Monday, January 21, 2008

WoW vs Poker

I've noticed a similarity between a certain aspect of World of Warcraft and Poker that I find interesting. It's not really about WoW or Poker really, just about human nature and fear of the unknown. Fear generally manifests itself as hatred and loathing.

In WoW you work to improve your toon. You kill monsters and other players in the world to improve your skills and earn better gear. Once you reach the highest level available, your options go down on how to improve your gear. You can continue to fight monsters and do quests to increase your reputation with certain factions. Once you have earned enough rep you can buy improved items from them.

An alternative is to do "raids." These are very special high level events that require many people. When you complete these events improved items are randomly given to those that participated in the raid.

The other way to earn improvements is by Player vs. Player. PvP takes two forms, Arena play and Battleground play. Arena is the ultimate team game, where 2v2, 3v3 or 5v5 teams fight to the death. Winners earn points which you can use to obtain gear. Battleground play are large areas where Alliance line up vs. Horde and play towards an objective. There are 4 different battleground, from a 40 vs 40 bloodbath called Alterac Valley to a 10v10 Capture the Flag game called Warsong Gulch, with some 15v15 games in between.

Many people choose the PvP Battlegrounds to improve their toons because they are the easiest to do alone. Having friends you can count on sure helps, but you can dive in on your own if you wish.

These four battlegrounds present very different options for the players, and I've noticed that the options are a lot like different poker games.

When I used to play limit poker a lot and I told people I prefer limit, they'd say "I hate limit, limit sucks." But a lot of them, when they learn the subtle nuances of limit poker, would realize that it is actually a very fun game, difficult to play well. I heard the same words when people described Omaha, or Razz. "Oh that game sucks!."

I'm hearing that refrain again in WoW battlegrounds. "Ugh, I don't play WSG, that game SUCKS!" or "That battleground sucks, how do you play that?." Then once you get them in there, show them the differences and how you can be effective if you learn about the game and in turn learn about yourself and your capabilities, it all turns around.

These poker games haven't been around so long with so many players because "they suck." They are actually very interesting games with subtleties and actions all their own. These battlegrounds aren't populated by so many people because "they suck." They are all interesting in their own way.

When people ask me what my favorite battleground is, it reminds me of when people ask me what my favorite poker game is.

"I don't know, I like them all. Mostly because of their differences."

No comments: