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Is it time to kill Arena teams?

I had a very brief twitter conversation with Blizzard Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street a few days ago. It went something like this:

His response was certainly interesting, and rather unexpected. Let's break it down into the two main parts.

Cross-Realm Arenas

First and foremost, what was I thinking tweeting that question? A friend of mine had recently returned to WoW after a hiatus, and leveled his feral druid to 90. He had previously been a friend with whom I did casual arenas on characters I wasn't too fussed about, we had a laugh, we won some, we lost some.

But a series of realm changes had split us apart. I could have realm changed to play some 2v2 with my friend, to get him some conquest points and a few bits of Malevolent gear before the season ended, and just to have some fun, but it's expensive. And I'd have had to transfer my character back to my main realm to play with my other partners.

Is it time to kill Arena teamsSo I got to thinking. Why can't we do cross-realm arenas? Battlegroups would be reason one, in my book at least. Currently, if you weren't aware, arena competition is divided into battlegroups. You can see part of the list of the EU's battlegroups to the right. So, allowing cross-realm arenas might mean that someone from Misery is playing with someone from Blutdurst, and their third team-mate is from Rampage. This would become a problem when handing out titles, rewards and the like -- which battlegroup would their team be counted in?

But the follow-up question is, of course, are battlegroups really necessary? One of the problems with battlegroups is that there are harder ones and easier ones. The way they're assembled means that a team can transfer servers to put themselves into a battlegroup where getting titles is easier, for example. What would be the problem with doing away with them altogether and having universal matching, ratings, titles and rewards, which were region-wide? It's highly possible that I have missed some huge reason why this is a bad idea, but I can't see it. I don't think there's much identity within battlegroups, perhaps a little to the extent of putting more weight on higher rating in the difficult battlegroups, but not more than that. And, that being the case, wouldn't it be an improvement to the system to pit everyone against everyone else? So that rating was universally applicable and didn't have to be qualified by "oh well you're from that battlegroup"?

One response to the original tweet that I had from a couple of different sources was that such a change would be the death of PvP servers. Again, it's possible that I'm missing something, I didn't really get a good explanation of this view on twitter, but I can't see how this will affect PvP servers in any meaningful way.

Are Arena teams cool or a hindrance?

Let's start with the arguments for why Arena teams are cool. Arena teams are teams, quite simply, they're allied groups of people working together towards a common goal. Team-work develops cohesion, teams work together, build strategies as a group. And what's more, it's fun! It's more fun, in my opinion, to face enemies as a group than it is to face them alone, or effectively alone, with a PuG you will likely never see again, and who will likely never see you again either.

What's more, thanks to the lack of fear of recrimination for their negative actions, players pugged together often behave worse, and that's definitely not a good thing! What's more, solely pugging players together would probably result in frustrating combinations, where players feel, rightly or wrongly, that they're regularly matched with team-mates well below their standing, or classes and specs that just don't work well with their own. Were such a system, similar to the Skirmish system, to be implemented as the sole way to earn rating and points, it would be frustrating indeed. It definitely doesn't seem to me like the total removal of arena teams would be a good thing.

Is it time to kill Arena teams

Now, let's move on to the idea that Arena teams are a hindrance. One big reason is related to something I was talking about above. Currently, if you're on, say, a 3v3 team, and you're approached by two other players who you want to do 3v3 with, you either need to abandon your current team, or add those players to your 3v3 team. What's the problem with those two options? Both of them risk hurting rating, both your own and your 3v3 team's which essentially locks you into your team for arenas. Of course, if you're not worried about your rating, team-hopping is no issue whatsoever, but it's an additional hurdle.

But it's mostly a hurdle for casual play. If you're chasing after serious rating, you're probably not looking at team-hopping to have a little fun with casual players. But, for casual players who are shifting to more serious play, this can be an impediment.

What's the solution? It seems to me that neither a complete focus on teams, nor a complete focus on solo queues is an appropriate solution. To an extent, my solution boils down to something along the lines of the return of the skirmish system, but with solo rating and perhaps even points. Why? I think it would be great for players who are usually just spamming trade to get the cap to have an easy solution that also allows them to build rating. The flip-side to this is that it would make it even easier to gain conquest points, perhaps even too easy.

So perhaps earning points is a bad idea, but I do think that the option to earn some kind of solo rating is a good one. One of the main things inhibiting many players from getting into rated battleground teams, for example, is rating. Many teams will require a certain rating to proceed, and this gives the solo player, who might not have several PvP-focused friends, a way to earn rating. And yes, there will be an element of luck, inevitably, but that can be taken into account. And players could queue as parties with friends, but without fear of losing rating.

Alongside all this, normal teams would continue just as they are now. I think it's the best of both worlds, as far as solutions go, but what's your take on this?

Do you want to capture flags, invade cities, attack towers, and dominate the enemy for your faction? Do you dream of riding your War Bear with pride? We'll steer you to victory with secrets of Battlegrounds and Arena, prepping you with proven addons and keybindings that win! Send questions or comments to

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