There are some bright sides, though, as the new downscaling system means that Conquest gear is categorically the best for PvP in all but the most extreme of cases. What's more, cross-realm arenas remove a restriction that previously stood in players' way. However, the much-celebrated fix to the RBG element of the conquest cap hasn't worked, and some people really miss having teams.
But the biggest change, the one that is causing the most complaints, is the controversial match-ender, The Crowd Chose You. Why is it causing complaints? Well, where should I start...
Gaming the system
This is the biggest complaint is that it's causing people to play to the new system, rather than playing arena in the traditional sense. So, for example, team A gets one member of team B down to 20k but can't kill them, because team B's healer catches them and heals them back up. But all team A does for the rest of the match is play very, very defensively, ensuring that none of their health drops below, say, 50k. They know they got team B to 20k. They know that, thanks to The Crowd Chose You, they'll win. They just need to draw the match out to the 15-minute timer.
Another very reasonable complaint is best illustrated by an example. Team A get a member of team B down to 20k. Team B heals back up, and then gets a member of team A down to 40k, six times. Never lower than that, but team A is on the verge of death for the rest of the match, just never quite hitting that 20k mark. Team A still wins, despite the fact that they arguably performed worse than team B. The new system favors them, simply because although they played worse, the minimum health of the other team was lower.
What else? You'll notice that in the examples above I'm using numbers, rather than percentages. That's because that's how the system works, it uses raw numbers instead of health % numbers. Why is that a complaint? Because if you have a blood DK who has 800k health, getting them down to 50k is a far bigger achievement percent-wise than doing the same to a feral druid who has 500k. Players are gemming to maximize their stamina, even using PvE gear to do so in some isolated cases, thanks to higher stamina numbers. Players of certain classes in particular are speccing fully into survival, just because they're not interested in doing heavy damage. Under the new system, they don't need to.
What to do, what to do?
As ever, the forums are crawling with suggestions. Some are more zany than others, but let's take a look at a few of the most common ones.
Ramp up Battle Fatigue
This one has cropped up a lot. The idea is, basically, to make healing less effective as the match wears on. Kind of like the flag carrier debuff in Warsong Gulch, this would worsen over time, perhaps kicking in at a certain point in the match, and then increasing from there.
What are the problems with this? Well, it has a massive negative impact on the usefulness of healers. People who play DPS and are struggling with healers in arena would probably say "well good", but do you really want to make even fewer healers PvP? Yes, certain healers are too strong in arena right now, but that's as much related to regen, damage, CC and instant casts as it is to anything else.
And this affects different healers more than others, too. Those whose style it is to rely on absorbs and keeping health high will suffer less than healers who use raw throughput to heal through damage. It will also affect healers who can't put out much useful damage, as well as those who have fewer damage reduction abilities at their disposal.
It also doesn't fix many of the problems above. It doesn't fix high stamina, it doesn't fix turtling DPS who use stealth, it doesn't fix kiting. It doesn't fix damage mitigation cooldowns and their use at high health. And time and time again, Holinka has tweeted, correctly, that they don't want character power to shift through games.
He's also mentioned in the past that they don't want a situation like in Warsong Gulch where a good strategy is to wait for X stacks then blow cooldowns to win.
A stacking +damage buff, or a stacking -stamina/-max health debuff
Let's split this up into the two options, as I think one sounds better than the other. A stacking +Damage buff would have pretty much the exact same issues as a stacking -healing debuff. It'd do nothing for stealthers and kiters, and classes who were able to reduce incoming damage would reign supreme. Yes, it might mean that healers were weaker, but as mentioned, is that really a good thing? Do we really want it to be the case that the right spec to play in arenas is "not heals"? I don't think so. Not to mention the situation of "oh let's wait for the damage buff to get to X stacks then go HAM and win."
However a stacking -stamina debuff seems a better idea. If it was done on a %age basis rather than a numerical one, it would hit tanks as hard as it hit DPS. It would mean that healers who relied on absorbs were as affected as healers who relied on raw throughput, it would affect pretty much everyone fairly equally. However, again, it'd do nothing for players who stealth, players who CC and kite, players who blow their defensive cooldowns early.
Remove healers/tanks from 2v2
This has come up an awful lot. And it is hopefully pretty clear why it's a terrible idea. Removing entire roles from the most commonly played bracket of arena? From the one where most people start out? Forcing double DPS comps? That has to be a bad move. But if an increase in battle fatigue came in, that'd be more likely to result in double DPS reigning supreme in 2v2.
Splitting the queue in 2v2 according to comp is a better idea than removing certain comps altogether, but still, part of the learning process in arena PvP is to deal with different comps, to deal with the huge burst that some classes can put out with their cooldowns up. 2v2 is already unbalanced, it doesn't award titles any more, it doesn't need to be made even more meaningless.
Make it so the buff only kicks in when a player has been killed
Of the suggestions made, this one holds the most water for me. I'm fast running out of words so I'll keep it brief. If there's a stalemate, for example a 2v2 match where neither team has managed to kill a member of the other team, so all 4 players remain, the old system returns, a draw is awarded, both teams lose rating. If there's a situation where one team has killed a member of another team, and the remaining player turtles until the timer runs out, we get the new system, The Crowd Chose You kicks in, and the buff is applied to the team with the most players remaining.
Why is this different or better? It removes the situation where you can game the "lowest health number" system. Unless you actually kill a member of the opposing team, you can't get the buff. It also removes the problem of the old system, where a team who had one player remaining could turtle until a draw was forced. Matches are shorter now, so it would be less painful, but still an improvement on the old system. Of course, it depends on your philosophy, but Blizzard's already made it clear that they don't think you should have to completely wipe the other team off the map.
What's the answer?
My concern is that Blizzard's devs will be swayed by these demands, and start adjusting and making changes, and make more and more problems for themselves in the process. Don't go further down the rabbit hole, Blizz. We've had this system for all of two weeks, for starters. This is not long enough to decide whether it's working or not.
That said, if you decide the system doesn't work now, remove it, go back to the drawing board. Put us back to the old system. Don't adapt it further yet, don't start making crazy changes, and testing them on live servers, affecting the current season more than it's been affected already.
We don't want this entire expansion to be meaningless for PvP, we don't want every season to be fraught with changes. We don't want to wait for 6.0 for "our" section of the game to work again.
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