Isle of Conquest: Fun or Fail?

Well as a commenter stated my WoW account was turned back on over a week ago and I have been spending a few hours here and there trudging about in Azeroth.  Not much has changed on the Mal’Ganis server and I continue to feel largely disconnected from the game world since my uprooting from Azshara.  Not being quite sure what to expect and having no clear goals whatsoever, I have been mainly completing an odd quest here and there and spending about an hour or two per evening running battlegrounds. 

Primarily I have been running the new Isle of Conquest battleground that was released in the last major patch.  Anecdotally the battleground does not appear to be as popular as the old staple, Alterac Valley.  The queue times for AV are routinely a bit shorter than for IoC (no idea what the kids are calling it these days).  Like AV it is a 40 vs. 40 match, but unlike AV Blizzard decided to actually make a mirror image map, no doubt this epiphany of gaming design is the result of being slapped around so much with long standing complaints about the design of Alterac Valley.

Unfortunately the similarity ends there.  Whereas, AV strategy is well ingrained into player’s heads and both factions are generally able to begrudgingly work towards a goal to victory, IoC fails in that regard.  Mainly because IoC is new, there is no “Do-This-to-Win” strategy and generally appears to require a greater degree of coordination and organization than the average WoW player possesses.  “Defend Galv and Win” doesn’t work here.  The enemy faction has many options for victory and the defenders and attackers must adapt to the changing strategy on a minute-by-minute basis.  WoW players don’t adapt well.

Isle of Conquest starts off with both players in their respective courtyards on opposing sides of the map.  Proceeding out of the starting gates players can make an immediate right turn to grab one of the two “resources” that are up for grabs.  This is the Quarry and the Oil Rig (Actual names may vary).  These two flags go largely uncontested the entire game as the only benefit that they provide is a 15% boost to siege weapon damage.  They may provide some other benefit, but as no one cares to defend them (no NPC flag guards as in AV) they are largely away from the action for most of the fight. 

Any player who selflessly captures and defends one of these two objectives throughout the fight will be rewarded with obscenely less honor compared to a player who simply runs around with the largest zerg possible or sits in a tower turret pushing 1 – 1  – 1 – 1 on his way to epic gear and achievements.  In short, no one cares about either objective.  They continually flip control as a player from each side wanders into the area and sees the undefended flag and is compelled by years of training to click on it.

That leaves three open battlefield objectives to take that are situated mid way between the two bases.  Two of them provide a tangible benefit in that they create various vehicles to throw at the enemy gates.  The vehicles are not assembled on a come-and-get-em basis as in Wintergrasp.  Instead they are created on separate timers from 2-4 minutes.  

The docks are largely seen as the most important to have and hold.  Of course this means that no one bothers to defend it and players rarely venture there other than in small groups after the initial scrimmage for the initial capture.  The Docks creates Glaive Throwers that regularly spawn every few minutes.   Empty vehicles will appear on the map when ready, feel free to NOT stand around the docks for minutes on end waiting to snag a Glaive Thrower. 

Glaive Throwers do a moderate amount of damage to enemy players that are in range of where the glaives are launched.  I have seen them hit for 6000 points of damage, equal to about 25-30% of a moderately geared PVP player.  They also have a channeled AOE that I assume has some use if you can find a group of enemy players that won’t simply move out of the AOE once they see glaives being chucked at them repeatedly.  Glaive Throwers also have the longest range of the siege vehicles and can outrange the tower guns at many points on the map, allowing you to safely mash 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1 whilst you chip away at the HUGE amount of health the gates have.  Usually the largest group of players seems to go for the docks initially. 

However, Glaive Throwers are not a sure fire win.  Unlike many of the other siege vehicles they have no close range damage move or knock back.  They are juicy targets for enemy foot soldiers and must be protected.  If you choose to grab a thrower, rest assured that you WILL be the primary target for any tower turrets as well as foot soldiers in the area.  Do not expect your team to support you at all.  Just because you are helping them to win does not mean that they will return the favor.

The Docks also regularly spawns catapults that inspired one of the best face palm moments for me in recent memory.  Hopping into the familiar catapult I was happy to see that they gave the vehicle both a stealth and sprint option.  Hitting the button and sensing my impending victory, I blasted across the battlefield and was soon perched on a rock overlooking a group of enemy casters.  I chuckled to myself as I unleashed my first shot.  The incendiary round went off amongst the group sending splash damage to multiple targets.  I watched the catapult launcher icon slowly countdown as I prepared my second salvo.  Then, in slow motion as my brain went into WTF is going on mode, my character was shot out of my catapult right into the middle of the group of enemy players that I was shooting at.  /facepalm.  And thus, you will always find a plethora of catapults sitting around the docks.  One shot, one kill, provided you don’t mind being the one that dies.

The center objective of the battleground is the Goblin Workshop.  Control of this objective also provides access to the graveyard respawn point in the center of the map.  Thus this objective is well defended by the side that grabs the initial capture and it rarely changes hands.  The workshop spawns Demolishers, Siege Engines and Seaforium bombs.  The bombs do pittance damage to the gates and require players to run up to the walls, drop the bombs, and then run off.  As the bombs require a player to live for 10 seconds after the bomb is placed before they explode and do damage, you can expect to see many duds. 

Demolishers are the same variety you will find in Wintergrasp.  They have a point blank forward facing short ranged AOE that can be used against players or the enemy gates, as well as the longer-range small AOE projectile launcher.  The main drawback of the Demolisher in this fight is that they cannot outrange the tower guns if you want to do damage to the gates.  Thus you have to drive your vehicle right through up to six enemy gunners to get off a few shots or bashes on the gates before you are destroyed.  Siege engines also spawn every few minutes at the workshop.  They last a bit longer against the tower guns, but not enough to make them worthwhile.  In short, the side that controls the Workshop will provide a steady stream of honor and fun for the tower gunners as well as enemy infantry defending the gates. 

The only real innovative feature of this battleground is the third and final objective, the Hangar.  The Hangar is linked to control of an airship that makes regular loops of the opposing faction keep and the walls and turrets above.  Once your side has control, two teleporters turn on at the base of the Hangar.  These instantly teleport you to the airship regardless of where on the map it is.  The airship gives you two options.  You can grab a deck gun and shoot down onto the battle below, or you can jump off and parachute down into the enemy keep.

Once inside you can begin grabbing the bombs laying about and attacking the gates from the inside.  These bombs do more damage than the bombs available outside from the Workshop and the travel distance is much shorter to the gates as well.  A well-coordinated attack of parachute troopers can both destroy a wall within minutes as well as capture the keep graveyard.

Defenses will need to be adapted based on the approach that the enemy is using and conversely, attacking stratagems need to be changed based on where the defenses are amassing.  If they are parachuting into our base then you need to drive them out of the base and capture the Hangar to cut off their supply of reinforcements.  If they have Glaive Throwers picking at some side gate, players need to be dispatched to take them out. 

With such a large field of play the battle rarely have that epic feel as rarely will it be more than a 20vs20 fight.  Numerous side skirmishes break out throughout the field and each side will have an offensive and defensive force as well.  AV generally is better in this regard as it provides focus.  Perhaps time will tell if future changes to IoC enhance the focus of the matches and promote epic battles.

Final victory in the match is decided by either a reinforcement timer, just like AV, or by killing the enemy general, just like AV.  Sadly other features were carried over from AV as well.  Defense of battlefield objectives continues to be a task for the masochist.  Coordination is required and someone has to step up and choose which gate to attack (usually the front by default) or to direct everyone to the Hangar for an airborne assault. 

The more and more matches I played, the more and more I wished SOME of these new features could be incorporated into AV.  The Wolf/Ram Riders and Bat/Gryphon Riders of Alterac Valley have sat neglected and rarely used since the massive changes were added to end the hour-long stalemates.  These features seem tailor made for some type of vehicle or airborne combatants to be incorporated into AV.

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~ by Centuri on August 27, 2009.

5 Responses to “Isle of Conquest: Fun or Fail?”

  1. While I wasn’t impressed with the new battleground right away, I have grown to not groan as loudly when its que pops before AV. Having a change in scenery from the white capped mountains of AV, to the lovely waterside and rolling green hills of IoC is refreshing.

    I did enjoy the more epic battles, even ones we lost were more fun than a quick win, much like AV.

    When I run as DPS its nice to have a pocket healer. Or when healing its even nicer to beat the pants off you. Screen shots anyone? 😀

  2. You only beat me because I stay back and defend and capture objectives.

    Chain heal > HoTs. Just saying.

  3. I vote for fail, sorry. I not just mine opinion, just look at the queues, they’re empty. Nobody wants to go there. It was quite popular after it was released but now its unused.

  4. I really haven’t been in WoW running a battle ground for some time. Sorry to hear that it ended up not having the longevity of AV. The only thought I could offer to improving it would be expanding the size to a possible 40v40. That way it has the raid size of AV and enough players running around to create smaller side skirmishes for the secondary objectives.

    Parachuting into the enemy base with a few DPS and a healer and fighting waves of players as they respawn does have it’s potential for epicness though.

  5. I hate AV, it is so boring all you do is kill Galv go to Drek take towers on the way. It never changes! We dont even use ground assults!

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