Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wintergrasp and the Ruined Ruin

Some of my friends are transferring alts to the Alliance side of my server. Others are talking about going that side on their mains.

Their reason?
Horde always loses Wintergrasp.

Because Horde always loses, no one queues because we're just going to lose anyhow so why bother?

Even I don't queue for Wintergrasp and my healing career started in PVP. PVP healing is my roots. I dislike queuing for Wintergrasp more than I dislike arenas.

Problem 1: Simply outnumbered (WG)
In the beginning, Wintergrasp had no player cap and was rife with lag. Severely outnumbered (I think our server population is 3-1), it wasn't uncommon for us to have stacks of tenacity but still lose to the other team over and over again.

Once WG was capped, we still would lose. Albeit, we actually had a chance but this wasn't an amazingly great chance.

Problem 2: Skill and Caring wealth (WG and BGs)
Limiting the number of players with a hard number doesn't work because it's not just the quantity of players that count but the quality as well.

If 10% of the players on X server are good at PVP and one faction has 3000 active members during peak time and the other has 1000, there's going to be 30 vs 10. Let's say 20% of the population on each side are casual PVPers or PVErs who are dabbling in PVP but do like to win. Suddenly our numbers are 90 vs 30 players who actually care.

Fill out the rest of those raids with people who are there for the free token, some honor to buy a gem, afk bots, and keyturning players who couldn't navigate their way out of a wet paper bag, and suddenly we have a one faction with a raid that's 75% skilled/caring vs a raid that's 25% skilled/caring.

The group with the minority population on a server is still going to lose more.

Problem 3: Gear deficit and slow gratification (WG and BGs)
The team who wins all the time gets more honor. This means the rate at which they get gear is faster. More geared people means a higher chance to win, but it also means that the whole thing is more attractive. Folks get more gratification from getting their rewards faster.

It may take 3-5 times as long for a player on the losing faction (especially if that's both doomed to lose on both server and on battlegroup). That's a really long grind... just to get geared up to lose more.

Problem 4: The Lag Monster (WG)
When I was making attempts in Wintergrasp and doing so with guildmates, we'd take an organized stance to win. We'd work very hard against poor odds. In fights where the battle was close, we mysteriously were subject to extreme lag. Our FPS and game response time would crawl to nearly nothing then lifts as soon as "Alliance has captured / defended Wintergrasp" sprawls across our screen.

By lag, I'm talking a 20-30 second delay on abilities actually being cast, jerky movement. Etc. Our latency and FPS remained normal levels, we could talk in vent and do other things on our connections fine. The problem wasn't on our ends, the problem was with Blizzard's end.

It's a common belief that it's being caused by players of the other faction intentionally by doing things like encouraging everyone to use their AOEs / aura applying abilities. An example would be having all the DKs in their side spam path of frost.

This was disheartening and one of the main reasons why I gave up. If we did well and got the upper hand, the other side would cheat to win.

Problem 5: AFK Bots and AFK players
Since Burning Crusade, if not longer, battlegrounds have had people "AFKing for Honor". Blizzard has put in several ways to attempt and fix this problem, such as letting players mark the person who is botting as a leech and preventing them from getting further honor and marks. The response to this has simply been bots who will run paths around a battleground in hopes of getting attacked (getting PVP combat) and leeching honor from battles.

From my Storm Peaks adventures with my hunter and his moth named Seething, I've discovered that the bots react a lot like real players and will fight back when attacked (albeit stupidly). I would assume this may make them harder to catch in PVP.

Now, in BC I wound up in AVs late at night which were 40 to 40, however, there real numbers active players was very few, though there were typically many more players on the other side (the always wins side).

The cause of this, I figure, is simply that bots run (in theory) all the time. They do a game, they requeue, unlike humans they do not get tired and go take a break / go do something else / sleep. As the number of active players go down at non-peak times, the bot-to-human proportion goes up.

If the number of real players queueing is less than the maximum supported for a BG, the remaining amount will be filled with bots. The less people there are, the more bots will fill in.

If the number of real players queueing is greater than the maximum supported for a BG, there is going to be a chance that each person getting into the BG will be a bot or a human depending on the bot to human ratio.

The problem pretty much fomes from the idea that the less active humans queuing for a battleground, the more room there is going to be for bots, and those bots are being counted as 'players' by the server, spawning more BGs and bringing in a full 40 from each side instead of 20 or whatever the real active number is.

Result: Hurry up and lose!
The end result of all of this is simply that players have given up on trying because no matter what we do (short of using Preform AV Enabler to run premades while bypassing the 'match premade against premade' thing), we're going to lose. The gear wealth, the skill wealth, the number of active players, the lag tricks, and the incredibly slow rate of reward simply make PVP for the minority side not fun or rewarding.

I still I zone in to win in BGs when I play. I still give it my all but I'm constantly getting a "hurry up and lose" attitude from Horde players. In AV, where there is a perceived bias in favor of the Alliance, people just sit in the tunnel and wait to collect their loser honor or go deathmatch in the center of the field while the Alliance blitzes six minute wins over and over again.

The Solution:
Blizzard can do a few things to fix this, though I fear the damage has probably already done and PVP for minority side in Wrath is just tanked.

Rated battlegrounds is a good start. I fear they're going to do it based on guild, which may make it less successful and cause grief for guilds.

Players need the ability to vote kick deadweight from BGs like we can from heroics: Let everyone have the ability to vote to kick with reason. X number of participants in a BG must vote with a reason. When X votekicks with reason are presented an interface comes up for everyone asking if they want to kick with reason (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and options of "Yes. No. Ask later." This would allow folks to say, "Hey this is a bot." but would also let players say "I'm not sure yet" and be prompted again later. If the vote kick is yet, the reasons are logged.

Someone who is vote kicked excessively could be reviewed by whoever looks into bots botting in BGs as it is. They can decide to watch the player and deliver a banhammer. Yes. Botting in BGs needs to be a bannable offence and it needs to be very pronounced and scare people or this madness will continue.

Blizzard should make honor gains for premades for the minority winning side be higher, particularly the honor from doing things (objectives, killing things). This would make it worth it for folks to grab a few friends and hit the BGs. Even if you and your friends with a partial premade wind up going up against the highest tier of gear full premade, it would make fighting back worth it and speed up people who want to PVP catching up to the gear gap and making them feel more rewarded faster (keeping interest).

Unfortunately these changes alone won't solve the problems.
Players on minority sides have to choose to change their attitude towards PVP and actually go out there and do it.

Not only do minority faction changes need to change their attitudes, they need to spread that positivity among their communities and build a pvp community.

My server had a player who was doing the battlemaster grind. We ran over 100 AV blitzes. By the time we were nearing the end of his grind, the rest of the players in the battlegroup that wound up with us would cheer at the presence of the roleplay server because a large number of players from my home server meant that we had a fighting chance of winning.

We can't wait for Blizzard to fix the bot and balance problems, but we can start nurturing our PVP communities, kicking the defeatist attitude in the face and spreading the positive message of "we can".

If a RP server can be the BG heroes so can your server.

What do you say?

I think it's time for me to finish my WSG and AB rep grinds, get my rep title and get enough HKs to become Zan of the Horde.


  1. Hate to break it to you but if you honestly think the Alliance constantly uses a 'lag exploit' to beat the Horde in Wintergrasp you're hopelessly retarded.

    Believe me, I play Alliance and no one EVER spouts any insidious plots about characters spamming particular spells to lag the enemy. That you even are convinced of this 'exploit' is frightening... do you honestly believe that if there are 80 players tightly packed on a map spamming spells and using vehicles, half will suffer halting lag and the other half won't because of their faction tag? Everyone with a less than cutting-edge computer suffers some sort of lag during prime time. I lag. My friends lag. I see other people on my faction 'teleport' about because they lag. There's no dark secret council of conspirators roaming about the battleground who are able to magically lag your client without lagging their own.

    P.S., The lag magically lifts at the end of the battle because everyone stops using their spells and ports out, sending your client less information to process.

  2. Isn't "Of the Horde" 100K HKs? Fairly certain for Horde its conqueror you're thinking of, equivalent of Justicar on Alliance.

    Things like thise are good to remember if you're going to write a blog about PvP

  3. Uriah

    My server had a player who was doing the battlemaster grind. We ran over 100 AV blitzes."


    Battlemaster needs 100 wins in each battle ground

    and X

    say what you want but I have seen it first hand on my toons it's common for DK's to spam on and off path of frost to cause server lag

  4. @Uriah: You're correct. I did mismatch the title (though the intention is to go get both).

    This isn't a blog about PVP, simply an entry about PVP, more precisely the causes of defeatist attitude that dooms PVP on the Ruin battlegroup to be indefinitely skewed towards the Alliance.

    This is a blog about things from the perspective of someone with too many toons. I'm not a big hardcore PVPer for some of the reasons listed in this entry.

    Check the tag cloud, the two biggest topics I write about are raiding and healing.

    @X I never said "constantly", I simply noted that my personal experiences on the server which I play on consisted of a sudden lag right near the end of the game which resulted in Alliance win every time. In some cases I was across the zone. It wasn't an isolated incident, it was a repeat performance.


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