I took the above picture after exploiting a bug in the walls of Stormwind that allows you to break out of the model and fall underneath the city. It’s actually really cool, if offering little or no tactical advantage – you run around on a big plane with the city half-formed above you. You can explore the hills above Stormwind Harbor, run all the way to the Burning Steppes, and fall through holes in the floor to special locations within Stormwind, like the Wizard’s Sanctum, above. (If you place a Demonic Circle on the ground before jumping, you can teleport back under the city when you’re done!)
Wall bugs and exploration exploits like this are harmless. If you’re Horde and you really want to use this place to summon a raid to attack Stormwind, you can – but it’s definitely easier to use someplace even less travelled like Cutthroat Alley or a building in the Dwarven District or the Park, since your summoned underground raid has to exit by the Docks anyways. (Seriously, when was the last time you needed to go to the Park as Alliance?) This is just an exploration bug, one that appeals to our innate curiosity. I got down under the city, looked around, got some screenshots, and left satisfied. No harm, no foul.
Exploits that confer advantages, though… Those are different. I’ve written about Battleground Exploits before, and I don’t think my position has changed all that much. As long as the putative exploit is open to everyone in a PvP environment, I’m pretty okay with it. But when it’s not open to everyone, when it clearly favors one side over the other…
Well, that’s when I call foul. And I’m calling foul now on Arathi Basin.
It is possible for Alliance characters, and only Alliance characters, to exit the preparation area and capture bases in Arathi Basin before the match begins. This is different from the Eye of the Storm exploit which allows players to exit the claustrophobic bubble, because players can’t leave the floating rock even if they get out of the bubble. No, you can have bases under your control before you even begin.
In a recent AB, we were 3-0 before the gates even opened. And that was patently unfair.
A single person can transform the starting map from this, to this:
That’s what a single player with the right abilities can do if they move quickly – have one (or two, if they get to LM really fast) graveyards under Alliance control and 3 flags already collecting resources, with a fourth about to fall. A coordinated Alliance group can 5 cap the entire battleground before the Horde reaches their first flag.
This is blatantly unfair to Horde players. And it needs to be fixed, soon.
It’s one thing if an exploit is something that both sides can engage in. It’s not great, and should still be fixed, but at least I can justify it as something everyone should do to level the playing field until Blizzard fixes it. But as far as I know, it’s impossible for Horde players to leave the starting area early. The geography and layout of the Horde area prevent it.
I’m not going to go into details about how this exploit works. The knowledge is already spreading in the wild, and the people engaged in it are happy to discuss it.
But it’s your responsibility as a player to not do it. There’s no defense here, no gray area. This is an exploit.
I see two simple changes to hot-fix it:
- Change the layout of the Alliance starting area, expanding the area enclosed by the fence to prevent players from leaving.
- Eliminate the ability to cast certain spells during the preparation phase, much like was done to Strand of the Ancients and Water Walking.
(Simple in concept, if not in execution. I work in IT and know that software problems are often more complicated than they seem.)
Changes have been made to Arathi Basin’s geography before — the outhouse that let you climb on to the roof of the Stables was removed in one patch, and the terrain changed to make running leaps onto the roof impossible — so the first option is possible to do. The second option is more of a bandaid fix, but one within an existing framework.
I like winning. I really like winning. But I don’t like winning like this. If you see this in action, make sure you file a GM ticket reporting the person who did it. You don’t need to cheat to win.
The Battlegrounds are probably the liveliest places in Azeroth right now, with lots of bored players rediscovering the joys of PvP while waiting for Cataclysm to hit. Stuff like this ruins their enjoyment and gives battleground enthusiasts a bad name – no matter which side you’re playing on.
We’ve got a maintenance going on right now. I hope it includes a fix to this exploit.