Updated Wed, Feb 27, 2008 by Ratboy
To start off this article I would like to say I made a mistake, and I would personally like to apologize to those affected by it (mainly Messiah). You see, when I made my first WoW character, I made a character on a PvP realm. During the length of the Beta, I had restricted myself to a PvE server and was really not too familiar with the player killing side of the game; I was much more content to blast through the various monsters and quests of the game. When retail came along, I wanted to try something different so I went with a PvP server. This server is where I first learned of the term “griefing” and its impact on an MMO world.
Most people associate the term “griefing” with the repeated killing of low level characters by higher level characters, or repeated infractions against a specific character by another character using something that is completely legal under the rules of the game. To investigate the term more I would suggest typing “griefing” into Google and go “I’m feeling luck”, the result is an article on the topic itself (in regards to online gaming in general) which might give you more of an insight into some “general” views of the topic.
Thankfully, Blizzard has taken some steps to prevent “griefing” in its various forms. The first of these steps is of course the “zone flags” which indicate whether or not a zone is “contested”, “alliance” or “horde”. All low level zones are geared Alliance or Horde; meaning that if players of the opposite faction enter one of these zones they cannot start combat without having the opposing play go aggressive first. This system prevents “camping” of the low-level zones (level 60 Alliance Rogues, can’t ambush those poor level 1-5 Horde in their starting zone) and makes the lives of all low level characters quite a bit easier. This system is implemented even on PvP servers, making low level “ganking” (a specific form of griefing, where a higher level character kills a lower level one) next to impossible.
Because of the Zone Flag system low level characters are protected, however on PvP servers mid-level characters are fair game. One example that comes to mind is the Alliance city of Menethil Harbor located in the Wetlands. Menethil is a key position, as it connects the two continents via boat, however Menethil is also one of the most camped spots on PvP servers as high level rogues can simply stealth and ambush any mid-level Alliance characters waiting for their boats. I speak from experience when I say that getting ganked three times before actually crossing continents is not my idea of a fun time of gaming.
The examples above are really more PvP aspects of griefing that appear in World of Warcraft, sadly there are other aspects. My personal favorite “grief” in the game (and one of the most renowned) was the famous “exploding auction house” tactic that was used by several WoW players across all servers. The grief was simple; in the raid instance of Molten Core, a specific boss (in this case Baron Geddon) cast a curse that caused the target to “explode” after the timer was done. The Baron could cast this on pets, which could immediately be unsummoned. Once the pet was resummoned however, the explosion curse would remain. The curse itself dealt enough damage to kill all but the most powerful of characters, and so someone with a sadistic mind tried to use this “exploding pet” at an auction house. On a good day, a WoW auction house can be filled from 20-50 people all checking prices and examining various goods up for sale. The explosion was enough to completely wipe out everyone in the auction house and usually led to some angry players afterwards. Thankfully Blizzard has since changed the curse so this will no longer occur (but the movies of it still roam the internet).
Going back to one of my original statements about making a mistake for choosing a PvP server, I want to clarify it a bit. I am someone who prefers to go through game content and not have to worry about PvP aspects unless I want to. At the time I chose my server (almost nine months ago) there were no battlegrounds, and no special PvP sites, so I chose a PvP server because I thought it was the only way I would see PvP action if I ever wanted to. In retrospect of my choice, I see less PvP on the server and much more griefing. Getting to Molten Core (requiring passage through the contested Blackrock Mountain) with my guild usually ended with several grief-like attacks on me, for example; getting Mind Controlled and then jumping into the sea of lava below, or getting repeatedly stealth ambushed by groups of wild ninjas (3 or more level 60 rogues).
I’m not saying PvP servers are bad, I’m just saying that they are much more prone to griefing then other server types (obvious given their nature), however there are still situations where even PvE servers are slightly more prone to the “grief” attacks. An example of the possible grief on PvE servers is best exemplified by the Kazzak world raid boss. Lord Kazzak has numerous abilities (as found in our own TTH guide: http://wow.tentonhammer.com/index.php?module=ContentExpress&func=display&ceid=138) but can be “trained” (forcing a mob to follow a player) into a massing raid group, which usually causes a wipe. In PvP servers the Kazzak interference is not a big deal as you can simply kill the person trying to train him to you, on a PvE server however that option is not present, thus a near perfect “griefing” situation (as of the current date, the Blizzard stance is to suspend accounts using this grief, even though it is something the game itself allow you to do).
So there you have it, a bit of an overview of the WoW griefing situation. Hopefully this will give those of you who are new to WoW a better idea on how griefing appears in the game and what it entails (and for those of you who are just plain mean, maybe I’ve given some ideas.).
As a final note, I want to apologize again to Messiah (he never lets me live it down) about choosing a PvP server for us!
-Thurston “Ratboy” Hillman