Greedy Goblin

Monday, November 22, 2010

1:1 Tol barad analysis + WGClean

You can see three screenshots about the Wintergrasp results. The first is my oldest, made before we started using WGClean, in the first days of November. The next screenshot is before 4.0.3, the last one is on late Sunday. Below you can see the win-loss percentages:

Before Nov 1
Before 4.0.3
After 4.0.3
Horde defense win
Horde assault win
Ally defense win
Ally assault win
Total alliance win

Such reports arrive from every servers. The less populated faction dominates Wintergrasp. I'd like to prove that this is inevitable will be like that with Tol Barad in every early arena season and will be much worse in the late part of the seasons.

WG is almost identical for the factions, TB will be absolutely identical. We can also assume (despite anecdotes) that the average skill of the factions are equal. So they should win equally. However the 1:1 invite system means that every player from the less populated faction get into the game while only part of the more populated get in. This favors the less populated several ways:
  • Premades: if the less populated faction makes a pre-made group to win WG/TB, they will all get in and can do their plans. However if you make a pre-made on the other side, only part of the players gets in. This will de-motivate forming pre-mades on the more populated side. "Pre-made always win over pug" is a widely accepted rule. Imagine the massacre that a 2500+ 5v5 arena team can do at one of the TB flags. If they would queue from the more populated side, the chances that they get in together is very low, so they won't even try, or if they do, they arrive with half team.
  • Schedules: if I like WG/TB and prefer joining, I can schedule my gameplay around it. For example if I see the battle will come in 30 mins, I won't queue up for a HC that can take 40 mins (Cata HC, not WotLK). I will fly in the zone and take position, communicate with the other players inside. However if I'm on the more populated faction, my scheduling is often futile, as I can't get in. So I won't make sacrifices to make it there to the start, I just join when I can. So the less populated faction will have more players who planned to be there, while the more populated will be dominated by players who were just idling around and queued up. No doubts which kind is the better player.
  • Experience: If I get into every battle and you get in every second, assuming all else equal, I'll have 2x more combat experience, playing better. I can also have better gear, but that's debatable as honor gear is available out of TB.
  • Social pressure: While WGClean is gone, the good players are not without tools against stupidity. Social people don't want unfavorable opinions, so they try not to offend peers. The average player listen to peer advice if it looks like a group opinion. This effect decreases if the other people are unknown, random, don't make the impression of a social group. We all seen this at inter-server LFD. Most people wouldn't dare to pull their stunts (gogogog, AFK, abysmal DPS, i cba 2 buff lol) in a pre-made group. The players of the smaller faction see each other all the battles, while the players of the bigger faction see new faces in every battle so more likely to perceive to be anonymous and act accordingly.
  • Farming lolkids: players do content for two reasons, either because they like that activity (it's a game after all), or because it provides rewards that enable them to play other (liked) game aspects or simply to parade in their "l33t gear lol". It's obvious that the latter player is leeching whenever he can and don't really care about the activity (you know, the "let's lose fast" kind). Tol Barad provides honor and faction reputation (with ilvl 346 rare weapons and ilvl 359 epic trinkets). On the less populated side, the farming lolkids get into every battle they want, get their shinies quickly and leave while on the more populated side it takes more time. After the farming lolkids left on the less populated side, leaving only the motivated core, two changes happen:
    • the group size becomes even smaller on the less populated side, letting even less players in on the other side
    • the less populated side players are 100% motivated while big part of the other team are farming lolkids
  • Battle standard: This is a flag that you can place on the ground. Lasts 2 mins, 15 min CD, 40K HP, increases DPS of party members by 10%. It needs revered reputation with your faction. It will be much more common in the less populated faction, because they have more motivated players (as opposed to farming lolkids) and they reach revered much faster.
  • ???. This point is don't know. The more populated faction will see that they are losing, the less populated will see that they are winning. I don't know how it will affect players on the next round (that is not rationally affected by previous rounds). I mean it can happen that all intelligent players avoid coming to the losing faction as BGs are better honor/hour. But also the opposite can happen: all the morons in the winning faction will join because "itz fun lol", while the morons on the losing faction don't because "no1 haz gear in horde/alliance". Will the knowledge of previous results will make itself a runaway spiral or a self-correcting system?
I also have to partially reconsider my opinion about Blizzard stopping WGClean. In WinterGrasp, the tenacity mechanic was inadequate help to the less populated faction. Having one less player was bigger loss than the gain provided by tenacity. So there was no motivation to remove a player from the battle unless he was utterly useless (fishing, cata-driving, attacking zerg alone). So I never kicked any low geared, beginner or casual players, simply because they were more valuable than the tenacity I'd get from their leaving.

On the other hand with 1:1 ratio, if I make a player don't queue up (by bullying him out), I also blocked an opposing faction player from queuing up (or make room for another player if I run WGClean on the populated side). Since this blocked/replaced player is randomly selected, and by definition it provides an average player on average, I'm motivated to WGClean out every below average players. Obviously after I WGCleaned them out permanently, the average will rise, making removing the new below-average players. This would obviously make the game bad on the end, so I accept what Blizzard did.

However there could be better options that allow removal of saboteurs, fishers and morons: for example some voting system that has a penalty: there is 50% chance that the kicked player is replaced by a useless NPC. So people would only kick if 50% chance of getting a replacement player is good enough.

PS: I wish they made this change when the Inglorious Gankers were up and running.

The morons of the day are all those who went to the AH to buy spiced bread or its ingredients instead of buying them from the vendor standing next to the questgiver.


Squishalot said...

Hm, lost my post.

It's a fair analysis. The optimal strategy for servers would be to only send in PvP guild players and 5-man arena teams. However, it's questionable whether the rest of the server would restrict themselves to meet that optimal result.

Chances are, the non-PvPers are likely to join early in the first month after release, and be weeded out through attrition, much like Arena, when they realise that their efforts will be unsuccessful.

From this, a long-term average ratio of PvPers to poor players will emerge, with a core of PvPers being supplemented by random poor players on the server who 'hit 85 and want to see what TB is like', or 'just got new gear and want to test themselves', again, much like Arena.

Alternatively, depending on how the reward system works, hordes of poor players will swarm TB in order to get weekly rewards for failing, much like Arena.

Ðesolate said...

At the 5 man arenateampoint, I´ve seen high rated arenamember failing really hard since I made my first lvl 70 AV in BC. Thy don´t cooperate or deflect, they just do their thing because they are 1337! Or because they want X vs X situation, what our arenateam always does if the BG seems lost.
Well ~50% of them do as far as my actual statistic goes (widet up into PvP) ~30% are leeching and ~20% cooperate to a winning strategy.

On topic:
The ????-point has two sides. Player of the more populated faction (usually the one more focused on success) will abandon WG/TB and resisting/motivated will stay. The M&S will decrease but only slightly. The depression on the high populated faction will increase and decrease the number of players, until they have a M&S/motivated ratio that gives them some wins again.
From that point it will give an alternating sinus-curve of player numbers. In a ruff scale of course.

I think it will turn out into a medicore benefit for the less populated faction. So be happy to be on that side.

Ritualst said...

It's a very interresting analysis. Although I can see 1 problem:

At this moment WG gives almost no Bonus at all. Items you can buy from vendor are worth nothing, killing WG bosses is a waste of time and all you get is pretty much about 100 Honor.

This makes a lot of people who are actually good skip WG enteirly (and with no active arena season, loads of good PvP-ers don't need high amount of honor for off pices so they don't bother with WG). This leads to the situation when less populated faction brings almost all of the peopole they want into WG (this means people who like and understand WG + some randoms) where more populated faction brings limited amout of players (this also means that they have larger pool of randoms who queue, and thus more chances of getting more idiots). It will be simmilar in Cata, but the percentage of good people joining on the more populated faction will be higher than now leading to the better results.

So, yes it will probably lead to the less populated faction having advantage (as you have noticed in your entry), but I doubt the numbers will be even close to what we see at the moment.

Squishalot said...

@ Desolate - operating by themselves, yeah, I can picture that. But if they operate as a team with their arena buddies, they're much more likely to perform better. I find that the X vs X situation only arises because the BG situation seems lost, and there's little to no point continuing to 'try' for a win.

Deepfriedegg said...


seriously, when I put 20 stacks of 4 spice breads, 25G per stack, on AH on
Saturday late night, I dint expect to log in on Sunday morning and collect almost 500G :)

Ðesolate said...

@Squishalot: Did you ever wonder who zergs at (pov horde) stables when farm, goldmine and limbermill are under attack? It´s usually the M&S and the highrated Arenateams. This happens very often.

High rated arenateams (I mean the 2,2k-2,4k I don´t want to talk about the 1% 2,4k+ they have no statistic since they are under constant change) usually don´t want to cooperate with scrubs. I´ve experienced this from both pov in BC and start WotLK.

For them PvP is a fun thing since they pwn 10+ foes when they´re in their 5v5 / 3v3 formation. And they will ignore every BG-objective for that.

Our usual premades benefit from Arenateams often, since we use them as teams in AV. They are to recap the towers and disturb the enemy at Drek. Some are also assigned to the both critical bunkers.
But they are usually easy to follow a fleeing group of enemys what makes them very weak at defendig a fixed point.

I enjoy playing with them in a premade/arena or the educated discussion about theoretical pvp events/minmaxing. But I see 50%+ of them useless in a random BG.

Andru said...

That's true. If you have an arena team on your side, the best way to use them is let them act as shock troops, that break enemy morale.

They are best left to work at Gys and on offensive since they will give any enemy several broken bones.

Organizing a special ops team should be reserved to people under your personal control that act organized. While the arena epeeners keep the enemmy pinned, you'll have less trouble attaining BG objectives.

Anonymous said...

It might also balance realms. On Skullcrusher US, Horde almost always have control of Wintergrasp (Horde has more players than Alliance).

One day, a whole PvP Alliance guild changed faction to Horde so they could have access more often to (or win more often) Wintergrasp.

If your prediction is true, that is the less populated faction controls TB more often, I foresee people, probably more the lolkids than the high caliber player (but then, high caliber players might just defect also because of the advantage) change faction from the more populated to the less populated, balancing the population on most realms and making TB 50/50.

KimmoKM said...


Even in those situations, I'd blame M&S. I've done battleground premades in a group of 3-5 players. We can take on 10-15 random players.

If we go to spawn points and kill everyone spawning there, the rest of the team should be fighting 7vs3 to 10vs5. However, M&S have a habit of following our group, even though we tell them NOT to do so in battleground chat.

If that happens, we'll stop GY-camping and go to recapture the bases. However, you are correct. I have seen a lot of premade-groups fall to that "trap", but they most definitely aren't the only ones to blame.


In regards to original post, that is something I've feared since I heard about the change. Organised groups with top-notch players can indeed beat even five times larger number of randoms. Luckily such groups cannot play all the time, and after getting whatever they did TB for, they most likely won't come back in such a group.

That leads me to believe that outnumbering faction would experience similar phenomena in off-hours when not a lot of people are playing: Good players would probably realise that they have know chance at times when they are against premades. Thus, they would join to TB at off-hours, leading to higher concentration of good players at those times.

That's a serious issue, however. If the outnumbered faction always had premades running, I can't think of any method of winning (expect for bribing bads out of queue).

What I would suggest would be flexible limit on the number of players who can participate. If your faction wins only 10% of time, the system would allow 1.2 times more players to join (numbers pulled out of my hat). If the win-ratio was 50-50, the factions would always have an equal amount of players.

I most definitely wouldn't go for such a system at launch, but if faction-imbalance proves to be a problem (which I fear), I think that would be a decent solution.

Desolate said...

"but they most definitely aren't the only ones to blame."
Yes clear, but as you know M&S usually follow like dumb kids or make themselves anything "fun". My personal opinion is that you should not judge by arenaranking or equipment, also kills don´t count in BGs. BG objectives are primary. Everything else has to come second.

By the way I just to make the 1337 highrated more sensitive to their own faults as we all need critism to improve.

The second paragraph is a nice oppertunity, balancing wins/loose ratio by member. It also would keep WG/TB interesting. On our server WG is a bit boring because of our mostly cooperating players we rarely encounter a rel challenge.

Julian said...

On realms where the ratio is very unbalanced like 5:1 or so, this will happen, and I think it's likely that good PvPers that want to play TB but are on the bigger side will change factions or roll an alt on the other one and that will make it even WORSE. Not looking forward to that :(

Nerdrager said...

The 1:1 ratio will be corrected soon (TM) when Blizzard will realize that this system makes a big chunk of new content unplayable for the vast majority of their customers on a given unbalanced server.

They'll be back to tenacity or something... or this is the biggest stunt ever in order to get money from server transfers and facion change.

Playing on Dentarg EU on horde side I know for sure that entering TB will be like winning a lottery and it's going to be "epic" watching the usual 5 allies fighting versus the lucky 5 hordies that could join the battle.

The truth is that content like wg and tb is not going to be a lot of fun unless blizzard continuosly decides to invest time and money into balancing realm populations, otherwise it's just a mockery for a faction or the opposing one.

Anonymous said...

You keep worrying about kicking gatherers from the BG. They are clearly intended since it would be so easy for Blizzard to disable resource nodes during battles; This seems odd to me, but whatever.

@rashnu - the *first* WG of the week with the weekly quests pays significantly better.

It will be interesting to see how the rated BGs affect strategies. In particular, I expect most who are going to pre-deploy to a zone will not play in an unrated BG. A rated BG seems to require all the scheduling and group drama that scheduling a raid entails. If you are in a rated BG, then Blizzard requires 80% to 100% (read both) of the players on each side to be premade. Except for some special cases with schedules, why would premades play in the unrated BG. In fact, will many of the players who are going to focus on coordinated communicating teams often play in unrated BGs? So the fact that your analysis does not take into account that the unrated BGs will mostly be composed of people who don't care to go for the better quality rewards of rated BGs. So my complete guess is that the difference won't be as significant as you opine.

Ferdinand said...

"They'll be back to tenacity or something... or this is the biggest stunt ever in order to get money from server transfers and facion change."

Doing nothing for Wintergrasp balance BEFORE allowing faction switches was the original money-grubbing stunt. Maybe they figured they could double the revenue from transfers by waiting over a year to fix the problem, heh.

Taemojitsu said...

Regarding the last point "???": this can be approached by examining existing games with mass PvP, but I only know anything about one of them.

Actions in that game do vary dependent on the region of the world as seen in the trends of objective ownership from the slides in this presentation. However generally speaking for North American culture:

The main influences are 1) group benefit 2) faction benefit (inverse motivation sometimes when there are "bonuses" for losing as a faction) 3) individual benefit. Within these there are the motivations of "expected reward" and "challenge".

WoW does not give group rewards for winning as a group. For the overpopulated faction, group for participation for "challenge" is hindered by the queue, preventing from playing with friends. It's possible that the enjoyment of WoW's mass PvP areas could be improved by allowing to queue with friends.

At the individual level, decisions in the mentioned game are different from WoW because of the consequence of individual defeat. Due to the current mechanics, mass PvP does not provide reliable net positive benefits for the individual player for all states of progression they are in, and similarly does not reliably provide benefits for allies. This polarizes decisions whether there is an expected group or faction benefit from participation, leading to a strong trend towards discouragement of playing for "challenge" at the faction level because by definition challenge means low chance to benefit. The individual benefit (in this case loss) is seen as more important than the faction "challenge".

Because WoW does not have penalties for individual defeat, there is no such polarizing factor preventing attempts to do challenging things as a faction (such as having strategy, which necessarily means increased risk for subsets of the faction using a strategy). In both situations of WoW and the mentioned game a player can participate both for individual benefit and for "challenge" and these goals will often coincide with faction or group benefit, however in WoW these goals often do not coincide with the faction benefit, and for the overpopulated faction the difficulty of group coordination increases. Note that in the other game, the mentioned problems can be partly resolved by increasing the reliability of individual benefit in mass PvP, regardless of the individual stage of progression, which would affect both the choices of a player and the willingness of allies to participate in "risky" actions with strategy.~

There is the additional consideration that many players in WoW, these days, are more interested in character progression than faction "challenge".

Teppic said...

I think it's a pretty fair assessment, though somewhat over exaggerated in some spots (is the chance to get a 5 person premade in really that unlikely for most servers?). However, if blizzard is smart, they can tune the see-saw advantage mechanic to artificially control the win ratios pretty well. If one side only has a 10% chance of winning normally, make it so they get a huge advantage after losing only a few in a row. Still, that only fixes the win percentage, it doesn't make the zone more accessible to people from the higher populated faction who could continuously queue and not be picked.

The idea I had is to alternate queue systems. Every few battles or every other day or something, switch between the old WG tenacity system and the new 1:1 player system. At first glance you'd think this would snowball to the point where the low populated side doesn't bother queueing for the battles with tenacity and the higher populated side won't bother with the 1:1, but that can actually be a good thing in some cases.

The battles with tenacity will be more or less what they were for WG taken to the extreme. Mad blitzes, people farming HKs, and little cooperation from anyone, with the higher populated side winning even more than they used to in WG. Obviously this isn't ideal from a balance perspective, but it serves a purpose in the big picture: the 1:1 battles will have a chance at actually being interesting.

The people on the high-pop side who don't care about pvp and just want to do the zone once and win for their weekly quests will do it on the tenacity battles and not bother much with the 1:1, leaving the people who care about them to queue against each other. The lower populated side still has the advantages listed, but they are generally less severe in all cases, and it allows all players to at least get SOMETHING out of the zone, even if the battle they want is only available half the time.