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Wednesday Reading

Over the holiday, I found myself reading:

Happy Reading!

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Wednesday Reading

Wow, this is almost becoming a weekly feature!

  • The Great Stat Enigma over at Fel Fire is a great introduction into Warlock gear itemization.  I share Aphroditi’s mixed feelings on Haste — I can’t bring myself to gem for it, but I sure do like having it around.
  • Gnomeaggedon nails the one major problem with the LFG tool: you can’t queue for a dungeon and battleground at the same time.
  • Psynister has started up a twinking blog, which is filled with his usual attention to detail.  I tell you, twinking blogs are like totally all the rage now.  You should try it.  And you should read his latest post on Twink Associations, too.  *shifty eyes*
  • He also has a very good post up on the changes 3.3 brought to Mage leveling, and how you pretty much just fling Fireballs until things are dead now.
  • Ihra continues his series on how to heal a battleground.  I think Ihra needs to get on Twitter, don’t you?
  • Pimp My Ram. Awesome mounts, all of them.
  • Removing the level 80s from the 70-79 bracket of AV means that the captains hit like a truck, as Elysiane points out.  Protect your damn healers, people!

Enjoy!

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Wednesday Reading

Some great articles I’ve come across in the past few days:

  • Ihra has begun a great series on How to Heal A Battleground, which is good, because let’s face it — I have no clue how to heal one.  Well, I have bandages, but they don’t count.
  • MoodylonerDK has put out some nice Tips on Leveling your New Death Knight.
  • Psynister has started both Hunter and Druid twinks, and it’s always interesting to learn how he does it.
  • Arrens continues to get himself into big trouble of the RP kind.
  • I’m nowhere near 80 with my Frost Mage, but I’m really happy to read Krizzlybear’s take on it becoming a viable raiding spec.
  • Fel Fire talks about gearing your warlock in 3.3, which I am kinda interested in right now?  But not salivating at the gear grind?  Patches are funny like that.  But it’s a good guide, so consider it bookmarked.

Okay, folks!  Back to 3.3!

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Wednesday Reading

I’ve come across several posts recently on battlegrounds that I thought you might enjoy.

  • I don’t recall what I was searching for when I stumbled upon this excellent post on the forums about How To Battleground as a Warlock, but it is the most comprehensive guide I’ve ever seen.  I’m glad Dusk wrote it, so I don’t feel any pressure to. :-)
  • You’ve probably already seen this, but Battleground Independence at the always excellent DoTs and HoTs is worth your time.  Cass asks some great questions about the role of a healer when DPS classes are able to be self-sufficient.
  • I found Musings on lowbie battlegrounds to match my own experiences of late in the 19 bracket of Warsong Gulch.  I am very much enjoying the low level PvP, and will be writing about that soon.
  • The latest installment of Zach Yonzon’s series on WoW Insider, Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Arathi Basin, is a fine read.  He does a great job of breaking down the basics and getting you ready for the Basin.
  • Okay, this one doesn’t have anything to do with battlegrounds, but if you’re like me and have leveled Engineering into the endgame, it’s good to know you can still make gold with it.  If you follow me on Twitter you know that I have a fondness for the Auction House and have a close relationship with my banker.

Enjoy!

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The Mercenary

I enjoy many aspects of Warcraft in addition to PvP: fishing, raiding, mortal combat in the Auction House, and yes, role playing. I don’t do a lot of role play online, but I do put a lot of thought into who my characters are.

So it’s with some pride that I’ll direct you over to my guest RP post The Mercenary, over on Arrens’ excellent site Through The Eyes of Death:

“I imagine that you encounter not only that stigma of being a warlock, but the added one of being a mercenary as well?” Arrens asked.

“Only among the civilian population who doesn’t know me, Headmaster,” Cynwise replied with a wry smile. “The military knows the work I’ve done. Their respect is sufficient — especially since they pay my bills.”

Arrens pressed on. “I have found, however, that people are willing to move past their opinions when discussing the University. The Abbot and I meet on a regular basis now, and we are going to start a guest lecture exchange with some of the Brotherhood. The House of Nobles also has expressed interest in our work, with some members even going so far as enrolling some of their children in classes. It’s quite a status symbol, from what little I understand,” he said, watching the impact of his words on his fellow warlock. Anger, a little bit of avarice, and… something else.

I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into what makes my warlock tick.

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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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