# Timewaste Isle?

Patch 5.4 brought us the Timeless Isle, which is a new approach to providing content.  Rather than a bunch of daily quests to lead you around the island by the nose, it went for a very open-world, sandbox-y approach.  While there are a few quests to get you started, and a handful of daily or weekly quests you can do, the majority of the achievements and other things to do on the island are uncharted.  You wander around and explore until you stumble across something cool.  It’s a really interesting way to approach new content, and quite the reversal from the daily-heavy introduction we had to the Mists expansion.  And frankly, on paper it looks like a lot of fun, and I was looking forward to it.

But, as it turns out, stuff that looks good on paper doesn’t always work.

Because in reality, I’ve had a miserable time on the Timeless Isle so far.  There have been spotty moments of fun and the occasional neat experience.  But the vast majority has been a frustrating experience that encourages me to avoid the new content rather than experience it.

And I’m not even talking about the ludicrous reputation grind that Emperor Shaohao represents.  While I feel that reputation grind was a bit silly and poorly planned, it’s a minor footnote, not a major irritation.  Sure, it’s annoying, but it’s also completely optional and not designed to be a 3- or 4-week grind; it’s an “insane”-style long-term goal, which is fine since it’s only awarding vanity stuff.

Nor am I complaining about the inconsistency of gear acquisition for alts.  It is annoying that Burdens of Eternity, which are scarce enough as-is, aren’t account-bound.  The four I’ve found on Theck are rotting in the bank because I have nothing to use them on, which is a shame.  But I see the intent, even if I disagree with the execution: they want you to play your alt in order to gear it.  Unfortunately, the reputation grind and achievements on the Isle encourage you to focus on your main if you’re working with limited play time, so the achievements and reputation work at cross purposes to the alt-gearing mechanisms.  And all of that misses the larger issue that’s preventing many people from raiding on alts, which is the legendary cloak quest line.  But while all of that is annoying, it’s not my major gripe about the Isle.

Because this post isn’t actually complaining about the Isle’s content.  As I said earlier, I think the content itself is pretty solid.  The problem is that the Timeless Isle exposes one of the core weaknesses of World of Warcraft: World PvP.

Rotten Core

Now, before we go too far down this rabbit hole, let’s be completely clear about that pronouncement.  First, I’m a total carebear in WoW.  And despite that, I’ve been on PvP servers during my entire WoW career. I would probably choose to play on a PvE server if it were up to me, but it’s always turned out that the people I want to play with wanted to be on a PvP server, so I’ve quietly shrugged and accepted the consequences of those decisions. Living on a PvP server does means getting ganked once in a while, but the upside is that once in a while you get to do the ganking.

And to be fair, it’s not like I’m a pacifist. I played a fair amount of more competitive games in college (CounterStrike, Enemy Territory, Starctaft, WC2: BNE, and Diablo II PvP, just to name a few). I “get” the mindset of wanting to have spontaneous conflict.  And I have fond memories of PvP in the early days of Vanilla WoW.  But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that I value my time more and more because I always seem to have less and less of it.  If I log on and want to make some PvE progress, and get held up for 30 minutes because “PvP happened,” it just starts to feel frustrating and no longer fun.

But even given all of that, world PvP can be interesting, and traditionally WoW has been one of the better games about keeping it interesting.  I still remember the epic battles between Southshore and Tarren Mill back before Battlegrounds existed.  Those could be incredibly fun, as could chance one-on-one encounters while leveling or questing.  So this isn’t me complaining that open-world PvP can’t co-exist with PvE in the same game, because it demonstrably can, and first few expansions of WoW are one of the best examples of that.

No, the core weakness I speak of isn’t that World PvP exists.  It’s that WoW’s PvP servers have a critical and fundamental failure mode that manifests itself over a sufficiently long period of time.  To illustrate that failure mode, let’s take a walk down memory lane.

Story Time

In the beginning, there was Vanilla WoW.  And a rag-tag group of veteran Diablo II players decided to create a WoW guild.  I was one of those players, and my group of friends decided to choose a PvP server under the assumption that there wouldn’t be a lot to do at max level other than world PvP (boy were we wrong!).  We landed on Blackrock Alliance (chosen somewhat randomly from amongst the PvP server list) and started our WoW careers.

Blackrock was fairly well balanced during the first few years of WoW.  It was a high-population server (often with nightly queues that made raiding difficult), but the population was fairly well distributed amongst Alliance and Horde.  Keep in mind that at this point in time, there were no server transfers.  If you wanted to move to another server, you had to roll a brand new character there.  You also weren’t allowed to have a character on both factions of a PvP server at that time.  Both of those made the concept of “Character Mobility” essentially moot, because there literally was none.

The faction balance persisted pretty well throughout the Burning Crusade and the majority of the Wrath of the Lich King.  Or at least, I don’t remember a time when Alliance felt massively outnumbered in world PvP or PvE content.  If there was some slight balance drift, it was small enough to not be noticeable, likely in large part due to the lack of character mobility.  Character server transfers became a “thing” in 2006, but for some reason it didn’t cause any sort of severe imbalance.  It could be that the 6-month lockout period and $25 fee had a chilling effect that kept things stable, or it could just be pure luck given that other servers had already succumbed to severe faction imbalance. Either way, near the end of Wrath of the Lich King, things changed. A guild named Adept, who was ranked world #2 at the time according to WoWprogress, transferred to horde side on Blackrock. This was the metaphorical straw that broke the camel’s back, tipping the first domino as it were. Horde already had several strong, competitive raiding guilds at that point, and the addition of Adept just made that faction even more appealing. Ambitious raiders (or would-be raiders) flocked from Alliance to Horde, figuring that their chance of getting into a strong raid team (even if it wasn’t Adept) was much higher just due to the higher concentration of serious players. By the end of Wrath, Blackrock was already starting the downward spiral into a single-faction server. Leveling in Cataclysm was frustrating because for every Alliance at a quest-giver, there were 3-5 Horde. It was very difficult to level outside of dungeons unless you got ahead of the pack by starting at midnight or stayed behind the pack by starting significantly later. It was a really good thing (for me) that Cataclysm didn’t encourage open-world play very much, because Stormwind was one of the few places in which you wouldn’t get ganked every 10-15 minutes (in this case, I use “ganking” to mean “overwhelmed by horde”). Leveling in MoP was similarly frustrating, because by this point the ratio had tipped to 10:1 or higher in favor of Horde. My guild was literally one of the only raiding guilds left on Alliance. Between recruitment issues, the difficulty of leveling from 85-90, and the increased focus on open-world content in Mists, we agreed that we’d quit in frustration if we had to continue to play on Blackrock. So after the first week of Mists, we transferred. A large portion of the guild still wanted the flavor and atmosphere of a PvP server. So we chose Tichondrius based on a few criteria, the foremost of which was that it had a roughly equal (though slightly Alliance-leaning) faction balance. And for the first month or two, things were pretty good. I can’t imagine doing those Golden Lotus dailies on Blackrock, but on Tichondrius it was pretty painless. There were enough of both Horde and Alliance in the zone that it felt like a proper PvP server – that feeling of uneasy truce that spontaneously erupts into world PvP once in a while. Sadly, it wasn’t to last. Unbeknownst to us, a large chunk of the active PvP players on Alliance had decided to switch to Horde in early Mists. And that tipped the scales just enough to start the same sort of population shift that occurred on Blackrock. Throughout patches 5.1 and 5.2, the Alliance population steadily dwindled while the Horde population grew. Doing dailies on the Isle of Thunder became more and more difficult as we became more and more outnumbered. The focus shifted from worrying about stomping 75 roaches to worrying about dodging the roving bands of 5-10 Horde indiscriminately killing any Alliance players. By the time 5.3 rolled around, we were thoroughly outnumbered once again, just as we had been on Blackrock. Even though it’s not as numerically imbalanced as Blackrock was (if WoWprogress is to be believed – more on that in a second), it’s arguably worse because there’s also a distinct play-style difference involved. The remaining Alliance are biased towards PvE content, while Horde is biased towards PvP content. So we’re not just outnumbered, but those Horde also tend to be wearing PvP gear. Population Dynamics As entertaining as that story was (or wasn’t), the point was that there’s a distinct failure mode for a PvP server. When the factions are fairly balanced, a PvP server can be very enjoyable, and both factions can thrive, often to the benefit of both. In vanilla WoW or Burning Crusade, it wasn’t hard to round up four or five Alliance players to help clear a group of Horde out of the entrance to Serpentshrine Cavern. As Blizzard would put it, there was a “PvP solution” to that situation, and by taking advantage of it we’d often meet new people or build up relationships with people from guilds we already interacted with. These “team up to survive” type experiences built up a sense of respect and pride in your faction and the people on it. And I think that the solidarity it built up was unquestionably a good thing. However, there’s a limited range of faction imbalance where this condition holds. If you exceed that range – if the balance tips so far that you can’t feasibly grab a few people that happen to be in the zone and build a respectable counter-attack – bad things happen. The players on the numerically inferior side tend to get frustrated when trying to take part in open-world content, because it’s hard to feel like you’re making any progress when you’re getting ganked every 20-30 minutes (or less). And that feeling of solidarity, of being able to team up and overcome adversity, just breaks down into trolling. That gives players a strong incentive to avoid content (both PvE and world PvP) rather than experience it. Many players will just give up on that content and sit in town, only doing content they can queue for. And that’s bad, because it means they feel like that open world they were promised by MoP has been taken away from them. One method I abused heavily for Isle of Thunder was to use cross-realm groups to “borrow” someone else’s server while I did dailies. That gives you the best of both worlds, but it’s a hassle, and I hate feeling like I’m inconveniencing a friend by shackling them to a party. Eventually, all of this leads to an exodus of players from the weaker faction that can rarely be recovered from. After all, nobody will want to transfer to that faction without a good reason, like a strong raiding or PvP guild. But as those guilds and teams get frustrated and leave, that happens less and less. As a physicist, this phenomenon isn’t unfamiliar to me, because there’s a perfect physical analogy to what’s happening on a WoW PvP server. What we’re seeing is a case of unstable equilibrium in action. To illustrate, this is what we mean by an “unstable equilibrium” in physics: An unstable equilibrium in physics. Image from http://nre509.wikidot.com/ball-well-diagrams-feedback-and-equilibria Here, we have a ball sitting on a hill, perfectly balanced such that it doesn’t move. We say that the ball is “in equilibrium.” Which means that the ball will stay in that position – it’s at rest. But it’s an unstable situation – the slightest breeze could push the ball enough that it starts rolling down the hill, and is therefore no longer in equilibrium. And this is exactly what happens on a WoW PvP server. Even if the server starts out balanced, all it takes is a small event that breaks that balance to start a cascade in one direction or the other. And once you head down that slope, it’s nearly impossible to recover – it’s far more likely that the server just bottoms out until it essentially becomes a one-faction server. To put it in physics terms, there’s no “restoring force” here that encourages the ball (population) to come back into a balanced state. The ideal case would be the opposite situation: a stable equilibrium: A stable equilibrium in physics. Image from http://nre509.wdfiles.com/local–files/start/StableEquil.GIF In this case, the ball starts at the bottom of the valley, in perfect balance. If you push the ball slightly in one direction, it will climb up a little, but eventually roll back down and settle in the middle. There’s always a restoring force that encourages the system to return to a stable (balanced) state. And this is the fundamental problem with WoW and world PvP – there’s just no incentive to keep the factions balanced. Once one faction gains an upper hand, it just gets easier for them to do everything, while becoming harder for the underdog faction. There’s nothing to make being the underdog attractive, so there’s no restoring force. Instead, PvP servers simply degenerate into being essentially single-faction PvE servers rather than being “true” PvP servers with constant (but balanced) inter-faction conflict. For proof of that, let’s take a look at some data. This is what we get if we look to WoWprogress for realm balance information for US servers: Faction balance according to WoWprogress. It’s not hard to see the problem here. Out of the first 6 servers, all of which are PvP servers, none have less than a 2:1 faction imbalance. Some of them are very extreme (Mal’Ganis, Illidan, Sargeras, Stormreaver) while others aren’t as bad (Frostmourne, Kil’Jaeden). But I doubt the Horde on Frostmourne or Alliance on Kil’Jaeden feel like the server is close to a balance point, either. Extending this to the top 10 or 20 servers shows that this isn’t just a problem affecting PvP realms. In fact, out of the 30 realms shown, only a handful (Kilrogg, Caelestrasz, Turalyon, Ner’zhul maybe? all PvE realms I should add….) come close to having true faction balance. Prominent PvE realms, like Stormrage and Area 52, also suffer from a very lopsided faction balance. I suspect it’s less apparent in day-to-day play on those servers because you don’t end up eating dirt every 5 minutes thanks to the other faction. And the imbalance is less likely to be caused by frustration than simply due to concentration of player talent. But it’s still not an ideal situation, even on a PvE server. I should note, however, that I’m not completely trusting of this data. For example, WoWprogress suggests that while Blackrock really is in the 30:1 ballpark (it’s only gotten worse since we left), Tichondrius is only about 2.4:1. But I don’t think that’s an entirely accurate reflection of world PvE content. A large chunk of the remaining Alliance players never leave town, simply queuing for battlegrounds or arenas. Whereas I think a lot of that Horde population goes out to see new content. In any event, this sure as hell doesn’t look like being outnumbered by only a factor of two to one: Two to one faction imbalance my ass. I can’t go for more than about 5 minutes without getting attacked at peak hours, and easily see 4 or 5 horde (or more) for every one alliance on the Timeless Isle, suggesting WoWprogress’ data isn’t the entire story. Even if that data is accurate for raw player numbers, it says nothing about how many of those Alliance take part in world PvE content, or for that matter how many are simply alts of Horde players that are never taken out of town. And the Timeless Isle is really the worst-case scenario for a server like mine. At least during the majority of Mists of Pandaria, the factions were spread out over a fairly large continent. The Isle of Thunder concentrated those players in a smaller area, exacerbating the problem, but the Isle of Thunder was still pretty huge, so there was room to spread out. The Timeless Isle is nowhere near as large from a functional standpoint, because it funnels all of those players into a few more densely-populated areas (especially the Celestial Court) and has a number of choke points (the bridges on the path to Ordos). And the Shaohao reputation grind, which further concentrates players into two or three small areas to farm Yaungol, makes things even worse. Add the Emissary of Ordos mechanic, and you’ve got a giant mess on an unbalanced PvP server. Restoring Balance At this point, it may be tricky to reverse the process and force faction balance. Blizzard certainly has the tools to do it with connected realms, but that’s also of limited effectiveness. It won’t help high-population realms, for example, where it’s just not feasible to cram together two full servers worth of Horde and Alliance for the sake of faction balance. But I’m optimistic that it can be done, and not just by a large, arbitrary, and game-breaking shake-up. Just as in physics, sometimes all it takes is a little nudge in the right direction. In this case, there just has to be some incentive or combination of incentives to play the underdog. There has to be some sort of restoring force at play. You could imagine all sorts of mechanisms that may work. A reliable method, if harsh, would be to disable transfers to the higher-population faction on heavily imbalanced servers. For example, if the imbalance was larger than 2:1 in favor of Horde, then players would simply not be allowed to transfer to Horde on that server. And maybe even unable to start new characters there, unless they already have an existing character (thus, alts of existing players aren’t inhibited). That gets into some sticky territory, though – if a new player wants to play with a real-life friend who happens to be on that server, they’re out of luck. Cross-realm groups may alleviate most of that problem, but it still introduces an artificial barrier to entry for new players, which isn’t necessarily in the game’s best interests. The whole point of this exercise is to construct an artificial barrier to prevent attrition, but if we lose more new players than we gain in keeping existing subscribers, that’s not an effective way to do it. As an alternative, they could just make server/faction-specific transfers much less costly. Blizzard is frequently offering free transfers from high-population realms to low-population realms (ironically enough, there was a free Tichondrius->Blackrock transfer available a little while ago…which was amusing given Blackrock’s traditional motto: “Blackrock’s full, GTFO”). For example, since Tichondrius Alliance is heavily outnumbered, transfers from Horde to Alliance would be automatically free, as would transfers from other servers (either faction) to Tichondrius Alliance. Transferring to Tichondrius Horde would still cost the full$25.  That puts an artificial monetary barrier in place, but doesn’t inhibit new players from rolling a character and leveling it.

I think this sort of system would probably work.  Consider, if you’re a guild and you’re thinking of transferring to another server.  You think Tichondrius might be a good fit, but are hesitant to ask your entire guild to pay for a transfer given the size of the imbalance.  But if the transfer is free for everyone, what do you have to lose?  The whole guild could transfer there, set up shop,and try it for a few months.  If it’s not a good fit, maybe you pay the $25 to transfer elsewhere, but you’re no worse-off than if you had done that in the first place. It introduces a natural bleed valve in the population flow, such that it’s easier (and cheaper) for population to flow in the direction of balance than in the direction of imbalance. It may not be enough to fix the realms that are really far gone, but it might stem and reverse the tide on realms that still have a chance of recovering. For the really bad servers, something more drastic would be required in addition to the monetary solution. For example, incentives for prominent guilds on one faction to move to the other. Maybe by doing that, they get some nice free perks for a year (or until balance is restored, whichever is longer); free or cheap consumables for raiding, increased experience and reputation gain (XP bonus disabled during the first week of a new expansion, naturally), discounts on heirlooms, or special bind-to-account items that provide significant perks for alts. Ideally nothing that gives a strong advantage during the progression race, but something like nearly-free flasks and potions would be great for a guild that’s not fighting for top-100 status and is willing to help balance a server. You could also imagine a Wintergrasp-like system that makes each player stronger when their faction is outnumbered in a zone. While I don’t think Tenacity itself is the right call here, it would certainly make open-world content more accessible to the underdog faction. If I did +200% damage, took 200% less damage, had +200% health, and perhaps most importantly had 50% reduction on crowd-control duration, I wouldn’t worry much about taking on 3 or 4 horde at a time. Ten might still be a tall order, but at the very least I’d stand a fighting chance if I played my class well. But we’ve sen in the past that this sort of buff is hard to balance properly even within the confines of one zone, so I’m skeptical that the devs would want to try and employ it server-wide. It would also make PvE content sort of strange; the bonus damage and damage reduction could easily only apply to players, but the health increase would be weird. Perhaps without the health increase, it would work though. And that’s just a few of the ideas that one could suggest. There are many others, but those three are enough to show that there are viable solutions to the faction imbalance issue. It’s just a matter of choosing which ones to deploy and in what magnitude. Parting Thoughts It’s really a shame that this failure mode exists, because it’s the sort of thing that must have come up in other games before. And if not, any scientist who’s studied population dynamics (animal or physical) could have predicted this behavior. In fact, I suspect Ghostcrawler is probably familiar with predation and population dynamics if the results of a quick Google Scholar search are any indication. That’s not to say this is his fault, or his decision, just that there are smart people on the team who are definitely capable of identifying this problem, as well as its potential solutions. But it’s sad because it’s very clear from all of this that I’d love the Timeless Isle content, if I was only able to play it. But instead, every time I go to the Isle I get frustrated by my inability to make much progress. Nowadays, when I log on WoW I want to get things done efficiently, because there’s a pile of work, blogging, coding, theorycrafting, and so on that’s lying around vying for my attention. And I simply can’t do anything efficiently on the Timeless Isle, not because I’m on a PvP server, but because I can’t fend for myself against the sheer number of Horde I have to contend with. WoW is pretty questionably-balanced even for 1v1 play; it’s definitely not balanced around one hero defeating ten (or even two) players from the other faction. Which means that almost every time I go to the Timeless Isle, I end up thinking to myself, “Why am I wasting my time on this?” I don’t need Shaohao rep or any of the gear or achievements to raid. I was only doing them because I generally find those things fun. But they just aren’t here, because I spend more time watching my back than enjoying the content. Maybe I’m just old now, or something. Or maybe I’m just the wrong type of person for a PvP server. I don’t (and really never have) gotten any satisfaction from making other people feel bad or ruining their experience. I almost never pro-actively attack another player anymore, because in the back of my mind I can always see myself on the receiving end and think about how irritated I would be at the inconvenience. And I don’t want to inflict that on someone, so I don’t. I’m not the sort of kid who enjoys ganking and then /spitting and tea-bagging the corpse. That’s just not me, and never has been. But my guild, my friends, are on a PvP server. And while I play this game for a lot of reasons, one of them is to play with that group of people. Switching to a PvE server and leaving them behind is likely to just lead to disillusionment with the game, and eventually to me quitting and finding something else to do with my time. But it’s a bit of a catch-22, because heading to the Timeless Isle is having the same effect. After the first few times I have to make a graveyard run, I start thinking about all of the other things I could be doing. I’d rather be finishing up one of the many games I have for the PS3 (and even a few ancient PS2 titles) that I haven’t gotten around to yet, or spending some more time playing X-COM, or finally getting around to playing BioShock (any of them – I haven’t played a single one in that series, even though I own them all). So the Timeless Isle is, more than anything else in this game, actually driving me away from the game. Turning me into one of those players that logs on only for raid nights, and does the bare minimum to keep their character up-to-date the rest of the week. And that’s sad, because to me that feels like I’m entering the twilight (not the movie) of my WoW experience. Rather than looking forward to logging on as soon as I get home so I can raid, explore a new continent, or try out a new feature, that enthusiasm is turning to apathy. And I wonder how many other players feel the same way for the same reason. WoW is an old game, it’s bound to have a slow decline in subscriber numbers. But I wonder if that decline is being hastened, at least for players that enjoy PvP servers, by the fact that almost none of them can have a properly-functioning world PvP experience anymore. Just to be clear: I don’t think this problem is killing WoW. The long-term eventuality is just that every PvP server will end up being a one-faction PvE server, and world PvP will die out. Guilds like mine will eat the player attrition, and probably eventually transfer to the dominant side of another server if there are no balanced PvP servers left to choose from. That’s a far different thing than WoW collapsing. But I do think it will hurt WoW’s numbers, and it definitely hurts the world PvP experience that WoW has traditionally offered. This entry was posted in Theck's Pounding Headaches and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. ### 80 Responses to Timewaste Isle? 1. Geodew says: Wow, this really resonates with me so hard. It’s like you took all my frustrations about WPvP and put them on paper. Er, e-paper. I feel the exact same way. In fact, I only enjoy Timeless Isle when I’m on a low pop realm via xrealm group, partly because there’s always a group of 5+ Censer people ganking on Mal’Ganis, and partly because it’s Mal’Ganis and everything is dead or tagged. Lucky for me, I almost always play with my significant other, and we each have one L90 on our old super-low-pop realm (which is also mostly my faction 5:1), so we can pull each other there. If I weren’t able to do this, I probably wouldn’t be enjoying Timeless Isle at all, and I know most of my guildies are ignoring it since day 3 or 4. A bit unrelated, but I also fail to see why grinding Yaungol (because if you’re going to farm coins, why not rep too?) is more engaging than running dailies. I thought Barrens was awful (I did the Weekly twice for the pet and the Brawler’s item and never looked back) but Timeless is even worse. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a beautiful, cool zone great for exploration. But once that wore off (which happened quickly after 10 hours spent there) I realized it was just a big grind for small upgrades with the threat of being ganked 5+ versus 1 at any moment. Even Siege LFR gear is competitive with 535s that have no gem slots. BTW: “It would also make PvE content sort of strange; the bonus damage and damage reduction could easily only apply to players, but the health increase would be weird. Perhaps without the health increase, it would work though.” You can do a PvP-only fix for this. You can increase a player’s “PvP health pool” without affecting PvE at all by giving additional Resilience but also strengthening Battle Fatigue. For example, 50% damage taken and 50% healing taken is pretty much the same as double-HP, so this buff-plus-nerf equals a buff in every situation (assuming it were applied to all players). Then you can make it 25% damage taken and 50% healing taken, and you have combined “-50% damage taken and +100% HP” into a PvP-usable form. • Geodew says: Woops, I meant to say IMHO Barrens was worse but Timeless is still bad. • Theck says: I certainly don’t find grinding Yaungol interesting or engaging, though soloing the elites can be sort of fun. But on Tich, I can’t really do much Yaungol farming anyway, as those areas are heavily camped by Horde. It’s the exploration / rare-hunting aspect of the Isle that I find fun, on the rare occasion when I can do it for more than five minutes straight without getting steamrolled by roving bands of Horde. • bryjoered says: I know this is completely off-topic, but do you have any plans to theorycraft protection warriors again? There is a fair amount of trepidation as to the correct way to gear one with patch 5.4’s changes. Most seem to be converting to an avoidance heavy build, I just would like some concrete information on the subject backed by your elite maths. • Theck says: I haven’t had time to do much lately. What little time I’ve had has been poured into blog posts (like this one) or some MATLAB scripts to automate SimC. Those projects are higher priority at the moment. SimC should be working for prot warriors, I think, so it should be a simple process to load up a warrior in SimC and do a stat analysis. • Tengenstein says: For Survivability, 5.4 changed nothing, apart from tagging crit on to the end of the priority list, which generally is; hit=exp>Stam=mastery>parry=dodge>crit. The real issue is that boss damage for most of 5.4 (normal mode) encounters is rather light especially once you have a few bits for FLex/timeless, or ToT HC gear, and if the bosses aren’t really challenging your survivability you don’t gain much if you take a full survivability build; It’s like giving Superman a Bullerproof vest. In that situation the tank pulling a fair bit more deeps can really help out the raid and avoidance stacking is now the way to do that, you’ll still want to cap hit and expertise, and if you take GoHtL you want to heavily favour Parry over dodge. It is a survivabilty loss, but if your healer don’t feel the extra strain you aren’t really losing much for the extra DPS. • Geodew says: The problem with the more difficult elites was that they were way less time efficient; we had to pull them one-by-one or otherwise die a lot, and sometimes die even fighting one, and each took quite awhile to kill. With a 520 Brewmaster and 550 Mistweaver we could pull giant packs of 20-30 of the weaker yaungol in the first camp, make sure we weren’t in melee when the candlewhatevers exploded (if you’re not focusing them down they will actually self destruct on low HP which hurts and is also a stun), and then AoE the rest down, interrupts and stuns to break the protection aura. Took 30-60 seconds for each pack and then you loot a hefty amount of coins, and finish the daily to kill 20 elites in <10 minutes while gaining rep. The realm working together to kill rares is more interesting because you see much more of the island. Unfortunately when we can get the same amount of coins by staying where we were and killing yaungol and getting rep at the same time, it was not worth it either. So basically I'm saying their design failed. Rares and harder mobs are not rewarding enough. • Geodew says: Oh, also rare spawns on Mal’Ganis died within 20-30 seconds of spawning, so there’s that, too. 2. Ray says: Bashiok has posted about pvp imbalance on pvp realms a couple weeks back. http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/9973127219#14 It’s Blizzards belief that pvp players seek to be on realms where their faction is dominate. • Awyndel says: So they agree it’s an unstable equilibrium then? 😛 Stating something is true and hard to change is not a good reason to not do anything about it. Just sounds like negativity to me. But seems like they have their time and energy ( and thus money ) invested in connected realms. • Theck says: I don’t think that’s universally true. For example, we moved to a PvP server that *was* balanced specifically [i]because[/i] it was balanced. I’m not sure if we’re just exceptions to the rule, but I don’t think so. I think a lot of players would like more a more active and balanced world PvP experience. The problem is that it rarely remains that way. Once one side gets a significant population advantage, the server tends to disintegrate in that direction. The miserable experience that the under-manned faction gets on a PvP server is incentive enough to never want to have to go through that experience again, so naturally players will gravitate to realms where their faction dominates. So yeah, I’m sure their data suggests that PvP players seek to be on the dominant faction. But I’m not sure it’s fair to say the data suggests that’s what players *want*. I think that’s putting the cart before the horse – I think players would like balanced realms, but since that isn’t a reliable option their fear of being on the subjugated faction ends up outweighing their desire for balance, and the population shifts end up producing the observed data. • Genada says: There was a time when they would lock servers due to population issues and they would lock factions as well to prevent what we have today. All of that went out the window with the payed services. The servers as far as faction balance is broken and there is no solution. Connected realms will not help because the problem with many of the realms is them being dead. A merge of two servers with players from different factions would do little to help with that. As for what it’s like to play Alliance or Horde on a pve server like Stromrage or Area 52, it sucks. Your ah is dead, you have little choices in guilds and raiding is pretty much not a option. 3. Awyndel says: I’m always surprised you manage to explain anything with physics . Insightfull as always. This does make one think about the population problems that clearly have been going on for years, but just don’t get a lot of attention in the big guilds because they all tranfer to a better place, or just attract people by themselves. For some reason it’s never been attractive enough for blizzard to do a big overhaul on this. • Theck says: Actually, the physics analogy is what led me to write the post in the first place. I recognized the similarities between unstable equilibria and PvP server imbalance a long time ago (given that I was on Blackrock, I had a long time to think about it!). It’s always been in the back of my head to write a post about population dynamics in WoW, and how they relate to physical systems. My experiences on the Timeless Isle really struck home, though, and motivated me to finally write it up. • bryjoered says: It’s a shame that people actually prefer faction imbalance..but that’s just human nature I guess most people would rather gang up and outnumber people for a paltry challenge. What they don’t realize is no challenge=no fun! 4. Keres says: I must speak as an outsider on this, considering that I personally lost interest in world PvP sometime around Mid-BC. I do not play on a pvp server nor do I ever intend to, though I have a number of friends that play on them. I think the entirety of MoP I’ve only been in BGs enough to get my Cloak (7 silvershard mines and 10 Temples before I finally got one win on each). PvP has lost much of it’s luster for me over the last two expansions simply because of the animosity between Mid-Level PvE’ers (“Only reason you PvP is because you can’t work together in a team!!!”) and Mid-Level PvP’ers (“Only reason you PvE is because you’re not skilled enough in your class to survive anything but a computer opponent!!!”), not counting the faction imbalance that you describe. At times I wonder if it would not have been better that Bliz had left out WPvP as an option and just had PvP servers be servers were only way to level up would be to PvP and complete local region PvP objectives (While in the southern barrens kill X alliance players and plant flags over them), with the zone resetting periodically so to maintain balance. I seem to remember Warhammer Online trying something like that but I’m not sure as I never did play that game. That though would still lead to the problem that you describe in your comments, Theck, that of population imbalance. I wonder though if the issue could not be tackled from a different angle, rather than changing the overall balance of the server population, as you suggest, rather change it so that ganking becomes impossible in regions where the the balance is too great. Example: You are questing in Townlong Stepps. There are 15 horde for every 1 alliance. The server is set that after an imbalance 8 to 1 all players on the weaker faction were no longer flagged for PvP. Combined with a “tenacity” type buff this would make sure that “feeding frenzy” type events would be discouraged, as well as events such that extreme population imbalances, while using a “tenacity” buff, wouldn’t result in player “raid bosses” walking around being able to one-shot opposing players because the imbalance is too high. Though I don’t pvp I too have recently experienced some of the mild burnout you describe. I finished my cloak a few days after the patch dropped and, since my guild has been in a standstill because of life interrupting a number of raiders, I’ve not found a reason to get more VP, or even spend it upgrading anything. I’m maxed at 3k regardless. Been enjoying a F2P game recently, and logging on long enough to do profession CD’s while waiting for the group to fill out again. As for age; “You’re only as old as you think you are. The Gray Hairs are lying.” …if only I could get my wife to stop pulling out my own gray hairs. 5. Balkoth says: For what it’s worth, I entirely agree with your post. I started off on PvE servers because I just joined whatever realm the game recommended when I started — I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. At the end of Vanilla and throughout BC I switched to a PvP server and became disillusions for many of the reasons you cited. “Maybe I’m just old now, or something. Or maybe I’m just the wrong type of person for a PvP server. I don’t (and really never have) gotten any satisfaction from making other people feel bad or ruining their experience. I almost never pro-actively attack another player anymore, because in the back of my mind I can always see myself on the receiving end and think about how irritated I would be at the inconvenience. And I don’t want to inflict that on someone, so I don’t. I’m not the sort of kid who enjoys ganking and then /spitting and tea-bagging the corpse. That’s just not me, and never has been.” Well, I was in high school when my disillusionment started. I enjoy the idea of PvP — I’ve played SC2, WC3, TF2, and some other games. What I don’t like is WPvP designed to ruin the experience of other players who don’t want to participate. I can’t stand high levels ganking and think people who do it are scum. They are literally playing for the goal of making others suffer. That’s barbaric. When I tried a PvP server, I *wanted* stuff like TM vs SS — lots of people fighting for control of an area, even if the battle wasn’t actually even. It was people who wanted to be fighting and who were fighting for some reason other than “Maybe I can make this guy miserable!” But that’s not what PvP server really means, sadly. • Theck says: Yeah, I think the “want to participate” part is a big deal to me. I loved playing Enemy Territory (and still do, though rarely have time anymore), and that’s at its heart a mission-oriented FPS. “Kill the other guy” is the entire point, and everyone going into the game knows that. It’s similar to a Battleground in WoW, in that everyone signing up has the same expectations. World PvP is a different beast altogether. That doesn’t make it less fun – some of my best memories of world PvP involve holding my own against an aggressor and beating them at their own game, or having a furious 1 on 1 with another player out in the wild. Those encounters can be exhilarating even if they’re interrupting your natural quest flow. But when one person decides to shoot you and five to ten others pile on just because they happen to be nearby? There’s no honor in that. There’s no way to fight back. There’s just 15 seconds of being crowd-controlled while your health drops to zero. And when you can’t escape it because there’s nowhere to go that you aren’t significantly outnumbered, it just makes trying to do *anything* futile. If the choice is between spending 30 minutes doing graveyard runs and getting stunlocked to death or turning off the computer and wandering off to watch TV, it’s tough not to just throw your hands up in defeat and watch TV. At least you feel like you’re making progress in the latter. • Balkoth says: “There’s just 15 seconds of being crowd-controlled while your health drops to zero. And when you can’t escape it because there’s nowhere to go that you aren’t significantly outnumbered, it just makes trying to do *anything* futile.” Yeah, your only option is to Spirit Rez, sit in a city until the debuff wears off, then do stuff in queues and avoid going “out in the world.” Or log off. It’s definitely an idiotic situation. It’s not that we are demanding world PvP be fair. It’s that we’d like it to be less un-fair (especially on a meta-level) or it feels completely pointless and hopeless. P.S. Noticed your Btag comment below about guildmates and Horde — feel free to add Balkoth#1847 if you’d like. 6. Mendenbarr says: From the perspective of a horde player on a horde dominated PVE realm, timeless isle still has problems. The sheer number of other players on the island make it very difficult to tag anything worth killing. Rares die in a few seconds, and the lag often prevents me from tagging them in those few short seconds. While I can’t claim to have experienced death at the hands of the alliance, the presence of a large group of other players makes the island a less fun experience overall. You mentioned using a friend to cross over to another server during 5.3/5.2, have you tried that on the timeless isle? It’s a lot more fun on a near dead server with a balanced population. • Theck says: Yeah, I have on occasion. But my play schedule has been sort of wacky this semester, so it hasn’t lined up with most of my PvE friends in convenient ways. I still do it on occasion, and the experience is much more fun when I do. But when there’s 4 people active on your Btag list and theyr’e all either guildmates or Horde, it’s just not an option. 7. I get what you’re saying, but I feel like you and most of the people who find themselves on a pvp server with active world don’t realize. World PvP = unfair pvp. It does not mean wow with extra spice. It doesn’t even mean living out the lore with fights with the opposite faction(that’s what rp flavored servers are for). It means big group camps little group, until the little group gets enough people organization to become the big group. All your suggestions about changing and modifying wow so that it has “fair” world pvp is just following an illusion of wow that never existed, and has never even been in the developer’s intention. Fair fights, even the chance to do something back to the enemy is what bgs and arena play is for. Its this way intentionally by design, because the developers want you to organize a counter group so you can farm the other faction with them having no chance of fighting back. You’re not asking for a fix to a broken situation. You’re asking for a design intent change (which is hard, if not impossible to get). Sorry to say it, but your play-style does fit pve servers more than it does pvp. Optional world pvp. Immunity from faction imbalances. Focus on pve with little to do no “disruption” by pvp. Sever xfers may be impractical, but take another look at rerolling. Other than the cloak quest chain, re-gearing at max level has never been easier. • Jackinthegreen says: This begs the question of what is worse for the game: “Fixing” this “problem” of imbalance, or allowing it to remain? There’s a lot to think about with that. For one, what might player trends start looking like if the “fix” of unflagging players goes through? Once people get wind of that will the imbalances on servers smooth out? It’s unknown since I can see a situation where some players might end up leveraging the mechanic so that instead of tipping the scales enough to be balanced and thus be in the zone where flagging is not changed, they use that and thus might not have to worry about PVP at all on a server. They do have numerous reasons why they haven’t really tried to balance world PVP, but I would hope they haven’t actively tried to -unbalance- it. • Bonemud says: I’m probably wrong but it seems like you’re missing the idea that being locally outnumbered and being globally outnumbered are two separate issues. Being merely locally outnumbered can be fixed using the strategy you’ve outlined. It is a fair and fun community building mechanic as stated by Theck in his post. Being globally outnumbered is a whole different beast, and is essentially un-fixable by any method short of a faction or server transfer. • Geodew says: Asking players to re-roll or transfer completely ignores their social structure on their realm. My raid team has a minority who enjoy being on a PvP realm, friends that I’ve been raiding with for more than a year, so doing something like that would break up the guild. How I ended up on a PvP realm in the first place is another story, but the summary is that I didn’t have much of a choice. My opinion is probably radical, but if you ask me, they should get rid of the PvP/PvE realm flags essentially making all realms PvE, and just make it so it takes 24 hours to turn your PvP flag on or off. The players who want to engage in ganking and being ganked can do so, and the ones who are stuck on a PvP realm with their friends can play in peace. • Theck says: @Haywood: I completely disagree with you. Maybe a balanced PvP situation never existed on your server, but it certainly did on Blackrock and Tichondrius at one point in time. The dynamic of be camped, organize counter-attack, and camp the opponent is part of the balanced experience. That’s not a design intent change – that *is* reminiscent of a balanced (or mostly balanced) PvP experience. Now explain to me how you’re supposed to do that when there are 4 alliance in the zone and 100 horde? It simply doesn’t work. There is absolutely no way that this is the “intended design” for PvP servers, as your seem to claim it is. Nobody is asking to have exactly equal number of people in every locale at every time. But to have an enjoyable experience – in fact, the [u]exact experience you describe[/u] – there needs to be enough players on both factions that it’s actually possible to organize a counter-attack. 8. Kring says: There’s another way to balance it. Make Alliance racials superior for raiding. (It could be something crazy like a cooldown or increased damage to the mob type of the current expansions.) Then, after about 50% of the serious guilds switched side, balance the racials. 9. Sid says: I went through a similar story. I joined Alliance on a fairly unbalanced server in vanilla. It was 1.5:1 to 2:1 H:A. Not too bad. It made our world pvp wins even sweeter. Fast forward to early Cataclysm, and most of the big raiding guilds had left. We were struggling to fill a 10man raid on a Tuesday night. I did a couple of /who’s, and I found out 10% of the online lvl 90’s were in our raid. So we thought about switching to another server, but we stayed with ours and switched to Horde. We knew our server was one of the best in terms of raiders. My server is Illidan-US. I looked up our server on a population website (it might have been wowprogress) a few months ago: for level 90 characters only, Horde out numbers Alliance 100:1. We have the second highest total population, the highest Horde population, and lowest Alliance population in the U.S. It no longer feels like a PvP server. I ran an Alliance alt up the hill on the Timeless Isle to get the 1 free Burden, I died 7 times before I got there. I wish I was Alliance. I miss my Dwarf Paladin. I wish Blizzard would do something to make people want to be on the lower population side or a balanced side. 10. Homlit says: Speaking of queues: one appeal for smaller factions might be if blizzard finally decides to make server queues faction based. I think this would be a big deal if mostly one faction stuck in their login screen while the other faction already enjoys playing. (If only one finds the right external field for a superposition in this case 😉 ) I’m still playing on Alliance EU-Blackrock and we’re about 40:1 outnumbered (according to wowprogress). I’ve never tried Timeless Isles on my own server (except turning in quests and leaving quickly afterwards). I’ve also heard Horde faction has problems itself doing dailies on the isles. There are quite a few PvP junkies ganking their own faction (who else can they gank) and if not that, people sort of steal mobs from each other. I must admit I’m enjoying a bit they are struggling with their own harassing players… 11. I’ve got to say, I feel very much, but entirely, the same way. Started off (and still am) on Nathrezim-US, as a Blood Elf Paladin because 1. I like being a paladin, but also 2. because many of my friends – with whom I played on a free server – moved there. PvP was never really my thing, but I figured there would be plenty of PvE stuff to do. Little did I know about how infuriating the interruptions to my daily grind would be down the line. Ironically though, the Alliance:Horde ration is a near perfect 1:2 on Nathrezim. So things shouldn’t be bad for me – except they are. Maybe because I don’t participate in ganking groups, I never get to see how screwed, if at all, the Alliance is, but being on the receiving end of the ganking sessions has definitely left an impact on me. Considering how rarely I play these days (weekends mostly, doing the 50 Epoch Stones quest and clearing all of 5.4’s LFR), I really want to avoid dealing with further delays. In my case, I could probably transfer to another realm – none of my original friends are still on Nath, and I haven’t really made any new ones lately – but I am mildly hesitant about throwing$25 at a game I am quickly growing disenchanted with…

• Thels says:

That is one of the problems about the Paid Migrations. Sure, if you want to move to a specific server because you have friends there or want to join a guild there, I can see merit in a Paid Migration, though even there it’s questionable. I need to pay extra to play with my friends?

But indeed the big problem is that it’s the players that are currently not enjoying the intended experience are the ones that need to cough up the money. It really becomes a gamble then to cough up the money.

I had the same thing a couple of months ago. My server was dying rapidly, and it really felt like a singleplayer game. Eventually my guild seriously discussed migrating as we couldn’t even raid anymore, and I really wasn’t looking forward to paying 20 euros on a game I wasn’t really enjoying anymore. I ended up coughing up the money in the end, and boy, were they worth it. Suddenly being on an active, engaging server where there’s actually stuff happening around you all around the clock made the game such a better experience.

The big question is, though, should I have had to play that paid migration fee to get that experience? Shouldn’t that experience have to be provided without the paid migration cost on top of the other fees?

• How did you decide on a server then? Because the actual money is not an issue for me, I have more than enough to not feel those $25 – it’s the idea of potentially wasting them that’s bothering me… 12. R says: That’s a very good analysis and discussion of an issue that I haven’t had much personal experience with. My own example of ending up in an oddball situation for me was that my friends were on a PvE-RP server and I don’t RP. Not exactly an issue of the same magnitude, though, and not one that impacts my gameplay in any way. I think/suspect/expect most servers of any size at all will eventually become faction-dominant one way or the other, it just improves the end-game gameplay experience too much even on a non-PvP server. My primary server, the same PvE-RP server that’s solidly mid-pack population-wise (in rank, not in median or mean), is apparently slightly Alliance-dominated, my faction, but you wouldn’t really know it from an end-game perspective. The top raiding teams are about 80% Horde and when world bosses are faction tagged, they’re more often Horde. We may have the bodies but they have the activity. I’d expect within a few years, depending on how CR gets implemented, my server will become a Horde server. I also have toons on a high-pop, hugely-imbalanced PvE server. You ask whether folks on non-PvP servers notice the imbalance… well, I can’t speak to whether those solely on that server do but I certainly notice it when I’m over there. At the very least, with equal populations, it doubles the General chat volume… it just feels more active. That they have a hugely larger population just magnifies that difference. If there’s a faction tag happening, I know I can go participate. It’s *our* server. Alliance won, I guess, and there wasn’t even PvP involved. I’m not sure what the solution is. Free transfers to the lower-pop faction might help, especially on imbalanced PvE servers, but I’m not sure that would have a significant effect. For PvP servers I think the issue is even greater… an imbalanced PvP server is basically a PvE server for that faction, which may well be the REASON the factions are so imbalanced, there are probably a lot of players on PvP servers who don’t actually want PvP in their daily gameplay. Players like to win and when you’re in that faction on those servers, that’s going to happen a lot more than it doesn’t. That isn’t really PvP, though. What if, in order to actually BE flagged as a PvP server, factions had to be within a certain range? Say, within 2:1 overall, and once the population moves outside of that range the server becomes very similar to a PvE server until it gets back within range, except that the dominant faction members are perma-flagged while the lower-pop faction can unflag and flag at will as on a PvE server? Combine that with free transfers &/or free faction transfers and I could see it MAYBE having an impact. I don’t see why Illidan should even be considered a PvP server, why not formalize that reality and give the people what they apparently want, an utter lack of world PvP? I do have one question about your situation specifically, though… you ended up on those PvP servers because that’s where your friends are but you seem to be having issues out alone on the Island. Are you actually PLAYING with your friends? Wouldn’t a group of 5-10 guildies have a much easier time existing out there against the Horde mases? If you aren’t actually playing together, it might be time to take a second look at your situation, Battletag everyone you’d like to keep in touch with and move to another (probably PvE, possibly one where you’d be a dominant faction for once) server. You can always x-realm with your friends if you want to do some PvP or run content together, you’d only lose out on normal/heroic raiding with them and that may be a small price to pay if the alternative is to feel that you’re entirely excluded from all other end-game content. • Theck says: My friends are my raid team, for the most part. So going off-server doesn’t work since I couldn’t raid with them anymore. Unfortunately, we’re all getting old and have busy schedules (and split between Eastern, Pacific, and Oceanic time zones). Our raid times are really the only times we can carve out and ensure we’re all online. The rest of the week, it’s not uncommon for only 4-5 people to be on at a given time, and not all of them will be on the island. We’re not one of those big guilds with hundreds of accounts and lots of non-active raiders. Obviously, I group with guild members when I can. But my odd schedule this fall means I’m frequently playing when nobody else is online. 13. Sofie says: I play on a PvE server, and hate Timeless Isle because of the massive griefing. I don’t like fighting the kind of mob that’s there either. • Geodew says: What kind of griefing? 14. Thels says: When they introduced paid migrations/faction changes, this was bound to happen. You see it in factions imbalance, but also general population imbalance. The low-pop servers lose more and more players, while the high-pop servers gain more and more. Part of the problem here is in the age of the game. The game’s been out for 9 years now, 9 years during which the balance was allowed to be skewed over. Pushing alliance racials ain’t the solution. Theck’s server might suffer from way too many Hordes, other servers suffer from way too many Alliance. They could artificially fix the situation using the CRZ technology. Say once there are 200 alliance players on the server, the next alliance player that enters the zone is pushed to a second instance of the same zone. The same would apply to horde players, so there are at most 200 alliance and 200 horde players in the same zone. (I have no idea if 200 is too high or too low, I’m just grabbing a random number here.) Naturally, there would be a bunch of servers where alliance side has multiple instances and horde does not, and a bunch of servers where the opposite applies. They could just match these together, so if you’re overabundant on alliance on your server, when you enter the Timeless Isle, you’ll still encounter alliance players from your own server, but horde from a more or less random server to even things out. It feels more and more that servers are a thing of the past. With the ease of migrating server/faction, Blizzard is leaving server balance entirely in the hands of the players. When a server is dying or is suffering from a heavy faction imbalance, a player is not going to move to that server or that underrepresented faction, as his addition of a single player is not going to fix the problem, so he’s pushing himself into unsatisfying content. Connected Realms are a step in the right direction, where Blizzard will be able to merge underpopulated servers together, but I have the feeling it’s too little, too late. It doesn’t retroactively fix the problem for high populated servers. (Though it does help prevent the problem from getting worse. By removing the problem of underpopulated servers, there will be less players migrating from these underpopulated servers to the higher populated servers.) An option would be for Blizzard to man up and dare splitting the high pop servers eventually as well. It should be possible for them to figure out which players play together the most and make a cut in the middle with only infringing minimal friendships, and thanks to the CRZ technology, those people are still able to play together. However, with Blizzard’s extreme conservative attitude, I doubt we’ll see that happen ever. It’s more likely for the server system in it’s current situation to disappear altogether. 15. Brommith says: I can’t say I share your sentiment, Theck. While it does sound like an imposing issue, I can’t seem to bring myself to care much about it. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I’ve not been subjected to it… well, ever. In my 9 years of play I’ve never had to be on the ass-end of factional imbalance on realms. However, World PVP needs a fix, since I also enjoy the idea of WPvP, but my issues lie more in the phenomenal imbalance created by PVE gear in WPvP. I feel that wearing my PVP gear is largely useless on my mage, since I can get 20% more crit, 30% more haste, and at least 10000 more INT using PVE gear. • Geodew says: “I don’t care about this issue because it doesn’t affect me.” Way to show compassion for others bro • Theck says: I’m sure it *is* hard to care when you’re on the dominant faction of a PvP server. Though one could still empathize, even if you can’t sympathize. It’s sort of amusing that many responses I’ve seen to this blog post essentially characterize it as “whining about PvP,” but are written by players who are essentially on a one-faction PvE server by virtue of their server’s faction imbalance. I’m not saying you’re part of that crowd, but it’s an especially strong undercurrent I’ve seen in comments overall (moreso on reddit than here). I’m not really sold on the PvP vs. PvE gear discussion, though – on the Isle of Thunder, it was tough to survive even 1v1 against a player with PvP gear because of the huge disparity in effectiveness. After the changes, my PvE gear made it possible to frequently beat a lone would-be ganker. I’m not in a position to say that it’s perfectly balanced or anything, just that it certainly feels a lot better than it was. Remember that open-world content is designed and intended for players of both persuasions – ideally you shouldn’t have a huge advantage in world PvP from either gearing path, otherwise you risk locking one half of the community out of that content (or at least making it significantly more frustrating for them). • Geodew says: Agree with Theck’s last paragraph; This is kind of a whole ‘nother discussion, but: PvP and PvE gear should be just as good for WPvP IMHO. A problem arises that Elite gear no longer gives item level, so you can’t equate Heroic = Elite, Normal = Conquest, LFR = Honor anymore. Even as a primary PvE-er, I can get plenty of Conquest gear with a bit of effort, but getting Elite would be very difficult. I could perhaps see a good player and primary PvPer saying the same thing about Normal and Heroic raiding respectively depending on how easy it is to PUG on their realm or whatever. One fix is to make Elite gear have item level increases again, but scale it down for organized PvP. Obviously this removes part of what they intended to fix: that players would have to gem enchant and reforge Elite gear even though it gives them no benefit in organized PvP. 16. Trystero says: Sidenote: Timeless Isle is also terrible on a large population server…I cross-realmed to a large server for an Ordos run, and you couldn’t do ANYTHING. Every rare was camped, Yaungol mobs went down so fast it seemed as if they didn’t spawn. What a mess. It’s like when I go out to eat at primetime, 6:30 PM: I’m waiting 30+ minutes to sit like a pig at a trough, where I can wait some more to get my food because all the other animals need their feed. A few weeks ago, actually, my cousin asked me about WoW. He doesn’t know much about it and is hesitant about getting into it since he just had a child. His impressions of WoW are almost mythological, founded on hearsay and superstition….”Can you sell weapons for$20k on Ebay? Do you raid with hundreds of people? ”

One area he was very interested in was WPvP – “Do players police the game themselves?” I told him some cheerful stories, such as when my guild took a week off from raiding and assailed Stormwind (starting at the bank and marching right into the castle) or when my friend and I worked to defend Thrallmar from griefers – and before we knew it, we had an all out melee on our hands, with players swarming in from all corners of the earth. Or my rivalry with a deathknight on my old server, who I seemed to keep running into, from Goldshire to Dominance Point to the Darkmoon Arena. The environment seemed very dynamic, organic, and spontaneous.

Then I told him the unfortunate truth, that these awesome events were few and far between, and that most “world PvP” is little more than one-shot ganking and camping. That on faction imbalanced servers, gangs of mass murderers will slaughter all they encounter. That I tried to play Alliance on Arthas and quit after only a few hours of frustrated gameplay.

He probably wasn’t going to play WoW anyway, but he really did lose interest after learning that World PvP wasn’t at all what he thought it’d be.

17. Wayne says:

Definitely agree with this post, it’s part of why I hate PVP servers and the whole concept of World PVP In general, and feel it has no real place and just detracts from the game (along with factions themselves). The only other thing I wanted to add is how are you AFK in that screenshot and still alive? xD

• Geodew says:

The screenshotted area has faction-neutral guards. Take a few steps out of the Celestial Court and you’d be followed and ganked, for sure.

• Wayne says:

Ah I see. I don’t play on a PVP server so the thought never crossed my mind about the guards there.

How do factions detract from the game? Or were you saying WPvP detracts from factions?

18. Airowird says:

Here is some more irony on the faction imbalance:

As a PvE-focused player (I dislike world PvP because of gank squads), I had to leave a dying server and find myself another home at the start of MoP. My realm of choice: EU-Kazzak, a PvP-server. Why?
Because with a 43:1 Horde imbalance, it basicly means that nearly all raiding guilds are the same faction (= no payed faction change just to find a guild on your server) and during prime time you rarely ever see any Alliance because of all the issues you talk about. My entire guild is purely a PvE guild except that one social member doing BGs, in fact, the most world PvP I’ve experienced this expansion is the Censer gank squad camping the frog beach (another issue all together). Dark Portal CRZ campers are a close second.

So from my PoV, world PvP is so broken at the moment, I chose to transfer to a PvP server, BECAUSE I prefer PvE. While levelling alts, I notice that world PvP has become so toxic, I only ever get attacked by a) 90 doing pet battles in a level 40 zone b) 90s ganking people in Hellfire Peninsula CRZ for the sake of griefing people or c) a same-level player who sees me drop low on health because I’m killing an elite quest mob.

While the attitude of WPvPers is nothing Blizzard can fix directly, it usually comes from people finding that small fraction of world PvP where they have a more than fair chance of surviving (Usually by dominating others). So the most important fix is indeed making PvP fair again, at which point I might actually think of participating.

While I like your idea of the damage/health/CC buff, it would actually promote ganking by the underdog. Imagine the amount of damage an Alliance Rogue would do on Kazzak, he could probably 1shot me with Ambush simply because there is no Alliance on the server, it would completely flip the balance around on faction-dominant servers.
Maybe we need to look at the Vengeance mechanic for a solution?
What if PvPower simply gave you extra AP/SP depending on the damage you took from players pre-Resilience?
What if Resilience worked multiplicative for every enemy player attacking you out in the world?
I think with a dynamic buff combining the WPvP concept of Battle Fatigue with the balancing mechanics of Vengeance would probably help push that rock back up that hill. Or atleast flatten it hard enough so the difference can be overcome by player skill.

19. mehmet says:

Hey Theck,

I have just learned that you are a physicist. As a WoW player that has played paladin since vanilla, (and paladin tank since TBC), learning that my favorite guide-guy is also a physicist made me extremely happy. So, just out of curiosity, are you a PhD student? Postdoc? What are you working on?

• Theck says:

I teach Engineering/Physics/Math at a small college at the moment. I try not to talk too much about my work just because I like to keep professional life separate from wow life for a variety of reasons. But I have a Ph.D. in Optics, specializing in nonlinear optics and pulse propagation.

• mehmet says:

I understand, well, keep up the good work. Most of the guides out there are based on the author’s gut instinct. I enjoy the scientific accuracy of your guides. So yeah, thank you

That sounds so much more impressive than “I have a Ph.D. in American Literature, specializing in creative writing and contemporary literature.” If I said that, I’d sound like I was trying to impress someone. Le sigh. I understand keeping them separated. I had a student figure out I played WoW because he happened to see a Horde pin (gift from a guildie) I had just opened and left on my desk… that was all he wanted to talk about afterward.

• Theck says:

Any Ph.D. is impressive, it takes a lot of work to develop the level of expertise it takes to complete one. But yes, keeping my students in the dark is one of the reasons for discretion.

I still think it’s funny as hell that there’s a likelihood one or more of your students were browsing your blog in your class, although I guess it depends on the size of your classes. The sheer irony- you, a serious professor, have created an addicting distraction for your students- is enough to make my literary heart weep for joy. I hope you keep up the physics-related analogies. It reminds me fondly of my undergraduate days in Engineering, which is strange because four years of engineering and one summer internship sent me back to college for a fifth year to turn my lit minor into a major because I realized I didn’t want to do that, and I don’t quite have the sort of understanding necessary to do PhD-level work in Engineering fields.

But I digress. Enjoyed the work, as always!

20. Philaster says:

You describe exactly my experience leveling Alliance on Thaurissan during BC days. I was new to the game and joined the server my RL friends were playing on. I believe in those days Thaurissan had a 10:1 imbalance. When I got to Nagrand (the zone not the server) and level 70s were dropping from the sky in packs to gank me, wait for me to rez and drop down and do it again I left for a PvE server and have never looked back. It was months and months though before I stopped taking a few steps back every time I encountered a horde player within the world. I hope Bliz listens to you because server imbalance does drain all the enjoyment out of the game.

21. Philaster says:

and as an after note. Shortly after I left Thaurissan Bliz offered free server transfers to a new server (I can’t remember which one). I’d left a few alts behind and I checked in now and then. After the free transfer offer Thaurissan was practically devoid of Alliance players, Stormwind and Iron Forge were ghost towns, they’d all migrated to greener pastures. Which left me pondering the questions what do the Horde players do now on a PvP server where there is no opposing faction? How can you PvP when there’s no one to fight? And if you can’t PvP then why even be on a PvP server?

22. Vanagandrr says:

Yea, I miss those ‘balanced’ PvP realms that as you stated, that uneasy truce is there and can cause for some epic fights if you’re not careful or run into the person you just ‘have’ to kill.

23. PJlucy says:

I am currently on one of those at the top of that list above. I have been on Kil’jaeden for over 6 years. It used to be one of the most balanced servers in the game for that entire time. Then MoP hit. I’m not sure of what happened with that expansion but slowly a few left to go Horde. Then a few more and then their friends. Slowly the balance tipped. With the huge increase in 10 man guilds many 25 mans could not fill their roster so they left and went Horde and their friends. We are so imbalanced now at around 70/30 according to statistics but if you are out on Isle you feel like 20v1 at best. People are so tired of the imbalance and being ganked that they continue to leave Ally for Horde. Is this the end of KJ? Will we end up in the scrap heap of the many servers that are almost entirely Horde as Ally continue to escape from their frustrating game experience?

Many of us have resorted to rolling toons on another server to get questing achieves etc. done and we will invite a friend from KJ xrealm to help them. Guess what happens next? Yup the person is so happy to be able to play the game without all the ganking that occurs on KJ because of the huge imbalance that they start to enjoy that newly rolled server and transfer their mains there and of course the friend does the same.

Blizz could fix this. They knew the problems were coming. It was right in their face and they knew this would happen as 5.4 loomed and they did nothing. Not a thing. Many of us are close to just quitting game. Now balanced servers are being overrun by people from imbalanced servers and I guess we know what will happen with that.

24. Spencer says:

Do you think Blizzard would rather have 10,000 subs cancelled, and 10,000 paid transfers (assuming players are equally as likely to do either action) or 0 cancelled subs and 0 paid transfers?

In the eyes of the consumer (or at a minimum my own) Blizzard has garnered a reputation of fast-cash over long commitment. Reasonably, I might make the same choice given the age of the game and knowledge of it’s inevitable end. Lately Blizzard screams nothing but bad ethos to me with respect to managing WoWs deeper issues.

Saddening more than anything else, having started in Cataclysm and only been around for this very gloomy portion of the game’s history.

• Geodew says:

It seems to me that they’re in it for the money but also care about the quality of their game for other reasons. After all, look at Virtual Realms tech. Apparently it just took them awhile to figure out the tech limitations, I think is what one of the devs said.

That can’t possibly fix all faction-imbalanced realms, though. They said so themselves.

• Tasunke says:

Seeing how much people they added to the WoW team from the Titan report, can’t be more wrong IMO.

And I fail to see any relation between sub cancellation and paid transfers…

• Geodew says:

I personally know someone, a former raider of my raid team, who quit solely because he was morally against paying Blizzard for a realm transfer. As a casual guild we value our team for their personalities and the fun we have together, so we tried desperately to convince him to come with us, even offered to pay for him, but he refused over and over. Now his account is frozen. Even more people quit because they don’t have the money to pay for a transfer of all their toons or even one toon or resent blizzard for even asking them to pay to transfer.

My old realm is the lowest population realm in the US and is still not connected via virtual realm, by the way. The fixes are too-little-too-late for many, many players.

25. Tasunke says:

Was exactly in the same situation last year.

Playing since Vanilla on a PVP server. Had wonderfull experience back then (tarren mill obviously, less STV nighmare being chased day and night by hunters while being a mousclicker noob). Experienced the same population imbalance growth (but for the alliance on Garona-EU).

After 9 years. With a few friend we asked ourself if it wasn’t the right time to leave our dying (outside of balance, total population was shrinking a LOT since cata end) server. We rerolled on a PVE server, in the dominating faction (essentially for WB taging. And to see a bit of alliance after 9 years in Orgrimmar). And even if with this summer 50% transfer sale the faction pop switched pretty heavily to horde (celestial are 90% horde taged for exemple) I didn’t miss PVP server once.

Blizzard did pretty will on IoT with the PVP dailies if you wanted to hunt in the wild a bit (Ordos tagging is not as great on PVE server as every PVP motivated people are chasing the few non Ordos yet PVP tagged players).

26. Ragnor says:

Yes!

Blackrock population was balanced in Vanilla and TBC and it was fun. I just recently started playing again and the faction imbalance on Blackrock is insane, exact same problem you have on Tichondrius… but worse!

Good to see Cadenza still going well, No MAAM is still going on Blackrock but only 10 man these days.

Blizzard should definitely be looking at free transfers, some kind of world pvp buff and/or connect alliance dominated realms to horde dominated realms in the same data center.

Looking at those wowprogress numbers neither Blackrock or Tich are really “high” pop, look more like medium to me, they could totally connect a medium pop alliance to a medium pop horde, problem is there aren’t any.. all the US pacific realms in the LA Data Center are horde dominated.

Maybe faction balance in terms of racials needs to be looked at, perhaps even removing racials or reducing them all to flavour like minor glyphs.

First, I can’t imagine seeing “Theck” and attacking, just because you’ve done so much for Prot Pallies. I guess I’d feel differently if I was a warlock or something else.

The domination of one faction over another has some negative effects on PvE servers, too. For example, on Hyjal, we have less Alliance and it’s more difficult for them to get groups together for world bosses. The coalesced realms may have helped- I’m Horde, so I don’t know- but last summer there was quite a bit of complaining about it. During most of MoP, Horde would watch Alli groups pull Sha or Gall or Oon, joke about how long until they wiped, then pull ourselves. If some poor Alli happen to be tagged, Horde jumped in and killed them and anyone they had healed or who had healed them. This was status quo until gear level started to outstrip lack of numbers. (side note: I never did the ganking… I hold with you in that respect. I think teaching makes me more empathetic because I hear so much complaining aleady!) In any case, it’s less enjoyable to quest in a world in which I only see Horde. Some of the reality (ironic as it is to talk in such a way) is lost when the server becomes dominated by one side.

I agree with your analysis and I’m surprised at the reaction from Blizzard (assuming the post about it above was accurate). It seems that saying “We’ll keep imbalanced realms because most players WANT to be in a majority” would encourage less World PVP (it isn’t that fun to go 10-on-1 all the time, especially once it leads to a total lack of players to fight) and encourage camping in cities to do Arenas, BGs, etc. This perspective is antithetical to their stated intention of promoting world exploration. Either Blizzard is speaking out of both sides of its metaphorical mouth or the issue is more difficult to solve than we’re realizing (or they’re imagining the solution is more complex than it needs to be). What possible loss would Blizz experience by balancing servers? Players would enjoy the buff of soloing three players until sides balanced out; once numbers did balance, world PvP would provide enough opportunities for ganking and for fairly-matched fights.

One point that I wanted to bring up: how do you consider inactives? You mention the likely number of inactive toons (I, for one, have an inactive toon- very low level- in each type of server, left over from when I wanted to see what each server was like), and I suspect there are a lot of inactive toons, especially on the minority side. How would Blizz factor this into the balancing? Or would that settle out naturally (e.g. 5k Horde and 5k Alli with 500 inactives) and not be a big deal? I don’t even know if Blizz tracks that sort of thing. I have always has to focus on a main and a couple alts (and by alts, I mean toons whose sole purpose is to support the main), but I know players who were kids when the game came out, and they have level 70s and 80s scattered all around the board.

Anyway, interesting post. I feel you made a persuasive argument, but the course of business never did run logically.

• Theck says:

Inactives aren’t a big problem for Blizzard, as they have the data to handle that. One would need some basic rules for how to count them though. It also depends on the exact definition of “inactive”

For example, let’s say you have someone with an active account that just hasn’t logged on in a month. Do they count as inactive? What if it’s been two to three months of inactivity on a paid-for account?

I’d probably lean towards counting any account that’s been active (as in paid-for) in the last three months AND has a max-level character that’s been logged into at least three times in those last three months. That would filter out inactive (not paid for) accounts, as well as active accounts with player inactivity (no log ins) and low-level players that don’t participate in max-level content.

It’s certainly not perfect – someone could log in once a month without really participating, which counts that player without them actually participating in world content. But that’s likely to be a very small (and not very faction-biased) percentage of the player base. The point is to get a rough balance level anyway, not to make it exact to five decimal places. I’m sure we could come up with other sets of criteria that accomplish the same goal, it’s a pretty open-ended problem.

• Çapncrunch says:

For any type of tenacity-style buff they wouldn’t be able to use server population at all, it simply would not work. Inactives is one problem, but only a minor one compared to some of the others: does it really matter if there’s 10 times as many horde than alliance on your server if you’re the only horde in a zone with 50 alliance? Sure you could seek out backup since your faction is the dominant one, but really how many horde are going to want to come help if the alliance have a big ol’ tenacity buff because they’re the under-represented faction? Also, what does it really matter at all how many players are on either side on your server when CRZ is a thing? Half the players you may find yourself up against may not even be from your server and likewise a chunk of your server’s population may currently be on another server. And lastly, time. Just because one faction may have more active characters than the other that doesn’t mean that that’s the case all the time.

The only way I can see a tenacity-style solution working would be to make it scale dynamically based on the number of players in the immediate vicinity, probably the zone. The buff would have to be able to automatically update anyways as server populations certainly aren’t static (the alternative would be that blizzard would need to constantly monitor server populations and push a patch/hotfix every couple of weeks to keep it current), and CRZ technology shows that they have the capability to automatically detect zone populations. This way the buff is more appropriate to the type of scuffle you’re likely to find yourself in, and if/as backup is called in the buff will continue to update so that the fight remains more fair to the numbers.

• Theck says:

I don’t think either Shadanah or I were talking about the Tenacity solution here. There would be no reason to worry about server population at all for a Tenacity solution, since they could just use the current number of players of each faction in the zone. They’ve had that technology since Wintergrasp.

I assumed Shadanah was talking about the passive load-balancing issue of which servers/factions are open for transfers and which are not.

This occurred to me the other day: what are the odds that Timeless Isle is a foreshadowing of how the next expansion will play out for leveling?

• Geodew says:

I figured Censer was also a massive experiment on the state of World PvP, regarding what people find fun and why.

• Geodew says:

Because when you think about it, that’s a rather controversial thing to quietly slip into a content patch. Many carebears on heavily-imbalanced PvP realms, “stuck” there due to friends or significant others or various other reasons, were upset by its addition to 5.4. I’m on Mal’Ganis, transferred here because I expected not to be required to participate in PvP. When it went live, it pissed me off quite a fair bit.

Because it’s Mal’Ganis, 12k Horde to 10 Alliance, it’s not hard to get a ganking raid together. You only get a coin on a killing blow I believe, so Blizzard maybe thought that players wouldn’t form Censer raids, or even get healers to heal them. Blizzard failed to take into account that players participate in WPvP for fun, not for mounts or pets or other rewards. And steamrolling over other players once in awhile is probably fun for those players. The reward was a happy accident. I’m confident people would have used Censers even without the existence of Bloody Coins.

29. Duncan says:

Theck,

Another thought, and forgive me as I haven’t read through all the comments (perhaps it was already mentioned), but what about introducing phasing per zone?

Simply phasing sets of players into different instance zones, such as:
– Timeless Isle 1
– Timeless Isle 2
– Etc…etc…

Granted, this wouldn’t stop a party of one faction or the other forming to specifically run around and gank, it would stop the random 10 people jumping you (2 that started the gank + the 8 others who spied an easy kill).

Additionally, it would also not help those 30:1 servers, but I also consider those servers to be lost causes.

Of course, I’m unsure of the IT limitations on this, but a dynamically phasing system that keeps zones at balance might work.

All the best and Happy Thanksgiving!

-Duncan

• Theck says:

I think that would help cut down on over-competition for resources (mobs, nodes, etc.), but that’s almost exactly the opposite of what Blizzard was trying to do with cross-realm zones in the first place. It also makes it a little weird for meeting up with players in the world, because two players could be in the same place but not see each other. Grouping would probably fix that, but there are cases where it’s still awkward (I’m in my raid group, grabbing an enchant from someone quickly before raid, for example). Icecrown had a lot of these same problems because it was so heavily phased.

It’s probably one of those solutions that just causes more problems than it solves. It really doesn’t fix any of the faction imbalance issues, and creates new complications for day-to-day play.

• Duncan says:

I think that your enchant problem, as well as other similar issues that might arise would be a small problem to deal with considering the larger picture that needs to be solved.

I agree that ICC had a multitude of phasing issues; however, with Mists, they seem to have finally nailed that down.

And remember, this isn’t to fix current faction imbalances, but to stave off future faction runs.

In either case, here’s to hoping that some Devs come across this article and possibly gleam some new ideas. =)

-Duncan

30. Stardance says:

This is a very interesting post and ensuing discussion. In brief: I moved from a PvP realm (Bleeding Hollow) to a PvE realm (Garona), specifically because I could do nothing on Timeless Isle except fight the Horde. And this was after reaching Level 90 and acquiring a full set of Crafted Malevolent Gladiator gear (PvP) and the associated amulet, cloak, rings and trinkets.

While I was questing to level my Paladin (Retribution and Protection), I constantly encountered mobs of hostile Horde at many key points. One was the Tavern in the Mists, Kunlai Summit, where I attempted to connect with the Black Prince, Wrathion, to pursue the quest for the Legendary cloak. But I was always intercepted, interrupted, and finally driven away, by the Horde.

When I began playing WoW, the current expansion was WOTLK and eventually Cataclysm was released while my Paladin was still tanking Level 80 instances. Personally, I had no desire to engage in PvP combat. Up to that point, I was on Destromath and moved to Bleeding Hollow when my guild moved. Both were PvP servers. On Destromath I was “ganked” from time-to-time by higher-level Horde who typically killed my PC with “one shot”. Fights with other Horde PCs in other contexts were rare. But after Cata, my PC often fought with Horde PCs, mostly while mining in Uldum or in the Silver Tide Trench. By the time MoP was released, I had stopped playing WoW. When I resumed, I discovered that the Horde on Bleeding Hollow had become extremely aggressive, and I found groups of Horde PCs who seemed to be questing together and routinely attacking any Alliance PC they encountered.

After a while, a player simply gets fed-up with being ambushed, outnumbered and/or outgunned. The whole exercise becomes a pointless waste of time which rewards only the PC that wins the fight. When you start to constantly feel like a vicitm, then it is time to do something about it. So I moved to Garona.

But even on a PvE realm, Blizzard just cannot leave World PvP alone. If a player who is not flagged for PvP attacks a player who *is* flagged for PvP, then the attacker’s PvP flag is enabled for at least 5 minutes. Note that Blizzard also identifies a Horde PC as “hostile” regardless. So, if your Alliance Paladin casts a Judgement spell just as the current foe dies, the software finds the nearest *hostile* target and executes the Judgement against them. (The software always does that any time you cast Judgement and there is no current target, i.e., it will look for one within range.) It may be a mob in an instance which brings a bunch of others with it, so the Judgement becomes an inadvertant “pull”. Or in World PvP, it may be a nearby Horde PC of whose presence you may be unaware.

On Garona, some Horde players camp on some popular “rings” where your PC fights duels with Pandarian NPCs — usually as a daily quest — hoping to find themselves the default target just so that they will have an opportunity to attack your Alliance PC. And they might have a buddy or two hovering on mounts overhead, as well.

On the Timeless Isle, even on Garona, the context is “Player versus All” for PvP. That is, if an Alliance PC is flagged for PvP and my Paladin inadvertantly attacks that PC with a Judgement spell, then my PC is automatically flagged for PvP and can be killed by the other Alliance PC. So your enemies are of your own house as well as among the Horde who are flagged for PvP, because Blizzard refuses to change the way that Judgement targeting works.

It should be no surprise that the Blizzard developers constantly promote PvP even in the context of quests now. All of the dailies for the August Celestials at the Cradle of Chi-Ji (Temple of the Red Crane) and at the Temple of the White Tiger are duels with NPCs. Other than growing Striped Melons on Sunsong Ranch, such dailies are the only way — that I know of — to grind rep with them. Arena PvP with NPCs is also promoted as daily quests for the Shado-Pan at the garrison on the western end of Townlong Steppes. But they are not required to acquire reputation with them via other daily quests instead.

But the icing on this cake that alienated me from Blizzard was their infamous promotion of hatred for the Alliance by the Horde at the 2011 convention. Not long after that, I stopped playing WoW and paying for the account, so Blizzard “suspended” it. Eventually a friend convinced me to resume this past August, just before the release of MoP 5.4. I wish I could say that I have no regrets about that decision.

31. John says:

I have only been playing WoW for about a month now. I have played many other games and I know that there’s always people that play for the sole purpose of satisfying their innate @sshole nature. You make it sound like the problem is because of the way the game was created. But the problem in reality is just people themselves. All I have experience in WoW for day one is how people in the opposite faction go out of their way to kill you. Even when you run into people and leave them alone they will follow you and wait for you to be distracted. This is what is really killing WoW. Not the game. But all the people taking advantage of new players. New players will just move on to another game when presented with such an environment.

• Geodew says:

You may have a point, but at the same time, as you imply with the “move on to another game” comment, games can be designed in such a way that those negative experiences don’t occur. I don’t believe WoW is an exception. For instance, what you describe wouldn’t happen on a PvE realm.