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A response to upcoming Tol Barad changes, page 2


We ultimately want to make sure that any changes we make are all steps in the right direction, and we intend to make several updates in the next minor patch to address design and balance issues affecting attackers that we can't address with hotfixes. For example, we plan to alter the battle slightly so that a team with two bases captured can more quickly and easily capture the third, as opposed to a team with one or zero bases. This way, if the defenders turtle up, it'll be a little easier for the attackers to take their last base before the defense can take one of the attackers' other bases.

Now, here's where this type of article fails me, when we only get one piece of an obviously larger pie. People are going to come out of this article thinking this is the only change that is being made, despite it clearly stating that this is an example of one of several changes. In order for the change mentioned above -- making the third capture point easier for the faction that already controls the other two -- you need to address other factors.

The key problem in Tol Barad is the defender's zerg that easily overcomes any attacking force that is holding down the fort at one of the capture points. A quick recap: When a defender dies, he respawns at the center of the map, an equal distance from any of the other keeps. In order to break the defenders' zerg, the attackers must zerg, defeat the defenders, and capture the point. By this time, the defenders have resurrected at the center of the map, in quick running distance to one of the other captured points, where they quickly retake the point ... and the circle zerg continues.

Stockton's example change only works if there are more changes around it, but we're left in the dark for now. What exactly does "more quickly and easily capture the third" mean? He says that it will make the defending zerg have a harder time taking back one of the other bases, but does this mean the timer will go slower? Will the number of people who contribute to a cap be lowered after two bases are captured? What is to prevent the obvious reverse Tol Barad zerg, in which attackers just quick-cap two points and then move on the third, effectively negating the defenders' ability to recap quickly? It's all very nebulous at the moment, more about the words and less about the solutions. I, however, would love some facts.

Stockton's example change isn't a bad one -- attackers should be rewarded for capturing two places, especially against defenders who have time to fortify those places before the attackers make it into the area. Even with their added graveyard advantage of being able to move to any keep at a moment's notice after death, the defenders still have to be good enough players to defeat the supposedly even number of attackers.

We've been reading your feedback, watching trends across our global realms, and fighting plenty of battles in Tol Barad ourselves to get a feel for what's working and what isn't, and we're committed to making Tol Barad a fun and engaging zone. We want owning the zone to be meaningful throughout the lifespan of the expansion -- and while the attackers may always face somewhat of an uphill battle, the defenders should feel much more pressure not to lose than they do currently.

I don't know if this is the case at all. There are two types of players at this point -- people who care about Tol Barad and people who don't. Let's examine both.

The person who cares about Tol Barad wants to fight in the battle and win so that she and her friends have access to all the cool Tol Barad goodies, including Argaloth and the dailies. Fine. This person needs to be accompanied by like-minded individuals who feel the same way, and she usually is. On attacking, she is out in front of the general chat, calling out bases and fighting the good fight against difficult odds. She is upset when her team loses Tol Barad because rewards have been lost.

The person who doesn't care about Tol Barad probably also doesn't care about dailies or the gear associated with his faction's respective reputation level. This person couldn't give a damn who holds Tol Barad because, for the most part, controlling or not controlling Tol Barad gives him little benefit. Holding Tol Barad is only beneficial if the rewards that are present are meaningful to you; for instance, Wintergrasp gave us shards outside of Wintergrasp.

The win trading has ceased on most realms since the hotfix decreased the amount of honor gained on a successful attack. The defenders of Tol Barad still fight vigorously against the attackers on my server, and the battle is waged by two full groups of ...

Wait a minute ...

This is about people queuing, isn't it? The whole time! This isn't about whether or not people want to win or lose, or how to make keeping Tol Barad an exciting and beneficial goal. Everything in this post is about getting people to play Tol Barad. If that's the case, then why are we talking about balance changes to the win conditions, when really we should be talking about the types of rewards that could be earned during the battle to ensure people come to bat for their respective sides?

That's a completely different discussion! Give us honor and reputation for each honorable kill. Give us honor and reputation for capturing and defending points. Give us cool vehicles that do cool things like fire rockets and boulders and laser guns and not Ronco Set It and Forget It (TM) Do-it Themselves siege engines. Give us shooty towers and jet packs and I think you understand what I'm talking about.

If the problem is that the defense won't queue up because they don't see any reason to play the game, make them want to play the game. Right now, Tol Barad is a ton of honor if you just run around and get a bunch of kills. Before the great honorclypse of 2011, it was the fastest way that I would get some pretty decent amounts of honor.

Ultimately, the easiest thing to do is give a commendation to everyone who participates, winning or losing. Stockton says that Blizzard took the lessons of Wintergrasp to heart but forgot one of the most crucial. By giving the losers of Wintergrasp one commendation, Blizzard gave them the incentive to come back and win so that they could spend those commendations. If I want to spend my Tol Barad commendations, I don't have to win Tol Barad. I just walk over to my friendly Hellscream's Reach vendor and plunk them down for some cool stuff. Right now, losing doesn't give you any incentive to come back for more stuff. Even if you lose at Chuck E. Cheese, they still give you a ticket so you keep feeding the machines with quarters. And even if you lose 9,000 times, you'll still be getting some kind of reward that keeps you coming back for more, while also pocketing 9,000 commendations.

Quick aside: Whoever came up with the Tol Barad Searchlight needs to send me an email so we can be best friends. I love you.

The last point I wanted to address was that Blizzard wants Tol Barad to be relevant throughout the life of Cataclysm. The best way to do that and, in turn, make people want to fight for Tol Barad, is to add a special vendor in Baradin Hold that sells some extra stuff with commendations that players can purchase. New trinkets, fun stuff like the searchlight, new pets and mounts, and cool banners and such should be available only to the faction that holds Tol Barad. Combined with the fact that you gain more commendations by winning and have a cool place to spend them ... People would be all over Tol Barad. What about making new PvP heirlooms cost Tol Barad commendations, and put them on a vendor for the controlling faction?

Just the same, the attacking faction should feel motivated to take Tol Barad back, but they shouldn't feel that the odds are insurmountable. So keep fighting the good fight, and we'll continue watching the battlefield and listening to your feedback.

These are words that I agree with. I want taking Tol Barad to be a challenge, not an impossibility. Right now, we're bordering on the line between impossible and harder than it should be. Tol Barad needs objective fixes, mechanic fixes, and most of all, incentive fixes. Stockton knows this -- he just told us. The problem with his response, however, is that it doesn't tell us more than the problem is on people's minds and that solutions are coming soon. I'm all for that, but I'm still looking for specifics. We've got a long way to go for Tol Barad's salvation, but I'm glad that smart people like Stockton are on the case and truly have Tol Barad's best interest in mind.

Carry on, soldiers, and may no man die at The Slagworks in vain.

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