Tuesday, November 15, 2011

We can't be equal in PvP (yet we will be)

The current random BG massacres are without doubt using a loophole. However not in the game code itself (cheating), but in the thinking of Blizzard developers. No doubt that Blizzard is aiming to make everyone, even the most hopeless moron or slacker equal. The straightforward raid progression scheme of Vanilla and BC was trashed for the "accessible" raiding, and especially the valor point system, where every living body who cares to log in and /follow the healer in a Zandalari "heroic" has top gear. It was done to avoid bad players from feeling behind and excluded from the "real fun".

PvE monsters are controlled by Blizzard scripts, so with a few keypresses they can be turned into 378 vending machines. The argument about "accessible raids" is purely philosophical: is it "right" or "wrong" to let everyone do everything. PvP opponents on the other hand are players. They can't be "re-tuned" to be accessible for "casual players".

The natural PvP system is the ladder. In this scheme everyone faces with players with equal strength and has about 50% win chance. That's what Arena and Rated BG provides. However, ladder is by definition "elitist", separates the "pros", the "OK" and the "crap". Blizzard clearly doesn't want any player to feel they are "crap". However they are, and in any rated BG matches they would be smashed.

To avoid the "crap" feeling, Blizzard unnaturaly structured rewards. The best gear is available by doing 2v2 arenas at even the lowest rating. The 700 rated green geared braindead gets the same amount of conquest for a win as an 1500 rated, who is by definition average, and everyone could get his full conquest gear long ago, who cared.

Random BGs, which are clearly beginner and casual content, has rewards to hide this obvious fact. At the season-ends, there is gear over-reset. The best gear of previous season is not even equal to the honor gear of the next season. Also, random BGs provide 25 conquest points, and arena rewards are limited, so one to cap out conquest must win either one rated or several random BGs every week. This way the natural playerbase of random BGs (the true newbies, the very casuals, and the hopeless failures) is getting near-top rewards, for their very poor performance.

Everyone are happy, as regardless performance, everyone gets rewards, everyone has the fun of winning and personal honorkills. Perfect, right?

No! Making good and bad players playing together in PvE makes good players boost bad ones. In PvP it makes good players pwn bad ones. The idea of Blizzard is the randomness: the good players are placed randomly to both teams, so both teams have equal chance.

The problem is that you can win random BGs better by meta-gaming than gaming. Any idea, system or tool that increase the chance of getting good players into your team increases win chance seriously. Please note that the incentive to meta-game PvP is much higher in PvE. If you get into a bad team in random HC, you get the same rewards in 40 mins that you could get in 30 in a good team. If you get into a bad random BG team, you lose most of the rewards and you are smashed into the ground. By chain-getting bad teams, you can spend hours without conquest reward. Much higher incentive to meta-game.

There are several ways to meta-game random BGs. Joining with a pre-made is one. Even having a 5-man group can make serious difference. Having a raid sized pre-made guarantees massacre. But there are other ways, for example deciding play time. At Alliance you should avoid playing when little children are available: afternoons, week-ends. As Horde you should seek this time. As Alliance you should play when high-school and college students are playing en masse (evenings), as horde you should avoid this time. If you don't play in arena, get yourself to 800 rating by being AFK and then smash a few 800 teams. If your faction is better in TB, join TB battle, otherwise avoid it. When meta-gaming beats gaming, you get such problems.

Since good players are better in meta-gaming, if good players are rewarded to play newbie PvP content, they will find a way to win fast, providing nothing but being pwned to newbies and M&S, the very opposite of the desire of the developers. I'm trying to prove that in PvP there is no way to mix good and bad players without the bads being smashed into the ground.

The beginner PvP must be separated from the average and high-ranked PvP. This can only be done by separating the rewards. The beginner reward (honor) must not be any way useful for good or even average players. The rewards of average players must not be desired by good players. Otherwise the better players invade the lower ranked playground and hold a massacre. In a well-designed game, players of different strength are unrewarded or even punished to play against each other. For example in EVE if you suicide-gank in high security space, you lose the suicide-ship. Of course it doesn't matter to a griefer, but competitive players don't suicide-gank newbies. Imagine EVE where ganking newbies would be profitable. You get WoW random BG.

The solution to the problem is obvious, yet cannot be done without clearly signalling bad players that they are bad. Blizzard doesn't want to do it, and hopes that meta-gaming won't reach a level where random BGs become unplayable by bads. Their hopes end now. Premades are not just good for good players. Pretty bad players can form premades and win, simply by excluding even worse players, AFK-ers, bots and the "cba idc lol" filth. I gladly invite a 0-resi fresh lvl 85 to my premade, simply because he is still better than getting an "idc i just wanna pwn som n00bs lol" to his place.

So the plan is simple: let's devastate the RBGs with premades until the M&S will cry for a newbie playground. It will be easy to find people for premades as they are rewarded by honor and CP for the wins. Except, it won't happen. The M&S (and Blizzard) has nothing to fear from the premades. The reason is simple: the amount of PvP players who are intelligent enough to form or be accepted to a premade is a few % outside of the first week of the season. I formed lot of premades this weekend. Weekend is dead time for alliance as all the kiddies can play. Ally practically don't win a BG in the weekends. We chain-won. Lost only when tried some weird strategy. We got achievements. We had 1:10 death:kill ratios. We killed their boss while they couldn't scratch our door. Yet I couldn't fill the premade or make it permanent (in a way that someone takes over when I leave, new people take place of the leavers). Why? I had two types of conversation dozens of time:
[X] inv me plox
[me] do you have gems and enchants?
[X] y
You have invited X to the raid
X has joined the raid
[X] yo
[me] Someone near X inspect his gear
X has left the raid

[me] X you don't have Preform AV enabler
[X] whatz that
[me] the addon that let us join as a raid
[me] X you have to download the addon to join
[X] i dun wanna
[me] you can't queue together with us without it
[X] k
[me] X you have to download the addon to join
... [we join in the battle]
[X] im out
[me] because you did not have the addon
[X] so u kickd me just coz i did not dunload ur stupid addon ur a !#$@
X left the raid

The reason why random BGs are safe from us: we are too few to matter. Even if every intelligent player joins in premades, we won't make significant changes. The win ratio of morons will decrease from 50% to 49%. Or 48. They won't even notice they were smashed by a premade because they won't look at any other column of the scoreboard than damage done. After the first week when PvP-ers replace their last tier gear to honor, good players will be too rare on random BG to make any difference. 

Of course it will also mean that we will be free to smash them anytime we want.


Anonymous said...

last time i used AV queue addon it relied heavily on the insta-queues my faction was getting at the time.

it fails completely with any significant queue duration.

Anonymous said...

Amusing fact: I've pvp'ed on both sides of the fence for years now. BOTH sides attribute their losses to the other side having more kids available at certain times of the day/week/year.

Side thought: why can't people just admit they lost? "If I win, you suck; if you win, it's because you have superior kid reflexes" isn't a very bright attitude.

Something that's missed in posts like Blizzard's graph of a few months ago that the win/loss ratios are close to equal is that they're quite different battlegroup by battlegroup* or by time of day or by battleground. On my server, Horde wins 80/20 all morning and early afternoon, loses 20/80 all evening, and wins 60/40 late night, except that Horde almost always loses Battle for Gilneas. Honor weekends make a difference, too. Nobody tries to protect the captains in AV on an honor weekend, even though at least some of the Horde usually tries to do that otherwise. Strategies evolve and the equilibrium can change, too: in my battlegroup, Alliance always used to go hangar in IoC and Horde went docks/ws; now Alliance always goes docks and Horde goes hangar/ws.

* Battlegroups DO still exist. You can now end up getting put in a different battlegroup, but if you play at any tolerably busy time, the server will match you with people in your own battlegroup. Watch the names of the servers in your groups if you don't believe me (assuming you don't play at 3am or something).

Steel said...

SO I still don't understand why you are still here lamenting that "we are too few to matter", instead of playing EVE Online. As far as I see it, it should be paradise for you. What am I missing here?

Kuckuck said...

Might I suggest that you make a post about the addon on the official forums?

It shouldn't take very long to bump it once every few days.

Perhaps also make a macro to tell people in TB about it?

I think increasing the number of the users of the addon should be a supplementary goal of your project.

NetherLands said...

The thing is, Blizzard seems to be oblivious to the fact that 'accessibility' works differently in PvP then it does with PvE.

PvE content is gated to (yes I know of the Dance but over-gearing still has its merits)iLevel, meaning that if you make more powerful gear more accessible, more people can (potentially) see that content - without the gear, it's pretty much closed (generally speaking)

PvP content however isn't gated at all: iLevels/gear don't make a wiff of difference in which maps you get to see. It does of course impact your performance, and, with Rated content, which opponents you might face ('might' , as e.g. the amount of Rated BG groups is so small that not only they've stopped being BG's - same faction battles - but you can end up with facing opponents with much higher Rating).

So the only issue left with PvP is how more accessible gear impacts the general Average Gearing Level required to be competitive.

In short, the easier it is to get gear, the more heavily screwed newcomers etc. are as the AGL rises, and the more people have to grind to stay competitive with paradoxically that grinding having less of an impact.

If eg 50% runs around with Enchanted Heirlooms, newcomers are royally fooked, people will have to grind out at least those chanted Loom just to stay competitive yet all 'extra' grinding will have less of an impact due to the higher base-line AGL.

(and yes, that's why the days of 1 or 2 twinks/BG was much better for newcomers - if they DID grind, the fruits of their labour had more impact).

Same with end-cap PvP pre-Cata: you could enjoy BG's going from Crafted to Honor gear, as only at end-of-season you might face Conquest geared opponents with some regularity so the AGL wasn't that high and 'extras' had impact.

Come Cata, they ditched the Ratings requirement (and allowed for the stupid Valor to Conquest conversion), meaning that the AGL rose considerably: you ARE likely to face Conquest geared-oppenents in BG's, meaning that to stay competitive you now have to get Conquest gear as well yet at the same time it has less of an impact.

And ofc newcomers are royally fooked as well, the Crafted gear isn't good enough anymore.

dobablo said...

Why do the good players have to take part in random BG? Capping points isn't mandatory. The points difference between capped and arena max is minimal and PvP is much more skill sensitive that that tiny gear difference.

Grim said...

Can't believe you pulled out the "other faction is kiddies" mantra... that's just irresponsible of you.
By burying this nugget of random nonsense in a post that generally makes a whole lot of sense, you make people accept the nonsense as well.
There are already enough people spreading this particular line... on both sides.

Gevlon said...

@Grim: "the alliance has more kiddies" is not a mantra, it's a fact.

I did not use it however as an excuse for losing. I suggested to avoid kiddie-times as alliance. Also, I did not neglected the horde that has its fair share of immature players too, high-school and college students.

If you are hordie, you should play in the afternoon, when the students are busy and the kiddies are playing. You'll be bashing kiddies. If you are alliance, you should play in the evenings when the kiddies are in the bed and the students are playing as they are pwning in the mid so you can get 3:0 easily.

The "we have kiddies" is lame only if it's used as an excuse, a problem out of our control. It's not. By meta-gaming your PvP time, you can use it to your own advantage.

Andru said...


I can't speak for Gevlon, but when I played Eve it struck me as boring, boring, boring BORING, boring.

Did I mention it was boring?

Andru said...


The whole 'alliance has kiddies' reminds me of a keynesian beauty contest. I'm not even entirely sure whether it's has more to do with any Alliance traits, or with the metacognitive capacity of rational people choosing their side based on what they think that other people would choose.

A think to note though. Over the past 3 years, back when I played on Blackout, I hardly ever did pre-mades, mostly running solo BGs at random times. Despite my impression that I was losing 75% of my games on Alliance, I had a surprise looking into my BG statistics. About 60% of them were wins.

I am quite certain that this whole 'kiddies make us lose in afternoon' is nothing more than cognitive bias attributed to the 'hate' of losing a game by players focused on winning. (Who are more likely to engage in meta-gaming and meta-cognition.)

There's no conclusive proof that age correlates negatively with skill. Even if there were any, there are no studies that link age to inclination to even be in BGs. For all you know, the kiddies on the Alliance are all out collecting pets instead of being in a BG.

Ninahagen said...

The solution to the problem is obvious, yet cannot be done without clearly signalling bad players that they are bad.

You oftenly qualify your opinion as "obvious". Think more, I would say, then you won't be struck on "obvious" and "stupid", and even "non-goblinish", solutions.

When you play chess against a better player, would you like him reminding you every 5 minutes you are bad ?
I don't think so, you'd prefer him to shut up and just play.

Wandering with a sign "I'm a bad player" in Orgrimmar or Stormwind would be a bad move from Blizzard, and you are terrible of a goblin to think differently.

You need the bad in the game. You always think it's you vs the bad. The good vs the moron. Don't you thnk you profit from them ? You need them, period. And a goblin doesn't seek for recognition. Baddies wants recognition ? Give it to them. I'll keep winning when facing them that's all what matters for a goblin. Shiny plastic medal is no gold.

If you want to think solutions, start defending both sides.

About your marvellous idea, if I would want to pwn baddies, because it's both fun and game rewarding (honor points), I would just wear the newbie equipment.
So I would be queued with them.

If it's not game rewarding, how newbies will ever go up in the ladder ?

If you start thinking on how to prevent me to pwn noobs, you WOULD find a solution that is gear-independant.

So, your "solution" to the problem is all but obvious.

Stop taking people, especially Blizzard employees, for dummies.

It's cheesy, but baddies have feelings too, and you don't want to hurt them. Especially when you seem to consider they are the 99%.

Seán said...

Could some of this be attributed to laziness? I consider myself an averagely skilled player, and I'm sure I'm likely to win more from pre-mades. However it takes more time to arrange a team than to just join a random BG almost instantly for that odd game.
It's usually more convenient to do so and a random BG gives me that quick "fix".

For a significant amount of time, pre-mades makes sense. Maybe next time I'll arrange 5 man group, see how that goes, then try that addon.

About the kiddie thing, I've met exceptions to the perceived stereotype. Several kids I've come across have been skilled at pvp, or at least sufficient to contribute to a BG.

The ones I have more difficulties in BG's are those that don't see or desire to work as a team in random BG's.

Now about measuring skill.. coming from someone who doesn't have a great arena rating - I do see a need for those with great ratings to have marginally better gear than those with low-average ratings, rather than just a colour change.

Anonymous said...

second anonymous there is actualy statistics that clearly shows horde has a 5+ median age and a 4-6 % higher win percentage.
so for ally the notion is at least not wrong by default.

Anonymous said...

>No doubt that Blizzard is aiming to make everyone, even the most hopeless moron or slacker equal.
You could also think that the changes in raiding model are intended to make it a skill-based activity rather than a grindy one. Yes, I guess you could say "effort" is a form of skill, but that's not a popular point of view. If you ignore that, I'd say it's quite unarguable that raids are more skill-based now (since the importance of factors such as gear, time investment and group composition has been reduced).

Whether or not the that's good design is another question, and chances are that Blizzard indeed made those changes to make raiding more accessible rather than skill-based.

Andru said...

@Second to last Anonymous.

Source or gtfo. Everyone can pull numbers out of thin air and claim them as being fact.

Regardless, even if your numberes were true, don't throw cum hoc ergo propter hoc argumentation at us. (In the summer, number of drownings increase. In the summer, icecream sales increase. Therefore, icecream causes drowning. Or maybe drownings cause icecream. Not sure, I'll get back to you on that.)

For all you know, there could be another lurking variable explaining the difference in win percentage. Like, say, the superior horde PvP racials that the horde had for 5 years? Or maybe the inherent error of margin when doing surveys? (In RL, surveys usually have a 3% margin of error, putting a 4-6% difference firmly withing the margin.)

Whatever the case, I have severe doubts about the numbers being accurate enough to make a rational deduction from it.

nightgerbil said...

One thing I think you guys are not considering is that Blizzard work really really hard to make sure they are the only people to make money from wow. They get seriously pissed off at gold selling/buying botting paying for wow guides power leveling and most of all paid boosting.

Why grind out max level gear then enter BGS? When honour is worthless why? Because bgs are fun. We all like to win, we all like to show we are better at the game then others (killing them) and for some of us at least we like the achievments you can only find in BGS.

If you divide up the bgs into newbie averge and "pro", and the only way to get the pro gear is from the pro grounds, people will be buying boosts (with gold for me IRL cash for others) to get there paws on that pro gear. Why? status yes but also because it makes this game sooo much easier. Thats why Blizz are taking pains to actively stop that happening:means other people making money from wow.

Anonymous said...

i was teh anonymous that andru was bashing:
and im sorry i cant find the one in age difrence however id really dont like your tone esp since i know what cum hoc ergo propter hoc means, Hence my "so for ally the notion is at least not wrong by default."
I.E i didnt say it was correct i said it couldnt be proven wrong on the face of it.

Sheldon said...

"There is a statistically significant, but substantively trivial, age difference. Players who prefer Horde characters (M = 27.5, SD = 8.0) tend to be slightly younger than players who prefer Alliance characters (M = 28.7, SD = 8.6)."

Source: http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/archives/001366.php

I'm not prepared to make claims on the reliability of the Daedalus Project's methodology, but this was the only data I was able to find on the subject.

@Andru- drownings cause ice cream. It's a fact.

Andru said...

@Anonymous, again.

Sorry, this is not how debates work. If you provide a hypothesis with faulty data backing it up, disputing the data infirms the hypothesis by default.

If data is sketchy, Occam's Razor applies. In this case, Occam's Razor being that a sum of factors all contribute to Alliance's slight disadvantage, and none of them dominant enough to claim foreground.

And if you know what "cum hoc ergo propter hoc is" can you tell me whether icecream causes drowning, or the other way around? After all, such a hypothesis is about as valid as "kiddies makes Alliance lose". (Kiddies more present in the Alliance than the Horde being a supposition you haven't yet proven, btw.) Might as well rename "icecream causes drowning" to "icecream causes aliens".

Anonymous said...

@Andru: the sky is green.
a statement that can immediatly be derived as incorect as it is Blue.
my statement that horde win more than alliance (fact) is due to more kiddies playing (supposition) can not be derived as false unless one can prove the median age of alliance is older (i was wrong i missremmebered the daedalus numbers)
however in the hypothetical that i was correct, since the two statements are true they can not immediatly be dissregarded.
Its not proof of correlation i said there WAS correlation and sugested the possibility and i was carefull to thread on the line of possible not its obviously true.
and the reason people drown is due to cramping in the water after eating icecream.(false actualy but its completly plausible) and would so be a good theory to test if it is indeed so, see what i did there?
Horde score significantly higher on the Advancement, Competition, and Mechanics motivations than players who prefer the Alliance
from http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/archives/001366.php
a much better explanation id say.

Paul said...

BTW, Blizzard could break Preform Enabler if they wanted -- just force everyone to wait a while until the queue was large enough, then select people randomly from the queue instead of FIFO. Even if you all queued together, you'd be unlikely to get into the same BG instance.

Andru said...

Sorry, that's not how burden of proof works.

*YOU* make the claim, *YOU* bring proof of your claim. You can't just dismiss lack of credible proof that as "oh, but it could have been true". That's dumb, and not how the scientific method works.

There could be pink invisible faries dragging us down to Earth instead of gravity if you accept all theories with no proof as being equally valid to those with proof. In light of this there should be 'pink invisible fairy class' taught alongside physics class in school. (That supposedly would teach that gravitons are actually pink invisible fairies.)

The default position for any new theory is to assume it is wrong. Falsifiability ring any bells? Because if you assume that every new theory is right, the human mind slips into what psychologists call 'confirmation bias', and actively looks to make the proof 'fit' to the theory.

So, no. According to all rules of logic, your 'kiddies cause Alliance to lose' is false, and it will be false until you have credible proof to infirm the above supposition. Any new theory is wrong by default according to the scientific method.

Anonymous said...

It was not my theory, i merely said to those that rejected it out off hand that since its two supositions were correct it was a valid theory.

And note if it was true does not make its conclusion true i steered on the right side of that side.

And in regards to scientific method an hypothesis is neither wrong nor correct its an notion that is due for testing at wich point one can either prove it true, false or inconclusive, and yes untill that point one procedes as if it was not true However:

I never said the notion was true i merely said that it belonged in the realm of possibility I.E not yet disproven or proven, I.E a Notion, theory, idea, and i cant think of a fourth way to say it.

To sum up i never said it was so i said it Could be so, I.E Stop trying to make me out as saying it is so and every other idea is wrong.
side note it has been very nice arguing about this although i feel we perhaps might be a bit silly (and i unclear)but do have a nice day.

Killan said...

Blizzard doesn't care if bad players get massacred by premades as long as people are happy with their cool shiny top PvP thingies:

"In patch 4.3 we’re changing the daily battleground (BG) to reward 100 conquest for a win (up from 25). In addition, every non-rated BG that you win will also give you 50 conquest. There is no limit to how many BGs you can run this way, up to the normal conquest cap.

Our intent is to start acting even more on our Mists of Pandaria philosophies of encouraging players to approach the content they want to, how they want to, and be able to work toward meaningful player progression. Arenas and rated battlegrounds will still earn Conquest faster, but with this change you can now work your way up by running normal BGs, if you so choose."

I don't blame them - they give people what they want.

NetherLands said...


Yup, a classic Blizzard 'we'll help the casual, yet in reality help the hardcore more' move.

Conquest gear will become more and more the 'norm'/Average Gearing Level for PUG Battlegrounds.

But not only will this mean people will have to grind out yet another bunch of gear (sure you can stick to your Honor gear but with more people running about in Conquest, you'll gimp yourself), it will make premading even more attractive as Conquest will only be earned by WINS (unlike Honor, which you always get some of, no matter how bad the PUG team you end up in may be).

So the end result will be PUG Battlegrounds becoming less and less atttractive to PUG playstyle & players, with more grinding involved...and the M&S now lapping this move up as The Second Coming.

Killan said...


You're only wrong about one thing here (as well as Gevlon): morons, nubs and undergeared people will never stop doing random BG, no matter how bad they get owned there - because they have nowhere else to go.

In my BG in WSG I often see that 4-5 out of 10 people are undergeared (346-353). They die and die and die, they sometimes end up killing nobody and sometimes they get farmed on a GY. But they still keep queueing for BGs. Because they know that no rated BG premade will ever invite them and that in arena they will suck even more in such gear. They just don't have a choice.

So I guess Blizzard can do whatever they want with random BGs - nothing will ever turn people away from it.

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