Tag Archives: Wintergrasp

Wintergrasp Briefly

World of Warcraft 8.1.5, the so-called Tide of Vengeance patch, brought in a pile of new things and some odd changes to things to which we had grown  accustomed.

Wait, how do I get to WotLK Dalaran now?

But for me the best item on the list was the return of Wintergrasp.

Not that Wintergrasp hasn’t been lingering around all this time.  One of the staples of the Wrath of the Lich King, and something that help keep me subscribed and playing for the full length of that expansion, it fell behind the times as further expansions showed up.  I tried it a couple of times during Cataclysm, but a five player match just isn’t that exciting.

So Blizzard, clearly embracing nostalgia and content recycling, reworked Wintergrasp as a 40 vs. 40 battleground in the current rotation.  And, for the first week, it was awesome.

It was awesome in part because it was great fun to go back to my old favorite battleground and fight over towers and the keep.

Battle at the walls of the keep

It was also awesome because it was the featured brawl of the week on its return, which meant instances of it kept popping regularly.  I could queue for under five minutes and get in again and again.

It was the return of a classic.  I had forgotten bits and pieces, but playing through it brought back a lot of great memories.  Even with a smaller population in the battle it still played out the same way I recalled.

A post I wrote in late 2010 about the strategy of Wintergrasp still applies to the battleground today.  Discipline and concentration of force wins, being scattered about and attacking where ever strikes you at the moment doesn’t get you very far.

This is not the path to success

It was great fun for a week.

And then Wintergrasp was no longer the highlighted brawl of the week.  At that point, when I went to queue up for it on a weeknight the queue to get enough people turned into a long wait.  An instance won’t pop until it has 40 vs 40, and it people queue for a random battleground they get pulled into others before Wintergrasp is ready.

Still, I was able to binge on Wintergrasp for a week.  That was pretty fun.  It will get its turn on the front page again I am sure.  And I can always queue up and just be patient while I run some world quests if I am dying for a match.

A Hollow Wintergrasp

A new expansion comes out and things change.

Last night, prime time, I was in the most pathetic Wintergrasp ever.

Our raid group.


Yup, five of us.  I was the raid leader.  And I think we were facing two horde players, so things were mostly going our way.

We got all three towers down so we didn’t have to sit around for the full 30 minutes of the battle.

And we won.  Go figure.

But the kicker was, that one horde siege engine nearly did us in.  We were all out knocking down towers and nobody was watching the fort.

Cracked Door

All he had to do was finish off that door and he would have won it for the horde.

Fortunately somebody ran back to check.  That got us one of the three siege engine kills.  The two more were not forthcoming.

So just a month or so back I was writing about how Wintergrasp battles were going on Eldre’Thalas, and now the place has changed completely.  Everybody is off in the new zones and the new battle grounds.

Glad I got my Wintergrasp Veteran achievement back when there were actually battles for the place.

 

A Noob’s View of Wintergrasp Strategy

I am a veteran of Wintergrasp.

I can prove it.

I have the achievement.

I even got the achievement yesterday, on Veterans Day, so it double special I guess.

So I must be an expert on Wintergrasp, right?

Hrmm… maybe not.

I’ve certainly figured out the mechanics of it.  But I am not much for WoW battlegrounds generally, and on the ground in PvP I die.  A lot.

At least when I am out there with my paladin.  You have to get up close and personal with a pally, into the middle of the fray, and that attracts attention.  A die a lot less with my hunter who can stay back and engage targets that are already trying to kill the pallys… and the rogues.  Must kill rogues.

But Wintergrasp has vehicles and guns.  I do much better with heavy ranged weapons.

And Wintergrasp has a simple goal.

Well, okay, it is not like capture the flag is game with a complicated system of goals, but this is even more simple, in my reckoning of things.

In Wintergrasp, your team has a single, overriding mission.  Your faction either holds the Wintergrasp fortress, in which case you need to defend it, or your faction does not hold it, in which case it needs to break in and take it.

When I first started playing Wintergrasp, about a year ago, offense was king.  The side that held the fortress lost almost every time.  Winning on the defense was a rare thing.

At least on my server.

Unlike other battlegrounds, Wintergrasp is populated only from your own server, which is good in that you see some of the same people and you get to know them, but which also means that if your server has a population skewed towards one faction, things can be tough for the smaller side. (Plus, if there is some guy who thinks it is funny to share odd quests when somebody asks the raid to “share quests,” you’ll keep running into him again and again.)

At peak hours, like on a Saturday afternoon, all 240 (not 100 as some have reported) slots in the battleground fill up and the teams are equal.  At 7am on a Thursday morning though, things can be something of a toss up.  The larger population doesn’t get favored all the time, and there are quality versus quantity issues all the time.

My own server was split about 60/40 in favor of alliance the last time I looked at population stats.  But for ages the horde held its own even at off hours.

And then something odd started happening.

On the alliance, we had one strategy for offense: Pound our way through the front door.  And it worked almost every time.

The match would start, we would take the Sunken Ring, then run off to the front gate of the fortress, with a small group peeling off to defend the towers.  Massed in front of the fortress, the horde players would come out to engage us.  Eventually people would get enough kills to start getting siege engines.  Those siege engines would start pounding the front gate.  Then once that was down, the inner gate.  Then, finally the gate to the hold itself.  Once that was down, we’d run in and that was that.

Hey diddle-diddle, straight up the middle

It is a bloody, Civil War-like strategy.  You can call it zerging if you like, but it follows a clear doctrine of concentration of force.  And it works.

It can be countered with discipline.

Probably the most epic defeat I’ve seen was the one time the horde just decided not to leave the fortress and we all stood there watching the clock tick down with nobody to kill.

No kills, no siege engines.

No siege engines, no victory.

A couple of people managed to get enough kills for siege engines, but when they headed to the front gate, the horde popped up, concentrated fire on them, then fell back.  It was simply awesome in its ability to stymie our attack.  They won, running the clock down the full 30 minutes.

The horde, likewise, had their own “always works” attack.  They just preferred to come in one of the side doors.  They would show up in force, pile on, and keep piling on until they pounded their way to victory.

Horde - Secret Plan A

Sometimes, they would change things up a bit.

Horde - Secret Plan B

In general, the concentrated push was the accepted strategy.

This was the way of the world for a while, and I was always cheered when we were on offense, because I could smell a victory, and annoyed when we were on defense, as we would always fall apart.

Then the horde on our server lost focus, almost literally.

I will use yesterday morning’s battle as an example.

Alliance was on defense, but the horde seemed to have regained some sense.  Five siege engines came in a pack from Sunken Ring to the north east wall.  Defenders hammered them, but they blew through the outer wall, destroying all the defending guns along the way, and had started breaking down the inner wall to the courtyard before the last siege engine was destroyed.

Another attack like that, or maybe two at most, and they would win.  We had too may people out tackling the towers.  We started covering that hole in the wall waiting for the next assault.

Vikund covering the first breach

But the next attack came from the other side.  It too broke down an outer wall before being broken.

Then they hit the front door.

Then they hit the east side of the front courtyard.

There were four holes in our outer walls before the horde decided that, just maybe, they didn’t need to bore through a fresh stretch of outer wall with each assault.

They finally came on through one of the holes they had made with a lot of players on the ground in support.  They broke into the inner courtyard and the last siege engine in that wave was killed on the steps of the citadel, having already damaged that last door.

The next wave was coming.  The 30 minute clock had just dropped below the 10 minute mark.  There was still the western tower to be taken down by our side.

And as that wave came in, there was a fierce battle at the line to the inner courtyard.  Two siege engines trundled through and were half way across the courtyard when the alliance team out in the field destroyed the western tower, the last of the three we needed.  Destroying all three towers takes 10 minutes off of the game clock.  Since there were less than 10 minutes left, victory went to the alliance.


It was one of those near run things when you feel the end is nigh, but you keep on fighting and victory finds you against the odds.  We won.

But really, we shouldn’t have won.

The horde on our server now seems to follow an attack plan that often looks something like this.

Horde - Secret Plan Z

I have been in battles where they have knocked down 5 or more of the outer wall panels, but the inner courtyard walls are still intact.

This strategy has lead to a record of battles like this:


Keep captured is always off by one, so keep defended is the key indicator of success.

The horde, in this time frame, defended the keep successfully 97 times, while the alliance managed it 1,660 times.  So there is essentially a 17:1 ratio favoring the alliance right now on keep defense.

But it did not used to be that unbalanced.  And the horde seems to run that same “outer wall of Swiss cheese” strategy on both full, prime time games as well as during off-hour lightly staffed runs.

And the only way I can explain it is that somehow the horde on our server have lost their strategic sense.

Now, while I play Wintergrasp a couple of times a week, I am no expert, achievement or not.  And there have been big gaps in my play.  I skipped most of the summer, for example.  So I have to wonder if something else changed that might have had an effect on play.

How does Wintergrasp run on your server?

Do you see ratios out of whack like that?

The Demise of Battleground Marks

World of Warcrafr Patch 3.3.3 dropped yesterday for those of us in North America, and a nice little patch it seems to be.  Not only was it a quick download, but it had some nice updates as listed out in the release notes.

One of the things that came with patch 3.3.3 was a move away from the marks of honor economy for battle ground rewards.

Rather than having to collect marks of honor from various battle grounds to buy certain items, everything will now be priced in honor points.  For those of us with a pile of marks still in our currency tab, we can turn those in for honor points at the rate of 1 mark for 185 honor.

Therein lies the problem for me.  That seems to be a pretty small return for a mark of honor.

My logic is as follows.

Before the change, you needed 90 marks of honor to buy one of the special mounts from the mount vendor.  Specifically, you had to have 30 Alterac Valley, 30 Arathi Basin, and 30 Warsong Gulch marks to buy the mount.

So, in my simplistic view of the world, turning in 90 marks ought to at least get me close to buying one of those very same mounts now that they are all priced in honor.

Only the price of those mounts is 50,000 honor points.  Turning in 90 marks of honor only gets me to 16,650 honor points, or exactly one third of the price of the mount.

Color me disappointed.

I guess can see not wanting to have a sudden surge of honor in people’s currency tabs…  um…

Actually, no, I cannot see wanting to avoid that.

What would be the harm?  You can’t trade honor or the items you purchase using honor.  We all earned those marks of honor.  If it wasn’t for the fact that I hate Warsong Gulch I probably would have had a couple of those mounts already.

On the other side of the coin, Blizzard relented on the idea of halving the amount of honor awarded for the weekly Wintergrasp quests.  That has been the source for the vast majority of my honor points in any case.

And they still offer up Wintergrasp marks of honor, which can be turned in for specific items.  And 9 Wintergrasp marks of honor will get you 2,000 honor points, making all other marks worth only 83% of a Wintergrasp mark.

STO Open Beta – First Night

I got home last night and found that my download was complete.  The Star Trek Online client was ready to install.

I ran the installer.  That went well.

I logged in and let it patch.  Also good.

And then I was told that the server was down, but that it would be up soon.  No big deal.

At some point after the server came up, I logged in.  I got to see the Cryptic and Atari logos as well as the cool loading screen.

Loading Screen Engaged!

And then that was about it for the excitement.

After that, the only two messages I saw were:


and

over and over again.

Not the most auspicious start for me I suppose.

But then again, it was the first night of open beta for a popular game.  Problems are to be expected.

It was persistent enough that I began to wonder if it was some sort of replay of the UDP issue I was having with Pirates of the Burning Sea way back when. (PotBS comparisons with STO seem to en vogue at the moment.)  However, a check of the forums showed that other people were having the same issue.

So there was no Star Fleet activity at our house on the first night of open beta.

But World of Warcraft was there for me.  I got on just in time to run Wintergrasp and call it a night.

The Wintergrasp Cheat?

I was up for Wintergrasp the other day and ended up being involved in an odd battle.

2 minutes 11 seconds into Wintergrasp

As noted, this picture was taken just over two minutes into the battle.

There are 11 vehicles rolling towards the keep.  Not catapults, but demolishers and siege engines.

At some point between the kick off and that point, 11 members of the horde team managed to get promoted to lieutenant and roll almost all the way to the keep.  More than 11 actually, since at least one siege engine has gone down in that picture.

Usually in the morning battles in which I get involved, the first 3-5 minutes is spent standing around at the front gate of the keep trying to kill enough people so you can get the rank gain that allows you to pilot first catapults then siege engines and demolishers.

In fact, one of the most effective keep defenses I ever saw was when the horde side simply refused to come out and play, denying us kills and thus denying us vehicles.  Once we got a vehicle or two, they would pop out, concentrate on that vehicle, then duck back again.

But then there was the picture above.  How did they do it?  Is there another way to get promoted to lieutenant besides killing opposition players?  I believe that opposition NPCs also count towards rank, but that is still a lot of NPCs to get in two minutes.

Needless to say, we lost that round of Wintergrasp pretty quickly.

I am Epic!

Yes I am.  And I can prove it.  I have the achievement.

And you too can be epic.  I mean, if I managed it, then it cannot be all that difficult.

To get the Epic achievement you have to equip something with an item level of at least 213 in all of your key equipment slots.

So shirt, shield, and/or off hand weapon/item get left out, but everything else is covered.

And how did I manage this?

I certainly did not run a bunch of heroic instances or 10 person raids.  Oh no.

Instead, the Twilight Cadre chief of research, Potshot, discovered that for maximum honor gain, we should run Wintergrasp to do the weekly quests it offers.  You can get at least five quests during the weekly cycle, each of which grants you about 3700 honor points along with 10 stone keeper’s shards and some gold.  Plus you get honor during the battle and Wintergrasp marks of honor.

The marks of honor and the stone keeper’s shards can both be redeemed for more honor, if you so wish.

So Wintergrasp seemed to be a honor farm.

And then I figured out that the quests were no weekly, but had a five day timer on them plus a reset day.

Every Tuesday morning all of the quests are reset so you can get them.  But there also appears to be a 5 day lockout on them, so if you run them all on Tuesday, you can run them all again on Sunday/Monday.  And then Tuesday rolls around and you can run them all again.

(I haven’t seen if this got changed with Patch 3.3 however)

Honor-mania!

And so Vikund ran a lot of Wintergrasp.  Well, not that much, but more than he likely would have otherwise.

It helps that I find Wintergrasp fun.  It has an interesting dynamic and to win as the defender you really have to work hard or outnumber the other side.  Getting out and attacking wins and holding back in defense loses.

And with all that honor, he was able to buy epic PvP equipment to outfit himself.  Three cheers for the welfare epic state!

The only thing he couldn’t get with honor was an epic weapon.  You need arena standing for that it seems, and the Twilight Cadre research department hasn’t worked out how to manage that, beyond forming an unlikely-to-win arena team.

So Vikund went and bought a Tankard O’Terror at the Auction House.

And thus he was declared “epic.”

Of course, that took weeks to accomplish.  To bring that time down you can just save up about 50K honor points, go to the honor shop, buy an item, equip it, unequip it, sell it back to the vendor, then buy the next piece.  Rinse, repeat, buy a weapon, and you’re done.

So you too can be just as epic as I am.

Which, honestly, isn’t all that epic.

And the gear is kind of ugly, at least for paladins.  But it sure boosted his DPS and, in a self-sustaining loop, made him more competitive in PvP so I still run Wintergrasp when I see it is up just for fun.

I just have to figure out what to do with that excess honor now.