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Warsong Gulch revisited

Zach Yonzon

Blizzard poster Slorkuz gave a lot of effort in a post made the other day discussing Warsong Gulch, one of the game's first Battlegrounds. In a long post, he details his experiences with common tactics such as flag room defense, 10-man offense, half and half (5 on offense and 5 on defense), and the most common tactic that all players are familiar with -- the "kill anything on sight" strategy.

It's a rather hefty post and should help a lot of players decide on what tactic to employ when running WSG premades (as you can't obviously expect PUG groups to follow any real strategy with coordination). Slorkuz explains that Warsong Gulch is a Battleground where team composition is critical, something that holds true here more than other Battlegrounds (or as in the case of Alterac Valley, not true at all). With such a small team, having no form of crowd control or healing can and usually ends in a loss.

Slorkuz proceeds to break down each popular tactic and breaks down what he finds as apparent weaknesses to each one. In the end he recommends a tactic I myself find rather effective (even when I'm in a PUG, which is to say almost always) -- control midfield. With one or two people to slow down the enemy flag carrier in your flag room, a couple of runners which usually consists of a healer and a class with improved mobility, the rest stay midfield and... kill things. Kind of the bastard love child of all the other tactics.

It's a pretty decent read, but it doesn't quite address the one concern I have about the Battleground. It's the only Battleground that can extend indefinitely. With Strand of the Ancients introducing the timer concept, a Battleground that can last for hours for minimal Honor and, worse, little to no reputation (more on that later), is an antiquated idea. Sure, Warsong Gulch was revised so that flag carriers are easily tracked, and a debuff is applied to the flag carrier -- Focused Assault after 10 minutes and Brutal Assault after 15 minutes. It's a great mechanic, really. So great that I extolled its virtue in a lengthy post last year.

As it turns out, it's actually not that great. Not when the timer for Strand of the Ancients makes it so that games never last for more than twenty minutes at the worst. First of all, ten minutes is a long time before the debuff is applied. Even then, this doesn't guarantee a capture. Sometimes, it even lengthens it, as flag carriers are killed over and over (the next person to pick up the flag within a certain period gets the debuff, as well). I know I said that people just need to learn to play in order for Warsong Gulch to work. But I'm sorry, people are stupid. Or to quote Tommy Lee Jones, "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it."

That means Warsong Gulch needs to be revised again. No, really. Because even though they no longer happen as often, games can still last an excruciatingly long time. In a new environment of Wrath where everything is fast and fun -- Strand of the Ancients, heroic instances, one boss raids -- Warsong Gulch is a dinosaur that can't keep up. So how do you solve a problem that's been there from the very beginning?

Personally, I think the debuffs are a great idea. They just take too long to take effect. Under the current milieu of fast and simple content, I don't think it's unreasonable to bring that timer down to three minutes. After three minutes, the flag carrier will get Focused Assault. After another three or even two minutes, Brutal Assault pops up. In a ten-person Battleground, that timer should be just about right.

Here's another idea that might work into that mix... after ten minutes of no flag captures, a new condition should pop up: the flag can be captured even when the opposing faction is holding your flag. This should turn the game into a frantic race to the finish. With a 10 minute timer on the condition, players should already have jostled into position to capture the flag. Oh, and it should allow ties if both carriers step on the capture point at the same time.

Lastly, and this is my biggest gripe about this Battleground... why is reputation gain for Warsong Outriders or the Silverwing Sentinels so freaking hard? With every faction rep being made easier to grind (gray mobs and low level quests giving full reputation gains, numerous daily quests, tabards, etc.), why hasn't Warsong Gulch or Arathi Basin, for that matter, been revised to give better reputation? I mean, come on, Blizzard! Give us something to do with those Marks of Honor. See, it just doesn't feel very good to fight for an hour or more in a losing game and those stupid Outriders don't even give you an A for effort.

So while Slorkuz gives some good advice for people who actually want to play the game, sadly the Battleground is designed such that it can drag on indefinitely when idiots (or even more sadly, evenly matched teams) are on the field. With most content being raised to a faster pace, Warsong Gulch needs a second look to be brought up to, er, speed.

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