Saturday, July 18, 2009

Feeling the Tides of War Change

It's not uncommon to hear broad statements about battlegrounds. Horde always win AB. Alliance always win AV. WSG is 50-50. Or maybe even Horde suck in this battlegroup and they lose everything. They're probably not that accurate (except maybe the 50-50 one), because nobody always wins. There are exceptions, though they may be few and far between. And of course a patch can drastically change the balance of a battleground to the point that the usual losers are now the usual winners.

But usually that kind of shift is accompanied by a patch. Sure battlegrounds can be cyclical in who wins the majority of the time, but once a pattern is established, it's harder to break it. That's why there is something afoot in the realm of 51-60 Alterac Valley in the Shadowburn battlegroup. Something so unusual I'm not sure I've seen anything like it.

When the Horde in Shadowburn's 51-60 AV complain about hardly ever winning, they're really not kidding. Saying that the Alliance have that bracket on lockdown is an understatement. I've spent close to a year there. I've never been a continuous participant. I play 50-59s (and 51-60 AV) haphazardly to burn off steam, with up to a month between games, but I can safely say that the Horde there have been utterly demoralized. Even the Alliance complain that too many matches end with the Alliance farming Horde in their spawn cave. Matches of 40 vs. 18 in the Alliance favor are not unheard of. Horde will queue and then don't accept, or they leave at the first AB or WSG that pops… or just leave because it sucks being farmed.

In a run of 50 AV tokens, exactly 6 of those came from wins. Which means I played 46 matches, 2 wins to 44 losses. That's how bad Horde have had it in AV.

But something's different now, something's changing, and it looks like I've landed right in the middle of it.

I'm not sure what caused it, but the Horde in AV seem to be growing a backbone. On Wednesday night I entered an AV expecting to just kill time until AB or WSG popped. Someone said something to the effect of "Good job on the last one. We almost had it. We'll get it this time." Not the first time someone's said that. I've been in previous matches where those words came out and we promptly ate it.

I didn't stay in the whole match because AB popped and I went for it. But I was in a PvP mood so I kept requeueing as AB or WSG ended. That's when I started to notice that AV was not automatically popping like it usually does. There are typically so few Horde that there's always space as long as AV is up. Clearly something was different.

When I did get into my next AV I was in the tail end of one where we were winning! Neither side killed the enemy general, and the Horde stalled out at the choke point before Stormpike Graveyard, but the Alliance ran out of reinforcements first. We'd won! AB popped first after I requeued, so I went into the match, but after a minute or two AV popped again. Normally I would do my usual click Hide and then Leave Queue, but this time I thought about it, and accepted.

We ended up pushing the Alliance all the way to their base. We didn't kill Vann, and we were nowhere near doing to them what had happened to us, but it was different! And the Horde couldn't stop talking about it. "OMG, we're winning!" "I don't think I've ever won before!" "What happened to the Alliance?" One guy even suggested that we go easy on them the next match. I dryly replied that "I've lost too many times to give them that luxury."

As it turns out, we lost that next match. On Thursday I didn't have much time before raid so I only got in one match which was another depressing 40 vs. 18 (clearly the winds are not entirely in our favor!), but Friday was good again.

We won a couple matches, and then lost my last one of the night, but we did manage to kill Vann! We even had an advantage in numbers by a whopping 10 people at once point!

The tides of war are changing. The Horde are queueing again, accepting those invites, and staying in the matches once they're there. The fights are becoming more even. We're winning, we're losing, but our losses aren't necessarily a total loss. We still manage to save a couple towers. Drek is still alive. The long-time Alliance players are saying they think it's doing some good for their teams to have a couple losses. From what I've heard queue times are awful for Alliance when so few Horde play because everyone wants the easy honor.

I don't want AV to turn into a reverse farm-fest for the Horde, it's only momentarily fun, and we're clearly not at that point anyway. In the past the Alliance repeatedly killed Drek without breaking sweat. It was normal to lose all our towers. Only one of my recent wins was that complete. We generally run the Alliance out of reinforcements instead.

But right now, I'm having fun. Even when we're losing I'm still enjoying myself, because on the nights where we've been winning, our losses haven't been that complete soul-crushing loss we've been having for months. It's amazing what the difference is when there are still a few towers up. I'm just hoping this lasts, that the tides really have changed and this isn't something that's going to be gone in a week.

The next patch is looming and when it hits I'm going to have a make a choice whether or not I want to make my 59 feral a real twink and gear her appropriately (because I don't have the gear and enchants to stand up to proper twinks). The 50-59 bracket, and the 51-60 for that matter, might not have enough twinks to support twink-only matches, in which case my only choice will be to resume leveling. That decision's probably going to happen in less than a month. Patch 3.2 is already downloading. How much longer can the PTR remain up?

If I'm going to have to leave, it'd be nice to go out on a high note.


Jong said...

After having AV daily sitting in my quest log for a month, I stopped trying. I really would like to feel the tides turn for once.

Hana said...

Yeah, that's the way it's been in Shadowburn. Unfortunately we've been getting steamrolled over the weekend. I'm hoping that the AV wasn't a temporary blip though so we start winning again soon.

I've lost track of how many times I chucked the AV daily for something else.