Tuesday, December 28, 2010

An Announcement

No, not *that* announcement.

Active January 1st, Ihra will be back on WoW...temporarily. When it came down to it it was just too hard to make a decision between WoW & LotRO so my wife and I have decided to alternate on and off. So expect a fair amount of posting

Jan 1 - Feb 28

May 1 - Jun 30

Sept 1 - Oct 31

and a slim pickens of posting in those off-months when I'm back on LotRO. Hopefully this compromise proves workable...if not I guess I'll have to make an actual decision and it's so much easier to not do that.

Ihra will be 85 in a week or less and then there will be stat-whoring aplenty for 85 BGs, I promise :)

Monday, November 8, 2010


I don't know what an API Hook is, I'm just going to get that out there first thing. Today I'd like to talk a little bit about using our battleground scoreboard, as limited as it currently is, to pull out useful data when you're running a premade, or a fairly consistent rated-BG group. This is a thinking post, with the following caveats :

1) Right now, this is too much effort for too little reward, because it's nearly impossible to get a consistent group together, and the PUGs you're likely to be running with are not going to care about performance to the same level that you would hope out of a more dedicated cataclysm approach.

2) You currently have to gather this data YOURSELF, which is irritating. I'm not exactly sure what an API Hook is, like I said, but from the context of cynwise's post I'm going to assume that it means "addons can access the data from the scoreboard and manipulate/report it in various ways". So we can all dream and pray that that will happen someday, but in the meantime you have no tools but your vid-capping software of choice, and manual entry of the final scoreboard into a spreadsheet program like excel to manipulate them yourself.

Ok, those caveats out of the way, and being on hiatus and therefore unable to pick up a scoreboard screenshot myself, I have elected (with gracious permission) to analyse this WSG game that Cynwise participated in :

I have input that data into excel, and made the following spreadsheet:

Overall Competence

The most important thing here, obviously, is who won; hopefully you don't need a spreadsheet to tell you that much. But we are also looking for data on how efficiently you won -- I remember running a premade and having somebody quit after the first game (a win in EOTS, that we 4-capped) because we struggled a little at first and to him it was not enough that we win, we had to win smashingly and efficiently. It's an extreme example but people do expect that you will win solidly and efficiently -- if they wanted to grind out a 27-minute WSG that they won because they capped the last flag, they'd just risk it and queue normally. There are a number of stats that you can pull out from the data you're given that can help you analyse this:

Total HKs / Total KBs : You receive an honorable kill credit if you are within range of somebody dying, regardless of whether you contributed anything or not; hence there are going to be a lot more HKs than KBs. HKs are awarded to whoever is in range, even though it's all for the same kill, and that's the key to understanding this stat. HKs/KBs gives you a measure of group cohesiveness, as compared to the opponents' -- how well did your team move in a group, versus how many people wandered off alone? In this example, Cynwise's winning ally team had a "cohesiveness factor" of 6.40 compared to a Horde CF of 6.24. Statistically, a slight difference, but on a battlefield it's usually not a hugely disparate difference -- your victory (or loss) is the sum of a number of incremental factors, and here I would say that the Alliance was slightly better than Horde in this game at keeping together and moving as a group.

HKs Average : What you want here is to get an average of the HKs on your team, and find the standard deviation of it; statistically, assuming a normal distribution, 68% of your team will be within 1 st.dev. of that mean. I would stress here that we are looking at a matter of cohesion here, not strategic placement. This is an individual indicator of how well that person stayed with the group, and passes no mathematical judgment on where that group is on the field (maybe they're all farming in the mid, for example). In this example, the Ally HK average +/- 1 st.dev goes like 36.85 - 48.94. There are two people who come out above that (a warrior and a mage) and one below (pally). The warrior and the mage are good at scenting where the fighting is and being on top of it. The pally *may* have a problem -- the numbers give you a guide to finding potential problems, you still need to use your intelligence to work out if it actually is or not. It could also mean that he was a latecomer to the party and only got the last 5 minutes of the game. One may also note that his HKs scored / deaths comes in at a very low (9th out of 10) 3.4 -- and that stat is independent of time spent in the BG. Gear is also not necessarily a factor here; it contributes to more deaths but it should not stop you from moving to get with a group. So if I were running this as a premade group, I might keep any eye on those warning signs and watch him more closely in future runs. Speaking of that stat --

HKs / Deaths : What does this stat mean? Obviously you have to take into account some considerations when you're comparing to the other team, but presumably everyone on your team suffers from the same limitations regarding surfeit/lack of healers, so it's something of a level playing field. It's also not unfairly balanced against aggressive players -- people defending a quiet node will get less HKs, but also correspondingly less deaths. In this game the ally average for this ratio was about 5.18, with a standard deviation of 2.06. I take an average/stdev of 9 here, because they had a mage with them in this game with a ratio of 49 HKs to only 2 deaths, which does tend to have a large skewing effect. So if we can all just acknowledge his greatness, and then calculate without it, we'll be better off ;-). I would like to observe here that being on the bottom of this list DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE A BAD PLAYER, necessarily. As Cynwise reminds, it's about individual excellence *in a team setting*, and the #10 worst performer in this category, a shaman, also capped a flag and returned one. I would venture to guess, with little knowledge to go on, that this person knew the objectives of the game and was one of those people (like me on occasion, *blush*) who goes repeatedly running off to Return The Flag! without checking to see if they have backup before so doing. So they've got the basis for solidness, but maybe their patience / part-of-the-group mentality needs a little work.

Healer Tools

A point near and dear to my heart, obviously, is the performance of your team's healers. Cynwise used this example, I presume from the name of the file, to demonstrate that it is not heals which win a BG, and that is true to some extent. Notwithstanding that, here are some useful stats that you can pull out of the scoreboard --

Healing Done / Opposing Damage Done : This stat is a measure of your healers' effectiveness at gauging (and getting to) hot spots on the field. Alliance here managed to heal 25% of the damage done, whereas horde managed to heal 50% of alliance damage done. Considering that the alliance *had no healers*, 25% is a fairly respectable number. Looking quickly at the other two scoreboards mentioned in that post of Cynwise's :

Game 1 (twink WSG, Alliance victory) : Alliance with 4 heals covered 60.12% of the damage; Horde with 4 heals covered 54.98%

Game 2 (80 EOTS, tie) : Unfortunately I can only see part of the scoreboard but alliance with 0/11 heals covered 18.6% of the damage shown, horde with 0/8 heals covered 11.96%. Horde's low here b/c a greater percentage of their people are not shown -- and alliance is high similarly. Now with no way of knowing what those invisible people are, I'm going to take a stab in the dark here and say that with no healers, self- /off-spec- / bandage- healing ~15% of the damage maybe would be appropriate with no heals.

So the 25% is quite standoutish! I would bet that there were a few people who were willing to heal even though that wasn't their primary job description, once they realised that their team had a significant lack. Another of those incremental factors.

Deaths / healer . Again, paucity of data prevents me from doing a detailed analysis of this but I would venture to say that a higher number here means either a) your healers were overtaxed and you needed more, or b) they weren't getting very good coverage (all 4 of your premade healers somehow ended up together at BS, for example). In our star example, the alliance number is undefined, horde had 67 deaths / 2 healers = 33.5 deaths per healer. One more piece of data I shall try to start tracking in cataclysm, I suppose :-).

A Last General Stat

Look at the number of objectives attacked (successfully or not) divided by the time of the BG -- this provides a rough measure (very rough) of how much activity there was. For example here,

Alliance : 2 flag caps, horde returned 6 times = picked up the flag 8 times in 27 minutes; there was *some* kind of activity around the horde flag every 3.375 minutes, in other words.

Horde : 1 flag cap, alliance returned 4 times = 5 flag events in 27 minutes, some kind of activity every 5.4 minutes.

See the difference? We can parse that out a little further actually, and make a general supposition that alliance was more aggressive on offense (they managed to at least pick up the flag, 3 more times than horde did) but that horde had a slightly stronger defense (they returned the flag 6/8 times which indicates a perhaps higher percentage of suicide 1-2 man grabs out of the EFR for alliance). But the alliance controlled the flow of that match -- they did more action, and horde was doing too much re-acting.

Welp, that's my story! Look forward in cataclysm to in-depth vid-capping / excruciating analysis of games such as this one; If raiders can spend hours poring over WoL to dissect success and failure in raids, there's no reason PvPers can't hold themselves to the same standard!

So what would you look for? What do various combinations of those stats suggest to you? I know I for one would love to see some kind of assist column for if you were within X yards of a flag capped, node assaulted / defended...but for the meanwhile we're stuck with what we've got!

And if cynwise shows up in the comments to tell me that my read of that game is 100% off-base then...I guess disregard everything I just wrote :-)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Takin a Wee Break

Turned off my WoW subscription to go play LOTR Online for a little while pre-cata...didn't seem worth it to pay for thumb-twiddling. I will be back for the big world-shaker, and I'm still reading you guys in the meantime.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Stay Out of BGs!

...if you're a healer, or a tank, or have an OS in either of those two categories. Having recently dinged my priest to 80 and in an attempt to gear her up rapidly for arena with Ihra's forsaken partner, I ran a few calculations. Here's an interesting thing, if you are not doing arena to get the relentless gear, which is another post in itself. While you are still buying set pieces, running a heroic probably nets you a better honor return than running a battleground, under certain circumstances (ie, you control wintergrasp).

The average dungeon in WOTLK contains 4 bosses (I added them all together, and then averaged). Which nets you, in terms of honor,

- 4 bosses x 4 stone keeper shards = 16 stone keeper shards
- 6 emblems of triumph (4 for the bosses, 2 for completing)

There are 5 set pieces to buy:

* shoulders = 34,700 honor / 50 emblems, 1 EoT = 694 honor
* legs = 34,700 honor / 75 emblems, 1 EoT = 462.67 honor
* gloves = 43,300 honor / 50 emblems, 1 EoT = 866 honor
* helm = 54,500 honor / 75 emblems, 1 EoT = 726.67 honor
* chest = 54,500 honor / 75 emblems, 1 EoT = 726.67 honor

To wit, the average is that one emblem of triumph = 695.202 honor.

30 stone keeper shards = 2000 honor, 1 shard = 66.67 honor

So your dungeon run, which probably took you about 20 minutes (assuming the negligible queue of a healer, or a tank), netted you

6 EoT X 695.202 = 4171.212
16 SKS X 66.67 = 1066.67
Total : 5237.879 / 20 minutes = 261.89 HPM

Which compares very favorably to anything except AV on holiday. So if you are

1) gearing up your set pieces
2) a healer or a tank
3) in control of WG

then don't pvp gear by doing pvp /sadface.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What will you require?

This is not a long analytical post...it's a short, thought-provoking post. With luck, I will suffer the fate of Gnomeaggeddon and Cynwise will turn it into a fantastic post for me later ;-).

Cataclysm will offer us the chance to put together full premades for rated battlegrounds. It stands to reason that people will have more requirements for these premades then we do currently. What would you require, if you were running one? What are you working on now, to prepare for trying to meet other people's requirements? I think the major options are the same as they currently are for raiding --

I. Guild Runs
II. PUGs with a GS requirement
III. PUGs with an achieve requirement
IV. The always-popular PUG with no requirement whatsoever

I'm not going to discuss I & IV. If you are lucky enough to have the former, or idiotic enough to do the latter, in either case you are not going to receive any help from this blog.

II. Gearscore

I think this is probably as stupid as it is when running a PVE raid...it's easy to game the system by wearing the wrong gear (PVE in this case, despite the usual stereotype being to wear PVP gear to game a pve GS requirement). But maybe it has some value if you combine it with an inspection.

III. Achieves

This is where I think most people are likely to go; it seems to be the route of choice for PVE content currently also. The question is, what achievements would you ask for? Or are you looking for currently? Certainly I think a Battlemaster or a Gladiator title would probably net you an easy invite in the same way that posting a 25-man kingslayer gets you an icc-10 normal achievement faster than you can type it out. Is that extreme? Probably. I think I would gun for the individual mastery achieves, or maybe even just the veteran (100 wins) of whatever BG we're premading.

I recently put Ihra back into a pvp guild called We Met During Skirmishes, which is arena-centric. They are not going to let anyone into their rated premades who doesn't have a 2k arena achieve in some bracket. Allegedly there are "too many 1800 carries" for that to be respectable anymore. I don't think I approve of this -- I've seen too many well-geared arena masters in BGs who care about topping meters and not working as a team. I think arena encourages small-scale cooperation but that people for whom arena is their sole focus tend to miss the bigger picture cooperation necessary in BGs. On the other hand, rated BGs are supposed to be as SRS BSNS as arenas are now, or at least the rewards are the same. So maybe having a cross-achieve like that is useful. Or another thing that hasn't really been discussed, is that *rated* BGs implies that you're going to have some kind of rating associated with your name. More fluid than an arena team, I would imagine, but will they have formal teams associated (Maybe you can put up to 30 people on them?) with the rated BGs in addition to pugs? If so, maybe requiring that kind of achieve/rating would be a good idea instead.

What would you require?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Lovely Weekend of AB

I think I had the most amazing PVP weekend ever. First I found a (temporary, normal is out of town) 2s partner and we've smashed our way almost to 1400 with relative ease. I suppose there is something to be said for running with an Accepted Comp rather than the I'm Challenging Myself comp...tree/dk has some amazing synergy, for sure.

I also compiled holiday numbers for AB...I lost most of them, until one of my networked pvp buddies invited me along on some premades he was in. Full premades, not the partials I usually run. We roflstomped AB all weekend, I think we ended up something like 30-0, made a chat channel so we could all reunite next weekend. AND we did the Resilient Victory come-from-500-points behind no less than three separate times, just for fun. The first time was a little off, and by the time we started getting points it was more like 650-0. But 4-1 bases still works for that. The second one was a thing of textbook execution, we all hovered around ST without tagging it while horde went up 4-0. Split into groups and fanned out at 350-0. LM, GM, and Farm all got tagged within 5-10 seconds of each other, and suddenly we were up 4-1 and rolled from there. I'm sure Horde was like... WTF just happened? OTOH, when they saw 15 alliance all huddled around the ST flag with campfires and nobody touching the flag, somebody intelligent probably looked at the roster and saw 14 people from draenor and figured it out.

The interesting thing was that the HPM on the premade wins was comparable to my non-premade wins. The real value in a premade is not that you get better winning HPM, it's your overall. B/c if you get a good one, like I got, then your winning HPM = your overall.

AB Holiday HPM (Cyclone BG, 54% win)
Winning HPM : 241.39
Losing HPM : 87.86
Overall : 171.28

So instead of 171...you get to say 241 is your overall. That's 70 extra HPM, or over the course of an hour running a good premade, 4200 more honor. Or looked at another way, a premade makes 140% of the honor (in AB) that running solo gets. Or looked at yet a third way, regular it takes you 5.84 minutes to get 1000 honor. A premade will get you that in 4.15 minutes. You can spend 71% of the time you would have spent soloing to get the same amount of honor.

I'm not sure why the losing HPM is so bad here, except to say that the average points accrued in a loss for my data is 786.86 -- there are not a lot of close games in AB. It's an interesting comparison to EOTS, where I've noted previously that the average points in a loss is about 650 (669 on nonholiday, 624 on regular). So at least they're closer than EOTS, but I would venture to suggest that this is due to the general rule of 2-3 games in AB (you lose controlling 40% of the resources) vs. the general rule of EOTS of having 1-3 games (you control 25% of the resources, and maybe the flag a few times).

However, EoTS rewards you more frequently, on the holiday at least -- you gain your bonus honor every 160 points in EOTS(H), but only every 200 in AB(H). So you need more points to get the bonus tickover, and maybe that's why it's so bad?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More Updates

I do not, regrettably, have good IOC numbers for the holiday, having once again gone streaky (2-5), and on top of that, not finishing my requisite 10 games. I'll tell you, informally, that it went :

Winning : 315.84
Losing : 120.64
Overall : 194.06 (54% of AV, #3 overall behind EOTS, 57%)

It's actually a really good winning HPM...but since Alliance has tactical problems winning this battleground on my battlegroup, that counts for less than you might expect. Tragedy all around, I know. Please remember that this data, and the winning data in particular, IS ASTERISKED


However, I AM in a position to remove the asterisk from SOTA, having ground out some wins to record on the last holiday. Previously I had the winning HPM at 190.68; I have now revised that to say 262.84. That also changes the overall HPM from 141.11 to 170.76. Let that be a lesson that when I put an asterisk on something, it's for a reason :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How to Run a Premade

Why wait for Cataclysm? There's nothing stopping you from running an organised group into a battleground now (a "premade"). A premade is to PVP what a guild raid is to PVE -- or described on the flip side of the coin, going into a BG without one is like trying to use trade chat to find an ICC PUG that's not going to fail. On a Monday evening right before reset. This post is geared towards newer people who have found their appetite for PVP whetted by the iminent Cataclysm, and want some information on how to get started before that hits and the world is changed forever.

I. Limiting Mechanics
II. Your Raid Composition
III. Leading the Raid
IV. Managing the Other People
V. Ending the Raid / Consistency

I. Limiting Mechanics

Blizzard restricted the amount of people you could take into a premade a while ago. Widespread wisdom suggests that you can only take a party-sized group of 5 with you, and to some extent this is true. But only to some extent. I formed a raid group of six over the weekend and attempted to queue for everything, with the following results:

Warsong Gulch (10) : Works with a raid
Arathi Basin (15) : Works with a raid
Eye of the Storm (15) : Works with a raid
Strand of the Ancients (15) : Works with a raid

Alterac Valley (40) : Limited to a party of 5.
Isle of Conquest (40) : Limited to a party of 5.
Random BG (??) : Limited to a party of 5, presumably because you might get one of AV/IOC, which apparently want you in smaller groups.

This is a little counterintuitive -- the smaller BGs allow you to take a larger group into them, exerting more control over the outcome, while the two largest battlegrounds restrict you to a small group. I wish I could explain Blizzard's logic here, but I can't.

There are ways to get around this, though they are cumbersome. An addon such as Preform AV Enabler will queue everyone in your party as individuals, and only enter you if everyone gets into the same one. I have used this addon in the past and found it to be clunky and time-consuming, apart from the difficulty of requiring everyone in your premade to have it installed...which if you're recruiting your premade out of trade chat and not out of a solid PVP guild that requires its members to have it, will cause yet more delays as everyone goes to go get it.

You might ask why that's worth it, and the answer is that Blizzard first attempts to queue premade groups against each other, considering the significant tactical advantage that accrues to people who queue as a group with instantaneous voice communication. Only after a set amount of time failing to do so will Blizzard match your group up against a pug, which you will undoubtedly stomp. AV Enabler (or addons like it) allow you to game the system into thinking you're all queueing separately (ie, not a premade) when in fact you're not -- guaranteeing you disorganised opposition. If you're one of those people who claimed to be excited when blizzard gave the ability to turn off XP so that your geared twink could face other twinks, but in reality stopped playing b/c your actual enjoyment came from roflstomping lvl 10-12s in grey gear...then an addon will let you enjoy that again. I personally do not find the organisational headache worth the tradeoff -- it inevitably takes a long time to get all the kinks straightened out with an AV Enabler group, and I would rather spend that time actually pvping -- but if you do...I've given you the resources to do it.

II. Your Raid Composition

I'm assuming that you're rolling with a 5-man premade, in order to be able to use the random BG queue and maximise your honor return. On a holiday weekend which allows it, you could make a larger one. Those five roles should probably be, with some variation as the situation calls for:

A Single-Target Healer

A Holy Pally or a Disc Priest work well here -- these are particularly useful in games where keeping one person alive is important -- the flag carrier in WSG, or a tank in AV or IOC. They also have nice synergy if they're traveling with your other healer --

A Raid Healer

Priority here goes to Resto Shamans, Resto Druids, or Holy Priests (assuming you can find any of the latter who PvP). These are useful when you need to keep a group of people alive -- defending or attacking a node/tower (AB/EOTS/AV/IOC), or trying to recover a flag (WSG). You can see, I think, that if you are forced to unbalance your group, it's a little better to have two raid healers than two single-target healers, just b/c of their slightly wider area of usefulness.


I like to take a lock or a mage here, for Howl of Terror / Frost Nova, respectively. A priest can also fill this role, or dual fill that role if you already have a priest as one of your healers. The ability to take a large chunk of an enemy force out of action, even for the smaller amount of time that you usually trade in order to get that AOE capability, is critical in several BGs -- it can buy your flag carrier in WSG needed space to get out of midfield, or put a lot of people out of range of your demos in SOTA (you only run as fast as the demos, barring things like sprint or dash, so once you get behind them you'll stay behind).

The Sneaky Folks

A rogue, or a druid (feral or otherwise) can provide you with valuable reconnaisance, spying out enemy weak points without putting themselves into harm's way. It helps that both of those classes also have solid single-target CC (sap, roots/hibernate/cyclone)

Everyone Else

Mostly you fill this with any dps; in some specialised instances you may want this slot to go to a tank -- WSG to run a flag, or AV/IOC to tank the enemy general NPC. If your premade goes to 8 or more people, I would bring a third healer.


Generally, you can fill your slots from four places, in descending order of usefulness : from your guild, if you set the event up on your calendar beforehand; from your friends list, especially if you make an effort to keep other PvPers on your realm on your FL; trade chat; and from the BGs you run -- if you see other people from your realm while you're running your premade, feel free to invite them along on your next queue.

A word about trade chat : you need to say three things. First, "LFXm to run some premades", replacing the X with your number. This conveys the idea that you know what you're looking for, which builds people's confidence that they're not signing up for a waste of time. Some servers have a negative connotation associated with the word "premade", for reasons that escape me, or people may not know what they are (if you're on a normal server, especially), and so sometimes you can get better results if you say "LFXm to run some (battlegrounds / battleground premades) with". Second, mention that they should have vent, and resilience. Again, this is a confidence builder. If you want to name a specific figure for resilience, that's fine too (5-600 is good); I usually just say "decent resilience" and rely on people to know what their own capabilities are. If someone doesn't know what they should have, I figure that's maybe not somebody I want running with me. Possibly that's judgmental of me, feel free to vary that. I say "decent" and I get people whispering me saying "I have 1100, is that ok?" which is amusing in its own way. Lastly, I like to put a smiley face, or an exclamation point (ONE ONLY) at the end...it demonstrates enthusiasm, that while you're going to be running something with a serious desire to win, you also haven't lost sight of the fact that you're also trying to have fun.

III. Leading the Raid

It is reasonably important that you have vent. You can run a premade successfully without it, but the quality of your win will be correspondingly decreased...much like trying to organise a PUG of any wing past the first in ICC without vent. You might pull it off...but it will be messy.

It is more important that you have a plan for every battleground you go into. Remember how we used our advertisement to give an illusion of self-confidence? Now is the part where you have to deliver on that, or you are not going to retain the people you recruited. This is where having two healers is crucial -- it gives you more flexibility to split your team in half to do a couple things at once. Within reason, the more map coverage you can get onto your vent, the more up-to-the-second information you have as the leader to determine what needs doing. Don't take this to extremes though -- sending one person to each node in AB may get you more information, but it nullifies your advantage.

In WSG, for example, I like to leave two to defend the flag (sneaky dps + me as druid heals, usually, but you could make any combination work) and 3 to go get the opposing flag with the crowd of PUGS. Once they make it back we swap to the FC and his healer (we send out the single-target heals usually) staying behind, and I take the other two dps with me to go lead an attack. By having a strong presence in both groups we have a good amount of influence.

The splitting also works well in a game like AB or EOTS, where you may need 5 people to take a node, but you certainly don't need 5 to hold one.

Speaking of lead...try to get yourself promoted to BG Lead...there's something about having different colored text that will occasionally make people listen to you.

Assist. The second guild I was ever in, a lovely PVP guild back on Emerald Dream called Meridius (and later, I regret to announce, DEVASTATE, yes in all caps), was fond of using an assist method, and I've carried it over to my premades. I usually pick a ranged dps before we go into a BG, or failing that I'll do it, to pick out high-priority targets and call over vent for an assist. I do this now just by having them say "assist" over vent, and making sure everyone has a macro made up beforehand that says "/assist XYZ". This is important for knocking down things like healers, or that Kingslayer DK with shadowmourne who's going to rip you all to shreds if you leave him up. It's also better that this person be someone at range b/c melee are...well...melee. They have a harder time seeing the bigger tactical picture than someone who's at a few steps remove from the brawl.

IV. Managing the Other People

One of the most distressing mistakes you can make is to forget that half your team, or more, is not on vent with you. Remember to relay information that you have in vent onto BG chat, if you expect anyone to do anything about it. I've led premades that went down to failure, only to realise afterwards that probably nobody had any clue what was going on b/c BG chat was totally silent.

The reverse is also true of course -- remember to READ BG chat as well.

There are two schools of thought on whether you should announce at the beginning of the battleground that you are a premade. School 1 suggests that you should do this, b/c it gives you auto-respect/authority and makes people more willing to cooperate with you. School 2 does not do this, b/c if you lose then the pugs will ridicule you incessantly. I belong to school 1...a) you should not be caring what pugs think b/c odds are you're not going to see them again, and b) I know that when I pug and someone announces a premade, I get all excited and just want to help. I don't think I'm alone in having that reaction either.

It is important that you value the pugged people you're with -- they are part of your team no less than your vented premade mates, but you guys can't be everywhere unless you're a full premade in which case...you shouldn't be reading this section anyway. Thank them for their help, both at the beginning, and at the end. Be civilised and polite, yet firm and authoritative. You are the default leader...act like one.

That being said, try to keep on top of what pugs are doing and tailor yourself accordingly. It is inevitable that some people will not listen to you. Try to work your premade's (people who WILL listen to you) strategy around that as much as possible, without fatally compromising your original plan. Hopefully you're using something reasonably simple that most people would already (*cross fingers*) be doing anyway.

I like to make my announcement at the beginning something along the lines of "Hello everyone. This is a partial Draenor premade...we will be handling XYZ, and we would appreciate it if you guys could do ABC. Thanks for playing with us!"

V. Ending the Raid

You should have in mind how long you plan on going -- someone may ask, and it looks better if you have an idea. That being said, don't be surprised if you have to swap people out more frequently than you thought. People are finicky about BGs...some people only want to go once, some people would go all night if you left them. I generally try to go for two hours or so, but sometimes cancel early, and sometimes go past. Have a finger on the pulse of it, and if it seems like your premade is not having fun, it may be time to call it.

The MOST IMPORTANT THING, and I cannot stress this enough, is that you NOT LOSE THE PEOPLE YOU RAN WITH. Offer to trade friend requests, get those people on your contact list so that you can grab them again. You will run better premades if you run them with people you've run with before. It's true in raiding, and it's true in BGs. I have reached the point where I usually fill 80% of my premades out of my friends list before I hit trade. Which is kind of like the job market, really...most jobs you never see advertised b/c they're filled by networking before it ever gets that far. If you run premades consistently (every saturday at 1pm! or whatever), create the event on your calendar and make sure that those people get invites. If you have too many friends...try to rotate them around so that everyone is getting a chance to run once in a while so you don't forget each other.

A good premade is like a raid that one-shots all the way up to LK...it's an exhilarating experience that has the capacity to completely overturn people's opinions about PvP. They are hands-down your best recruitment tool if you are trying to convince someone who "hates" PvP that it's really quite fun. And of course, it's more fun for you too. It goes without saying, I hope, that premades generally enjoy much higher win rates than going in solo. And they also give you the power to make legitimate attempts at the harder BG achievements (Resilient Victory in AB, anyone?). And yet for all that, they are not formed very frequently. I pose the theory that this is due to a dearth of people willing to step up and lead. Go forth and be a PvP missionary!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

AV : Fail At Failing

The title reflects the trouble I had with AV over the holiday in trying to lose, where unfortunately my side was not in the mood. Consequently, going 9-1 makes my AV potentially skewed in the same way that Strand was in the opposite direction (2-8). I apologise...I tried to lose, I even asked them to (whimsically) at the beginning of games...no dice. So :

AV Holiday Honor (Cyclone BG, 57% win)
Winning HPM : 530.83
Losing HPM : 123.2
Overall HPM : 357.37

In comparison with the other holiday BGs I have posted,

AV : 100%
EOTS : 57%
SOTA : 39%
WSG : 39%

I have also updated the holiday chart link on the right, if you would like to compare to the old data.

In other news, does anyone know what the deal is with how many people you can queue for a BG? I was certain it was five. Then I went into one and queued 6 people all night long, and so revised my understanding to "as many as you want, the 'join as party' is misleading"...and then when I deliberately recruited for 6 the other night, it told me my party was too big to queue for it. What gives?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Holiday EOTS Paint By Numbers

WARNING : If you don't like numbers this post is not for you!

I gathered data for EOTS(H) over the weekend...it's up on the Updated Holiday HPM post I have linked on the right, along with SOTA & WSG. The nutshell:

Winning HPM : 283.92
Losing HPM : 126.32
Overall HPM : 204.76

EOTS : 100%
SOTA : 69%*
WSG : 68%

Interestingly, the old WSG data is about 69% of the old EOTS data, so that stuff seems intact. What this says to me is reinforcement of the asterisk I put next to the Strand data when I put it up (short version : my data was skewed toward the losses and so win data was likely not as accurate as it could be), so people out there who liked SOTA and were sad that it was apparently sucking as bad as WSG, have hope, the situation may change.

What I would like to do with this data today is draw some comparisons with regular EOTS (which I also have data for) to make some general conclusions about holiday/nonholiday experience. To recap :

Regular EOTS
Winning HPM : 247.08 ( -37 )
Losing HPM : 111.89 ( -14 )
Overall HPM : 179.18 ( -25 )

Unsurprisingly...holiday gives you better than regular. You may take your dunce cap and sit in the corner now. Here's where the interesting numbers come in though, and I think it shows fairly conclusively that when a BG is on holiday, it attracts better players. Yes, most of us already knew that, and no, it's not just the fact that I was fighting at BET yesterday with one arena master on my side, against two arena masters on the horde side (yes, they killed me badly), that makes me wonder that. It's just that, much like the assumption that WSG sucks for HPM, which everyone implicitly knows to be true, it's nice to have hard numerical data to back that up.

Points in Favor of the "Smarter People" Argument

Point A : Time Investment

A regular EOTS match lasts an average of 13.71 minutes. On a holiday it lasts 13.9 minutes. The games are fought closer and so they tend to last longer. Why? Because it's harder to roflstomp a good team than a bad team.

Point B : Smart Targeting

I don't mean to sound like a self-absorbed prick here but taking me as a healer and extrapolating to generally cover all people who heal -- on a regular game, I die 2.65 times. On a holiday, 2.67. It's close enough that I guess you could call it statistically insignificant (.7%). I choose to look at it as saying that maybe it shows that people are ever-so-slightly better about targeting and killing healers on the holidays.

Point C : The Map

On a holiday, games that devolved into 2v2+flag games were more common. This correlates Point A; games are more evenly matched, and abandoning a 3-tower strategy to go for 2+flag usually follows upon the heels of recognising that the opposition is too tough to grab a third.

Statistically : On holiday, I recorded 10 games, and two of them were flat-out 2v2 matches, with another 2-3 that started out that way but eventually gave way to a 3-tower game. On regular, I recorded 20 games, and two of them were flat-out 2v2 games, with one unrecorded that you could give the benefit of the doubt to if you wanted and pretend it was a 2v2. But the gist is: it's basically twice as likely to get trapped into a 2v2 on holiday as it is otherwise.

People are also slightly smarter about fighting you for that flag cap in that situation -- on a holiday, a flag cap took 2.31 minutes on average, as opposed to 2.28 on regular. There's also correspondingly less flag caps in total -- 7.19 caps on average (both sides put together) for regular EOTS, 7 for holiday.

Point D : Dropouts

Four of my 20 regular EOTS games were joined in progress...none of my holiday ones were. That could be a fluke, and why I put this point last b/c I think it's the most nebulous, but it could indicate that people are more likely to play it out on holiday than otherwise.

Point E : Point Differential

The average point value for losing a game of EotS (both Horde and Alliance together) was 670 for nonholiday losses, versus 624 for holiday losses. You could make the point that therefore people are more skilled on regular b/c they manage to get more points even when they're losing, but I would argue differently. I think it means that the teams that win have it more "together" on a holiday than otherwise -- to allow the losing teams more points on a nonholiday to me speaks to sloppier play.

I think also what it might come down to is those 2v2 games -- smarter players, recognising that they're in a 2+flag situation, will be better about controlling mid before they cap (hence the longer time between caps on a holiday, also), and therefore keeping the losing team's point totals smaller.

How can we test that? By looking at the differential between flag caps (how many times the winning side caps, versus the losing side) on those 2v2 games. Using the 5 games (2 certain, 3 sort-of) from the holiday, the average differential between winning side / losing side caps is 4.8. Using the 3 regular EOTS games...the average differential is 3. I don't think I'm going too far here to say that there's a direct correlation between that number and how effective your control of midfield is -- the smaller the differential is, the worse your midfield control is, and the higher it is, the better you were at monopolising it.

Conclusion : If you want to play a game with smarter people, go to the holiday weekend BG. Ron Burgundy imitation: It's SCIENCE.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Picture is worth a thousand words!

and I lack the words to express my head-shaking outrage, anyway, at Blizzard reintroducing the snare to Tree of Life form. Like...wtf. No, actually, WTF doesn't begin to cover it.

Tree of Life needs to be like this (jump it to 8:30, sorry) :

and not like this.

Yuk yuk, they're TREES, therefore it would be HILARIOUS to ROOT them to the ground!

If my roots are so powerful they slow me by 50%, then I had damn well better be able to cast Entangling roots at a 40 yard range, on no diminishing returns, on up to three targets, and maybe throw in making it an instant cast. That MIGHT even out the terrible, terrible idea it is to reintroduce this idea.

As Beru said so eloquently...no other form is penalized for shifting into the tree-defining (pardon the pun) form. So not only does everyone else get to keep their form while ours is reduced to a cooldown with 17% uptime, our CD has negatives associated with it that nobody in their right mind would consider worth it, with the anticipated-heavy-movement fights in Cata, to say nothing of the always-movement-intensive PvP?

Fail, Blizz. Way to fail hard.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

PvP Talents?

ETA: I am a total n00b because apparently you can already queue as a raid...the "Join as Party" button being somewhat misleadingly named!

Looking ahead to Cataclysm it is clear that Blizzard wants to make PvP more accessible than ever before, which I think is generally a good thing. Cata could be the best thing to happen to PvP since...well, idk...random BGs?

We are getting guild talent trees in Cataclysm, and we have definite word that that will include PvP talents of some kind. You earn these talent points by accruing guild currency, which are acquired in various ways...but most noticeably for us, by winning rated BGs. Here's the kicker there though : in PvP as in PvE, they're throwing a ballpark number around of 75% guild participation for it to count as a guild win to get the points. That means 7/10 of the people in the raid (or WSG, explicitly used as an example) have to be in your guild.

Thought 1 : 7 > 5. Therefore they're going to let us join queue for BGs in a raid, finally, instead of limiting it to party...at least for the rated BGs. About time, Preform AV Enabler is getting kind of clunky and it's annoying anytime you try to set up a premade to pause and wait 15 minutes while the people who don't have the addon have to go download it. I suspect this is only into effect on rated BGs -- elsewise you'd get the same complaints that people had before about twinks rolling over casual pvpers, until Blizzard separated them. But maybe it could work on normal BGs too, since Blizz has something in place already (allegedly) to try and match premade groups against similar-sized ones.

Thought 2 : Talent trees are supposed to (theoretically) make people more loyal to guilds. I'm wondering if it won't actually encourage less -- "ok, everyone gquit and join our guild for the duration of this raid so you can get our perks...then you can go back to your original guild after." Blizzard could stop that by saying you needed to be in a guild for a certain amount of time before you had access to the nomnoms...it wouldn't even need to be that long, probably a day would work since PUGs aren't usually formed that far in advance. But it seems unlikely that Blizz would do that.

Some of the talents posited include a mass rez, mass summons, extra gold loot, reagent-free raid buffs, reduced mat cost for flasks and other consumables...most of which seems to me is pretty PVE-ish. We could get some mileage out of raid buffs, I suppose, and it's likely that rated BGs are going to be SRS BSNS enough to at least require flasks so maybe that helps too. The big problem here is that in PVE, you don't care if guild A has a certain perk, and guild B doesn't...they're not competing against each other, and there isn't something like "you do 5% more damage" or "raid bosses have 5% less health" that would cause all sorts of progression drama about who has Legitimate Kills and who doesn't. But in PVP, guilds are going to be competing directly against each other, which makes a whole host of "give you an edge against the content" talents unworkable for balance reasons.

The only PVP talent I've seen proposed is to reduce the flag cap time by a second, which I suspect is highly unlikely, again for balance. It looks to me like by "PVP talents" we're actually going to get stuck with the wuss-talents that can go either way (like the raid buffs). I've thought of a couple things but they all run into that balance thing and I can't seem to come out with a way around it.

* More efficiency -- maybe guildies move x% faster, or x% faster mounted speed, to get to objectives faster. This is again a pvp/pve talent both but useful in BGs certainly.

* More information -- maybe guildies can see when another guildie is under attack, and by how many people. Much like calling incs at a flag, but more automated the way some addons do now. Alternately, give all members of the guild "track humanoids" for the duration of a BG. But what if guild A has this and guild B doesn't? Fairness? Or do we assume at this point that any serious PVP guild, even if they don't have Unbalancing Talent P, will probably have Unbalancing Talent Q, and therefore they work/cancel out?

* Terrain alterations -- there's already been some hints of this with individual talent trees like the mages' wall of ice, or the rogues' fog thingy (I forget the name). What if the guild leader had something like this at their disposal that they could use every..idk, 15 minutes, to limit it to once in a BG.

* My pet idea : allow two guildies to set up a portal that's operable as long as the channellers at both ends are not disrupted. Say it's a 20s channel that allows you to port from ST to farm, but subject to the same disruption as any channelled cast. So if something's under threat, you could rush reinforcements there...but only if you can keep the enemy off your portal-anchor long enough to do it. It's a massively unbalanced idea, of course, and would only work if you were working off what I said above, assuming that the other side of the BG would also likely have some kind of kickass talent too. It might be worth mentioning that the Zerg can do something similar to this in Starcraft with a thing called a Nydus Canal (and I think SCII also but I'm not as up on that as I should be) so it wouldn't be a new concept for Blizzard.

What ideas can you come up with? If you were running a PVP guild in cata, what end-level talent would make you drool with anticipation?

Monday, April 12, 2010


This blew my mind, courtesy of Gnomeaggedon -- apparently people in BGs are NOT sheep...they're fish. I am resolved to take a few people into some BGs and try this "mutual support" thing out for myself!

Did WSG Dye Its Hair?

...because apparently it is no longer the redheaded stepchild. Picking up SOTA Holiday numbers over the weekend, WSG, though it lags behind, is not nearly the joke-far-outrunner that it used to be. Why? I have no idea; it definitely feels with 3.3.3 as if there may have been a subtle tweak on Blizzard's part to give you an empty plate for most of a WSG match and then SUDDENLY THROW YOU A WHOLE BUNCH AT THE END FOR NO APPARENT REASON. *cough*. Anyway, the numbers here for Strand, with a caveat*:

SOTA HOLIDAY HPM (Cyclone BG, 41% win)
Winning HPM : 190.68 (92.7% of WSG holiday)
Losing HPM : 106.55 (115.3% of WSG holiday)
Overall HPM : 141.11 (101.63% of WSG holiday)
Average Objective Points : 7.24 (WSG gives 8.6)

* My record this weekend was 2-8...bad streak I guess. So while I am pretty confident of the loss numbers, the win numbers are based off two games and may therefore be awry to some degree or another.

Put another way, WSG on holiday gives 98.4% of the HPM of Strand...a difference which for all practical purposes you could probably consider to be nonexistent, given the potential fluctuations in the data.

The breakdown of "bonus honor" seems to be as follows, for the holiday. Remember that 1 OP (OGCMAT wordage) = 1 "bonus honorable kill" (blizz's wordage) = 124 honor (what you actually care about).

* 1 OP for each level you break through (ie one of green or blue. You do not get two points if you break both, which was news to me), to a maximum of 4 (blue/green, red/purple, yellow, relic door).
* 1 OP for capturing the relic
* 1 OP for each level you successfully defend (but unlike offense, both doors must remain up to count)
* 1 OP for the opposition not capturing the relic
* 2 OP for clearing the map
* 3 additional OP for winning the map.

Bizarrely, for each of the gated objectives (not the clear or the win), you also get 37 bonus honor in addition to the standard 124. Why that should be, I'm not sure...there it is though. *shrug*.

What I find interesting here is the potential to judge how well an average Strand team performs. If you subtract out the "congratulations for just sticking it out" honor, a team scores 7.24-2-(.41)*3 = 4.01 objective points in a game. Mathematically, that translates to, say, in a game where you manage to break into the courtyard (3 points), they are going to break down the relic door (you get 1 for them not capping). If you don't knock down the yellow gate (2 points for you)...they may knock it down (you get 2, for the relic and the relic door). If you get stopped after only one wall, your points come from...stopping them after two walls. No matter how well you do, the other team always does slightly better...which in Strand means winning. And I suppose that makes sense given Alliance's losing pattern in this BG, in my battlegroup. That is, of course, an *average*. In reality, you capture the relic sometimes (5 points), they capture it sometimes (you get 0 points), and most times are in the middle.

If you look at a further breakdown here:

Average Offensive OPs (overall): 3.45 -- we get into the courtyard somewhere between knocking the yellow door (3) and the relic door (4).

Offensive OPs when we win : 5. Le duh, to win you must have captured the relic. I include only for completeness ;-).

Offensive OPs when we lose : 2.67. Which is not bad; we still tend to do OK, we get stuck 2/3 of the way past the red/purple doors (2) to the yellow doors (3)

Average Defensive OPs (overall) : 0.56 -- abysmal, really, we keep them somewhere between the relic and the relic door, on average.

Defensive OPs when we win : 1. Frightening. They knock the relic door, but not cap? That's unlikely and what this really translates to is : when we win, it's not because we stop the Horde from capping, it's because we manage to do it faster than they do.

Defensive OPs when we lose : 0.22. But again -- to lose by definition involves losing the relic. The only reason this is not a flat zero is because of the occasional tie, which in terms of HPM counts as a loss.

More on those sorts of things as the spreadsheet develops...I know it doesn't seem it but we are still relatively new into the 3.3.3 madness :-)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This just in : WSG still sucks

Despite the temptation it provides me to slit my wrists, I bravely ventured into WSG over the weekend to gather data for you, my lovely readers. (Lies. I did it b/c my mind would explode if there was a gap in my spreadsheet. But I like you guys too). There's not enough data for a table as yet but :

WSG Holiday Notes :
Winning HPM : 205.65
Losing HPM : 92.41
Overall (on Cyclone BG, with a 43% win ratio) : 140.74

Average Bonus Honor in a game (from capping the flag, 248 points, clearing the map, 496 points, and winning, 372 points) : 1079.2

There is a maximum of 13 "kills" of objectives in WSG(H) -- 4 for finishing, 3 for winning, 6 for 3 flag caps. If you correlate from the above, 1079.2 / 124, on an average map you are scoring 8.7 of these Objective Points, as I'm labelling them for comparison. I've come up with a whole slew of new things I'm tracking with the introduction of 3.3.3, just to try to come up with reasons why the honor in some bgs is so much better than others.

By way of comparison :

EOTS (Random, non-holiday) Notes:
Winning HPM : 247.08
Losing HPM : 111.89
Overall (Cyclone, 49% win) : 178.02
Average Bonus Honor in a game from objectives (only points) : 674.65
Average OP : 5.44

This is assuming that you queued for a random, and got EOTS. If you queue specifically for EOTS, thus forgoing the bonus 1862/621 honor, you end up with rather more unpleasant numbers, to wit:

Winning HPM : 116.87
Losing HPM : 64.78
Overall : 90.26

So what makes the difference? Why does WSG have a worse HPM than EOTS? At first I thought, well...maybe it's b/c you kill more people in EOTS? But you don't, I have an eots kill average of 27.81, and in WSG, 35.5. In WSG(H), those tend to be worth 25.08 honor apiece, versus 20.71 in EOTS...and that's considering that EOTS gives you a buff when you kill someone near a tower. So I kill *more*, and they're WORTH more, in WSG. So that's not it. I think the answer here is in time committed -- my average EOTS game is 13.71 minutes, whereas WSG stretches out into 22.7, which is roughly 50% more. I would venture to guess that your honor gained in WSG on holiday is better...but it takes you too long to get it. A similar argument could be made for the blitz versus the Standard Win in AV -- you get a crapton more honor doing it the latter way, but at too much of a cost in time to stand up to a blitz solely on HPM grounds. There are other excellent arguments against the blitz -- Cynwise has some over on his site but I can't seem to find it atm...will ETA when I do -- but you can't beat it for return on your investment.

ETA: On a whim, went into the spreadsheet and the above appears to be true. WSG(H) gives you 3127.66 honor, on average, while EOTS(R) is 2481.73.

I rather suspect that the formula here is going to boil down to taking a given holiday weekend, and comparing it to the table which I shall in the future get together ;-), and saying, if 4 or more of the Random Battlegrounds are better honor, skip the holiday and queue for random, playing your odds. If three are better, it's a 50/50 shot so do the holiday if you enjoy that BG, or skip it if you don't. And if only 1 or 2 are better, hit the holiday BG.

The tree rests.

Friday, April 2, 2010

And just in case

You were doubting my credentials to write the previous article, I finally got this last night!

Go me!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Eye of the Storm : All in the Title

Do you know what the key to winning Eye of the Storm is? I'll tell you : it's The Eye of the Storm! Right in the title, crazy I know! Let me illustrate what I mean, using stick figures of meditating men so that I, too, can make Cynwise's day. Here's two storms :

In both examples there is a RAGING SPINNING TORNADO OF DEATH on the outside, and a peaceful, calm, meditation-worthy space in the center. And that's how you win EOTS -- fight at the towers, which are around the periphery, and not in the center. Unfortunately, Blizzard has decided to play a cruel joke on this strategy and put a big shiny flag in the center, which encourages people to try and grab it. I once read this referred to as a "buglight" and that's totally true : try for it and you're like to get fried. Most likely by ele shammies knockbacking you off the edge into oblivion but that's a complaint for a different post. So let's look at a couple things here :

What are my resources?

You have 15 people on your team; with this you can reasonably defend control of 3 nodes -- 5 at each makes for a solid defense. As in Arathi Basin, controlling three nodes leads to winning; also as in Arathi Basin, you frequently CAN'T control three nodes because half of your team will be fighting like idiots in the road and not actually at a node. Ahem.

What's the mechanics?

You win by gaining 1600 points. You gain points by holding towers, and capping flags. Capping flags gives you more points the more towers you have...kind of like a snowballing effect.

With one tower : You earn 1 point per second, and a flag cap is worth 75 points.
With two towers : You earn 2 points per second, and a flag cap is worth 85 points.
With three towers : You earn 5 points per second, and a flag cap is worth 100 points.
With four towers : You earn 10 points per second, and a flag cap is worth 500 points.

It's much like AB in that there's a huge gap of difference between mostly-dominating with 3 (4 in AB), and totally dominating by owning every node.

As far as honor is concerned, you gain it from your usual three suspects -- killing people, the bonus honor from doing a random, and from completing the BG objectives. The objective in EOTS is simple : points. You gain 124 honor every 267 points (on a nonholiday), ie at 267, 533, 800, 1067, 1333, 1600. You also gain 124 honor for completing the map, regardless of win or lose, and 124 honor for winning. If you win, therefore you get 8 x 124 = 992 honor from objectives.

On a holiday, you gain 124 honor every 160 points, for a total of 10 "ticks" (as opposed to the 6 on a regular, non-holiday day), ie at 160, 320, 480, 640, 800, 960, 1120, 1440, 1600. The 124 honor for clearing the map, and the 124 honor for winning, remain unchanged. A holiday win is therefore worth 12 x 124 = 1488 honor from objectives.

What are my options?

There are two accepted strategies for Eye of the Storm. One is much better than the other, and the other is the one that gets used all the time. Raise your hand if you think they're the same. If you raised your hand, go pug a few more BGs and come back when you're not so naive.

Option 1 : Capture two towers, and then run the flag

This is what usually ends up happening in pugs. It's easy to run from your start point, grab the two nodes closest to you, and then go to the flag. The problem is this results in a mirrored map -- you are forcing the other side to follow the exact same strategy, which results in both sides fighting over the same objective, the flag in the middle. You are both accruing tower points at the same rate, and so control of the midfield flag spawn will make or break the success of this plan. Here's the problem with this plan : you look at the map, and you think there are four nodes. The cleverer among you may even have said, aha no, there are 5. There are six. And successful execution of a 2+mid plan relies on you controlling four of them. Remember when I said you only really have enough people to control three nodes? That's why this is a bad plan. Another picture :

The six nodes are : Mage Tower (upper left), Draenei Ruins (upper right), Fel Reaver Ruins (lower left), Blood Elf Tower (lower right), the flag spawn (in the middle), and wherever the flag happens to be. To pursue this strategy you must hold your two towers, control the flag as it's being moved from the center to one of your towers, AND control the middle so that once the flag is capped you can pick it back up again. This is difficult to execute in practice, and tends to result in seesaw capping games where the last to cap wins. This is why you frequently hear "don't cap till we have mid" in an eots game of this type.

Option 2 : Control 3 towers

This is by far the better option. Best of all, if executed correctly you usually only have to worry about controlling TWO nodes! Here's the thing : if you control three towers, only two of them are likely to be attacked, the third being out of range of any but lonely stealth-attempts. Again :

And the thing is, as the other side attacks those two nodes, people like the sheep they are will drift to the defense of those nodes, which is exactly where they need to be. In the above picture you'll end up with the lion's share of people defending MT & BET, with a token few at DR.

You do not need to worry about the flag in this situation. Remember the math up above? With three towers you gain 5 points per second. They are gaining 1 point per second. A flag cap with one tower is worth 75 points. That means that *just to stay even with you* they have to cap a flag every 75/4 = 18.75 seconds. It's not gonna happen, trust me. The average time it takes to cap a flag is 137 seconds, from the games I've recorded. And I've never seen it faster than 90 seconds. You can completely ignore the middle if you like. Of course, if the other side is intelligent they will know this as well and be trying to grab a second tower, so they will also be ignoring the middle -- which may allow you to cushion your lead with an easy snatch-and-cap. But don't get locked into a fight over it -- if they want it, let them have it, because although they may be too stupid to realise it that flag is worthless to them. Which leads to the last point :

When should I flutter my moth wings and go towards the buglight?

There's three situations you could be in, but generally this goes back to what I said at the beginning : the center must be a place of calm and meditation. In other words, if nobody's there, feel free to grab the flag. If there's a big fight going on, then you would be better off doing something else. But specifically :

* You have one tower : You might consider making a flag grab if you can get away with it easily, but you SHOULD NOT CAP IT. Your goal here is solely to slow down their runaway win and buy your actual offense time to get a second (and hopefully third) tower back. Do not send more than a handful of people after this.

* You have two towers : If you're smart here you should be capping a third tower here. Look at it this way : capping the flag will take you two minutes, and net you 85 honor. Capping a third tower is an increase of 3 points per second. So if you can take a third tower in (137-(85/3)) less than 109 seconds, you would be better off doing that. Which sounds like a short time but your time-sense is very telescoped in BGs, that's a long time to fight over a node. If however you're fighting in a stalemate, a very well-matched game, the time it takes to cap a third tower may be outweighed by the ease of a flag cap, if you can control the mid. Just remember : that third tower will always work for you, and defenders will drift to your two vulnerable towers naturally; the flag will only work for you till you cap it, at which point you have to recalculate your odds all over again.

* You have three towers : Focus on defending your towers and you will win automatically. That said, similar to one tower, if nobody's in the middle why not make a push for it? Cuts down your win time by (100/5=) 20 seconds. Again though, don't make a serious effort at it; the flag at this point *does not matter* to either side so your primary focus should be on what is -- defending your towers.

Oh and lastly I suppose, if you have 4 towers : you outclass them so badly, why not? Just as with three towers, you really only have two vulnerable towers to defend (the two closest to the opposing side's starting spawn point) so you have a little wiggle room to grab the flag if you've got someone sitting around doing nothing. And you cut your win time by (500/10=) 50 seconds. Of course, you're already going to win in (1600/10=) 160 seconds = 2 minutes 40 seconds or less anyway, are you really that impatient? :-).


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On Networking

In not-so-funny news today, apparently Blizzard accidentally deleted my realm from the battlegroup, so we could not

*do dungeons
*do arenas
*do BGs

This led to a lot of bored people city raiding and counter-raiding...I doubt many faction bosses were actually killed, for which reason I declined to participate in the offensives (though I enjoyed stomping horde raids in defense). But that is not the subject for today's post.

Today I would like to mention that from 0 guilds on server we've apparently mushroomed into 3 pvp guilds gunning for the same people. I am unhappy, to say the least. One of them is run by our server celebrity pvp-er, who has much negative PR associated with him to the point where asking to join forces with him is repellent to me; the other started his guild today and apparently named it "Obamanation Healthcare", which also puts up red flags to me. I mean, putting politics into your guild name? Why would you voluntarily antagonize half your recruiting pool?

I have readjusted my recruiting tactics in lieu of abysmal failure on Saturday, the busiest /trade day of the week (2 nibbles, no joins). It seems to me from the nibbles that the scare-off was that the guild was just starting. This leads me to think that maybe trade recruiting is an ineffective use of my time until the guild is actually established. Instead I am going to lie low for a week or two and play BGs extensively (NO DON'T MAKE ME PLEASE LOLTH HAVE MERCY) and try to network other people on Draenor. Then I will seduce them into my guild once I have a network of people built up.

The weird thing is this kind of parrots what I'm doing in real life to get a job...not spamming the want ads, and building a network in the industry instead. I think I'm going to write an article about it, see what my employment coach thinks about THAT :-).

Tomorrow, guild's first event : premades at 7:30, assuming that Draenor has returned to the Cyclone fold by then and such things are possible *sigh*. That should hopefully be a good time to network some people in with trade advertisements. I'm still going to do that, just shifting tone from "LF PvP fans to join guild" to "LF PvP fans to run some [x/y/z bg]" which is a lot less threatening to people who may be in a nice guild already that they're leery of leaving. *crosses fingers*

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tis Official!

No, not Glory of the Hero...though Moorabi finally gave up his mammoth dreams and got me that this morning as well.

Yesterday Ihra /gquit in the middle of the afternoon, and in the evening became GM of Esoterica. Time to fulfill all my happy fantasies about how great this will be, and ignore the tiny warning bells about how much work and suffering will be involved!

Monday, March 15, 2010

What's in an honorable kill?

Pending me not being lazy and turning on the floating combat text that tells you what an honorable kill is worth, I am resorting to old-fashioned math. The gods at Blizzard have told us that in 3.3.3 our honor from killing someone (and, associated thereto, the battleground objectives which have a straight conversion) is being doubled. From what to what, though? Traditional wisdom says, 20.9 honor per kill. I have my doubts about that though, having run some figures, and that just leaves me more confused. Though I will say that 20.9 x 3 = 62.7 = 63, which is the honor I see from burning towers in AV so maybe that's not a TOTAL bunch of hogwash.

BUT. Questions remain. In WSG, you gain honor three ways : killing people, capping flags, and winning. Now, I have more than three winning games of WSG recorded, and because I'm anal like that I recorded the caps in those games, so ostensibly you should be able to set up a system of equations that reduces you out to solving what each of those things is worth. Three lines, in 3-dimensional space, which should converge at a perfect (x,y,z) point. But they don't. And if you add more lines (=games), it gets worse.

So, ok, let's take something simpler. Arathi Basin gives you honor in only two ways, at least according to the general info site : killing people, and the amount of points you have at the end converts directly into your bonus honor. Linearly, I would assume, but that may be in error. So you can set up a two-dimensional system of equations, theoretically.

(HKs)*(value of HK=x) + (End Resource Count)*(Value of One Resource = Y) = Total honor gained in match

So I did that for all 18 non-holiday AB games that I have written down. A picture is worth a thousand words; here's the result :

Notice how those lines DO NOT CONVERGE ON A SINGLE GLORIOUS POINT. Moreover, even if you wanted to draw a really big Dot Of Best Fit...the x-value -- an honorable kill, remember -- there hovers somewhere (roughly) between 9 and 12...NOT 20.9, the standard accepted answer. Y is in the 0.3-0.5 region but that's not really relevant to my point here.

I'm not being given correct information here and as an engineer I am extremely distressed by this. Seriously, I was in bed trying to go to sleep with my wife and this idea SO UNNERVED me that I had to come down to my computer, play with graphs and desperately attempt to fit some sense into it, and then write a blog post about how annoyed I was when the data would not be forced. Note to the public at large : if you ever want to explode an engineer's brain, feed him bad data and watch the fireworks.


*tries to go back to bed*

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ihrayeep, Guildmaster

"Tired of feeling like a misfit in your social raiding guild, just because you enjoy killing horde? If you're a dedicated player with a passion for PvP, Esoterica wants to talk to you!"

Ihra's taking the plunge and starting his own guild. Why? Ehh...a variety of reasons, but mostly because I feel like the ground seems ripe (on my limited research) to maybe finally get a working PvP guild going on Draenor. For those not in the know, Draenor is a "Normal" realm, ie one where "pvp" said in trade chat has the impact of saying a word with one more letter than it actually has, so it could be challenging. On the other hand, I know there are people who PvP, and LIKE to PvP, despite that. And you know what? There is no pvp guild worth speaking of on the server. Trust me. I've looked, hard. I'm getting much encouragement from spousal figure and my 3s team, so that moral support helps give me the large brass objects necessary to engage in a pursuit of this kind. I've told one of my best buddas in the guild that I'm leaving (I guess now I'm committed to doing that!), but not formally till our GM comes back from hiatus sometime at the end of the week. I think I'll leave most of my alts in my original guild -- what they do doesn't conflict with what my new pretty guild will be doing, and that will let me keep in touch with my old guildies if the idea of a joint chat channel doesn't fly with our GuildMomma as I have some hints it may not.

So I've stealth-created the guild on an alt and started working through guild ranks and organisational things...Now it is a shadow-organisation just waiting for Ihra to formally abandon ship and take over as The Chief. Yes, I renamed the Guildmaster rank, "The Chief". Because I'm the boss, and I get to do that. Says the Simpsons,

"Sir, I'm afraid you've gone mad with power."
"Of course I have! Have you ever tried going mad without power? It's boring, nobody listens."

I'm not going to blog too much about guild stuff I don't think, except in a theoretical light, discussing what I think good organizing choices are -- because let me tell you, looking for resources for people who want to start pvp guilds, I found a lot of people asking that question but not a lot of good answers -- and so on, but in light of Tam's not-so-pleasant guild drama recently, I suspect that's the best route to take.

And in a side note jumping on the bandwagon, I created a character over on Argent Dawn-US to join up with the blogging guild over there. I didn't ACTUALLY get up the nerve to ask someone for a guild invite but I look forward to actually maybe meeting (in real time!) some of the people I read on a daily basis!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

And Even More Game-Changing:

Sometimes I think Blizzard just likes to mess with me, and change the honor system based on how close I am to completing an analysis of the current system.

MAJOR OVERHAUL of the system including the elimination of marks of honor, the implementation of random BG Finders, etc.

It's gonna take me a week just to figure out how to record numbers from this new shenanigans. Damn you, Blizzard.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How to make an arena team :

So you may have noticed that Relentless Gladiator gear requires only arena points...but no rating. And also there's no option for getting it with just honor. It seems like to get that pretty i251 gear you may actually have to take off your socks and get your toes wet in the arena after all. But where do you start? How do you go about finding a partner? Well lucky for you that's today's subject!


1) Know this website : Arena Junkies -- it's the PvP equivalent of Elitist Jerks, except less n00b-friendly. There is a lot of information on there, especially in the forums where they only allow people with high ratings to publish. It's a somewhat-guarantee that the people talking know what they're talking about. We'll get into some specific things you can do with AJ a little further down, but for now, feel free to browse and see what you come up with.

2) Buy a charter. You can do this at four different places: a fella in Gadgetzan named Bip Nigstrom, a fella at the Nagrand Arena named King Dond, a fella at the Blade's Edge Arena named Steamwheedle Sam, and a fella-ette in Dalaran named "Baroness" Llana. Apparently if you're horde you can also buy a charter in Orgrimmar (lucky!) from Greela "The Grunt" Crankchain. A charter costs you 40g per person -- 2v2 is 80g, 3v3 is 120g, and 5v5 is 200g. General courtesy is that founding members of your team should reimburse you their section but that does not always hold.


3) Now you've got a pretty charter, and it's got your own lonely signature on it. You need more. This is where AJ comes in helpful. If you click the "Ratings" tab at the top, you will see the top arena teams in various brackets. Go for the bracket you're trying to form a team for, and you will have a corresponding range of pull-down menus to talk about class. The first one is you. Are you married to having certain people on your team? Friends, guildies, etc. -- fill those people in also.

This is what I did when I wanted to make a 3s team. I knew I wanted to build it around me and my 2s partner, who is a mage, so I put us in and then look down the chart and it will show us what people with a druid and a mage are running with. 8 of the 16 highest teams run with a lock, so that's what we started shopping for.

Also be careful to look at spec -- you can click on the individual teams that show up. Once you have a team put together, find a team on AJ that matches that, and you may find that in order to do Well a respec is necessary. If you look at 2s teams with a druid/mage, tree is not optimal. Feral or Boomkin are much preferred. I chose to sacrifice that because I like to challenge myself -- but be aware of that handicap ahead of time. Which leads to :

4) Have realistic expectations. Don't expect to hit 2k in the first go-round. Experience playing not only arena, but with each other, shows noticeably. Me & Kitykat don't notice improvement particularly from when we first started, but when we picked up our lock for 3s he commented several times on how well we worked together. If you're running a sub-optimal comp, be comfortable with the fact that you may not hit 2k at all -- there is a glass ceiling sometimes to what you can achieve. Apparently, tree/frost mage CAN get to 2k...but there is only one team on AJ that has done that. I would be happy if we hit 1800. Know your limitations.

5) If you're shopping for a partner, do you want them to have experience? Or not? Like I said, experience tells, and it can teach you. I learned a ton from my first serious 2s partner over on Emerald Dream (Hello, Cleverfox!) and I am grateful that he took me with my relative lack of experience. That was an arms warrior who knew what he was doing. However you need to look at your synergy too -- If some people on the team have experience, will they be intimidated/threatened by people with more? Another thing to remember is that people who have experience have certain ways that they do things -- they're not wrong, or right, usually, but it may be different than other people run. I ran a few 2s skirmishes with a DK who had a tree as his actual partner, and there was an adjustment there b/c he was used to expecting certain things out of his tree that I didn't do, and not expecting things that I did do. You may add to your learning curve if people have to unlearn old ways of working. It's a balancing point.

6) Know where to get your gear and how to get it. Much like you have to run heroics before you can raid, you will need to do some non-arena stuff before you can run arena successfully. This can include BGs, Wintergrasp...even running heroics, since you can buy furious gear (i232) with emblems of triumph. I'm going to make a copout here and highly recommend that if you're having trouble with this step, you read Cynwise's article on the subject.

7) While you're gearing, don't do it alone. Gear with a buddy, ESPECIALLY your arena partners, in BGs -- it's more fun, and it helps you practice together outside of getting gibbed in 2 globals in an arena. Much like my set on healing battlegrounds, playing arena together is about two things : working with each other, and working against the enemy. When you first start an arena team, if you're a total n00b at it, then you're going to lose. A lot. And very quickly each time. It's hard to learn much, except what classes really have it in for you (Kitykat and I are terrible against locks, for example). So BGs can give you a longer set of time where you're all alive together to practice different things and coordinate them.


8) Don't be afraid to lose. This doesn't require much explanation but your team starts with an invisible matchmaking rating of 1500, which means the system is going to try to put you up against 1500 teams. Your team is not a 1500 rating, and I don't care if it's the most dreamy mcdream team ever made : you lack experience together and there's going to be losses, especially at first, as you learn to play together.

9) Know your team's pacing -- does your team focus on burning someone fast? Or playing chess for a long game? Do you CC? How are you coordinating that? Figure out your team's strengths and weaknesses are -- playing a lot of games will help give you an eye for that -- and tailor your strategy for winning to your team's strengths. On the flip side, think about what you can do to limit your team's disadvantages.

10) Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone...but don't sacrifice your primary role to it (I need to CC sometimes...but not at the expense of healing necessarily). If you're dps, do you need to bandage your partner? If you're heals, do you need to throw in a last little push of dps to help drop someone? Look for opportunities to step outside your realm. As a general rule the need to do that is going to go down the bigger your team is -- in a 2s team there's only the two of you to do everything that needs doing; in a 5s team you likely have more specialized roles and stepping outside of them is not so much encouraged as frowned upon.

And last but not least :

11) Communicate! Vent or some similar form of real-time speaking communication is absolutely key for arena. Things move too quickly for you to take the time to type things out. My 2s partner and I really struggled last season, even though we had vent, in doing this. There was a lot of dead air during the match. Don't let that happen to you, talk about EVERYTHING. We've somewhat corrected that this season by having a little pep talk before we start a session. I say "What are we doing?" and she says "Communicating!". Whatever helps you focus. Referencing #9 above, we recognised that effective communication was one of our weaknesses that we needed to address, and so we added that little back-and-forth to our pre-game warmup to help fix it. And it has, and our performance has been noticeably better this season.


Hopefully this information will help you if you're new to that whole arena thingy...go forth and dominate :-)

Sunday, February 7, 2010


(ETA: This post was MEANT to be published last friday but blogger was not cooperating on the pictures)

and no, I'm not referring to the bizarrely ludicrous happening of Saturday where, casually deciding to participate in the Kalu'ak Fishing Derby for the second time ever and somehow ended up winning and getting the achievement that only 103 other people on the server will get this year. Though that was pretty cool, and had me fishing for the rest of the day since suddenly Salty seemed a lot more obtainable. No. What we are talking about here, is a potential solution to the great IOC debacle.

For those three of you not familiar with the fact that IOC sucks for alliance, let me first tell you that Alliance sucks at winning IOC. How much suck I would imagine depends slightly on your battlegroup but on mine at least it's a good 8-10% lower win rate than other BGs (which if you want to really make it sound bad, is a 16-20% swing). The reason for this, in my opinion and generally concurred in by other PvPers around the blogosphere, is a map design that allows for horde glaives from the docks to perch in a "sweet spot" across the bay from the west side gate and batter it down without opposition b/c our cannons can't reach them there.

However, while grinding through IOC with my arena partner (and yes, the new season is going very well, thanks for asking, 26-16, 921 so far), we noticed a shammy doing something interesting. By the time I could get back to get a good screenshot, he was gone, but I can give you the gist of it :

Upper circle is the sweet spot where horde parks their glaives. Lower circle? IN RANGE. If you park some ranged dps with you down there, it's like lying in wait. The horde will come right up to you, not realising you're there, and you burn those glaives like nobody's business. I've tried this both with my 2s partner Kitykat and with our new 3s partner Littlebroe (a destro lock) and it's worked lovely every time. Horde usually jumps down in a rage and kills us after, of course, but the damage is done.

And really, the more people that do that the better, I think -- the point is not even the physical "we can actually kill glaives now!" one, so much as the psychological "guess what horde...that's not such a sweet spot and we can KILL YOU THERE TOO"...maybe they'll eventually become leery enough of it that they'll start risking the cannons to come at the gate how it was meant to be.

Go forth and game-change!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

HPM Chart (non-holiday)

ETA 4/2/10 : With the drastic revamp of 3.3.3 the below data is wildly outdated! I will be making a new chart soon, but the relative values of one to the other, I expect, will remain reasonably similar. Keep that in mind :-)

Holiday BattlegroundWinning HPMLosing HPMOverall HPM (inc. marks)Overall Percentages
Arathi Basin55.8337.3278.8890%
Eye of the Storm71.8134.1287.6100%
Strand of the Ancients77.0529.9886.699%
Warsong Gulch47.822.7358.1666%

I'm not going to go into the big long math list on this again, as you can find it elsewhere on blog if you so chose, and also because at some vague point in the future I plan to make a comprehensive "Here's the Math Behind Everything" general post, but I will be putting a link back to this chart on the sidebar so as I update it it will be available for easy reference.

Little suggests itself from these numbers for now due to the missing of the two 40-man beasts, IOC & AV. If I had to venture a guess based on the holiday proportions I would say AV is probably Still the Place To Go, and IOC fairly middling -- there's a fairly consistent clumping in the middle, with AV a high-end outlier and WSG a very disappointingly low-end one. But hell, nobody who has any sense actually needed concrete math to tell them that.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Don't Win More -- Win Better

Just in time for the Arathi Basin holiday weekend, I present you with a pair of graphs which should dazzle and amaze you.

What is this graph, you ask? It's a comparison of the relative investment of your time, versus your effort, mainly. It represents, for the AB Holiday weekend, your honor per minute returned versus two factors (hence the two lines. I have reduced the honor per minute to a percentage of the baseline on my server, so it should hold across battlegroups, not being a numerical value specific to mine.

The blue line on this graph represents the relative HPM return based on how many minutes you can save off the average, off of a baseline 19.5 minutes (which is what it is on my BG and I can't see that number materially changing on others). So if you manage to win (and lose) a minute faster than that, x=1 on this graph and you follow it up to the blue line, and then over, you can see that that's going to net you about a 5% increase in your HPM. Now since time is on the bottom side of your equation (Avg Honor / Avg Time), changes in time go up exponentially - the more time you can cut off, the better you'd be. I only drew this graph out to five minutes but you can see that even at five minutes you're getting a return of say...34% more honor? Cutting off time is a significant improvement on your HPM.

The red line on this graph represents your HPM return based on changing your winning percentage. Simply, x is how much of a win percentage increase you're given, based on my server's percentage which is about 56-44 (leastways when I made up this graph it was). YMMV, here. But the key difference here is that it's a linear function, since the number you're changing is in the numerator of the fraction,

(AvgWinHonor*Win%) (AvgLossHonor*Loss%)
---------------- + ------------------
(Avg. Win Time) (Avg. Lose Time)

For my battlegroup (so this formula is NOT adjusted to be a fit-all), the formula for this line comes to be

TOTAL HPM = 79.1993 + 0.4194x

To modify this for everyone, multiply by 100/79.1993, you'd end up with something like

TOTAL HPM (adjusted) = 100 + 0.5296x

which basically means that for every one percent over your average win ratio, you're getting about an extra half-percent gain in HPM.

How's about a new graph? What would it take to make these roughly equal (at least in the zero-five bracket I graphed in?)

That's what it would take. I've moved my screencap up and rescaled the Y-axis for a better view; the X-axis is the same scale as the previous graph. What I did there was multiply the slope of the HPM/% graph by a factor of TWELVE.

Cutting one minute off your time, at this level, is worth about twelve times as much as increasing your win percentage. Conclusion : Don't win more. Win cleaner / faster.

Your Honor, the tree rests.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Arena Season 7 : Teh Funnyzors Wrap

With the arena season coming to an end last week, I decided it was time to compile a representative list of team names we faced this go-round. Without further ado, because how much introduction does something like this really need, the good, bad, and the funny, with a tacked-on head-scratching!


1. "Ebay Sold me a DK"
2. "Get the DK not Me" -- which is representative of several teams that tongue-in-cheek made reference to a nonexistent partner on the team. In this case, there was no DK anyway.
3. "Hit the MagOHGODCYCLONE" -- ditto above, I'm not sure this team had a druid OR a mage on it.
4. "Not now Mom" - I don't even want to think how many times this has been said in the heat of a brutal arena match.
5. "stop laughing right meow" -- Does it really mean anything? No. But it's got that light touch of whimsy that made me and Kity both smile.


1. "for points only" -- it would be funny, except for the number of teams with some variant on it...much overused.
2. "UR MOMs MY EPIC MOUNT" -- similar reasons to the above, except this doesn't even have the virtue of being funny on its own.
3. "we touch young children" -- sorry boys, there's funny, and there's offensive, and this was way over the line.
4. "dont kill us" -- again...a stale, overused concept, along with teams like "are we dead yet"...it's supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek self-deprecating funny but it just falls flat.
5. "sloppy secunds" -- Geeks who think they prove their leet hotness by cracking misogynistic jokes, your mom jokes, sex jokes...wrong, it proves you're immature. If you're getting some, you don't need to constantly stroke it about how you're getting some.


2. "JFK Shouldve Bubbled" -- it borders right on the verge of being in bad taste, but it made us laugh anyway.
3. "Walmart Geared"
4. "She looked level sixteen" -- I give this a pass because blizzard already made the joke with their Noblegarden hijinks.
5. "Earthshield carry us" -- it's a similar self-deprecation, I think, but carried off with a little more class than the simple "don't kill us" appeal.


1. "Too Fat to LoS" -- I guess it's funny too but...if I recall correctly this was not a team of big toons...blood elves, actually.
3. "rng rng banana phone"
4. "Blueberry Scourge"
5. "Anything"

What about you? Any memorable team names on your list of opponents this season?