Friday 21 December 2007

Them that defend what they cannot see

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. (That's French for "same shit, different day".) A year ago, almost to the day, I was posting about Arathi Basin, and I've just spent the last few days in... Arathi Basin! Though not exclusively, thankfully.

I kicked off the World of Warcraft Scroll of Resurrection, so I've got ten days to poke around and see what's been happening in the last six months or so. One addition is the daily quests, covering, amongst other things, cooking, regular and heroic 5 man instance runs, and battlegrounds. Battlegrounds, you say? Let's rack up some honour for those season 1 arena epics!

With that legendary Dwarven sense of humour, our Lieutenant-General set me the task of winning a round of Arathi Basin. Sure, boss, I s'pose you'll want me to hand in the moon (on a stick) at the same time. Ah well, into the queues, and first good thing: it was a couple of minutes. In the last four days, the very longest I've had to wait for any battleground is ten minutes, and that was Alterac Valley at an ungodly time of the morning. The average has been five minutes for Alterac Valley, a couple of minutes for the others. I don't know if the Alliance/Horde populations have evened out recently, or if there's some strange magic going on behind the scenes, but it makes the whole business much less tiresome. So, a couple of minutes later, I'm riding around scenic Arathi as the Alliance mindlessly wander and fail to ever hold more than two nodes, displaying their usual technique of mounting up and buggering off if there's been no action at a node for more than seven seconds (this technique also extends to Alterac Valley bunkers and graveyards, it seems). It's good to be back... no, wait, not good, the other one.

Still, in a triumph of hope over experience, I queue up again, and in a freak turn of events, the Alliance somehow win. Bonus honour, woo!

Next day, our Lieutenant-General punishes me for the insolence of claiming to have won a round of Arathi Basin by sending me back there. Oh well, here we go again... I met some interesting characters that day. Captain Defeatist, for one. "The trouble with the Alliance" he pronounced "is that they don't know when they're beaten. Just lose this quickly and get the mark. I only want the mark. I've lost 85 AB's in a row." Really? I wonder what the common thread through those 85 battlegrounds might possibly have been? I actually felt my will to live being physically drained into the screen at that point, and despite such stirring optimism inspiring all around to ever more heroic deeds, we strangely lost that round. Next up was the Frightfully Cross Tactician. You could tell he hadn't read my aforelinked pickup tourist's guide as he gave out his instructions: "grp 1 LM, grp 2 ST, grp 3 GM" shouted he. "Sure!" responded the valiant battlegroup, milling around aimlessly. Maybe we hadn't heard, so he repeated his shout a few times, that would surely work, right? Well, obviously we took the stables, and a big enough group turned up at the gold mine to take that, but the Horde made a major effort on the lumber mill, turning up en masse. Our master tactician would surely note this, and revise his plan accordingly, right? Suggest checking the farm and blacksmith, and attacking the more lightly defended? Oddly, no. "Get LM" he shouted. A lot. As others probed the other nodes, he'd encouragingly shout "[name] obviously cannot read, GET LM". As time went on, and somehow the heavy Horde defence continued to hold out in the face of occasional disjointed Alliance sorties, his language became progressively worse, the rest of the team were retards and noobs; I'm sure anyone who's spent more than 30 seconds in battlegrounds has seen the same. You'll usually get a quick "OMG ally aer noobs", and if you're lucky an ever-amusing cascade of "no wai u r noob" "no u r" (etc.), or possibly a hugely ironic discussion on how the problem with the Alliance is they're always holding discussions on whether they're noobs or not in battleground chat. This chap was the most persistent I've seen, though, he just kept at it, non stop, telling everyone to attack the lumber mill and castigating anyone who dared go anywhere else. Oh, and shouting at people not to hang around the stables, then being surprised when they all buggered off so shouting at them not to leave it undefended (file also under "DUH!").

Now, I've never reported another player for anything so far in MMOGs. Partly it's my easy going, laissez faire, live and let live attitude. Mostly it's my British sense of reserve and desperation to avoid confrontation ("somebody pushed into the queue? Why, that's outrageous! I'm going to... raise my eyebrows in a most disapproving way at them, just you see if I don't! Wait, they're looking this way, I'll pretend I haven't noticed.") Some people live for that stuff, providing ever-entertaining forum threads as they inform ne'er-do-wells in no uncertain terms precisely what they've been reporting (offensive names, kill stealing, whatever they consider to be exploits, etc etc), and then other people wade in and call them Nazis (oddly enough, I don't remember a key feature of SS Panzer Divisions being that they got in a big huff over the risqué nose art of American aircraft and reporting them under the Geneva Convention or something), and everyone has a tremendous amount of fun. You could probably make a perfect game for some people by releasing a flood of bots programmed to shout obscenities, tag any monsters another player was trying to attack, etc., and automatically respond to all complaint tickets with "[reported player] has been banned", they'd love it. Anyway; I've never been driven far enough to actually bother to even find out how to report another player in a game yet (that's another reason for not doing in, pure laziness), but this drivelling idiot in Arathi Basin was really getting on my wick, so I finally snapped and filed a complaint against him for swearing. Not that I give a fuck about the language, but I sense it's a more straightforward issue for GMs to deal with than "Reason for complaint: the most amazing display of idiocy coupled with a total inability to learn. I mean, really, he's obviously been in Arathi Basin often enough to know what the nodes are called, which means, unless he's solely been fighting with pre-made teams, he's witnessed the fact that pickup groups will inevitably rush around with no co-ordination and the only hope is that the Horde are similarly bumbling, and surely after five minutes of total failure to capture the lumber mill even a goldfish might have twigged it's perhaps not going to be a genius battle-winning tactic, and look, with the points as they are we're still going to lose if we somehow freakishly managed to capture four nodes so there really isn't any need to go on about it."

So that was fun. A couple more average AB losses, interspersed with a few goes in Alterac Valley, and the Alliance fluked another Arathi win, and thankfully the Lieutenant-General's come to his senses and sent me to Alterac instead, so I'm never going back to Arathi Basin, ever! Unless the daily quest winds up there again...

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