Tol Barad 4.0.6 – SSDD

Patch 4.0.6 hit today, and here’s what it had to say about Tol Barad:

# Tol Barad

*         Attacking forces will receive a 200% capture speed bonus when they control 2 keeps.
*         Defending forces will receive a 200% capture speed bonus when they control all 3 keeps.
*         Daily quest creatures, herbs, minerals, etc. will only spawn when Tol Barad is in the quest phase between battles. [snip blah blah blah]
*         The weekly PvP quest “Victory in Tol Barad” now awards 200 Honor Points and 3 Tol Barad Commendations.
*         Players can now see the status of Tol Barad on the World Map no matter where they are. The time to the next battle is displayed by zooming into the Tol Barad section of the map. The current controlling faction can be seen on the Eastern Kingdoms map.

Gee, thanks. As far as I can tell, this makes zero difference. I’ve been in a battle to see for myself now, and all it means is that the capture points flip-flop so fast it’ll occasionally make you dizzy. Other than that… same shit, different day. Same place, same tactics, different cap mechanics. I don’t know whether to be disappointed or just laugh, because this is a typical MMO PvP “fix”. (Yes, PvP is hard to balance. No, I probably couldn’t do any better. However — unless you’re a dev with direct experience of doing this kind of thing, get the hell out of my armchair.)

(Actually, it means the Horde will have an easier time than ever taking it back on my server, on the rare occasions they let us have it, but I’ll get back to that.)

So basically, players who don’t hold TB continue to get bugger-all for trying to take it back, and the players who already hold TB continue to get commendations, extra honour, even more weekly commendations, a pat on the head and a chocolate biscuit for holding on to it. ALL the benefits accrue to the defending side, and somehow that’s just wrong. Note that I say this after several days of my side holding Tol Barad — if it’s not fair it’s not fair, whether I’m winning or not, and it’s just plain skewed.

From my perspective the motivation is entirely on the wrong side. Players who already have the place have every incentive to hold on to it, while players who don’t have only one incentive: take it so your side can get all the goodies. If you fail, however, you get nothing — too bad so sad, come back in 2 hours and try again, okay? It might be different!

The basic mechanic remains the same. The attacking force needs to split into 3 in order to have any chance whatsoever of winning, while the defending force could technically hold the zone as one single-unit zerg (though that would be really vulnerable to mistakes) — at worst they can split up into 2 major groups, which is usually what happens, and just play the round-robin “We grab the capture point you just took and can’t spare the people to defend” game.

Mistakes and poor fighting by the defending side remains about 80% of the reason Tol Barad changes hands, at least from what I’ve seen. When we’ve lost it, it was because we deserved to after playing like idiots, and not because the attackers deserved it after playing amazingly well. The attackers, for the most part, do play really well, but there’s only so much you can do to overcome the basic inequity, other than pray for a really crap team on the defending side. When we’ve won it, it was partly because we played amazingly well and mostly because the defenders somehow really fucked up. That’s just wrong.

And finally a few helpful tips for people in Icecrown TB teams, though I doubt anyone here really needs to hear them.

1. Moaning and whining in general chat about how awful we are and how we’re zomgqq going to lose — that just doesn’t help. STFU and make yourself useful by dying or something, but don’t mess with morale and don’t clog up chat.

2. Moaning and whining in general chat about how there aren’t any healers just means you don’t like dying. It’s PvP — get used to it. Hell, I hate hate hate dying and I’m used to it, to the point where it’s just a speedbump before I can get back in the fight. If I can suck it up, so can you. And if you’re dying a lot, maybe it’s not the healers’ fault, hrm? Maybe you’re squishy and NOT a priority. As a hunter I’m amazed and grateful when I do see green numbers pop up over my head, but I sure as hell don’t expect them. Healers have enough problems in PvP, like being the #1 target all the time.  STFU and don’t clog up chat.

3. This one is really important. FIGHT. ON. THE. FREAKING. FLAG! Is this rocket science? Is it nuclear physics? There is a flag, which is a big farking pole in the middle of the farking capture point, and you need to be near it. It’s like the dude with the thing. Not difficult. Do it. Here are the 3 main ways in which Alliance (the only team I’ve seen in action) fails to understand capture points:

a) The more people on a flag, the quicker it will flip. 95% of the time we attack a place and everyone fights about half a mile away, nonchalantly, like this is actually going to help. The Horde, who are ugly but a damn sight smarter, assault the flag and not the people around it. This means that once we clear the buggers from around a flag, fucking off to Timbuktu is not helping!! Stay and cap the damn thing! How hard can it be to understand that 10 people will cap a flag a million times faster than 2? How hard can it be to understand that capture speed is tactically vital?

b) Fighting miles away from the flag serves no purpose. I really don’t see how this can be stated more clearly. This is especially true if you’re attacking, since the defenders just rez right in the middle and can go wherever they’re needed. In fact, forcing them to rez and move on can be counterproductive rather than keeping them tied up at a specific place. Short-term gain offset by long-term loss.

c) Someone who mucks around at the edge of the capture point is trying to lure you away from the flag. Just because they’re waving their arms at you in a vaguely taunting way doesn’t mean you have to give in. Gosh, you know — if you let them come closer, to where 15 of your team-mates happen to be standing by the flag, the taunting bastard will die in about 3 seconds. On the other hand, if 75% of the flag defenders see a guy on the horizon and start chasing him, we’re going to lose.

This happens all the time, whether I’m attacking or defending. I’m seething with ire and a strange kind of puzzlement that such a simple concept — fight at the flag! — can seem so impossible to grasp, even when 5 people are repeating it calmly and rationally in chat every few minutes. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been standing in flag defense, only to see 1 guy pop up in the distance and be immediately followed by most everyone who, seconds before, was at the flag with me. 3 seconds later I’m no longer alone at the flag — I’ve been joined by the half dozen Horde who were just waiting for my foolish team-mates to be lured away. It almost never fails, and now I watch it with a certain fatalistic resignation.

Here’s the main thing to know as far as TB on Icecrown goes: once the Horde outnumber you at a flag, you’re going to lose that flag. And everything that leads up to them outnumbering us at flags is a major reason why we usually lose. The major reason we hold on to the place when we do is because it’s really, really hard to lose Tol Barad — if victory were a little easier, I’m not sure we’d ever have it more than once in a row after a Horde defense fuck-up.

Yes, I’m moaning and whining, but at least I’m not doing it in general chat during a battle.

8 responses to “Tol Barad 4.0.6 – SSDD

  1. Not sure how you put together your groups, but this is still the perennial problem with PuGs. I haven’t played WoW in years, and never played any PvP in WoW (it just seemed so pointless). But in WAR, PuGs still don’t know how to fight on the flag, get the dude with the thing, or even kill healers. Red Means Dead, and that means running off flags and ignoring important targets. This will never go away. 😦


    • TB is put together entirely randomly out of whoever is queued — I’ve been in a queue and grouped with guild mates only to see some of us picked and not the others. It’s probably more fair that way.

      For pre-made groups and PvP I think you need to play the rated arenas and battlegrounds, but I haven’t dared dip a toe in those yet since I’m still very aware of my own PvP suckitude. 😀


  2. However — unless you’re a dev with direct experience of doing this kind of thing, get the hell out of my armchair.

    Ooh, thanks for offering me a seat. 😉

    I think the problem here is that they’re trying to incentivize the PvP here. I’ve always felt that this was the wrong way to go about it, because it not only draws people who don’t care about PvP to the games, it leads to people trying to short-circuit what people might otherwise find to be an enjoyable fight with degenerate strategies to maximize gains.

    I think the WoW designers need to either create the PvP fights and get out of the way without dangling goodies in front of everyone, or simply accept that a lot of WoW players couldn’t care less about PvP competition.

    Ultimately, I still dislike the heavy emphasis on levels, classes, and gear in WoW’s PvP, so I’m not exactly the best spokesperson here. But, the complaints you have here are the same I’ve seen over and over again in all the different WoW PvP scenarios. Different song, same idiots out there trying to dance and just stepping on toes.


    • Haha somehow I figured you’d come steal my comfy seat! Curses! /shakefist

      And yes, I think there are some very fundamental design issues that can’t and won’t be circumvented, but sadly with WoW they are what they are. I’m accepting that this time around and taking the fun I can from it. It’s not perfect, but it’s interesting at least for the time being.


      • Once I gave up on winning and staying alive, I found WoW’s PvP to be pretty fun. Y’know, just go kill the dude with the thing, or the dude trying to take the thing. Everything else is secondary. Even death.

        It’s weird.


  3. I didn’t realize that attackers got absolutely nothing unless they win (did I read you right, or is that hyperboly?).

    In most PvP MMOs, win or lose you at least get some points for participating. More if you win, sure. But it’s not a situation where you even need to win battles to spend your points and improve your character. Look at scenarios in WAR (the only part of that game that I think is undeniably fun), or World of Tanks. Hell look at PvMP in LoTRO or RvR in DAoC.

    Making a battle highly asymmetrical is bad enough. Making it so that the losers just set an hour of their life on fire for nothing is much worse in my mind.


    • It’s only partly hyperbole — the losing side gets a few honour points (79?), but no Tol Barad “commendations” which is the primary reason people are doing this battleground instead of one of the other available ones. The commendations are used for some decent gear and a couple of really nice mounts — and just to give you an idea, the mounts cost 200 commendations each. You can get 6-7 comms from the standard (always available) dailies, and potentially another 12 if you get the victory-unlocked dailies.

      So the 3 commendations obtained by the winning side are actually a pretty big deal — I don’t think it’s unreasonable to let the losing side get at least 1, it’s not like it’s going to add up all that fast.

      Hope that made sense.


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