Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Is Alterac Valley balanced now?

I have an interesting and shocking theory: Alterac Valley is reasonably balanced now, with both Horde and Alliance having the same 50:50 chance to win. It's just a theory, I don't have proof for it. But last night I was playing PvP in AV all evening long, and won about half of the games. Plus, if you look at all sorts of blogs and forums, there are now as many Alliance players claiming that Horde always wins AV and Alliance should boycott AV as there are Horde players claiming that Alliance always wins AV. A balance of whiners, so to say. :) Maybe that is the only sort of balance a battleground can ever achieve, equal number of players on both side complaining how unfair it is.

I think the reason why so many people complain about Alterac Valley is a sense of feeling powerless: There are 80 people on the battleground, each of them taking individual decisions on what to do, where to fight, whether to attack or defend. There is little or no coordination on either side. The outcome is very much a result of chance, based on the sum of those 80 people's decisions. Individual skill, gear, or even strategic insight is of very little use, as the other 39 people on your side simply won't cooperate even if you had the tactical mastermind of a Napoleon. To every strategy, there is a counterstrategy. If Horde decides to defend Galvan with 10 people, that can be a smashing success because Alliance is continually sending small groups there that get crushed. Or it could be a total failure because Alliance rushed right past it, and your 10 people end up doing nothing. Or by some fluke all 40 Alliance players arrive at Galvan at the same time, and just crush Horde there. There is no single best strategy for either side, and even more importantly there is no single best strategy for you as individual player.
I'm sure it changes from battlegroup to battlegroup as well somewhat. Trying to get 40 AV marks for the season 1 weapon, I had to play 29 matches. That's 4 wins compared to 28 losses. On Eye of the Storm horde seems to win so often that even on double honor weekends for other battle grounds I make more honor per hour playing eots.

It's not a design imbalance on the battleground, though. I'm not sure exactly what causes it, but I think expectations have something to do with it. A lot of people on my battlegroup is so used to losing AV that at the slightest set back people think it's another loss and give up trying.
The only issue in AV is the people. If all don't go the best way from the beginning you begin to hear "noob" "ally sux" and all kind of constructive things.

There is no strategic thinking according to how things go. This is just a "rush !!!!" and if the rush fails it is lost for part of the people so the chat begin to explode with nice stuff...

I think the issue is more a design of how to enter the battle and what the battle is for (honor grindings) than the design of the battleground. Most expect to get 3 badges and a lot of honor in 5 minutes.

A BG should be a fight for the fun not another grinding spot. No one fight for the fun in WoW and this is a big part of the issue.

People should think that a setback in the fight need a counter stike and a lot of effort to gain the advantage back not that they loose time in their grinding of honnor.
In the battlegroup Vengence its around 50/50. I'm actually slightly concerned that moving the Horde cave back furthur in 2.4 will put things in Alliance favour, but as you say my concerns are likely pointless compared to every other variable in the battleground.

(yes i play both alliance and horde, and no QQ from me.. well, except all the alliance insulting their own, but thats nothing turning off a chat channel cant fix.)
Horde on Battlegroup Whirlwind routinely get wiped out these days. In the last 20 AVs I'm played, we probably won 3. It didn't used to be that way a couple of months ago.

The two problems I've seen in AVs these days are:

The AFKers still show up. I've been in AVs with 5-6 AFKers.

The other problem is that some players have given up. They want to lose, and have said so in channel. They believe that losing quickly and repeatedly will earn honor faster than a longer game. So we have those guys not helping at all.

I've seen well coordinated AVs runs go for a win in about 12 minutes, but with the AFKers and "let's just lose" crowd, those days are gone.
Blizz knows the win ratio in AV, and they continue to fiddle with AV just about every patch, including the upcoming 2.4 patch. So I would draw the conclusion that a for-profit company wouldn't waste resources tinkering with a BG that was balanced... therefore, Blizz apparently thinks AV is not balanced.
AV is balanced in my battlegroup. My win/loss record is pretty close to 50% for the past couple of months.
Alliance, Stormstrike.

We still lose 90% of matches and end up with zero honor when we lose.
As Anonymous in whirlwind sugguested, I've noticed an apathy has taken over of 'we can't win, so why bother trying'.
There's no stupied boycott our server that I can't notice, but spend 20 to 40 minutes playing AV and end up with zero honor you tend not to sign up for it.
In my battlegroup, Alliance wins AV 68% of the time, going back for more than two hundred games. It's wildly improbable that the underlying distribution is 50/50. Horde do in fact, lose more. Obviously other battlegroups have different ratios, but they don't have to be 50/50 either. It's entirely possible that your side just flat out loses all the time.

Aggregated across all battlegroups, the win/loss percentage may indeed approach 50/50. But that's almost irrelevant if most people don't actually *experience* a 50/50 win rate.

Battlegroups need to go. If AV is in fact balanced, then the battlegroup structure is preventing that balance from being perceived by the average player.
My 2 mains are Alliance, and after the most recent "adjustment" of AV, Alliance was constantly losing in my battlegroup(Reckoning). For the most part, Alliance lost not because of the design of the map (which favors Horde for Defense, and favors Alliance for Offense) but because Alliance had no idea of wtf they were doing. Alliance was still trying to use the old strats. About 2 months ago, Alliance woke up (slightly) and now we mostly win.

I am a PvP'er, and I PvP in battlegrounds and the world because I enjoy fighting other players, rather than letting a mod do 90% of the work while I just hit a few buttons (I find raiding extremely dull, sorry for the aside).

Once Alliance knew how to win AV, we started winning again. For Alliance, the key is to take RH with at least 15.

Regardless of defense at Galv or at the towers, if you ride by defenders, SKIP FWGY and take RH at the start. Either Alliance wins in 15 minutes, or the Horde wins in 15 minutes... both sides winning in not playing an hour long AV.

AV should be a 20 minute or less battle, as towers only take 4 minutes to cap, and maybe 4 minutes to get to RH/FW Towers. AV should not be a 45 minute camp fest, regardless of what AV used to be, or was 3 months ago.

When I play, I win AV about 80% of the time, because I actually attempt to lead. Unless its just my battlegroup, which I doubt, Alliance in general gets inside any BG, asks for buffs, and then proceeds to run around aimlessly for the next 25 minutes...unless someone leads. Even though some people hate being told what to do in a BG, a lot of the time I am the only person even attempting to give direction, and it usually pans out. I communicate with other poeple, and they usually respond, which actually brings them into the game and helps them understand "team" rather than "kill Hordies".

Hell, there is nothing better than beating a Horde premade in EOTS with an Alliance pug (it was probably a trademade, but it was still nice considering they might have been using vent).

I personally think AV IS balanced at the moment, in that Horde will likely win if they defend, but it will take them 40 minutes. Alliance will likely win if they rush RH and defend some towers, and can win in about 15-20 minutes. In fact, I've seen Horde premades beat Alliance in AV in 6 minutes for about 300 honor, and I've seen Alliance absolutely school horde in 10 minutes and get 606 honor (screenshot exists :) )

When people say Horde are afking again, or just giving up, I think that they are most likely giving up because they realize that to win AV, Horde is going to have to defend, which means Alliance will be defending, which means AV is going to take 3/4 of an hour.

And like it or not, they are calculating honor and marks per hour, and deciding its "better" to lose in 12 minutes for 250 honor than to win in 45 minutes and get 450 honor. Personally, I play AV for fun, so it doesn't matter to me one way or the other. I stopped needing honor or marks a long time ago.

I like that Horde starts closer to Balinda and SH Bunker than Alliance, because it adds some flavor to the BG.

I've played EOTS and WSG enough to know how dull a purely symmetrical BG is. AV at least offers something different.

Oh, and once 2.4 comes out, AV will likely be a camp fest for both sides, as diminishing returns for honor are removed. I still prefer a 15 minute win in AV by capturing objectives and holding them (since that is how AV is designed to be won now), but I have a feeling every Horde player will defend and every Alliance player will attack those defenders, once honor is flying around without limits.

It's a great time to be a person who likes to if Blizzard would create a few more battlegrounds and open up class-on-class 1v1 Arena.

Enough raid instances with 5 hours of trash clearing for a chance at some drop that isn't worth the time. Give us more PvP. People that don't PvP probably don't use half of their talents and skills while they mash the 7 requisite buttons for raiding.

To all the raiders: no offense, I just like to tease raiders for their 8 hour battles against mobs that don't really try to fight them back :P
By the way, on my server Horde is winning most Eye of the Storm battles, which is strange, because that place is perfectly symmetrical.
@Tobold: Not only is the map perfectly symmetrical, but both sides have the same classes.

It *is* strange, because all logic indicates that matching random samples of approximately equivalent populations should produce approximately equivalent results. Nor is it as simple as "Horde are better PvPers", because 1) many of us play Horde AND Alliance and 2) sometimes Alliance is the dominant force.
I don't think its balanced. And Blizzard seems to think my way, because they change the location of horde entry.
When the game starts and both sides run for their first goal you can see it: First Horde gets their FH, then Horde pulls their Boss, then Alliance pulls their Boss and only if there is no Def Alliance gets their FH after that. But usually there is Def, which leads to Alliance players in Offense dying and Horde player in Defense dying. Horde Defense simply get back to Defense, but Alliance Offense finds themselves in Defense now, far back at the other side of the map. And even if they try to get into the offense again, there is usually a team of 5-10 Horde players doing nothing else than preventing them from breaking through. After about ten minutes Horde controls 3/4 of the battle field and all Alliance players are forced into Defense. This leads to a massive zerg without any movement in any direction and after about one hour Horde gets a sure win by reinforcements.

The sad thing is: This kind of winning gets Horde about as much honor as they got from losing in the past. And Alliance gets 60 Honor at best for one hour of slaughter.

And its difficult to employ a new strategy, most of the time the dumb masses simply ignore you. After they lost the game some of them know better, but in your next game you get new people and everything repeats. Also, difficult strategies won't be understood by everyone, you have to keep it very simple. Basicly it takes weeks of frustration to establish a new strategy in Alterac, thats a price you don't want to pay too often.
I just posted a lengthy response on my blog:

The net is that I’ve played both sides since patch 2.3 quite a bit and my take is that it’s balanced.
@Neef and @Tobold
I never win EoS on Alliance and rarely lose EoS on Horde. I have a crazy theory on this topic. I believe that AV was so unbalanced for Horde for such a long period of time that the better players moved on to other BGs once they got what they wanted out of AV. Playing Arathi Basin a lot teaches the importance of calling stuff out and communicating. Communicating in EoS is just a natural extension of communicating in AB. It’s also not something that is enforced as much in Alterac Valley, which Alliance tended to gravitate towards. Either way, I can tell you from personal experience that the Horde seem to do a better job of calling stuff out and that’s why they have the better win ratio. In a way, I think it’s an unintended consequence of the original AV imbalance.
Please come to the Stormstrike Battle Group. Alliance needs you you!

I loaded up for AV last night and we lost all 5 matches.

Key reasons to why we lost.

1. Failure to adapt battle plan on the fly.

2. Failure to take and hold a GY.

4. Failure to take a tower and waiting until tower caps before leaving.

5. Horde wait for alliance at Glav or IGBY and wipe the majority of us. We ended up killng Glav, OR holding GY breifly but can not get re-enforcements to arrrive quickly enough before horde re-enforements counter attack and kill remaining defenders.

6. 2 to 4 horde take Snowfall GY before we can get to it, during intial rush. Forcing us to respawn farther back.

7. Apathy. Once the alliance respawns at RH, a general apathy sets in of "let them win".
You need to reinforce to other Alliance players that if they want to win, or not play a 45 minute AV, they need to take RH at the start with at least 15-20 people.

That is the majority of the team, but with 20 people rushing RH, not everyone will be dismounted and you can take RH and hold it. Of course backcap afterwards if anything was skipped.

Take FWGY AFTER RH. Not before. Taking FWGY before RH is a huge mistake, unless you can definitely take RH. Otherwise, it forces a turtle which is hard for Alliance to win because of the tower placements favoring a Horde turtle. IB and TP are a lot easier to defend than SH and IW bunker. If it comes down to reinforcements, Alliance has a hard time.

People who die will rez at Aid Station, SPGY, or the Cave. They will be your defense.

The main problem is convincing people that while Galv is worth honor, taking RH is the way to ensure a non-turtle, and more honor/victory.

Besides, enough people go to Galv regardless of what anyone says, so Galv will likely die, even if it means a loss for Alliance.

Also, constantly remind people to defend towers until they burn...there's nothing more incompetent and yet slightly funny than watching Alliance turn a tower and then immediately run away from it to stand on the hill outside Drek. Apparently standing on that hill for the next 5 minutes while 1 level 61 Horde runs back and recaptures the towers is a valid strategy for half of Alliance. Convince them to defend towers and graveyards, point out that they are doing nothing standing on a hill.

Or, i.e. the main problem with Alliance is that no one tries to lead. If you try, some people will listen. The people who know wtf is going on will listen, or at least communicate.

Others will cry, call you names, etc, because they are appalled that AV can be won with strategy, rather than luck. Your best bet with these people is to immediately tell them to stfu, and then ignore them. Everyone else will get the picture that they aren't there to win, but to complain and sabotage any attempt to try to lead people.

You have to lead, if you want to win. If everyone else leaves the leading to others, no one leads, and Alliance runs around. Aimlessly.

Come play on Reckoning, where Alliance isn't face-raped by Horde in AV. In fact, I'd say its the exact opposite

Thanks for your pointers.

Someone, anyone acting as leader is key. I agree.

This only issue I have with the "rush the RH" strategy, is too many players die on the way to RH or defending the RH before it caps, and thus being rez'd further down the field.

I find on Stromstrike, the Horde will stop their advance, if a rush "the RH strategy" in employed by the alliance and counter attack on mass. The Horde usually wait at Glav or IBGY for the alliance wait to see what our objective is, Glav, IBGY, RH, and react accordingly. Once they've eliminated us, they rush down the field to their choke point and prevent Alliance from advancing up the field. Then it's a turtle and the alliance end up losing.

There's nothing wrong with the rush the RH strategy, it's just on Stormstrike the Horde have adapted. It's worth noting that the overall strategy of the Horde on SS since 2.3 is to capture all the alliance towers while defending all of theirs, thus giving them 600+ honour while alliance gets zero.

To counter this, my arena team (MS warrior, holy paladin, frost mage) enter AV just to experiment with an idea. Our objective was just to take and hold Snowfall GY from the horde, only moving up to IBGY once it cap. We were successfully in capturing it and holding Snowfall for the duration of most of the matches we played. Expect for one occasion the horde made a concerted effort to take with 10+ players. Since we able to hold snow fall, and not leave it undefended, after the initial rush to Glav, IGBY, RH failed, our alliance team mates were spawning past the horde choke point and advance up the field. We ended winning 2 of the 3 matches we were in. The most difficult part was convincing my arena team not leave Snowfall, when we we're being attacked.

I'm not saying taking and holding snowfall is the key to winning, but I don't think they is one strategy that works all the time. I'm offering this up if you find the Rush the RH stops working for you, or because on your BG the alliance rush up the field like sheep looking for the nearest horde player to kill.
Well, the key to strat I use is that if 20 people go RH, unless its a premade Horde AV, not all 20 are going to get knocked off their mounts going to RH. I always start off AV by getting that strat out there, and hoping there are enough people who know what is going on in AV to actually go with me. When they do, we usually win.

In reality, I'd say 7-12 people will go RH with me, and we will likely take and defend RH if they all go. Especially if a healer and some competent people go.

SFGY is nice, but I've found that RH can be taken within a minute of SFGY if people run straight to RH. After taking RH, if FWGY can be taken immediately after, both FW towers can be assaulted with 2 people defending each. It also allows people to move between RH and the IB/TP area to help defend those towers.

If Horde always has 10+ defending between IB and TP, then its probably going to be rough getting to RH. In that case, the best bet would definitely be to take SFGY, or if you are with friends, take and defend IB or TP until it burns, and then take the next tower. Unless there is a 2:1 Horde to Alliance ratio, they generally run by you to find a group of horde to assimilate into. Extra Honor for Alliance

Personally, if I'm alone in an AV, I'll go RH, and from there roam between RH and TP/IB doing whatever needs to be done. Half the time its defending fwgy by myself, but I digress.

If I am with some friends, we generally go and defend SH and IW bunkers. Extra honor is always nice, and it provokes the Horde to stop by the blue bunker and say hi.

On Reckoning, the Horde defend with enough to stop a rush maybe 10% of the time, because there are probably enough of them who want to get out of AV with some honor fast, rather than taking an hour for 600 honor.

If its different on your battlegroup, I feel for ya. I don't need honor or marks, but I still like to play a relatively fast BG, because to play effectively, people have to defend. Since the people who know wtf is going on usually are the only ones defending, the people who really try to win are stuck doing the most boring job in the BG...defending.

Now, it can be fun if you are defending a forward bunker with friends, but it's not when you are defending a back bunker while the rest of your "defense" is defending the wooden bridge, which is worth all of 0 honor and doesn't help Alliance win.

So, all I can say is practice a scorched earth policy. If Horde defends, defend right back. Make the AV last 45 minutes because they want to defend.

Besides, I have a feeling AV will become a defensive battle once 2.4 goes live and there are no diminishing returns on honor. Unless Blizzard nerfs the amount of honor, its just going to be a pile of Alliance fighting a pile of Horde.

I use the RH strat because most of the time Horde is defending RH with maybe 4-5, which is cake. If your battlegroup finds dozens of horde defending, then take as much as they'll give and don't give them anything in return.
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