Pick a side, forever.
Last week I wrote about levels dividing players. This week I’d like to look at another thing that divides players: Lore.
Now, Lore itself doesn’t really divide players, but design decisions made to support Lore does. In World of Warcraft, you have two sides, the Alliance and the Horde, and every race in the game belongs to one side and not the other. If you want to play an orc, you are Horde. If you want to play a human, you are Alliance. Now, if you want to play a human and your best friend wants to play an orc, you are screwed. One of you is going to have to cave and play another race.
WoW isn’t the only game that does this. In almost every game on the market that decides to define “sides” to enable a Realm vs Realm style of PvP play, they draw arbitrary lines in the sand and toss races on one side or the other. This needs to stop.
Now, when I say Lore is the problem, I’m being a tad flippant. In truth, from a database and coding viewpoint, it’s probably far easier to assign races to sides than to flag individual characters and then check the flag for any action for which side matters. But if we assume the problem isn’t technical, that a human could be on either Horde or Alliance, then the only thing holding us back is Lore. Humans and Orcs are on different sides because the Lore says so.
Of course, the solution to Lore problems is… Lore!
Why not have the majority of humans be Alliance, but a splinter faction have gone to the Horde? Apply to same logic to each and every race in each and every game. Even if you don’t want the Lore of your game to support a race being on both sides, you should allow your players to “betray” their side and go to the other.
Some people will say that dividing people into sides by race it to make finding enemies easier during those PvP/RvR interaction. And yes, spotting an orc and knowing he’s a friend or foe at a glance is easy. Know what else is easy to spot? The same thing FPS games have been using for a long time: colors. When a player enters an area of contention, just slap a colored tabard on them, red for one side and blue for the other.
Dividing players into sides is a perfectly valid design decision, but there really isn’t any good reason, in my opinion, to divide them along other lines as well.
Lately, as I play my new blood elf hunter, I have been frequenting the Tarren Mill and Hammerfall.
Tarren Mill is under attack!
Why yes, yes it is. Tarren Mill is being slaughtered, probably as you read this. A group of well geared level 70′s are sitting on the hill (or worse, sitting in town) killing all the NPCs. The master tailor is dead, so are the quest givers, and the innkeeper… everyone, all gone. You get maybe five minutes to do your thing after respawns before they wade in again.
Hammerfall is under attack!
Look! Epic mounted level 70′s are riding through town again and killing everything! The guards at the entrance to the battleground are dead? You don’t say! Oh look, they’ve accidently attacked the flight path guy, all those spawns should keep them out for twenty minutes.
But why do I say the Alliance is bored? Well, because 95% of the Horde who frequent these areas are level 25 to 35, and most of the NPCs are 40 to 50. Are there no battlegrounds for these people to fight in? Are there no towers for them to siege? Oh… wait… I forgot, the Alliance outnumber the Horde on Durotan… I’d tell you by how much, but despite all the info you can see in the Armory you can’t get simple info like population counts! But wait, players have been running a census for a long time, so while not 100% accurate, it is close… almost 3 to 1.
So far, I’m decent at PvP, but I haven’t been able to win a 3 to 1 fight, especially when I’m level 32 and my opponents are all over 60.
If you read my blog, and you want to play WoW, come to Durotan and play on the Horde side. I’m usually playing Calibre or Wayd. Look me up and maybe I’ll hook you up with a little funds to get you up and running as long as you promise to spit in the eye of any Alliance you run across.
The Burning Crusade came out to much fanfair. Lots of people have blogged about how it is either totally awesome, more of the same, or a complete waste of time. I’m enjoying it, but probably not for the same reasons that everyone else has.
Most of my friends always wanted to play the Horde. And I must admit, playing on the side that is, in PvP, the perpetual underdog appealed to me. Back when I used to play FPS games exclusively, I always joined the losing side in public games to try to even the score. You can’t be the hero if you win all the time… heroes are supposed to pull victory from the jaws of defeat, not lazily claim another victory from the pile of easy wins. But one thing always kept me from getting in to the Horde: the male-hunchback syndrome.
All the males of all the Horde races have their heads slumped down and look like they should be ringing the bells of Notre Dame. It would be one thing if the women were hunched too, but they weren’t, it was just the men. But with the introduction of the Blood Elves for the Horde in the Burning Crusade, finally there was an upright standing male to play.
So the wife and I rolled up some blood elves, and rather than our usual form of one of us playing damage and the other support, we decided to both play hunters.
It really is kind of silly. Another friend of ours plays a warlock and when we all group, its like we have a six person group, not three. The one thing we lack is reliable healing, but luckily (or is that sadly?) you can pretty well avoid the need for healing with the proper tactics. We kill… everything. Pets and traps, bows and arrows. The animals tank, we slow them and burn them, and we pincushion them. It’s almost not fun unless we push the envelope and work exclusively on Orange and Red quests, fighting stuff three, four and five levels above us.
It is definately a different game than the old priest/paladin game we are used to playing.
So, this past weekend I decided to do a little PvP in the Battlegrounds. As usual, I dumped myself into all three BG queues and then headed off to mess around with low level quests I never did.
It took a while, but just as I was finishing up a handful of Darnassus newbie quests (Woohoo! 11 faction per turn in!), I got the call to enter Warsong. If you’ve read some of my ranting before, you’ll know that for the Alliance on Durotan Warsong Gulch runs last about as long as it takes for the Horde to run the flag three times. Non-stop. They just chain us, mostly because the entire Alliance side is out getting honorable kills, wasting time while me and maybe one other guy try to defend the flag. One shadow priest and one other random guy just often are not enough to fight off four or five Horde. We usually down a couple of them, but their shaman/druid/rogue will take off at high speed and that’s all she wrote. (By the way, being able to use speed forms or sprint while carrying the flag should be forbidden. It sucks that I start fighting a guy, he runs off with some speed boost, and I’m in combat so I can’t mount up and chase him. Blizzard, either remove the use of speed abilities while flag carrying, or remove the combat flag in BGs.) All I usually ask is that a hunter or two stay on defense and use their ice traps. I realize that druids switching forms can break free easy, but it help against everyone else.
Anyway… so I go in expecting it to suck. Only, it doesn’t. One guy starts shouting orders and, lo and behold, people listen. We win, 3-0. Yeah!! So, I re-enter the Warsong queue, and twice more I get in, and twice more we win. Awesome! Then I guess people stop joining, or perhaps too many people are in queue, so I head back to lowbie quest fulfillment. A short while later, an Arathi Basin call comes in. Whoosh…
So, Arathi Basin, like Warsong, seems to just suck for Alliance. And it doesn’t fail to disappoint in the first round. After asking to be invited to the raid a few times, I start inviting people. Most of them are in groups already, in the raid. I do invite three people to my group: two priests and a druid. All the healers in Arathi were not in groups. At this point some of the people start bitching about lack of healing, so I explain the situation. They start arguing that you don’t need to be grouped to heal. I explain about group heals, and the fact that Power Word: Shield can only be cast on group or raid members. All the other healers back me up, but some of the melees (rogues mostly) continue to say we don’t need to be grouped. I finally relent, “Hey, you’re right, we don’t NEED to be grouped, it just makes it about 10,000 times easier, especially since most of us have CTRaid_Assist installed and can easily target and heal anyone in range in the raid IF THERE WAS A RAID FORMED AND WE WERE ACTUALLY INVITED INTO IT.” Just then, the pop up for Warsong springs up on my screen. I click it and zip over to Warsong. I’m about to leave my group when I notice that they are all also in Warsong. We stick together and put down the most awesome 4 healer defense ever. Another Warsong victory.
After Warsong, I go back to the queues. Immediately Arathi Basin pops up. I’m hesitant, but I go in anyway. The good leader from the earlier Warsongs is in there. He gives commands, and people actually listen. Its a tough fight (I think the Horde side had more “raid level” players, because by far their outfits were sillier and they were really hard to kill), but we managed to eek out a victory by a mere 50 or so points (2000 to 1940/1950).
Finally, as I’m about to queue up again, the Alterac Valley gong sounds and I zip in quick. Normally I come into Alterac toward the end. All the towers are gone, and its the weakening dregs of an 8 hour zerg fest who remain emboldened by a few new players. But this was a new start. Immediately everyone rushed forward to try to take a new graveyard. The entire half-hour I was there, we fought at this location. We pushed up and down the hillside, getting so close to the flag at times. And then my computer locked up.
Ah well… maybe next time.
Ishiro of the Holy Order of Come Get Some Mutha Fu… I mean, the Shadow Priest has been palling around with his Paladin buddy Lorilai. Its funny, but when you don’t play for like 2 or 3 months, it seems like the 200% experience bonus just never ends. We’ve gone from 56 to almost 59 over the course of a couple of 3-4 hour game sessions. Of course, all those quests worth 4,000 – 6,000 exp each don’t hurt. If this keeps up, I expect us to hit level 60 within the next week, maybe two, all depending on Jodi’s work schedule.
One thing I can’t stand though is all the damn Horde. One of my pet peeves in WoW is really appearant right now. We are messing around with in Silithus and Winterspring, two places where either the Devs got lazy or just ran out of time because its neutral towns and both Alliance and Horde get the same quests. I suppose we could play on a PvP server where I could do something about that, but open PvP just grates my nerves. As it is, I had to repeat a quest 4 times the other night because it was an escort quest and a group of bored Horde kept killing the NPC. We could have fought back, but 5 level 60 Horde would have wiped the two of us at 56 all over the mountain side. Anyway… 60 will come soon enough for us, and then maybe we can level the playing field a bit.
I did my first PvP in World of Warcraft tonight, and I must say that in the space of thirty minutes I was both impressed and very underwhelmed. It started off fine… I had just logged in to do some bank management in Ironforge when I saw the call that Southshore was under attack. I figured, why not go try some PvP? So I hopped a griffin and was on my way.
When I arrived, Southshore was indeed under attack. About three groups of Horde, most level 60, were fighting with about two groups of Alliance. Now, I’m only level 45, but as a priest, I can do my best to stay out of the fight and heal people, so I asked for a group, got one, and started doing my job. We finally began killing some of the Horde (the guards helped a little), and had a moment where the town was safe. As a war party, we headed for the Tauren Mill, the source of the Horde in the area.
On the way, we clashed with some of their reinforcements, and their dead got their resurrections and came back our way instead of continuing at Southshore. We fought at the tower, the Horde with three groups still, but Alliance had swelled up to almost four groups. We won the skirmish and continued on to the Mill.
At the Mill we had one good fight, then some of the Horde left… four groups of Alliance were now pounding on one group of Horde… then no Horde players at all. It was here that PvP started to suck. Alliance just has so many people that we outnumbered them, and they gave up. We sat and killed guards for a while hoping more would show… they never did.
I did get a taste of what good PvP can be. Hopefully there will be more battlefields in my future…