Well if you have been playing the Cataclysm expansion for any amount of time, then you have probably noticed this little battleground isn’t changing hands. I know on our server it has changed hands all of once and that was about a week ago after the Alliance had it secured for a weeks time. Since that time it hasn’t flipped back from Horde.
The real issue with this battleground is that at its core there is a balance issue. There is no problem with the players as at this point nearly every server is reporting that the battleground simply won’t change hands. The mechanic for the battleground is inherently flawed and I’m really quite surprised that no one at Blizzard thought of this before they decided they were going to release it. My theory is that there weren’t enough people in the beta actually testing this thing to see what the effect of a full raid group were.
You see, when there were only 10 players on each side it was actually quite possible to flip the tide of battle as individual PvP skirmishes might actually have an effect on the overall battleground. Much like Arathi Basin there simply aren’t enough people who even if they group up they are an unstoppable killing machine, and perhaps more importantly grouping up and zerging single bases may actually cause you to lose as the system rewards a victory based on points rather than having all 5 bases under your control.
But when you start letting teams of 40 to 50 players start to work against each other you have another real problem. The basics of this are that the Defending team only actually has to hold one base, so essentially all they have to do is run as a single group and maintain a cap on one base. Hell if it weren’t for the fact that eventually one side is going to get weary of chasing down caps, you could theoretically just stay in one base. So what you have is 40 people hold up in a single base while the other team has to break up their force into a minimum of 2 teams with a more likely 3. The first team to try to capture the point the opposing team just left, the next team to hopelessly try to defeat the base the enemy team is at currently, and the third team is playing defense to a base that is going to be overrun at any second now. The win con essentially encourages the Attacking team to take all but a skeleton group, engage the primary enemy force halfway between bases, and use the remaining skeleton group to ninja cap the base they just left.
And that assumes the defenders are using a Zerg strategy. Lets not forget there are other buildings in this area which are completely ignored. Have you ever taken down a tower or defended one? I only did it so I could get the 2 related achievements, but in honest… those towers are just time extenders. Now in Wintersgrasp that was a fine idea because all forces would eventually be converging on one point and the defenders would start to lose ground as more and more walls collapsed, meaning that destroying the towers to shorten game play was critical to the Defending team being able to survive long enough. In Tol Barad it looks like it was a severe case of “This was cool in Wintersgrasp, let’s try it here”. It comes off as an unrelated mechanic for postponing a battle that already has 15 minutes to work with, and almost never does that make a difference.
So you end up with this combination of worthless towers and a completely inane strategy. So in a battleground that isn’t based on any kind of point scale and is purely based on capturing 3 bases, how do you keep that mechanic while still making it possible to flip hands every couple of battles? The key is in making those individual bases worth something, as it stands it doesn’t matter which base the single zerg group controls as long as they control at least one base. To balance this you want to have those bases give some bonuses, and I’m not just talking about tiny ones like 5% damage or something similar, but actual bonuses. Make Slagworks give 10k additional armor or 1k additional resilience to whomever controls it [as examples of big buffs only]. Now to counter act the fact that the defending team will have all of these bonuses from the get go, we want to look at shaking the foundations of those towers. We want to make it worth something for the defending team to actually defend them. With this we can have the towers each provide a buff to the nearby area. For instance, if the North Tower is up than defenders at Ironblood Garrison get a substantial bonus, but if it is knocked down then the attackers get a bonus in that same area. In this way it forces the defending team to consider actually defending those towers or giving the attacking team an advantage equal to their advantage for holding the base. It makes all 6 points on the map worth something. Now of course I’m no expert in buffs, so looking at those and figuring out what you want those to be may take some time, but I’m confident one could figure something out.
Now on top of this we have the graveyard situation. Not only do the attackers start off pointing the wrong way [a minor nuisance], but all throughout the game when you respawn it is at the base you were attacking. This would be fine and dandy if we didn’t know that Graveyard camping is a favorite pastime of anyone who PvP’s. To fix that small annoyance one must think to themselves “That Graveyard at the center, why does it inherently belong to the defender?”. Keep the Graveyards at the bases non-existent in the sense that the Attackers should res on that bridge and the defenders should continue to res at that central base UNLESS the attackers manage to capture that central base at which point you let the base localized graveyards come online. In this way there is a penalty and another objective on the map.
In the long and short of things:
Let the Towers Provide Buffs to the Defenders if they are Up, Attackers if they are down
Let the Bases provide buffs to whomever controls them
Shake up the Graveyards a bit.
With these alone, I think we start to see some actual strategies coming out of woodwork. That even a group of 60 all sitting in one base would not be able to hold off a group of 30 or 40 with the tower buff and the buff from the 2 bases they already control. It would become less of a zerg pattern and encourage more thought. Maybe then we wouldn’t have to provide an incentive to lose like 1800 honor.
Just my .02$