5.2 PvP Gear System Changes Follow-up Analysis
So it’s been 3.5 weeks since patch 5.2 dropped. In January, as I was valiantly trying to succeed in battlegrounds and arenas on my fire mage, I wrote a post about some of the troubles with 5.1’s pvp gearing situation that talked about problems I saw as a ‘casual’ player and some suggestions on what could change to make things better.
We saw some significant changes, instead of simply adding a new tier of gear and then shifting the last season’s gear to cost only honor like has been typically done in the past, they reworked some of the ilvl schemes and removed some of the rating gates that existed.
What we have now
Here’s a quick graphical summary of what changed from 5.1 to 5.2 with the ilvl schemes:
So as you can see, there’s been some big changes. The huge gap that existed between the honor gear and the conquest gear was diminished by about 33% (8 ilvls). The number of ilvls between each set was also much more evenly spaced as well. However, the gap from the crafted, entry-level gear (ignoring the Contender’s set in 5.2) to the conquest gear was actually increased by 2 ilvls, from 33 to 35.
That’s still a huge difference. In fact, 17 or 18 ilvls between the crafted, honor, and conquest tiers still seems large. Wanting to see how the actual stats scaled, I compared the total amount of relevant stats on a 14-piece Malevolent (ilvl 476) set with the corresponding Tyrannical (ilvl 493) set. (When deciding between secondary stats, I prioritized crit, then haste. This means the Treads of Alacrity, Cord of Cruelty, Cuffs of Accuracy, Drape of Cruelty, Pendant of Cruelty, both rings, Medallion of Cruelty, and the Badge of Dominance.)
First things to notice here are that the Tyrannical set actually provides less PvP Power and PvP Resilience. This was surprising until I remembered how much of the PvP stats are found on the weapons (PvP Power, in particular). In all the other stats, the Tyrannical (conquest) gear is superior. But the differences are less than I expected. I figured I’d better include a weapon to get an idea of how that changes things. For simplicity I added the Battle Staff (though I generally go with the sword/off-hand alternative).
Given that the PvP weapon adds 18% PvP Power (22.31% for the Tyrannical flavor), it’s no surprise that the Tyrannical set is now superior to the Malevolent set in that stat. Surprisingly, though, PvP Resilience doesn’t keep up. With the addition of the weapon, the difference is decreased, but still present. I’m not sure if this was intended or an oversight… perhaps the developers thought that resilience was getting too high and tweaked it down a little from 5.1 values. Regardless, weapons are just barely becoming a factor due to the weapon purchase gate (7250 conquest earned this season to be available for purchase). We should just barely start seeing these ilvl 498 weapons on the most dedicated of players.
So were the changes a success?
It’s tough to say. For one, as weird as it is, the decreased 1% of PvP Resilience is not that important of a factor. Neither are the increases in secondary stats. They’re beneficial, but in such minimal amounts that they shouldn’t interfere with ability and skill. The increased intellect and stamina, including the nearly 3% of PvP Power and spell power found on the weapons, are probably significant, but may not be too much. Just by looking at the numbers, even though 17 ilvls seems like a lot, the actual stat increases seem reasonable.
Without comparing the stat disparities of the Dreadful and Malevolent gear sets from 5.1, I think it’s safe to assume that this is a step in the right direction, and possibly close to an ideal compromise between fair competition (where success and failure are primarily determined by skill) and gear progression.
What am I doing wrong, then?
However, I still feel underpowered in battlegrounds and arena. In fact, since 5.2, I’ve essentially given up PvP on my mage since I feel so weak and gutless. (Yes, I know I could play frost but I simply don’t enjoy it. Fire for ever!) I’ve been participating in arenas and battlegrounds on my resto druid (who currently has much worse gear than my mage, a 462 ilvl average). Even though I’ve usually got the lowest health of anyone in the battleground or arena, I do okay. So maybe the gear situation is fine and my perception is clouded by class differences. I’ve not found any evidence to show that fire mages are doing well in PvP since 5.2. Druid healers, on the other hand, seem to be very prevalent so they’re probably not in too bad of a place.
It also could be a factor of comparing PvE and PvP performance. These two areas of the game have increasingly diverged, and I see a large difference in my dps in my PvE set compared to my PvP set, even against practice dummies. I understand the rationale behind this (they don’t want PvP gear to be a reasonable alternative in PvE settings), but it surely contributes to my feelings of inadequacy in PvP situations.
It’s good, but we’re after perfection here!
We’re definitely in a better place in 5.2 than we were in 5.1. I’d not undo anything that was done. I still wouldn’t mind seeing closer gear levels. One area that supports this is the spread between the crafted Dreadful gear and the conquest gear. Woe to anyone just starting out in PvP late in 5.2… the ilvl spread has actually increased by 2 ilvls with this patch. A 35 ilvl difference is significant, and in my opinion starts to outweigh skill. Not only that, we want to encourage more players to PvP, and it’s very difficult to enter a battleground/arena with a full crafted set against Tyrannically-geared opponents and have the desire to keep queuing (read ‘dying’) again and again until you get enough honor to compete. I don’t see problems with drastically reducing this spread and still keep the Malevolent set equally between the two. A 20 ilvl gap, with 10 ilvls between each tier, could easily be a better balancing point between gear ‘progression’ and allowing good, fair, PvP competition in which the better-skilled (not better-geared) player wins.
Other than even closer gear ilvls, I still think that earning conquest could be rearranged to be more individually proactive. PvP in WoW is generally viewed as a team effort, and I’m okay with that, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that rewards have to be team dependent. I’d also still like to see straight normalization, at least as an option. ‘Progression’ doesn’t have to necessarily be linked to increasingly-powerful gear. There are plenty of cosmetic and vanity rewards that could serve as progressive elements to the PvP side of the game.
I also commented that the grind to acquiring conquest gear was too arduous. That hasn’t changed much; it’s still very difficult for me (and probably many other casual players) to cap out conquest every week. This is less of a problem than it was, though, as the stat advantages provided by the conquest gear are less drastic than they were.
And that’s that. It will be interesting to see what happens in future patches. I’m hoping that they bring the gaps in a little closer still, but beyond that I don’t expect that much more will change at this point of the expansion. Let me know if you have any other insights or diverging opinions in the comments! Thanks for reading!