Keep in mind Tol Barad is still deep in development, but we do have plans to implement more stringent faction balancing measures than those which exist for Wintergrasp today. We want to have the queue system try to create a battle with as close to a 1:1 team ratio as possible. In other words, if 40 Horde and 150 Alliance players are in the queue, it's going to make the battle somewhere close to 40 vs. 40. There will be a maximum cap of players allowed on each side as there is with Wintergrasp, but there will also be a minimum cap as well. Since the system will be looking for a 1:1 team ratio, the minimum cap will be designed to ensure a battle can't be thrown by a faction if no one shows up. So, say if the minimum cap is 25, there is a chance the battle could be 25 vs. 5.
Because of this new design, it'll be much more beneficial to play on a realm where the faction balance is roughly equivalent rather than seeking a realm where your faction dominates. For this reason we'll continue to monitor faction balance on all realms and work to ensure players enjoy the best gaming experience possible.
I hate to ask, but would you explain again how the maximum and minimum caps work, or shall I say how you think they are going to work? I'm a bit confused.
The maximum cap will essentially work the same as it does in Wintergrasp. If there are hundreds of players in the queue for Tol Barad on both sides, the system is not going to overcrowd the zone and make it unplayable. It will create an even match with up to a certain number of players on each side.
The minimum cap is intended to prevent griefing from factions which are extremely underpopulated. For example, if it's 3 in the morning and the Alliance have a very low population on a realm, a single Alliance guild could decide to boycott Tol Barad. If there were no minimum cap with the 1:1 ratio queuing system, this could lead to a situation where Tol Barad ends up being a, say, 3 vs. 3 battle leaving many Horde players locked out. So if we set the minimum cap to 25, it means in this scenario that it would be 3 Alliance vs. 25 Horde. In other words, the underpopulated faction on an imbalanced realm can't fully dictate the battle size of Tol Barad all the way down to 0 participants on either side.
Will this apply to Wintergrasp?
I just got word that we are planning on implementing this new balancing mechanism for Wintergrasp sometimes shortly after the next Wrath of the Lich King minor content patch. So you'll get a chance to see it in action and provide us with feedback prior to the launch of Cataclysm!
So in cliff note form: With the minimum cap is 25, if 25 Horde que and 150 alliance que, the battle will be 25 vs 25. And if 25 Horde que, and 10 alliance que, will it then just 10 v 10 or 25 v 10?
Your first example is correct.
For your second example, the battle would be 25 Horde vs. 10 Alliance.
1) Will Tol'Barad flag players between battles on PvE servers? Please say yes!
2) Will flying mounts be disabled in the zone when the battle isn't taking place?
The current plan is for Tol Barad to function like Wintergrasp with regard to your questions. So it will be a PvP zone at all times and flight will be disabled once the battle begins.