that you want to win EotS.  Be honest, but appeal to their motives, not yours.

HOW TO WIN EOTS

Once you have the group, you want to give them a simple strategy to make sure they win.  There have been some great suggestions by the commenters on the School of Hard Knocks guide that I completely endorse.  They boil down to:

  1. Take three bases and ignore the flag at first.
  2. Half of your team pressure the fourth base, while the other half goes and wipes out midfield.
  3. Grab the flag (or have a teammate bring it to you.)
  4. Bottle up the opponents at the fourth tower and/or graveyard.
  5. Cap the flag.
  6. Kill the opponent at the fourth base, drive them to the spawn point.
  7. Win EotS.
  8. PROFIT.

You can sum this up as:

Okay, first we take three bases, then split up and pressure the fourth base while wiping out midfield.  Let me cap the flag, then we can take the fourth base and leave the Horde/Alliance in midfield as easy pickings.

Keep it simple.  Three bases, then take the flag away once, then four-cap.  Let your mercenaries do the rest.  They know what they’re doing…. mostly.  :-)

A LITTLE HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS

It’s practically an axiom in my guild that 5 people (with or without vent) can completely dominate a battleground.  I’ve seen this happen a lot — a core group of people working together in a PuG is vastly stronger than individuals trying to coordinate on their own.

So if you are still having problems with the School of Hard Knocks, find people to help you.  If your guild won’t do it, recruit bloodthirsty, frustrated PvPers.  If you can’t get them to sign on, pay them.  Do whatever it takes to win. Do not give up.  You can still do this.

Now go out and show the Eye of the Storm who’s in charge here.

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A Vicious Proposal

Let’s say you read my modest proposal and didn’t agree with it.  Not one bit.  You want blood, and lots of it.  If silly people with orphans are going to get in your way, that’s too bad for them, right?

I can dig.  I get it. I pretty much want to kill things all the time in game too.

So let me make a second proposal.  A vicious proposal.

I hereby declare next week to be the First Annual Southshore / Tarren Mill World PvP Free-For-All. All PvPers with blood in their eyes and rage in their hearts are hereby commanded to report to their respective towns and tear apart the opposing factions.  Even if the other battlegrounds are compromised, the fields of Hillsbrad are not.

The fighting will be bloody and glorious.  There will be ganking.  There will be no quarter asked and none given.   Blood will stain the cobblestones of those two towns next week that will be remembered for years to come.

Or at least as long as the towns stand.

And when we get bored?

We’ll go to Halaa and do it all with flying mounts.

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A Modest Proposal


I have maintained in the past that all achievements are equal.  My right to pursue my goals in this game is just as valid as your right to pursue yours, and that when they come into conflict, sometimes blood is shed. Someone who is trying to steal the flame of the capital cities of the opposing faction, and the players who fight to prevent this, are both pursuing valid goals.  It’s okay for the goals to be counter to each other.  That is one of the reasons why there is conflict in this world, and when there are no valid means to communicate and compromise, violence ensues.

So, by and large, I am a proponent of a laissez-faire attitude to PvP holiday achievements.  PvE players may not like it, but hey, there are a lot of holiday achievements that suck just as bad.  I bang my head against the RNG boss almost every single time; if something has to drop, it’s likely to not drop for me.

The School of Hard Knocks feels different, though. Perhaps it’s because it’s so reviled, so hated, that it drives otherwise rational players to fits of despair, that bothers me so much.  Perhaps it’s because it makes the part of the game which I most enjoy — battlegrounds — a focus for a tremendous amount of hatred and bile.  I can be unapologetically positive and enthusiastic about battlegrounds all day long, but I’m not blind.  I can read the forums and websites and trade chat.  I know that there are a lot of people who look at battlegrounds as the final, insurmountable obstacle standing between them and a year-long-grind to a 310% mount.  And they hate the thing I love because of it.

As a result, I’m conflicted.

On the one hand, I have a rational policy of strict neutrality: that Stormtrooper, Supreme Defender, and Arathi Basin Assassin are equally worth pursuing as School of Hard Knocks, and that should two players come into conflict in pursuit of those goals, combat will likely decide the victor.

On the other hand, I’m not delusional.  I know that there will be plenty of players out there who use those achievements to justify bullying to other players — players who are not equipped to deal with the conflict, who might be willing to fight back but who lack the gear to do so.  There’s no real justification for this kind of brutality, but I’d be a fool to deny it exists.

And on the third hand, there is the looming specter of the terrible effect the School of Hard Knocks has had on the reputation of battlegrounds and PvP.  Nobody involved likes this achievement; not those trying to get it, not those having to work around it.  I expect it may be a little different in Cataclysm with Rated Battlegrounds giving the die-hard PvPers a refuge from the invasion, but I don’t think it that change will solve the image problem alone.

So I have a modest proposal for you, the battleground veteran.

Be a good host.

For one week, strive to be a good host to the neophyte masses who will swarm the battlegrounds seeking their achievement.  If someone asks for help, help them.  If someone doesn’t ask for help, help them anyways.  If someone from the other faction is obviously trying to finish a SoHK task, help them.

That’s right.  Help them.

I’m not asking you to be altruistic.  I’m asking you because I honestly think it’s in our best interests, both as individuals and a community, to start turning back the negative associations with this event.  Being a leader in /bg chat, of welcoming the new players into the world of PvP, of being a supportive voice in the wilderness to people, real people who are possibly scared, frustrated, or irritated — that’s what being a hero is about.  One person can change the tone of a battleground, and can influence dozens of other people’s perception of battlegrounds.

You can be that person.

As for colluding with the enemy?  Well, let me point out it can be in your interests to do so.  While you help them, they can help you on achievements like:

Helping others with School of Hard Knocks can directly benefit you by letting you work on these tasks.  I know that I am going for both Alterac Valley achievements next week with gusto; this is the perfect time to rack up the tower defenses.  There are mutual benefits to be realized here.

If you have read my writing for any length of time you know that I’m not a starry-eyed idealist.  The best way to succeed in battlegrounds is to treat them like a street fight, where you use every dirty trick you can muster to beat the living shit out of your opponent.  Gang up on people.  Use the terrain to ambush folks.  Be unpredictable with unusual gear and consumables.  Maximize your professions.  Do what it takes to win.

But Children’s Week is not a normal week in the battlegrounds.  I think the battle we’re fighting is much larger than the individual matches in the game.  We are, instead, fighting a war of public opinion brought about through no fault of our own.  This is bigger than a few hundred easy HKs, than a few more victories that don’t really mean much.  Unlike nearly every other week of the year, the battlegrounds of Children’s Week are full of people who do not want to be there.

So we, as collective individuals, have a choice.

We can get angry at them for intruding upon our playground, abuse them in /bg, tell them how stupid they are, and reinforce all the negative images they have about battlegrounds and PvP.

Or we can accept that they’re here, try to teach them, guide them, and maybe, just maybe, infect them with the PvP bug.

I’m a realist.  I don’t imagine that any battleground next week is going to consist of the Horde and the Alliance sitting around a Basic Campfire singing kumbayas.  There is going to be bloody, terrible fighting. There are going to be people who are totally unprepared for the realities of PvP getting slaughtered by the thousands.  What I say on this website is not going to change the base desires of humanity.  I wrote my guide with the full expectation that these battlegrounds are going to be littered with corpses.

But I also think that WoW players are some of the nicest, most open people I’ve met.  And that little, small personal interactions matter.  A few people starting off the battle welcoming the orphans and asking that people who are not working on the achievement not aggressively cap towers until the enemy is confirmed hostile will make a difference.  A few folks walking into the WSG flagroom, picking up the flag, and dropping it over and over again can completely make 10 people’s evenings.

This achievement ruins the part of the game that I love the most for an entire week.  But I don’t have to let it ruin my enjoyment of it.

I hope you will join me in welcoming our guests to the battlegrounds.

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Healers and Battleground Roles

If you can heal, you should be healing in a battleground. That is the rule. No matter how unfair it is to the players involved, no matter the other strengths of the class or player involved, if you can heal, you should.

Forget about the awesome PvP abilities of some of these hybrid classes. Who needs Enhancement Shamans powering a node’s defense, Retribution Paladins dominating front-line combat, or Shadow Priests destroying swaths of the enemy? Never mind that Feral Druids are some of the best flag runners and node cappers in the game!  If those players want us to win they should be healing!

Do you see how silly this attitude is?

This ridiculous strawman what happens when you take an observation – healers win battlegrounds – and turn it into a prescription – everyone who can heal, should. Carried to this extreme it becomes patently absurd.

Yet, even though it is absurd, you’ll hear well-meaning people say it. I’ve probably even said it once or twice.  But the scarcity of healers is no excuse for pigeonholing players into roles they either choose not to play, or frankly aren’t very good at.

The source of the problem lies in the lack of defined roles in a battleground. You don’t select Healer, Damage, or Crowd Control when queuing for a battleground – you just show up. Random chance governs your healing team, if you get one at all. So when you look around at the class compostion of your team, you see the potential healer pool. The actual team is far smaller.

Good healers win battlegrounds. That statement carries with it a terrible burden of responsibility that no player should be saddled with, especially because it is only part of the whole truth.  I propose a new axiom: Good players win battlegrounds. Players who know how to lead, players who know how to fight, players who know how to control the enemy, and yes – players who know how to heal.

Battleground raid roles are not as simple as PvE raid roles.  The Tank-Healer-Damage trinity simply doesn’t apply to PvP, and is instead replaced by situational roles for each battleground.  Within the smallest battleground, Warsong Gulch, I can think of a dozen roles in two different configurations.  Zone coverage would be broken down into Flagroom Defense, Midfield / Offensive Support, and then Offense / Flag Carriers, each subdivided into Control, Damage, and Healing.  Or you could abandon zones and go with task-based role assignment: Flag Carrier, FC Support, Midfield Control, EFC Hunters.

However, trying to communicate these kinds of complex role assignments to a random PuG before a battle is madness.  The reason Simple Battleground Strategies work is because they present a way for your team to work together quickly, easily, and independent of raid composition.  Unfortunately, that simple way of thinking bleeds into how we consider healers and healing-capable classes because there is no refinement within them to consider the other roles a hybrid class can play in the battleground.  Good hybrid players go and perform those roles within the structure of the simple strategies anyways, but it would be nice if we started seeing more refined roles that didn’t just go “Healer / Not Healer.”

I think that the introduction of Rated Battlegrounds in Cataclysm will have a dramatic impact of how we think about our strategies.  PuGs are still going to happen, but I really expect to see more battlefield organization through guilds and general PvP alliances.  The incentive to organize is going to be there, so people will be thinking deeper and longer about how their players should work together and the roles they fill. This is really exciting.  We could be on the cusp of a renaissance of battleground strategies as more players get involved.

We could also be on the verge of losing one of the great charms of battlegrounds, namely the casual, laid-back nature that appeals to many busy players now.  PuGs facing premades can be very frustrating for those on the disorganized side.  Sometimes, you don’t want something serious, you just want to go pwn some Horde or Alliance, and having to execute a complex strategy is not how you want to unwind.  My biggest fear with the introduction of Rated Battlegrounds is that the casual aspect of bgs will be lost.  I am holding judgement until we see more about the implementation, and see how that implementation changes people’s playstyle.  It has tremendous potential both for good and ill.

There’s an unfair expectation on hybrid classes to heal in battlegrounds right now.  My hope is that Rated Battlegrounds will bring about a greater recognition and respect for the other specs those hybrids bring to your team, and that those healers who are there are playing because they enjoy it, not out of some sense of obligation or guilt.

Only time will tell if that hope will bear fruit.

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Filed under Battleground Strategies, Cynwise's Battlefield Manual

On Marks of Honor

Marks of Honor are one of several types of PvP currency in the game. They are awarded from the various battlegrounds for participation: 3 for winning, 2 for a tie, and 1 for a loss. You can have up to 100 of each; check your currency tab to see them.

Wowhead has a great feature allowing you to view what a given object is currency for, so below are the types of Marks you can get and what you can buy with them.

Some of these rewards are quite good, depending on your level.

THE OLD WORLD BATTLEGROUNDS

The first three battlegrounds in Azeroth (Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, and Alterac Valley) all have similar types of rewards that are available for a combination of honor and marks.. You can purchase specific types of gear from either vendors at the site of the battleground, or from your faction PvP quartermasters in Stormwind or Orgrimmar.

The Warsong Gulch rewards are actually quite good for their level, if you can get them early enough. Several WSG pieces (the necklaces, rings, cloaks and staffs) are best in slot or near-best in slot items for 19 twinks, which means they’re good for leveling, too. The Arathi Basin rewards are also outstanding, especially the boots. I’ve written about them before, but I love them primarily because you can have both a riding and walking speed enchant on them.

The gear you get from Alterac Valley marks used to be great, but since it’s available at level 55, Outland greens that outclass them in every way are right around the corner at 58. AV marks can get you a very sweet mount and cool Battle Standard, which is always nice.

Combinations of these marks can buy very nice rewards from the faction quartermasters. Of particular value to collectors are the PvP mounts (Alliance, Horde) that used to be a cheap way to get an epic mount when such things were expensive, and tabards, which can be gotten either through marks (WSG, AV) or reputation (AB). You can also get some great looking level 60 PvP sets for RP, though again — anything that’s level 60 from the Old World is outclassed by equivalent level items in Outland.

EXPANSION BATTLEGROUNDS

The battlegrounds from Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King are fundamentally different from the previous ones because they don’t have a physical location or gateway you can visit in the world. They might have a place in lore, but they don’t exist within the World of Warcraft. So there aren’t battleground-specific vendors, and with that lack comes a corresponding lack of cool gear and neat toys.

Eye of the Storm marks can at least give you access to some level 70 PvP gear, which can serve you well as you level through Northrend. Not that it’s great leveling gear per se, but it has good PvP itemization and is some of the first resilience pieces you can get, which does make a difference in a battleground.

Strand of the Ancients and Isle of Conquest marks can’t buy you anything. Perhaps in the next expansion you’ll be able to purchase the current PvP gear with them, but for now they are almost worthless. Keep in mind I said almost worthless. We’ll get to that in a bit.

WINTERGRASP

Wintergrasp marks are different than the other Northrend marks of honor, perhaps because Wintergrasp is itself different. It exists on the map. There are multiple vendors who sell great PvP gear for level 80 characters that can only be purchased with Wintergrasp Marks. This gear is valuable not only because it’s an alternate currency for getting endgame PvP gear, but because the gear is itemized differently than the standard Gladiator gear, allowing you to balance out Crit and Haste and not be overly gimped in one direction or another.

I’ve written a lot about the gear you can get in Wintergrasp, because it’s the one battleground for level 80 characters where the marks really get you gear you can and should use. But it’s not the only reason Wintergrasp Marks are valuable.

THE VALUE OF A MARK

This post was prompted by several terrible battles where people were yelling to either zerg Drek and ignore all the towers in Alterac Valley (“for quick marks! so we can get honor for gear!”), or forfeiting the fight in Arathi Basin to “collect their Mark and get out.”

Both of these actions confuse me a bit, because those marks are less valuable than the honor you get from fighting a good fight. They’re nice to have for later, but a good fight where you meet more of the objectives will yield more honor, and isn’t that why you’re in Alterac Valley at level 80?

Apparently not.

Determining the value of a battleground Mark of Honor lies entirely upon your character’s goals. While leveling, the marks have value for the gear and stuff they can get you. At level 29, the WSG and AB rewards are pretty darn good, and you need marks to buy them!

But marks lose this particular value as you level, because the gear they purchase loses value. My boots from Arathi Basin served me well, but they now collect dust in my bank. So while there’s real value associated with the gear you can get from marks, it decays over time and expansions.

(You can argue that some of this gear has great RP value, which is absolutely true. The level 60 PvP sets look fantastic. But fashion has a variable value because it is so highly subjective.)

The Old World marks definitely have value if you are a mount or tabard collector. The 6 epic mounts and 4 tabards you can buy with them go a long way towards some of those achievements and there are people (myself included) who have ground out battlegrounds solely for this reason. But, much like RP PvP gear sets, this value is subjective. Not everyone needs dozens of epic mounts. And with prices and level requirements slashed on epic mounts, the gold value we could have assigned to these Marks (90 total marks = 60 AV marks = 1 epic mount) has decreased considerably.

The New World marks have even less value than the Old World ones in terms of purchasing power. Eye of the Storm marks at least can help get you some PvP gear, but Strand and Isle marks buy you nothing. So as you level up, one set of marks is losing the value it once had, and the other set starts out with little value and doesn’t gain anything as you go.

So what’s left to do with these marks at level 80?

The good old standby, convert them to honor. Honor is a universal currency amongst PvP, and can be converted directly to gold. So honor it is.

Concerted Efforts / For Great Honor are repeatable quests that allow you to convert 1 mark from each battleground available to your level (except Wintergrasp) into honor. With each new battleground’s release, new marks have been added and the honor rewards increased. Currently, there are 6 marks required for 1489 honor, so any given mark is worth 248 honor. If you figure that each battleground takes an average of 20 minutes — you have to do Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin, don’t forget — then we can start really assigning value not only to the marks themselves, but also to the methods used to getting them.

Six marks from six battlegrounds, each lasting 20 minutes each… that’s 1489 honor divided by 120 minutes, or 12.4 honor per minute. It’s really bonus honor per minute, because you’re already accumulating honor by being in a battleground, which can vary wildly from battleground to battleground. Let’s look at the two scenarios that drove me up a wall last night, running the AV Blitz and giving up in Arathi Basin.

SCENARIO 1: WINNING ALTERAC VALLEY

I’ve been in Alterac Valley battles that netted over 3000 honor for the game. Sure, they have been 45-minute long slugfests, with half of our towers down and honorable kills in the thousands, but Alterac Valley is like that sometimes!

Alterac Valley rewards bonus honor based upon objectives, which you can see on the official AV page:

  • 1*20.9 honor for every wing commander (3) that returns to base
  • 2*20.9 honor for every tower/bunker you still have
  • 2*20.9 honor for your Captain surviving
  • 3*20.9 honor for every tower/bunker you destroy
  • 3*20.9 honor for the captain you killed
  • 4*20.9 honor for winning

So, if all your towers and captain are up while all the enemy’s towers and captain is down when you win, you get (62.7+167.2+41.8+250.8+62.7+83.6) = 668.1 bonus honor for the match.

Now, compare this to the Alterac Blitz, where you take nothing, tank the adds, and kill the general in under 6 minutes. You get 83.6 bonus honor for each match because you win, a difference of 584.5 honor.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that you’ve got optimal conditions in both cases and are pretty much facerolling the opposition. Waiting for all the towers to go down adds another 4-5 minutes or so to the standard Blitz, which itself takes about 5-6 minutes. So let’s call it 5 minutes for the Blitz and 10 minutes for the Stormpike/Frostwolf Perfection win to make it easy. We should also add 1 minute at the start of each game in the cave, and another minute for the queue. So 7 minutes per Blitz, and 12 minutes per Perfection.

  • The Blitz’s strength is in the number of marks it generates — twice as much as for the Perfection win if we look at the time fighting, and almost twice as much with the queue and start times.
  • Over the course of an hour, you could conceivably run 8.57 AV Blitzes, giving you 25.74 AV Marks for a conceptual value of 6337.14 honor (or 105.6 honor per minute).
  • During that same hour, you could run only 5 Perfection AVs, giving you 15 AV Marks for 3720 honor.
  • However, those 5 Perfection AVs grant 3340.5 honor from reaching all the conditions described above, for a total of 7060.5 honor , or 732.36 honor more than the Blitzes. That’s 117.67 honor per minute.

This also doesn’t take into account the increased number of HKs a Perfection AV generates over a Blitz, since people are actually defending nodes, capping graveyards, things like that. So that will need to be factored into the model somehow, but it just strengthens the point. Perfection gives you an edge in honor versus the Blitz — not a big one, but there

Now here’s the kicker — this direct comparison assumes that you are running not only AV, but all the other battlegrounds too to generate marks for turn-ins. So the more marks you generate, the more time you need to spend in other battlegrounds — battlegrounds that reward less honor per minute.

Consider it this way: for every AV marks you generate, you will have to win 5 other battlegrounds to realize the value of that honor. So the fewer marks you generate, the more honor you get overall. Using Ihra’s holiday HPM results:

  • AB: 79.19
  • WSG: 83.92
  • IOC: 86.44
  • EOTS: 88.56
  • SOTA: 97.59
  • AV: 146.42

… you will have to spend your time in battlegrounds that yield 56.6% – 66.6% less honor per minute than Alterac Valley. Now, some of the bonus honor from objectives is already baked into Ihra’s AV value, so we can’t distinguish between the Blitz and the Perfection values. But we don’t have to! Look at it this way: Perfection generates 15 marks per hour, while Blitz generates 25.74 marks per hour (1.716 times more).

So, assuming all other things in those other battlegrounds are equal, you will need to spend 1.716 more time in those battlegrounds to convert those marks to honor. If it takes you 10 hours to match all the marks you get from Perfection, it takes 17 hours to match the marks from the Blitz. That’s seven more hours at 2/3rds honor.

In that 7 hours, you could run Alterac Valley for 61496.4 honor, or those other 5 for 35700 honor, for a net gain of 25796 honor.

That’s half a piece of Wrathful gear.

To sum up: not only is blitzing AV for marks bad because you aren’t getting the bonus honor for reaching the objectives, it’s doubly bad because you end up spending less time in Alterac Valley.

And no matter how you value honor (gear or gold), that’s a bad thing.

SCENARIO 2: LOSING ARATHI BASIN

Having laid out why it’s bad to value marks over achieving all the victory conditions in a high HPM environment, what about deliberately losing Arathi Basin to get it over with, collect their marks, and move on.

The competitor in me hates these people. I’ll come right out and say it — I hate people who consider it okay to lose. But do they have a point? Is it logical to adopt this strategy?

The reason I was in Arathi Basin last night was because it was the daily BG quest for me. So to me, the marks had no importance — only victory. Victory meant 1489 honor and 25 Arena points, which for a 20 minute battle is +74.45 honor per minute. The marks — at best — were 248 honor apiece, but I was really there for the Arena points. So a win would get me +2233 honor over whatever I got out of the battleground, while a loss… well, a loss gets me +248 honor. Yikes.

I have to assume the people clamoring for us to lose quickly so they can claim their marks, though, were not there for the daily battleground quest. Why were they there? I’m not honestly sure. Perhaps they were grinding out a few marks for some old gear or some mounts, but I have a tough time thinking that’s the primary motivation behind their desire for a quick mark.

What I’m left with is that they are looking for marks for the turn-in quests, which means that perhaps a loss really is the best use of their time. Giving up certainly requires the least amount of effort! If you aren’t trying to reach any of the goals of the battleground, or even engage in combat to get honorable kills, then you’re basically discounting all the potential honor you could get from fighting.

In a high HPM battleground like Alterac Valley, that attitude is crazy. Even a loss gives you a chance to get good honor, which is one of the reasons why it’s such a good battleground to farm honor in. And fighting back to take objectives gives you honor no matter what. But Arathi Basin doesn’t give nearly as much total honor, and since the resource accumulation scales non-linearly, a side with 4 or 5 bases is going to win in a very, very short period of time. How short?

  • If you control 1 base, you gain 10 resources every 12 seconds. 32 minutes to get to 1600.
  • If you control 2 bases, you gain 10 resources every 9 seconds. 24 minutes to get to 1600.
  • If you control 3 bases, you gain 10 resources every 6 seconds. 16 minutes to get to 1600.
  • If you control 4 bases, you gain 10 resources every 3 seconds. 8 minutes to get to 1600.
  • If you control 5 bases, you gain 30 resources every 1 second. 53.3 seconds to get to 1600.

Resources control bonus honor — I think it’s 20.9 honor for every 260 resources gained, or 160 on a holiday weekend. (Some sources say it’s every 330, but more say 260.) The winning side will therefore get 128 honor from resources, and then another 20.9 on top of that for winning, for a total of 149 bonus honor. (Holiday increases that to 209 and 230, respectively).

Let’s put that into the perspective of Alterac Valley: if you do nothing other than kill the enemy captain and general, you get 146.3 honor, about the same as winning Arathi Basin. Every tower you take down is additional 62.7 honor, so the conservative strategy of taking out the captain, towers, and general will net you +250 honor more than winning Arathi Basin. All in about 8-12 minutes, a time which could only be met by controlling 4 bases. The only conditions when winning Arathi Basin is more profitable than Alterac Valley is when you can control all 5 bases, making it an extremely quick small burst of honor.

Compare that to the established value of a Mark of Honor: 248 honor. If you win, you get three, or 744 honor, on top of the 149 bonus honor from the objectives for a grand total of 893 honor when all is said and done. If you lose having gotten to, say, 800 resources, you’ll get one mark worth 248 and 64.3 bonus honor from objectives, but at the cost of prolonging the match at least 15 minutes for that additional 64 honor. (I am ignoring the honor you can get from HKs during that time.)

So staying and fighting for that additional 800 resources nets me +4.28 bonus honor per minute. Which is terrible. I mean, that’s an awful return on your time.

Assuming that it is not your daily battleground, and you’re there just for honor, giving up when you start getting behind starts looking like a valid strategy. Allowing the enemy to 5-cap ends the battle quickly without materially changing your outcome. You are still going to walk away with 250-500 honor, tops. Staying and fighting might give you some HKs and associated honor, but it’s going to be tough going. Whereas if it is your daily battleground, the stakes for winning are much higher, so gritting it out actually makes sense. If you’re getting an additional 2000 honor out of a win, spending 20 minutes getting it is still +100 honor per minute. You can afford to slug it out.

But if you’re just playing for marks to balance out all those sweet AV marks in your bank? Letting them 5-cap actually makes sense, because the single AB mark you get has more value than fighting back for a win. Surrender is a viable option.

Ugh. I feel dirty writing that.

KNOW WHEN TO HOLD ‘EM

The biggest problem with Marks of Honor in level 80 battlegrounds is that they have no intrinsic value outside of the honor they confer. And while I’m generally a fan of having a few, universal currencies, in this case the mechanism of the turn-in quest means that a mark from a high HPM battleground is equivalent to the mark from a low HPM battleground in terms of opportunity cost. To realize the value of an AV mark means you have to spend the time in WSG and AB getting their counterparts; but spending time in WSG and AB means you are getting less honor for your time spent playing than simply going back and playing more AV. Which is madness!

This is one of the flaws of the current PvP reward system. While it’s great to have a unified set of currencies, and the three-tiered model works well in PvE and PvP, the incentives for winning need to be better for the worse-off battlegrounds. It’s like if when running heroics through the Dungeon Finder you had heroics with wildly different numbers of bosses and times to complete, and worse, the ones with the fewest bosses (and therefore the fewest Emblems) took the longest to do, while the ones with more bosses were faster and dropped better loot. No matter how enticing you made the daily quest reward in this instance, players would still look at those hard ones and either take the debuff and bail, figuring they could do something better with their time and try a different one later, or grit your teeth and smash through it as quickly as possible to get it over with.

Replace Emblems with honor and you have the state of battlegrounds and the daily bg quests today. Even having a Battleground Finder to randomize the quest location wouldn’t overcome the discrepancy between battlegrounds in the amount of common currency they reward.

Arathi Basin is one of my favorite battlegrounds. It’s one that uses the most small unit tactics, requires great communication and teamwork, has interesting, challenging terrain, and allows for many, many ways to win. It is wrong on so many levels to have to look at the incentives for playing it and conclude that if you’re not in it for achievements or reputation, you’re sometimes better off forfeiting, losing quickly, and taking your mark than sticking it out.

WHY WE FIGHT

When you zone into Alterac Valley, you’re surrounded by people with a lot of different reasons for being there. There’s a lot of incentive for people to fight well, and while the strategy for optimal gains can be debated, all the incentive is to fight the whole way through. Even a turtle in AV can be profitable (and a hell of a lot of fun.)

When you zone into Warsong Gulch or Arathi Basin, though, you have to wonder: why are these people here? This isn’t the best place for me to grind honor for good gear (or money), so why are people there? Are they trying to realize the honor they have stored up in other marks? Are they grinding reputation, or achievements? Are they completely lost?

Or, are they there to have fun, and maybe, just maybe, win?

The key difference between PvP and PvE is that the opponents have to be motivated in PvP. Winning in a raid means downing the bosses and collecting the loot; your incentives are clear. But you never have to consider the incentives of the trash mobs or bosses; they’ll be there, giving their all, no matter what. In PvP, you have to give players on both sides a reason to show up, a reason to compete, and a reason to win.

More than anything else, this is the problem facing endgame battlegrounds today. How do you motivate the losing side? These battlegrounds are still exhilarating places to spend an evening; simple to learn the basics, but hard to master. Competing in them is fun, and can be rewarding in and of itself.

But when the tangible rewards for doing other, somewhat similar activities are far superior, you have a conflict between doing what is right — fighting hard until the end — and doing what is best for you.

Surrender should never be a viable strategy for victory.

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Battleground Exploits

I remember riding back to the Stables at Arathi Basin and finding an Undead Mage on top of the roof, running around and slaughtering the Alliance troops underneath him. It was a mad run to try to DoT him up before he could kill me with massive amounts of fire or dive to the other side of the roof to heal. The stalemate was only broken when a Night Elf Death Knight also climbed up on the roof and killed the Mage.

It took me a while, but eventually I learned how to get up on that roof myself.  I’ve seen dozens of people do it, but it always seemed a tough climb for me, much like getting to the top of the Blacksmith in Goldshire.  I could never do it reliably, but if I’ve got nothing else to do while guarding the Stables I would give it a try.  When I could do it, defending became much easier.

Blizzard considers climbing onto the Stables roof to be an exploit. It doesn’t matter if you climb up via the outhouse, jump the side building, or float down via parachute cloak from the Lumber Mill — if you engage in combat from that roof, they consider it an exploit.

Yet… it’s something that is possible within the confines of rules of the game.  There’s no software being hacked, no mods being used to change any code — just some creative jumping and use of terrain to let you target opponents without them easily able to engage you in return.  Not that it’s impossible — just difficult.

I play a battleground to win.  I might play it for other reasons, but almost always, my goal is to win.  It is my duty to use every bit of my grey matter to outplan, outthink, and outfight my opponents to reach that goal.  I use potions and flasks to expand my abilities.  I use Frostweave Nets like nobody’s business.  And you better believe I will climb up on that roof to defend the Stables if need be.  Every advantage will be pursued.

Does this attitude surprise you?  It shouldn’t, and I suspect you share it.

Within the confines of Warcraft there are strict, specific limits on the things I can do and cannot do.  I cannot blow up the tunnel in WSG, even though I have charges that can blow apart a wall in the Strand of the Ancients.  I cannot use grappling hooks or ziplines to get from the Lumber Mill to Blacksmith to Mine quickly.  I am completely limited to those things that the developers allow my character to do.

How is jumping on to the Stables roof — something any character can do, though perhaps not easily — an exploit, if I’m able to do it in the game?  If hundreds of players can do it?  Through jumping?

Let’s take another battleground example: getting on top of a wall or pillar in Wintergrasp Keep by flying into position before the game starts.  Trivially easy to do, and you can take out defensive cannons and defenders with ease up there while exposing yourself to minimal risk. Smart use of the roofline and LoS, just like on the Arathi Basin Stables roof, allows you to be effectively unreachable by other players on the ground.

Is that an exploit?

The blue post says,

Players accessing any area of Arathi Basin in order to engage other players from a safe vantage point but avoid combat themselves is considered a reportable exploit.

If we use that definition, this is the very essence of an exploit.  But yet — it’s allowed to happen.  You don’t get kicked off the top of a wall when you land there, you get to stand and kill cannons with impunity.  Interestingly, if you’re on a tower you do get kicked to the ground — but only when the battle first begins.

So what gives?  Is this an exploit, or not?  I’m not trying to deliberately break the rules here, but if I can do it in the game… why shouldn’t I?  Why shouldn’t you?  How are you, someone whom I assume is not a Blizzard developer, to know if this is right or not?

I find myself in complete agreement with Cassandri when she says there’s no such thing as an exploit, at least not in the context of in-game mechanics.  There might be bugs, but bugs are not the fault of the user.  We cannot be expected to know the intent of the developers.  Quoting from that excellent article:

…(B)ecause they exist unchanged in the game, that implicitly confirms that they must be working as intended – otherwise they would be changed. We accept them and the best of us turn them to our advantage.

You don’t question whether it’s intentional or not. It’s not your place to question what is and isn’t a mistake in the game. You are a gamer. It’s your job to win.

Cass is writing about PvE in general, and the banning of Ensidia for the use of Saronite Bombs in the 25-man Lich King world first kill.  I’m staying away from discussing that specific topic because it is a charged, emotional debate about ego and bragging rights.  There  is the additional component of whether Ensidia, or Exodus, or any of the other guilds who have been taken to task for exploits in PvE, “should have known” that the encounter was not working as designed.  That’s the whole crux of the debate, actually, which is why it’s so complicated.

PvP is simpler.  If you don’t pursue every advantage — be it in gear, skill, level, consumables, positioning, macros, addons, communications, whatever — someone else will.  If you don’t send people on the walls and towers of Wintergrasp, the other side will.

And if they have an advantage that you choose not to take, you will probably lose.

I don’t want to get banned by Blizzard.  I enjoy playing their game and try to follow all the rules they set forth in their ToS.  I’m not trying to cause problems with their code or servers, or gain an unfair advantage in their economy.  I don’t want god mode cheats.  I don’t want world first titles.  I just want to play their game and enjoy it.

But when I play, I also want to win.

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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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A PvP Etiquette Primer

Northshire Abbey At Night

Growing up in Northshire, a lot of your life revolves around the Abbey. Northshire Abbey is one of the last great bastion of human culture, with a dedicated — if somewhat eccentric — group of learned scholars consumed with preserving and teaching the arts of human civilization.

Needless to say, me and my siblings had to sit through a lot of etiquette classes. A LOT. Priestess Anetta was bound and determined that we would know how to act appropriately in any social setting, no matter how high or how low. And while I may not always behave with courtier’s manners, the rules are firmly burned into my brain.

So, it is with some dismay that I see so many of my fellow comrades-in-arms behave so abominably on the battlefield. It doesn’t matter if you’re Horde or Alliance; true heroes conduct themselves with dignity no matter how brutal the fight has been.

  1. Don’t /spit. Ever. It’s gross.

  2. Don’t desecrate your opponent’s corpse. It’s not merely barbaric; doing so is a sign of insecurity, of feeling that killing them is not good enough, that you still have something to prove. You’ve already beaten them. Let it go.

  3. If you’re going to taunt, flag. Insults are an accepted part of a fight, but always give your opponent a chance to retaliate. Hiding behind a PvE flag while taunting is cowardly and despicable. It says, I am too afraid of you to insult you without immunity.

    You’re stronger than that. Be proud of your skills and dare them to strike first.

  4. Don’t insult your teammates. Ever. Yes, even when they fight in the road. They may be new, they may be clueless, they may not take the game as seriously as you do — but they do not deserve your abuse. Help them become better. Lead them. Ask: “what went wrong there? Why did we leave that unguarded?”, not: “WTF YOU NOOB gtfo and l2p!”

    If nothing else, people will listen to you if you treat them with a measure of respect. Railing at them is a poor way to change their minds.

  5. Thank the people who help you out. I remain amazed at how few people thank the healers in a battleground. Is it that hard to thank the people who save your life?

    This also goes for people who sacrifice personal glory and defend strategic points. Very few battlegrounds can be won without a good defense, and it can be a thankless job. There’s an easy fix for that: /ty.

So there you have it: five simple rules of etiquette. Keep them in mind when you next venture into a battleground, and make your honorable kills actually honorable. You no longer have the excuse of missing Priestess Anetta’s interminable lectures.

So! Go forth and fight, er, politely!

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Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual

Shut Up and Fight

I have never understood people who clutter /bg with chatter about anything but the battle at hand. I have to make a conscious choice to bark out orders in /bg — usually from the graveyard or while on defense — because the rest of the time I’m going all out. I don’t have time to talk.

And it really irriates me when you start talking about what DK spec is best, or how to level a hunter, while I’m trying to win a freakin’ match.

I’ve been in a few bad Wintergrasp raids lately — sorry, Durotan, I got nothing but love, but it’s the truth — where I had people chattering about levelling their alts. Afterwards the raid recount was embarassing — three people did 400k or more of damage, and the rest did less than 25k each.

Yeah. We lost that battle.

My guildmates know when I’m in a bg because I shift from proper case and punctiation to very, VERY terse shorthand. Time spent talking in a battleground is time not spent fighting.

So knock that shit off. We have work to do.

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Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual