Thursday, March 5, 2015

World of Warcraft: The Present State and Possible Future of Ashran

A few months ago I wrote an analysis discussing the issues with Ashran's queue times, which at the time was what I thought was the main issue with the battleground. However, more recent changes have resulted in a worse issue of the battleground not really being a battleground so much a PvE zone with PvP enabled intended for farming Conquest Points. The most recent change, intended to incentivize PvP combat, has received a modest amount of backlash from the community. In this video, I discuss what happened and give my thoughts on the matter, in particular focusing on changes that would ideally create a better Ashran.
Below are the notes I used when making this video:

  • You know how I said there were legitimate things to complain about regarding Patch 6.1? Unfortunately, this is one of those.
  • I wasn't expecting Ashran to suddenly become amazing this patch. The queue time fix was sufficient enough and I wish hotfixes prior to it such as the implemented "cooldown" to kill Volrath and Tremblade weren't implemented at all. However, I also wasn't expecting things to get even worse.
  • A lot of what I say will be based on what I read on the forums. I will try to look at the recent changes as objectively as possible, meaning I don't assume the opinion of those on the forums equate to that of the community as a whole.
  • I will also refer to the entity Blizzard (much like I may have previously) as opposed to singling out some individual like Holinka. It's not really that professional (seriously, there are threads calling to fire Holinka).
  • The change I'm referring to is the removal of Conquest rewards from the two bosses in Ashran, which Blizzard claims is intended to promote PvP in Ashran.
The Good
  • The change itself, while not the best way of going about handling Ashran in the long run (I'll get to why later) does promote PvP combat because it increases the likelihood that both factions fight over the events.
  • Previously, Horde largely did events while Alliance farmed the Horde's commander, Volrath.
  • This change ideally would make it less frustrating to farm Broken Bones and player kills (for Nemesis quests, etc) and create points of contention between the faction.
The Bad
  • The first problem that comes to mind is there is little incentive to farm the bosses at the base. Since they no longer give Conquest Points, the reward at best is a chance at an item level 660 piece you may not already have. Even with the hotfix removing item level 600 gear from the box that is awarded for killing the boss doesn't do much to help the RNG-ridden situation.
  • Even worse, however, is that means that all of the road objectives are more or less pointless. This essentially deletes a huge portion of the battleground. Considering that Artifact Fragment turn-ins largely affect the road progress (due to boss summons, captains, etc), this easily amounts to erasing huge amounts of the battleground objectives, much like Alterac Valley.
  • The changes that have happened have also turned Ashran into more of a Conquest grind than ever. While doing a couple events might not end up being too time consuming on average, considering that events take 45 minutes or so to restart, there's a lot of waiting involved, which usually involves running off to kill rare spawns or fighting on the road for the sake of fighting on the road as opposed to because the road objectives are important.
Possible Solution and Conclusion
  • Hopefully, the above mentioned fix is just a temporary one with major changes in the works that will ideally improve the quality of life of the battleground by making all objectives have a modest amount of importance.
  • Below is my possible solution:
    • Firstly, return a static reward to the bosses, like the 350 Conquest Points (and maybe remove the 30 minute cooldown).
    • Secondly, remove all Conquest Point rewards from the events. Instead, make participation in an event (win or lose) award some amount of Artifact Fragments based on how much the winning team won by (or the losing team lost by). The earned Artifact Fragments would be split over all players who participated in the event (even if they died or left the area). Combined with the rare spawns, players should be earning a decent amount of Artifact Fragments by doing events and killing rare spawns. 
    • Thirdly, when a player scores an honorable kill in Ashran, they earn some Artifact Fragments instead of making it a corpse looted reward. The corpse can be looted for a chance at rare drops such as racial PvP tokens as well as a fraction of what the player was carrying much like before.
    • Fourthly, have Artifact Fragment turn-ins reward a small amount of Conquest Points based on the amount turned in (on top of the Honor and reputation). This means no matter where one earns the Artifact Fragments, they earn Conquest Points as long as they turn them in at the base.
  • By doing this, earning Conquest Points in Ashran will be a much smoother experience and can even coincide with the Apexis daily for farming Artifact Fragments. It also shifts gameplay towards earning Artifact Fragments towards the battleground objectives, which will ultimately shift focus towards the road battle while still giving players the option to earn a large amount of Artifact Fragments from events and rare spawns, making them the potential points of contest that Blizzard was trying to make them.
  • This is not the only way to fix Ashran. If you have any ideas, feel free to post suggestions too!

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