I know that for someone that claimed to hate Player versus Player (PvP) combat, and would never play it just a year ago, I sure talk about it a lot. That's because like almost every other aspect of World of Warcraft, Blizzard has managed to make it insanely fun and addictive. Blizzard has added many reasons to PvP, not the least of which is the loot that can be gained, or the adrenaline rush of combat in the arenas.
With the latest patch from Blizzard (patch 2.4) PvP in the battlegrounds has been further refined. Diminishing returns and the delay to receive honor earned have both been eliminated. Alterac Valley (AV) was tuned to be more balanced for both factions and Warsong Gulch (WSG) was tuned in an attempt to be more fun to play.
Blizzard succeeded on three out of four of the changes. The diminishing returns being gone, no wait for honor points and Alterac Valley are all great changes. Players love the fact that they can now get gear the day they earn it. Instead of the old method of waiting a day to get honor, finding out they are 100 points short due to diminishing returns and then having to wait another day to get the honor and gear.
Having spent some time playing in WSG this weekend though, I have to say that they failed with the changes made there. What can or should be done to fix WSG? That's the topic I look at in this weeks editorial: Isn't capture the flag supposed to be fast and fun?
What Is Warsong Gulch
On the surface Warsong Gulch is the simplest of all battlegrounds. The rules in their simplest form are:
- 10 players per team.
- Each team has a base at one end of the map.
- Each team has to capture the enemy flag and return it to their own base.
- As long as you still control your own flag when you return the enemy flag, or can gain control of it back, you score a point
- First team to score 3 points wins.
In theory it should be a very fun, fast game. However, due to having to hold both flags at the same time to score, the game can drag out and take an hour or more for a single point to be scored. It eventually leads to the flag carriers "turtling" in their base with several players on defense keeping them alive, with a few at the enemy base trying to break the opponents turtle. This obviously reduces the fun level, and frustrates players, as for an hour or more you can easily get in 3 or more matches in another battleground. In addition you generally score less honor points in WSG than other battlegrounds.
What Changed with Patch 2.4
When patch 2.4 was released several changes were made to Warsong Gulch in an attempt to resolve its issues and make it more fun for players. The hope was that players would then play more matches there. The changes implemented were:
- Once the flag has been held for 10 minutes the flag carrier suffers 50% additional damage.
- Once the flag has been held for 15 minutes the flag carrier suffers 100% additional damage.
- Once the flag has been held for 45 seconds, the flag carrier can be tracked.
While these seemed to have helped slightly, they still allow for long games and the turtle remains alive and well in WSG.
This type of game has been around since the earliest first person shooters (FPS) started doing PvP. The biggest difference and the most likely reason there are issues in WoW with this type of game is the speed in which you can kill your opponent and make them drop the flag. In a traditional FPS an opponent can be killed in several fast shots, and sometimes even a single "head-shot". Also, in most cases healing is very limited. This means that once a flag carrier has been located, they are dead fast, sometimes instantly. This allows the game to have a very fast flow to it, you either keep moving or you die.
In WoW with all the healing that is available, and the number of hits a player can take before being killed, it just isn't possible to drop a player 1 on 1 in seconds (unless one is WAY out geared). Add in defenders, healers, CC and more, and you can turn it into an endless standoff. This stand off is called a turtle, and they can last hours, until one team decides to just give up and move on to another BG.
Given that most WSG battles drag on and turn into turtles, many players never even enter. The length of time that must be invested to the reward given, compared to other BGs, is hugely disproportionate. It is much easier to finish 3-4 AV's instead of a single WSG, and in most cases you will end up with 5-6 times the honor. This has lead to players just doing WSG when they need the marks to turn in for honor rewards.
Blizzard has tried a few things to resolve the issue with Warsong Gulch. Having played it for a while, and played many other capture the flag games, I have a few possible suggestions.
Raise the number of captures needed to win the game - At first this may seem counter intuitive, however tied with the next suggestion it will make sense.
Award points for all flag captures - My thought here is to award teams points for capturing the enemy flag regardless of the status of their own flag. This would have to be worked out and tuned for an actual number and would tie in the the number set from the above suggestion needed to win the game. An example number range would be 6 points to win, with 3 points awarded for a capture while you hold both flags and 1 point for a capture while the opponent controls your flag.
This could lead to some very interesting games as you would need to coordinate when to capture a flag to prevent the other team from then immediately capturing theirs for the bigger point gain. It would be faster though.
Capturing a flag resets both flags - If using the all flag captures score a point, you could also reset the both flags as soon as one is captured. This would lead the game to being a race to capture the enemy flag and get it back to your base. If you can intercept the enemy and make them drop your flag it would make the game even faster.
Tight time limits - A very tight time limit on flag holding. Potentially as quick as a team only being allows to hold the opponents flag for 5 minutes and then the flag is automatically reset. This would ensure that a best possible effort is made to score with the flag. Also a tight time limit on the whole battleground itself. An initial thought is at the end of 30 minutes if one team has not won, the game is considered a draw and both teams are awarded honor and marks as if they lost the match.
Messiah's Take on It
As you can see, I have already given my opinion throughout this editorial. As it stands right now, I just do not see Warsong Gulch as a viable battleground. It takes too long to play, it offers very little reward compared to the other battlegrounds, and is viewed as a time sink by players.
Due to all these factors is is also insanely unpopular on the servers. In fact on my server it is so unpopular that players advertise for groups to quickly lose games to gain badges rather than play it out. This shows the degree to which players despise it in its current form.
Yet it shouldn't be that unpopular. Capture the flag games are generally very popular in FPS'es and tend to be tight, fast, tense affairs. It is my firm belief that Blizzard needs to capture that in Warsong Gulch. If they do, I believe the players will come back in droves.
The Messiah has had his say, what’s yours? Does WSG need a complete overhaul? Do you like it the way it is? Do you have other suggestions? I want to hear your comments and explanations.
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