Rated Battle Grounds – Part 2

As we sit here just days after the Cataclysm launch, my thoughts are still dominated by the missed opportunities of the recently announced and forthcoming new Battle Ground system. I may be among a small percentage of players who are casual by nature, but still adore the visceral action of PvP, all on an RP-PVE server no less, but my passion for the challenge of “real players” and a desire to keep the game accessible are important to me.

I received a few emails on the subject of my last blog entry and would like to point out a few clarifications. First, I am a member and officer in a rather large guild and I do not think that our guild will have trouble finding 10 or more solid PvP players for our team. My points in the article and my stance in general are less about my specific need, but more about what I believe would be best for the population at large. The fact is that many players prefer to be solo and having a constriction or requirement similar to that of a Raid or Arena team is an obstacle to that accessibility.

My second point of clarification is really more to do with casual versus hardcore. To follow the generally accepted definitions of the two, one is led to think that the casual player has never stepped into a raid or battle ground and generally treats the game like an interactive face book, while the hardcore are all about min/maxing and blowing nerd gaskets if someone in a raid makes a mistake. The fact is both definitions are, on the whole, wildly inaccurate. I will not try to redefine or level set what the world at large believes, but I will say that from my own perception, casual simply means having greater and easier access to the games content… all of it.

Having said that, I want the PVP mechanic in WoW to thrive and so I have taken advantage of the insight that the past week has given me to do less ranting and little more constructive thought. I have taken a very open minded approach this week to ponder all the angles and to consider the thought process that Blizzard might have been using.

There are a few key points that we need to address and chief among them is, in my opinion, of the primary reasons that Blizzard will not be allowing the ability to solo queue into a rated battle ground; gaming the system. Unfortunately, we have all seen or been affected by the player who just wants to leech off the random group and could not care any less that he is hurting the entire group. Blizzard knows players who are “invited” into a raid will intrinsically have more accountability than some random member from a random server that you may never see again. The developers also realize that creating a raid with a leader who can single handedly remove any slackers has a ton of upside to battle leechers. Lets face it, in the current random battlegrounds, the leader has no power whatsoever, is chosen randomly and save for the color of his text in chat has no impact on the game or the group. That will change in the rated system.

I agree with all of this 100%. However it is still a short cut and only half the potential. While I completely support keeping this mechanic in the rated system, taking it to the next level would include enhancing the system to incorporate a “personal rating” that could and would for all intents and purposes show not only a players ability, but also their commitment to the craft of PVP.

Let me explain.

Blizzard could introduce a system, similiar to the dungeon finder tool that would have the ability to seek out individuals of a certain class and personal rating to be included on the rated team. Now under the current scoring and proposed rating system this would not do a lot of good and therein lies our problem. Individual players and their personal rating should account for a myriad of battle ground accomplisments and factors that include taking and defending flags, killing blows, capturing towers, damage, healing and even achievements like overall character kills and BG specific feats.

While there are no 100% fool proof ways to avoid those that want to “cheese” the system, you can make it less rewarding. If you want to get hardcore about it, incorporate something like Starcrafts “APM” (actions per minute) and create an algorithym that looks at the totality of the characters play. You would of course make it less “Starcrafty” by replacing APM’s with factors like spells cast, attacks made and even movement could all ferret out the slackers while, if done properly, not penalizing those that say are defending a flag and thus not “moving or clicking” as much.

In closing, let us hope that this is just the start of a larger plan for PvP in the game. World PvP is now all but dead in WoW, so the battleground system needs to be robust and provide for the same level of excitement that the old Tarren Mill versus Southshore battles used to bring… only with better rewards.

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