Thursday, January 15, 2009

Poll: Is Wintergrasp Defensible During Peak Hours?

Is it possible to defend Wintergrasp during peak hours? Suicidal Zebra was on the wrong end of a battle that would argue that it is possible to defend the keep. My experience has been completely the opposite. On Hyjal-US, Wintergrasp changes hands very reliably every two hours and fifty five minutes (2:30 of control by the victor and not more than 25 minutes of seige by the next offensive campaign) or so during peak hours. (It's a West coast server, I'd define peak hours broadly as between 3 PM server - when the East Coast folks start tricking home from work through til 10 PM server - when I usually go to bed and therefore stop tracking who has the keep.)

Lag conquers all?
This may, in part, be due to the massive lag the zone experiences. In the first month or so of the expansion, a strong defense could win the battle - I remember one fight in which we were able to defend the orb for over 12 minutes by focused AOE. Now, with more players hitting level 80 every day, it's not uncommon for the Alliance to have two full 40-man raid groups in the zone, with the Horde not lagging that far behind (maybe a single Tenacity buff).

Lag is a tremendous advantage for the offense, as the goal of the defenders is to destroy enemey tanks (a task that takes longer when a 2.5 second spell takes 10 seconds to cast - your target may no longer be in range when the spell finishes) and damage enemy players in the flag room to interrupt their capture attempts (which, again, requires that your spell/ability actually happens sometime in the next 10 seconds). Since we started having server-crippling lag in the keep, I cannot remember a single prime time match where the keep did not change hands.

Did Blizzard go too far to protect the smaller faction?
My first reaction when I heard that an outdoor world PVP zone was going to play a larger role in Wrath was skepticism - wouldn't the more populous faction control it all the time? Tenacity was one prong of Blizzard's attack (indeed, having tenacity can be a big advantage for the offense, since they are more dependent on the survival of their tanks) on this front - if your side is outnumbered, you get substantial buffs to help even the odds.

Beyond that, though, I'm starting to wonder if they designed the keep itself to be taken. There is no active win condition for the defenders - destroying the enemy's southern vehicle workshops has minimal effect on the battle (it takes so long to drive tanks north that no one does it to begin with), and it is difficult (if not impossible) to destroy or capture the midfield workshops without leaving the keep undefended. The walls look tough if you're plinking them with a catapult, but they'll crack pretty quickly under pressure from even a single tank. The only major advantage the defense has is the ability to AOE the orb with a relatively close graveyard within the fortress, but this has been crippled by the lag and targeted for elimination with instant flag captures on the 3.0.8 PTR (along with tougher vehicles and a weaker final keep door).

You still need a certain minimum number of players to capture the keep - I'd guess the number is somewhere around 30, so there will be players not in tanks available to guard the tanks, which are not good at fighting off enemy players. When 10 people show up to attack the keep, they're not going to get very far. Barring that situation (which happens in off-peak hours), it really seems that the attackers always win.

Somehow, the match is a lot less fun knowing that its outcome is a foregone conclusion - I don't even go anymore unless I have yet to complete the daily quests or I'm looking for an Archavon group after the Alliance offensive. I guess this keeps the lower population faction happy - both sides are equally unlikely to have custody of the buff during the time when they would like to be doing Archavon or looting shards in instances. Then again, being able to keep control of those benefits was the single largest incentive for helping your faction win the battle, and, instead, that incentive is just divided 50/50.

The Poll
Anyway, I'm curious to hear whether other people have observed the same trend in Wintergrasp.

Is Wintergrasp Defensible During Peak Hours?
- Yes, a good defense can hold the keep.
- No, the keep flips every 3 hours like clockwork.

Poll is open in the sidebar if you're reading this on my blog, it'll stay open for maybe a month or so. For those of you who do see the keep withstanding the seige on a regular basis, I'd also be curious to hear in the comments whether there are enough participants in the battle to cause major lag in the keep, just to see if that's the difference-maker.

Happy voting! ;)

1 comment:

Centuri said...

3 sucessful defenses for the Horde yesterday on my server. All durring server prime time.

I was there for the 6:30 and the 11:30 and we had two nearly full raid groups and neither side had tenacity after a few minutes.

When you get a large number of players on each side, the defense has to carry the fight to the attackers and threaten the forward siege workshops.

Also one player on a demolisher needs about 10 minutes to get a demolisher down south from the keep and take out both southern workshops. This won't reduce the total # of available vehicles for the offense, but when combined with the loss of a mid-field workshop, can be devestating to the offense.

In short, the defensive side can't simply sit on the walls and hope to win. They have to go on the offensive, especially next patch.