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Dear Great Azure Overbeings,
My humblest apologies for spamming the forums with mediocre poetry, but, to be fair, you brought this upon yourselves:
You've given us wonderful raids and heroics,
Introduced rated battle G's
Then a patch came along with a fiery raid,
But we'd like some more PvP please!
Like the awful rhyme said, you put a massive amount of effort into designing this new expansion, and that work clearly shows (Foury claps excitedly for you). While I understand that battlegrounds require an enormous amount of people-power to maintain, I feel that we really ought to have an infusion of new or revamped PvP content sometime in the next few patches.
Rather than thinning our queue with additional maps, however, I have a suggestion that seems to have garnered a large amount of support within the PvP community. While I understand that you have limited time, I do enjoy a good long-winded post, so I beg your indulgence while I dance around the issue for a moment.
Before I get on with the main bit, let me say that, while this post could be placed comfortably in the battleground forums, I think it's important to sometimes draw people from the general forums into a forum they'd not normally frequent, lest they miss an interesting discussion on a topic they might have found enjoyable, had they known about it.
Let's take a look at the history of one aspect of WoW PvP:
The first three battlegrounds were very well designed, even if they didn't necessarily fit the "25-minute model". Warsong Gulch, though not a personal favourite, is balanced and highly popular. Because of that popularity, one and a half new battlegrounds were made using that same style. The matches tended to run a little long sometimes, so a 25-minute cap was instituted. This time limit did not affect the core gameplay of the battleground, and so it continues to be a popular map today. The only potential changes I see in the near future would be the addition of line-of-sight mechanics around tree stumps and other doodads, similar to Twin Peaks.
Arathi Basin is a slightly larger battle that hasn't changed in any way since its introduction, except during the Great Battleground Standardization of '07. It is fairly well-balanced, popular, and is one of my dear personal favourites. Again, one and a half new battlegrounds were developed around this model, and again, the only change made to it was to cap the duration of matches at around 25 minutes. This did not affect the core gameplay of the battleground, and so it remains a fantastic and enjoyable battleground to this day.
Eye of the Storm is a combination of Capture the Flag and Resource Acquisition, modelled after the aforementioned Vanilla maps. While the wasteland theme feels more barren than I feel is necessary, the battleground still works well. It was probably designed with the Great Battleground Standardization in mind, and thus went unchanged as far as I can recall. The only two problems I have with EoTS are that the lore feels weak and the starting bubbles are atrociously designed. Please make it a ring-shaped wall so we can zoom our cameras far enough out to actually see where the mage table is.
Battle for Gilneas, while misleadingly and disappointingly on a coastline rather than actually inside the city of Gilneas, is still a fun and fairly solid map. There have been some issues with graveyard positioning, but hopefully the most recent solution has fixed that for the most part.
Twin Peaks, essentially Warsong Gulch with line of sight and with slightly varied terrain rather than an exact mirror, is a solid battleground. I don't personally enjoy CTF maps, but I recognize that it is a great battleground.
Strand of the Ancients, particularly after the recent changes to demolishers, has become a Player vs Wall battleground. Vehicle combat in PvP is not enjoyable for many players, mainly because we don't get to play our characters, or fight against other characters as much as we'd like.
Isle of Conquest. Like Twin Peaks and Battle for Gilneas, IoC was modeled after already-existing battlegrounds. The difference is that, instead of emulating Alterac Valley during its most legendary era, it takes the current "race to the finish" model, puts it on a mirror map, and slaps in some PvW. It feels bare. The lore is not immediately apparent (why are we fighting here?) and the implementation of only two NPC's is awkward. While I understand that some people enjoy it, I personally opt to sit in Stormwind for 15 minutes rather than play this map.
Edited by Foury on 7/21/2011 5:28 PM PDT
This brings us to the final battleground on my list, Alterac Valley. This battleground has undergone more changes than any other since its inception, and is now a completely different model than it was in 1.5. While it did undergo some balancing changes at first, the Great Battleground Standardization of '07 is what really caused some problems. You see, at the time of patch 2.3, there were only 4 battlegrounds. Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, Alterac Valley and Purple Arathi Gulch... I mean, uhh, Eye of the Storm.
Now, in order to acquire PvP gear, players needed to obtain Battleground Marks. Similar to today's Tol Barad Commendations, these all-important Marks were a necessity, and could be earned at a fairly consistent rate from all battlegrounds... except one.
In a system that required players to participate equally in every battleground available, the lengthy Alterac Valley stuck out like a sore thumb. So Blizzard changed it to accommodate the Mark system, because there were only a handful of battlegrounds and players didn't want to have to spend so much more time in one than in all the others:
The Horde and Alliance now have a limited number of reinforcements available in the battle for Alterac Valley. The number of reinforcements available is reduced upon player death, loss of towers, and death of Captain Galvangar or Balinda Stonehearth. In addition, all available reinforcements are lost upon the death of General Drek'Thar or Vanndar Stormpike. If a team is reduced to zero reinforcements, the opposing team wins the battle.
Well, with a shortened match, a chain reaction occurred that systematically threw the core gameplay of AV out the window, as demonstrated by these other changes:
Additional Warmasters no longer report for duty upon destroying an enemy tower. However, destroying an enemy tower still eliminates the associated opposing Warmaster.
In the original incarnation of Alterac Valley, players were forced to stop and fight in all sorts of places just to capture one measly graveyard. Now players could breeze through the enemy defenses, slay their Captain, and skip merrily along to the appropriate General.
With a scant few players capturing towers along the way, it became more of a race than a battle.
"So why should we care, Foury?"
Well, Magic Voice, I'm glad you asked. In Cataclysm, we have eight battlegrounds (imagine The Count from Sesame Street counting them up, ah, ah, ah). Most of these battlegrounds were either designed to be played in 25 minutes, or were shortened to 25 minutes without altering their core gameplay. As I explained briefly here and at great length in another post (linked below), this was not good for Alterac Valley, but what could we do?
Well, today there are so many battlegrounds to choose from that we could easily remove just one of them from the random queue and lengthen it considerably without ruffling too many feathers. Alterac Valley could be restored to its original state (with modern improvements) and have a place in today's game as a sort of end-game battleground.
If battlegrounds are equivalent to half-hour instances, give us one (Alterac Valley) that's equivalent to a three-hour raid. Remove AV from the random queue, take all of the awesome that was strained out of it over the years, and dump it back in there.
Refresh AV. Breathe some life into this dusty relic, so we PvPers can have a shiny, new and improved Classic Alterac Valley. The lore behind and within this unique and legendary battleground was once some of the best in the game. This PvP instance once felt like an actual warzone, not simply a skirmish game like it does today. It was truly Warcraft.
Below are a list of requested changes to Alterac Valley. In general, these changes are meant to return AV as close to its original form as possible, but with modern improvements. While some may feel that this is a step backwards in development, I disagree. Most of the previous changes made to Alterac Valley were in response to specific challenges which either no longer exist or are easily changed. Revitalizing this gutted battleground, using ideas from the past combined with modern improvements, is most certainly a giant step forward.
The majority of the changes listed here are intended to be implemented in concert with one another, rather than piecemeal.
NB: This is the combined work of a number of different players. As it is a team effort, there are many persons who share the credit. For additional information, please check out these discussions:
NEW! Adopt-A-Turtle Campaign:
August 26th, 7:00pm PDT / 8:00pm MDT / 9:00pm CDT / 10:00pm EDT
Defend your Captain and towers, then /dance!
"Why Isn't AV Fun Anymore?"
"A 'Brief' History of AV"
TLDR: We want more interesting and immersive PvP content in the form of a revamped, classic-style Alterac Valley.
Edited by Foury on 8/14/2011 9:52 PM PDT
Compendium of Requested Changes to Alterac Valley
- Remove Alterac Valley from the random battleground queue.
Reason: Other changes suggested here would drastically lengthen AV battles, which is unfair to players who want fast honor or who do not wish to play in AV. There are still seven other battlegrounds to choose from.
- Dramatically increase the reinforcement cap to 2000+ or remove it altogether.
Reason: Games are too short to take full advantage of quests, turn-ins, and summonable NPC's. The problem reinforcements were originally intended to solve (AV Marks taking too long to acquire) no longer exists, and as such reinforcements are no longer needed.
- Allow players who have participated in the battle for 40 minutes or longer to exit the battle without penalty as long as there is a new player available in the queue.
Reason: Not everyone agrees on how long a "long" AV match should last, and real life responsibilities often require players to step away from the game for a few minutes or more.
- Return to the battleground all or most of the NPC's that existed in its original incarnation including Lieutenants, elite bunker/tower guards, and Trolls.
Reason: These NPC's forced players to progress through the battleground more slowly, and encouraged PvP combat in a very organic way. They also make the battleground feel more immersive, like a warzone, rather than an unimportant skirmish
- Adjust all non-elite NPC's to approach the level of difficulty of mobs in Tol Barad Peninsula. Make guards level 84 by default, levelling to 85, 86 and 87 based on turn-ins. Ensure tower/bunker archers are not trivial.
- Reduce the leash range of guards.
Reason: A single player should not be able to capture a graveyard. Adding tougher NPC's encourages teamwork and allows players who enjoy both PvP and PvE to experience each aspect of the game simultaneously.
- Add race and class variety to the NPC guards that spawn at graveyards and towers (for instance, add mage and shaman mobs that will sometimes polymorph or heal nearby players).
Reason: This adds a small amount of difficulty and a great deal of immersion. Surely some members of the new races such as Draenei and Goblins ought to have joined the fight by now.
- Buff NPC's to match power inflation each new arena season.
Reason: Alterac Valley is the only battleground that doesn't scale when players get better gear.
- Adjust Balinda and Galvangar to be of approximately equal difficulty by granting boss-level immunity to stuns, interrupts, etc.
- Make Balinda leash sooner to prevent players from interrupting her casts by leaving her line of sight.
Reason: If both Captains are equally difficult to kill, players will be more likely to defend their boss, thus encouraging both more fairness and more PvP.
- Prevent players from trivializing Ivus/Lokholar through simple kiting.
Reason: These bosses should play a vital role in breaking a stalemate, and killing them must require a team effort.
- Increase the time required to capture towers, bunkers and graveyards to 5 minutes.
- Remove the Warmaster/Marshal 40% buffs to nearby NPC's and return all eight of the missing Warmasters/Marshals to the battleground (For instance, when Tower Point is taken by the Alliance, their Tower Point Marshal will once again join the battle).
Reason: This provides an advantage/additional incentive for players to defend towers and bunkers. If a team fails to defend their bunkers, the enemy General will be more difficult to kill.
Edited by Foury on 7/22/2011 6:41 PM PDT
- Add reputation rewards such trinkets with unique abilities (or award Marks of AV for completing objectives, now that they neither use bag space nor are required for other purchases).
Reason: Alterac Valley reputation is not useful at high levels. Additionally, if AV is treated as a somewhat unique battleground, it stands to reason that it should have unique rewards (but not so powerful that players feel forced to grind AV rep just to get gear).
- Ensure that players who spend 30 minutes in AV earn a reasonable amount of honor, but noticeably less than players who spend an equivalent amount of time in a different battleground. Perhaps add honor gains to quest turn-ins.
Reason: Players should be rewarded for their contribution to the battle, but long AV matches must not provide better honor-per-hour than other battlegrounds, or else players will feel forced to participate.
- Remove diminishing returns for honor kills only in Alterac Valley.
Reason: Rather than simple periodic honor gains, players who fight in PvP combat continue to receive honor no matter how long they are inside the battleground.
- Change Stormpike/Frostwolf Insignia to a + Stam trinket with an interesting effect (for instance, a chance to spawn an NPC to fight for you when in AV).
Reason: The current version is outdated and awkward to use.
Quality of Life Improvements:
- Add a teleport-to-base functionality to the Stormpike/Frostwolf Tabards.
- Fix all battleground quests to ensure they are in good working order.
- Add a user interface element in the Map and/or Battleground score screen that gives players important information such as General health, capture time on graveyards and towers/bunkers and status of turn-in quests.
- Implement a few simple quests for new players to help them get acquainted with the large and complicated workings of Classic Alterac Valley. When zoning into the Valley for the first time, new players automatically receive a quest to speak to several NPC's such as their armorer, quartermaster, druids, etc. Those NPC's can then explain a little about the many ways a player can assist with the battle.
Important information that new players need to learn:
- Each tower you control adds to General's defense
- Each Captain periodically gives health and damage buffs
- Armor scraps can be turned in to buff up NPCs
- Blood/Crystals can be turned in to eventually summon a powerful Elemental Lord
- Three Wing Commanders can be rescued from opponents side of the map. If they make it back to your base you can turn in flesh/medals to initiate aerial assaults.
- Trinket (or tabard if our suggestion is taken) can be used to return to your home base for defense
- Taming wolves/rams and collecting ram/wolf hides allows players to summon a powerful cavalry charge
- Collecting mine supplies allows for a squad of reavers to be summoned
Reason: Alterac Valley is a big, scary place for new players. We were all lost in there once, and in order to shape the new recruits into capable soldiers of Stormpike and warriors of Frostwolf, they need to be shown the ropes.
- Do not add vehicle combat.
Reason: Alterac Valley is a game of Player vs Player vs Environment. It is not a game of Player vs Wall.
- Tweak minor balance issues such as the hole in the wall near West Frostwolf Tower, or adding a pair of owls beside Vanndar to match Duros and Drakan.
Reason: The AV map shouldn't be a mirror, but it ought to be fair.
- Update Drek'Thar's model to reflect the fact that he now fights from the comfort of his wheelchair.
Reason: Because it would be awesome, and because it makes sense lorewise.
- Move the Insignia/Tabard teleport location away from the front of bunkers.
Reason: Enemy players gather in front of your General's stronghold before assaulting him. Attempting to zone in at that location generally results in death before your character model loads.
Old string is frayed
and dirty and worn.
I wish we could play
Classic AV once more.
Edited by Foury on 7/22/2011 6:46 PM PDT
While I do support more world PvP love, this post deals primarily with battlegrounds. They're both large enough topics to merit lengthy discussion, and while I may get to World PvP at some point, this is my priority at the moment.
EDIT: Almost forgot the obligatory protest poetry.
Old AV, how I miss thy bloody glory.
Pushing, pulling, fighting tooth and nail for every snowy metre of ground,
Come back to me.
Edited by Foury on 7/21/2011 5:39 PM PDT
I actually read his ENTIRE shpeal, I heartily approve of the idea and would love to see some azure text in this thread. I've heard the stories all the old players tell of hours long battles in AV, and how you'd never finish the battle if you jumped in at the beginning simply because the battle would be too long. Having a "raid" PvP BG would be great and I am sure that most PvP'rs would agree and want to participate in the BG. Revive this BG Blizz!! Currently it's "Who can get the tank and 3 healers up to the general first?" race. Noone defends towers, I rarely see actual PvP battle in the BG with the exception of the odd one or two AFK people at Stormpike's bunker, and the rare rogue/kitty druid defender that gets stomped by the wave of Horde wanting Stormpike's head on a... well pike. Reviving world PvP would be nice, but let's be honest those who play on PvE servers (Like Thrall) don't want to always PvP or we'd be on PvP servers.
This is the tealest deer I have ever seen in my entire life, so I skimmed.
I think your point about the AV changes being in response to a marks system made a lot of sense. There's definitely room for an "epic" BG, now that all that matters is honor. The question is whether battlegrounders want PVE in their PVP - old AV had a number of raid bosses that needed to be tanked and healed.
In Alterac Valley, PvE often causes PvP, and does so in an organic way.
I want to cap Iceblood GY, but the level 86 (with turn-in buff) guards are too strong for me to pwn in less than 30 seconds, so I wait for help. During that time, Hordies have a chance to spawn at GY and rush to the defense.
Alternatively, I have to ask this: Why must PvP and PvE be separate entities? Classic AV is the perfect place to merge the two into a delicious, PvE-coated chocolate with a creamy PvP centre. Or, as I like to call it, PvPvE combat.
How much is that Lieutenant in the window?
The one with the grey beard and wand?
How much is that Lieutenant in the window?
Of him I was surely once fond.
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