Monday, August 07, 2006

WoW Battleground Topic 3: A Ladder System

Over the last couple years the player versus player system in World of Warcraft has grown wildly in popularity. Mostly this growth has been attributed to increased rewards and options for people wishing to match their gear and skill against others. Ganking still occurs but it has been reduced with battlegrounds attracting the more vicious players. However, the constant patching of raid content into the game has upset the balance of the battlegrounds. WoW is a item centric game and while skill is involved in playing there is an upper limit to its affect on a battle. At a certain point skill stops being a factor when compared to gear. Thus players who have the time to devote to end game raiding are often unkillable by their blue geared counterparts.

Its because of this that talk of a ladder system has been in the rumor mill and recently hinted at by the community managers. At first a ladder system was a low priority item like "player housing" or "hero classes" but the complaints have started to show up about raiders controlling the top rankings in the honor system. Apparently on some servers PVE guilds will charge a fee before allowing anyone to hit the top honor rank. Blizzard has recognized the problem and its been confirmed that it will expand the number of players who can hit each rank in the next patch. This will make it harder for guilds to block the upper honor ranks but not impossible. This is why a ladder system for selecting battleground opponents is needed.

Potential Ladder Systems

1) Use the meta level formulas that Blizzard has for items and give each player a score based on the gear they are wearing. People with Epic gear are squared off against each other first before being set up battlegrounds with blue geared people.

Reason its not likely: Players could easily carry around a set of green or blue items to cheat the system.

2) Use time played for a character to choose opponents. Most characters that have huge play times are the raiders who often put in 10-20 more hours more a week then a non raider. Players are unable to artificially change their time played variable and cheat the ladder system.

Reason its not likely: Some players use the game as a social venue and will often chat and play the auction house for huge stretches of time. There might be a good number of people who have the same time played as raider but not even be in a guild.

3) Use the Honor Ranks of players to determine opponents. While this system will still allow raiders to play against blue geared opponents it has a huge affect at the high honor ranks. Players who are rank 11 and over will be able to hold their own against raiders because of the pvp armor sets. This system stops the farming of honor against blue geared opponents by raiders and high ranked players. Since this is the main problem with the current PvP system I believe this is the most likely ladder.

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