Tobold's Blog
Thursday, December 29, 2011
World of Warcraft Satchel of Helpful Goods Exploit

As the recent banning of top guilds in World of Warcraft for raid finder exploiting shows, no game is completely safe from exploits. Especially the automated grouping tools seem to be vulnerable to trickery. Now it appears that there is a possible exploit with the dungeon finder, allowing lower level characters to get a Satchel of Helpful Goods. Using that exploit, they can equip themselves with otherwise unavailable blue gear for use in the lower level PvP brackets.

Several people complaining about that on the forums made the mistake of describing how the exploit works, and got their threads deleted for that. In the threads without the description, Blizzard promised a quick hotfix. But a customer service representative was then quoted as saying that while they would fix the exploit, they wouldn't remove the items in question, which caused more of an outcry.

Strange at it may appear, the lower level PvP brackets are dominated by some of the most hardcore PvP players the game has. By using the feature that stops their xp gain, they can stay in those low brackets forever. The game becomes one of extreme twinking, with the players having the best gear having an advantage. The Satchel of Helpful Goods exploit not only gives the players that used it such an advantage, but due to nature of that particular sub-game, they will now keep that advantage forever. Don't you think that it would have been better to remove that gear?
Oh hoho, now that is a can of worms right there. Back when I was playing, almost everything seemed to be a candidate for that sort of "fix" without retroactive changes.

I suspect that removing that gear would logistically take more energy than Blizzard cares to invest. I remember when they stopped allowing spellthread and leg armors to be applied to BoE items without soulbinding them. From that point, every twink who had a leg enchant had a huge advantage, until they came up with the clever fix of making high level enchants not work even if a character had them equipped.

I always tried to encourage people to simply stop using those items in the spirit of fair competition, but only a minority of people agreed to such things. Competitiveness is usually the highest priority for people in that situation.
My guess is that they not "wouldn't" remove the gear but "couldn't". While raiding is seriously logged, exactly to catch exploiters, no one bothered to log (or archive the logs) of shadowfang keep normal. So Blizzard has no idea who exploited.

Also, the satchel gear is not specific, like DW HC loot. They are just generic stuff that millions have legitimately, good luck filtering out the exploiters.
Correction on the article. The best PvP players don't play at the lower level brackets. Those who twink out their low level characters to get a huge advantage do so because they can't compete on an equal ground, not because they are the best at PvP. They are actually the worst at PvP, unable to compete against those in similar gear.
I didn't say "best". :)
Dick: That kind of thinking about twink brackets is (mostly) outdated. With the xp-off brackets, gear levels are normalized - everyone has the BiS gear, so things are far more equal than in a leveling bracket.

There are some exceptions, 24s being a notable one, but the 19s are home to some of the most serious players I've seen outside of rBGs. The level of play is quite high when you're dealing with players who know WSG inside and out. You will get called out for stupid play.

The xp-off 70s are a little more hit and miss, but they're a lot better than leveling bgs, and generally higher quality than regular 85s.

I expect Gevlon is right; this is a high-effort, low return fix. It will probably happen at some point, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
I haven't read the details on what the exploit is, but it seems that the biggest flaw is that random blues from the satchel do not have any level requirements.

On the good side, it's an easy fix and I don't think anyone will cry over a few exploiting twinks keeping gear they can no longer use.
It is probably a case of to much work for not enough profit. Blizzard would need to have had some way of knowing the best possible gear someone of a certain bracket could achieve and should they have any soulbound items above that threshold remove them. There probably isn't anything designed for that and with such a small percentage of players having gained an advantage they probably won't have anything designed to remove it in the near future.
Err, the easiest solution is to just find what items come from the satchel and add the appropriate minimum level requirement to these high ilvl items. This has no need to track down the individual exploiters. Is there something wrong with this solution?
I suspect that twinking is somewhere below the dance studio on Blizzard's priority list.

I was under the impression that the amount of twink pvpers is so limited that considerable luck, coordination or timing are required to get a match going. That's since xp locked twinks are separated from leveling cannon fodder of course.

I cannot help but giggle at the xp lock feature introduction following the professed intent of twink vs twink matches but splitting the twink nuissance from everyone else.

The remaining rare negative impact of twinks is now the occasional git who expects to have enchanters fall over themselves to gather obscure mats and deliver rare enchants at bargain bin prices - which is why the AH is unacceptable. ;-]
Even if they had removed those items, I would think most of the people who did that already had a ridiculous twink advantage over the average player. So that player wasn't going to be beating these players anyway.
Twinking has been a fairly low priority for Blizzard for some time, but there is still a thriving community in many of the brackets. I rarely wait more than 5 minutes for a queue to pop in the 19s, 70s, and 80s. The 24 bracket is Alliance heavy, so my Horde twinks pop immediately but Alliance times are 10-15 minutes or so.

These items to provide a substantial boost to lower level twinks over other twinks - keep in mind that once you hit an XP off bracket, you no longer fight leveling characters, so that's the only gear comparison that matters.

It appears that other twinks are reporting exploiters and they are either receiving bans or having the items taken away on a case-by-case basis.

There are also no confirmed reports of this exploit happening on the US forums - it looks like it was EU only. This wasn't due to technology but rather knowledge of the exploit.
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