The Monday following a four-day weekend is boring as hell, so I’m writing these World of Warcraft tales to amuse myself and make the day go by faster. Plus, I can ramble at any length without seeing a glassy look come over the listener’s eyes. (If you’re married to a non-gamer, you know what I’m talking about. 🙂
To get the most out of the following post, you’ll need a quick primer on “PvP combat.” If you’re a regular gamer, you can skip this section.
All MMO (massively multiplayer online) games like WoW basically boil down to fighting things to gain reputation and/or loot, and there are two styles of fighting that can occur. They call the two styles PvE (player vs. environment) and PvP (player vs. player). In PvE gameplay, you fight against computer-controlled monsters. In PvP gameplay, however, you fight against other players.
PvP is an entirely different (and harder) style of play. As we all learned way back in the early days of Ultima Online, PvP gameplay can get pretty nasty — there are numerous ways that stronger players can “oppress” weaker players. It’s great if you’re the strong character, but it sucks if you’re the weak character. For that reason, most games since UO allow players to choose whether they want to participate in PvP combat or not.
WoW allows you to participate in PvP by volunteering to fight in “the war.” The basic story is that there’s a war going on between the Alliance races (humans, dwarves, gnomes, and night elves) and the Horde races (orcs, trolls, tauren, and undead). There’s probably more to it then that, but frankly it’s irrelevant to the gameplay. 🙂 You can volunteer to fight in what they call “battlegrounds,” which are places where teams of Alliance players fight against teams of Horde players in PvP combat. They are somewhat similar to Quake matches, actually. (Or should I say, Quake public games.) After each battle you get one or more “marks” (medals), and after you collect three marks you can turn them in for some experience points, which allows your character to gain higher levels. You also gain what they call “honor kills” and “rank” and “reputation” but those are beyond the scope of this text.
1. A Tale of Shame
My first tale is a sad one of shame and woe that made me feel old. I actually fell for a griefer’s trick, just like a 12-year-old noob.
I decided to try some PvP combat in WoW with my level 23 Warrior Armsbig. I fought in two battlegrounds, and I was about to start my third, after which I would be able to turn in my 3 marks for some experience points. While waiting for the battle to start, somebody sent me a private message asking me to please turn off my AFK flag because it was big and distracting. (If you step away from your keyboard for a while, the game puts an tag in front of your name so other players know you’re away.)
I thought it was a weird request, and I knew dern well my AFK flag couldn’t be on because I had just been moving around, but I thought to myself, “well, I guess it must be a bug (I’ve seen plenty of bugs in WoW, after all), and it was a polite request, so I’ll just toggle it to make sure.” So I typed /afk and wham-o, I got kicked out of the battleground instantly. In horror, I remembered the web pages I had read that explained what happened if you go AFK in a battleground, and boy was I ticked. Because not only had I been kicked out of that particular battle, but the game flagged me as a “deserter,” and it wouldn’t let me get back into another battle for fifteen minutes. I had been hoodwinked! Arg!
Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of motivations might lie behind such a simple but devious scam. At first, I thought it had been someone who wanted to make room for one of his guild-mates to join the battle with him. But then I noticed that the battlegrounds pull from a queue of players across entirely different servers, so it seemed like the odds of getting a guild-mate from the queue would be slim. (It also meant I couldn’t retaliate against the perpetrator because he was on another server, which annoyed me even more.) So then I thought, what if someone from the Horde side of the battle had sent me that message? They could have gotten my name from the score list. And what if that person sent the same message to everyone on the Alliance side, hoping to get half the Alliance people to drop out of the battle? Then the Horde would almost certainly win the battle, and the perpetrator would gain more marks and honor points. So I’m thinking it must have been some kind of “reputation farming” trick by someone with a really low self-esteem. Pretty lame in any case.
Next time someone messages me about my AFK flag, I’m going to make sure I write down the name of the sender and the server he came from, and see if I can get him at least kicked out of his guild and at most banned from the game.
2. A Tale of (Moral) Triumph
First, another quick side explanation about the Arathi Basin battleground where I fought my battles: The objective of the battle is to capture and hold 5 “nodes” on the battlefield (named the Stables, Lumbermill, Blacksmith, Mines, and Farms). This is done by “capturing” a flag at each node, and then defending it to make sure the other team doesn’t capture it back. While a node is held, your team gets “resource” points, and the first team to get 2,000 resource points wins the battle. Obviously, the more nodes you control, the more points your team will get, so you need to capture and hold at least 3 nodes to win the battle. It sounds easy, but when there are two opposing teams of 15 people trying to capture all the nodes, it gets hard.
In a close battle, each team would theoretically hold the 2 nodes closest to their “base,” and there would be a huge fight in the middle for the 5th node. I haven’t experienced a close battle yet. As you’ll see below, in most of the nine battles I’ve played in so far, the Horde team put the smack down on the Alliance side pretty hard, usually controlling (at least) four of the five nodes by the end of the battle.
After losing six straight battles with Armsbig, I decided that Warriors completely suck at PvP combat. Granted, I was almost always fighting higher level people, but I got spanked hard every time I went into a fight, usually before I could even get close enough to swing at anyone. It was humiliating. Luckily for me, I wasn’t the only weak link on the Alliance side — as I said, the Horde won all six of those battles easily, and it definitely wasn’t all my fault.
During those six losses, I noticed that I was routinely killed by Hunters. So I pulled out my level 34 Hunter Teloiv and went to three more battlegrounds, looking for payback against the vile Horde masses that caused Armsbig to lose so much. My plan didn’t work too well. The first battle was a disaster. I didn’t think it would be possible, but my Hunter did even worse than my Warrior. I might have gotten 1 honor kill, and the Alliance lost again. I almost gave up then, but I needed 3 marks for experience points, so I reluctantly went back for another battle. I did a little better in the second battle, but the Alliance still lost. So I signed up for the third battle, resigning myself to the same fate.
But the final battle was different. It started off the same as the other 8 battles — pretty even for the first couple minutes, then the Horde started dominating. At one point it had gotten so bad that the Horde players were camping right at the Alliance base — when we Alliance people spawned, we’d have to fight the Horde immediately, and then get killed like 10 seconds later. After 3 failed attempts to push the Horde back away from our base, I’d had enough defensiveness. I spawned, ran past the Horde people camping at our graveyard, ran past the fight at the Stables right next to our base, and then sprinted down to the middle of the battlefield where I found the Mines node completely deserted. I captured that node for the Alliance, then sprinted to the Farms node, which was the one closest to the Horde base. There I joined up with two or three other Alliance players fighting for their lives and we took that node, too, and turned the tide of the battle in our favor.
Unfortunately, the Alliance still lost that battle on points, but it was close, and the Alliance side held more nodes at the end of the game. And on a personal note, I finished second in the team rankings at the end of the game, whereas before I had to scroll way down to the bottom of the list to see my score. Take that, all you guildies!
(By the way, I know that it probably wasn’t my single-handed heroics that forced the Horde back on their heels and turned the tide of that battle, but I like to think it was anyway. 🙂
The moral of these stories is that it may take me a little while to get the hang of these new-fangled 21st century online games, but I’m still a force to be pheared when the chips are down!