7.8.04

Warcraft 3: Quick Matches (Eventually) Made in Heaven

I stink at Warcraft 3. I enjoy RTSs and can play a competitive game of RoN, but Blizzard's latest strategy game rewards the type of micro-management click click click play that I can't keep up with.

I borrowed the game at work and decided that I had to play quickmatches on Battle.net. (Quickmatches, or auto-matchmaking, allow the system to try to provide you an opponent of near equal skill.) The first five or six games were a little rough. OK, very rough. Most games involved an army of a dozen or more giant Undead spiders crashing through my Human town where two grunts and a rifleman die valiantly before I resign. After about 6 crushing defeats, the auto-matchmaking system seemed to say "oh, wow, you DO stink" and the opponents I began matching up with were far more appropriate to my skill, even too easy. Now I'm often the terror with the giant army crashing through my enemy's base; maybe not with the precision and awe-inspiring skill that I succumbed to my first few matches. I'm not complaining - it is nice to be on the other side for a change.

I believe the reason I had such a tough time my first few games was to counteract smurfing. Smurfing is defined as a veteran player creating a new account to get easy wins against n00bs like myself. It is a rampant problem on quickmatch systems for RTSs. Blizzard's approach to the problem seems to assume that new players are actually smurfers until they lose enough times that they never reap the advantage they are seeking. Battle.net assumes guilty until proven innocent. It was certainly unpleasant and humbling to go through this harsh initiation process to determine "why, yes, you really are new." I finally made it through the gauntlet to reach "fun", yet I wonder how it effects true novices who have never played an online RTS before. Nobody likes losing and I can't imagine someone like my extremely competitive Dad going through 6+ games of horrible losses before they have a chance at winning.

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