Monday, April 21, 2008

Going back to Warsong Gulch

So in my quest to figure out how to keep moving my gear up to acceptable levels, I caught the tail end of the Warsong Gulch weekend yesterday.

I was gratified to find that, despite the Arena crowd's best attempts on the forum to persuade Blizzard to destroy it, the old game is still almost entirely intact.

I was also reminded of something that Pike wrote about the endgame, which is that working with other people means exactly that, work, whether you go the PvE or PvP route.

In Warsong Gulch, the reason for that is simple. If you want to win a match, one person (three at the most) has to provide constant motivation and co-ordination for the other seven-nine. As much as I hate this myself, I've never seen anything where the leader/follower paradigm is more starkly illustrated than WSG. If someone doesn't take control of what is happening, the rest of the team mills around, aimlessly farming kills out the front of the Alliance base, there is no defense, and matches are consistently lost.

Yesterday, I found that if I simply tried to swim with the tide and passively farm kills, I'd be in maybe one game in 20 where the Horde actually won. The downside of that is, that even if I was getting kills, I'd still be lucky to get more than 200 honour per game. This was slow, and boring to the point that while doing it, I felt my eyes slowly beginning to glaze over.

Once I got sick of that, went on defense, and more or less decided to take control of things, I started being in winning games very consistently.

The downside there, however, is that I've also actually had left hemisphere chest pain since yesterday as a result, and I remember that I used to get that when playing Warsong Gulch in the lower brackets as well. It can be stressful if I do get driven about winning, especially because in the beginning at least, literally nobody else cares.

I've had some interesting games in there before. The Alliance can pull out every trick in the book; premades, twinks, specific group configurations. None of those will ultimately save them, as long as strategically we remember two things:-

a) Keeping my flag out of their hands is actually more important than keeping theirs in mine. Getting their flag isn't the hard part; the killfarmers in midfield tend to be good at ensuring that an Alliance base is empty, most of the time. The truly gruelling element of this game is grinding down an Alliance flagrunner en route to their base. Once they get the flag back and become entrenched in the rear part of their base, the odds of us making a successful capture drop exponentially, even if we still have their flag.

b) The other truly difficult thing about playing this game with a Horde team in particular is remembering that simply mindlessly slaughtering the Alliance, as thoroughly enjoyable as that might be, will not win a match in this battleground and in fact will help to lose it. This goes back to what I've written about Survival as a spec before, when I've said that in both PvE and PvP, the simple application of damage in and of itself is nowhere near as important as where and how it is applied.

With apologies to Pike, in my two years of playing this game, the Alliance have consistently displayed genuinely enormous cowardice, and I've observed this even when playing in Warsong Gulch on the Alliance side of the fence.

For the most part, Aedalas Blackmoore truly is the volksgeist (German; literally "people's spirit") of the faction, and I honestly believe that this, more than any other reason, is why they have a reputation for faring so much more poorly than the Horde where PvP is concerned. I don't believe the Horde always does have better racials; we also certainly don't always have better numbers. In both lore and game terms, however, what we do have, putting it quite simply, is more guts.

However, in this case, the Alliance's timidity actually serves them. A Horde team will leave their flagroom at the start of a match and typically have nothing greater in mind than simply inflicting as much misery on the Alliance as possible. The Alliance, for their part, are not focused purely on slaughtering us to the same degree, and so can therefore think about other things, such as protecting their flag, capturing ours, and actually winning a match.

The Horde team therefore needs reminding constantly that simply killing the Alliance isn't what we're there to do; if we defend our flag, capture theirs, and win the match, we get a lot more points than for pure killfarming alone. Getting this across is hard, but I found that if I was in groups with the same people repeatedly, even with pugging, we gradually fell into a pattern which allowed us to win more or less every time, once said pattern had been established.

The item I was able to get from yesterday's games though was this, which I socketed with a Rigid Dawnstone, as well as getting one other Rigid Dawnstone for one of my other items. I did this so that when I also get these, gem them purely for Agility, and keep my current hit rating constant.

I'm not too worried if I don't get hit capped, but I do want to try and be above 5% if possible. The other benefit of some of the PvP gear is that it will mean that my stats become somewhat more balanced, although I still want to maintain an emphasis on Agility.

Efri asked me not long ago, why I would bother gearing up if I wasn't intending on doing anything higher end in the game. Although going to the Arcatraz yesterday meant I'm now a step closer to getting keyed for Karazhan, my answer is that I still care about doing well, even if it is via PvP or other things. My only real reasons for not wanting to raid are almost entirely social; if I can overcome those, I will have no issue with doing it.

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