Leading Your Battleground to Victory
So I was reading GLDC this morning, and Bre had an excellent rant about BGs and some of its less enjoyable elements. (Oh and I call the rant excellent cause I can read about asshats getting chewed out by an angry little Dwarven woman with a gun ALL DAY!)
I posted a comment on that thread, but it got me thinking more about what I wrote there and I wanted to expand on that concept over here. I’ve posted on BGs before, both my successes and frustrations. The main theme behind what I wrote in Bre’s comments however is about being a leader.
Being a leader is not necesarilly about directing every member of the battleground in a co-ordinated assault from one end of the map to the other. Its about getting people to buy into an idea. And that idea can be anything. From pouring coffee for a living at a local Tim Hortons to dodging bullets overseas. Getting people to follow you is about getting them to believe in an idea and want to work towards it.
In the context of wow, this isn’t a very novel idea. Take a top end raiding guild for example. It would have a raid leader who’s job it is to co-ordinate 9 to 24 other people in willingly dying over and over again on new content, using stacks and stacks of (expensive) consumables and building a very expensive repair bill. And then doing that again. And again. But you get the idea. The reason the raid leader can convince other people to follow him/her is because these other people have bought into the idea that it is going to take some pain to get through to a new boss kill. But a raiding guild is a bit of bad example in that most of the people who joined the guild already bought into the idea of progression long before they joined or started the new content.
So lets move on to BGs. A lot of people (and I’m talking like the entire Blogosphere of the Inter Nethers here) have at one point or another expressed some frustration at the behavior of other people in battlegrounds. So I’m sure most of you have experienced what Bre talked about before.
Looking at this pragmatically, we have to face a couple facts. First, we’re never going to be able to purge the asshats from BGs and BG-chat. Ain’t gonna happen. So we have to accept the fact that most of the time, we’re going to have to deal with an idiot or two. Ultimately that will likely result in a handicap for our team. But good tactics can overcome superior numbers, just ask Megan, bringer of the Searing Pain. So how do we deal with the handicap? Well luckily for us, Blizzard gave us tools to help protect our sanity. This is the “Ignorance is Bliss” defense, also known as /ignore. Never hearing what they’re saying means I don’t have to think about it. And when it gets to the point where my sanity does need a defense, I usually slap it on pretty quick and make a short note in BG chat to others suggesting they ignore said handicap instead of actually feeding it attention. Communicate with the reasonable people in a Battleground and they will buy into your idea. In this case, the idea being that 9, 14, or 35 of you can do a better job coordinating a defense when you don’t have to scroll through asshatery to read a common strategy.
Which brings me to my second point. There are reasonable people in these battlegrounds. People like you and me. People who want to get as much honor and as much tokens as they can by working together as a team to WIN the battleground and not top the kill list. Funny story. I’ve taken to doing announcing in BG chat prior to the start of a match of my intention to allow someone else to top the kill list in favor of ensuring a solid defense at LM is maintained throughout the battle. This generally does 3 things. (a) it identifies the asshats who feel it is necessary to flame the idea of trying to win; (b) usually identifies to the reasonable people in the BG that I’ve got a decent strategy for winning; and (c) generally gets the people from (b) to buy into my idea. Whether that be helping me defend at LM or defending Farm instead. It doesn’t matter so long as they now have a strategy. A co-ordinated strategy. I feel a foshizzle coming on…. must… go…. visit…. BRK…
So by now, I’ve lost track of my numbering/lettering system. Go figure. Anyways, I think the main point I’m trying to get across is that being a leader requires people to believe in your idea. I don’t always take the lead in a BG. I can very quickly notice when someone else is leading us, and I sit back and put on my follower hat, buying into their idea. If that someone is trying to be an Orderer, no one is going to follow them (pre-mades aside). People get ordered around enough outside of game and don’t want to be ordered around in game.
But whether its you or someone else in your BG that is leading, how you go about it is key, and that is where communication comes into play. “GROUPS x-y on D at choke point” is something I see all the time in AV. It is one of the worst ideas in the world. Most people are going to ignore it, first off. Second, it doesn’t take into account what classes are in these groups. I don’t know about other BGs, but I’ve never been in a BG where the leader has set up group make ups to value the BG as a whole. Telling a group with all healers to go offense is going to be exremely ineffective as they might survive a while, but they won’t be able to kill anybody. Conversely, telling a MT-specced player to play D instead of tanking Belinda and Vann is hogwash. Give people the choice to do what they want. That way, if you’re trying to set up a defense, only the people who want to be there will be helping you.
That is the key to communicating really. Make suggestions knowing full well that many people will not even pay attention to what you said, all the while allowing them to choose how to play the game the way they want to in order to have fun for themselves. Cause that is why we are all playing in the first place right? To HAVE FUN? Right! And the people who see the value in your idea will follow you.
Anyways, I generally gravitate towards playing defense with my BM Hunter. As such, I usually end up coordinating some form of defense in all four BGs that I go into. For example:
In WSG, our D usually guards the flag and kills anyone who runs off with it, or defends our FC while we attempt to recap our own. Asking for two to three to stay back and play D is usually enough to get a solid D organized.
In AB, I cringe. Seeing as how there is 5 distinct locations, its impossible to establish one all-encompassing defense. I can however, clearly state that I’m going to be setting up a defense at LM, and that I could use 6-8 to help me capture it initially and then 4 others to help hold it. And as a Hunter, this node is key to understanding the battlespace in AB and coordinating your D from there. With Hawk Eye, I can see every place on the map, including mine. This allows me to alert my team of what is happening. And from my experience, the Horde sets up a roving defense strategy when we decide not to all out zerg stables. What this entails is about 2-3 people at Farm, BS and LM. The rest of the people rotate between the three nodes to throw reinforcements at whichever place is being attacked. Its effective for winning a 3-2 kind of game and controlling LM is a key component to directing the roving party to the place where they’re needed.
In Alterac Valley, defense has become a much more hit or miss concept. Everyone and their mother (you all have mothers right?) seems to have bought into the idea of zerging. Both sides. Its all I ever see anymore. 30 people on offense zerging the general. This can make defense extremely challenging, especially when it is a coordinated 30 people. Luckily for me, there are a few objectives on the path to the Frostwolf Relief Hut that dwindles the 30 down into manageable packs. But setting up a D at RH is crucial to maintaining any sort of realistic D at all. Cause once the Alliance gets into there, they hardly ever get pushed out. So what I do is right as the match is starting I take two steps out of the tunnel and cast recall, using my Frostwolf Insignia. While I’m waiting for that, I ask for 9-14 others to come play D at RH with me and hold off the Alliance long enough for us to kill Vann. That’s all we have to do. Hold off. Usually I get anywhere from 5-9 others. The one time we had 15 on D, we held both towers and the graveyard the entire game. The key to keeping your defense alive is to kill their offense before most of their graveyards have capped. This sends them all the way back to defense, at which point they spend most of the rest of the battle trying to get back to offense, rather than helping their own D.
In EotS, I generally go to a weak point to defend, and ask for one or two others to D with me. If no one goes mid, I’m at the flag. If no one is guarding BE or FR, I’m there. Since its a small enough BG, you can’t hope to maintain an extremely large D at any one point, so usually I ask for enough at each point to give us time to call out incomings and get re-inforcements.
So that was a bit of the tactics I use to help establish a Defense in each of the 4 Battlegrounds, using subtle communication and suggestions to get people to try to buy into my idea of how a defense should be run. It doesn’t always work and I think that’s the last thing you have to take away from this. You will lose some. We win about 50% of our matches, which tells me that most of the battlegrounds are fairly evenly matched and the sides on my battlegroup are as well. But it can alleviate the frustration out there and hopefully save some of the other reasonable people out there from giving up on BGs.
Ultimately we should be in this to have fun. If it isn’t fun, take a break. I hear knitting is quite enthralling. :D