World of Warcraft

A possible solution to faction imbalance

wow4 - A possible solution to faction imbalance

The Problem:

As we all know there is an increasing disparity between the Alliance and the Horde population counts. The problem this creates is a trickle-down effect. The best way to explain this effect is to bracket people. You have cutting edge players, regular mythic raiders, heroic raiders, pvpers, and casual players. There is of course some overlap and these groupings are not a perfect categorization, but they serve a good illustrative purpose here. When the cutting edge players switch to the Horde (and they have as the top 20 guilds in the world are 17 Horde and 3 Alliance), you have regular mythic raiders who may want to “move up” and join those guilds so they switch to the horde too if they weren’t already horde before. Once mythic raiders have become mostly horde, heroic raiders move to the horde for similar reasons. Now casual players may have to switch because their faction is so diminished that they struggle more to find groups than they did before. I may not illustrate this perfectly, but I think you can see what I am getting at. Pvpers may also switch because it is easier to find groups for competitive pvp on the most populous faction. This will continue seemingly forever. This is not the only reason for faction imbalance, but it is a large part of what creates faction instability for the smaller faction.

The lopsided faction balance is an unsustainable situation for the game. So, what is the solution? Many people have suggested getting rid of the factions altogether, which I think is a mistake. Others have said there is nothing that can really be done, but I disagree. Some others have suggested allowing cross-faction grouping, and a version of this is what I will outline because I think it is the best option which both preserves the faction conflict for those who want it and also solves the faction imbalance for competitive and casual players alike. This system also revolves around the War Mode which was introduced in BFA thus increasing the functionality of that system beyond its current state.

Lore Justification:

The alliance and the horde are currently in some form of a truce or cease fire, as has been the case many times in the history of WoW. There is no active war, officially, in the lore. When two factions are not actively in war there is nothing stopping individuals from those factions from working together. There is absolutely no lore reason, except individual choice, that two people from opposite factions could not work together to fry the bigger fish. Furthermore, if the two factions are in some sort of peace it is feasible that members of the opposite faction could freely traverse the cities of their former enemy even if the guards were perhaps more suspicious of these newcomers. Even the idea of frequent small conflicts fits into this picture. When two peoples, or groups of peoples, have been at war for long periods of time there are many who do not forgive and forget. It is entirely within the scope of reason that groups would form who would continue the conflict despite the official stance being peace. So, we can see how both peaceable relations and teamwork between members of the faction, as well as conflict and battle could work within the scope of the lore.

The Horde and the Alliance have worked together, their leaders have worked together, it only makes sense. As far as future full-scale wars either breaking this system or being prevented by it, I do not think any future full-scale wars are a good idea for WoW. I think the lore, certainly in this case even if in no others, is best served by being built around something which creates a better environment for the players to play the content they like. The alliance and the horde can remain separate entities with conflicts arising between them from time to time, but there is just no reason either in the lore or from a gameplay standpoint to enter into another full on, no holds barred, war. Going forward the lore around the faction conflict should instead focus on these player driven conflicts, in order to allow for people to just play the faction or race they want to play without fear of being unable to find groups at their skill level for the content they enjoy. It’s not difficult for blizzard to come up with lore justifications for new battlegrounds which focus on this, so it doesn’t preclude the development of new pvp content either. People can still roleplay as a sylvanas loyalist who wants to burn more trees, and people can still roleplay as a night elf who wants to burn more forsaken. The only thing this changes is by opening up more options for lore roleplay as characters who want to put their differences aside (just like our leaders are doing and have done dozens of times despite us not having that option).

Cross Faction Grouping in PVE:

First and foremost, Blizzard should allow for Horde and Alliance players to group together so long as neither player has War mode enabled. If you want to, or need to, cross-faction play for any PVE content (including world PVE content) then you should be able to. Lore-wise, as I said, the Horde and Alliance have worked together frequently in WoW’s history. If the Horde and Alliance leaders can lay siege to Orgrimmar twice, there’s no reason players cannot make the choice to work together to fight the big bag bosses of the expansion, or to simply hang out together if they want to. Players would be able to do world content (quests, world bosses etc), Mythic+ dungeons, Raids, dungeon finder, and raid finder together cross-faction. You would also be able to enter enemy faction cities so long as you do not have war mode enabled. The cities would become neutral cities for those who have war mode disabled, and for those who do not…


World PvP:

World PvP would work exactly the same as it works now. You can world pvp with war mode on. The lore explanation is that you are one of those people who has decided not to work with your enemies. If you want to enter an enemy city and attack the city, you must have war mode on. You cannot enable war mode in the opposite faction’s city (to prevent people from walking in and then enabling it for an ez clap). So, the rules would be the same as they are now. You can turn war mode on in Stormwind (as alliance) or Orgrimmar (as horde), and you can turn it off in any rest zone while you’re out of combat (this also prevents people from turning it off while in the middle of a fight in an opposite faction city to avoid death). The guards in opposite faction cities will not attack you unless you turn war mode on. Horde players in Alliance cities, or Alliance players in Horde cities who do not have war mode enabled are “under the protection of the ” and so they cannot be attacked by opposite faction players who have war mode on. I.e. if I am an Orc in Stormwind with war mode off, a human can’t simply turn on war mode and attack me (just like you can’t attack players with war mode off now). Only if I am an orc in stormwind with war mode on can you attack me (just like now). Also, I could imagine a situation where people stack enemy cities with healers with war mode off who heal those who are raiding the city while being unattackable themselves. To mitigate this, it would be wise to make it so that a non-war mode player cannot heal (or buff or bubble or anything) a war mode flagged player of the same faction while the players are in opposite faction zones. So, if you are in stormwind as horde you cannot heal a flagged horde player. If you are in orgrimmar though, you can. It would not be possible to make it so that healing flagged you because this could be used to fill the city with unflagged players while a flagged rogue sneaks in and then the unflagged players heal the rogue, which flags them, and then they ez clap like I mentioned earlier by circumventing the prevention of flagging while present in opposite faction cities. The only real solution is to prevent any kind of support or spell/ability interaction between those players in opposite faction zones.

In the open world you can choose to fight opposite faction players by having war mode on and… attacking them just like now and killing them FOR THE HORDE/ALLIANCE! Otherwise, if you have war mode off you can group with them and work alongside them putting your differences aside, FOR AZEROTH!

Random Battlegrounds:

Instanced PvP would be mostly unaffected by the changes. If you grouped with someone cross-faction and wanted to BG together it would essentially make use of the mercenary system and queue everyone as whatever faction the group leader was. What you do not want is people to make friends (gasp social interaction, in my Wow?) with people from the opposite faction and then be unable to pvp with them. So whatever the solution here is (simply allow cross-faction teams, or mercenary mode to preserve uni-faction appearance) you need to allow people to play together here. The same is true for arenas and rated battlegrounds.

Rated Battlegrounds or Arenas:

It is already the case that you can fight your own faction in arenas and rated battlegrounds. I see no issue lore-wise with allowing cross-faction teams. Alternatively, you could make use of the mercenary system again if you genuinely wanted to have uni-faction appearing teams. I believe Arenas exist outside of the game world; in that they aren’t conflicts that have any lore behind them. They are just purely for pvp content and not actually a part of the lore, though I could be wrong.

What about Guilds?:

The function of guilds is something that would have to exist for cross-faction play. In other words, the same things that guilds do for players (communication, announcements, comradery etc) are necessities for the new cross-faction capability. It would really be awful if you could not have all your raid team in something like a guild for ease of communication and scheduling. Now, obviously, outside the game there are programs which fulfill this function such as discord. I think, however, that it would be unwise for blizzard not to implement something in the game which fulfills this functionality. There are, as I see it, two options then:

  1. Open guilds to cross-faction play, should the guild opt for it
  2. Create a new Guild-like system which allows cross-faction play but keep guilds faction specific

I prefer option 2 personally. There are numerous organizations in the game which cross the faction lines (twilight cult, argent dawn, ebon blade, cenarion circle, earthen ring, our leaders almost every single expansion etc). Most recently we had the class order halls. I quite like the idea of a new organization which is player created and crosses those lines. This way players can communicate with their raid team even if their raid team is made up of people from the other faction.

What if you are part of this new cross-faction organization and then enable war mode? You do not leave the organization or anything. This cross-faction organization would remain, and you would still be part of it, but you would not be able to group with people cross-faction while war mode was on. As soon as you turned it off, you could resume cross-faction play. This does create the interesting possibility of people who have joined in an organization for the purpose of doing pve content together, cross-faction, separating along faction lines and then killing each other in war mode. I am not really sure this is a problem, but it would be kind of funny.


There is no reason why we cannot make it so you can learn to speak Common or Orcish. That is it really. there is no reason this is not possible in the lore at all. It is just not something that has been done yet gameplay wise. So, just do it and if you want to make it fun you can make it a little questline that you do on one character and it unlocks the language for all your characters. Otherwise, it could just be the default that all races can speak both common and orcish as well as any other racial language they know.


In conclusion, I see no problems with this system and think that it makes more lore sense than the current system as it adds player agency to the game which is consistent with the lore (i.e. we work together for Azeroth). It also does not destroy the faction conflict as players who wish to continue can simply enable War mode and it will be like nothing has changed. This solution allows people who want to cross-faction to play cross-faction, and those who do not can abstain. It allows those who want to engage with the faction conflict portion of the game to do so, while also solving adverse effects of preserving the faction conflict on competitive play.

What do you guys think? Is this a good solution to the problem or is it a terrible idea? To me it seems like a good solution that approaches all angles without screwing any of them up but I’m open to feedback.

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