Blizzard's Cory Stockton recently posted an intriguing post on the WoW community site called Tol Barad Balance, highlighting the problems that currently exist with Tol Barad, Blizzard's design intentions and philosophy for the island PvP encounter, and some potential fixes that may be in store for Tol Barad in the near future. Tol Barad should be fun, fair, and meaningful.
Stockton's first paragraph gives me a lot of hope. Blizzard is not going to write Tol Barad off as something it won't put some effort into, and for good reason. As I said the last time I talked about the place, Tol Barad is beautiful, atmospheric, and rich with lore and vision that makes it one of the most compelling zones in Cataclysm. The sheer ominous vibe that Tol Barad exudes is palpable, thick with an air of deceit, vengeance, and danger. You could cut a knife through the tension on the peninsula, and every time I head into those crypts, I wonder how everything here on this island went to hell in a hand basket.
Blizzard and Stockton's team recognize the need for additional tuning, and right away, we see that we're not going to just get a hotfix for one little problem -- Tol Barad is going to be re-tuned. Hope meter: high. Let's continue.
I'm okay with this. Player skill should mean something, and the attacking team fighting against a well-fortified island stronghold should have a disadvantage. In fact, I have never said that the attackers shouldn't have some sort of disadvantage; rather, I think the attackers should have a way, through careful skill and play, to negate that disadvantage, which is what Stockton seems to be saying.
Now, I don't know about you, but the reason Wintergrasp lost its luster on my server was because we had already endlessly farmed VoA for the gear we needed and really only had to go to Wintergrasp once for the weekly honor quests. That's it. Tol Barad has dailies that become available for the winning faction, not weeklies, so this should already be noted as a point of contention. I think Stockton is giving the players too much credit here -- we aren't hard to please and frankly, not all of us play these games for the pride in the battle and the ferocious roar of victory. I mean, I do. I love just winning Tol Barad and Wintergrasp for the sake of winning. But once the place is meaningless for a lot of players, they aren't going back for any reason.
Here's what I'm getting from this part -- attacking Tol Barad should feel like it's important, because the rewards you gain from winning should be important. Of course they are. Access to Argaloth and the Tol Barad rotating dailies gets you more commendations, more chances at loot, and the bragging rights. I do so love bragging rights.
Having equal team sizes isn't the problem with Tol Barad, however, and never has been. It's a problem for getting into and playing Tol Barad, sure, but that's another debate entirely.
Ah, here's the crux of the matter. Defenders want to defend Tol Barad because it's hard to take back, and the attackers want the sweet, sweet, gooey, reward-laden center of Baradin Hold. Also totally understandable -- and frankly, I agree with Stockton. Losing Tol Barad should feel like a defeat, but the zone's importance doesn't extend past its walls. Unlike Wintergrasp, which allowed for the collection of Stone Keeper's Shards from dungeons when your faction controlled the zone, Tol Barad's influence ends when you cross that bridge, unless you count Argaloth (but his gear is all purchasable with valor or honor points, which all players can get, Tol Barad or no). Sure, it's easier, and that's the whole draw.
So we know Blizzard's aim and goal for Tol Barad: hard to attack but worth it, and defenders who feel threatened when those attackers storm across the bridge. Let's continue.
Thank you for admitting that this was a temporary solution. I was really worried that, for a while, Blizzard was okay with the way the battle for Tol Barad was being waged. It felt like Blizzard wanted the place to flip in the exact same way Stockton doesn't like the way Wintergrasp was playing out. What this tells me is that Blizzard wants a healthy spirit of competition over Tol Barad but wants to do so with as little effect on the "outside" world as possible. I can empathize and agree with this.
I must commend Blizzard on its work on the peninsula and the daily mini-dungeons. They are pretty well tuned now, and I enjoy the dailies more when they aren't death marches through horrible respawnville. Go team!
Filed under: Analysis / Opinion