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Alterac Valley, the Battle-less Battleground

Zach Yonzon

So much for Alterac Valley. With the Battleground Holiday this weekend, it was expected that a lot of players would be queuing up to farm their Honor points. I had looked forward to a lot of combat and hopefully rack up those Honorable Kills in the hopes of inching closer to the magic 100,000 number for a future Achievement. I know I said Alterac Valley was the place to farm HKs. Well, I was wrong.

Alterac Valley is the Battleground to join if you want to avoid PvP. I've been part of countless Alterac Valley races before, but these past few days have been ridiculous. Not only do players ride past each other -- that's expected in races -- but in the times I have engaged, players even run away. If they had Achievements already in the game, I would have unlocked The Sickly Gazelle over and over.

The trouble is, Alterac Valley still gives the highest Honor-per-hour which makes it the ideal farming ground. Ironically, you can get high Honor returns without ever having to kill a single opponent. That's just fundamentally wrong. The size of the Battleground is such that it allows players to achieve the map's goals (capture of towers, graveyards, etc.) while bypassing one another completely. It has become a flaw of the game design that high Honor is gained with expediency.

Disturbingly, Zarhym over at the forums has stated that Blizzard feels that Alterac Valley is "well-tuned at the moment". This means we're unlikely to see a fix soon, if ever. While I'm conceptually against players killing for the sake of killing, such as fighting on the roads in Arathi Basin, Honorable Kills need to be more integrated with the map's goal. Perhaps towers can be scaled with the number of player deaths. What's important is to actually bring the 'battle' back into the Battleground.

I have a feeling Blizzard is relying on PvP Achievements to fix the situation. Unfortunately, it's an external fix and doesn't address the problems with the map itself. That also means that the fix will be months away. Until then, Alterac Valley will ironically be a largely PvP-sparse zone where you can and will end up with less Honorable Kills than, say, Arathi Basin. I just hope that despite their thoughts of it being "well-tuned", developers are aware of how combat needs to be intergrated into zone goals. Otherwise, a zone like Lake Wintergrasp might see no PvP at all. And that would be a tragedy. So... how was your Battleground Holiday?

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