Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Resurrection of Alterac Valley

So Patch 2.2 for World of Warcraft is finally here, and with it the addition of the ability to report AFKers in the Battlegrounds. And I have to say, the immediate impact is pretty amazing!

I played seven matches last night, and there wasn't a single character idling in the cave. There were a couple of AFKers who tried to hide in other parts of the map, but they were quickly identified and marked so that they didn't receive any honor. I had thought they would be booted from the game as well, but that didn't seem to happen.

I've read some complaints on the forums about getting labeled AFK unfairly, though I havent seen that happen myself. But, I also tend to seek out the PvP, either rabidly defending an attack point or pushing the front line troops forward with charges into the midst of our foes.

I played defense mostly last night, focusing on killing wounded players at Galv (and thus sending them back to Stonehearth, or hopefully their cave), and falling back as slowly as possible. If there weren't enough defenders, or we pushed the Alliance completely out of the mid-map, or there were too many defenders (which actually happened in one match), I would switch to offense, taking point in the assault on the graveyards and base, trying to make sure that we kept our offensive momentum going.

The most obvious change is that now the Horde generally has some defenders at Galv/Iceblood. This seems to cause some turmoil with the Alliance attack, and numerous times we were able to fight them back with only a handful of defenders. Horde has been dealing with Alliance defense for the past year, so we have come to expect it, but until Tuesday, the defense for the Horde never amounted to more than one or two people, which just doesn't cut it. Conversely, the Alliance defense seems to wither away once the Horde assaults the Stonehearth graveyard. They used to be pretty tenacious in holding Stormpike and their base, but maybe that's also a side effect of more warm bodies on the Horde offense. Eventually, the Alliance players will develop some new strategies to counter the suddenly active Horde population, but for the moment, revenge is sweet! And both sides are reporting shorter queue times, which is a win-win situation for everyone.

But I have to wonder how we ever got in this situation to begin with. How did this state of affairs come to be so out of whack that Blizzard had to hardcode a AFK-Stick into the game that we can beat other players with it? Obviously, it's a self-perpetuating issue that has been growing over time. The more players that sit in the cave, the worse your team does, which becomes very frustrating and prompts even more to sit in the cave, etc etc. But, as seems obvious with the amount of player participation in the Valleys now, players are interested in actually playing the game rather than spending the whole match doing nothing. So where was the turning point? When did things get so bad that the Do-Nothing strategy became the preferred method of playing in AV matches? And why was it more of a problem for the Horde? What sort of infectious mob mentality resulted in as many as 20 of the 40 players on the Horde side doing nothing whatsoever to help their team!? I don't have the answers to these questions, but I'm sure there's some sort of sociology paper waiting to be written on the subject!

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