Wintergrasp: The good and the bad

I dinged level 80 yesterday which means I’m finally able to experience Wintergrasp without level differences being an issue.   Even with the level disparity I have been playing Wintergrasp every opportunity that I get which means, at most, a couple times a day.  Wintergrasp was initially responsible for catching my interest in trying out WoW again.  On paper it sounds pretty good.  How does it really stack up though?  I’m going to try and analyze each aspect of Wintergrasp and give you guys my thoughts. Is it better than WAR’s open-world RvR? What did Blizzard do right and completely blunder? I hope to answer those questions for you.

Scheduled Battles
Wintergrasp Fortress is vulnerable to attack every 3 hours or so after the previous battle. The obvious benefit of scheduling the fights is that everyone knows when to show up. So far I have never stopped and thought “man, I wish more people would come and do Wintergrasp”. I’ve actually wished some people would go away. The problem with scheduling the fights is that, honestly, it adds an arcade-like element to the concept of “open-world” PvP. It feels staged and it comes across that way. I find myself sitting at the portal thinking “okay, 2 minutes until I can go in and siege”. It loses a lot of the charm that a constantly vulnerable fort/keep/objective has – but it definitely makes the fights epic. Ultimately, I wish the fights were not scheduled.

Tenacity – Making it fair
Tenacity is Blizzard’s answer to balance. If you team has more players then the enemy is buffed up. It never adds up to being enough – 1 player will never really take out 2 (I guess some classes could). In the end numbers still matter more.

Archavon and Shards – The incentive factor
I believe this is the reason why anyone does Wintergrasp at all. They get to do a 10/25 man single raid boss encounter that drops some of the best PvE/PvP loot in the game and get a buff for the entire faction which yields shards when you kill dungeon boss mobs; the shards are then turned in for loots. I like this. I think the incentive is just right to get people fighting and excited about doing Wintergrasp. On top of that the honor isn’t so bad either and the marks are nice too. It’s going to be a while before the vast majority say “I don’t want to do Wintergrasp because there’s nothing in it for me”. That means the incentive was well designed.

The concept here is pure win. I really love being able to earn ranks during the battle which allow me to drive vehicles. This adds an additional layer to the combat for players to worry about. If you ignore the vehicles you -will- lose the match -very- quickly. The vehicles control extremely well and aside from how ugly and wonky it looks without collision detection, I can’t imagine them doing it much better. [Note: The airplanes and some other vehicles are not in yet. When they’re added it will be that much better.] The vehicles are also balances pretty well. They go down when focus fired yet they hurt players and buildings enough to matter. Owning vehicle factories (to make/use vehicles) adds an element for both attackers and defenders to worry about. I find myself wishing that WAR and other games had vehicles because they’re so dang fun.

Destructible Walls and turrets
Very, very cool. I’ve always liked this concept. The walls and towers of Wintergrasp can be destroyed by vehicles which means the turrets (also destructible) on them are no longer operational. This adds strategy and makes the fights more dynamic. It also adds to the overall experience when you see walls breaking. Mythic had destructible walls in DAOC but did not add them to WAR – why?  I wish that there was a way to repair walls (maybe there is?) though.

The overall feel of Wintergrasp
Here is where all the neatisms and concepts die. The overall feel of Wintergrasp is off. It feels rushed, hectic, and spazzy. Players just throw themselves at the keep like zerglings and it’s just mass chaos. There are always so many vehicles and players everywhere that it feels like I can not contribute much as an individual because anything I do is lost in the sea of other players – I’m nothing but another body. Albeit I have gone with smaller strike forces to take out factories and contribute that way, that’s only a small part of the overall battle.

Wintergrasp, in addition to being scheduled, is also timed. This is a huge cause of the pacing being off. Players have something like 40 minutes to siege the place and if they fail then the defenders automatically win. There is a lot of lost potential with Wintergrasp because of this pacing issue. The vehicle combat could be a lot more methodical and strategic but it ends up being a bum rush to the walls. Defending could be thought out but it turns into just mass AoE’s. Blizzard needs to take some time and re-tune the place a bit. Make the walls more durable and the vehicles stronger. Try and figure out a way to remove the time while keeping it scheduled and fair – if that’s possible.

It’s not better than WAR’s open-world RvR. WAR isn’t without its own problems and admittedly WoW’s Wintergrasp paints a MUCH better picture on paper and in theory with the flashy vehicles, destructible walls, and all that. In practice, the fundamentals of good PvP are just missing in Wintergrasp. WAR is failing on the flashy side but still has a solid open-world PvP foundation from which to launch into these other things.  Which will you like more?  You’ll have to ask yourself what matters more to you: Icing or the cake; if you want the icing then you’ll love WoW’s open-world and if you like the cake itself then WAR is for you.   Both games and open-world concepts of PvP can, in the end, be fantastic. Assuming both developers set their sights on the same goal, WAR will get to ‘ideal’ status first.

  • I dunno, isn’t zerging a major factor in WAR as well? But ofc, after a while, like with the battlegrounds, you will get organized raidgroups that will lay waste to the more pug-like wars of Wintergrasp today. A bad Alterac valley is the chaotic field of strife slugfest. And the good ones are the one where a raid group with good tactics, groups and healers. The same will be the case in Wintergrasp i think. Just find a good gang of people with a love for pvp ^^(same as war) I guess my point is, the players are what makes those magic pvp moments, no matter what the game.

  • wow you got to 80 in WoW without even getting to 40 in War ? while both are easy i guess it shows which is more fun to lvl in. me i have done both, and i did AoC too, i would go back to AoC over War anyday.

  • Wintergrasp is pretty much in beta state but it still fun place to grab some free honor instead of cave AFK.

    Seeing the progress they make with every expansion (“sandlol” in Silithus -> Halaa -> Wintergrasp) I would not be surprised to see a whole WAR-like campaign in next expansion.

    Now that PvE is pretty much complete – they learned what they needed in TBC and improved in WOTLK a lot – their focus will go for PvP and they already stated that they will go away from arena back to the roots.

    But of course Mythic is not sleeping and I can only wonder how much WAR will be improved in 1-2 years.

  • A few comments from more extended experience with the zone (I play it 1-3 times per day these days):

    – I still wish there was a way to get the time til match from outside Dalaran. I feel like I need to be logged off in Dalaran at all times so that I can know when the match will happen.

    – Tenacity, combined with the fact that the battle favors the attacking team, has been enough to have control of the keep change hands on a regular basis on my server. I suppose that could be part of the “arcade” feel you’re talking about, but otherwise it might be very hard for the underpopulated side of most servers to EVER win.

    – On the incentives, it’s also worth noting that a victory yields a lot of honor. A single Wintergrasp match in which you win and complete the three daily quests can easily net you over 7000 honor – a regular battleground match can award under 1000 for a loss that takes almost as long to complete. You can get 10-man raid quality epic gear (effectively leapfrogging the entire 5-man portion of the game, and half the rep rewards, albeit for items with PVP stats) for 31-49K honor. Of the incentives, this one (and the marks) matters the most, because it’s the one that you directly get for playing (in addition to indirectly get when your faction wins – the quickest way to stone keeper shards is 5-mans, which don’t require that you ever do the battle).

    – The vehicles and the keep are technically well done. As to the lack of a way to repair the place (I’ve seen it repair itself once or so but don’t know why/how), I think that’s part of the policy that favors the attackers to ensure that the keep changes hands.

    I personally like the zone better than any other form of PVP in WoW at the moment, in part because of the rewards. Then again, I play a mage, and the chaotic battle allows me to stand back, lost in the crowd and play my class as a damage dealer, as opposed to crowd control and instant cast spells only.

  • @Green: It’s certainly the best form of PvP in WoW. No doubt about that. I’ll write about Arenas later but needless to say, Wintergrasp is the least e-sport thing in WoW at the moment.

    @Pete: WoW is easier and more fun to level because the PvE is better in WoW than WAR. If Mythic would get around to making PvP level you faster or on the same curve then I would be all over it.

  • Wintergrasp, on my server, is unplayable during primetime. The lag is so bad that it’s impossible for either faction to defend since interrupting clickers on the orb is practically impossible. I gave up on it this week after a few extremely frustrating battles.

  • I kinda like WG although it’s super laggy on my server. Personally I’ve always hoped for BG or even WG type of battle that was designed with the game Savage in mind. Where each side had to actively build buildings and waypoints, gather gold and resources, to meet common goals of beating the other side. I’ve always though it would fit perfectly with this game, basically bringing a RTS style battle to the mmo.

    Back to WG though when you have tenacity 20+ which I had once before when not many lvl 80’s were on the server yet I had 60k plus hp and like 300 percent increased damage etc. I took out 2ppl in siege vehicles as a mage solo including the driver and like two other normal players by myself lol, it was pretty amazing. These days though tenacity never gets that high 8(

  • WAR is pretty much Zerg vs Zerg atm, that is unless warbands are avoiding battle and just go attacking undefended keeps. But hopefully that will evolve into some meaningful RvR as Mythic is tweaking their game and people go tired of doing things just for gaining renown. Afaik DaoC was also a zergfest in the start, but after a while good guilds formed good groups that where competing on a much better level than what we see today. I know that on our server the community are already making a schedule for 6v6 guild fights, just for the pride glory and fun of it.

    Arena’s have never interested me, while I can enjoy the occasional 1v1 2v2 etc I don’t find myself enjoying that type of gaming solely. I hope we never get to see Arena (in its WoW form) in WAR, but there’s a similar concept that I’d love to see and I’d like to share and get some opinions on:

    Guild vs Guild, like it is in Guild Wars.
    Guilds can challenge other guilds (or just enter a queue like for scenarios) for 6v6, 12v12 or 24v24.
    How is this different from Arena and Scenarios ?
    Well for starters its larger scale than Arena, and as opposed to Scenarios it will be ONLY premame group vs premade group.
    They could furthermore be incorporating some objectives, like keep siege style or the likes, 2 rounds, each team gets a chance at attacking and defending.
    Ofc there should be some ranking system to both avoid matching poor groups with good groups whenever possible, as well as the glory of being among the top 10 GvG guilds on the realmwar site and having the banners in your capital.

    And ofc you should ONLY be fighting the opposing faction!

    My only gripe with such a system is that it’s not in line with the large scale open world RvR that Mythic is trying to make, and it would probably pull a lot of players out of oRvR making it less active.
    On the other hand I would truly enjoy such gaming, it would be all about being the best team, team tactics would mean everything and you’d be fighting for guild pride!

    @Keen, sorry for offtopic, but please do respond or if you like the idea feel free to make your own post about it. =)

  • Ohh forgot to mention, the GvG fights should ofc be instanced to avoid bypassers interfering.
    In my vision there would be like 2-3 different “GvG Arena maps” per teamsize. So 6v6 would have 2-3 different options to play, same for 12v12 and 24v24.
    The 6v6 could be more like a Battlefield Objective type of fight, while 24v24 would be more like a Keep Siege.

  • I have to disagree on the scheduling, it sounds like a boon. I admit I haven’t played Wintergrasp yet, but WAR could use a whole lot more funnels like timed events for PvP to feel more natural, because–

    RvR in WAR also feels staged. Anyone that’s there for RvR is there for RvR. Part of it may be the distinct separation of the RvR lakes / areas away from the other parts of zones, but skirmishes don’t just break out because tempers flared, or a treaty was broken, etc.. It’s more like, the Keep is held by Order so time for Destro to take it (*ahem* or should I say “trade it”) back.

    WAR has a sort of schedule for RvR anyway, it’s called primetime / dinner hour (+ more on weekends). I bet Wintergrasp gets more attention in the off hours, just due to a timer for players to focus to, rather than showing up one at a time and going “huh, nobody is here”.

    Scheduling is just like instancing in the way it’s just a tool, if designed well it’s not so much a restriction as it is a funnel for activity. WAR needs a whole lot more funnels IMHO.

    Hah, I can’t believe I’m defending Blizzard for a PvP decision. =P

  • @Proximo: I think Guild vs Guild hasn’t been explored enough in an MMO space, or when it has, it’s been so unrestricted that larger guilds dominate (EVE is the biggest example).

    I pretty much decided after WoW’s initial launch that I felt Faction vs Faction was flawed, the population imbalance is just too big of a factor for limitless open world PvP, especially with any sort of objectives.

    Now, WAR has surprised me for being as playable as it is, even though it suffers greatly from some of the same flaws. The class designs revolving around PvP helps a lot, as do the Scenarios as introductions to PvP. I’ve never had so much fun playing PvP in any other MMORPG, but ultimately I also find the game so frustrating and disappointing. Why? Zerg, zerg, zerg. Ugh.

    Guild vs Guild has the most potential, if it would just be done right. IMHO the point is to make PvP more selective and strategic, rather than just automatically being this side versus that, or complete world domination. It would probably require restrictions on guild power or size, either via instanced skirmishes, or even better just overall for open world PvP.

    Making players actually decide on which objectives to take rather than just any-and-all would be the biggest step in making PvP feel less “staged” as noted above.

    I doubt we’ll see this done well anytime soon though. It would require developers to take a risk on the extra complexity and a direction away from typical MMO PvP expectations.

  • Guild Wars have done GvG and its a major part of their game (at least it was back when I played).
    Guilds could work on getting their own Guild Hall, which worked as a place to rest, meet up, use bank and foremost as a arena for GvG. There where several different Guild Halls to choose from, each had their own layout and thus required different tactics. When you challenged another guild to battle there would be one match in their Guild Hall and one in your own.

    I’m not hoping for Mythic to copy/paste this system, but the idea of having some way of entering balanced (in terms of numbers) RvR between premade groups of guilds is what I urge for atm.

    And whats the problem with the larger guilds dominating? If you win most you should be dominating, if you can’t beat them you should not be dominating. =)
    Keep in mind that even if the guild has 300 members, there would never be more than 6, 12 or 24 of them in the same GvG battle. =)

  • Wintergrasp is after midnight a titanium farming spot. Besides that, every 3 hour frantic zerging. Mostly over in a few minutes. Not really the “epic battles” people were hoping for!

    The idea of getting control of a zone to get entry to a special “raid” type of content was already explored by Guild Wars: Factions. Urgoz Warren and The Deep access was limited to the guilds in control of House zu Heltzer and Cavalon.

    But guess what, players loathed and hated it. Soon alternative ways to allow personal access and finding loopholes to transport your buddies to the mission were introduced/exploited.

    My unpopular view: PvP in MMOs is something people always wish for, but in the end it is so totally no worth it. Never was and I doubt it will be in the near future!

    Either make a game with pvp in mind or restrict it to open world pvp in an almost pure pve world. There is where the incentives should be. Not in zones that are designed for pvp but end up like this.

    I have yet to see an epic battle for Wintergrasp. Related news, my new system is powerful enough to experience the zerg rushes without problems. Does not make them any better though or the fighting more creative and fun.

  • Longasc: If you think PvP in MMO’s has never been worth it you clearly have not played many MMO’s. In fact, in the beginning MMO’s was more about PvP than anything else.

  • Rog has the gist of it: WAR needs more funnels. Right now, WAR’s RvR is just PvE trading to get rewards. The fights that break out are simply because Mythic placed the warcamps within spitting distance of each other, making it impossible not to trip over other players.

    Wintergrasp may not be perfect, but it has Mythic’s keep sieges and BOs beat by 100 fold in both coolness and repeatability. It is terribly evident Mythic needs another year to rebuild Tier 4 from the worthless zergfest that it is now into something that players will actually be enthused about entering to participate in RvR. Right now, Mythic loses to Blizzard on simple presentation. I don’t even think you need to play Wintergrasp or WAR to see that fact.

  • Heartless: That depends on what you are looking for, I see the RvR in WAR as more inviting that Wintergrasp, even though Wintergrasp has some real cool ideas and if I know Blizzard right they have made it pretty good, as good as they can. It still doesn’t change the fact that WoW is a game which is developed, balanced and made around a PvE concept. It’s evident that they have been struggling for some years now trying to balance classes so they don’t wind up OP in PvP or worthless in PvE, and boy has it been a struggle.
    Won’t Mythic have the same issue with WAR ? Well yes, maybe they will, but the fact that the game and classes are all developed and balanced around RvR first, then PvE second, is a fact that draws me to WAR than WoW. I’d take easymode dungeons with simple tank n spank + great PvP over mediocre unbalanced PvP and great PvE dungeons any day. =)

  • Heartless when is the last time you actually played WAR? All of your statements about it are about a month or more outdated. Keep trading is no longer an issue, T4 needs LESS funnels to break up zergs, and you have zergs in the first place because almost everyone in T4 is in oRvR. Next you’ll tell me a Fort siege still crashes the server…

    We get that WAR disappointed you, but at least stick to the facts when talking about it.

    Keen: How long, on average, is a WG match?

  • Wintergrasp is a joke compared to WAR’s keep sieges imo. If it were not for the numerous rewards that Wintergrasp has to offer, I seriously doubt that many would participate. There are 3 factors that motivate players to do Wintergrasp; gear, gear, and gear.

    I am about to jump into arenas again. This time with a holy pally instead of a disc priest. I would much rather play some 10v10 or 15v15 rated BGs rather than arenas. More players in a match = less rock, paper, scissor match ups due to class imbalance. The GvG idea sounds like a good one to me.

    I still favor the pvp in WAR. WoW’s insane burst damage has really crippled the fun factor. Very frustrating, as a pvp healer, when players go from full to 0 health before I can get a 1.5 second heal off.

    I am playing WoW over WAR atm. Mainly because leveling in WAR is unbearrable, and the pve in WoW is quite good.

  • Syncaine, do you look at vent when you are on? You may just notice me playing WAR daily when you do.

    WAR RvR = keep trading between zergs because there is no funnel. Funnels = direct smaller groups to various areas, instead of everyone go to wherever the other zerg is at.

  • @Syncaine: They are limited to 40 minutes but have lasted ~10-20 min per on my server. They’re getting quicker and quicker now that more are playing them and hitting 80. It’s also helped that more people understand that all you have to do is bum rush the walls with a couple vehicles clumped together to win.

    And to those equating both WoW and WAR PvP as “Zergs” – you are absolutely correct. That’s a given. However, please look deeper. Look at the fundamentals of the PvP system and how the rest of the game is designed around it. Look at the big picture and – ideally – play both WAR RvR (Now, not a month ago) and Wintergrasp. Then you’ll catch a glimpse at what I’m talking about.

    As for this Funnels business… elaborate please. WoW’s funnel directs the entire server to Wintergrasp every 3 hours. It’s just… silly.

  • Well if we define a funnel as sending people to DIFFERENT areas, then yea, T4 needs those type of funnels… And when I’m on vent, I just check the destro channels. I just asked because either your server is totally different than Monolith, or you are talking about the RvR that was happening a month ago. No one trades keep in T4 like they did a month ago, when the warbands would clearly leave the area, let the other side capture it, and then come back. Currently it’s more that both sides fight over Reik, and the keeps/obj go back and forth, but that’s not trading, that’s just fighting.

    Granted Monolith being somewhat unbalanced at T4 might change that, but I don’t get why warbands would be trading keeps now with the defender bonuses added in recently.

    Keen: So you wait 3 hours for a 10 minute zerg rush, followed by a switch and a 10 minute defense of the zerg? Am I reading that correctly? I know WG is not RvR, but I thought it was at least a bit closer to it than that…

  • You read it correctly Syncaine. That’s pretty much what it’s all about. Let me put it another way. There is no real “player vs. player” going on. It’s like a huge monster truck rally with a ton of AoE spells. Here, I took a screenshot that sums it up nicely…

    Now, it still has some charm. The vehicles are a lot of fun. Blowing up walls rocks. Fighting big epic battles with this many people and still getting 60 fps is phenomenal. But it’s lacking the fundamentals of PvP.

  • Holy Smokes, thats a real picture!!

    WAR has ruined WoW for me even in just a few features. Collision detection and punts. I just can’t go back. I felt this same feeling after playing Supreme Commander and trying to go back to any other RTS game without scroll wheel zoom. Some features are just too good.

  • @Proximo: I think the idea is decent because it would encourage more competitive and intimate fights quicker. However, like you said about DAOC, WAR will eventually turn into a smaller-scale battlefield. Eventually the 12v12’s will be natural fights. I really hope WAR never gets there because I like the larger scale fights more (not the 200v200 zergs, but the 40v40’ish).

    I honestly think they need to just add Thidranki style scenarios that are persistent. I see nothing wrong with such a system. It would lend itself nicely to a guild v. guild system if guilds could claim the keeps in the scenarios.

  • Longasc “My unpopular view: PvP in MMOs is something people always wish for, but in the end it is so totally no worth it. Never was and I doubt it will be in the near future!”:

    Absolutely right.
    I think we keep wishing for a game that could never work (well).

    In fact, I think we as gamers are asking an impossible task of developers: I want to be an all powerful hero that reigns supreme, and to destroy everyone in my path.

    You can’t have an MMO where everyone is the best.

  • wintergrasp is not real pvp, same as AV is not, but you have eos wsg ab in WoW.

    i really do think they are closer to real pvp then anything you can get in War. in War its just zerg v zerg. who as the most players wins same as wintergrasp and AV, how is that pvp ?

    the thing is War is not anymore of a PvP game then WoW is. i just know what i have more fun in.

  • I don’t understand the popular statement that varies aroudn the basic message of “WAR PvP is not real PvP it is just a zerg”.

    As it is in real life, sometimes the other guy bring more people or better people and you can’t control that. I would contest that real PvP is not the precanned PvP you get in organised “I bring 12 , you bring 12” situations.

    IMO PvP where sides are fixed numbers and PvP where you get what your given both have a place in WAR. As long as advocates of both types can accept that not ALL PvP in the game will be their preferred type.

  • Things need to develop in Warhammer, it’s still finding it’s feet. The group vs group will develop, because it is a cutting edge form of PvP. You win or lose because of how you play along with your team, not a mass. Also if it’s anything like DAOC, it’s a very efficient way to accumulate points. A night of 8 vs 8 in DAOC could be very rewarding RPs wise.

    I think destructible walls will come in. I just imagine that Mythic didn’t have time to implement in the manner they would have liked. Since you would need to look at the catapult mechanisms, Rams and how you would now focus them on specific wall parts.

  • That is a funny picture, and brings back so many ‘quality’ memories of WoW PvP. Can you tag the orb thing or whatever while in a tank? Is that why they are all just surrounding it?

    As for WAR, I think the smaller group stuff, basically warband on warband, will come in time. Right now everyone is just bloodthirsty to get fortresses locked and open up a city for capture. In time different play style will develop (as they did in DAoC) and all bases will be covered. The keep redesign will also help with that as well, giving the game a bit more of a ‘guild vs guild’ feel along with the general campaign.

  • @Glen: “real” doesn’t enter into it and that’s the hinge of your argument. I’d use words like “satisfying” or “compelling”, to demonstrate a lack of those qualities. I don’t think there’s ever going to be a way to convince me that zerging is quality entertainment.

    Both WAR and WoW are miles away from great PvP IMHO, primarily because of the zerging.

    WAR’s advantage over WoW for PvP can be summed up in the class balancing, one is balanced almost fully for PvP while the other tries to balance between PvP & PvE.

    Now if only the content itself were more balanced.

  • WAR is not just zerg v zerg anymore. If you’re experienceing that, then your server is vastly different from mine. I’ve re-rolled a BG as my main, and just two nights ago was in one warband in Chaos/Empire Tier 3. We went around claiming objectives and keeps to goad Order out to play. Sure enough it worked, and we fought off 2-3 warbands worth of people. Outnumbered about 2.5:1 and we hammered them into a bloody pulp. Eventually, us tanks were standing outside the front door, a meat grinder for anyone who even looked at the gate wrong.

    Zergs will happen, especially with a large focus on lockign down fortresses and sieging a capital city, but don’t think for a second that tactics can’t still come into play. Take a group or two, run behind their flanks and slam into the healers. Nothing ruins a zergs day like losing their support.

  • @AndrewSquared: On which server is Order outnumbering Destro 2.5:1 in RvR???? Seriously, I’m calling BS.

    Typically on Monolith, Destro rolls over Order with 3 or 4 Warbands versus 12 Order players. It’s pathetic, it isn’t fun.