From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.
The Bloodlust battlegroup appears to be home to more than its fair share of PvP enthusiasts. Arena participation outstrips that of other battlegroups by orders of magnitude, and as for battleground enthusiasts ... Well, BG enthusiasts on the Alliance side have QueueQ Premades.I participated in one of their runs yesterday. It was freakin' amazing. Well run. Their Vent had two full AV premades going, with an additional 60 (players) in the waiting room. In the heyday back during June, they fielded five full AV premades with more on the waiting list. It wasn't uncommon for them to have an 8-hour wait list. -- Matt Low of Raid Rx and self-proclaimed "world's worst PvP priest" on QueueQ Premades
Players who sign up for QueueQ's cross-realms premade battlegrounds service enjoy 85 percent win records on average -- with zero resilience, gear or achievement requirements. The atmosphere is clean and professional: no exploits, no inappropriate chat or Vent chatter. "QueueQ" himself, aka Revash of Kil'Jaeden (US-A), has been running QueueQ Premades for a little over a year now, developing winning strategies designed for fast wins with maximum honor.
Main character Revash
Guild QueueQ Premades
15 Minutes of Fame: How did you get into the whole BGs scene? Have battlegrounds always been your WoW focus?
Revash: Battlegrounds have only been my main focus up until the last year or so that I've been running QueueQ Premades. I'd say PvP in any form would be more accurate. In the early vanilla days, it was all about world PvP. In Wrath, had some casual experience with arenas.
What is it about BGs that appeals to you?
It's like a team sport as opposed to an individual effort, and cooperative PvP, to me, is the MMO genre's greatest draw. Alterac Valley originally got my interest because of how truly epic it was to have a 40v40 brawl. BGs are challenging and always changing depending on your team and your opponents; never a dull moment. Leading them brings about a whole different level of gameplay.
How do QueueQ Premades work?
We recruit players across all realms on the Alliance side of the Bloodlust battlegroup. Using Ventrilo to communicate with each other, and a specific queuing strategy, we're able to form premade groups despite being on different realms. A player simply connects to the Vent server and waits for his turn, as there is typically a line to get in. A designated leader will pull players into a channel and give everyone instructions on how to get into the correct game and what to do once they get there. We have enough leaders and enough players (more than enough players, actually) typically to keep games (anywhere from one to six games, sometimes more, depending on which BG it is, [if it's] Call to Arms, and leader availability) going for the duration of each Call to Arms.
Is there a charge for players to join in?
Players are not required to pay anything to join us, although those who donate are given membership privileges that give them priority in the queue. They can move themselves into channels with spots available. Wait times for guests (non-members) are often significant. We try to stay as accessible as possible by keeping as many games going as we can to keep wait times for guests down.
Is there a "suggested donation" level that you expect from regulars?
$5 donation allows member rights for 60 days. $25 for 1 year. These may be changing prior to Cata.
How has the popularity of BGs held during this whole end-of-expansion period? Have the raiding doldrums increased the number of players you see in BGs?
Our populations have stayed very consistent over the course of the last several months. I think the increase in population from the raiding doldrums offsets the reduction of people that no longer need to farm honor for soon-antiquated PvP gear. At the heart of our demographic, though, are people who just like playing BGs for the fun of it.
What's the most popular BG you run? What do you think makes it so popular among players?
Alterac Valley, hands down. I need to raise the cap on our Vent to 350 people (up from 250) in advance to prepare for AV weekend. Just from a logistics standpoint, we only need one leader per 40 people; this allows us to have many more people actually in games. We do pull a large crowd for Isle of Conquest, but the honor is not nearly as good.
Prior to patch 3.3.3 (that brought the random battlegrounds), we ran AV exclusively and pretty much 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We hardly ever lost. We have players and leaders who will come out of the woodwork only for AV weekend. I think it's the BG we do best. The only limiting factor is when we become the majority of the Alliance queuing for Alterac Valley.
What about the least-liked BG? Is it really Warsong Gulch? What's behind that perception?
It depends on who you ask. I don't like Warsong strictly from a logistical standpoint. One leader per 10 people means we have a lot more people wanting in to our games than we have games. This makes for long waits, and I hate seeing long queues.
It's also one of the more difficult BGs to play without any gear checks. I've seen some very creative wins while being totally outgeared and competing with other organized groups, but sometimes there's only so much you can do. Take into consideration our lowest win percents on the toughest weekends are in the high 70s on average. If we're in the 70s, myself and the other GMs are clamoring to figure out why we're losing so much.
You say you win about 85 percent of your premades with no resilience, gear or achievement requirements -- that's a great record! Do other premades usually enforce that type of requirements?
Thank you! We take great pride in it. I don't know of any other premade organization that does not have gear checks. It's really a testament to the value of organization and teamwork above individual gear and skill level.
What do you think is the secret to your premades' successes?
I'm inclined to say experience, professionalism and teamwork are certainly some of the most important keys, but the single most important thing that keeps this organization running is the selfless volunteer leaders and GMs, past and present, who donate their time to run games keep this awesome organization running smoothly. My current GM team is awesome -- Telindra, Thorne, Cazzi, Tygranthan and Sola, thank you!
Ah, yes -- GM moderation. What about players who act like jerks once they're in Vent or the battleground? Do you find that you have to enforce disciplinary actions for trolling, exploiting and so on very frequently?
Disciplinary actions became less and less common the longer we've been here. I think people "get it" now. I should add that we moderate our Vent pretty heavily to maintain certain levels of professionalism. Things like swearing at other players is not tolerated. Exploiting while in one of our games is essentially a ban on the first offense -- likely a permanent one, depending on severity. Leaders are empowered to remove players at their discretion if they believe them to be impeding their ability to lead games effectively. Most often, it's because a player is doing their own thing, individual achievements, etc. (being in the harpy cave in AV comes to mind), but even then, a warning is usually an easy fix.
Do you get requests for matches that are not run as quickly as possible?
Fast is not always efficient. In AV, we can blitz and end the game with a win quickly, but if you factor the time it can take queuing into a game, it's more worth it to fight for those objectives and squeeze as much honor as possible out of a game. There are lots of requests for "farming" strats designed to pin the opposition into GYs and essentially just AoE and see how high we can get HKs. (The most I've seen was 600+ in AV, IIRC; could be wrong, as I'm bad at keeping track of screenshots ... but it was a lot.)
What about special themes or other times when you just want to kick back and have some fun? What's worked, what's not worked out in terms of playing off the beaten path?
We've done a lot of random things simply because we have the numbers and organization to do them -- but the best games are the ordinary games you expect to win easily but end up on the edge of your chair in a nail-biter, 30-minute-long BG because the opposition really fought for it. Keeps us on our toes. Any game when Vent erupts into cheers at the end and I have to tear my headset off to avoid being deafened is a good game. You'll never see me talking trash on the forums; a good opponent PUG, premade or otherwise, is something to respect.
In the past, we've had some pretty creative ideas -- just to make the Horde say, "WTF was that?"
- In AV, having the entire raid hiding behind Stonehearth Bunker and flanking the Horde team on its way into Balinda.
- Running a regular strategy in AV with every single person using a fishing pole in their weapon slots.
- Playing Duck, Duck, Goose in Van's room until the Horde came, getting everyone Stormpike Defender.
- In Strand of the Ancients offense, we circled every demo from the map around their northernmost graveyard and farmed kills until there were 5 seconds left and tapped the relic chamber.
- Winning Strand of the Ancients without using a single Demolisher.
- In Isle of Conquest, having every single raid member parachute from the airship at the hangar into the keep. Sure looked cool, though.
- In AV, trying to blitz Drek with no towers burned when they've burnt all of our bunkers, after the previously mentioned Duck Duck Goose/Stormpike Defender.
- Doing pretty much any BG naked.
There are going to be much stricter standards for participants wanting to play in rated BGs. For the time being, while we test and play with strategies, I look at everyone who expresses interest and filter the most experienced (based on armory stats as well as time played with our premades) and most geared to the top and everyone else into alternate slots. Anyone interested should come play with us if they haven't before and watch for announcements on our front page as well as the forums.
Do you have any plans to expand this to other battlegroups?
This has been a fairly common question since our launch. The short answer is no. I don't think it could be as successful on any other battlegroup, so I'd rather focus my attention on making Bloodlust as strong as possible.
Bloodlust is unique in that it's very high pop. It contains 9/12 of the Oceanic realms, which is huge, because over half of our member base is from Australia or New Zealand. It's widely regarded as "the battlegroup for PvPers" as shown by the Arena Junkies title calculator. Bloodlust has the most arena participation by a large margin. Also, the Horde-to-Alliance balance is heavily in the Horde's favor, which allows for short queue times vital to our honor per hour. That's why any organized opposition has been short-lived on the Horde side of the same battlegroup.
How will the advent of rated battlegrounds in Cataclysm affect your groups?
Having been through many Blizzard patches and expansions, I know better than to put all my eggs in one basket too soon. Our intention is that regular BGs will still be our main focus and they'll serve as a good place for try-outs for our rated teams, but rated teams will just be icing. We expect to be running much as we have for the past year into Cata, doing premades cross-realm, open to anyone. I really look forward to the short time between Cata launch and the time everyone hits 85, when we'll be running games and getting experience for it.
What will you be doing that's different or new when Cataclysm hits?
We very clearly have an opportunity to compete in rated BGs. We're very experienced and have a large user and leader base with a lot of talent. With our level of experience and expertise, with the added benefit of gear checks for our rated squads, I think we've got reason to be very excited to see what we can do.
I'm really looking forward to having a higher competitive level. We're already forming guilds on Kil'Jaeden, Khaz'goroth, Frostmourne and Tichondrius, with many more to come. We've already started building rosters on Kil'Jaeden. These realms are really just our test realms as it stands, while we nail down how we want everything organized. We plan to expand to as many realms as possible between now and Cata, while still being flexible enough to take any curve balls Blizzard may throw.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with these players, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Aron "Nog" Eisenberg to an Olympic medalist and a quadriplegic raider. Know someone else we should feature? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.