Cross Server Battlegrounds

Seems all is primed for 1.12 or 1.13 to include the long-awaited Cross Server Battlegrounds. “Long awaited” by but a small, but very vocal community. See, the issue (and if you are Horde, you’ll likely not notice) is two-fold in Battlegrounds queues – first, the imbalance between Horde and Alliance makes it much harder for Alliance players to stay in Battlegrounds for an extended amount of time over a few games, and secondly, diminishing returns make it harder for the majority to “farm” honor off the minority faction. The solution, according to those who felt cheated … cross-server BG.

This here player thinks it’s a bad idea. For a number of reasons…

The first and foremost reason this is a bad idea has little to do with BGs themselves but with Blizzard’s honor system in itself. The way ranking and de-ranking is calculated is on a normalized curve over all players of one’s own faction. That is, we, the players, are competing not against smelly Alliance or brutal Horde, but against our fellow Alliance or Horde for ranks. It is therefore, that fighting outside BGs, which technically leads to more Honor but less of an Honor/Kill ratio and has an inherent latency to it, as people decide to quest, wait for a rez, or are simply in a different zone, is sub-optimal for ranking up or even maintaining one’s own rank past Rank 8.

HWC In Battlegrounds, Honor comes from more than just killing other players. There’s objectives, there’s milestone goals, and then there’s the simple honor from just being in a BG and receiving Marks of Honor. Combined with Bizzard’s well meant but abyssmally badly implemented Dishonorable Kills system, which penalizes players with PvP dishonor for PvE activities, World PvP simply doesn’t happen much, aymore. The only reason Alliance could be found out and about (even on PvP servers) to be killed, was during Battlegrounds rush times, when queues were too long to wait in Stormwind or Ironforge, and some meandered out into the wild.

You see, Rank in World of Warcraft has very little to do with skill or knowing one’s character. It’s got a lot and everything to do with spending entirely too much time inside BGs. Post Rank 9, however, the Honor gained from such a kill is worth the effort, and therefore renders BG honor recipients prime targets to the small community of World PvP players. This is not to say, that a Centurion or Field Marshal should be automatically regarded as a bad PvPer, but chances are killing a Rank 13 will be much easier (and much more rewarding in terms of Honor) than killing that Rank 4 who, thanks to the aforementioned bell curve, might have had many more battles than the 13, but can not rank higher than Sergeant due to the lack of BG rewards honor.

Cross Server BGs will shorten queues, drive less and less of those desirable and easy targets out into the world, and will therefore destroy what little real World PvP still exists. What remains are 5-man L60 Night Elf Rogue ganksquads in level 30 zones, making it less and less likely for good players to play and level on PvP realms.

Another issue with Cross-Server BG lies in the oft-discussed “twink” debate. Twinks, originally a term used in the Gay scene – which makes it even funnier in the homophobic environment that is WoW’s player base, are low-level players who have been adorned with enchantments and gear most regular high-levels would not be able to afford. Between my characters on Stormrage, I own about 5,000 gold and the same amount again in rare materials and purple drops I haven’t been able to auction, yet. This would, could, and might one day, afford me a level 19 character sporting attack power, armor, survivability, and damage per second that rivals that of a level 60. Older servers, such as Stormrage, suffer from a general boredom in the end-game (post level 60) ranks and are more likely to create a lot of level 19 and 29 twink groups battling each other in the Battlegrounds. And, as long as both sides are that way, not much changes, other than the occasional steamrolled “real” level 19 player.

With Cross-Server BGs, this will change. Imagine a new server, just in the first throws of guilds entering Blackwing Lair and AQ20. True, the thing has been up for a few months, and people aren’t necessarily poor, but by no means can the “GDP” of such a server rival that of Daggerspine, Stormrage, or any other of the “been here since release” servers. The new server’s regular 19s and 29s won’t stand a chance against even the most disorganized pickup group geared in superior and epic gear, wielding flaming swords purchased for 300g and enchanted with another 500g enchant.

Lastly, and those three issues only scratch the surface of what’s really there, let me take you back to my initial comments. Honor, on Blizzard’s watch, is only a surface value, which is – during the weekly maintenance – tallied and used to calculate so-called Contribution Points, which in turn determine ranking and de-ranking. Different servers have different cultures, and so far even the worst honor farmers had a hard time to upset the balance on a server more than slightly. With 5 million players comes a completely non-homogenous culture and as such a much easier upset of the scales. Blizzard reportedly plans to address this in its expansion set “Burning Crusade”, which should be out mid-Q3 2006.

3 Comments so far

  1. Chris Hanel (unregistered) on April 25th, 2006 @ 5:18 pm

    I think that this is Blizzard’s misguided attempt at seeing the symptom of the real problem as a problem itself, and trying to fix it rather than understand the underlying cause.

    Yes, I agree, the DK system is horrid and needs to be worked out. I’ve always been extremely disappointed that World PVP hasn’t been at the level I’d like to see it. The idea of a 40 man raid running into UC or defending Stormwind from a horde mob appeals to me, and yet I’ve maybe seen such a situation twice in my year+ in the game.

    Of course, this also starts to touch on my idea for a World Defense-based high lvl guild, but that needs a post all of its own….

  2. Lex (unregistered) on April 26th, 2006 @ 3:27 pm

    I’m so glad that Blizz is spending dev time on this, and not on say… account splitting or unit testing.

  3. Greg (unregistered) on May 12th, 2006 @ 11:10 am

    Reading about Horde being able to instantly get into battlegrounds makes me sad – on our server (Runetotem-US) you have to wait in the queue for *hours* to get the Alliance into a game of Arathi Basin, and in prime time often an hour for any BG at all.

    Looking forward to the cross-realm BGs *so much*. Couldn’t care less about the issues mentioned above.

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