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WoW Memoirs – Part I: “Sproll, Gnome, Mage” or “The Great Arathi Basin Battle”

December 8, 2010 5 comments

This is an epic tale, and you know it is an epic tale that ends with one gnome mage taking on, and utterly obliterating, five horde players.

But before I tell you what happens and in what context, I must introduce Sproll.

Sproll, Gnome, Mage

Sproll was a gnome mage in our guild, eternally obsessed with topping the DPS meters, even with DPS behemoths such as Spitachi (more on that in a future post). More often than not he broke the top three. Every once in a while he gave everyone the run for their money. I remember him as a funny, sweet kid, one who never hesitated to jump into the fray, and loved PvP on the side.

Closer to the last days of vanilla WoW, our guild decided to take a break from raiding. We were 9/16 in Naxxaramas, every other instance had been conquered, and the reality of all of our gear going obsolete in less than a month had fully settled in. It made very little sense for us to engage in PvE content after that. Several members of the guild wanted to PvP. One day we all decided to band together and queue for Arathi Basin together. An hour and three 5-cap matches later, we had found our addiction for the next 3 weeks before Wrath came out.

The Battle for Arathi Basin

One time in Arathi Basin we had the four nodes closest to the alliance (Stables, Lumbermill, Gold Mine and Blacksmith) under our control. Team Wrecking Crew (a group of our eight top DPS’ers) was pushing on the Farm to try and 5-cap the game. The remaining nodes were being guarded by two people each for Lumber Mill, Blacksmith and Gold Mine, and one individual guarding the flag at the Stables.

Masterabe and I were stationed at the Lumber Mill, overlooking all other nodes except the deep mine. Zarux was stationed with Debugger at the Blacksmith. We suddenly see the two-person Blacksmith team bolt and chase someone around the Blacksmith. Apparently a small group of Horde had brother through the blockade and had assaulted the Blacksmith. 15 seconds later, with the Blacksmith team nowhere to be seen, a Tauren Warrior, and an Orc Rogue emerge from behind the Blacksmith and run straight for the flag. Just then, I notice that Sproll, who is solely guarding the Stables flag, is actually standing right next to me at the Lumber Mill.

“You know,” he says, “one of us should really go down there and stop that flag from being capped.”

“I’ll go. I can heal and put out some moderate DPS, I’ll keep ’em busy till the wrecking crew can arrive and take it back.”

Richard, the leader of the Wrecking Crew responds with an affirmative in Vent. They had apparently lost the momentum on the farm anyway.

Sproll, Savior, Badass

This is the part you should pay attention to.

“No,” says Sproll. “Lemme handle this one.”

What followed was the most epic moment I have witnessed in PvP in the six years I have played WoW, and a true testament to the grit and capability of one Sproll, gnome mage.

Sproll mounted up, took a running start and dove off of the Lumber Mill. Just as he launched off, he dismounted and activated slow fall. He then maneuvered to land, ever so valiantly, amidst the two classes designed to physically rip mages apart. He proceeded to sheep the rogue, who, oddly, wasn’t in stealth at the moment, and POM-Pyro’ed/Fire Blasted the warrior. A few more shots and the warrior fell.

I spotted three incoming horde players from the bridge on the Gold Mine side. Sproll had maybe another 15 seconds before he would have to deal with four horde players alone.

“Richard, I need you at the Blacksmith NOW! Sproll will get creamed in a few seconds, we got three additional horde incoming!”

“We’re trying to die, so we could rezz with full health, but we’ll run back now!”

I calculate in my head quickly. Richard was too far away, if he came on foot, it would be too late for Sproll. If Masterabe and I went, the Lumber Mill would be vulnerable. The Stables were already unguarded. We were in a tough spot.

In the north, I could see Richard’s Wrecking Crew backing away from the Farm, but that was going very slowly. The three horde players were too close to Sproll. He made an executive decision. He knew he wouldn’t be able to fight off four horde players, so instead of killing the rogue, and calmly re-taking the Blacksmith with still another 30 seconds to spare, he re-sheeped the rogue and bee-lined for the flag, hoping to cap it, and buying our team some precious extra seconds to get to the battlefield.

“Richard,” I yelled in vent. “Change of plans, I need a blockade of the eastern road.” (A blockade of the eastern road implied he would converge on the bottleneck between the Blacksmith, Lumber Mill and Farm, and prevent anyone coming from the Farm to approach either of the other two locations.) Richard confirmed that he was on it.

We could jump off of the Lumber Mill, but there wouldn’t be enough time to heal and then run to the Blacksmith to engage. So I bubbled Masterabe and myself, and we dove off. We swam across the short body of water, one that felt like an ocean at the time, and finally looped around the ramp to the Blacksmith flag.

And that was when we were treated to the greatest thing we have ever seen in our lives.

There stood Sproll, two of the four attacking horde players dead at his feet, the rogue still sheeped, and a lone Troll Priest at half health as Sproll lobbed fireball after fireball at him. We were so dumbstruck by the spectacle, we literally stood there, our character seemingly frozen in place, because both Masterabe and I were in fits of laughter at this little gnome mage, who had, for all intents and purposes, taken on five horde players and wiped the floor with them. And true enough, after the Troll mage was dead, he chugged a pot, and proceeded to melt the rogue’s face off as well, with zero interference from either Masterabe or I.

That is the story of Sproll, one of the many, many memories I have of WoW.

And then Milamber found $5.

Categories: Bronte, PvP, World of Warcraft

Quote of the Day: “Consequential PvP” or “The Sad Truth”

November 4, 2010 Leave a comment

The sad truth is that when there are no consequences for bad behaviour, people often behave badly. There have been no consequences in PvP for a long while, and maybe it is time there should be.

Rohan, Leechers and Automatic Group CreationBlessings of Kings

 

“The Biggest PvPenis” or “Static vs. Dynamic”

June 20, 2010 7 comments

Returning to WoW

Since I came back to WoW, I have enjoyed a few key features introduced since I last weathered Azeroth’s tribulations. The Dungeon Finder is one such tool, and though I will religiously do a 5-man daily to accumulate those precious Emblems of Frost, the novelty wore off after a while, and the unused 400 Emblems of Triumph in my backpack became enough of an indication that the Dungeon Finder tool had outlived his functionality for my main.

So I started looking for alternate means to enjoy various other aspects of WoW. One of these was the leveling of a new character, a mage called Septimus (he was created originally as a bank alt on the 7th of July, 2007; hence Septimus). That too has it’s charms, as I am taking the time to explore each story and side-quest in WoW, trying to take in the breathing world before Deathwing comes along and fucks everything up.

Arathi Basin and The Burning Crusade

One other element that I have dabbled into with increasingly frequency is PvP. I have played World of Warcraft off and on for almost six years now. In those six years, I have PvP’ed during those lull moments in the game’s history, with varying degrees of success. It started with AB-premades. Our guild had killed C’Thun 4 months prior. We had 7/15 on farm in Naxx-60, and with The Burning Crusade looming around the corner, raiding became more of a chore with every passing day. People stopped showing up, those that showed up didn’t have their heart in the game. I was beginning to feel like I was losing all semblance of a cohesive guild identity. At first I was comfortable with the idea. After all, The Burning Crusade would necessitate that we remove 15 players from our ranks as it supported the 25-man raid structure and not the 40-man raid structure. But then I saw less than 10 people log on a primary raiding night, and I knew something had to be done.

And so the Arathi Basin farm group was created. There were close to 25 of us, rotating in and out, depending on who was online at the time, and we started learning the ropes of Arathi Basin. In the beginning one or two days, the battleground was a sweet and sour experience. We 5-capped a game, which gave us great confidence and momentum… to survive and regroup after we were 5-capped a few games later. By the end of December 2006, we were rampaging through Arathi Basin. The raid was divided into 5 parties as follows:

  • Group 1: Stables – 1 individual (preferably a rogue or cat)
  • Group 2: Lumber Mill – 3 individuals (two DPS, one healer)
  • Group 3: Gold Mine – 3 individuals (two DPS, one healer)
  • Group 4: Blacksmith – 4 individuals (three DPS, one healer)
  • Group 5: Hit Squad – 4 individuals (three DPS, one healer OR four DPS with a hybrid class that could heal moderately).

Tim Buckley cracks me up!

The function of groups 1-4 is fairly obvious. They would cap their targets and stay at the node to defend. The work, however, was cut out for the Hit Squad. They would ride with group 4 (Blacksmith), and depending on the scenario, several things could happen:

  • No (or light) opposition at Blacksmith, Gold Mine and Lumber Mill fight in deadlock or leaning towards us – charge Farm
  • No (or light) opposition at Blacksmith, Gold Mine or Lumber Mill in trouble – hit the respective node (if both in trouble, hit Lumber Mill) and reinforce
  • Heavy opposition at Blacksmith, reinforce Blacksmith team

The Hit Squad basic function was to serve as a traveling band of miscreants, bringing death and destruction to any and all challengers in our four primary nodes. If we secured all four nodes, then we would call up four additional reserves (1 from Lumber Mill, 1 from Gold Mine, 2 from Blacksmith), add them to the Hit Squad, and all eight would endlessly hit Farm, even if it meant endless deaths, because as long as you kept the enemy focused on holding the Farm, the pressure was taken off of the other nodes. In extreme cases or really dumb opposition, we even left just one person to defend each node, with eleven individuals taking on their farm. If we got four nodes in the first 90 seconds of combat, we normally ended up with a 5-cap win.

If, however, the Horde was moderately organized, and we could get only three nodes, the focus would be to get Blacksmith, Lumber Mill, and Stables. Lumber Mill, especially with the distance slider turned up, served as a warning system for the other two nodes, a liberty you cannot enjoy with the Mine. The groups would remain the same, except group 3 (Gold Mine) would split, with one member from the group reinforcing Group 1, 2 and 4 at Stables, Lumber Mill and Blacksmith. The Hit Squad would continue to reinforce nodes as needed or bum-rush into certain death at Farm, or utter uncertainty at the Gold Mine, the objective being to keep applying pressure to the Horde-held nodes so they never got a chance to attack ours. In a game like that we got a lot of HKs, and almost always came out with a 3-cap, drawn-out win.

The group had to be very tightly controlled and the slightest deviation from the plan could mean the difference between capping or losing a node. With such strict rules for PvP, morale management was a fairly major aspect of the pre-made. I had to rotate people between nodes to try and ensure everyone would see each node as everyone got cycled through it. While I tried to make it fun for everyone, I didn’t enjoy it as much because of the sheer level of organization that went into it. That is part of the reason I have such respect for Gevlon’s now-defunct PvP project and Bee’s notion that PvP cannot be fun.

Our win:lose ration over the course of 5 weeks of Arathi Basin PvP was 108:3. We lose 3 games in all, and we lost all three in the first two days.

PvP and Wrath of the Lich King

I can’t afford to do the afore-mentioned any longer. Partly because I am no longer the GM of a guild with 200-odd members. And partly because I simply can’t be bothered to lead anything anymore. Being a guild leader for three years does that to you. That being said, I have been PvP’ing with increasing frequency in the last few weeks, and it is remarkable how much more complex the game has become since those early days in Arathi Basin.

I started small, participating in a few Wintergrasp battles. And that was important, because it taught me the importance of group strategy and resilience. I got absolutely slaughtered by any rogue that could sink his daggers into me. More times than I care to remember, I was stun-locked from 100%-0% with both my lolbubble and trinket on cooldown. After that I invested my 1,500 or so Stonekeeper Shards and accumulated honor to get myself a full set of PvP gear, getting my resilience just above 900. I do much better now, and I can’t recall the last time I was stunlocked 100%-0% by an undead rogue named “Afkbathroom” (you bastard).

From there I went on to queuing for random battlegrounds. I know it is hard to believe, but up until three weeks ago, I didn’t even know what Island of Conquest or Strand of the Ancients looked like. I also started a 2v2 team called ‘Turban of Vengeance’, an homage to my old beloved guild, ‘Cross of Vengeance’. My partner in crime, Valisa, is a veteran PvP’er with several titles and accolades under his belt. Our initial run was last week, and in 14 games, we were 8 wins to 6 losses. Not bad for the first week, I think.

But the one thing I have noticed consistently in PvP is that no matter how many times you run a battleground, it is never the same. Every time you enter the skirmish, the experience is different, there are no pre-determined set of abilities that the boss character uses, there are no rules, there are series of events that define the experience (e.g., Kel’Thuzad will sodomize you at 35% health etc.) Each time I enter a PvP zone, I am unsure of the outcome, I have to react to the situation dynamically and on the fly, and I have to respond to threats in a logical manner, not in any pre-conceived pattern dictated by static variables and triggered by player actions. And in that, I completely agree with Christopher Cavelle’s assessment, that “the true test of any player’s skill is pvp”. I have been a PvE player for a very long time, and I know I am a fantastic healer. But there is just something about the dynamic, volatile, utter madness nature of PvP that piques my curiosity and gives my e-peen an e-boner. And in all bluntness, PvE, in my humble opinion, does not even come close to the sheer level of skill needed to be a capable PvP player, especially a healer.