Friday, August 28, 2009

Grouping Up (or, "The Hangar Blitz, Revisited")

So it seems I may not honor cap myself after all, given my recent preoccupation with a) trying to bear-tank, b) levelling a horde alt to 20, and c) frantically dispensing arena advice to several guildies and pseudo-arena partners about what they should be doing with their week off (short answer: spend arena points if you have them. Otherwise DON'T BUY *ANYTHING*).

I have to admit I have not played the new BG as much as I thought I would, despite how fun I find it. Part of that's just lackadaisicalness...others, my desperate pursuit of the EotS meta-achievement which keeps driving me back into the maelstrom. But on both of my two most-recent forays into(onto?) the Isle I ran into an unpleasant retread of Cynwise's Hangar Blitz -- only now, we're calling for Everyone to the Docks and We Will Win Fer SURE. I would venture to guess this is the product of small minds who, after an initial euphoric rush of success with the HB, suddenly started running into the wall once the chaos settled down and people realised how to block it. Hence they now move to a different zerg target, while maintaining the same mentality that caused the problem in the first place. It seems to me that the 3 middle nodes all give you a way into the keep, and to zerg one is to lose the other two, putting you at a serious keep disadvantage. The only thing I ever found viable about the Alterac Blitz was that it was basically a race and if the other team went for it as well then it it was a fairly even run for both sides at who could kill the general first. In IoC that is not the case, and if you "zerg" one then you're allowing the other team to "zerg" the other two and it is no longer a Fair race with even chances to win it. That's applicable to any of those three middle nodes.

But I think the problem with the strategy goes deeper than that, and crosses several battlegrounds, with the notable exception of the two battlegrounds where grouping everyone together makes a halfway amount of sense. Deep down, people just don't like to be alone. There's a mentality about group-running everywhere that sacrifices space for mass. And that's a serious problem in places like AB & EotS -- which depend totally on space control -- and a lesser but still dangerous problem in AV/Isle where you need a mix of a strong strike team and control of strategic points.

In WSG and Strand, it makes sense to group up. Splitting the tanks in SotA will lead to defeat a lot more often than grouping them at the beginning. If you exclude complicated twink-WSG strategies that involve 3-4 different groups around the field, I find that the best success comes in grouping everyone on O at the beginning, and then killing the enemy FC on your way back across the field. And yet, paradoxically, it's in these two BGs that you most often find people scattering -- solo or two-man attacks on the EFC after he's made it back to their side of the map, or random, sputtering tank assaults on different gates without waiting for another tank to come up in support from a farther-behind spawn point.

I have a suspicion that the group mentality may stem from BC where there were no (or next to no) BG healers and so grouping up was your only way to increase your survivability. Nowadays, though that's not so much of a problem, people are still locked in their no-healers-I-must-rely-on-myself mindset. The solution to this I think is the same one that would solve almost all BG PvP problems:


I tend to take the lead on this because I am myself a healer but if nobody steps up then try to do it yourself. Phaelia over at resto4life had a post many moons ago about her brief foray into PvP and how it helped her in PvE. Borrowing a note from that most esteemed tree, I might suggest in reverse that there's an aspect of PvE that helps in PvP and that is

Make Healing Assignments

Do a quick scroll through your raid-mates in a battleground. Determine who is a healer. Politely whisper them and ask where they are planning on going. Wherever that is, go the other way. In EotS when they tell me they are going to MT, I go to DR, to make sure that there is going to be some healing everywhere instead of a boom/bust cycle where we're all clumped up everywhere.

Instill Confidence by Being Visible

Make sure the healing is visible and commented upon in /bg so that people know there are healers. And I mean that on both sides of the coin -- if you're DPS and some healer just kept you up for several minutes while the two of you fought off 7 people trying to take your node, comment on that in /bg. If you're a healer and some dps stopped what they were doing to come peel all the tree-haters off of you, make that comment in /bg as well, with subtle allusions to how much that helps the team. Ie, "Thanks for that; I heal everyone so much better when I don't have to be scrambling to protect myself."

Will it change attitudes over night? Probably not. But making sure that everyone knows there are healers present and working in a BG will in the long run, hopefully give people back some of that confidence which is so evidently lacking in persons who won't attack a node unless 2/3 of the team goes with them.


cynwise said...

I have seen the same thing in my brief forays back into IoC again; now it's either Hangar OR Docks, and if you actually zerg one you lose.

And I still think the best way to get healing as a DPS is to thank healers, loudly, and protect them with your life. I am amazed at what I can do with a healer or two behind me.

Ihrayeep said...

100% agree. If there is one thing which is likely to tip me over off my zone-view and turn me into a loyal puppy tree following one person around and trying to make them immortal, it's somebody thanking me personally for healing them!

cynwise said...

One of my best Wintergrasp moments was facing down 4 Horde with 15 stacks of Tenacity, and winning, because I had a Holy Priest behind me. After the dust settled we looked at each other like, did we really just do that?

That was a good day.

Hey, are you on Twitter?