Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The value of PvP

Many people don't understand why I care about PvP in WoW. Blizzard obviously ignored the testing (and often even basic development steps) of PvP content. Any tournament-worthy game must be free of major bugs, or situations where one of the sides have any advantage (or offer exactly the same amount of matches on both sides). Hotfixs pouring in for absolutely unbalanced bugs (like cat stuns did not have diminishing returns) sometimes even making things worse like the TB "fix" that promotes losing. The reward system was completely unplanned-unbalanced, allowing rating inflation, welfare epics from 2v2 and so on. If the game is obviously designed for PvE, having PvP content only for the amusements of lolkids, why do I bother to participate?

On Sunday afternoon I had a random idea to do some 10 v 10 rated battlegrounds. "LFM for rated BGs, gear not required" is definitely not the way to win. After 3 losses half the group had "sorry have dinner" or simply just dropped group. What these ragequitters were thinking?! That we'll win with a completely random team with classes missing? We could only defeat totally random /trade pugs and equally starter guilds.

On the other hand we wiped about 5 hours on Halfus before he went down without "sorry dinner" people, while in rated BGs they appeared in significant numbers after an hour. In the raid, criticism for even blatant mistakes were constructive, in PvP it was around the "you suck" idea. Our first Halfus raid, which ended with 35%, people were obviously positive and happy: they believed we made huge progress from "wipe in first 20 secs" to "we only need a bit less fire-dancing and mana management and he'll be down". On the other hand after the PvP losses they were obviously negative, despite one of the matches was a very close defeat. Why did people react so differently?

Theoretically both content should be approached with the "we lose several times, learn, practice, master the skills needed, then we win". It is present fully on raids, but not on PvP matches. Finding the answer why is a crucial point in a-social philosophy.

The answer is social. Being worse than an inanimate scripted boss does not activate any prehistoric subroutines. The task is observed as a task to be solved. On the other hand losing a PvP match make socials feel bad as they were found inferior to peers. For me, spending an hour losing BGs is no different than an hour of wiping in a raid. For a social they are worlds apart. The idea of other people being better than them in direct competition is unbearable for a true social and frustrating to a half-social-half-asocial.

Without losing in PvP one cannot be asocial. People must face the fact that it is no different than losing in PvE. Oh wait, it is, as PvE wipes give repair bills while PvP wipes give honor points. Also there is no run-in, no rebuff phase. PvP is much more forgiving in reality than PvE. The prehistoric subroutines in one's brain are much less forgiving.

The more common cliche in any competition is "you have to defeat yourself to defeat the others". It's told, repeated, echoed and heard million times but not really understood by anyone who did not do it. The translation: "to progress in PvP, you have to defeat the prehistoric part of your brain that tells you that losing against people is worse than losing in an inanimate task".

Losing Tol Barad on purpose just to win it next assault for 1800 honor would be bannable wintrading. But the tower is a legitimate objective and we defended it so hard (and against surprising amount of very dumb hordies who really wanted to take it, no idea why as they had no siege), but we still lost. I'm so sad about this defeat. Really. I almost cried. Especially when it turned out that the hotfix is not yet on the server.
PS: there is a very good quantitive analysis on EJ about TB.


Squishalot said...

The primary reason why there's blame trading in PvP is that there is generally not a single reason why a person loses in a 1v1 or group encounter. PvP is dynamic, and as such, there are multiple possible reasons why a group will lose and multiple things that they can do to improve from. In a group, people can't process more than a couple of tasks to improve on. It's one thing to say that the group needs to interrupt better. It's another thing to say that they need to interrupt better, and kite better, and focus targets better, and target healer quicker, etc.

In that context, PvP is to PvE what PvE is to lolpet collecting. PvE is mindless button mashing in a set series of keys that you can train any monkey to do. PvP is improvising and requires the ability to think on your feet under pressure, requiring real skill.

There's also little measurement of improvement in group PvP. In Arena, you can measure your success by the number of opponents you kill before your team is wiped. Less opponents left or opponents with lower health left = improvement. It's very difficult to measure improvement in a BG's discrete terms, especially when there is a long lag in between assessment periods.

Brian said...

I think a major difference in your experience with PvE and PvP is the quality of the groups you do them with. Your raid group that wipes for 5 hours to down a boss is MUCH better than a group of random players doing a battleground. For the PvE equivalent, all you have to do is run a random heroic. It will be filled with people who rage quit after a wipe, people who slack off, etc.

Jana said...

The keyword is 'random idea' here. When you come up with a random idea to do some BG in a Sunday evening, you shoud not really expect that everyone, who wants to come, will have a good 3-4 hours reserved for it.

So your idea about ragequitting is biased. People simply could have left because their 30-60 minute uninterrupted play time ran out.

Azuriel said...

It did not look like you actually answered your own question about why you care about PvP despite asking it (perhaps rhetorically) three times. Presumably you derive no amusement from the mere act, so... what?

thenoisyrogue said...

I have to agree with Jana, particularly as I was one of those who went to dinner.

Another aspect that a good deal of players ignore in PvP is that it requires planning, tactics and proper execution. But they believe that they are simply "better" than their opponents and thus will win. And if they don't win then it's their team-mates and their opponents fault.

Why their opponents fault? Well, because they didn't play "by the rule". There was a comment on this blog the other day from somebody talking about how new poker players don't think that they need to study or dedicate themselves to the game. He then finished off with saying that luckilly you could play in much higher games where the buy-in keeps them out. This is just another example of this PvP mentality. He is more happy playing against skilled opponents, (and thus probably losing), than playing against unskilled opponents. Because if he loses against unskilled opponents then what does that say about himself?

Dangphat said...

I find the pvp/pve split quite interesting. PvE is incentivized by random rewards (ie % based chance loot) where as PvP is incentivized by ultimately beating someone else. So the asocial aspects of PvP could be explained by people with a disposition to beat someone else lack social skills in comparison to someone who likes random rewards. Are competitive people more asocial than gamblers?

Another element that may affect the social side, is that the progress or achievement is measured in different way for the two genres. As you said during PvE you can see that even during failure we have reach X%. So PvE has a quantitative update on your progress, you can even tell as your going how much further you need to push. Whereas in the PvP world, you get one quantitative binary outcome (pass/fail) but only qualitative feedback up to then, or none at all (for instance in arena’s it can go either way until the healer dies then its game over, no continuous feedback on performance at all). This can be compared to the world of work, where it has been proven that more regular appraisals or feedback lead to better working relationships, rather than the traditional yearly kick up the arse.

Anyway I enjoy gambling for the competition so I must be a right bastard.

Anonymous said...

Seen from a competitive mindset, loosing is the second best thing that can happen. Only when you loose, you get the chance to identify your errors. Thus, only loosing can make you a better gamer. If you allways try to find weak opponents for easy wins, you will never progress, as there is no need and no material for your brain to work on your strategies and tactics.

I realize that i have to remind me of this little fact every now and then, since it doesnt seem to be hardwired into my brain. Instead, stupid nerdrage routines want to take over. Dont let them.

Oh, and when yoiu trie to improve your PvP, identify only one area that you want to get better in, for example battlefield positioning, or learning the right spells for each game situation or your hand coordination or player coordination and so on... dont try everything at the same time, it will be a mess and doesnt help much to get better. Do this one thing until it becomes a second nature to you, then move on.

Grim said...

Everyone seems to be missing one important thing: Honor gives PvP rewards.

The goal in gearing for PvP is not to reach some milestone, but to stay ahead of the opposition.
Usually that just means getting as much gear as possible as fast as possible.

With the new TB rewards it now means getting the gear at a relatively slow and steady rate, while making sure the opposition gets even less.

So don't throw any matches if you know what's good for you. Too bad most players have no idea what's good for them.

P.S. Yes, there is the problem that your faction in other realms of your battlegroup might throw their matches. Doesn't change my point though.

Kelindria said...

It also should be noted how bad you lose in PvP. If your getting 5 capped in AB or Graveyard farmed in Wsg then I too would have left
the group. It's the same thing as the priest trying to mass dispel Necrotic Plague when it's a disease. The people you are running with are either morons or undergeared, both of which aren't very good things when you are trying to win in the above example.

As for improving in PvP i find it to be the same as PvE simply because it's all "what's killing me and how do stop it". On my hunter after 3 years of PvPing I finally found how to deal with a Spriest. You have to pillar hug, deterrence their fear and use approximately 5 seconds of stuns on them and blow your cooldowns when they are stunned.

The reason why people can't see that they suck in PvP is that there are always people dieing on the other side that make you look good.

firefox said...

Gevlon :)
you should remember the Bartle Types classification - two two axis are Social-Asocial and Act upon-Interact with.

Both Socializer and Killer are in the Social half, the only difference being that PvP crowd is from the "Act upon" sub-species.


Gevlon said...

@Firefox: read the post again. It's not about being killer. It's about being killed.

@Grim: wrong. By trading TB you get ahead of all other PvP-er who are not in that particular TB, including all the hordies on other server, and all the hordies on our server who can't get into TB because they are the more populated faction.

Grim said...

Good point about faction population, but you are still not getting anywhere against the hordies who do get in.

As for those on other servers - that depends on what alliance does on other servers and ultimately ends up at the same result: given balanced population, holding TB as long as possible is the winning tactic.

How much of an effect the imbalance has, I'm not sure, but this brings up another important point (especially important to the lower pop faction) - the best way to throw a match is to not show up at all.
The defending faction needs to field as few people as possible as long as enough of those people are in on the plan to throw the match.

Ideally that would be 1 dude who goes in and defs a tower while the 1 attacker slowly caps all the bases (don't think this is allowed by mechanics - WG still has tenacity at very low player numbers). Thus only 1 opponent gets the bonus honor.

Probably impossible to achieve due to social reasons, but if all TB matches were 1v1, that should be enough to make Blizz fix it properly.

Kring said...

Hamlet's analysis you've linked is theoretical and wrong in practice. It compares a situation over 22 games. But it is clear that you will not participate in all 22 of them because you either have to work, sleep or TB is full. In addition some of them take part during the night and some during the day which have different people taking part.

It is irrelevant how many points I could make if would participate in all 22 games. It only matters how many points I make.

When defending TB at 10 p.m. it's better to win for 180 points then to loose for 0 points and get 0 point while sleeping 2 hours later.

When defending TB ar 6 p.m. it's better to win for 180 points then to loose for 0 points and get 0 points 2 hours later because TB was full and you couldn't join.

The most important point of the Prisoner's dilemma is that you play many games one after the other against the same opponent. Both is not the case with TB.

Ribx said...

"(...)The answer is social. Being worse than an inanimate scripted boss does not activate any prehistoric subroutines.(...)".

While true, you should understand by now that socials have absolutely no problem with losing.

I don't know if you've noticed, but you probably have... -> The majority of shitty players are socials/casuals.

What happens to them? They lose.
If they found that to be so increadibly not attractive (because "unnattractive" is a made up word, apparently), then they wouldn't be playing PVP. Hell, they would never raid, just so they'd never wipe.

Gevlon, these people play "for funz". They don't give a damn if they lose or not. They're "playing the game" hence "having fun". I've been in at least six different social guilds. I'm quite aware of how they work. If you take the opinions of people who "lived admist their species", then trust mine.

The only people who mind losing are children. And those... well, it doesn't really matter whether they're socials or not.

Regarding the reasons why you play PVP, and why some people don't... Trust me on this: there is a tiny percentage of people (like me) who simply don't play PVP because they're used to playing games like Chess outside the game.

I wouldn't participate in a tournament of "Bumper Cars", if I was a Formula One driver. That's the gist of it.

xenxu said...


there actually are very easily diagnosed reasons why a team loses in pvp, and diagnosing these issues is not the reason for the disparity in behavior between pvp and pve. Gevlon is absolutely right: people's subconcious makes it more difficult to try and fail in PvP than in PvE, and that makes it more difficult for them to improve and have fun playing PvP.

In any competitive game, there are malleable checklists for success that players, especially new or poor players, can mentally use to improve and diagnose their play. For example, if you go to any SC2 forum or coaching site, the first thing new players are told is that their macro is poor, and improving this is the first necessary step.

In WoW BGs, group movement is probably the first step. If you are fighting outnumbered without your group, you will lose. If you fight with your group against less number of enemies, you will win.

Also, there absolutely is a measure of improvement in PvP: winning. Either you win more or you lose more.

Andenthal said...

Specifically regarding TB and "trading" wins. (echoing what I wrote on the EJ comment.)

There are many times where the Goblinish thing to do is win.

If I'm only going to be on for another 90 minutes, the next game after the current one is irrelevant to me. It's best for me to take 180 points and go to bed, than throw the game and get zero. (the next game would give 1800 - which I will not be participating in).
The prisoners dilemia assumes each player has the same amount of turns. In TB, some players will play 2 or 3 consecutive games, while others will play 8.

The only way there is incentive for me to trade wins is if very specific criteria are met.

Only playing 1 game - win no matter what. There's no incentive to lose, and future games are irrelevant.
Playing 2 games - still win no matter what. If I win the first game, and my team decides to throw the 2nd, why would I stick around for a loss when I'm not playing the next game? 1800+180 > 1800+).

Essentially, every (or the vast majority) of players need to be able and willing to play the current game, plus the next two games for the "trade" system to work. If too many players only care about the outcome of the current game, and not the next two, there is no incentive to lose ever.

Wilson said...


"(because "unnattractive" is a made up word, apparently)"

Yes, it is. "Unattractive", however, is not. Playing the "I'm so much better than most people" card (I play chess, I "lived admist[sic] their species") only works if you manage to not say stupid shit at the same time. Otherwise, you just come across as a conceited idiot.

Grim said...

Unless you play blitz chess, your analogy is invalid, since you need to think way faster in WoW PvP than in chess.

And no - having survived several hundred years does not automagically make chess some sort of undisputed king of competitive mind games.

But oh well... snobs gonna snub.

Gevlon said...

@Andenthal: not exactly true. It's only true if you NEVER EVER play TB again. If there is a strong "defense lose" culture on your server, than you have 50% chance that your next battle will be an assault win. If you defend for 180 pts, you damage this culture.

Anonymous said...

Are you being an M&S by trying to throw a match that other people try to win? Sure if you are going to be on and able to get in to the next few TB it would help you out with the points. On the other hand you have people who may only be on for this one TB and are actually trying to defend as per the broken rules. The 180 points is their goal as they will not be on or not willing to take the chance of not getting in to the next TB.

I'm just thinking without a TB wide agreement to lose(be less aggressive in defense) trying to throw it would be like taking a demo and just sitting in it on the edge of the map.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the EJ link. I can use it to help educate people who don't understand that Blizzard has very, very strongly designed it for factions to win every other TB.

Note also that this is talking about people who chose to PvP in a PvE game; which is a biased subset of the players and different than people who chose to PvP in a pvp game.

In addition to publishing your and the EJ analysis to get people to lose, someone needs to establish a convention on how to lose when defending. I.e., where to defend "in the middle" to get some extra honor and to signal to the other side this is going to be a rational game.

re Kalendra
I might leave a game where I am getting gy camped but probably would just not rez. But getting 5-capped in AB is an above average result; a very efficient return of hk, much better than a long WG or worse AV turtle. I would never leave when getting 5-capped.

Anonymous said...

Our server has been doing this all day. 1 new item every attack is nice.

Ilydia said...

Despite the personal reasons of everyone who left the group, why is it never "I don't have fun (anymore)."? Seems the most honest one to me.

Taemojitsu said...

If there is only one way to reach a goal, is that way fun? If there are multiple ways, are they all fun?

It's possible that people feel that they are not accomplishing anything in the rated BGs of Cataclysm. If rated BGs are not seen as congruent with a faction goal, then losing repeatedly does not reaffirm the proposition that "difficult things can be overcome"; it is only inefficient.

Again hard for me to comment, but this is what I say due to having heard the clashes between preformed battleground teams prior to Cata described~ with all the excesses of the time. (1 million honor per week+ to progress anyone?)

Tazar said...

This does not work on my server as often 0 aliance joins battle. (In this case 5 horde players jcan join battle). Therefore we defend it succesfully even when we defend just towers.

Grim said...

Everyone seems to have picked up on the "defenders lose" mentality really fast.

Was on offense at almost-peak time (23:00 GMT). And the ~40v40 battle was over in under 4 minutes. Only ~10 of the opponents were actually trying to def a base. The rest just ran around the middle and didn't so much as target me, while I rode straight through them en route to a base.

Kelindria said...

So I have a proposed solution based on my expectations when doing TB. Personally when I do TB I expect to be rewarded based on the difficulty of winning. Second. I would like to gain access to the dailies/win if I played many times during the day. Thirdly I expect to play against a team that wants to win badly also.

First off I suggest that losing TB multiple times provide a stacking for the assaulting team lets say 20% increase to healing and damage for each stack. Also i suggest that Assaulting successfully with this buff offer diminishing rewards based on the stack. Defending against a stack offers greater rewards based on the stack.

0% W-500 L-75
20% W-400 L-75
40% W-200 L-75
60% W-100 L-75
80% W-100 L-75

0% W-575 L-75
20% W-675 L-75
40% W-875 L-75
60% W-1275 L-75
80% W-1500 L-75

This should create a balance if you were to try and share wins and losses. This would grant greater honor if you could win at a higher buff while on defense while also making it more rewarding to win assaulting with no buff. Eventually the buff would get high enough to force a switch allowing access to dailies to the other faction to prevent complete lockouts of dailies that occurs on some servers.

I imagine the buffs would need tweaking but the general idea is there. Hopefully this gets posted so I can get some feedback...from Gevlon in particular.

Squishalot said...

Just read the EJ article. One of the comments brings up a very good point - win trading is an optimal strategy only insofar as a faction plays every single game. For individuals, playing a lesser number of games removes that incentive to some extent, because they may only participate in an 'odd' game (eg, Alliance decides to throw the game).

If they only have time to participate in that one thrown game, they have incentive to win for 180 points, rather than throw for zero points, as they will not be present in the follow-up win game. This disrupts the analysis somewhat, especially if there are sufficient numbers of players who log off at particular points of time in the day to influence the outcome of 'odd' battles.

Ribx said...


Irony was implicit.
Admist was a mistype.
Playing chess and pointing out I've dealt with morons automatically makes me superior? Interesting.

You're clearly the "I point out mistakes, make some other shit up, and even accuse people of arrogance"-type of troll. Very popular. Also very fat, considering the amount of times they are fed.


Clearly, you don't play chess, nor did you understand the analogy.
Chess is balanced. Both players have the exact same tools.

If you want an analogy based on reaction time: I've played Super Turbo for 9 years, and Quake 3 for 6 years.

I play WoW for its PVE, and respect whoever wants to play PVP.

Lashing out at me only makes me think you've never played a competitive game before, and that you're simply defending WoW's PVP with your teeth and nails.

Take the bone. It's a matter of taste. When it comes to humans vs humans, I'm used to games built around competition. Not a DnD game which just so happens to "allow" Player vs Player to happen.

If that makes me "arrogant" in your eyes... Then join Wilson, the Troll above you.

Grim said...

Now you are just trying to backpedal.

"I wouldn't participate in a tournament of "Bumper Cars", if I was a Formula One driver."

A set of bumper cars in a theme park are perfectly balanced. F1 is horribly imbalanced in the favour of richer teams.

So either you did not understand your own analogy or it wasn't about balance at all.

Ribx said...


You're turning what's supposed to be a comment section on a blog about WoW, into your troll cavern.

The fact that you manage to miss both analogies, just plain proves you're here to be handfed.

I'll sate you.

One analogy was about balance, the other was about Serious competition vs a Children's game.

(Addendum: Formula One has got nothing to do with "richer team wins". That's what ignorants claim.
Truth of the matter is that the best pilots land on the richer teams. If you switch the pilots from, say, Jordan and Ferrari, the result would be the same, with the best pilot winning. But hey, I bet you like Nascar...)

Grim said...

How nice of you to indulge me... and yet you are very much backpedalling and even flat-out lying about what you meant.

Those two analogies were presented as one point:

"people (like me) who simply don't play PVP because they're used to playing games like Chess outside the game.

I wouldn't participate in a tournament of "Bumper Cars", if I was a Formula One driver."

That reads as "WoW PvP is to chess what bumper cars are to F1"

And it isn't even coherent otherwise. How is splitting it in two analogies supposed to help your case when WoW is on the F1 side in the second?

Anyway, while WoW pvp will never be perfectly balanced (impossible with rules that complicated), it is generally very much not broken.
Here's some stats:

Special emphasis on the final graph "Gladiator Eight of Eight Seasons". That shows that every single class has at least one player who has managed to get into the top 0.5% in EVERY SEASON despite any imbalances.

Therefore any issues you may have had with competitive pvp in WoW are most likely of the "l2p" sort.

P.S. The best F1 racer wins only if he is in a very good car. For examples of good racers who's carriers went down the drain due to shitty cars see Eddy Irvine and Jacques Villeneuve. And those are just the ones I recall off the top of my head.

Olga said...

There's another reason for people to have little patience for PvP. I'm sure you know the basics of SMART criteria idea. Person needs to see goal as achievable and measurable in order to handle the process of achieving the goal better. PvE boss kill usually looks perfectly achievable, as you see certain steps to victory - more dps, faster reaction on particular things, etc. Also you see percents every try, so your progress is measured perfectly.
On the other hand, training to win in PvP doesn't look achievable at all. Well, at least for PvE players like me. I remember how desperate i was in arena sometimes - i just didn't see what the hell can i do to actually win matches. I just considered myself being helpless in PvP and generally abandoned the whole idea. Not because i was ashamed of losing, but because i didn't see any way to learn how to win. I didn't see any progress either.

Anonymous said...

Thank you gevlon! Through your insightful training I found out why people are QQing over the horde times. This is a forum post from

I've found the problem! Believe it or not, the main subject is the stupid and retarted. So some people see a problem, and say 'I have to profit from this'. These people we call 'elitist no-lifer scrub' or 'greedy SOB'. Other people see a problem and say 'I can work around this/fix this'. These people we call 'normal'. And a third category is completely useless and/or moronic and see a problem, and are too stupid or lazy to fix it so they whine and whine at other people to fix it. These people, we call 'casuals' or 'non-elitists'.
So the problem of racials rises up, causing good PvPers to go horde.
The casual (stupid) or has life (lazy) people immediately rage and whine on the forums to get people who are smart or talented to fix it or help them, because they know there is no way they could do anything about it. Many also reroll horde.
The normal people reroll horde but put out helpful ways to *fix* it on the forums, AKA balance or remove racials from BG and arena.
But these people and the casual or has life people make up the majority, so now the majority is horde, resulting in winning a lot still, but also increasing queue times, causing long queue times. Now the stupid start believing something, well, stupid, and get lots of the normal people to believe it too. This idea states not that racials are the problem, but that queue lengths are the problem. THAT is why there is such an uproar on the forums.

And the smart people, well, if you were smart you would have already guessed the answer no? They realized that instant queues help a lot, but winning helps a lot too. They found a way to get both: get alliance guild premades.

Am now copy/pasting this on to every qq in the forums about queue times.

Ayonel said...

From my perspective, Gevlon's points are on the money. I am referring to both the TB situation and the arena situation. While I have not been engaging in win-trading, I only play when attacking, and have been playing arena as the third member of a good 2's team that wanted a 3's team with healer.

Just this week, I have gotten full blood-thirsty and a vicious wand. This would have taken weeks before.

Unlike many commenters, I view this as a limited time offer. At some point soon, Blizz will patch TB and reduce honor, arena will become more competitive, and people who haven't been playing pvp will start to arrive. When they do, people who have been playing pvp for the past week or two will have an advantage over those who don't have 2200 resilience gear, and for dps will have better gear than folks who have been wasting endless hours in heroic fail groups.

Taemojitsu said...

>the final graph "Gladiator Eight of Eight Seasons". That shows that every single class has at least one player who has managed to get into the top 0.5% in EVERY SEASON despite any imbalances.

"...currently we don't record which character got which title. We tie the title to the account. That means that the class breakdown might be a little off if people earned a title and then changed character."

happy new year