Sapphire tries protection-based PvP

16th August 2008 – 3.19 pm

World of Warcraft has entered in to the Spirit of Competition, and commoners all over the world are talking about the battlegrounds of Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, and Alterac Valley. There may even be chatter about the Eye of the Storm and the gladiator arenas, but Sapphire, my warrior, is too inexperienced to venture to those places. With Spirit of Competition being intended for amateurs the current climate is meant to encourage everyone to participate, particularly those who are otherwise reluctant, with the offer of a special tabard for anyone who stays to the end of a battleground, and the possibility of other rewards for accomplishments.

Having previously spent many a session trying to push back the Horde in both Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin, as well as one hilariously aborted-through-disconnection attempt on Alterac Valley, back when I was a warlock with nothing better to do, I fancied the idea of revisiting the battlegrounds to see how much had changed. The competition gave me the push to visit the Arathi Basin battlemaster and enter a contest.

My memories of Arathi Basin are of the Alliance being vastly less organised than the Horde, even after cross-server matches tried to alleviate the advantages offered from population imbalances. The Alliance team would rush off in all directions with little plan, and be crushed by an advancing army with a clear, shared vision of victory. It's strangely reassuring to have the same experience again, in both battleground matches I enter, even though there is more semblance of structure in the Alliance's actions.

It is also good to see the little changes made since my previous battleground encounters. Everyone being automatically grouped in to a single raid was introduced when I was still playing PvP battlegrounds, and indeed I like to think that my very suggestion on the official forum helped that change come to light. It was terribly frustrating for an individual to have to invite everyone in to the raid group, particularly if people joined or left mid-way through a battle, and it was equally frustrating when you're not invited and getting no honourable kills. One addition that is new to me is the reduction to zero resources required to all abilities before the battle started, allowing for all classes to apply maximum buffs without being drained of mana, giving no excuse not to buff everyone and anyone, even if they join ten seconds before the battle starts. Of course, these are all gone after the initial, inevitable death on the Alliance side, but it's good to start with some advantage.

I wasn't expecting much from the battleground experience, partly because of my previous Alliance experiences, in general and in Arathi Basin, partly because I am rather rusty at PvP, and mostly because I am a fully specced protection warrior, equipped primarily to generate huge amounts of threat whilst mitigating damage from PvE mobs. I also find that in the battlgeround I miss my Piercing Howl ability, which is an AoE speed-reducing effect from the Fury talent tree and quite useful in PvP. I am quite surprised, therefore, to find that at the end of the battle I have the second-highest number of killing blows for the Alliance. Whilst it is comforting to know that I didn't directly cause the loss for the Alliance, it is just as disappointing to realise a protection warrior, who is seven levels below the maximum allowed in the battleground, made a significant contribution.

It is quite good fun to indulge in a little PvP again, even if the Alliance is still a relatively disorganised rabble. At least it means my suboptimal spec doesn't stick out like a sore thumb, and I can still contribute. And in my postbox I find a shiny new tabard waiting for me, to commemorate the the Spirit of Competition. If I try again, maybe I can even get a medal.

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