Patch 3.1 changes to the battle for Wintergrasp

21st April 2009 – 10.26 am

The recent patch to World of Warcraft brought about some changes to the Battle for Lake Wintergrasp, the regular zone-wide PvP engagement with which my death knight has been heavily involved.

One change is for server restarts and maintenance no longer to affect the outcome negatively. From the patch notes, 'the time between battles will be saved should a realm shut down. If Wintergrasp is active when a realm shuts down, the battle will restart from the beginning when the realm is once again live.' This kind of change only really matters when people actually read the patch notes, because when a server restart was announced on the server I play on everyone waiting to enter Wintergrasp almost started panicking. I tried to reassure everyone that the recent patch meant that if the restart occurred during the assault it would not result in automatic retention of Wintergrasp fortress by the Horde but it fell on deaf ears, as the call went up to win the battle with all due haste. It didn't even seem to matter that the restart had only been announced, the countdown timer itself nowhere to be seen. Indeed, we assault the fortress successfully and everyone is leaving the group before the fifteen minute countdown starts, by which time everyone must have forgotten about the reset in the heat of battle, as groups start to form to run the Vault of Archavon.

An interesting change to the battle for Wintergrasp is that the southern siege workshops can now be captured. There are two benefits to this, both for the defenders. First, the number of vehicles able to be fielded by each faction is determined by how many workshops under that faction's control, so by assaulting the southern workshops the defenders can deny the greater vehicular forces otherwise available to the attackers and gain more for themselves. Second, the journey to destroy the three southern towers is quite slow, in a vehicle that has enough power to destroy a tower efficiently, when vehicles could only exit the workshops in the fortress or the hotly-contested ones in the east and west of Wintergrasp. Now that the two southern workshops can be controlled by the defenders the journey to the towers may be made significantly shorter, providing quicker support from the graveyards and replacement vehicles. At least having the map show the workshops under the control of the defenders will indicate to the attackers the potential threat of the destruction of the towers. I forsee many more battles being shortened when the southern towers fall more easily, perhaps resulting in more battles being defended successfully.

Another change is to the daily quest No Mercy for the Merciless. The quest previously required twenty HKs for completion, which never seemed to be too many in most contested battles, although as the number of HKs needed has now dropped to ten it was apparently a strain for some players. I imagine it was more the way the HKs were previously counted that was the problem, not the number, because I could accumulate over thirty HKs half-way through a battle and still not have completed the quest. Whether you needed to damage a target or not I'm not sure, but it seemed to me, and I could be wrong, that the HKs needed to be against unique characters, with multiple kills on one character not counting. I think a suitable solution would have been to use the same code that counts HKs for the quest, as that would seem to be in the spirit of the quest.

Even so, dropping the number of HKs required for No Mercy for the Merciless is not the cause of concern, but rather counting NPC kills towards the quest. I understand that NPC kills have always counted towards a character's rank in Wintergrasp, but this is a necessary means to prevent the opposition from failing to turn up and making the fortress impenetrable, where instead NPC kills eventually allow vehicles to be piloted and the fortress walls demolished. But to allow the NPCs to count towards the PvP quest seems against the spirit of the zone and the battle. There is already a PvE daily quest in Wintergrasp, where players can collect drops from mobs for extra Stone Keeper's Shards and honour points, with the PvP twist that any PC corpse looted will garner five quest items to dramatically speed up the quest. Now it is perfectly possible to run around the zone outside of the battle and pick a fight with PvE mobs to complete the previously PvP No Mercy for the Merciless quest. I would have thought it preferable to encourage further participation in the battle for Wintergrasp than allow more actions to be accomplished outside of any PvP encounters.

Even with the changes, No Mercy for the Merciless will probably not change the enthusiasm displayed for entering Wintergrasp to engage in zone-wide PvP battles with siege engines. The reward of access to the Vault of Archavon instance by winning the battle outweighs the benefits of Stone Keeper's Shards and honour gained by completing the daily quests. That one of the quests is now easier to complete will perhaps prevent a little tension in some players. With the quest givers also no longer despawning for a couple of minutes at the start of the battle also being a positive change patch 3.1 looks to keep the battle for Wintergrasp an invigorating and extended PvP encounter.

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