Last week I had an evening to myself, so I logged in as Tomakan to get in some BGs.
The first couple of runs were okay, but when I got Arathi Basin, I ported in and was greeted by groans.
"What?" I asked in BG chat. I may not be the best BG player out there, but I'm certainly not that bad.
"The Mal'Gannis crew is here," one of my team replied.
I took a look at the Horde side's lineup and saw the telltale server name Mal'Gannis five times. "Oh... crap."
"Maybe we should give up now," another Alliance player suggested.
"Hell no," a Rogue replied. "We'll beat those assholes!"
Having met the Mal'Gannis Five before, I had my doubts. They were all members of the same guild, and at the very least they were kitted out with a full set of Cataclysmic gear.* That indicated they either ran Rateds or 5s in Arenas, and they were all used to working with each other. Compare that with a traditional pugged BG, and the differences were obvious.
In this particular AB run, they were a roving group of five and smashed everyone in their way.
The lopsided loss took its toll on a few players. "Alliance always sucks!" said one enlightened soul.
"Come on," I replied. "We're a bunch of puggers up against a Rated team. You don't think that has an impact?"
I rolled my eyes. When confronted with such logic, there's not much you can do.
Still, that does bring up the question what a Rated or 5s group was doing in a traditional pug, anyway. I'd put it up to a "blowing off steam" or "taking a break", except that they've been staples of the random BGs for the past month. Well, sort of random, anyway: you'll find them in the lower sized BGs for the most part, where they can have a larger impact on the outcome (WSG, BoG, TP, AB, and EotS). The advantages of a well-oiled machine like what they have over a bunch of puggers ought to be obvious; it would take a massive screw-up on the rest of their side to lose. Or having a comparable Rated team on the Alliance side.
From a game standpoint, a Rated team has just as much right to run a regular BG pug as the next group, but I can't help but think of the similarities between that and an event that happened several years ago.
My son was playing baseball in an instructional league for six and seven year olds. Each team was allowed a maximum of two eight year olds per team, because of the instructional nature of the league. If you've ever seen six and seven year olds play, you know that you've got the wide spectrum of abilities and attention spans assembled out there on the field. I used to pull my hair out watching my son looking all over the place rather than at the batter; on more than one occasion the ball would be hit toward him and it scooted right on by before he realized what was happening.
In one particular game, however, we arrived and I noticed several of our parents looking worried over by the sidelines. I shooed my son over to where the coaches were and joined the group. They'd been watching the other team warm up, and something wasn't right. "They're acting way too mature for six and seven year olds," one mom told me. Sure enough, that team had gotten the balls out and were warming up without any supervision whatsoever, and their accuracy was almost frightening.
Once the game began, it was clear there was a mismatch.
Their pitcher was throwing hard --and I do mean hard-- and mowed down our players with three consecutive strike-outs. They came up to the plate, and started killing the ball everywhere. Before the first inning was over, the score was 6-0. I was annoyed, but I couldn't say much; I mean, the other team was just that good. It was like watching a major league team play against a college team.
When one of our coaches came back to the dugout, however, he was mad. He'd been talking to all of the other teams' kids when he was out at second base as an additional umpire, and it turned out that the other team was playing with a stacked deck: all of the kids were eight year olds. Additionally, that team had a game the next day, in an eight and nine year old league.
They were using our team as batting practice.
As you can surmise, the game was called after three innings due to runs. Our coach put in a protest to the league about the other team, and we found out later that several other teams had done the same thing. Nevertheless, the damage had been done. It's kind of hard to explain to a seven year old that the ass-kicking they just received didn't count because the other team cheated, because they'd just been beaten out on the field.
Comparatively speaking, what that baseball team did was cheating, while a Rated team running regular BG pugs isn't. However, the mismatch is very real, and can be very disheartening to someone learning to play BGs. Spend an entertaining afternoon being corpse camped in WSG and tell me how you feel that makes you a better player. Here's a hint: it doesn't. When you respawn, get buffed, and then you get stun-stun-stunned to death, you have almost no chance at actually learning to play. Instead, you'll probably decide to not play PvP.
The hardcore EVE types will argue that it's all for the better to separate the wheat from the chaff, but there's a drawback to such behavior. You feed into the stereotype that PvPers are all assholes who hang out with ninja looters and trade chat nutjobs. "L2P noob!" doesn't help the community, it harms the community by making it shrink.
Am I arguing for a self banning of rated teams from regular BGs? It is tempting, but I believe what's needed here is restraint. Sure, you can wipe the floor of the WW with the other team's butts, but there's no need to go corpse camping. It isn't necessary to hold onto that last flag instead of capping just so you can farm honorable kills. The big rule ought to be "Don't be a jerk."
After all, karma can be a real bitch.
A short update: In between the time I wrote this and posted it, I spent a half an hour in WoW. I got into WSG, and discovered the full Mal'Gannis Rated team on the other side. What happened? After the first flag capture, they put us on farm. Players began leaving like rats fleeing a sinking ship. After another five minutes of it, even I gave up and took the debuff rather than get killed another dozen times. Soloing the Pit of Saron seemed like a better deal.
*Remember, the Armory is your friend. And when that doesn't work, create a toon on the server, go to the Hall of Legends, and inspect them that way. Know thy enemy.
EtA: Corrected a couple of grammar errors in the baseball story.