If you read my Noblegarden post, you well know the fact that I do not much enjoy holidays in the World of Warcraft, however being the loot-whore I am… I feel compelled to do them in order to get the Violet Proto-Drake. So when a holiday event comes up that involves a PVP component, the Argent Dawn server as a whole shudders. While Argent Dawn has a few notable pvp organizers (tower), we are without a doubt the biggest blue stain on the Ruin battlegroup.
During BC our players PVP’d for one reason and one reason alone… welfare epics. I freely admit to doing this myself in order to get my healadin a solid healing mace. However when it comes to successful PVP, as a whole our server does every single thing that makes non-pvpers annoying. Knowing this, we started over the last week trying to plot out best to help each other get our PVP achievements out of the way.
We tackled things as a guild, trying to get 4-5 players in each battleground helping run cover for whoever was getting the achievements. This for the most part was successful… however Blizzard single handedly brought every battleground to its knees this weekend, making play almost impossible for the cacophony of frustrated players actually trying to enjoy this aspect of the game.
It’s a hard-knock life
The villain of the weekend was the meta achievement, School of Hard Knocks. While I do not oppose the notion of having PVP components to world events, I do however oppose the fact that often times Blizzard doesn’t take into account the effects of a wide reaching achievement like this will have on normal game play. In each case the achievement led to bad habits in the battlegrounds making it hard for the game to actually progress. I’m going to take a few minutes to go over each battleground achievement and how it leads to bad game play habits.
Capture the Flag in Eye of the Storm
As the subheading states the achievement in EoTS was to capture a flag and run it back to one of the bases your team held. There are two major issues with this achievement. For starters it was in fact EoTS weekend, meaning all the actual honor farmers were out and active. The second issue is the fact that as soon as the game started every single player vying for the flag ran to the middle trying to capture it.
This behavior allowed the honor farmers to easily run around and capture at least 3 of the 4 objectives making it nearly impossible to run that precious flag anywhere capable of capturing it. We were finally able to offset this however by running a group of us to one of the objectives in order to hold it, while a chosen member of the guild waited to pick the flag up and run it safely to us.
I personally however did not get my achievement until Saturday morning. The early morning crew tends to be populated with Aussies, who in general are more PVP oriented on Argent Dawn and as a result were actually playing to win. Being a protection warrior, I was actually a good choice for running the flag and was allowed to do so rather easily. However if you are trying to do this one during primetime, bring a group of 5 players. Have 3 hold the objective, and one guard the player currently running the flag. With any luck the rest of the BG will catch on and help in the process.
Assault a Flag in Arathi Basin
Of the meta-achievements this is probably the easiest, and the only one that actually somewhat reinforces successful strategy. Traditionally in Arathi Basin you have a roving squad of players alliance side that rolls from flag to flag never guarding anything. This is for some reason the default mode that Alliance exist in, the zerg.
While there were still plenty of players zerging flags, the majority of players did fruitful things like guarding heavy horde targets like Farm and Blacksmith. These objectives naturally have high turnovers, so within a few minutes we were able to get the meta on our entire party. Unlike most players when we got the meta, we tended to start “playing to win” which helped out the battleground as a whole.
So my suggestions here for alliance players is once more to bring a group in with you. Stick to attacking high turnover targets like Farm and Blacksmith, or as a Horde player go after Lumber mill and Stables. Designate one player to cap at each time, and the rest of the party go on defense while the player caps.
Assault a tower in Alterac Valley
For me this was another simple one to get, but it proved hard for some of our guild mates without a firm knowledge of the Alterac Valley map. In the old world, this was THE battleground to play if you were alliance. It was the only one we traditionally won, and as a result almost all of my raid buddies… myself included spent our time in game waiting in its queue. As a result I know how to rush the relief hut with the best of them.
I spent a good deal of the weekend suffering from disconnects every 30 minutes (which lead to a fun time in ulduar), this however for AV was a good thing. On one of my disconnects I ended up logging back in near Galv, with that tower untaken and no one guarding it. I simply jaunted to the top and got my achievement in moments. For the bulk of our guild this was not the case.
The AV game became a zerg rush to the nearest towers attempting to capture them. For our two rogues participating this was childsplay. Simply keep up with the pack on mounts and then when hitting the tower sprinting up to get the flag cap. For our priest this was more than a bit difficult. She finally got the achievement I believe by forcing her way to frost wolf and going after one of the towers there. The first two towers were always contested all weekend long.
As a side note, this is the first time I have ever heard players curse you for attacking and taking down Drek quickly. Sadly this one is all about connection speed, reflexes, and luck. I wish I could say that going in as a team would serve any kind of boon to players, but in truth it comes down to either lucking out and retaking a horde defended tower like I did, or being quick on the draw and simply beating the unwashed masses to the top.
Return a fallen flag in Warsong Gulch
WSG, oh how I hate thee. This battleground has without fail been my least favorite since inception. With the achievement in play, it got worse. The end result is that all 10 players hang out near the flag in the rare hopes of a horde trying to take it. For the poor horde attempting, it means near certain death. Of all of the battlegrounds WSG became the LEAST playable this weekend. Getting the achievement became a brutal game of the “quickest fingers win” loot system.
Now comes the time for glaring stereotypes children. In the ruin battleground, as a whole the Horde are FAR more pvp oriented than the alliance. As such if you start capturing flags you will drag out an all out assault on the alliance base, it becomes a pride issue. From what I could see, the best strategy here was a good frontal offense. Build a good flag capture team and start running it. After a capture or two you will have beat the horde players into a frothing mess, causing them to blindly strike at your flag to “catch up”.
When the “waaagh” takes hold, simply return to defense and pray your nimble fingers and beat the other players to the flag. For the horde, I pray for you. The alliance seem all to happy to stay inside our comfy base and camp the podium. Getting the alliance to even attempt taking your flag has to be a feat in itself. Whereas EoTS was the alliance bottleneck, I am sure WSG becomes the Horde Bottleneck in this event.
“School”s Out Forever!
After a night of frustration I am done with yet another world event… forever. It was however entertaining to hear, someone who is without a doubt our most calm and collected member turn into a frothing f-bomb dropping mess within the course of an evening of PVP. In truth this title came far easier than i expected. I am not sure if it was the fact that we organized ahead of time to knock out what we all believed to be the bottleneck or the fact that other than the PVP requirement the rest of them simply took a little time (or money for the food).
I loathed Noblegarden with a deep dark passion, but all in all Childrens Week was like a flu shot. Slightly painful, but over quickly and easily forgotten. I do think however when blizzard approaches PVP objectives, they need to seriously consider what type of impact their achievements have on players who simply want to get into a battleground and PVP for real. The meta-achievements themselves lead players to play in a fashion that was not entire conducive to winning. That tells me, that the meta-achievements themselves were poorly designed.
Suggestions for next year
If the blizzard designers took a few simple tweaks I feel it would make the achievements more successful. I am leaving Arathi Basin out of it, since that one already works well for the way the battleground is played.
Capture and Objective or Flag in Eye of the Storm
This tweak allows players to actually take and hold objectives to get the achievement OR run the flag. I feel this has two benefits. Firstly it does not adversely effect gameplay, as it reinforces both taking and holding bases and capturing the flags. Secondly it means that players who are not in the BG to win can completely their objective quickly and leave the game up to the players who actually care.
Assault or Defend an Objective in Alterac Valley
Opening this up to multiple objectives means that players can continue to play the map like they normally would allowing objects like graveyards, relief hut, and towers to count for the objective instead of just the towers means fewer players would zerg certain areas of the map. Life goes on like normal for people actually trying to win the map. You would still end up with contention over certain targets, but it would however give players a reason to actually stay on the defense trying to slow the opposing side’s progression.
Capture or Return a Flag in Warsong Gulch
This tweak allows players to ACTUALLY play the game and still get the achievement. You would get equal credit for a good offense as a good defense. This keeps in the theme that the meta-achievement should not cripple a battleground.
A few tweaks like this, and this holiday event will no longer be the painful pox on your small but dedicated PVP community.