WoW! Thoughts! — On Difficult Quests and Playing with Friends

Thoughts on facing and overcoming the imbalance of playing as Alliance in Silvershard Mines

Listeners of the recent WoW! Talk! heard me complain about the difficulty in completing the battleground requirements for the legendary cloak quests.  After we finished recording that episode, Jeremy, Rei, and Rei’s husband Eric all jumped into WoW for some PvP action.  The Temple of Kotmogu took two tries and both were as fun as expected.  Then we queued for Silvershard Mines, and the evening took a turn towards frustration.

As observed on WoW! Talk!, the Alliance struggles to win in Silvershard Mines.  Some claim the battleground has an imbalanced layout favoring the Horde due to graveyard placement.  Jeremy asserted that, once geared, the Horde is simply better.  It seemed to me that most of the people we were working with on the Alliance side were there just to get the cloak.  If more regular Horde PVPers are playing (and queuing for Silvershard as opposed to Eye of the Storm or Alterac Valley, which are regarded as favoring the Alliance) than Alliance PVPers, it would make sense that the ratio of PVP players to PVE players (who are just there for the cloak) would be higher for the Horde, and therefore make it easier for an undergeared Horde player to slip onto a successful team and claim victory.  Plus, the feedback loop of the battleground being easier for Horde allows them to find the battleground more fun, which encourages return visits not mandated by quests.  These returns will usually result in victory, thus providing the player with a quick path to PVP gear.  The Alliance, because of their struggles, discourages players from requeueing once the quest is completed.  The end result is an unbalanced battleground which is part of the legendary chain.

When trying to contend with the battleground alone, the result was frustration.  The other nine members of the team seemed unable to coordinate.  Although it was a team game, all I could do with each loss was yell at the screen and requeue with diminishing hope.  Losing when playing with others, though, transformed the experience.  We were able to share observations and recommend strategies to each other.  We could laugh at the players on our team who were raging, rather than processing the invective privately.  We still lost hope after a good ten or fifteen losses, but not as much as we would have alone.  Finally, Rei and Eric had to call it a night.  Jeremy and I agreed to two more attempts.

The first attempt went as badly as those that came before.  On the final try, we noticed that the Horde was struggling to hold more than one cart path at a time.  Jeremy and I coordinated on which cart we attacked while the rest of our team seemed to focus on their own objectives, and we were able to defeat a seemingly discombobulated Horde.  It’s not clear if we wound up on a well-equipped Alliance team or if we finally drew a poorly equipped Horde team, but the fact stood that we finally won after all that effort.

All I could do was laugh.

Originally, I wanted Silvershard Mines removed from the battleground requirement, or at least adjusted.  While losing, we talked about how the quest should be set to “queue for 10 instances of Silvershard or win 1 (whichever happens first).”  As much as I would like to think that skill is a factor (as it was when struggling against Wrathion), there are too many random elements that can lead to someone endlessly fighting to win a battleground.  Assuming that generally, players queuing for the battleground just for the cloak will be less experienced at PVE and less geared (especially in PVP gear), they are as lambs to the slaughter for veterans.  A major part of the legendary quest is surviving attrition – playing long enough to grind out 3000 valor and running raids to collect the countless sigils, secrets, and runestones required.  There is no true difficulty there except in the struggle to endure LFR and keep repeating the same actions until done.


Hopefully, players should finish their collections right as the required fights become tedious.  The same type of attrition could apply here – keep queueing for the battleground until you happen to wind up with a strong enough Alliance team and a weak enough Horde team to win.  For all the other tasks the legendary requires, the player has the least control over this.  I can change my specs and reset my skill bars so that I can defeat Wrathion.  I can get great at PVP, but even then, there’s no guarantee I can defeat a great team of Horde players while saddled with mediocre cloak-seeking PVE players.  The best suggestion I found for dealing with this was to assemble Alliance and Horde teams and have them run Silvershard Mines as a Wargame and collude to swap wins.  Whenever cross-factional cheating is a recommended strategy, then the gameplay is broken.

That said, the relief at success was worth the cost.  It wasn’t just that Jeremy and I did it on our last try of the night, but that victory felt EARNED.  There’s something to be said for believing a task to be nigh-impossible, and queuing up for it over and over and over again until you’re finally successful.  I don’t raid outside of LFR, but that moment gave me a glimpse into the greater game that is World of Warcraft.  One of the Ghostcrawler’s slides at Blizzcon said “WoW is more fun with friends,” and as someone who has mostly played solo or in random group content, this experience proved that tenet true.  All at once, I was glad I boosted an Alliance character, glad I had grouped with Jeremy, Rei, and Eric, and glad I had persevered through Silvershard to achieve that simple goal.

Upon reflection, the Silvershard Mines requirement should be adjusted.  For Alliance players, it is an inherently unfair task.  To be able to succeed in the face of such insurmountable odds helps make the whole experience feel legendary, though, and it feels wrong to say that feeling should be removed from the game.  If anything, it suggests that I should be challenging myself with harder content more regularly.  Once I get that cloak (again), I will bear that in mind when considering my next challenge.

WoW! Blurbs!

The Warcraft movie is done filming.  Why do I think it will be out before Warlords of Draenor

New Artcraft discussing the concept of class accessories.  The only accessory my hunter needs is a tamable druid pet.

Azeroth Choppers episode 6 is up.  I actually liked this.  For once we saw a balance between how the game is designed as well as the process of making the bikes.  The only seemingly-manufactured drama revolves around putting a fender on the Alliance bike, which is fine since it stems from the bike manufacturing process itself.  Voting is supposed to start later this week, but I’ll be surprised if we don’t get both bikes in game somehow.

The alpha patch notes have been updated.  Balance Druids are getting a complete overhaul.  I guess for means they’ve really been Unbalanced Druids all along.

Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz
Nick Zielenkievicz

Senior Producer

Host of WoW! Talk! and The Tauren & The Goblin. Sometimes known as the Video Games Public Defender. Wants to play more Destiny and Marvel Heroes but WoW is all-consuming. Decent F2P Hearthstone player. Sad that he lost the Wii that had Wrecking Crew on it. Would be happy if the only game ever made was M.U.L.E. Gragtharr on Skywall-US. Garresque on Ravencrest-US.

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