were introduced in Patch 1.5
, it changed the entire PvP landscape. With the introduction of the Honor System in the patch before it
, which included the now-obsolete ranks
and PvP gear, there was suddenly purpose to PvP. In my previous column
, I expressed how I preferred my PvP to have some sort of objective or reason. The Battlegrounds made PvP somewhat more meaningful, with thematic goals situated in instanced areas that gave popular war zones such as Hillsbrad and the Barrens relative peace. The first Battlegrounds came in two flavors: Warsong Gulch
, which was designed to cater to short skirmishes because of its size and scope; and Alterac Valley
, which was designed to be more epic, with a large zone that had numerous geographical features, multiple objectives, and -- unique to this Battleground up to the present -- faction NPCs. Warsong Gulch, although designed to be short, succumbed to a small design flaw that left it prone to unnecessarily lengthy games. I'll discuss WSG at length in a future article but will, for this week and next, focus on the grandeur of Alterac Valley.
Of all the Battlegrounds, AV has gone through the most changes, having received fixes and modifications with most of the patches subsequent to its release. Alterac Valley was an extremely ambitious project for the folks at Blizzard, and it was clear from the beginning that they had very high hopes for it. It was supposed to be epic, with the feel of a great war. The size of the zone, complemented by the faction structures and NPCs, certainly added to that ambiance. In terms of gameplay, however, Alterac Valley was flawed on many levels. In the earliest iteration of AV, there was a giant troll named Korrak the Bloodrager
in the Field of Strife in the center of the map. The presence of a hostile boss where players would clash proved to be a nightmare. Players spent too much time trying to kite, kill, or flee from Korrak instead of engaging each other. Most of the other NPCs created the same problem, slowing down the game considerably. Subsequent patches saw Korrak moving to Snowfall Graveyard
and eventually packing his bags
for greener pastures. Blizzard later removed and weakened
many of the NPCs, as well, facilitating faster forward movement towards the end goal.
In the latest patch, Alterac Valley received its biggest overhaul yet. The latest changes are the most drastic in terms of gameplay because it now gives another means of winning the game, making it the only Battleground with an alternative victory condition. There is now a new mechanic called Reinforcements
, with each side receiving a count of 600 at the start of the game. Killing opposing players will reduce their team's Reinforcements on a 1:1 ratio while destroying a pair of towers or killing enemy Captains (Balinda
) will reduce it by 100. Killing the enemy General will reduce the opposing team's reinforcements to 0, winning the game. Conversely, reducing an opposing team's reinforcements to 0 will result in the enemy General's death. The changes make Alterac Valley feel like an entirely new game
, forcing a shift in strategy and encouraging more player combat. What used to work in previous iterations of AV no longer work so well in AV 2.3. The zerg rush
that used to typify AV races have given way to a new kind of thinking: defend, push forward, kill everything in sight. It would seem, at last, that PvP has come to the Valley.