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Regarding ‘PvP Gear in 5.2 and Beyond’ for casuals

January 22, 2013

As I’ve been pvping in MoP so far and reading these proposed changes I still have a few concerns with the state of PvP gear.  I enjoy pvp very much but spend time in the other aspects of the end game as well, and thus have pvped only casually throughout the expansion.

It’s been distressing as I’ve increasingly entered bgs and arena matches against opponents who cut through me like paper as the season progress and I haven’t kept up to the gearing curve.  I’m in no way the best pvper out there, but I’m not terrible and I play my class/spec well.  It seems disadvantageous to the pvp population of WoW in general for the situation to be what it currently is and I’ve decided to share my thoughts on the matter.

The current state of affairs

To have a fighting chance at pvp you need gear with PvP power and resilience on it.  This currently comes in three tiers:

The Contender’s gear and the Dreadful gear are relatively easy to get as the crafted ones don’t require ridiculous mats and honor comes quickly when you pvp, even when losing.

The Malevolent set is much harder to acquire as it costs a lot of conquest points which can only be earned quickly by winning arena matches or rated bgs (with the exception of 100 and then 50 for winning regular bgs).  Furthermore, the Malevolent tier is 25 ilvls above the Dreadful tier which results in a significant stat increase.

Casual and entry-level pvpers are at a significant disadvantage in having a competitive chance in the current state of WoW pvp.  Everything that follows will address the challenges that that category of players face.

The problem as I see it

It is currently too difficult for entry-level/casual pvpers (what I define as being clad in mostly Contender’s or Dreadful gear) to compete with players in Malevolent gear, they are at too much of a gear disadvantage.  I see this as coming from two different aspects of the current system:

  1. There is too large of a gap between the Dreadful and Malevolent gear sets
  2. The grind to acquiring the Malevolent set is too arduous (resulting in the cycle that to efficiently get the best gear you have to win, but it’s very difficult to win without having the best gear).

Possible solutions

Normalize gear.  I know this isn’t a popular option, but I, for one, would love to have the option of pvping in a gear-independent situation where health and stats are equal across classes.  I would have as much spell power, resilience, and hp as the next mage and the winner would be more likely to be determined by skill rather than who has the better gear.

For me, winning a bg, duel, or arena match is a reward enough in its own right – I don’t need the additional incentive of getting better gear to want to pvp.  I do know, though, that many enjoy the gearing up process of pvp and would be sad to see the gear progression go away, so maybe this could just be an alternative?  Regular battlegrounds, rated battlegrounds, and normalized battlegrounds?  I suspect that they would be more popular than rated battlegrounds at least.

Lessen the ilvl disparity between honor and conquest gear.  I understand the reasoning in the current ilvls having to do with PvE gear, but wasn’t the reworking of resilience and the creation of PvP power supposed to accomplish the developer’s desire to not have gear crossover?  Why not bring the ilvl of the upper and lower tiers of gear much closer together so that those who have put in the time to have the better gear have an advantage still, but not one that can’t be overcome by a worse-geared but more skilled opponent?

Reduce the difficulty in acquiring conquest gear.  The third option I see is making it easier to get the top tier of pvp gear.  This could be accomplished by reducing the price of the gear or by making conquest easier to earn.  There are two difficulties in the conquest grind that I see:

  1. It’s too dependent upon winning against low odds when it comes to arenas
  2. It’s not very proactive in the other ways to acquire it (like in bgs)

Like I already mentioned, with everything else being equal it’s tough to win an arena match when your team is in Dreadful gear and your opponents are in Malevolent.  When most of your opponents are in Malevolent gear (as is the current situation in this season) it’s even harder to rack up the conquest you need to get on par with them gear-wise.

The other way to earn conquest is from battleground wins.  With battlegrounds being dependent on so many more people, there’s very little I can do to as an individual to bring a team to success.  I’m all for being proactive in bgs, but by their very design bgs lessen individual influence for good or bad.  This isn’t a bad thing, it’s simply more of a group effort.  I’d like to see earning conquest points be more proactive in this regard.

(I deliberately haven’t talked about rbgs much simply because while I know they are another way to earn conquest points, they are not a realistic option for me on my server or with my schedule.)

What is proposed in 5.2

There are a number of changes coming.  Many of them affect only dedicated pvpers who compete in arenas and have ratings over 2200.  I won’t mention or list them here as they’re not really relevant to the casual or entry-level pvper.  What is relevant is this:

  • 2200 rating requirements removed from all PvP gear (which doesn’t affect my demographic much)
  • Changes in the tier scheme
  • Conquest cap changes that are determined by the week into the current season and how much conquest has already been earned (resulting in an increased cap for players who are behind or starting late)

As is expected, gear is being shifted down as a new tier comes out.  What will happen is:

  • Dreadful Gladiator’s gear (currently bought with honor, ilvl 458) will be crafted.
  • Malevolent Gladiator’s gear (currently bought with conquest, ilvl 483) including weapons, will be purchased with honor.
  • Tyrannical Gladiator’s gear (new tier, ilvl 493) will be purchased with conquest (and then honor after 27000 conquest has been earned by patch 5.3).
  • Elite Tyrannical Gladiator’s gear (ilvl 512?) will be purchased with conquest after 27000 conquest has been earned.

I’m not certain about the ilvls of the new tier sets, especially with this statement that states that the gap between Malevolent and Elite Tyrannical will be similar to what we see now between Dreadful and Malevolent.

In terms of relative power, we’re tuning the item levels, PvP Power, and Resilience on the new set of PvP items so that the difference between Malevolent and Elite Tyrannical Gladiator’s gear is similar to the relationship between this season’s Dreadful and Malevolent Gladiator’s gear. This helps accomplish the goal of smoothing out the power curve by adding a tier in the middle of the PvP gear spectrum.  (from PvP Gear in 5.2 and Beyond)

If the Wowhead ptr ilvls are correct, there’s will be an even larger span between the Malevolent and Elite Tyrannical sets (29 ilvls).  Of course there will be the Tyrannical set between the two which is 10 ilvls above the Malevolent set.

Why I don’t think the proposed changes will completely fix the problem

Potentially insufficient tier changes.  While it will be nice to have a tier set that’s effectively in between what currently exists in our Dreadful/Malevolent gap, it will still result in a 10 ilvl gap between the honor and conquest gear which I worry may still border on too much, though this is a definite step in the right direction.

Cap adjustments don’t help players that can’t acquire conquest to begin with.  I appreciate what the developers are trying to do with increasing the cap based on where we are in the season and how much conquest can be earned, but that doesn’t help players that can’t effectively earn conquest to begin with.  I fear that it will still continue to be too hard for players that haven’t kept up with the gearing curve to earn conquest points that are too dependent upon winning or others in order to be competitive.

What I’d like to see

Here’s what I’d like to see changed with PvP in 5.2:

  • An option for normalized, gear-independent battlegrounds and arenas.  I’d don’t care if honor or conquest are awarded upon winning or not.  I’d simply love to have a level playing field where I can compete with others where the primary variables are skill and how many Pyroblast! procs rng grants me.  With the normalization that happens in challenge mode dungeons, I suspect that the ability to do this is already in place if not very far off.
  • A less arduous road towards acquiring conquest gear.  Ideally I’d like to be able to earn conquest in a more proactive manner instead of just by winning.  Let arena or bg participation result in some conquest instead of withholding it only for wins.  Let wins grant more.  Reduce the conquest cost of items – any or all of these would make it easier for players to compete with each other.  Save a slightly higher gear set (like no more than 5 ilvls higher) or set recolor for the best players that have high arena/rbg ratings.

PvP is no fun when there’s no competition.

And yes, you can quote me on that! :)

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 23, 2013 1:00 pm

    I agree with you to a very large degree. However, the 5.2 changes are some of the most positive and thoughtful changes Blizzard has announced for pvp since this game came out. They’ve finally recognized the disparity between players who rush to push out high ratings at the beginning of a season and the players who don’t, fundamentally changing the way rating accrual works for everyone.

    Now team rating and MMR will only climb if a player continuously plays each week of the season, preventing those players from accelerating to high ratings in the first couple weeks, and then sitting on those ratings without doing anything more than the minimum required to keep said rating.

    On top of that, Blizzard is smoothing out the gearing process by making it a time investment rather than a gear investment. By preventing players from acquiring high ratings instantly, and forcing them to earn 27k conquest points for the season before being able to buy T2 gear, they’ve effectively moved that gear far back for all players. This season there were people walking around with their T2 weapons by week 5. This will no longer be the case.

    This means that unskilled players can still get their T1 gear, and at some point in the season, maybe start getting T2 gear. Remember, even players who are losing games, will still eventually drop low enough to face people on their own level, and start winning. I think having a good rewards structure like this is going to vastly improve pvp, even for those players who coming into the season late, or rolling a brand new character.

    Don’t forget that Blizzard is offering a temporarily extended conquest cap of 1000 point for every week that has passed where a player did not receive any points on that character. While it’s not the same as someone who has participated every single week and gotten to their base cap (or worked up to a higher one), it’s still a consolation that helps players catch up mid season, where they would not have been able to before.

    Although I am excited for these changes and look forward to next season, this does not mean that I am convinced no further changes should be made or that the game is perfect now. I still think that Blizzard went a little too far with pvp power in terms of scaling and availability.

    The ‘pvp power’ concept was a great idea to make pvp gear the more attractive option for pvp, over what players were using up until this season (pve weapons and trinkets). However, the way pvp power has scaled for players (dps especially), is a bit excessive. If the problem before was people using pve weapons and trinkets, then the solution should have been pvp power found only on weapons and trinkets, in my opinion.

    On top of that, there’s a fundamental flaw within the pvp power system that makes pvp gear too good by comparison to pve gear, thus preventing players from transitioning between pve and pvp, which is the opposite of what Blizzard wanted. Current pvp power scaling puts healers in full malevolent gear at about 20% increased effect on players (not stacking gems or upgraded gear). Dps classes, from the same numerical amount of pvp power, receive a 40% increased effect on players.

    Either pvp power is scaling far too high, or it’s far too abundant on pvp gear. I would love to see some adjustments that bring the relative effects of pvp power down so it’s not a huge jump for players between having it and not having it.

    Anyway, sorry for my ‘counter article’ comment, I enjoyed reading your blog. Good work!

    ~Willy

    • January 23, 2013 9:08 pm

      Thank you for your comment! You bring up some good points and I, too, am very happy that Blizzard is taking some steps to really look at their system and make some changes for the better.

      Part of the problem, and the one that I’d like to see disappear, is the dependence of pvp success on time invested. Rather, it’s gear that’s dependent on time, but with so much riding on gear it often translates into success.

      I hadn’t really thought about problems coming from pvp power but it does seem to have muddied the waters, and made it that much more difficult for players w/o lots of it against those that do.

      And no worries, I value thoughtful discussion!

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  1. 5.2 PvP Gear System Changes Follow-up Analysis | The Calla Liyly

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