Bugs and exploits in the battle for Lake Wintergrasp

20th May 2009 – 7.05 pm

Like any aspect of a complex MMORPG the battle for Lake Wintergrasp is not without its problems. Some are problems of balance that can be expected to occur for an open PvP zone without guaranteed or limited attendance on either side, which Blizzard have tried to solve with the 'tenacity' buff. Other problems are only caused when the interactions of a large number of sufficiently motivated people are introduced after the design stage. Others still are are bugs or exploits that crept in to the design unnoticed. Ideally, all the problems should be fixed, but that can only be accomplised if they are noticed and raised as issues.

The first problem, and one many players have no doubt encountered, is mages conjuring rogue portals in place of the portal to Lake Wintergrasp. The mage portal can send a player to any major city, although Theramore is often chosen for its remoteness and lack of quick return without a hearthstone. Whilst it is certainly possible not to be tricked in to using such a mage portal, as the tooltip displays the exit location of any portal, the urgency of many players in getting to Wintergrasp often leads to a handful of characters finding themselves in a different continent. Quite why players find it amusing to send allied forces away from the PvP battle for control of Wintergrasp, except simply to cause frustration for others, is beyond me. Needless to say, enough people have registered complaints that Blizzard are aware of and trying to come up with a solution, whilst encouraging players to report anyone conjuring such a duplicitous portal.

It is interesting that the only real griefing in the PvP battle is before you even enter the zone and performed by characters on your own side. Inside the zone of Wintergrasp it is difficult to grief anyone, as there are plentiful graveyards with spirit healers to resurrect players at no cost, removing corpse camping as a problem, and the battleground icon on the mini-map can be used to leave Wintergrasp at any time, with the same effect as an instant hearthstone. The only actions I have seen that could be considered griefing have been when hostile players have pulled quest givers away from the camp after a battle, preventing players from handing in completed daily quests, but as this is a PvP zone the pullers can be dealt with or chased off and can be considered a part of the battle.

Griefing aside, there appear to be a couple of bugs or exploits that are being taken advantage of, at least on the server I am playing on. One was first noted by a guild member, who pointed out a discrepancy between building ownership depending on who was attacking and who was defending. It seems that when Horde are assaulting the fortress they control all external structures from the start of the battle. The three southern towers are, of course, Horde controlled, as are the southern workshops and the Sunken Ring and Broken Temple workshops in the east and west of the zone.

However, when Alliance are on the assault the Horde still controls the Sunken Ring and Broken Temple workshops, with only the southern buildings under initial Alliance control. I have confirmed this every time I have entered Wintergrasp. Whilst it presents an imbalance it is hardly game-breaking, although it still has the effect of having to split Alliance forces at the start of the battle to claim workshops that the Horde don't need to do when in the same situation, whether assaulting or defending. And when combined with the other bug or exploit I recently witnessed having initial control of all the workshops can become significant.

With the 'No Mercy for the Merciless' quest now allowing completion by attacking NPC mobs and Wintergrasp offering good opportunities for gathering materials, whether herbs, ore or fish, I often find myself riding around the zone outside of battle and occasionally during the few idle minutes before the battle commences. It is in one of these times that I run across an orc attacking some Alliance NPCs, who I assume is getting a head-start on the above quest. I take advantage of his health running low to attack him and hopefully gain an easy HK, but as I get closer I notice something unsettling: as he kills one of the NPCs a flash surrounds him, the same flash that signifies gaining a rank during the battle for Wintergrasp.

The problem is that this is before the battle has started, so there should not be a way for him to boost his rank. Indeed, I am in Wintergrasp and have no rank to boost! Even the HK gained in defeating this orc does nothing but bring me a step closer to completing the 'No Mercy for the Merciless' quest, because with no rank before the start of the battle I have no way to improve my rank. Quite how this Horde character was able to get promoted outside of the battle is a mystery, and whether it is a bug or exploit it needs to be fixed. Being able to kill NPCs in order to pilot vehicles immediately as the battle begins gives a huge advantage and is quite unfair. When coupled with owning at least two external vehicle workshops at the start of battle, whether attacking or defending, this bug/exploit becomes quite serious.

The two bugs/exploits also explain how I once saw a Horde-controlled demolisher roll out of the Sunken Ring workshop mere seconds after the battle began and before I, one of the first through the portal to the zone, had managed to get to the workshop myself. I have reported all the issues via the in-game ticket system and hopefully they can be corrected quickly to preserve the sense of fairness and balance in the battle for Lake Wintergrasp.

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