Monday, March 3, 2008

Alterac Valley Postulations

For those of you who are unaware, the Alliance in the battlegroup Shadowburn is "boycotting" AV. It's less a boycot, really, than a subconcious unanimous decision to queue for BGs we win more often, and where losing does not mean 0 honor. Now, there's been the general fighting and spitting and hissing back and forth by the Horde with hour-long queue times and the Alliance sitting happily with their EotS winnings from 12 minute (MAX) games. And then, like a beacon of shining reason (albeit a decaying and possibly smelly beacon of shining reason), an Undead Mage named Cythorb from Lightning Hoof writes the following in this thread:

"Everyone knows that the Alliance is not truly boycotting AV, but instead is signing up for other BGs because they get more honor there than in AV. It is also generally known that the current version of AV favors the Horde, and that the previous versions of AV generally favored the Alliance. Yet we see that the Horde never "boycotted" AV no matter how imbalanced it was in favor of the Allies, and the Alliance is "boycotting" it now. Why?

I propose that it has nothing to do with the type of player that chooses Horde or Alliance (all WoW players being equally pale and pimply), and has everything to do with the design of the AV map.

TLDR VERSION: The Alliance is strong in the backfield but weak in the front field. The Horde is strong in the front field but weak in the back field. This means that when imbalances favor the Alliance, the Horde is still able to get honor; but when imbalances favor the Horde, the Alliance is unable to receive any honor and creates the illusion of a "boycott."

AV is not a mirror image: the Alliance and Horde each have incongruent advantages and disadvantages that are SUPPOSED to even out and create a balanced map. The Alliance has a very weak initial defensive position (in the Stonehearth region), but a very strong defensive position in the back two graveyards and towers. The Horde has a very strong initial position (the Iceblood region), but a very weak back two graveyards and towers.

Postulate: Should a map imbalance happen in favor of either faction, that faction will tend to defeat their opponent at the advantaged faction's strongest defensive position.

When we look at the Alliance's historic AV advantage, we find that the Alliance will always lose SH GY, Balinda, and its first 2 towers to the Horde, but could put up an overwhelming defense in their backfield. This means that even in games where the Horde never came close to capping SP and never even saw the Dun Badr towers, they would still receive honor for the initial objectives. The Horde would grumble but then queue up again because it was still the best honor in the game.

When we look at the Horde's current AV advantage (under the new reinforcements rule), we a reach very different conclusion. The Horde, like the Alliance, will stop their opponent at their own strongest defensive position. For the Horde this means Iceblood Graveyard, the first position the Alliance attempts to capture. Thus, when the Horde defense works, the Alliance IS UNABLE TO CAPTURE ANY OBJECTIVES AT ALL. The Horde, in order to exploit a favorable map imbalance, MUST shut the Alliance down entirely because their backfield is too weak to defend once penetrated. Thus, the Horde imbalance leaves the Alliance with virtually no honor and forces them to queue for other BGs.

If the map is balanced, then everyone is happy and AV works. If the map is imbalanced in favor of the Alliance, then the Horde is unhappy but AV still works. If the map is imbalanced in favor of the Horde, then the Alliance receives no honor and AV becomes totally broken. We must therefore conclude that Blizzard must balance the map or favor the Alliance, but can never favor the Horde.

The only solution I see is to redesign the map fundamentally into a mirrored battlefield, so neither side can ever have any advantage at all. This is a somewhat bland solution, but would forever eliminate the historical AV imbalances.

I for one applaud this thread, and I take particular joy in noting that it is a Horde who steps up to reveal the exact reasons why our Alliance just doesn't bother with AV unless it's a premade. Sure, we could probably PUG a group, but I'd rather spend that 30 minutes rolling through something that, even if I lose, still nets me honor.


Ratshag said...

Defending IB works very well fer us hordies, but I hardly ever see a strong defense mounted there in me battlegroup (whirlwind). Why? Dunno. Maybes ignorance. Maybes the perception (right or wrong) that 2-3 fast losses is better than one slow win, especially since our queue times be negligible. I does know that whichever way we plays it, there's gonna be some loudmouth proclaiming everyone a moron fer not using HIS strategy.

Asara Dragoness said...

I for one never play AV because I've never been able to understand how it works. I went one time with my GM and he said he'd walk me through it and explain, but he was just saying, come to where I am, and I had no idea where I was or what I was supposed to be doing. And especially no idea on how to get to where he was, when there were mobs shooting at me, and hordies shooting at me, and I was just completely overwhelmed.

I'm sure there are plenty of pages out there that explain the strategy or design of AV, but personally, I'd just rather stick to the BG's I understand and can generally do well in, and that's AB and WSG. Perhaps one day I'll give the more "advanced" bg's a try again. But probably not! XD

Kestrel said...

Wow...very interesting stuff! In my battlegroup (Vengeance, I think), we (Alliance) do no worse than 50-50 in AV, and some of the losses are pretty darned close (a guildie told me of one on Sunday where Alliance won with 9 reinforcements left!).

I think in all the times I've played AV (and remember, I'm a novice: less than a month in BGs), we've not owned IBGY once.

So of course, that's a huge advantage when we attack the RH. Where we so often screw up is when some idiot takes the Frostwolf GY before we cap the RH. That means the Horde are rezzing at the RH, and we have to fight through their resurrection zerg to try to get to the RH. Turtle-time!

Usually, our winning strategy on offense is to rush Galv and IBGY. When I head in to help on Galv, by the time I get to IBGY, we've capped it, or there are a couple of the NPCs left. We're capping the IB towers too, so the majority of our force rushes Frostwolf Relief Hut.

Unless the Horde has committed to a turtle (and most of their force is already on defense), we can overpower, take the RH, then the East & West towers. Once those are capped, we may try to hit the FWGY, but it's not an imperative--usually, we're kept busy keeping zergers out of Drek's room.

As soon as the RH turns blue, it's "ALL IN ON DREK" and he's down in no time. Usually. Last night it looked like this would be the deal, but for some reason we didn't have a lot of attackers, so Drek was going down very slowly...and the Horde got the kill on Vann before we could down Drek.

But most of the time, when we win by killing Drek, the fight is less than 15 minutes, and we did it in 7 minutes once. /boggle

The key is to get the raid to commit to the strategy.

Kestrel said... maybe I should have just posted all that to MY blog with a link here. ;)