The problems with farming honor via random battlegrounds are manifold, but to me they boil down to the fact that you're putting the efficacy of your farming in the hands of between 9 and 39 other people. Why is that a problem? Because the honor awarded to you if you have a really terrible run is usually between 60 and 100. And you can't control the fate of an entire battleground all by yourself. Yes, yes, I hear you in the comments, saying that if you take charge and tell people what to do, you can. I applaud that thinking, and you should definitely feel good and like you're being a massive help to that group, but they still have to do what you're saying.
So what should Blizzard do?
We've established why earning honor via random battlegrounds is inefficient. It should be noted that if you want to learn to PvP, it's still a decent idea, although arena will be a very different experience. But still, if you want to gear up, and you ought to, it's not how you should be doing it.
So what are the ways Blizzard could make it better? The traditional fear of giving more points for losing teams, regardless of performance, is that it makes life far easier for botters. These computer-controlled characters will queue and zone into battlegrounds, and just do almost nothing, waiting for the loss. Annoying? Well yes, but there's no person steering them to be annoyed by it. Pretty awful for the rest of the battleground, though. So giving more points for straight-up losses seems like a bad idea.
But what if we rework the way points are earned altogether? What if points aren't just earned for wins and losses, but for doing the right thing in between? I've got a few ideas, but I'd love to hear yours too.
Points for playing, not just for winning
So here's a thought. What if, instead of only getting points for capturing nodes, you got points for fighting near nodes? Sure, you'd still get points for fighting on the road if you killed people, but you'd get more points for being in combat within the region of a node or base, be it a minecart in Silvershard, or the Lumber Mill in Arathi Basin.
But who would defend? Well let's give defenders points too, instead of just a +50% buff to honor gained from kills. If you're standing around Gold Mines, doing the boring job while your faction holds it, then you'll earn some points passively just for doing good. People will all just stand around? Well let's make that buff divisible between the number of players there. 2 players? It's still good. 5 players? It's basically nothing if not nothing at all. If another base is being lost, it could shift so it's really only enough points for a couple of defenders to be worthwhile. And of course, this should scale up for bigger battlegrounds.
And in flag capture battlegrounds, let's do the same. Points for being in combat in the region of a flag. For places like Warsong Gulch where, if you're organized about it, fighting in the middle is actually occasionally a tactical choice, there should perhaps be some consideration made for time spent in combat. But really, in randoms, the majority of useful action happens near a flag.
In Isle of Conquest, give points for attacking gates, for defending glaives, for placing bombs, for being on the gunship. Give points for fighting in the general region of bases. The Honorable Defender buff and tech like that used in Eye of the Storm, Wintergrasp or Silvershard Mines tells us that Blizzard can already see who's in an area and alive, so let's use that technology to improve how honor is gained. And use the DBM-style announcer from dungeons to tell players what to do, that they're earning bonus honor for doing the right thing, and so on.
Yes, if you're also winning these battles fought in all the right places, you'll get more points. But if you're losing while still doing the right thing, you'll get points too. And while I definitely think there should be a gap between the points awarded for winning and losing, it shouldn't be so big if you're doing everything right and being let down by your team-mates.
Carrot not stick
What's more, BGs should just award more points altogether. As we've seen in the recent past, with things like the nerf to JP to HP conversions, Blizzard is favoring the stick approach over the carrot. They're punishing the "wrong" method instead of improving the "right" one. And to me, this is flawed. Make it a good thing to do battlegrounds, make it worth people's while. Make them award more points for less popular BGs, now that the designers know what they are. Give players an incentive to get back into the fight and shorten queue times as a result.
What this boils down to is one simple idea: the "right" way to earn points and gear for PvP should be to PvP. Right now, it isn't. And these changes, if they're pointed out with things like the boss ability notifications in dungeons, could make everyone play better. If they're earning more points for doing the right thing, more people might do it.
And the net result of that will be that BGs are more fun for everyone, and, to go back to my initial point, you're more in control of your own destiny. If you're losing, it's still worth sticking around and trying, not dropping out and getting yourself a free scaredy-cat debuff. No, it won't stop bad groups altogether, but it might help. What are your ideas for how Blizzard could improve honor gains in random BGs? As an aside, another thing they could totally do is bring back Skirmishes, awarding honor. But that's for another day.
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