Shortly after my post about the silly honor gains in Tol Barad of last week, Blizzard announced their hotfix for the outdoor PVP zone which has settled all outcries about servers win-trading swiftly and effectively. Winning an attack game now awards players 360 honor points, as opposed to the previous 1800 (a successful defense still awards 180 points) – a change of astronomic proportions which now makes many a player think, why oh why he didn’t play Tol Barad in its early weeks of Cataclysm.
Yet, not all is well in Tol Barad: the general disproportion in difficulty between winning an attack or a defense game persists, to many a PvPers dismay. I’ve had time to finally join a few more Tol Barad games this last weekend and I haven’t been in a single one that won an attack. Keeping your defense is substantially easier which is doubly frustrating, considering that the zone is not only about honor gains but more daily quests for tokens and the Baradin Hold instance. Where players did not care to defend before, they are now doing their very best to keep their keeps; so we have pretty much switched one extreme for the other.
In a most recent blue post by Cory Stockton, Blizzard assures players that the re-balancing of Tol Barad is far from over: they are aware of the attack game issue and are looking to fix this in a future patch. What’s more revealing about the article, are the comments on how Blizzard have tried to learn from past mistakes of WotLK’s Wintergrasp and what their intentions for Tol Barad were initially, when designing the new outdoor PvP Zone –
Tol Barad is intentionally balanced so that it’s a challenge for the attackers, because we want to make sure that control of Tol Barad matters. For the defenders, there’s a sense of urgency that Wintergrasp didn’t have — if you lose it, you’re going to have a hell of a time taking it back. For the attackers, there are a number of rewards at stake — such as access to the Baradin Hold raid and additional daily quests — that we hope players feel are worth fighting for. That sort of tension is what we wanted from Wintergrasp, and what we believe Tol Barad can ultimately offer.
While the devs’ initial realization of this has failed, it is clear that they were looking to give the battle for victory a much greater meaning by adding more incentives to play well via the big honor difference, and also balancing the games in terms of player slots. I salute Blizzard’s decision to make attacking a challenge of consequence. Wintergrasp was never a meaningful, let alone epic place by any standard; if you lost a game, who cared? You would get a win sooner or later – the only time I was ever annoyed to be denied access to Wintegrasp was when I wanted to go buy some PvP gems or enchants.
This time around, Blizzard wants to add more meaning to conflict. And: they want a lot more people to join in. While you can decide to quest on the northern half of Tol Barad island exclusively in order to get your Baradin Wardens reputation and rewards, conquering the southern map is a considerable speed bonus for PvPers and PvErs alike. The reputation vendor sells a variety of special items (from vanity baubles such as a companion pet and two mounts, to useful blue items and epic trinkets) to attract a wide range of WoW players. There is also the commendation to convert extra tokens to more reputation, which means the more daily quests you can do, the faster your way to exalted and epic rewards (which all require to be bought by tokens too).
I absolutely love the look of the Drake of the West Wind (it looks a lot better live than on pictures) and I will obviously have to get the seagull. Apart from that the trinkets are actually quite nice, especially if you have no immediate access to epic raid loot (the healer trinket has been announced to receive a slight buff soon).
All things considered, I look forward to Tol Barad receiving another patch asap, as confirmed in the blue post and that they will find the right way to balance a battle which can be a great dilemma to balance.
And I also have high hopes that this time around Blizzard’s new PvP Zone will encourage a much greater player base to join in and fight more meaningful battles, rather than being “for them odd PvPers only”.