So first, I love that we’re getting some of the older world battlegrounds (BGs) back as epic battlegrounds. Bring in Tol Barad as well, I say! Maybe even some of the Burning Crusade zones like Halaa and the Auchindoun Towers! I’d love to see these return, too!
There’s some glaring issues with epic BGs today though…namely, that they were balanced around a different PvP setting. (That is to say: as world PvP, unequal numbers of players would trickle in and out of the zone and sometimes do quests instead of the main objective.) Now, as a BG, these often turn into zerg-fests with no easy way of being countered (since the teams are equal and what was once balanced by lack of player attention is now streamlined by a focus on winning). Often times, the first team clash determines the win or loss for these BGs, and then it’s just an hour-long slog of dying and losing morale for one side or the other. This, in a word, is TERRIBLE.
Though I first posted this here on the official forums, I’ve gone on to cross-post these ideas on my blog as part of my new Warcraft Improvements series. Check the side-bar (or scroll down to the bottom of the page if you’re on mobile) to see some of the other articles so far published for this series!
And with that, let’s get into the current Epic BGs, their problems, and potential ways to fix them up!
The main problem with this BG is that it turns into a zerg fest of vehicles, which are worth 3-5 players in terms of damage output and tactical advantage, and then there’s no easy way to defeat a rush of 20 of them once they really get going, because the opposing team can’t get kills, capture workshops, and build enough vehicles before they, too are overrun by the zerg.
A typical Wintergrasp battle then looks like this: Everyone rushes Sunken Ring. Despite whichever side might be winning in pure PvP skill, eventually, defense is going to win overall by getting enough kills to build vehicles, and because Sunken Ring is their base, then building said vehicles on the spot, wiping the offense, and then just circling the map with their 20 vehicles as needed to secure the win. Offense can’t effectively respond to this because they need both player kills and workshops to get enough vehicles to counter.
- Make Sunken Ring and Broken Temple neutral instead of in the hands of defense at the start of the match. Then whoever wins that first clash really does gain an advantage, instead of it being a foregone conclusion to defense. You may also see more strategies in people splitting forces between Sunken Ring and Broken Temple.
- Bring back that NPCs gives kills for the vehicle ranks (increase the number needed, if you will, to help balance it). This helps either side recover from failing that first battle, whether due connectivity problems or being crushed by a zerg.
- Slow vehicles down and speed up workshop capping times. Then a 20-vehicle zerg can be out-manuevered by smart players on mounts and be forced to split up to put up a proper defense.
- Put a harder cap on the number of vehicles allowed in play, perhaps with offense being allowed to have more. You’d have to play with the numbers a bit here to get it balanced, but potentially, no more than 10 per side, instead of 20.
This one is actually okay, in that a smart team can overturn a loss in that first rush by tricking the enemy into stringing out their zerg along the main road and coming within range of their mage tower. The problem is that there are actually a bunch of other objectives to this battleground, that everyone now ignores in favor of a zerg vs. zerg. Namely: gathering relics, getting loot with special benefits and abilities, and killing the final boss.
- Increase the number of reinforcements. Often the teams are just starting to clash on the doorstep of the losing side’s fort by the time reinforcements are running out, meaning it’s impossible to kill the final boss.
- Move the benefits that come from dropped items to instead come from relic turn-ins, then make these turn-ins automatically apply to all players on the team for the rest of the battle. As an example: once 50 relics are turned in by anyone, all death knights on that team get their second death grip. This encourages some players (but not all) to focus on hunting these benefits while the rest of the team can get on with the match.
- Consider not needing to turn in the relics at base, but instead having them be collected automatically when creatures are looted and killed. In BGs especially, time spent running back to bases is considered a waste of time to players, with the result no one does it unless the benefit is very big (and thus potentially game-breaking).
For the most part, this one is fine, and a bunch of changes could upset its balance again. Like Ash’ran though, there are a bunch of underused objectives that have more potential than they’ve been given, that I’d like to see buffed up for more variance in tactics and outcomes.
- Bring back the old summoned NPCs, and also decrease their summoning time. In old school Alterac Valley, they were something like 10-30 minutes, which is half or more of the Epic BG done in the modern era. Now, it should be more like 0-3 minutes.
- Possibly give players more control over the routes of the reinforcements. I’m not sure how you’d do this (just turning them into player vehicles seems kinda meh), but perhaps a map where you could draw the “path” the reinforcements take. This would add more strategy to those NPCs’ deployment.
- As with Ashran, consider having turn-ins be looted and turned in automatically, instead of players having to run all the way across the map to do it specially.
Isle of Conquest
This one has seen numerous balance changes over the years, mostly to try and make all the objectives equally advantageous to the players. First getting docks was the guaranteed winner due the damage of the glaives (and the special positioning if you were playing Alliance-side); now it’s hangar. Anytime your entire Epic BG is won or lost on a single node is a really bad time for the players, so this BG should see another balance check.
I would argue that glaives were nerfed too hard. The glaives die too quickly now to a focused team of defendants before getting any substantial amounts of damage in on the gates. The hangar, in comparison, has a flag that’s easily defensible, as players riding on the ship can teleport right back to it instantly, and the ship itself is impervious to anyone trying to stop the damage coming from the guns. The only defensible part–the bomb running–has been nerfed so no one bothers anymore.
- Increase the health of glaives, or perhaps their speed, so they get more chance to damage the gates before they get blown up.
- Remove the teleporting capability of the airship back to the hangar. Make players have to glide back to the ground and run back to defend the flag instead. This might have to be paired with the airship needing more people using it (through guns or bomb running) to be truly effective. AKA, players shouldn’t fill the 8 guns on the airship and the rest of the team can just sit on the hangar flag; they would have to split forces somehow.
- Alternatively, let the opposing team get up onto the airship. Perhaps buff the catapults from Docks or the Siege Engine from Workshop to allow this extra ability.
- Increase slightly the damage of bomb-running and the Workshop’s vehicles again, to make these nodes more attractive.
And that’s my ideas. Anyone have any others? Or other glaring balance problems I’ve missed in these BGs? Please comment below!