Rated Battleground Additions that would Never Happen

I am eager for rated battlegrounds to take off and I think it’ll add another PvP dimension to the game from a competitive stand point. Years ago, I used to be an avid Counterstrike player. I was a first string benchwarmer on a CS club in the Cyberathlete Amateur League back in the early 2000s. I think the furthest we got was CAL Main.

Would rated BGs move to become an E-Sport? Could they? I don’t know what Blizzard’s intentions are here. We can’t queue for battlegrounds anymore as a raid. I’m guessing we’ll be able to do that during Cataclysm and when rated BGs are available. I really hope that they allow “unrated” rated BGs like they do for arena (I don’t recall seeing that option available during the beta, but I most likely missed it). If they do decide to pursue it, there’s a couple of things that I wish would happen but for both technical and logistical reasons, would not.


I don’t even know if the tech for this is possible. Maybe they can work with the Warcraft 3 and Starcraft 2 folks to see if there is a possible solution. Being able to watch replays of teams going at it would be cool to have. For that to even come close though, there’d have to be some kind of client side viewer, I think. The size requirements would obviously be ridiculous too. I can see all the logistical problems already. But if there was just some way to implement it where we can watch other rated BGs going on, it would be an asset to BG teams so they can go over strategies and what worked for them and what didn’t. I used to watch CS replays to get an idea of what other teams did and how they positioned themselves. I liked the first person perspective modes just to see what they saw before those players made such clutch moves. Right now, we have to rely on VODs (or PvP videos from players).

Observer mode

Being able to float around a battleground and just watch what’s going on would be great fun too. You could “fly” from one side of the map to the other. It would allow players to actively “stream” into a match. There’d have to be some “tape delay” added to prevent ghosting (the act of telling people things they shouldn’t know, like telling players where people are when they would not be able to figure it out on their own). Doing so would also slow down or lag the match.

Practice scrimmages

Specifically queuing to play against specific teams. Would be a great way for guilds to practice rated BGs against each other. Otherwise, you don’t know who you’re getting matched up with. The team you’re facing might be weaker or stronger than you. Having intra-guild or consistent partnering teams would be a good way to just keep getting the PvP team better.

If those technologies can be implemented, I can see it elevating the PvP game upwards. I don’t know if it’d be able to become a spectator sport or anything but it would be a good first step. Alas, one can only dream. Maybe one day.

On a side note, you can count me in as one of the players that were a little sad with the removal of 25 rated BGs. I know the arguments that were made for the removal and I understand it. It’s good to take it off the regular weekly rotation. Would it be possible to bring it back just for fun though? Having 25 vs 25 epic Isle of Conquests or Alterac Valleys that are completely unrated? 25 man raiding is still going strong. I think 25 man BGs might have enough of a support base to be a niche thing to do on the side. Look at all the AV or IoC premades in the past. Just imagine the technical, chess-like nature of the match. Raiding in 25s is one thing, but doing organized PvP in massive numbers like that offers a different cohesive feeling altogether. It literally is being a general instructing different groups and players to go in select directions. The Battlefield FPS series offered epic 64 v 64 matches with one overall commander leading and good commanders are really hard to find.

Adding a Guild PvP Division

I suspect that this is an option that guilds have considered at some point. After all, in Cataclysm, one of the methods guilds can gain reputation and experience is through rated battlegrounds and rated arena. It was something I had considered for a while since a good number of players in the guild do love their PvP. But as it is, I do not have the time to organize players and run the necessary strategies for a successful PvP team. Not only that, I’m the last person in the world who should do any sort of PvP. I only have enough time to invest seriously in raiding or PvPing (and I much prefer raiding). What I do have is the resources and the infrastructure to support a group of dedicated players.

Conquest is now expanding

But I found a solution.

A couple of players in the guild were leaders within the QueueQ cross-realm pre-form group. After a bit of discussion, it was decided we would have both PvE and PvP interests in mind. The commander of the PvP team would have complete control of his group. As long as the recruits he selects adhere to the basic standards and ethics of the guild, they would be welcome. Just because one player is accepted into one part of the guild doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be green lit into the other. A raider shouldn’t expect an immediate invite into a dedicated PvP team and vice versa. Obviously on days where either groups are shorthanded, we’ll consider all of our options. Common sense, right?

Naturally there were a few concerns.

What about players who both raid and want to commit to PvP? Would scheduling affect it? – PvP nights would not coincide during raid nights. They would be held on other days to maximize availability. We also minimize incidents of players having to choose between say arena or raiding to get their points in.
What would the voice infrastructure be like? – I had to rearrange and setup a few extra channels. Now we’ve got two battleground channels and a channel called the waiting room. Any player in the waiting room can be dragged up into the battleground channels when players are needed.
Gear acquisition? – There is a concern that PvP players would want to duck into raids, get PvE weapons, and leave. Loot council helps address that. If we reach a point where our progression oriented players don’t need weapons anymore, then we’d be able to work something out. Otherwise, raiders get priority.

Why PvP?

Why not stick to something simple? Why not just stick to one primary focus of the guild instead of splitting it into two? I guess I wanted to diversify a bit more. It doesn’t hurt to be a little ambitious. Even though they’re not players I have any say in handpicking, I trust the PvP commander has the right people skills and instincts. Not only that, I mentioned earlier about the guild perks. Having multiple methods to gain guild experience will be beneficial in the long run.

Additional exposure

Just like how running an alt raid for a guild can help drive additional exposure, running weekend PvP premades is another way to attract attention. With two capable preform leaders, we could fire off two 15 mans and a 25 man raid at the same time.

Now if players ask whether or not we’re a PvE or PvP guild, I tend to reply with both. I’ll continue to oversee the raiding team along with my officers. Anyone inquiring about PvP gets directed to the PvP leaders. This all looks fine on paper. Now it’s just a matter of determining whether or not it’ll work. I’ll never know unless I try. This is a chance to change up guild beliefs and philosophy for a bit. If PvP battlegrounds is something you’re interested, you might want to check us out.

I do remember reading about one other guild that was going to do the same thing. I can’t remember so I at least know that there’s someone out there who will undergo the same types of problems or issues. Has your guild thought about extending into formal, organized PvP?

The Mercenary Healer?

With Cataclysm dropping on December 7th, and BlizzCon this month on October 22nd and 23rd, a lot of people are planning to have some downtime before the new content is released. Guilds are taking breaks to unwind or just have fun outside of a full-blown raid. My guild will likely be taking a break from raiding to work on fun things like achievements and mount runs before Cataclysm very soon. That does however leave me with some free time in game for probably a month. So I’d like to share with you my plans for the downtime before the expansion.

First on my list are the ICC drakes. I want them both, and very badly. I haven’t stepped foot in ICC-10 but a handful of times and haven’t really tried to get the meta achievement before, but now I’m making it a priority to complete these tasks. Likely it wont take me too long to get all the achievements in the meta and get my lovely — and super fast– pile of dragon bones. After that however I have a plan for my time. Not every guild is stopping raids before Cataclysm. In fact many will go right up to the expansions release. I know of a few that having a hard time with certain boss fights, particularly with healing.

A couple weeks ago I got a tell asking if I would heal an ICC -10 man heroic. I politely declined, only to receive a tell from the person again, and this time with an offer of gold. 5k gold in fact. I declined again because I was scheduled to be in a 10 man heroic run with guild mates later that week. But it sort of got me thinking. I’ve always been terrible about earning money in WoW. I hate farming, I level tradeskills to help my raiding and the guild, but don’t generally farm mats to saturate the market or what have you. I generally have enough gold to be comfortable, but not rich by the game’s standards. So would it be wrong of me to accept a cash reward for healing through content like that? I mean, I know the fights, I’m already geared and would require NO loot from any of the bosses, and by the time I do this I’ll already have all my achievements. I bring my own consumables with me wherever I go. So is it wrong to accept a cash reward for my healing and knowledge of the encounters?

I don’t think it is. I won’t demand it per say, but I will accept it and will always accept the highest bidder. For the weeks leading up to Cataclysm I will become a mercenary healer. I will heal for the highest bidder and the highest profit. I view it as simply welcoming the mentality of our soon to be goblin shaman brothers early, as it is a business model they would approve of I think. It would also present me with a unique opportunity to see how other groups run their raids. It may sound like I’m being a bit of a jerk here but I find it a much more enjoyable use of my time. I could level an army of alts or various professions, but I already have 5 level 80’s and have plans for another alt on another server for a special project.

So that’s my plan leading up to the Cataclysm release. To become a mercenary healer, and hopefully live up to standard set before me by the original A-Team.

What about you? Is your guild taking a break before diving into Cataclysm? If so, what are you going to do? Will you level alts? Level professions? Will you just take the time off and relax? Maybe play other games?

Well that’s it for today. Until next time, happy healing!

My experience with the Queue Q preforms

I had a bit of time over the AV weekend and I wanted to spend some of it acquiring some honor. What’s the best way to do it? Queue for AV of course. What’s the better way? Queue for it in a preform.

But how do you queue for AV in such large numbers when its technically not allowed?

Enter QueueQ.

These guys are a no nonsense PvP organization that comes from a variety of servers within the Bloodlust Battlegroup. There’s a large vent that everyone connects to. Whether you are from Proudmoore, Kil’Jaden, Aman’thul or Ner’Zhul, everyone’s allowed to get in on the action. Each group is under the command of a preform leader who controls the play.

There isn’t a special technique to get in. When the leader calls for it, everyone queues at the same time. As soon as a number pops, everyone calls out which AV they get and they hold off until they see if enough in that preform get in. If yes, they take it and roll with it.

The level of precision and control in these raid groups is inspiring. Every group has assigned towers or objectives they need to go for. An auxiliary force is on standby in case Horde forces push past the bridge and start capturing bunkers.

Typically, there are two main ways to win:

The blitz

Full PvE gear is equipped, and its a straight charge to the end zone. Multiple tanks are needed to keep the battlemasters in check as Drek gets taken down fast. This yields something like 2000-3000 honor in under 6 minutes. This play is called when we’re lacking a number of preform players in the BG and we want to get it over with quick to start the next one and get more players involved.

I personally don’t like this method because of the lack of honor gain.

The finesse

This will vary from preform leader to preform leader, but it involves a combination of taking down Galv, capturing towers, and back capturing bunkers to maximize honor gains.

Not only is it more engaging, but I’m almost certain there is more honor gain to be had here. I’ve earned as much as 7000-8000 with every victory, but the wins range from 9-10 minutes after the gates open. With queue times factored in, I think this is the better of the two.

All in all, not a bad way to prepare for the upcoming rated BGs. I’m tempted to establish a Conquest weekend PvP division when Cataclysm opens.

Why Healing is fun in PvP

This is a guest post by Sylvara, of the Raging Monkeys. That is quite possibly one of the best blog names I’ve seen so far.

While not playing WoW actively at the moment, the thing I really miss most about the game at times is PVP. Even when I was raiding 3-4 times a week, I would hop into some quick BGs with Era, my personal retridin, on off nights or after raids had finished. PVP has always been a great outlet and a change from PVE healing for me. I have learned valuable things there that have benefited me in PVE over the years and that’s why I have been a bit of a spokesperson for it in our raid guild, together with my BG buddy.

img01I started to heal in BGs regularly in early vanilla. This was the time of PVP rankings where battle groups did not yet exist and players would have to compete against everyone else on the server in order to claim ranks (the threshold of players per rank being limited). At the time I was lucky to chance on a group of like-minded players that, not only founded one of the more progressed 40man raid guilds at the time, but were what I would still label “crazy PvPers”. At some point we had 5 Grand Marshals and 3 Field Marshals in the guild. One GM was a woman and all the FMs were female players too, contradicting the general notion that female players like to PVP less than males. Whenever they had an open spot in their premade, they’d get me in as replacement healer. And though I was also raiding 4 times a week and leading the healers, I got pretty obsessed with PVP for a while before giving up just short of rank 9.

In TBC the PVP system got its huge revamp and when I left my first raid guild, I also left premade PVP in such big a fashion. I am not a fan of pugging, neither on the PVE nor PVP side of WoW, so I kept being part of relatively small groups of PVP-interested players in my next guilds. Somewhere in mid-TBC me and Era started to team up as “pali-priest duo infernale” and have kept going at it ever since, PvPing a lot on weekends, collecting each season’s gear and having loads of great laughs – there are those nights when we’re almost unstoppable.

So why am I actually doing this? Why am I enjoying PVP as a healer? I’ve been reading healer blogs and sites for years, but I notice there’s not an awful lot going on on the PVP side of things. I don’t know if my fellow priests don’t enjoy BGs or if they’re too shy to write about their experiences, but here’s my take on the matter. (I might have to add that I am excluding arenas here, for there are fundamental differences between healing in arenas and healing in BGs. While I’ve also given arenas a go myself, that topic would need an extra post of its own).

The joys of PVP

If I had to name the top 5 aspects I appreciate about PVP as a healer, then it’s the

  1. The frenzy of battle
  2. The teamwork mechanics
  3. The strategic aspect
  4. The different healing approach
  5. The power to turn the tide

I enjoy a good confrontation in games. I enjoy the pressure and thrill of challenge and the big difference between PVE and PVP will always be that player characters behave erratically while NPCs will follow script. Even if you can (and should) expect certain classes to do certain things in BGs, there is always the element of surprise and human error which keeps things interesting and chaotic. This influences the way you need to react.

I have never experienced a stronger team-building effect in WoW like the one you get from playing with the same few people in BGs regularly. If you have a serious go at this, you will soon find yourself part of one well-oiled team machine that knows each other’s next moves blindly and keeps each other’s backs free. The satisfaction of surviving onslaughts twice your number because you’re acting as one unit is incredible. Epic win! Only really hard earned raid firstkills ever compare in terms of adrenaline rush for me.

BGs are all about strategy and if you want to play and win, you will need to learn every individual map’s ins and outs. I enjoy tactical moves like pre-emptive strikes and feints and I have often seen the outcome of a BG turn around because there were just a few people
taking charge of overall tactics.

I mentioned before that I find an outlet in PVP healing. It’s a total change of focus for me and, while I also keep my partner’s butt alive, it allows me to play a lot more ego-centric than in raids, which is thoroughly relaxing. I use different sets of spells and abilities,many of which revolve around my own survival and crowd control, as much as adding some DPS when I can.

There is an immense satisfaction in seeing your team turn the tide, in knowing that your healing and timing were crucial to the overall outcome of a BG. Even if you lose, a good battle is still fun. I admit that it’s even better to win and find yourself on place 1 or 2 on honor gained though – which is often the case for a good healer and his partner.

What PVP can teach you

img02What I tell not only other healers but also ranged DPS in the guilds I am in, is that there’s actual benefits for PVErs to play PVP at least occasionally. Ranged players especially, often suffer from ‘feet of stone’-syndrome (don’t stand in the fire, anyone?) and tunnel vision. It is one of the most remarkable differences between PVP mages, warlocks, hunters, hybrid DPS, healers and strict PVErs: PVPers have to move around almost constantly while performing. Okay, you can just play Alterac Valley all the time hiding somewhere in back row, but that’s seriously meh! If you want to improve on things like movement, situational awareness, reaction time and survivability, then enter more BGs. Don’t go in all by yourself but go as a small team, so it’s not so frustrating when you start. I found that a lot of the automatisms I developed in BGs benefited me greatly in PVE encounters.

Besides these elemental benefits, it will also teach you a lot about other class mechanics, strategic maneuver, group organization and timing.

A few tips for healers

I’ve just mentioned it and will mention it again – try and go in with at least one more person who is playing a non-healer. Pugging while you’re playing a support class is a seriously frustrating and ungrateful job, even if you can throw heals around randomly. As healers we function best in cooperation with others and if you want to experience the enjoyable side of PvP and reduce your number of deaths, find yourself someone that watches your back as much as you watch his. Me and my buddy are usually on vent when we PVP, which is an additional help and source of fun.

You should also take at least a basic interest in things like BG tactics, play style, stats, and gearing for PVP. You don’t need to respec in BGs as much as you do for arenas, but a general knowledge of how to play and which abilities come handy will help you along the
way – and resilience, lots of it. I found most of the info I needed in the past via Elitist Jerks, Arena Junkies and the general WoW class forums.

My last advice to you is to give your PVP experiences time. Be patient and don’t give up just because you’re losing battles and get killed often. Hang in there and you will gradually notice the differences as your team becomes a more coordinated force and your gear gets better. If nothing else, you will have some good laughs with friends and learn to mind your six more in raids. Me personally, I am greatly looking forward to rated BGs in Cataclysm!

Sylvara, Stormrage EU
August 30th, 2010