Have you ever noticed the frequency with which you enter a battleground and find that the opposing team has already assaulted contested flags? It happens to me very regularly, and I hadn't really thought about why until recently, after reactivating my account (to show a friend around Azeroth) and partaking in a little bit of PvP.
Upon zoning into either Arathi Basin or Eye of the Storm a few times this week, the same story would unfold time and time again. Many teammates were still spawning at the starting point, slowly trickling out onto the field of play while the other team was busy capping just about every banner in sight. Snarls and QQs of "wtf Bliz!" would ring out in the BG channel as half of the team would decide to give up and HK farm while the other half would spend the rest of the match yelling at those farmers, while doing next to nothing goal-oriented themselves.
I had become very used to these experiences, as they have been a regular occurrence since the implementation of cross-server battlegrounds, and hence, the luxury of shorter queue times and more casual play. But what got me thinking was a question that was asked in BG chat earlier today by a disgruntled Orc Warrior. He asked, "Why has't Blizzard fixed this nonsense yet? Can it really be all that difficult?" Indeed, the problem has been brought up many, many times and to no avail. But can Blizzard fix the head start issue? Should they? What could they do?
The basics of the problem itself are fairly simplistic. A new battleground is created and a number of invites (based on the capacity of the BG) are sent out to the players highest in that BG's queue. They are given a specific amount of time to respond to that invitation, and if they do not choose to enter the battleground within that period of time, the invitation is revoked and sent to the next highest players in the queue.
Where it gets a bit more complicated is the fact that while those first invites are sent, a countdown to the BG's start begins ticking and extinguishes just about when those first invitations expire. As a result, if players don't enter a BG in a timely fashion or allow their invite timers to expire, the BG can actually start while the second wave of invites are being sent. Hence all of the "Omg it's 5 vs 15" and "It's already a 5-cap" that goes down.
What it basically boils down to is this: players are not entering battlegrounds fast enough, or are ignoring their invitations (via "Hide," perhaps) completely. Maybe it's because they are actively engaged in a quest. Maybe they are in combat. Maybe they are checking the progress of another BG. Whatever be the case, their actions are creating a problem for those in the queue behind them. So, what could be done to help remedy these behaviors and the ill situations they cause? And as the Orc asked, why hasn't Blizzard done anything about this issue yet?
The worry is that changing the current system will revert it back to an era of insanely long queue times, which was the bane of PvPers back in the day. One suggestion I have heard that would do just that is limiting each player to only one BG queue at a time. While it would solve the BG-hopping issue that nurtures BG Head Starts, it would lengthen the queue times for each individual BG overall. Bliz understands that this is not acceptable, as it would be reintroducing the original issue in satisfying the current one.
So how about this.
Keep everything the same except the length of time a player has to accept a BG invite. Give players only 20-25 secomds to decide whether to take an invitation or not, instead of the current 60+ seconds they have to hit the "Enter" button. That would help secondary and tertiary invites to go out promptly and ensure a sizable team to be present for the start of the battle, while not lengthening queue times whatsoever and possibly even shortening them.
It would probably take a few tweaks to make it work, but I'm sure it would all be worth it.
Less BG head starts ftw. =)