Monday, March 17, 2008

Is Warsong Gulch fixable?

I think that most people would agree that Warsong Gulch is broken. The thing is though, it seems way more broken today than it ever did in the past. I ran WSG a lot in the old level 60 end game. How often? Well I had enough spare marks that even after buying all my PvP gear, I had more than enough to purchase all four types of epic PvP mounts. That’s something like 170 marks including the gear. I won maybe 50% of my matches, so it took around 85 matches to get that many marks.

But even after all those 85+ games, WSG never seemed like a chore. Oh sure, the odd game here or there would last 30 minutes or more and get frustrating, but for the most part it seemed like most games were more in the 15-20 minute range. At an average of ~20 minutes a game, it takes about 28 hours of game play to get that many marks. That’s roughly a week if you averaged out 4 hours a day playing.

Now however, my games have been lasting upwards of 35-40 minutes. The same number of marks would take me 50 hours and closer to two weeks (at 4 hours per day) to reach.

Still – I wouldn’t be all that irritated about it if the games were still fun. Back in the day, I played that many WSG games because a 15-20 minute game was often exciting. Particularly when it ended 3-2. But a 35 minute game is rarely fun. It’s a turtle match that seemingly has no end. It drags and drags until I am tempted to simply /afk out due to sheer boredom with the same repetitive tasks. Needless to say, I avoid it at all costs nowadays.

So what changed? I know some would argue that it was always broken, but I am strong evidence that at least some people didn’t used to think it was broken. In terms of pure PvP in any game, capture the flag objectives have always been my favorite type. Something changed in Burning Crusade that broke WSG almost beyond repair, what was it?

Two things. Feral Druids and Resilience. Of the two, I blame Feral Druids the most. It’s one thing to be a very fast flag carrier, it’s another thing to be a flag carrier that is difficult to kill. Feral Druids shine more brightly in WSG than any other class in any other battleground. They arguably may not be the best suited for other types of PvP, but when it comes to flag carrying the Feral Druid is the undisputed champion.

As a pure flag runner, they can dash in cat form or move into travel form if dash is on cooldown. If they are rooted or polymorphed – no problem – just shift forms out of it. No class (except possibly Shamans) can run with the flag as well as a Druid. Of course, Druids could always do this, so this isn’t what broke Warsong Gulch.

No, what broke WSG is how much punishment Druids can now endure in Bear form. The amount of health, dodge and armor they gained in the level 70 endgame compared to the level 60 endgame is staggering. It’s practically useless for any of the physical DPS classes to even attempt to kill the bear due to sheer amount of armor. When you also consider that they can come out of form to self-heal and convert rage to health, well – they can seem practically unkillable at times. The combination of speed and near indestructibility virtually guarantees they can get back to base to turtle up with a healer. And once they turtle in, well – your game just got longer. What makes it worse is that it seems like each side has two or three druids and is almost certainly going to have a Druid tank that can quickly run back to his base and turtle. I can tell you that as a well geared Rogue, the only time I seem to kill Feral Druids is when I stunlock them when they are out of Bear form.

Resilience is the another source of the turtle problem, but to a lesser degree. Anything that makes a flag carrier and his healers more survivable is going to drag the game out longer. The worst of course, is a Druid tank with a lot of Resilience. Even worse? Two Druid tanks with lots of Resilience. Many PvE Druids work at stacking Resilience anyway as a replacement for +Defense, so it’s not uncommon for Feral Druids to have 200+ Resilience.

Does Patch 2.4 solve this problem? Lets take a look at the upcoming “fixes” to WSG:

  • When both flags are held, the flag carriers will receive 50% increased damage done to them after approximately 10 minutes and 100% increased damage after approximately 15 minutes.

  • Flag carriers can now be tracked 45 seconds after picking up the flag.

Hmm. Well, hopefully the 50%/100% increase is based on the game time for the battleground and not how long the player has been holding the flag. Otherwise, you might as well just rotate tanks when they get the debuff.

If it is based on the time for the battleground, then I do think this might “fix” many of the problems for Warsong Gulch. As I pointed out above, the problem as it exists today is that is far more difficult to kill the flag carrier today than it was in the old level 60 end game. With this change, well – 75% armor mitigation effectively becomes 56% mitigation after 10 minutes and then 37.5% mitigation after 15 minutes.

The real problem in WSG is the turtle effect. If it becomes more challenging to turtle, then the game becomes less predictable and more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants entertaining.


forthus said...

Shouldn't be from Battleground time that would just make it impossible to pull it out if it goes down to a stalemate withj both sides defending it should be a timer from when the flag was first assaulted.

E.g rogue picks up flag(Timer begins) Gives to druid at their base (Timer continues) Druid dies flag returned (timer reset) Mage picks up (Timer begins) Rather than after 10 minutes it becoming a grueling fight for who has the most healers in the opposing base.

sid67 said...

Hmm. Well, based on my experience with FPS games where flag carriers are very easily killed, it’s still very easy and possible to get the flag out. This typically requires wiping out the defense, then taking the flag. Right now, someone just grabs it quickly and either dashes out or tanks it while offense slow moves out of the base and eliminates the defense chasing them. With all the “slow” and “root” type abilities, it’s pretty easy to get out if you can absorb some damage. This makes defending the flag itself somewhat worthless. You are better off defending the middle and trying to get the flag on it’s way back. With luck, the flag carrier gets ahead of the people protecting him. But god help you if he gets back to base and turtles in.