Our first venture into a solo rated PvP in World of Warcraft was Solo Shuffle. Following its success, we’re now looking to experiment with a format we’re calling “Battleground Blitz”, for solo queue Rated Battlegrounds.
Battleground Blitz is an 8v8 solo queue Battleground experience, and our first foray into what could potentially become solo queue rated battlegrounds in the future. We learned a lot from Solo Shuffle that informed the gameplay considerations of battlegrounds in a solo queue environment for this brawl, which will be discussed here.
We’ve been happy with how Solo Shuffle lowered the barrier to entry in rated Arenas and served as an accessible PvP game mode. The biggest obstacle we faced was the low ratio of healers to damage dealers, which was typically 4 damage dealers for every healer waiting in queue during the most active times. This leads to long queue times for damage dealers. It was an early concern when we first launched Solo Shuffle as a brawl, especially after shifting away from using tanks to be the anchors in Solo Shuffle matches.
We previously experimented with other formats for Battlegrounds, like the “Deep Six” Brawl in Legion. We felt the team sizes were too small for some of the available maps, especially the larger ones like Arathi Basin.
Additionally, we want to try some updates to map formats that we think will make a better solo queue experience in rated battlegrounds. For example, in domination maps (such as Deepwind Gorge), the role of being a base sitter can result in tension in a solo queue environment. We also think that shorter match lengths would be more fun for solo queue players, bringing in more frequent moment-to-moment gameplay and decision making.
Our plan is an 8v8 format that can be queued solo, or as a duo if there is a healer in the pair. Map mechanics and pacing are adjusted to be quicker, with the goal of 10-to-12-minute average match lengths.
The 8 players on each team will be made up of 2 healers, 5 to 6 damage dealers, and 0 to 1 tanks.
Opposing teams will always have the same number of tanks (0 or 1).
Matches that do not include tanks will not take place on Capture the Flag maps (Warsong Gulch and Twin Peaks).
Matches made with a tank on each team can take place on any map.
Our goal with the increased ratio of healer to damage dealers as well as healers having a duo queue option aims to alleviate potential longer queue times.
Map Pool and Mechanics
Initially, the map pool will be that of the Rated Battleground pool: Warsong Gulch, Twin Peaks, Temple of Kotmogu, Eye of the Storm, Silvershard Mines, Arathi Basin, and Deepwind Gorge.
In Battleground Blitz, there are some general mechanical changes made across all the maps.
On maps where you cast to take an objective, the cast time has been reduced from 6 seconds to 4 seconds.
On domination maps, control points are captured in 30 seconds after being contested (reduced from 1 minute).
On all maps, players will gain a buff that provides a large increase in mount speed.
On several maps, there are new power up runes.
Shield of Protection provides a large absorb shield.
Into the Shadows provides a player with stealth and increased movement speed.
Rune of Frequency increases cooldown rate.
Shadow Sight provides Stealth and Invis detection.
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The goal with the changes above is to provide more moment-to-moment decision making while adapting maps to make sense for 8 player team sizes, while ensuring the macro strategy that players find to be fun in battlegrounds is still intact.
We looked at several factors for each map, including average game lengths, the size of the map, and individual mechanics to make some modifications to have them make sense in Battleground Blitz. Eye of the Storm, Arathi Basin, and Deepwind Gorge will have the most significant changes of the pool.
Eye of the Storm
4 nodes available, only 2 capturable at a time (1 per side) which award points, with the middle flag being available to capture.
Mage Tower or Draenei Ruins and Fel Reaver Ruins or Blood Elf Tower.
When the middle flag is captured, previous nodes move to neutral and reset.
2 nodes (1 per side) re-activate, alternating.
Points for capturing a flag significantly increased.
When a flag is captured, the existing available nodes will become uncapturable. After 15 seconds, the other set of nodes will become available.
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Arathi Basin and Deepwind Gorge
5 capturable nodes.
Increased resource acquisition.
After you capture a node entirely, you control it for 45 seconds. It then deactivates and can be captured again 5 seconds later.
To fully capture a node, you have to complete the 4 second cast then hold the point for 30 seconds without the enemy team recapturing.
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Warsong Gulch and Twin Peaks
The flag carrier debuff, Brutal Assault, stacks 100% faster (each stack every 15 seconds, up from 30 seconds).
Maximum game length set to 12 minutes.
Battle for Gilneas
Increased resource acquisition rate.
Silvershard Mines and Temple of Kotmogu
No changes planned initially, these maps are fast-paced already.
As mentioned above, we are cognizant of the tension that can come from having dedicated defender roles within a battleground. The gameplay changes for Arathi Basin, Deepwind Gorge, and Eye of the Storm aim to alleviate that tension.
We’re approaching this idea in a tempered manner, as adding a new format to PvP is a big commitment. Our intent is to implement this feature as a PvP Brawl first, so we can experiment with the format, discover any problems, and consider player feedback. If the format is well-received during the brawl, we can dig into additional details on the plan for a rated mode, including rating changes, how the ladder will work, rewards, leavers, and additional team matching, such as limiting the number of a single spec per team.
We will host a PvP Brawl with the Blues event focused on Battleground Blitz on the Guardians of the Dream PTR on Friday, September 15 from 3:00 – 5:00 pm PDT. Keep an eye out for an upcoming post with additional details for the PvP with the Blues event.
Please share your thoughts and feedback with us here. We’re eager to hear it!