EDIT: Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to get all my thoughts out there as this is something important to me. I apologize for the long read.
For those unaware of the current situation, a massive ban wave went out today on Wrath of the Lich King Classic banning people for “PvP Non-Participation”
I myself am one of those who was banned, and I believe this to be wrongfully so. I am not here to ask for my appeal publicly or to receive any special treatment. I have followed the appropriate channels and have put in an appeal ticket and will await my turn and hopefully get a response. My reasoning for this thread is to discuss Blizzard’s policy on what is considered participation and non-participation.
It should be no surprise that dozens upon dozens of twitter threads, reddit threads and even threads here on the support and classic forums have popped up with people claiming to be innocent. A trend I noticed with many of those posts was that Alterac Valley seems to be the most popular battleground among those who were banned. I am not blind to the obvious botting issue or players who legitimately AFK in the starting cave, but that is not what I am making this thread to discuss. The majority of the outcry seems to come from people who were actively at their desk, moving around in the game and playing the various objectives on a map as diverse as Alterac Valley. Clearly if someone is AFK for more than 5 minutes, it automatically boots them from the BG with the deserter debuff - but so far in most of these cases that I have seen, no one was actually booted by the automatic system and given the debuff.
I was kindly linked a few forum posts that give insight into the stance Blizzard takes on “Non-Participation” and I would like to open up a discussion on why I believe that stance should be changed. Here are some blue posts on the topic:
Now the current meta in Wrath AV is to rush to the end boss and try to kill him as soon as 2 towers fall. This is a community meta because it is supposedly the “fastest” honor grind. In many of the reported ban cases, myself included, I did not simply rush to the end boss in hopes for a quick kill. As a Rogue, I enjoy doing Rogue things like stealthing around picking off enemies or defending/recapping objectives throughout the map.
In my situation, I boosted a Rogue on Wrath classic and leveled a DK through Alterac Valley (since BGs give EXP now). I will argue that the gear your boosted character gets is worse than leveling greens. If you’ve ever done PvP before, you will know that going into a 40 man BG wearing nothing but low/no stat green items usually means a pretty rough time. My character, and a lot of these boosted/leveling characters, are in no way equipped to charge into the frontlines. So what did I and many others in this situation do? Play the many objectives available on the map. As a Rogue, I stealthed around trying to defend bunkers my team had already captured. I stealth back into our bunkers trying to recap or stun/slow/sap enemy players along the way. I defended, I recapped and I tried to take graveyards when and where possible so my team had positional advantage on the map. After all, what more can I do as a freshly boosted Rogue? Given my horrible gear, most of my attacks get parried/dodged or missed even on the random NPC Rams, Wolves and patrolling dwarves around the map. As a result, my damage is going to be quite low if 70-80% of my attacks are missing.
But little or no damage doesn’t mean someone is not actively involved in the BG. There is more to Alterac Valley (and other battlegrounds) than just killing players. All of the battlegrounds in WoW have many objectives and NONE of them are simply “Team Death Match” where kills/damage is the only objective. You can defend Farm in AB or go around stealth capping nodes without ever touching an enemy player. You can win the game for your team as a Rogue this way… should this be a bannable offense?
According to the Blue post… it could be.
That is very likely, as in many cases a lone “defender” isn’t seen by everyone as actually participating because the bulk of the fighting, and the fighters, are at other locations pushing forward. If enough of the group you are with doesn’t see defending a point alone as a valid strategy, it might be a good idea to work with the current group and adopt their strategy instead of fighting to implement your own, solo.
So just because my team doesn’t agree to me playing objectives, that is now a punishable offense? I can be mass reported by 39 other players game after game, day after day, eventually leading to a suspension? The towers are there to be defended and captured, the graveyards all have flags on them that you can capture. There are NPCs to kill that patrol around graveyards and hide in bunkers (Balinda/Galv etc). If you are doing those things, you are actively PARTICIPATING in the battleground, whether or not the community meta supports it. Yes there are situations where you can be defending a node and no one ever comes to attack it, but that doesn’t mean your defending of it is “not participating” - Maybe there is a Rogue or Druid around in stealth waiting for you to leave. How is staying at a contested point, for as long as it is under contention, not participating?
Participating should be defined as actively taking part in the battleground and all it has to offer, not just actively taking part in the hivemind mentality to zerg forward.
Which raises the following point…
If I loaded into a Warsong Gulch (10 v 10 capture the flag battleground) and 9 other people on my team said “we will not be capturing any flags, we will just fight on the road and kill people” but I went off and captured the flag even though that is not what the group was doing… the blue posts suggests that the 9 would be justified in reporting me and if this happened in enough games, I would be marked as “PvP Non-Participation” and banned.
Did I participate in the BG by capturing the flag in a capture the flag BG even though the meta didn’t support that?
Did I participate in the BG by defending a bunker or holding a graveyard even though the meta didn’t support that?
I would love to hear the Councils thoughts on this and hopefully even get an official response from Blizzard.
Oh also on a quick note… there were many people in the BGs I did going around asking others to “mass report” boosted characters as some form of protesting against boosting in classic. Since the /spit emote is gone and you can’t /spit on those who have store mounts or boosted characters, mass reporting them seems to be the latest trend to participate in. It also seems that a large number of those who were banned today were either fresh/leveling DKs or recently boosted characters in all greens (at least from the posts I saw)
Oh and last thing… a 30 day ban for a first time offense is ridiculous (if this is even an offense, I will argue it is not). Myself and everyone else involved in this will miss the launch of Wrath classic because we are suspended until Oct 6 but Wrath launches on Sept 26. It is quite disheartening that this is the outcome. People have been banned for less for doing much worse.